Disclaimer: Dude… you guys have been reading my stories for like, over a year, man. You know what's mine and what's not.

Chapter 11: Business Meeting

A moment of awkward silence filled the room after Randy introduced himself. Despite its searing level of discomfort, Randy continued to smile; a cool aura of calm and confidence seemingly shining from him. It was Ed who finally broke the silence.

"Hiya, Randy!" Ed greeted, "I'm Ed!"

Randy chuckled.

"I already knew that, but hey Ed," Randy replied, "So, Jason filled me in on what you guys have done so far. He showed me the demos of the tracks you've laid out, and I've gotta admit, I agreed that they're perfect for your comeback album."

"Cool," Eddy responded.

"Now before y'all tell me about what you've been doing today, let me tell ya what my strategy is for the rest of the recording process." The new producer said.

"Alright, sounds like a plan," Christian replied, still silently sizing up the new guy, "What've you got up your sleeves, then?"

The mixed producer smirked.

"Alright, I'll tell you what," Randy replied, "No offense or anything, but this place is a little cramped, what do you say we go grab a bite and talk about it? C'mon, I know a place."

The inquisitive quartet agreed and, with Jimmy in tow, climbed into Randy's huge Hummer, which took them to a semi-casual Asian bistro. As Ed, Eddward, Eddy, and Christian thumbed through the menu with platters whose names they couldn't pronounce, Randy smiled again and waved over a waitress. He looked over at the band before he ordered.

"Are you guys all supposed to be alcohol free or what?"

Eddward and Christian raised their hands.

"Uh… I don't know about Ed n' Eddy over here, but we are." Christian responded.

Randy nodded.

"We'll have three kamikazes, three mineral waters, and six sushi platters, please."

As the waitress wrote everything down and walked away, Randy turned back to the band and their "little dude".

"Anyway, here's what I see happening for the rest of the album," Randy said, "First of all, don't worry, I'm not going to make you do anything out of character like haircuts or anything, so relax, guys!"

Ed, Eddy, and Christian erupted with loud sighs of relief simultaneously.

"As for the actual new music, like I told ya, I like what you've got so far," he continued, "It sounds like you guys pretty much follow the same basic formula for pretty much everything you make. Not that that's a bad thing, though. I listened to 'Mental Case, and I've come to the conclusion that your 'formula' is this: You guys bring all of your individual influences to the table and throw 'em together."

The band glanced around the table at each other. Christian raised an eyebrow while their new producer continued to speak.

"I mean, I'm not saying anything y'all don't already know, am I? From what I heard, Double D brings up his really complex solos and counter melodies, while Ed backs him up with those chunky riffs, Eddy uses his Tommy Lee-like beats, and Christian comes in with those really heavy bass lines," Randy continued, "It's like that with every song you guys make."

"Yeah, so?" Christian asked.

"So that's how you write your songs, and that's cool and everything, but this time your fans might want to hear something a little different, don't you think?" the producer questioned.

Eddy looked over at Christian, who was now raising both of his eyebrows and giving him a very frightened and paranoid look.

"What do you mean 'different'?" Eddy asked, hoping to put a stop to his bassist's paranoia.

"You know; polishing up your sound a little bit, then maybe shake up the formula you guys used for your last album a little bit." Randy replied.

"What do you mean 'shake up'?" Ed asked, raising his eyebrows.

"I'll tell ya what, Ed," the new guy stated, "I won't tell you, starting tomorrow, I'll show you guys what I'm talking about. How's that?"

"That sounds cool." Eddward said.

"Ok, I think that's enough business for now," Randy stated, "What do you say we get to know each other a little bit better?"

The band and photographer quickly agreed. They traded anecdotes for a while until their platters and drinks arrived. Eddy, feeling a bit braver after a few kamikazes, was just about to try and work his old charm on the pretty Japanese waitress when he was suddenly interrupted.

"Eddy!"

He looked over and noticed that it was Christian trying to get his attention.

"Eddy!" Christian hissed, raising his eyebrows and motioning behind him by tilting his head aggressively.

Normally, Eddy would've known immediately that Christian was signaling that he wanted to say something to him privately, but after he had two and a half kamikazes in his system, he was a tad slower on the uptake.

"Eddy!" Christian hissed again, "C'mon, let's get out of here for a sec, we need to talk."

"Aw c'mon, Christian," Eddy sloshed, "I'm havin' fun!"

Christian rolled his eyes. "C'mon rummy, let's go!"

"Aw c'mon!" Eddy grumbled, watching with dismay as the waitress walked away.

The Canadian bassist quietly and quickly dragged his friend into the men's room and locked the door behind him, then gave all the stall doors a quick kick to make sure that they could have their mini band meeting alone.

"Alright, Christian," Eddy slurred, "What the fuck is so important that it couldn't wait 'til after I saw if I still had my damn mojo?"

"Dude, forget about your fucking mojo for a second," Christian said, "This is way more important than you trying to pull a Vince Neil with that kamikaze waitress."

"Oh yeah?" Eddy retorted.

"Yeah," Christian replied, "It's about Randy, man. I don't like him."

"What? Why not? He seems like a nice guy to me!" Eddy exclaimed, nearly falling over.

"Just 'cause the guy's buying us some fruity Japanese dinner and buttering you up with pitcher after pitcher of kamikazes doesn't mean he's going to do what's fucking right for us!" Christian said, grabbing Eddy by the shoulders.

"I fail to see yer point." Eddy answered, trying in his inebriated state to raise his eyebrow.

"Oh c'mon, Eddy," Christian said, "I don't care how drunk you are, tell me you've noticed."

"Noticed what?" Eddy asked, teetering a bit, "Oh! The half black thing! That's not bad, Christian. C'mon, interracial marriages are what make this country so great!"

"No, not that, you fucking wino," Christian explained, "I don't care what kinda racial cocktail he is. I'm talking about that damn vibe he's got."

"Vibe?"

"Yeah man, that damn vibe," Christian seethed, "He's got this vibe about him. It's so mainstream. You know who's fucking mainstream? Goddamn rap music and shit like Green Day, that's what's mainstream! Mainstream isn't rock n' roll, so mainstream isn't us!"

"And?"

"What do you mean 'and'?" Christian spouted, "I know you heard what he said, you weren't drunk yet. 'This time your fans might want to hear something different, don't you think?' C'mon Eddy, he's trying to turn us into some kinda mainstream rock n' roll puppets like Good Charlotte or something!"

"How do you know?" Eddy slurred.

Christian sighed, finally conceding to the fact that trying to talk about his fear with his band mate in this condition was like trying to turn a porn star into a nun.

"I don't know man," Christian concluded, "I just have a really bad feeling about this Randy shit."

The bassist turned and unlocked the door and helped his plastered pal back to the table.

"Hey guys," Randy greeted, "Where have you two been? Your sushi's getting dry."

"Oh uh, I was just helping Eddy here find the bathroom," Christian fibbed, "He's kinda getting a little bit on the tipsy side. You never know, he might go into the girls' room or something."

"Oh, I see," Randy chuckled, "Eddy sure likes to party, huh?"

"Yeah, we all do," Christian replied, "I'm thinking Eddy's had enough for tonight, though."

Randy shrugged. "I bet he can muscle down a few more, don't you think? You seem kinda nervous, why don't you have a drink or something and loosen up?"

As soon as Randy made the suggestion, Ed and Eddward looked at each other.

'That's something you think and don't say.' Eddward mouthed to Ed.

Christian, without blinking or saying a word, pulled out his metal prosthetic leg and dropped it directly onto Randy's plate. As he struggled a bit to keep his balance, he crossed his arms and looked at his new producer's wierded-out facial expression.

"I'm sober," Christian said plainly, "I used to drink a lot, but I ran up a real fucked up bar tab. It literally cost me a damn leg. So if it's all the same to you, I'd rather not piss away all of the stuff I learned in rehab just so you can call yourself a good host."

Randy blinked. "Oh, I'm sorry, man, I didn't realize."

"It's ok, I understand," Christian said, taking his leg back and wiping the crumbs off of it before popping it back into place, "You didn't know."

"Just a head's up, I don't drink anymore, either," Eddward added, fiddling with his fedora, "I died once."

Everybody at the table gave Eddward a weird look.

"What?" Eddward said, "It's true. You guys remember, the time you found me under my table when we were kids!"

"Oh yeah, I remember that!" Ed exclaimed, "That was scary!"

"Yeah, there were bottles everywhere and you were coughing up blood and then you had to get yer stomach pumped!" Eddy slurred, helping himself to another kamikaze.

"And so will you if you don't quit drinking that shit," Eddward answered, taking the shot glass away from Eddy.

After the unpleasantness was behind them, they managed to have a pretty good time for the rest of their business dinner. Once they'd finished and Eddy had finally given up on hitting on the Japanese waitress, they all got back into Randy's Hummer and drove back to the studio. When they arrived, they decided that Eddy wasn't going to be much use for rehearsal in his current condition. They called it a day, bade each other farewell, and went to their cars to go to their hotels. With Eddy being in no shape to drive, Christian gave him a ride.

"I don't get it, dude," Eddy piped up, still drunk, "What makes you think Randy's gonna like, change us and stuff?"

"We've already been through that, he just seems so mainstream," Christian replied, "Why would Jason pick a guy like that to produce us?"

"Well we'll see why tomorrow, won't we?" Eddy hiccupped.

"Yeah, I guess so," Christian said, "I got a bad feeling about this, a really bad feeling."