Kevin Jonas/Mike Carden | The Jonas Brothers, The Academy Is..., Jon Walker
“Let me get this straight,” Nick says, ignoring Joe’s snickers. “You accidentally implied that Mike Carden is a rapist.”
In which there is an elevator, a bet and the VMAs, leading to drunkenness, misunderstandings, and some approximation of dating. Mike is prickly, and Kevin is unwittingly a douche.
Contains minor references to Property of the Queen and Laser Cats, because Andy Samberg is a genius.
A/N: This was supposed to be a tiny little one-off about Mike and Kevin in an elevator. I don’t know what happened, but I’m blaming Bill Beckett. Unbeta’d, ridiculous, schmoopy, angsty, faily boys failing at love, told in snippets of various shapes, sizes and times. Title comes from The Art of Dancing by Bronx Cheerleader.
Dancing Without Warning
Kevin isn’t used to being alone much anymore. It’s awesome, because he’s always surrounded by family and friends and fans - and he doesn’t know, maybe it’s because he’s the oldest or whatever, but this mammoth amount of fame is still pretty sweet. He doesn’t get how anyone can be bitter about it.
But, yeah, it’s really rare for Kevin to get any time to himself, so he doesn’t actually know how it happened, but he’s currently stuck in his hotel elevator sans, well, everybody, except for a vaguely scary guy slumped along the rail, arms crossed over his chest and dark hair hanging over his eyes.
Kevin can’t see it, but he can feel the guy’s gaze on him. Intense, but not the kind of stare where, like, he recognizes and admires him. More like the kind of stare a lion gives a baby antelope, like he’s really looking forward to a tasty, easy meal.
Kevin swallows down a meep and tips his head back to stare at the numbers as they light up, one by one, and it’s got to be the slowest elevator ride in the history of all elevator rides ever. He’s definitely not thinking about how small the elevator is, and how it’s like the AC is broken or something, because he’s maybe starting to sweat a lot.
“Hey,” the guy says, low and stretched out like glue.
Kevin flicks him a smile. “Hi,” he says, because his mom raised him polite, no matter how weirded out he might be. He holds back a flinch as the guy reaches out, lazily tugs on the end of his scarf and laughs a little, a short huff of breath.
“Dude, c’mere,” he curls his fingers tighter in Kevin’s scarf, “let me ask you something.”
Kevin is not helpless. Kevin’s an active guy, he’s totally in shape, but this guy’s determined, apparently, and also – okay, Kevin can admit it, the guy’s kind of hot. In that I’ll-mess-you-up way, so Kevin’s also highly aware that this could be a whole let-me-beat-the-snot-out-of-this-fag thing. Which would be awesome, right.
Kevin swallows hard. “Hey, um, are you—”
“My luck, right?” the guy says softly, mostly like he’s talking to himself, and then, “You’re like a poodle,” right before he kisses him.
It only takes a second before the scent hits him, before he realizes the guy is probably really, really drunk and hiding it really, really well.
“Loosen up, kid,” he says against Kevin’s mouth. He licks him, licks him, and Kevin’s hands curl into his biceps, biting into warm muscles, and his mouth relaxes and it’s almost like Kevin’s kissing him back, the heck, and then the elevator dings.
There’s a palm on the bare skin of Kevin’s lower back, hand spread across his spine. Kevin’s entire body is spangling, he thinks he’s shaking a little.
The guy murmurs, “Not a robot. Bill owes me fifty bucks,” and then he’s holding a hand out, keeping the doors open and trying to wriggle his way into Kevin’s mouth with his tongue, and Kevin’s too stunned to do much more than just let him.
The insistent beeping of the door being kept open too long jerks him back, finally, and the guy has a wicked, dark smirk on his face, lips damp, and Kevin can’t help but think he’s missing something here, like this guy’s making fun of him, despite the fact that he’s gripping Kevin’s hip, calloused fingers catching at his skin, and Kevin wants to move in again, wants to press up against him, and his face heats with complete and total embarrassment.
“This’s my floor,” the guy says with barely a slur, then twists his hand in Kevin’s scarf until he’s got it wrapped around his fist, pulls at it until it unwinds from Kevin’s neck. “See you, Jonas.”
Kevin stands there, numb, as the doors slid closed again, sees himself distorted in the shiny metal. He just got molested by a drunken guy in an elevator. He hadn’t actually wanted to stop being molested by said drunken guy.
He circles his fingers around a now bare throat, palm pressing into the unbuttoned neck of his Henley. He’s a total moron. He’s never ever telling anyone about this. Ever.
Award shows are easy, especially when they aren’t performing.
It’s a little weird, though, to be introducing a band he hasn’t even heard of. Kevin thinks that’s probably why MTV set the whole thing up.
Waiting backstage, Kevin’s carved out a little niche for himself behind one of the venue’s security guards. He’s got Nick in his sights and earbuds hooked up to his iPod and the latest TAI album – he can’t hear any of the bustle, but he knows Nick’ll tip him off when it’s time.
If he meets these guys, he doesn’t want to come off as a dick. He wants to be able to maybe say something cool about their music.
And then someone steps in between him and Nick. A long-fingered hand reaches up to tug one of his earbuds out and Kevin’s suddenly nose to neck with a tall, thin guy in a striped, three-quarter-sleeved sweater.
Kevin tips his head back to meet his gaze. Dark eyes narrow at him from behind black-framed glasses.
“Hi,” Kevin says, turning his iPod off. It’s really loud without it. He can hear one of the bands, hard rock and heavy guitars, performing from the side stage.
“I’m William Beckett,” the guy says, holding out a hand.
“Kevin,” Kevin says, and William nods.
He says, “I know, I know,” and a shirtless, bored-looking guy with an amazing amount of tattoos pokes William in the shoulder with a pair of drumsticks, saying, “Stop fucking around, Bills.”
William waves him off, grinning. “This’s important, Butcher, you don’t want Mike to win, do you?”
“Don’t fucking care, honestly,” Butcher says, rolling his eyes. He scratches at his belly and Kevin pointedly doesn’t watch. Nick’s had that talk with him before.
“Now,” William’s grin grows teeth, “my boy says you’re fully fleshed. I’m notoriously tight-fisted, though, so let’s see your mouth.”
“Don’t be shy, open up,” William says, and Kevin is one hundred percent sure he’s laughing at him, even though he’s not making a sound.
Before it can possibly get even more awkward, though, Joe swings by and pulls Kevin off with one of the many clipboard wielding techs hanging around, and Kevin finds himself blinking unsteadily into bright stage lights, the crowd a familiar deafening roar.
There’s five minutes of banter, there’s Joe being a ham and Kevin – intentionally, thank you very much – being an idiot and Nick finally announcing the band.
Kevin recognizes William Beckett, strutting towards the front of the stage, and he recognizes Butcher behind his kit. And then he recognizes the drunk guy from the elevator. He’s got Kevin’s scarf draped around his neck. Great. The whole conversation with William makes a little more sense now.
“You don’t drink, right?”
Kevin’s old enough to drink, but he doesn’t. It’s got a lot to do with his parents and how he was raised, but it’s also got a lot to do with witnessing how completely stupid and ridiculous people get when under the influence. Kevin and Nick and Joe have always been able to have fun just being themselves.
Kevin shoves his hands in his pockets and says, “Right,” and tries to will away the heavy blush he can feel traveling up his throat.
Mike – Kevin’d looked them up, he knew the guitarist was Mike before they’d even taken the stage – salutes him with his beer.
Kevin is usually an awesome conversationalist, he’s friendly and outgoing, but he’s having trouble with Mike, like his brain just stutters to a complete halt watching Mike tip his beer up for a long swallow, like he can’t help wondering what that would taste like, if it’d be any different from before.
Mike quirks an amused, wolfish grin. He leans towards Kevin, so close their hips are almost touching, and it works in this party crowd; no one’ll notice the way his mouth hovers along Kevin’s jaw as he says, “You might want to stop staring at me like that, Jonas, or I’ll have to twist that pretty little ring off your finger.”
Kevin can feel his eyes get huge. “You, um.”
“That’s right.” Mike reaches up and tugs on one of Kevin’s curls. “Think about it, kid,” he says, then saunters off, slicing through the packed bodies surrounding the bar.
Kevin does not drink.
He absolutely has not been drinking when William finds him later, leaning against the cool, soothing wall of the men’s room.
“Oh hell,” William says.
Kevin can’t exactly focus on him; the room’s sort of doing this spinney thing.
“Who on earth gave you alcohol, young man,” William says, and Kevin feels hands on his arms, pulling him upright. “Tell me so I can scold them properly.”
“I can drink,” Kevin says.
“Apple juice, perhaps,” William counters. “Normally, I’m all for debauchery, Jonas, but this feels utterly wrong on so many levels. It’s like sloshing beer in a puppy’s water bowl. You better not get sick on my shoes.”
Kevin immediately feels like he needs to get sick on William’s shoes. He presses his lips together until the dizziness passes.
“I’m entirely too sober for this situation,” William says.
“I’m fine,” Kevin says, and he’s totally fine, he just thinks maybe the whole of Cobra Starship didn’t exactly have the best of intentions with their yummy, fruity drinks and their, ‘You look down!’s and their, ‘Something pink will cheer you up!’s.
William sighs heavily, slinging an arm around Kevin’s shoulders. “Well, if you’re fine, then I suppose you haven’t had near enough yet. Let me show you exactly how it’s done.”
“I don’t know you,” Kevin says.
There’s a guy sitting next to him on the couch. A guy with close-cropped hair, a beard, and a lazy grin, beer bottle balanced on his soft belly. Kevin could have sworn he wasn’t there a second a go, but Kevin’s feeling a little muddled. A little light-headed and slow, like it takes fifteen minutes for him to lick his lips. Weird.
“Nah,” the guy says, and then, “Oh,” and, “Mike totally told me to get you water, shit,” and Kevin makes a face.
“Mike,” Kevin says. “I hate Mike.” He hates Mike in the way that he wholly and truly doesn’t actually hate Mike. It’s terrible. Also, there is a distressing lack of sweet things in his glass. He holds it up and frowns into it. William promised him sweet things. William is a liar.
Also, Kevin has no idea where he is.
“I think I’ve been kidnapped,” Kevin says.
“Bill does that sometimes.” The guy nods. “It’s how they got Chiz.”
Kevin should probably try and figure out where he is, and where Joe and Nick are, because his parents are gonna flip, and The Jerry hates when he gets lost. The Jerry’s an awesome handler. Kevin loves The Jerry, almost as much as he likes sweet, sticky things that make his fingers tingle.
“Gabe Saporta is a corrupter of innocents.”
Kevin blinks blearily up, and up some more. William has a hand on his hip, the other wrapped around a clear bottle.
“We already knew that.”
William waggles a finger at the guy next to Kevin. “You, Jonny Walker, must needs. Um.” He leans forward, wobbly, and braces himself with a hand on Kevin’s shoulder. “Shut the fuck up, Walker, we’re playing truth or dare.”
“Because we’re secretly thirteen-year-old girls.”
Kevin doesn’t really wake up so much as crawl back into consciousness, tiny elephants stomping around behind his eye sockets, by the dulcet sounds of Poison; he’s just aware enough to realize it’s his cell phone, but not enough to actually care. His mouth is dry, and there’s a strong possibility he’s been eating dead squirrels or kittens or something. Or his tongue’s decided to spontaneously grow a thick pelt of fur.
He doesn’t want to open his eyes. He totally doesn’t want to open his eyes, but he feels like maybe he should, just to get his bearings. A huge chunk of the night before is completely missing, but he thinks maybe he doesn’t have any pants on.
Something shifts underneath his poor, defenseless head and pokes him in the ribs.
Kevin says, “Go away,” only he doesn’t actually think the sounds that come out of his mouth can be qualified as real words.
“Hey,” the voice says again, close up to his ear, despite the fact that it’s eating Kevin’s brain, “who’s The Jerry?”
Kevin groans. The Jerry is going to kill him. Directly after his parents, but before Nick. Joe probably hasn’t even noticed he’s missing.
“I’m dead,” Kevin says. He still refuses to open his eyes. He’s not positive, but there’s the possibility that he might go blind from any and all light. He’s not willing to take that chance.
“You might want to put some pants on.”
Kevin makes an incoherent, desperate noise and, like, waits for the voice to shut up and for whatever he’s laying on to not move anymore, and then he drifts back to sleep.
It turns out that Nick and Joe, apparently, do not actually care that Kevin had disappeared for fifteen hours and then turned up with someone else’s pants – and how do pants just disappear, that’s what Kevin wants to know.
Nick just arches an eyebrow when Kevin stumbles into their hotel suite, and Joe—well, Kevin’s not even sure Joe realizes they’re not his pants, despite being pajama bottoms covered in baby ducks.
Kevin’s parents don’t care that he’d been out all night, of course, because Nick and Joe never told them, and The Jerry just claps his shoulder hard enough to bruise and tells him to call next time.
It’s weird. Kevin knows he’s an adult and all, but it’s still weird.
When he’d finally woken up for good, Kevin had been mainly alone, except for some guy he vaguely recognized and William Beckett.
“You’re a good sport, Jonas,” William had said, bundling him up in a knit cap - “Mike’s,” he’d said, “because your hair has nearly reached baby Sisky proportions” – and the pajamas and a huge pair of sunglasses.
The vaguely familiar guy had given Kevin a thumbs-up as William pushed him out into the hall, leaning out after him with a huge grin on his face - the number on the door was two flights below his own, and Kevin had breathed a sigh of relief that at least he was still in the same building.
Kevin had shifted on his feet, said, “Um,” and William had waved him off with a, “Think nothing of it,” and Kevin wasn’t exactly sure what he wasn’t supposed to think of, but his synapses weren’t exactly fully firing.
Now, staring at Joe and his PSP, slumped on the couch, Nick hunched over a sudoku book at the coffee table, he feels like maybe he’s missed something.
They have a flight from LAX to O’Hare in the wee small hours of the morning, so Kevin vomits a lot and then naps most of the afternoon. He feels marginally more human by dinner time. Also, he’s starving.
Joe’s got Nick in a headlock and The Jerry’s watching them from the corner of the elevator, and Kevin would normally be joining in on those shenanigans, except for the fact that he’s thrown up roughly everything he’s eaten in the past four days, plus a whole lot of rancidly sweet alcohol.
Kevin barely registers the doors opening on the fourteenth floor – he’s trying not to get jostled by Nick’s flailing – but then bodies are crowding on and Kevin glances up to see Mike Carden standing in front of him, one eyebrow arched in amusement.
Kevin has a brief flash of bare skin and, like, a warm hand curled over his belt buckle, knuckles grazing his stomach and then he blinks and it’s gone and Mike’s expression has shifted from plain amusement to a knowing smirk and Kevin feels himself go very, very white.
This is not good.
And then William’s there with his octopus arms and grabby fingers and he’s pulling Kevin up against his side and saying, “Let’s all do dinner,” and Joe’s staring at them, flicking his gaze back and forth between Mike and Kevin and William and—Jon Walker, Kevin remembers that now, and a bouncy guy that Kevin thinks might be the lead singer of that band, the circus, hobo, hippie cowboy one.
Kevin widens his eyes and tries to telegraph to Nick and Joe about how much of a horrible idea this dinner thing is.
Nick shrugs and says, “All right.”
They opt to eat in the hotel dining room, since none of them can agree on an actual restaurant. Mike sits across from Kevin at the table and kicks at his feet and frowns when Kevin pointedly ignores him. Kevin watches him out of the corner of his eye, though, as he pretends to listen to William tell some story about Pete Wentz, a flight to New Zealand, a trained monkey, and a packet of peanuts.
He picks at his fries and doesn’t touch his burger.
He pushes at his ring absently with his thumb, doesn’t actually realize he’s doing it until Mike kicks him extra hard and Kevin’s forced to look at him dead on, watches as Mike’s gaze drops deliberately to Kevin’s hands.
Kevin feels like a rock’s settled in his throat, like he can’t breathe right, and it’s stupid, it’s really, really stupid, but Kevin doesn’t even remember, and it meant something to him.
Kevin is not going to cry.
Mike narrows his eyes at him.
Kevin rubs a hand under his nose.
Finally, Mike snaps, “All right, fine,” and grabs Kevin’s wrist and hauls him away from the table so quick Kevin doesn’t have any chance to protest. Just stumbles to his feet and lets Mike steer him from the room and out into the lobby.
He spins Kevin around and pushes him up against a wall, one palm on the center of his chest, just south of the bank of elevators.
“What the fuck is your problem?” Mike asks.
“Nothing,” Kevin says. What does Mike want him to say?
“You look like I ate your bible,” Mike says, and Kevin chokes on a laugh-sob and Mike’s eyes widen in alarm. “Oh, hey, kid, what. You don’t think—”
“It’s nothing,” Kevin says. Mike’s hand slips off him and Kevin crosses his arms over his chest and stares down at his feet and mutters, “Seriously, it’s nothing.”
Mike makes an annoyed sound and knuckles Kevin’s chin, tilting his head back up. “Bill’s a mother hen, man, he didn’t let you out of his freakishly long reach all night,” Mike says.
Well, that maybe explains William’s behavior that morning a little better.
Mike takes a step towards him and Kevin jerks back, eyes wide, and something in Mike’s face hardens, like, just a little bit, and Kevin feels his heartbeat kick-up and his fries are sticking sideways in his throat and he’s suddenly very, very glad he hadn’t eaten any of his burger.
“And even if he did,” Mike says, voice low, “I wasn’t exactly going to take advantage of you.”
“You weren’t,” Kevin forces himself to say. It maybe comes out a little more skeptical than he meant – it’s not like he thinks Mike’s lying.
Mike leans in closer and Kevin can’t help it, his mouth is right there, he’s going to stare at it and, like, lick his lips and, um, what?
“No,” Mike says. And then he pats Kevin’s face lightly with an open palm and gives him a smile that looks—wrong. “Nice to know the thought of it disgusts you so much, though.”
Kevin blinks as Mike backs up, hands loose at his sides. “Wait, what?”
“Good meeting you, Jonas,” Mike says, then walks off towards the elevators instead of ducking back into the dining room.
Kevin has no idea what just happened, but he doesn’t think it was good.
“Let me get this straight,” Nick says, ignoring Joe’s snickers. “You accidentally implied that Mike Carden is a rapist.”
Kevin doesn’t think that’s the most salient point here, but, “You make it sound really bad. It’s not that bad.”
“You upset Mike Carden,” Nick says. He says it like it’s so hard to do, which Kevin seriously doubts, and it’s not like Nick’s ever met Mike before anyway, so what does he know?
Kevin bites his lip. “Maybe he just wasn’t hungry? And it’s. I don’t think he was upset about that.” Kevin’s still stuck on the mysterious reason why he was upset, though, because Mike had kind of looked concerned right up until the part where, um. Where Kevin got terrified and almost threw up on his shoes. Which is probably where the whole disgust thing came in. Huh.
Nick arches an eyebrow. Kevin’s really starting to hate it when he does that.
Also, Kevin has to start acting like he has an actual brain or something. He’s really hoping it’s just Mike who makes him this stupid.
“How hard do you think it’d be to get Mike’s number?”
It turns out that getting Mike’s number isn’t hard at all, because William Beckett has planted himself in Kevin’s cell as speed dial number six.
“I’m going to pretend you aren’t a douche,” William says loftily when he picks up. “It’s going to be difficult, but for the sake of butterflies and kittens and rainbows everywhere, I’m going to put forth a great effort.”
“You made a bet about whether or not I was a robot,” Kevin says.
“Touché. To be fair, though, we pretty much have that bet about everyone,” William says. “Standard procedure for avoiding a robotic revolution, Jonas, we’re only being proactive.”
“Um.” Kevin never knows if he should ever take William seriously or not. “Okay.”
“I suppose you want to speak with Mike.”
“Uh.” Kevin wants to talk to Mike, but at the same time he absolutely doesn’t want to talk to Mike, possibly ever again. It would save him a lot of embarrassment. It doesn’t really sit well with him, though, the fact that Mike’s probably thinking all these horrible things about him. “Yeah,” Kevin says. “Kind of.”
“Un momento,” William says, and then there’s a scuffle and a voice that’s definitely not Mike’s says, “How do we know you’re not really a Highlander?” But before Kevin can respond, that voice is gone – although now singing an off-key, “Africa! I’ve been to Africa!” in the background, Kevin has to bite the inside of his cheek to keep down a nervous giggle – and Mike’s saying, “What?”
Kevin is suddenly and painfully mute. Mike sounds pissed.
“Hello?” Mike says.
Across from Kevin, Nick makes a face and holds up a torn piece of sudoku puzzle with the words apologize, dumbass scrawled across the bottom.
“I’m sorry,” Kevin says.
There’s a lengthy pause. Then Mike says, “For what?” and oh, they’re going to play that game, then; the game where Mike’s going to pretend he has no idea what Kevin’s talking about in order to make Kevin feel even more lame.
Nick holds up another paper. It says tell him you want to make out.
Kevin covers the mouthpiece and hisses, “What, are you ten? I’d get better advice from Bonus,” who’s actually ten, and kind of a lot cooler than the three of them put together.
“Okay then,” Mike says, like he’s going to hang up, and Kevin panics and says, “Wait. Wait, I’m. I’m just really sorry. I didn’t mean—”
“It’s not a big deal,” Mike says. He actually sounds sincere. “Forget it.”
Kevin closes his eyes and slumps against the mattress and sighs. “All right.”
“We’re good, Jonas,” Mike says, and then Kevin’s just listening to dead air.
Three days later, Kevin’s enjoying some anonymity in a bookstore – which probably isn’t true anonymity, but he’s there without his brothers, The Jerry graciously agreed to wait by the door, and it’s an adult enough atmosphere that he really thinks the cap and sunglasses are working for him - Kevin gets a text from an unfamiliar number. It reads: wtf are u wearing
Kevin frowns and ignores it.
Fifteen minutes later, he gets a baffling: did u raid ryros closet?
And five minutes after that: u bettr not fucking ignore me kid
Kevin types a tentative: mike?
no its bill in a wig comes back, and then: check your six jobro
Kevin wheels around, hoping he doesn’t look as unsteady as he feels. Mike’s at the end of the aisle, an off-white hoodie open over what looks like a face shirt – specifically Bill’s – leaning an elbow into the wooden stacks. He holds up his cell, then slides it into his back pocket and straightens up. He’s got sunglasses pushed on top of his head, feathering his hair back, and a smile at the corner of his lips.
“Hi,” Kevin says, a little warily. They’re in Chicago, and Kevin knew from Bill that they’d both be in Chicago for a short time, while Kevin’s doing Oprah and TAI’s doing—something else, but it’s a little weird to just run into him like this. Kevin really hopes this isn’t where Mike punches him for—the thing. The thing that Kevin’s been trying really hard to forget.
For once, though, Kevin takes the initiative and moves towards Mike, pulling his own sunglasses off and hooking them into his scarf, offering a smile that he hopes isn’t broadcasting his budding panic. He thinks maybe it’s a little like how he’d feel in the onset of a zombie apocalypse, right at the beginning, before the widespread alarm but after little Jimmy from next door’s tried to bite his arm off.
Mike says, “Relax.”
“Okay,” Kevin says, and actually does relax. A little. “How did you—”
“One of your twins told me where you were.”
Kevin makes a face. “We’re not twins.” That doesn’t even make sense. There’s three of them, first of all, and Nick can’t even drive yet.
“Yeah,” Mike says, tucking his hands in the pockets of his hoodie. “I don’t really care.”
Fair enough, Kevin thinks. He scratches the side of his chin and tries not to be awkward. It’s not really working. “So, um, did you want something?”
When Mike’s grin turns just a shade wicked, Kevin thinks maybe he didn’t ruin everything forever after all.
Two months later, Kevin’s in New York and TAI’s doing Saturday Night Live’s Thanksgiving show, and Kevin and Mike had left it kind of aimless back in Chicago – Mike texts him a lot, and Kevin usually calls him before he goes to sleep, even if only half the time Mike actually picks up – so Kevin’s in the middle of biting his nails down to the quick when William opens the door to Mike’s hotel room.
“We’re your chaperones,” William says, lounging against the jamb.
“Okay,” Kevin says, even though he doesn’t think they need chaperones.
Mike just shrugs and says, “Whatever,” and elbows William out of the way.
“We’ll be quiet as bunnies, pretend we’re not even here,” William says, gripping Mike’s arms and peeking over his shoulder.
Kevin stares at him. In the background, Siska and Butcher are wrestling in front of the TV. At least, Kevin thinks they’re wrestling. Kevin is going to believe very hard that they’re wrestling.
Kevin hasn’t seen Mike in two months, but Mike basically looks the same, maybe more tired around the eyes. The curve of his mouth looks slightly belligerent and his knuckles are white on the door handle and Kevin feels suddenly out-of-place, even though Mike’s the one who invited him over. It’s not like he just showed up out of the blue, expecting a hug or whatever.
“You coming in or what?” Mike asks, arching an eyebrow.
Kevin wipes his palms on his thighs and says, “Yeah.”
Mike cracks a grin. “Ignore Bill,” he says. He hooks a finger into the v-neck of Kevin’s sweater-vest, steering him inside and kicking the door shut behind him. “He’s been fucking giddy since meeting Samberg.”
“The genius of Laser Cats is that they’re cats. With lasers.” William says. And then, “I hope you play Boggle, Jonas.”
“What happened to quiet as bunnies?” Kevin asks, mouth twitching into what he’s sure is a huge, dorky smile, but he can’t help it; these guys are unbelievably fun and oddly sweet and so long as they don’t get him drunk again, they’ll be golden.
“Bunnies thump a lot,” William says.
“They’re messy and destructive, too,” Siska says from his sprawl on the floor, head resting on Butcher’s bare stomach, “if you don’t keep ‘em busy.” He pokes Chislett - slumped low on the couch, eyes closed - with his toe.
Chislett says, “What?” barely cracking open one eye.
“Busy, Chiz. Keep us busy, man, break out the Boggle-dome, Jonas here is going down.”
In December, Kevin pushes open the backdoor to the Disney soundstage where they’re filming their new sitcom to find Mike leaning against the stucco, cigarette clamped between his lips.
Kevin breathes in sharply, caught off guard. He stumbles a little, but Mike just grins with half his mouth, says, “Nice pants,” and then flicks the cig butt onto the ground, lets it burn against the concrete instead of grinding it out.
Kevin blushes a little. He likes his white pants, thanks very much, and so does the wardrobe department. “What are you doing here?” he asks. When Nick had shoved him down the hallway and told him to get some air, he definitely hadn’t been expecting Mike.
“I can go,” Mike says. He straightens up, takes a step away from the wall, but he still looks amused.
“Um.” Kevin hasn’t heard from Mike in a week and a half, not since their first episode aired. He’d just figured—he’d figured Mike had gotten bored, and he couldn’t really blame him. Kevin isn’t exactly sure what they’re doing, but the long-distance aspect sucks, and it’s not like Kevin’s, you know, putting out or anything. It’s almost like they’re weirdly implausible friends. Who occasionally kiss.
It’s bright out, harsh mid-morning sunlight slanting down onto the nearly deserted back lot, and Kevin holds a hand up, shading his eyes.
“Siska’s brother’s getting married,” Mike says, shoving his hands into his pockets. He shakes his hair out of his face. “Want to be my date?”
“This isn’t the best idea we’ve ever had,” Kevin says, a little breathless.
“It’s your fault. What the fuck is this, a corset?”
“It’s a waistcoat.”
“With laces, fuck, I’m tempted to call you an actual girl except there’s ample evidence against that,” Mike says, thigh pushing up into Kevin’s groin, and Kevin is, like, five shades of embarrassed, but arches up into Mike anyway.
“You didn’t call me,” Kevin says, fingers scrabbling to grab hold of Mike’s biceps as Mike’s arms slip around his waist.
Mike huffs a laugh into his throat, stills against him. “Too busy feeling guilty for wanting into your pants, kid. You’re on the fucking Disney Channel.”
“So you’re a pervert,” Kevin laughs.
“Hell, yeah.” Mike pulls back and tugs Kevin with him, hopping up onto the sink counter and maneuvering Kevin between spread knees. He’s got a suit jacket on over a Jonas Brothers t-shirt, because he’s an asshole, and Kevin’s never actually seen him in anything other than jeans before. There are sharp creases in Mike’s pants, and tasteful, barely there pinstripes. Kevin smoothes his palms over them, over where they’re taut on Mike’s thighs, up to his gaping pockets, curling two fingers into each and holding on.
The unisex bathroom at the reception hall is definitely the worst place ever to make out, Kevin knows this; he doesn’t even think Mike locked the door. He rests his forehead against Mike’s and sighs and says, “Bill’s gonna come looking for us,” a second before there’s a loud pounding on the door.
“Bill’s gonna get my foot up his ass,” Mike says.
He lets Kevin go, though, and Kevin reluctantly slips his hands off Mike, moving just far enough away so Mike can gain his feet again, one hip, the length of his leg, a solid pressure along Kevin’s side.
When Mike opens the door, William throws his arms wide and says, “I’m the cockblocking master, my friend, it’s totally my superpower,” and Mike punches him in the gut.
One week before Valentine’s Day, Kevin gets Mike on the phone even though Kevin knows it’s early where they are – Mike’s probably minutes from the stage.
“My mom wants to meet you,” Mike says.
“She’s a fan?” Kevin says absently, tearing open a package of gummy bears, sitting cross-legged in the middle of his hotel bed, and then Mike’s words fully register and he nearly bites his tongue in half.
There’s a long, foreboding, almost scary silence.
Finally, Mike says, “Yes, Kevin, yes, she’s a fan, what the fuck,” and Kevin’s kind of thrown by the use of his first name, so it takes a moment to register that Mike’s hung up on him.
Kevin immediately calls him back and says, “I didn’t mean that.”
“Yeah, sure,” Mike says, but Kevin doesn’t think he sounds mad, exactly. The hint of disappointment is almost as bad.
“Mike,” Kevin says, “I would love to meet your mom,” and oh god, did he just say that? That’s the complete opposite of what he wants, he’d be awesome if he never ever had to meet Mike’s mom, because then he’d totally have to reciprocate, and he thinks maybe he’d pass out from pure fear if he brought Mike home, and he knows that’s wrong and messed up and Kevin really needs to get over it, because it’s not like they don’t know - not about Mike, maybe, but the whole not into girls thing, since Nick says it’s always been kind of obvious.
“Breathe, kid,” Mike says, and Kevin wheezes a little and he’s on the edge of hyperventilating.
He drops his phone and curls his fingers into his knees and bends forward, fighting off a wave of dizziness. Mike’s voice is tinny and loud, like he’s yelling.
Kevin focuses on that, staring at his cell, until Mike’s words make sense, until Kevin realizes Mike’s saying his name, his real name, and they’ve been doing this thing for months now, and Mike only says his name when it’s important. He scrambles for the phone on the coverlet and holds it up to his ear again and takes some slow measured breaths before saying, voice hoarse, “I’m fine.”
“No, I mean, it’s okay, I’m good,” Kevin says, before he can lose his nerve. “Whenever you want.”
TAI kicks off another tour with Cobra Starship in April in Chicago. Kevin flies out to meet them and Nick and Joe come with, because sometimes they’re awesome, supportive brothers, and sometimes Kevin thinks Nick and Joe just like hanging around and watching Kevin humiliate himself. Either way, Kevin’s grateful for the company.
They hide out backstage and watch from the wings and Mike’s wearing Kevin’s scarf again, the one from the VMAs, and he’s wearing another Jonas Brothers shirt, and Kevin knows the entire crowd thinks he’s making fun of them, and it’s kind of warming, makes his face heat, to think mainly Mike’s wearing it for him.
And to make fun of them. Just a little.
“This is catchy,” Joe says, hooking his chin onto Kevin’s shoulder, “your boyfriend kind of rocks, dude,” and holy crap, Kevin has a boyfriend. He’s meeting his boyfriend’s mom.
He waits for the overwhelming panic to set in, waits for the nausea, but it doesn’t come. His cheeks still feel hot and his smile grows a little every time Mike tosses a glance his way, every time he shakes his hair out of his eyes, pulls his shirt up to wipe at his face.
Joe hmmms, taps his foot up against Kevin’s, says, “He’s hot, too.”
“Which one of you is Kevin?”
Kevin’s head jerks up and he widens his eyes at the door of the dressing room, taking in a tiny, dark-haired woman in epically tight jeans and a leather coat. Even before Mike says, “Mom,” Kevin knows who she is by the downward curve of her mouth and sharp eyes.
Kevin swallows hard and waves from his seat on the couch. “Hi.”
“Well,” she says, tapping an impatient, boot-clad toe. “Get up, let me see you.”
Kevin flicks a panicked look towards Mike, but Mike’s just staring at him expectantly, like this is normal, like he doesn’t care if his mom kills and eats him and, like, makes a purse out of his skin. Kevin very carefully gets to his feet and fidgets as Mike’s mom sweeps an assessing gaze over him, and tries to ignore how completely silent the rest of the room is; it’s creepy.
Finally, Mike’s mom turns to Mike and says, “He’s taller in person,” which makes Mike smile, so Kevin figures, maybe, that’s some sort of approval?
“Uh, thanks,” Kevin says, rubbing a hand over his hair, and she arches an eyebrow at him and says sternly, “I’ll expect you both at breakfast tomorrow,” and then she reaches up and kisses his cheek and Kevin’s still standing there numbly as she hugs Mike and disappears out the door.
“She likes you,” Mike says.
Kevin has no idea how it’s possible for him to tell that – they barely met at all. “Your mom is scary,” he says.
Mike shrugs. “Kind of, yeah.”
Kevin’s in the June 21st issue of US Weekly twice.
The first mention is a semi-posed picture, a snapshot of Kevin with Demi Lovato, both of them smiling into the camera, standing together at some Disney function.
The second is Kevin and Mike at Angels and Kings for Pete Wentz’s birthday, heads tilted together, Kevin mid-laugh. They’re close enough that you’d have to really look to see that their hands are in each others’ back pockets, but it’s still there. Whatever they’re doing, it’s there on the page to see; pretty plainly, in Kevin’s opinion.
Still, the photo with Demi is rife with speculation, and the one with Mike just lists their name, rank and serial number. They even spelled Mike’s name wrong.
It doesn’t make any sense.
“Did you see it?” Kevin asks Mike when he yawns through a, “Hey, kid.”
Mike’s somewhere overseas. Kevin’s got his schedule in his iPhone, but he thinks they left their last stop early, which really doesn’t matter, except that means they haven’t had a hotel night for nearly a week. Mike might be cranky.
“You’re gonna have to be more specific here,” Mike says.
“We’re in US Weekly,” Kevin says. “Together.”
After a slight pause, Mike says, “Okay.”
“It’s. We’re us, I can’t believe, I mean, the caption,” he says, stuttering a little, because it’s a big deal, and no one even guessed, and that’s kind of a little disappointing, too. “You haven’t seen it?”
Mike sighs. “I’m in freaking—where the fuck are we, Chiz?” There’s a muffled response, and then Mike says, “We’re in the slice of hell between Milan and Lugano, kid, so no, I have not seen the latest fucking US Weekly, sorry.”
Kevin purses his lips. Yep, cranky. “Sorry,” Kevin says.
“Why the fuck are you sorry?” Mike asks, and Kevin makes a face at his cell.
“Look, uh, why don’t you call me later?” Kevin says, because he’s never been very good with Mike’s moods, and lately Kevin can tell he’s just been pissing Mike off. He’s hoping it’s just the distance, but it’s not like they’ve ever been in one place at the same time for very long, anyway. Kevin spends a good chunk of his year in LA, but Mike’s been touring essentially since they met back in September.
“Yeah, fine,” Mike says, and there’s a hesitation, a split-second audible drawn-in breath, like maybe he might say something else. He doesn’t, though; he just hangs up.
Kevin tosses his phone aside, fingering the dog-eared magazine absently. And then he climbs off his bed to go scrounge for some scissors, because it’s a darn fine picture, even if the writers at US Weekly are mainly talking out of their collective ass.
Mike doesn’t call Kevin later.
And then he doesn’t call some more.
And when Kevin calls Mike, it clicks over to voicemail on the third ring, so Kevin knows Mike’s actually taking the time to press ignore. He’s ignoring him, he’s making a conscious statement, and Kevin thinks, okay, and, fine, and realizes he’s kind of been waiting for this. Waiting for Mike to make this break, because Kevin was never going to do it, he likes Mike too much, and Mike is, like, fifty times cooler than him.
He rubs his fingers over his eyes, blinking back tears, because Kevin is absolutely not going to cry over a guy who can’t even be bothered to actually dump him, like he thinks just fading away’ll be easier on both of them. In theory, that’s great. It’s not like Kevin wants Mike to tell him to his face how much of a loser he is.
In practice, though, it still really fucking hurts.
Kevin knows TAI’s in town because of the link Nick emails him for a local venue, but also because he hasn’t taken the time to delete Mike’s tour schedule from his phone. There’s even a reminder set, the subject MIKE’S BACK!!! lighting up his calendar at half past nine in the morning.
“You’re miserable,” Nick says. He kicks at Kevin’s feet until Kevin pulls them back and tucks his legs up under him on the couch, glaring at him.
Kevin doesn’t deny he’s miserable. Of course he’s miserable, Nick was unbearable after breaking up with Selena, he doesn’t see how this is any different.
“Maybe you should just talk to him,” Nick says.
“Yeah, okay,” Kevin says, rolling his eyes. “He won’t take my calls, Nick, and it’s not like. It’s not like I did something I have to apologize for, anyway.” It’s simple. Kevin isn’t going to make a fool out of himself – any more of one than he already has – and, like, beg Mike to take him back. He doesn’t actually trust himself not to do that, though, so he’s going to stay far, far away.
“Bill sent us tickets,” Nick says.
Kevin’s heart jumps into his throat. “No.”
Joe’s currently on a Cobra Starship kick, though, and he’s also an insensitive dick. He says, “Heck yeah, I’m going,” wriggling down into the armchair with Nick and elbowing him in the head. Nick punches Joe’s thigh, and Joe retaliates with a hard shove, quickly degenerating it into a slap fight, and then Joe’s got Nick in a headlock on the ground and The Jerry has to break them apart.
He’d gotten bitten for his troubles and The Jerry says, “Christ,” and, “I’m not getting paid enough for this” - even though that’s a massive lie – and he mutters something about rabies before stalking off into the other room.
“Good going,” Joe says huffily.
“Whatever,” Nick says. He rolls onto his back on the floor and pokes at Kevin’s knee with his toes. “We’re all going. Bill’s your friend, dude, we’re going.”
Kevin is scared out of his mind to see Mike again. More scared than he was about the thought of meeting Mike’s mom, and it takes Bonus and the promise of grape popsicles to lure him out of the bathroom fifteen minutes after they already should have left.
Bonus has cropped, nearly-buzzed hair and looks like a tiny, dark Bob Bryar with his black hoodie and cargo shorts, and Kevin is kind of dreading the day when he grows facial hair, because there’s no going back from that. Bonus will officially be the badass, awesome Jonas brother and Joe will be impossible to live with. There might even be a disastrous tattoo rebellion, and maybe an eyebrow piercing, and Joe just can’t pull either of those off.
Bonus has sticky fingers and a purple tongue and he sits with Kevin in the hallway, chucks planted on the opposite wall.
Kevin bites into the end of his popsicle and enjoys the quiet, because another awesome thing about Bonus is that he knows when to keep his mouth shut. They crunch companionably in silence and Kevin concentrates on not getting any syrup on his shirt and when The Jerry comes to collect them ten minutes later, he’s almost completely calm.
Kevin spends the whole concert waiting for it to end, so he can just go home already. But then Nick insists they at least say hi to everyone and Joe is, like, enamored with Gabe Saporta, so he ends up getting dragged through security and into the back halls of the venue.
Hanging out backstage is a bad idea. Kevin stands behind Bonus and clamps his hands over his shoulders and tries to act like he isn’t using Bonus as a human shield against all the bad vibes pouring off of Mike when he spots him.
Seriously, worst idea ever.
William, of course, swoops in and tangles both Bonus and Kevin into the same hug, and just before he pulls away he whispers, “Mike’s being impossible, I don’t even know, man,” and that really isn’t so encouraging. Kevin wants to run away even more now.
William bumps fists with Joe and Siska waves at Kevin and Butcher gives him a nod, and Chiz sort of ignores them all, like usual.
Mike just keeps staring at him.
And then Kevin takes back every good thing he’s ever thought about Bonus, because Bonus jerks out of Kevin’s hold and stalks up to Mike and says, “You made my brother cry, you bastard,” and punches him in the face.
Kevin isn’t sure how he ends up alone in the TAI dressing room with Mike, but he thinks it has something to do with the Butcher.
Mike’s got a hand cupped over his nose, blood seeping down his chin, and he’s glaring daggers at Kevin and that just. That just makes Kevin angry, because it’s not like any of this is his fault.
“You deserved that,” Kevin says, before stalking into the bathroom and grabbing a wad of paper towels, running them under cold water for a second.
Mike’s still standing in the center of the room when he comes back out, only he looks more disgruntled than pissed now, and he lets Kevin tug on his wrist, pulling his hand back from his face. It doesn’t look broken, but it’s not like Kevin’s ever seen a broken nose before.
He bites his lip and wipes at Mike’s chin and upper lip before pressing the towels more firmly against him, ignoring Mike’s hiss of pain.
“You’re an ass,” Kevin says.
“Yeah, well, you’re a moron,” Mike counters tiredly.
Kevin’s mouth tightens and his eyes sting. “And you’re. You’re an ass, Mike, seriously,” he says, because Mike’s an ass. This name-calling isn’t doing either of them any good, but Kevin’s not sure what else to say. He doesn’t actually know what went wrong, so it’s like. Should he be even trying here?
“Look,” Mike says, taking the paper towels from Kevin and pulling away, walking towards the other side of the room and dropping them into the trash. He takes a moment to prod on the side of his nose, makes a face, but the bleeding looks like it’s mainly stopped.
“Look,” Mike says again. He crosses his arms over his chest. “I was doing you a favor.”
“That makes sense,” Kevin says, nodding. It makes absolutely no sense at all, and he hopes his tone properly conveys his disbelief.
Mike sighs and runs a hand through his mop of sweaty hair. “You were freaking out over a photo, kid, I just cut us off at the knees, you know, before you had some big angst fest over coming out to your mom.”
Kevin blinks. “I’m. My mom knows, Mike.”
Mike looks tripped up for a second, then shrugs. “Okay, then—”
“My mom guessed when I was twelve,” Kevin says, for no reason other than the fact that he can’t believe Mike actually thought that, and he’s horrified to think that maybe he gave Mike that impression; that he wasn’t—well, he’s not out, obviously, but he’s never tried to hide anything from his family.
Mike shifts on his feet and nods and, if possible, his expression turns even harder – which is just completely baffling, and Kevin feels like he’s some sort of baby deer caught in a traffic jam; he has no idea what’s going on, and he just seems to keep making it worse.
And then it’s like all the fight melts out of him and Mike just says, “That’s great, Kevin,” and gives him a grin that doesn’t reach his eyes.
“Tell him you love him,” Nick says, bouncing a tennis ball off the wall, lying sprawled on Kevin’s bed.
“I don’t love him.”
Nick tilts his head back to stare at Kevin. “Are you kidding me?” he says, then rolls his eyes. “Whatever. Bill says Mike loves you, but, hey, living in denial is awesome fun from what I’ve seen so far.”
Something thick lodges in Kevin’s throat, even as he says, “Bill has a really good imagination.”
“And a romantic soul,” Joe says, nodding. “He told me so himself. Right before he stuck his hands down my pants.”
Nick snorts and pegs Joe with his ball, and Joe yelps and tackles Nick off the side of the bed.
Kevin ignores the scuffle and stares up at his ceiling. His hand reaches for his cell before he’s even fully conscious of it – he holds it up in front of his face and swallows down his nerves and. He hits speed-dial six.
William picks up with a, “It’s taken you entirely too long to wise up, Jonas,” but he’s gone before Kevin can respond, and a wave of deja vu wells over him as Mike says, “What?”
Only Kevin doesn’t feel like he owes him an apology or anything now. He licks his lips.
“Kevin?” Mike says.
“Yeah.” Kevin clears his throat, then goes on, a little quieter, “Yeah, um. I just. I just wanted to say that I don’t know what happened, but it’s not like anyone ever needs a rational reason to break up with someone.”
Mike makes an affirmative noise, and something tightens up around Kevin’s heart.
Kevin says, “So it’s. I mean, it’s not fine, you.” He takes a deep breath. “You kind of broke my heart, you know, but I’m not going to bother you anymore. Tell Bill. Tell Bill thanks for me, okay?”
He ends the call before Mike can say anything, and then Nick’s looming over him, frowning.
“You are dumb,” Nick says.
“It’s called closure,” Kevin says.
“It’s called being dumb,” Nick says. “You’re still carrying that stupid US Weekly photo around in your wallet, Kev.”
“You still want his babies,” Joe says.
Kevin chokes off a laugh and presses the heel of his palm into his eye socket. “Well, yeah.” It’s just not going to make any difference.
The first words out of Kevin’s mouth are, “You’re not supposed to be here,” when he spies Mike outside the soundstage again – Nick’s a sneaky bastard, Kevin’s going to have to start remembering that – and Mike gives him a fleeting grimace, shoving his hands into his pockets.
“I know,” Mike says.
Kevin scratches the back of his neck. He says, “Don’t you—shouldn’t you be on a flight to Seattle now?” and then his throat heats up, since he’s essentially broadcasted the fact that he’s pathetic, and still looks at Mike’s touring schedule.
Mike nods his head, gives Kevin his profile as he squints down the alley of the back lot, and then he says, “Oh, fuck this,” and reaches out, curling a fist into Kevin’s shirt and reeling him in.
Mike tastes familiar, like smoke and mint, and Kevin automatically opens up for him, tilts his head and gasps into his mouth when Mike’s tongue sweeps through. He clutches at Mike’s shoulders and holds on even as Mike pulls back, swipes a slow thumb over Kevin’s lower lip.
“I’m an asshole,” Mike murmurs.
“Okay.” Kevin is not one hundred percent sure he knows what’s going on here, but they can certainly agree on that.
Mike says, “You weren’t freaking out about that photo.”
“I was. I mean, none of it was right. They didn’t even really care who you were, and they implied all this stuff about Demi.” And Demi’s smile always looks like it wants to eat Kevin, and Kevin is very, very scared of that girl – he doesn’t get how the editors or whoever caps those photos could fail so completely at seeing that. He’d been practically in Mike’s lap. Mike is hot and cool and Kevin would not mind at all being associated with him in public.
Mike huffs a laugh. “It’s not a big deal.”
“I just.” Kevin ducks his head. “I don’t know. It was a nice picture.”
“It was,” Mike says, palm curling over the back of Kevin’s neck. He presses their foreheads together. “Sorry.”
Warmth unfurls in Kevin’s chest. He shifts, moves closer, smiling against Mike’s cheek. It maybe takes him a few moments to work up the nerve, after everything, but his voice is mostly steady when he asks, “So you want to meet my mom?”
Mike’s fingers tighten on Kevin, the hand on his nape and the one still curled into the striped button-down wardrobe had foisted on him. And he waits so long to answer, Kevin starts to tense up, wants to take all the words back, feels like maybe he’s read this whole situation backwards, but then Mike breathes out, heavy, and says, “Yeah, okay. I do.”
CODA: Dancing Goes All Night