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Bandslash fic: NINJA

NINJA | PG-13 | ~32,000
Kevin Jonas/Mike Carden (also: Kevin/Zac Efron, Brendon/Spencer, Bill/Miranda, Pete/Ashlee, Pete/Patrick)

There are grooves in Kevin’s fingers from where he’s gripping his bass, soft, but calloused underbellies digging into the strings. It’s enough pain to ground him; he releases the strings backwards, the positioning a direct reverse of the beginning of In Front And Heavy. This is it. There’s no going back, even if one of the kids singing along in twenty minutes recognizes the curve of Miranda’s mouth, the timbre of Brendon’s voice, the strawberry blonde curl of Patrick’s hair under his knit cap; Bill’s splayed, spidery legs, Kevin’s wrists, fingers – the white band of skin that isn’t hidden by a thin band of silver.

*We are your losers, your loud weirdoes, your science stars, your shy, retiring band geeks*, Kevin thinks, and sets off for the stage.


A/N: This is it. The completely pointless, self-indulgent high school AU about a secret band playing secret music and writing a secret blog. I kind of hope you enjoy it. Massive thanks to insunshine for the excellent beta-work, and also to starflowers, who cheered me on through this entire thing. This actually had a different title, but then I thought, fuck it, because it's always been NINJA in my head. (ps – more notes at the end about who’s who in some of the blogged about bands, if you’re curious)

NINJA


SEPTEMBER


*


NINJA alert
EMC’s dropping a new NINJA track September 23RD!! Listen for Worthwhile (Ninja) on G103’s Local Smackdown

– billiam @ emc


*


Kevin isn’t expecting junior year to turn out any different than any other, so he’s not disappointed. He hugs his books to his chest, keeps his head down in the halls and still manages to piss off Lacey just by breathing.

On Wednesday, two weeks into the school year, Kevin’s late for lunch and Lacey comes out of nowhere – Kevin’s been on the lookout, he doesn’t see how he missed him – and grabs hold of his arm, swinging him into the lockers. Kevin holds his hand out to take the brunt of the impact, palm stinging against metal, wrist aching. He winces, and Lacey leans into him, grinning manically. It’s almost friendly, except for the death-grip he’s got on his arm and the hardness of his eyes.

Someday, someone needs to clue Kevin in on why Lacey hates him so much, because it can’t just be the purity ring thing. It hasn’t always been like this. Freshman year, they’d been sort of friends. Freshman year, Kevin had been friends with a lot of guys he’s not friends with anymore. Most of them don’t want to kill him, though. Most of them just don’t bother with him at all.

That’s just fine, because Kevin’s got Brendon and Patrick and Miranda and Bill. It’s not like he’s completely friendless here.

“What’s up, Jonas?” Lacey asks, grin sharp.

Kevin’s totally going to have a bruise later. He really wishes Miranda was there, because Lacey’s very obviously afraid of her. As he should be; Miranda’s his best friend, but she can be totally scary sometimes.

“Um.” Kevin bites his lip, fighting a grimace of pain.

Nolan’s shifting behind Lacey, looking uncomfortable. He gives Kevin an apologetic half-smile, but doesn’t actually stop Lacey from pushing Kevin harder into the lockers. There’s a padlock digging into Kevin’s left kidney, and all his books slip out of his hands, his papers slip-sliding under both their feet as Kevin unwisely decides to push back. Unwise, because Lacey’s fake grin morphs into a scowl, and he lifts a hand, like he’s actually going to punch Kevin, right in the middle of the hallway.

Kevin scrunches his eyes shut, but the blow never lands.

He cracks one eyelid, and then both of them fly wide, because Mike Carden’s got Lacey’s wrist, holding his fist back.

Carden, a senior, a totally cool senior, is—Kevin’s actually not sure what Carden’s doing, but at least he hasn’t been punched. Yet.

“Fuck off, Carden,” Lacey says, trying unsuccessfully to shake off Carden’s hold.

“Sure I will. If you want to get fucking suspended for fighting again, go ahead and punch the kid,” Carden says, and he lets go, and Lacey seems extra mad for the interference, so Kevin’s life is definitely over. This is it. He’s going to get a broken nose and hemorrhage to death; he always was a bleeder.

But Lacey just pushes Kevin again, and Kevin staggers and trips on his science notebook, falling to the ground, head glancing off the same padlock that’d been digging into his back.

Lacey laughs and saunters off and Kevin’s left with a healthy dose of humiliation and Carden gazing down at him blankly, eyes disinterested, mouth a flat line.

“Thanks?” Kevin says, pushing his hair back off his forehead. He’s really kind of confused. Carden barely ever acknowledges his existence, even though he’s sort of friends with Bill.

So it’s not all that surprising when Carden just shrugs and walks away.

*


“Lacey’s an asshole,” Miranda says. Her eyes are narrowed, like she’s plotting Lacey’s painful, messy death. Miranda’s a science wiz. She can totally come up with something that’ll hurt Lacey a whole lot, Kevin thinks.

“Totally,” Brendon says, then knocks his hand into his juice and spills it everywhere. Brendon’s wiping at his jeans, tongue between his teeth, and Patrick ducks his head further into his book, cheeks red.

This isn’t because of Brendon, Kevin knows. Brendon’s always a mess, they’re all pretty much used to it.

It’s because Pete Wentz is blowing kisses at him from across the lunchroom.

Wentz is an asshole,” Patrick says darkly.

“I dunno,” Brendon says in between licking at his sticky fingers – Kevin catches Smith staring, wide-eyed, and very carefully pretends he doesn’t notice; Smith’s new, and Lacey had snapped him up for his posse two days into the school year – “I kind of like Pete. He’s funny.”

Bill slides his tray onto the table next to Brendon. “Who’s funny?”

“Pete.” Brendon bobs his head, giving Bill a crooked smile.

Bill looks ridiculous in head to toe black – he says it reflects his tortured artist soul, but Bill’s got a goofy smile and a tendency towards hallway dancing, so it really doesn’t make any sense.

“Pete’s hilarious,” Bill says. He points at Patrick. “He loves you.”

Patrick sinks down lower in his seat. “Whatever.”

“And,” Bill presses his palms flat on the table, “we have a gig. Thanksgiving, if we want it, though they did offer something earlier. November will give us plenty of time to plan our grand unveiling.”

“Uh, no,” Kevin says, because that’s the deal. They don’t have gigs. Kevin’s parents would kill him, and he’s pretty sure Brendon’s would too. Plus, Kevin kind of thinks that if anyone knew he was in NINJA—well, they’d maybe lose a lot of fans. Kevin holds no illusions of not being unimaginably lame in real life.

Brendon bites his lip and looks torn, like he thinks playing a gig would be awesome, but maybe not worth getting disowned for.

Miranda says, “Where?”

“CarPort. They emailed EMC this morning. We’ll be up after Heartsore, it’ll be epic, gentlemen—”

Miranda clears her throat.

“—and beautiful lady,” Bill amends with a gracious nod.

Patrick says, “Huh,” and tips his hat down, staring at the lunch table, and Kevin feels his heart climb up into his throat.

“No,” Kevin says. “We really can’t.”

Patrick cocks his head. “We could,” he says slowly. “Maybe.”

Brendon snaps his fingers a lot and says, “Wait, wait. Disguises guys! We can, you know, not be us.”

“We’re never us when we’re out,” Miranda says. “Doesn’t mean people won’t recognize us if we’re, you know, right in their faces.” She wrinkles her nose, leaning towards Brendon across the table.

Real disguises,” Brendon says, batting her away, “like costumes. It’ll be fun.”

Bill hooks an arm around Brendon’s neck, tugs him in close. “Exactly, my friend. I’d call you a genius, except you seem to have wet yourself.”

“It’s juice,” Brendon says brightly.

Bill pats the top of his head. “That doesn’t actually make it any better.”

*


Brendon’s a folk singer at heart, and Patrick has motherfucking range so they maybe go a little crazy with Worthwhile (Ninja). Bill has a tambourine and the hook with Miranda – there’s a spicy thum-thum-thum on her rhythm guitar – and Kevin plays one bass part and hums another, laughing halfway through.

So one of the biggest problems with possibly performing live is that Patrick’s a musical genius and Patrick sings lead on half their songs, and Patrick’s the drummer.

“We’ll set up a mic,” Bill says.

He’s hunched over his laptop, responding to comments on Eat More Cats, their stellar music blog. They’ve got 953 friends, and no one knows who the heck they are - that they’re pretty much Randolph High’s resident losers; except for maybe Bill, he’s got too much flare. Kevin thinks it’s kind of awesome.

“That’s great,” Miranda says, “but what about the keyboard on Mean Street Highway and the one about Kev’s hair?”

Bill glances up. “I could ask Mike to take over Brendon’s guitar.”

“Or not,” Kevin says, because Carden makes him nervous, and the last thing he needs is Carden knowing he’s in NINJA, really and truly.

“That one’s not about Kevin’s hair,” Patrick says.

“It’s about Kevin’s hair,” Bill says. “It’s about how much you love Kevin’s hair, admit it, Stump.”

“I hate all of you,” Patrick says, disgruntled, and snags the laptop away from Bill. “We’re agreed that Tenderfoot rocked last night, right?”

“Tenderfoot fucking blew my mind,” Bill says.

“EMC’s giving it four and a half stars for effort and amazing-ness,” Brendon says, waving his hands around. “I deducted points for the obvious use of animatronics.”

“Ryan Ross is not a robot, Brendon,” Patrick says. It’s an old argument, though, so he doesn’t put much heart into it.

Kevin fiddles with the strings on his bass and tries not to think about how early it is in the year, and how this is the only thing that makes him happy, and how it sucks that he can’t just play, that his parents would flip if they knew he had anything to do with NINJA and Eat More Cats. It’s risky enough, sneaking out after dark two or three times a week. Sooner or later, Nick and Joe are gonna catch on, and Kevin’s going to have to come up with some hefty hush-money or something – Bonus already knows, but Bonus is, like, awesome and six and Kevin’s always been his favorite.

Kevin idly watches Brendon help Miranda with her make-up – she looks a lot older when she’s got gunk all over her eyes, Kevin’ll say that for it. And he’s going to have to flatiron his hair soon, if they want to get out of there by ten.

In a way, it’s kind of thrilling. No one would really recognize any of them unless they really looked – Bill and Brendon both lose their glasses, Brendon trades in his polos for girl-size band shirts, Patrick dons a fedora instead of a baseball cap, Miranda tarts up her eyes, long dark hair rolled into big, fat curls, and Kevin gets to wear tight pants and neckerchiefs, hair straight and falling over his face. He’s awfully fond of this certain pair of white pants. Kevin could never pull them off, normally, but at night, anonymous, he can wear whatever the heck he likes.

He smiles.

“What’re you grinning at, dork?” Miranda says, huffing her hair out of her eyes. She’s wearing an oversized, bright pink NINJA WHO? t-shirt, one side rucked up on her hip with a butterfly clip.

“Nothing,” Kevin says, still grinning as he ducks his head.

*


TENDERFOOT JUNCTION @ THE CELL
Ryan Ross is not a robot – no, for real, Bden [prove it! – bden] – but his first performance as solo artist Tenderfoot Junction was still damn near perfect. He’s got the range of a wolfhound with an unsteady, mellow pitch, and he managed to charm the pants off us last night with his knobby fingers, old blueridge acoustic, and sweet sassy lyrics about leather boots, hips and toothy smiles.

Old fans of Ross might miss the bitter showiness, the Casio beats, the misogynous dance-pop that defined the ironically named Summer Daze, and while Ross’s new stuff isn’t necessarily better, there’s a simple honest quality to it - discounting the abnormally large amount of nonsense; although even the nonsense, on some instinctual level, seems to take on a certain shape of truth.

Talking flowers, magical caves, peace, love and happiness in the guise of gumdrops and magnified multifaceted insect eyes: Ross has the good stuff, deep down inside, don’t let the sweater vests fool you. Think folksy blues with a solid rock background – jumble in (alleged) copious amounts of weed. If The Beatles ever adopted a gangly, too pale kid from Las Vegas and gave him a funny haircut, Ryan Ross would be it.

There are rumors of a collaboration with local pop-punk trio Samhell. Sharp eyes caught Walker stalking Ross in between sets - now that's something I want to see. Sean Van Vleet's eerie vocals, Walker's simple melodies underscored and amp'd by the relentless enthusiasm of Andy "Butcher" Mrotek, mixing and mingling with the oddity that is Ross - at the very least, it'll be entertaining as hell.

TENDERFOOT JUNCTION @ THE CELL: SEPTEMBER 16TH 10:00PM
Set list:
+ Wolves Are Held Back
+ Moontime Butterflies
+ Red
+ Count Your Charms
+ What's My Age Again
+ Spencer Bought Me This Watch (???? courtesy of Bden, we have no idea what the fuck this one's called)
+ Since She Says Tomorrow
+ The Song About Wax Statues And Having Sex (thank Billiam for this one)
+ Cool Run Home [aka the John Candy song - k2]
+ Biting Grins and Skeleton Bones
+ Absolute Mayhem

stay classy, omaha
- trick @ emc


*


The CarPort’s unusually packed for a Thursday night, mainly because Arma’s playing, and Wentz always draws a crowd. Arma Angelus is not Kevin’s favorite band, though, so he’s tucked into a corner, nursing a bottle of water. They’ve all got fake IDs, though the bouncers at the bars they frequent - all three of them - never actually look too closely, and Kevin’s the only one who only uses it to get into the bar; even Brendon usually snags at least one beer. Kevin doesn’t like the taste, or the way it makes him stupid.

His thumb plays with the soft, white band of flesh on his ring finger absently. He can see a flash of Miranda’s pink shirt through the crush of bodies, but everyone else has scattered. Patrick and Brendon have probably headed to the front of the stage. Patrick can claim he hates Wentz all he wants, but he’s never missed an Arma show.

“Hey.”

Kevin slants a look to his left. There’s a boy there, dark, v-neck tee exposing the prominent bump of his collarbone. He’s bright-eyed, even though his mouth is playing it cool. Kevin instantly likes him. “Hi.”

Still no smile, but he leans towards Kevin, their shoulders bumping, and Kevin follows the line of his mouth with his eyes, the corner of his own tugging upwards, a warm, fuzzy glow pooling in his belly.

This is another thing he wouldn’t normally do.

Kevin reaches out, tucks two fingers into the guy’s belt. It’s fun and easy, the way they fit up against each other, and Kevin doesn’t move away until Bill finds him later, hooking an arm around Kevin’s neck and pressing a sloppy kiss to his temple.

He says, “C’mon, loverboy,” and tugs him out onto the dance floor, laughing. Kevin easily slots himself in between Miranda and Brendon, arms in the air.

*


“I saw you Wednesday,” Smith says, and Brendon freezes, Capri Sun halfway to his lips.

“What?” he says and shoots wide, panicky eyes towards Kevin.

“Wednesday. At The Cell.” Smith shifts awkwardly on his feet, color high, like he’s embarrassed. He palms the back of his neck. “It was. You were at Ryan’s show.”

“Ryan,” Brendon says, then nods slowly. “Okay.”

Kevin shrugs and says, “I don’t think it was him. Sorry.”

“No.” Smith shoots Kevin a pissy look and flicks his hair out of his eyes. “Whatever,” he says, then huffs out a breath and stalks away.

“That was. Weird?” Brendon says, toying with his straw.

“He likes you,” Kevin says.

Miranda nods her head. “Yep.”

Brendon’s brow furrows. “Nah uh. He’s one of Lacey’s goons.”

“Not really.”

Miranda picks at her sandwich, and Kevin watches her fingers, mesmerized. She hasn’t taken off the sparkly blue nail polish from the night before yet, and Kevin’s getting flashes, like his other life is bleeding into this one – he feels like slumping down in his seat and giving the room a languid, confident smile, but that would most assuredly be a challenge to Lacey, and he doesn’t feel like getting his head dunked in a toilet today. It’s too nice out.

“He’s new,” she says. “He didn’t know any better, and now he’s stuck with Lacey. It’s pretty crappy, actually. You should be nice to him.”

Brendon makes a face. “I was.”

“He was trying to flirt,” Miranda says, and Kevin would ask how she could possibly know that, except the nighttime Miranda can flirt better than regular Bill – not nighttime Bill, he makes it an art form – even though she’s got a look that can slice any boy or girl in half, a look that’s caused Lacey to dub her Scary Ice Bitch and flinch whenever she goes near him.

“Badly,” Kevin adds. “He was flirting really badly.”

“Who was flirting badly?” Bill asks as he and Patrick take opposite seats at the table. Bill nudges Brendon’s shoulder. “Was it you? This must be remedied, you know, bad flirting should never be tolerated, especially in someone I hold so dear.”

“It wasn’t me,” Brendon says, lips pursed. “But thanks.”

“It’s Smith. He has a thing for Brendon,” Miranda says. She points her fork at Brendon. “Seriously, you should think about it, he’s hot.”

Brendon just looks really confused. “Okay. Except I’m straight.”

Miranda barks a laugh, ducks her head down to press her mouth against her arm.

Brendon frowns. “Hey.”

Miranda shakes a little, like she’s trying to get a hold of herself, then tilts her head sideways and takes a ragged breath. “Sorry,” she says. “Sorry, I didn’t think. I mean—you’re not serious, right?”

“I don’t get it,” Brendon says, still frowning.

The sad thing is, he really, really doesn’t get it, Kevin knows this.

“Spencer Smith is indeed a catch,” Bill says. “Also, if you’re going straight, Urie, you might want to reconsider the random boy make-outs. You’re sluttier than Jonas here.”

“Above the waist doesn’t count, right Kev?” Brendon says, and Kevin says, “Keep me out of this,” because Kevin is most definitely gay. He’s never said it out loud, maybe, but he’s never bothered to deny it.

“You sound like Wentz. It doesn’t work for him, either,” Miranda says.

Brendon huffs and says, “Wentz is dating a girl.”

“Wentz wants to marry Patrick, he has an entire blog dedicated to it,” Bill says, and Patrick palms his face and groans.

“I hate my life,” Patrick says.

“Oh, you lie, you love it—wait, wait, Spencer Smith?” Miranda says. “Wasn’t he the drummer for Summer Daze?”

Kevin thinks back, but all he remembers about Summer Daze is the costumes and face paint – he’s pretty sure the drummer had a tiny mustache and goatee.

Ryan’s Spencer, oh, that makes so much sense, he bought him that watch,” Brendon says, nodding. “He saw us at The Cell for Tenderfoot Junction.”

“Great,” Patrick says.

Brendon waves his hands around. “No, no, don’t worry, I cleverly deflected him with trickery—”

“He played dumb,” Kevin says. “I don’t think Smith bought it.”

“I don’t know, Brendon’s dumb is pretty convincing,” Miranda says.

“Stop picking on my tiny friend,” Bill says, wrapping an arm around Brendon and tugging him close. Brendon burrows his head under Bill’s chin and shoots Kevin a smile and an eyebrow waggle.

Kevin shakes his head. His friends are ridiculous.

*


POCKET THIEF AND THE CAB @ CARPORT
There’s truly nothing sweeter than Miss Greta Salpeter’s sugary piano pop (see Greta’s side project, Glitter Girls, with Heartsore keytarist VickyT), so it’s difficult to imagine - but no less awesome to witness - the kind of show Pocket Thief turns out.

Leading with Terrible Crimes of Terrible Beauty, they started off strong and got even louder, making the little-known opener, The Cab, pretty much forgettable (though not, we noted, through any fault of their own - their music’s solid - but way poor event planning by CarPort).

The biggest surprise of the night was how Iero’s manic energy – his spitting, stage writhing, habits of licking Greta’s neck and humping Nate’s kit - took a backseat [or a side seat, you can’t keep Frank down - bden; nor would you ever want to - billiam] to the performance of recent replacement bassist Gabe Saporta (formally of the disbanded Midtown). Saporta’s vocals meshed awesomely with Greta’s, bringing new life to old classics – Ripcord; Fuck You, Dynasty; Big Trouble; Break; Sympathy For Dead Mothers – and towering over everyone else in the band. Seriously, he’s got to be at least seven feet tall, and Pocket Thief lives up to its name, full of tiny, tiny people.

Even more fun: the visible dislike Saporta and Iero seem to have for each other. Instead of creating discordance, though, they just rocked harder – the push and pull, the unsaid dare-you making them both wilder, more unhinged. It’s a wonder Greta wasn’t squished right off the stage. Though Greta held her own, as usual, with heels sharp enough to slice your heart, wrapped in enough leather to choke a cow - her voice was husky and raw by the end of the second set, but it didn’t matter, because everyone was singing along.

POCKET THIEF AND THE CAB @ CARPORT: SEPTEMBER 19TH 9:30PM
The Cab’s set list: missing. It was Bden’s job, but he was too busy being spectacularly gay (yes, Bden, give it up) with many beautiful boys.

Pocket Thief’s set list:
+ Terrible Crimes of Terrible Beauty
+ Ripcord
+ Break
+ Mistaken For Gold
+ Big Trouble
+ Fuck You, Dynasty (now confirmed: yes, this is indeed about the show)
+ Sympathy For Dead Mothers
+ Signal Fires
+ Down
+ Lake Effect

- rand @ emc


*


OCTOBER


*


Kevin doesn’t understand it, but Joe, a lowly freshman, is widely known as being cool. He’s got the same brushed silver ring on his finger, goes to the same church every Sunday, but here’s Kevin, Loser, and there’s Joe, Popular Guy. It makes no sense, in any universe, especially since Joe doesn’t even actively try to fit in.

“I’m more handsome than you,” Joe says, leaning back against the dirty brick wall, just outside the gymnasium. “Is Brendon giving us a ride?”

Kevin rolls his eyes. He’d be offended, except they kind of look almost exactly the same. It’s weird. “He should be,” he says. Brendon has a minivan affectionately dubbed the Purple Beast. It’s kind of embarrassing, but it’s wheels, and Brendon’s the only one of his friends that’s mobile.

Joe bobs his head and says, “You have no life. You don’t do anything, and when you do do something, it’s with all your loser friends who also do nothing.”

Kevin knows better than to argue with that. “All you do is hang out at the roller rink every Friday.”

“Because the roller rink is awesome,” Joe says. “Duh.”

“I like Bonus best, you know,” Kevin says.

“Who doesn’t?” Joe says, fidgeting. “Seriously, where’s Brendon? The longer we stand here, the easer it’ll be for Lacey to spot us—dude, it’s like he’s got a vendetta against you, like you shot his dog or something.”

“I have a theory about that,” Smith says, appearing out of nowhere, and Kevin maybe jumps three feet in the air.

“Holy crap,” Kevin says, hand to his chest.

“Sorry.” Smith shrugs, like he isn’t sorry at all.

Joe looks at Smith curiously. “So you have a theory?” he asks.

“Yeah.” Smith cocks his head at Kevin, eyes him speculatively. “Pretty sure I’m right, too, Lacey’s kind of a social fuckwad.”

“I noticed,” Kevin says, even though he’s not exactly sure what Smith’s alluding to here. It’s not that hard to see that Lacey’s got some mental problems.

Smith nods, but doesn’t expound on his theory, just smiles wide and enigmatic and Kevin shakes his head. Whatever. It’s not like Kevin really needs to know Lacey’s motivation here, they’re never going to get along.

“I’m going to,” Kevin points towards the heavy metal doors leading back into the gym hallway. “Look for Brendon, make sure he didn’t get lost in the bathroom.”

“Check the one by the pool,” Joe shouts after him. “The last stall has a sticky lock, it’s where he was at lunch yesterday.”

Kevin bites his lip around a grin. And then the doors close behind him with an ominous clang, leaving him in the cool, dim corridor, smelling faintly of must and sweat. Kevin doesn’t have much of an opinion about gym class - he has it with Brendon, who’s a total fail at all athletics, but Kevin’s passable at just about everything – but the gym area after school always gives him the creeps, like something horrible is always about to go down. It doesn’t help that Lacey’s cornered him there more than a few times over the years.

Kevin checks the pool bathroom, finds it empty, then makes his way towards the wing that houses their lockers, upstairs and past the history classrooms.

It doesn’t honestly surprise him that he runs into Lacey halfway up the stairwell. It does surprise him that he’s hassling Brendon, though, pushing him up against the railing, fist curled in the collar of Brendon’s polo.

“Hey,” Kevin says.

Lacey’s face is pressed close to Brendon’s, skin bright red, and Brendon’s eyes are narrowed, one palm pressed flat against Lacey’s chest.

“Hey,” Kevin says again. “What’re you—” He reaches out and knocks Lacey’s shoulder, and Lacey jabs back with an elbow and whirls around, hand sliding off Brendon’s shirt but still balled in a fist. Kevin’s standing too close, and it happens too fast and unexpected for him to step out of the way.

His head snaps back as Lacey’s knuckles collide with the crest of his cheek, just under his right eye, and, the thing is, Lacey’s never hit him before. Threatened to, lots of times, but his fist’s never connected with Kevin’s face, something’s always gotten in between them. So maybe Kevin should’ve been expecting this, but somehow he really, really hadn’t been.

Ow,” Kevin says, hand cupping his cheek gingerly.

Lacey looks a little stunned himself – whether because he actually hit Kevin or because Kevin took it, Kevin isn’t quite sure.

“Holy shit, Kev,” Brendon says, voice tinged with awe.

Lacey flexes his hand. “Uh.”

Kevin thinks for a split-second he’s going to apologize, standing there, awkwardly shifting on his feet, big eyes locked on Kevin’s face, but then the bottom stairwell door slams open and Carden and Smith are there, Joe hovering behind them. This is exactly how Kevin had wanted to end his day. His head is throbbing; he just wants to get out of there.

“What the fuck,” Carden says flatly.

Smith shifts his gaze from Lacey to Brendon to Kevin and back to Brendon again, and his mouth gets tighter and tighter.

Brendon fiddles with his popped and rumpled collar. “So, um, no need to—”

“Are you kidding me, Jonas?” Carden says. “How the fuck do you manage to survive on a daily basis?”

Which, okay, is unfair. It’s not like Kevin walked into Lacey’s fist – although he kind of did, but whatever.

Lacey smirks.

Carden glares at him. “You better have a good fucking explanation for this, Lacey. I swear to god—”

“He walked into my fist!” Lacey says.

Brendon’s snort sounds like a giggle, and this is maybe the stupidest situation Kevin’s ever been in, and that’s including the conversation he had last week with Bill about shredded cheese.

“It was an accident,” Kevin says, though he’s not sure why he has to cover for Lacey – he just kind of gets the weird feeling that Carden’s ready to jump in and defend his honor or something. Which on one level is awesome – he’s a little giddy at the thought, though it could be the blow to his head – but on several other levels is just pathetically embarrassing. Kevin can take care of himself.

“And Kev took it,” Brendon says proudly.

“Thanks, Bren.” Kevin isn’t sure if he means that sarcastically or not, but Carden arches an eyebrow at him.

“Yeah?” Carden asks, and Kevin’s kind of glad his face is red already, so the blush traveling up from his throat is hopefully not noticeable at all.

Oh my god, Kevin thinks, I totally have a crush on Carden. This is going to suck so hard.

*


“Over nine hundred downloads in the first two weeks. That’s better than when we dropped Honorable Mention,” Patrick says, just as Kevin hits the landing of Bill’s basement.

Bill sighs dramatically and says, “We should be charging people, you know. Fund our nighttime excursions.”

“Which isn’t the point of NINJA,” Miranda says, then tips her head back and spots Kevin lurking in the doorway. “What the fuck happened to your face?”

Brendon pushes past Kevin. “He had a disagreement with Lacey’s fist.”

Patrick growls.

“No, don’t worry, it was awesome,” Brendon says. “Kevin didn’t even flinch.”

“I flinched a little,” Kevin says. He can see this whole thing getting wildly out of control with Brendon at the helm. He really hopes Lacey doesn’t feel the need to retaliate with something stronger to keep his rep intact. Like a shovel. “Plus it really hurts.”

“No, shit,” Miranda says, getting to her feet and stalking over to him. She cups Kevin’s chin and presses on his cheek with light fingers. “You shouldn’t get a black eye, though.”

“Wait, wait, I haven’t even told you the best part,” Brendon says, waving his arms around. “Carden made him apologize.”

Bill wrinkles his nose. “Mike made poor innocent Jonas apologize to Lacey?”

Kevin glances down at his shoes and mutters, “Other way around.”

There’s a weighty pause. And then a suspiciously Miranda-sounding giggle.

Bill says, “Well,” and, “It seems as though Smith isn’t the only boy out there having trouble with the whole flirting concept.”

Kevin’s cheeks burn. “That’s not what happened,” he says. There’s no way Carden had been flirting with him over that. Carden just feels sorry for him. He thinks Kevin’s a total, helpless loser.

“Anyway,” Miranda says. She pokes Kevin in the stomach. “Help me with my nails?”

“I’m not painting your feet,” Kevin says.

Miranda ignores him and says, “I’m thinking purple sparkles, to go with my kick-ass new eye shadow.”

“It disturbs me, Miranda,” Bill says. “This penchant you have for dark colors and heavy make-up. It’s like you’re Gerard Way circa 2007, back when he thought skeletons and zombies and Liza Minnelli were good ideas.”

“Gerard still thinks skeletons and zombies and Liza Minnelli are good ideas,” Patrick says.

Bill waves a hand. “Well, yes, but he’s much more fashionable about it now.”

Brendon frowns. “I don’t remember Gerard ever wearing any sparkles.”

“They were called Unicorns of Destiny,” Bill says. “It’s implied by the name.”

“They weren’t—” Patrick cuts himself off, tugging his hat down over his forehead with an annoyed huff.

Kevin shares a grin with Miranda behind Patrick’s back. It’d been mainly a joke, back when Frank Iero was in Virgil with both Gerard and Mikey Way – he’d introduce their second set as Unicorns of Destiny and make them all wear rainbow-colored painters’ caps. Personally, Kevin always enjoyed that a lot better than Virgil, but it might have had something to do with the giant crush he’d had on Mikey Way’s smile.

“Where are we going tonight?” Kevin asks. It’s Monopoly night at the Jonas household, so he’ll have to get ready at home instead of at Bill’s.

“We’ve got The Cab and Larry Says Hi at Bootstrap, or The Von Dangerfields at CarPort,” Patrick says.

“Oh, The Von Dangerfields, definitely,” Brendon says, nodding.

Kevin feels a little bad for The Cab. It’s not even that he doesn’t like them; it’s just that he likes all the other bands a lot more. “Von Dangerfields,” Kevin says.

“We haven’t seen Larry Says Hi in months, though,” Miranda points out.

The Von Dangerfields, Miranda,” Bill says.

“I’m just saying,” Miranda drops down onto the couch next to Patrick. “The Von Dangerfields’ll be at The Cell next week. And Zac Efron’s hot.”

“Which I’m certainly not denying,” Bill says. “In my purely heterosexual opinion, Zac Efron is smoking. He also wants into Kevin’s pants.”

“Uh.” Kevin does not see how that’s relevant or true. “What?”

“I’m overruling everybody,” Patrick says without looking up from Bill’s laptop. “I like The Cab. We’re going to Bootstrap.”

*


Bootstrap Ten is an over-18 club, and they generally let them all in without IDs as long as they don’t ask for an over-21 wristband. Bill always asks for an over-21 wristband.

Kevin lets Miranda drag him up front for The Cab, even though he isn’t thrilled about it. They’re okay, but Kevin’s overall opinion of them is that they have great hair, and that the bassist is douche. Kevin’s seen their newest guitarist, Crawford, perform before, though, back when he was in ZFF, and he’s nothing short of amazing. He nearly reaches Ray Toro infamy on his solo, and Kevin’s impressed.

Patrick clearly is, too, from the way he gushes afterwards, leaning against a wall near an open side door – the night is chilly and the inside of the bar is muggy hot; Kevin shivers but the fresh air feels good.

“I mean,” Patrick says, “technically, he could be better, so Toro’s got that on him—”

“You’ve got that on him,” Miranda says.

Patrick’s cheeks pink. “Well, um.”

Kevin thinks it’s funny, the way Patrick’s completely confident about everything he does except when someone else points out how awesome he is.

Patrick clears his throat. “Anyway.”

“Anyway,” Bill says, draping an arm across Patrick’s shoulders. “He gets three hundred points for enthusiasm. I think it’s the hair.”

“Well, hello there, friends.”

“Zac,” Bill says, making a face over Kevin’s shoulder, and Kevin freezes up when he feels a hand low on his back. “You’re looking—orange.”

“Can’t let the winter blues bring you down, dude,” Zac says, really, really close to Kevin’s ear.

Kevin relaxes incrementally into the touch. Zac is hot; Kevin’s not going to deny that. He shifts a little so he can give Zac a smile, and Zac smiles back, somewhat sexily – enough that Kevin thinks maybe Bill’s right. Zac’s been friendly with him before, but there’s always been a goofy edge to it – although there’s still a goofy edge, the guy’s orange.

Kevin doesn’t normally make out with people he knows. Mainly because he doesn’t hang out with people he knows, not outside of his little group of friends.

The bands are a little different, since most of them are older, and when they’re not older, they’re from different schools and different zip codes – even when he talks with them, they really don’t know who Kevin is. And they basically try to keep their distance from the handful of semi-successful band members from Randolph High – Wentz, three-fifths of The Cab, Kitty and Trohman from Heartsore. Everyone in the now defunct Virgil don’t count, since they’ve all already graduated, and they all knew who they were, anyway; it had been really tough for Patrick to keep his fan-boy self in check over them.

Zac’s part of a weird little group that knows exactly who they are, knows they’re NINJA and that they write the reviews for Eat More Cats. He knows he’s Kevin and K2 and that he goes to Randolph High, but he doesn’t know he’s actually a giant loser. Zac, apparently, wants into Kevin’s pants. It’s kind of cool.

Zac slides his hands around Kevin’s waist and leans heavily against his back. He widens his stance to catch Zac’s weight and firmly ignores Bill and Bill’s meaningful eyebrow waggles.

Zac digs his chin into Kevin’s shoulder and noses his cheek and Kevin’s stomach tightens.

“Let’s dance,” Zac says, and Kevin lets Zac pull him out onto the floor.

*


Kevin likes it slow. He likes it loose and meandering, shies away from anything intense, because this is just a little fun; a little something he doesn’t normally let himself do, but he’s not going to go wild. So maybe he’s dancing arguably too close to Zac, one hand on the back of his neck, the other curled into his collar – and maybe he lets Zac slip a hand up under the hem of his shirt, flat against his bare skin. It’s not a big deal.

Zac grins into the side of his jaw. “You’re really awesome,” Zac says, and Kevin thinks that even though Zac’s totally, unequivocally hot, he’s really just a big orange dork, and Kevin honestly likes him.

“Thanks,” Kevin says.

Vanessa taps her mic and says, “Paging Mr. Efron, please get your cute butt to the stage,” and Zac gives Kevin’s ass a friendly squeeze before bounding away.

“Catch you later, Jonas,” Zac shouts over his shoulder with a jaunty wave.

Bill slings an arm around Kevin’s neck. “Don’t think I didn’t notice that,” he says.

Kevin shrugs.

“You’re just lucky I spied Brendon sucking face with Corbin five minutes ago. It was hilarious. His hair was eating Brendon’s entire head.” He tugs Kevin around. “To the bar, my friend, I’ve got the tiny cell phone pictures to prove it.”

*


For approximately three days, it seems like Carden’s constantly watching Kevin in the halls and common areas, mouth pulled down in this scary, disapproving scowl. Kevin has no idea what’s going on, but it’s starting to unnerve him.

Patrick glares Carden down for him when they get to lunch. Kevin’s tried it, but Bill says Kevin’s got the glare of a baby Labrador, and it just makes him want to smush his face and cover his nose with kisses. Whatever. Bill’s weird.

There’s no doubt Patrick’s glare is more effective, though, since Patrick is already disgruntled eighty-five percent of the day due to Wentz. He’s had lots of practice.

“Why are we making mean faces at Carden?” Brendon asks.

Patrick huffs. “He’s bothering Kevin.”

Brendon bobs his head. “I see,” he says, and Bill says, “He’s doing nothing of the sort. He’s keeping an eagle eye out for Lacey, you realize. He’s sure to double-up his attacks on Kevin’s personage for being a hot-ass now that he’s got jealousy mixed in with all that raging homosexual denial.”

Kevin blinks. “What?”

“You didn’t honestly think Lacey hated you, Kevin,” Bill says. He steals some of Patrick’s fries, deftly avoiding Patrick’s punch towards his kidneys.

“Well, uh. Yeah.” Kevin figured that was the whole point of making his life a living hell for two and a half years. And also, “Jealousy?”

Bill rolls his eyes and reaches across the table to ruffle Kevin’s curls. “You are so dense, Jonas,” he says.

Kevin frowns and ducks away. “Whatever. I’ve been beaten up, you have to be nice to me.”

“I don’t have to,” Bill says. “Luckily, I like you enough to be nice to you anyway.”

Kevin risks a glance towards where he knows Carden is sitting with Michael Guy and Wentz and Trohman. Carden’s got a half-grin on his mouth, nodding at Michael Guy, and Kevin rubs two fingers over his forehead, sighing.

“In a totally unrelated note,” Miranda says, “we got an email from Blackinton.”

“The Von Dangerfields!” Brendon says. He dances a little in his seat and does some jazz hands that Kevin is totally embarrassed about; he covers half his face with one hand.

“He wanted to make sure we didn’t miss their show tonight.” Miranda looks pointedly at Patrick.

Patrick jabs a fork at her. “It was worth it,” he says.

“Completely worth it,” Bill agrees, “I’m posting blurry make-out pics on EMC, and what’s-his-name, the bendy blond dude who licked Zac’s face—” Bill gives a thumbs up. “Larry Says Hi knows how to entertain. It’s like if Virgil went Christian power-pop.”

Brendon pulls a face. “Ew.”

Miranda pegs Bill with a fry.

*


Kevin groans, leaning his forehead against the grimy bathroom mirror – if he was coherent at all, he’d be completely grossed out, but his head hurts too much to care. Kevin doesn’t drink, but somehow, someway, Ryland Blackinton had gotten him plastered the night before at The Cell. He’s magic. Sneakily evil and magic.

“Dude, you look like something my cat threw up,” Trohman says from behind him.

Kevin does not know what to say to this – yes, he’s pretty sure he feels like something Trohman’s cat threw up, but Joe Trohman doesn’t generally, under normal circumstances, speak to Kevin. Firstly, because he’s a senior, and secondly because he’s best friends with Pete Wentz, who doesn’t know Kevin’s an actual person. Or visible to the human eye. They’re never mean to him, though, so that’s a plus.

“Uh.” Kevin tries to straighten up, but it’s like his entire upper body weighs two thousand pounds.

Trohman pats his back. “Never figured you for a drinker.”

Kevin swallows down some bile. “I’m, uh, not—”

“Ryland’s magic and evil, I totally get it,” Trohman says, and it takes a minute for Trohman’s words to sink in, but then Kevin really feels like throwing up.

Darn it. Kevin presses his palms into his eye sockets and hisses, “Joe. You can’t—”

“Pete’s got me on Patrick watch, only reason,” Trohman says, hands up and open, placating. “I’m not gonna spread it around that you’re a lush.”

Which had not been Kevin’s immediate worry, but it’s nice to know. “Thanks,” he says thickly.

Trohman eyes him speculatively in the mirror.

“What?” Kevin finally asks.

“Nothing.” He cocks his head. “You just look totally different with your hair straight, you know? I almost didn’t recognize you.”

“That’s the point,” Kevin mumbles. They’re going to have to do major damage control here, he thinks, if Wentz is stalking Patrick to bars. He’s not all that surprised Wentz has gone that far, but it’s going to mess with all their plans. He’s not actually sure how they can fix this.

Trohman claps him on the shoulder and grins. “Next time, dude,” he says, “drink a fuck-ton of water before you pass out.”

*


“It’s not the end of the world,” Miranda says at lunch.

“Wentz is stalking me,” Patrick says. His words are muffled, though. He’s got his face buried in his arms, folded over the tabletop.

“That isn’t actually news,” Bill says. “The greater concern here is that our alter-egos have been compromised.”

“They just think we like bands. Which we do. It’s not a big deal,” Miranda insists, biting into an apple.

Kevin’s stomach growls at the juicy crunch of it, but he’s not actually up to eating anything yet. He sips at his water and keeps his eyes at half-mast, blocking out the harsh fluorescent overhead light.

“You look awesome,” Brendon says, settling down across from him.

“I hate you,” Kevin says.

Brendon makes kissy faces at him before digging into his lunch bag. “So what’s wrong with Patrick? Did Puppies And Kittens break up again?”

“Puppies And Kittens shouldn’t be together in the first place,” Miranda says.

Patrick’s head pops up, half his face red from the weave of his shirt. “Bullshit. Puppies And Kittens are underrated geniuses, there’s nothing more phenomenal than the chord progression at the beginning of Claustrophobia.”

“Let’s talk about how much Claustrophobia is a rip-off of Baba O’Reilly,” Miranda says smugly, crossing her arms over her chest.

Patrick looks apoplectic, mouth opening and closing soundlessly, hands flailing.

Kevin watches Bill arch an eyebrow at Miranda as Miranda arches one right back. They’re now in for an entire lunch period of Patrick ranting, but at least he isn’t moaning about Pete anymore.

*


THE VON DANGERFIELDS @ THE CELL
Like always, the crowd that showed up for The Von Dangerfields was collectively laidback. Decked out in board shorts and bare feet, despite the chilly weather, the quartet known for easy beats and surf rock settled cross-legged on the stage floor, encouraging the rest of the room to join them.

Blackinton and Suarez’s simple harmonies soared over Kennerty’s ukulele and Gaylor’s five million bongo drums. Throw in a shaker or two – Blackinton even picked up a throatier, deep-bellied uke to compliment Kennerty’s plinky strums – and maybe it’s a little early for summer, but no one was complaining.

These are the kind of performances I adore - The Von Dangerfields are excellent to sing along to, you can’t beat the rhythmic handclapping, and the crowd just seemed to reflect the good cheer that radiates off the stage - Kennerty’s smile alone has been known to light up an entire room.

The casual, relaxed vibe lasted through the whole first set, then they came back from a short break with their edgier tunes, their amps and guitars and bass and drum kit. It was no less fun, though, and even Trick got his groove on, singled out by a special lady [this is a boldfaced lie – trick; secret luuuuuuuvers! - bden] and, who was that? Travis McCoy of Heartsore? [shut your hooker mouth – trick]

While Trick was living it up on the dance floor, yours truly was getting the scoop on their rumored EP. With favored tunes like Beach Sandwich and Barefoot Boogie, look for the self-released The Von Dangerfields Live available at local shows next month.

THE VON DANGERFIELDS @ THE CELL: OCTOBER 22TH 10:00PM
set list:
+ Kitten
+ Beach Sandwich
+ Samson and Delilah
+ Listen Up, Betty, ‘Cause I Can’t Slow Down
+ Aquamarine
+ Blush a Little More
+ California Dreams
+ Barefoot Boogie
+ Damp
+ Hot Sexy
+ Make-out Club
+ Not Just a Pretty Wave
+ Single Combat Frisbee

- billiam @ emc


next

Comments

( 13 robots have taken off their pants — Take off your pants )
ecarnation
Sep. 5th, 2009 02:02 am (UTC)
I've been away for a while and haven't read any of your fic in ages. I'm going to correct that now :)
skoosiepants
Sep. 26th, 2009 01:02 pm (UTC)
yaaaaaaay!
amy13
Sep. 5th, 2009 02:20 am (UTC)
OMG - between you and tigs I actually find the Jonas brothers endearing!!! WTF?! Stop being so awesome!!! ;)
skoosiepants
Sep. 26th, 2009 12:57 pm (UTC)
the jobros are irresistible!!
exmptfromsanity
Sep. 5th, 2009 04:33 am (UTC)
I hate you. Seriously, I was going to go to bed and wake up all nicely rested for work tomorrow and you go an post this? Gah!

I'm not sure who Lacey is but the rest of the characters are quite kickass. The band names make me laugh and I love that the Cab seem to be the only band who are actually themselves. I also love that you mention them because they do not get enough credit in mainstream bandom. Also <3 Cash. Hoping they pop up more in other parts.

And Carden, oh Carden... Oh poor clueless Kevin and matchmaker Bill.
skoosiepants
Sep. 26th, 2009 12:59 pm (UTC)
*laughs* Lacey is from Brand New - I ALWAYS make him the bad guy, I don't know why :)
writingblind
Sep. 5th, 2009 01:00 pm (UTC)
Oh my gosh, I am loving this so much. Every single band is so perfect! Lovelovelove.

xxx
whirl_gig
Sep. 7th, 2009 01:02 am (UTC)
oh my god, I had forgotten what it was like to read your bandslash fics.
They.
Are.
Awesome.
I actually laughed out loud so many times during this, I wish I had time to read the whole thing but I have to go to uni and arghh but this part was so so so good.
This made me laugh so, so hard:

“You’re just lucky I spied Brendon sucking face with Corbin five minutes ago. It was hilarious. His hair was eating Brendon’s entire head.”

I was on your LJ last night because I've written a Blaise/Hermione and it made me nostalgic for dirty trousers for a few minutes, because even though you have moved on, it is still made of awesome, and I found this and *tackles you* I love it.
*hugs you until you get awkward*
~ whirlgig (I used to be stufler but have had a name change)
skoosiepants
Sep. 26th, 2009 01:00 pm (UTC)
thank you so much, hon!! *hugs you back*
shortie_mcshort
Sep. 7th, 2009 05:42 am (UTC)
Ah! Where to start? Loved Kevin's idea that Mike had no idea who he was. Also Joe not realizing his own freaking brother was in the group he loved...Patrick made me giggle uncontrollably. You put kittens in and that made me miss my kitty back at my parents house, but s'okay because I am going to do laundry there tomorrow so I can see him...wow tmi.

Oh but one question...at the end of one blog entry Billiam writes "stay classy, Omaha"...like Omaha, NE? just wondering because I am from Lincoln

Anyway LOVED IT was waiting and it came and blew my mind with its awesomeness
skoosiepants
Sep. 26th, 2009 01:01 pm (UTC)
thank you, hon! hee, I'm not even sure where this is set, I think I just wrote that Omaha thing and it flowed really well so I just kept it. so it COULD be omaha :)
reallysonny
Sep. 13th, 2009 01:42 am (UTC)
Sweet Jesus, this is splendid. Pretty much half of what you've written has gone on my Best Quotes of All Time list. And Unicorns of Destiny will forever hold a place in my heart, to be sure.

Lacey as a dickwad ~allegedly harbouring a homosexual attraction to Kevin is uh, quite entertaining. Especially with Nolan as the apologetic badass background lurker.

Oh, and lolforever at orange Zefron. Who still manages to be downright stunning.

Okay, enough from me. I have to read the rest.
skoosiepants
Sep. 26th, 2009 01:02 pm (UTC)
hee, I kind of really loved Kevin and Zac together, because Zac was so dorkishly earnest and hot!
( 13 robots have taken off their pants — Take off your pants )

....

“We’re handling it,” he says, jaw clenched.

Stiles would like to know, honestly, what is being handled - other than himself. He, Stiles admits, is being handled embarrassingly well. “Uh.”

Derek’s entire body is very, very warm.

“Dude. Dude, you’re not, uh, scenting me, are you?” That would be weird. And hot. And weird.

Derek pulls back, grin scary and full of teeth. “Why would I do that?”

Stiles gulps. Yeah. Why.

- Show You What All That Howl Is For

....







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panic - pants to match ver. 3
skoosiepants
master of karate and friendship
pants to match

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