WARNING: This story is AU − Alternate Universe, thank you very much. For those of you, who are sickened at the thought of Dylan and Phoebe together as a couple, please don't read the piece and pass judgment on it based on the controversial themes. As a precaution, this story may include an adopted brother – adopted sister relationship, teenage alcohol abuse, teenage prescription drug abuse, violence, profanity and many other coming of age topics.
In this story:
Helen's adopted kids: Dylan (16), Naoko (14), Jimi (11), Lau (9), and Marisa & Bina (8)
Helen's biological kids: Phoebe (17), Mick (12), Joni (10) and Aldo (4)
You have been told. Now enjoy. :D
Temporary Loss of Sanity
Chapter One: Mood Ring
It starts in New York City.
The air is oddly cold and foggy on a summer evening in Manhattan. Phoebe North sits in her apartment with arms tightly folded over her chest. Her parents have been gone for a while and only now does the youngster begin to wonder. She kicks off her Converse, one by one, and watches the scuffed fire engine red sneakers hit the floor, landing beside the guitar her father had bought her from a secondhand shop days ago.
Mrs. Jones, the elderly woman who lives across the hall, is sitting in the arm chair across from Phoebe. Some Latino soap opera is playing across the television screen and Mrs. Jones seems to be doing more television watching than babysitting. Phoebe passionately argued that she was old enough to take care of the kids while her parents stepped out, but her mother wouldn't have it. It was one of the few rules Helen North had.
Phoebe sits with disappointment on her face. Her father had promised he'd teach her a song but then he got dragged away, babbling to the North children about a special surprise. Obediently, Phoebe sits, bored out of her mind, having to endure Jodi practicing her saxophone and the howling of Mick's new puppy. Her eyelids are drawing closed when she hears the familiar squeak of the front door and shoots up in her seat.
As the door opens, Phoebe jumps to her feet before Mrs. Jones can even blink. The brunette runs down the hallway only to stop cold in her tracks. There standing between her smiling mother and smirking father is a small boy who looks about her age. He's thin and pale with a messy mop of brown hair, long bangs falling in his eyes.
"Who's he?" Phoebe questions bluntly.
"Phoebe," her father, Peter North, addresses her in his velvet voice that seems like the only thing that calms Phoebe when she's in the midst of a loud, kicking and screaming tantrum. He steps towards her and Phoebe takes a step back. "Sweetheart, remember when your mother and I talked to you about maybe…extending the family?"
Phoebe cautiously nods.
"Well, honey, this is Dylan, Dylan North, your new brother," Helen North explains and gives the young boy an affectionate squeeze on the shoulder. "He's going to be staying with us indefinitely."
"Let's all just sit down and talk about what this means, okay?" Mr. North ushers the shy boy into the apartment, dragging a red suitcase behind him.
No more questions are asked. No more answers are given. Helen loudly calls for the other children and shaking her head, Phoebe grabs her guitar and dashes down the hall. All that's heard is the echoing of the slammed door.
With a sigh, Mr. North massages his temples and mentally prepared for a talk with his oldest child. He easily moves through the room she shares with her sister and finds the tiny brunette sitting out on the rusty, metal fire escape. She has her guitar on her lap and her thin legs hang over the side, watching as the sun sets and the lights go on street by street. Peter groans, trying to crawl through the window to reach his daughter.
"Hey Rockstar, when you kids are teenagers this fire escape is going to be a huge problem isn't it?" Mr. North asks jokingly. Phoebe feels his intrusive gaze and immediately looks away, refusing to make eye contact. "Phoebe, what's wrong?"
"Why do we need another brother?" Phoebe asks sharply, whipping her head to look at her father. "I already have a brother and a sister. Why do I need another one?"
"Some kids aren't as luck as you or Mick or Joni. Dylan, he's a great kid and he has no other place to go," Mr. North tries to explain such a difficult subject, twiddling his large thumbs. "Phoebe, we talked about adopting remember? We talked about bringing someone who doesn't have a family into our family."
"We also talked about moving back to mom's hometown," Phoebe shoots back, "but noooo, we're still in New York City."
"You'd rather be a country girl?" Peter questions laughingly and receives a playful shove from his daughter. "Your mom doesn't think it's a good idea, raising you guys in the city, but hey, I grew up here. The city has so much energy and the people here have such passion for what they love. You can't get this in New London, kiddo."
Phoebe can't help, but soften, loving the sheer zeal glazing her father's dark eyes. She squirms in her seat and sighs, "how long is he going to stay?"
"Phoebe, he's going to be apart of the family," Mr. North stresses, watching his little girl's expression turn sour. "I'm sure you'll love Dylan. He's a couple of months younger than you. He likes to draw and he's pretty good with a guitar too."
"Is that why you brought him here?" Phoebe shouts angrily, her dark eyes narrowed. "Is he better than me? Do you love him more because he can play guitar better than me?"
"Hey, you're my Rockstar, Pheebs, and no one will ever change that," Peter assures her, wrapping his arm around her thin shoulders, smiling. "Plus, your sister can't hit a single note with that sax yet I still love her and she has the passion to play. That's all that matters."
Phoebe giggles, knowing his words to be true.
"Phoebe, Peter, dinner!" Helen's voice echoes through the small Brooklyn apartment. Obediently, Peter crawls back through the window and glances at his daughter whose large doe eyes are still locked on the busy street below.
"I'll be there in a minute, dad," Phoebe says with a smile, looking over her shoulder. With that, he disappears through the door and around the corner. Phoebe stays awhile, lightly strumming her fingertips against the strings of her electric guitar.
"You're good," says a quiet voice from behind. Phoebe stops for a second and turns back to look through the window. There she sees the rather shy boy with a lopsided, boyish grin on his face. He has his hands in the pockets of his ripped, faded blue jeans as his chocolate brown eyes search for acceptance. "Maybe we could play together sometime…"
"Maybe…" Phoebe mutters beneath her breath. She thrusts her guitar back in through the window and Dylan gently takes it in his hands, placing it on its stand in the corner of the room. Together the two walk in silence, headed for a dinner table now set for one more.
"I'm Phoebe," she says in the sweetest voice she can muster. "What's your name again?"
"Dylan," the boy responds.
"Welcome home, Dylan…"
Seven years later…
Dylan North wakes to the sound of two voices in a screaming match at 2 AM.
He sits up in bed, allowing the sheets to roll down his lean torso. He's immediately reminded of New York City, his birthplace, his former home. He's reminded of the bum who sits on the corner and cusses out everyone who strolls by past midnight. He's reminded of their next door neighbor, Mrs. Jones, whenever her son, a struggling pizza delivery boy and drug dealer, begs for money. Most of all, he's reminded of Phoebe. He knows her voice all too well.
Curious, Dylan slips out of bed and walks over to the window, peering outside. He isn't surprised by the sight. He's actually rather annoyed, seeing two figures fighting in front of a candy apple red Corvette. It's just Phoebe and her flavor of the week. Dylan can't even remember the guy's name and he doesn't care to commit it to memory. Just like all of Phoebe's other boyfriends, this one will be gone in a week or so.
Sighing, Dylan feels sleep weighing down his eyelids and staggers back to his bed. He falls onto layers and layers of pillows and blankets. He stares up at the watchful eyes spray painted onto the wall above, slowly lulling back into unconsciousness. Just as his mind blocks out the screams and yelling from outside, snores erupt from across the room.
Grumpily sitting up in bed, Dylan pulls a pillow into his hands and uses all his strength to hurl it across the room. It smacks straight into the older, sleeping boy and William Beardsley groans loudly, only to roll over and bring silence to the room once again. Dylan hears William mumble obscenities in his sleep and Dylan can't help but chuckle, both stopping the snoring and annoying William all at once, killing two birds with one stone or well, a pillow.
Just as he's about to search for a comfortable position, Dylan winces when he hears a loud engine roar to life. It breaks the five seconds of silence Dylan had been desperate for. As the car zooms down the hill, the deafening sound soon dies in the distance. With a sign of relief, Dylan snuggles into his pillow, yanking the sheets over his head.
Suddenly the door of the shared boys' bedroom slowly creaks open and Dylan's initial reaction is to fake sleep. Dylan hears the pitter patter of sneakers against the wooden floorboards before he's forcefully grabbed by the shoulders and violently shaken from side to side. He groans aloud and his eyes snap open in a glare.
"The hell do you think you're doing?!"
"Dylan, no time," Phoebe says, quickly grabbing his electric guitar from its stand. Dylan sees that Phoebe has her own guitar safely strapped to her back as she busily moves around the room. Being the heartthrob that he is, Dylan can read girls like mood rings. Immediately, he knows not to mess with Phoebe who seems to be in a terrible mood. "Get up."
"Phoebe, I'm tired…"
"Dylan, I'm inspired…"
Usually he'd be amused by the spontaneous rhyming, but he's too tired to even respond. Growling, Dylan tries to lie back in bed and hide his head beneath a nearby pillow. Sighing irritably, Phoebe yanks his arm, accidentally (on purpose) causing Dylan to fall out of his bed. His arm hits the bedside table and knocks a few cans of spray paint to the floor along with him. Dylan lands on his back, staring up at Phoebe's completely vacant eyes.
"Hey! Can't you see I'm trying to sleep here? Take it outside!" William yells in his best impersonation of his father. "Damn musicians…"
A reluctant Dylan drags his feet against the floor, following Phoebe to the lighthouse basement. Besides serving as a storage and laundry room, the basement is also known as a haven for the family musicians. The walls are covered with posters of music legends (the Beatles, the Clash, the Ramones, ect.) and graffiti (some tasteful, some random). Phoebe hits a switch and brings the strung Christmas lights to life.
The determined musician immediately goes to plug her electric guitar into an amp while Dylan sluggishly yawns and drops down onto the beaten brown couch. He soon begins to drift off again, finding it painful to keep his eyes open. Meanwhile Phoebe goes through the basement, turning on every light her fingers find. When spotting the lead singer half-asleep, Phoebe twists a knob to maximum volume and strums randomly, the amplifier right by Dylan's head.
Dylan snaps awake in horror at such a horrible sound and Phoebe smirks triumphantly.
"DYLAN, KEEP IT DOWN!"
The teenage boy fills with irritation, hearing his stepfather's screams from the ceiling. Phoebe simply smiles, obviously enjoying the fact that she evaded the blame yet again, letting it fall on the shoulders of the lead singer− something Dylan's grown used to.
"It's nice to see you decided to join me back in the world of the awake," Phoebe says, her voice eerily calm. Dylan shoots her an angry look and Phoebe sighs, slumping down beside him. "Dylan, could you please pay attention for once in your life? I swear, sometimes I wonder if I'm the only one that actually cares about the music."
"I do care about the music," he argues, rubbing his sore eardrums. "Of all people, you should know that, Pheebs. What I don't get is why we have to start so fucking early in the morning! Battle of the Bands isn't even till July. It's fucking April so chill out."
"Can we just…start, please?" Phoebe asks; her voice so much softer Dylan's surprised. She holds out a pad of paper and pen towards Dylan, looking up at him with those damn sad eyes of hers. He's seen her use this look to con so many people before him, yet just like those others, he falls victim every time. He soon gives in and they begin to work.
They slave over sheet music and guitar strings for three and a half hours straight. Dylan's fighting back the urge to fall over while Phoebe seems cursed with a bad case of insomnia. To make things worse, she criticizes every little thing he does. He's singing in the wrong key, he's playing the wrong chord, his lyrics sound cheesy then his lyrics sound suicidal. The list goes on and she makes sure to let him know that she has a problem with every little detail.
"Phoebe," Dylan cries out, ready to rip his gorgeous hair from his head. "It's five thirty in the morning! We're supposed to be waking up in half an hour. Can you please let me sleep? We're obviously getting nowhere!"
Out of sheer frustration, Dylan rips the piece of paper from the spine of the book, angrily crushing it in the palm of his hand. He throws it towards the trashcan where it lands with another ten crumpled balls of paper. All ten are failed attempts that accumulated over the span of almost four hours.
"I don't think you get it, Dylan," Phoebe spits venomously and Dylan almost backs away in fright. "Everything has to be perfect. There's no way I'm going to let my bastard ex-boyfriend and his little band of wannabe emo losers take this away from us. Now, let's try the chorus again without it sounding like the marching band after a drinking game."
"So this is about a dude? What happened to being all about the music, Phoebe? This isn't about the music at all. It's about revenge," Dylan scowls. Everything clicks and it all boils over. "First you wake me up, almost break my arm, shatter my eardrums and then you yell at me even when I'm playing perfect. You know what? I'm done for today so I suggest you go find someone else who cares because I know I don't."
Dylan mentally prepares himself for the backlash and he's stunned when it doesn't come. Phoebe quietly stands from the couch and walks to the backdoor of the basement. She pulls it open with a squeak and walks out, piercingly slamming it behind her. Dylan folds his arms over his chest and stubbornly glares at the door. His eyelids slide close and he celebrates in the silence he's been craving for the last few hours.
Again, the silence is broken though it's not from screaming or loud car engines or music. Dylan hears whimpering. Phoebe isn't exactly known for crying or showing weakness. Dylan knows her well enough to see how she struggles, how she tries to hide her insecurities. No matter what her mood ring says, what mask she chooses to wear, Dylan's always able to look pass her walls and see a broken little girl with a guitar.
Slowly standing from his slouched position on the couch, Dylan walks out into the cool, early New London morning. He sees Phoebe sitting on the edge of the cliff, staring out into the ocean. With his hands in the pockets of his jeans, Dylan slowly approaches her with caution. "Pheebs…"
"What?" she shouts quite angrily. Her hands immediately rise to chase away her tears, soaking into the sleeve of her blouse. She swallows her sobs, making it seem as if she hasn't been balling for the last few minutes. "What are you doing out here? I thought you didn't care?"
"I do care!" Dylan retorts before exhaustedly dropping to his knees with a sigh. "I care about you, Pheebs. I care about the music. I care about winning the competition. It's just when you start fussing and criticizing every stupid thing I do. That's when it gets hard…"
"What's wrong with wanting to be perfect?" Phoebe asks softly, glancing in his directions. Locks of her beautiful brown, almost red hair falls in front of her face, being swept uncontrollably by the wind. Phoebe just looks away, tucking her hair behind her ear.
"Nothing, it's just when you obsess over it then it isn't too cool. We're going to be awesome up there on stage no matter what. Why can't you see that?" Dylan questions in a soft voice, no longer irritated or angry.
It's quiet and Phoebe struggles to get out what's obvious.
"You're right," she admits with eyes on the green grass. "I guess I got a little carried away, but, seriously, I will rip my hair out if that arrogant, irritating wannabe Gene Simmons cheating loser won the competition."
"Cheating loser?" Dylan repeats questioningly, shooting her a rather sympathetic look. Deep down, he knows the answer to the question. He knew it all along.
Dylan studies her profile since she doesn't have the strength to look him straight on. He knows Phoebe won't explain herself, explain something that hurt her. Dylan knew it, knew it since two o'clock this morning, since the first time Phoebe started dating this guy. He's the person she was screaming at. Her fight with him was the reason Dylan woke up. He's the reason Phoebe's so worked up. He's the reason she's so determined to prove herself.
"I want us to be perfect and practice makes perfect," Phoebe speaks after a long pause. "It still is about the music. It always is. Seeing his face when we win is just icing on the cake."
"Forget him, Pheebs. I've got like tons of friends who want to date you," Dylan says lightheartedly, trying to be reassuring though in reality, he'd never let any of his friends date her. She deserves more than the tormented artists and troubled musicians that he hangs out with. "Why'd you date that loser in the first place?"
"Well, it wasn't like I had any better offers," Phoebe says with a humorless laugh.
"You'll find someone, Pheebs," Dylan assures her with a smile, wrapping his arm around her shoulders in an offering of comfort. The wind blows wildly as the sun starts to rise and brighten the sky. With his free hand, Dylan sweeps loose stands of hair away from her face and behind her ear. Momentarily, he loses himself in the beauty of her eyes.
In that moment something happens. Something changes. Dylan fails at understanding and controlling the warm sensation that fills his chest, the way his heart thumps wildly against his ribcage. He's suddenly overwhelmed with the need to protect her. No one is good enough for her. He loves her. As the two stare at each other, the horrible sound of Joni's saxophone breaks their concentration, causing the two to quickly, awkwardly look away.
"I guess we should go back inside," Phoebe says, standing and dusting the grass off her skinny jeans. The next thing Dylan hears is the sound of the back door opening and slamming shut. With a sigh, Dylan falls backwards, lying on the green grass at the edge of the lighthouse's cliff. He stares up into the early morning sky with a puzzled expression on his young face.
Strangely, he's confused. Even worse, he likes the feeling.