AN: A little sidebar about naming my characters – I have this little notebook, and I write down all kinds of stuff in it, including ideas for stories, scenes, lyrics and names I want to use. I've had Rigby for over a year, Everett for about 9 months but just came up with North for this story. Last names of characters almost always exclusively come from co-workers and friends.
Thanks for all the birfday love!
And finally, I do own the characters!
Chapter 5: Hey North! Hey What? Introduce Yourself.
seem to get in the place that I belong…
Don't wanna lose the time,
Lose the time to come.
Whatever you say it's alright.
Whatever you do it's all good.
Whatever you say it's alright…
Silence is not the way,
We need to talk about it."
- Letting the Cables Sleep, Bush
Pre-band camp went both better and worse than I had expected. The band, well, at least the Brass and Woodwinds, were taking like little ducklings to water with the music. I couldn't believe how far they had come in such a short time and I couldn't be prouder. The Line and the Guard were another matter entirely. Everett seemed to be taking my rejection of his kiss by not only ignoring me, but also pretty much causing the Line to act up every time the entire band assembled. With the Line slacking, the Guard quickly followed and, in record time, were back to their usual undisciplined selves. Needless to say, this severely cramped the progress I thought we would make during the week. The band I had worked towards during the summer was no longer present, and part of me felt like a failure. I knew it really wasn't my fault – it was more about Everettt's immaturity than anything else, but I couldn't help feeling down. Ned was going to show up tomorrow, and by judging the band, it was going to be like he was judging me.
Heather, my voice of obvious reason, asked, "So, explain to me again, how is it your fault if things go wrong?"
"I've been in charge of them all summer. I don't want Ned to think I'm a completely incompetent Drum Major."
"He won't. I mean, he's seen where we were last season, and I'm sure, with all his experience, he'll figure out where all the trouble is coming from. Plus, he's just one dude, who cares what he really thinks? Everyone knows how far you've brought us."
I wanted Heather's words to make me feel better, but I was more anxious than ever. In addition to the Line and their constant screwing around, I had serious doubts that my former section had managed to memorize any of the part which Ned had personally written for them. The stupid thing was, I was too annoyed to go over and set the drummers straight. While I told myself it was because I was too busy dealing with the rest of the band, deep down I knew it's because I had no urge to face Everett. I just didn't want to deal with the confrontation.
Mr. Jenkins had suggested Ned meet us separately before the rest of the band, and given all the 'fabulous' progress we'd made this week, I completely agreed. I wanted a chance to try and explain myself before he saw us in action. I tried not to be nervous, but, again, I couldn't help it. I had no idea what this Ned guy was going to be like…how he was going to treat me or the rest of the band. I walked into the deserted band room and, as usual, I had beat my band director in. When I was early, I usually headed straight into the percussion room. I would release some tension by noodling around on the drums for a few minutes and usually feel better. When I finished beating out my frustrations onto a Real Feel pad for a few minutes, I heard someone outside in the band room – someone who was obviously in the middle of a very personal phone call.
"…I told you – I was going to come here. My decision is final."
The caller waited for awhile, and kept trying to talk, but gave up and listened for a few minutes before finally responding, "We're not having this conversation, Elisabeth, I've made my decision – please, just forget I existed – I can't keep doing this."
There was a sound of a phone shutting and a deep sigh.
At that moment, I was really torn. I sensed whoever was out there could really use someone to listen to, however, maybe that person just wanted to be by alone for a moment to sort themselves out. After a few moments, I hesitantly asked, "Hello?"
"Hello?" a deep tenor voice answered back.
I wandered out from the smaller room, and almost collided with the stranger. Straightening myself, I got a look at him…and found myself faced with the hottest guy I had ever seen. He had shaggy jet black hair that curled up charmingly at the edges. He was standing casually, holding a motorcycle helmet in one hand, and after months of working with 14 and 15 year old boys, I realized there was a lot that could happen to a young man in about eight years. If this was an actual student at Parktown, I would eat my drum major whistle. Trying my best to recover, I forced myself to look into his insanely dark brown eyes complete with gold tipped lashes, and asked hesitantly, "And you would be?"
He extended his hand for me to shake, "North. Well, Ned, actually, but I usually go by my nickname. And you are?"
This was Ned! I was supposed to take direction from the hottest guy on the planet! For an entire season? At the moment, I couldn't even remember my own name, let alone how to conduct, or even walk.
"That would make you the Drum Major?"
"Are you sure about that?" The corners of his mouth turned up. For someone who had just had a super intense conversation, he certainly recovered quickly. I didn't want to let him know that I had heard part of his phone call, but at the same time, I was dying to know what it was about. It then occurred to me what a killer wonderful first impression I was off to here. I was speaking in one word answers, and had turned into a 12 year old girl, all while he was all suave and flirty. I tried to recover and answered, "Yes. I'm the Drum Major."
Only it came out all snotty and conceited, like I was the best drum major in the world or something. What as wrong with me?
Ned, er North, looked strangely at me before he replied, "Well, I'm looking forward to working with you."
Rather than return his nice comment like any normal person would do, I blurted out, "So, we need to talk."
I barged ahead. Talking to insanely hot young men was not something I exactly excelled at, or had any real practice in, so I forced myself to pretend like he was just another dude. I didn't like to start out with negatives, but I wanted this guy to know what he was getting into, "So, we had pre-Band camp this week and things didn't go as well I would've liked them to."
"I'm sure they went better than you thought they did."
"No, they didn't," I said flatly, then instantly regretted my statement. So far, I was coming off as an unconfident smart mouthed immature high schooler and all in record time!
He crossed his arms, but said nicely, "Well, I think I can be the judge of that."
Fortunately, Mr. Jenkins chose that moment to come in and relieve me of my extreme awkwardness.
"Hey gang! Glad to see you two found each other."
"Yes, Rigby was just telling me how pre-band camp went."
I was glad Mr. Jenkins liked to talk, because I resolved to keep my mouth shut before I did any further reputation damage. I zoned out while Mr. J went on and on (and on) about the show and our progress throughout the week. I had never once considered that Ned would be someone I would be attracted to. In my mind, he had always been this dorky dude who would be even more full of band spirit then I was. He was never some hot guy who drove a motorcycle and had some sort of mysterious past.
"So, Rigby, can you show Ned around the school while I get those tapes?"
"Uhh…sure." What else was I supposed to say?
Mr. Jenkins went into his office and I said lamely, "This is the band room."
I moved to go on, because hey, a band room is a band room…
"I see that." North paused for a moment, and stood in one place. He tapped one of his unbelievably strong and capable looking fingers on his mouth and commented, "Looks like something's missing."
I looked around the room and saw what every band room has – music stands, uncomfortable chairs, folders, percussion equipment, a banner or two, a lost and found box, old bulletins on the walls…I didn't see anything missing. I had been in this room every day for almost four years, and nothing seemed out of place.
I struggled to make direct eye contact again, "What's that?"
"Trophies. Plaques. Any award."
Until that moment, I had never noticed our complete lack of recognition. "Oh yeah…we are kind of lacking in that department."
"Well, I promise you, at the end of the season, we'll change that."
The way he said it, I could actually believe it was a possibility. Still unsure how to talk to North, I joked sadly, "Maybe you should wait until you see the band before you say that…"
I walked towards the percussion room, motioning him to follow me. I didn't make it three steps before I heard him say, "Stop right there."
There was something very commanding in his voice. So, I stopped and turned around.
He continued, "When Mr. Jenkins talks to me about his drum major, he's always bragging about how much spirit and energy you have. He's basically told me that you, on your own, single-handedly, have turned this band around. Now, when I get here, I'm not sure if I caught you at a bad time, but you seem disconnected, distracted, and a bit apathetic. I don't know what you expected from me, but I don't want to hear your excuses, nor do I want to hear you putting down your band. If you are really going to help lead everyone on this year, they are going to need you to be drum major 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Do you think you can handle that?"
My mouth literally gaped open. Throughout the summer, my confidence and ego had gotten pretty high, and been taking consecutive hits throughout the last week. Everything he said was true, but it didn't give him the right to say it in the way he said it. I growled back at him, "Don't ever question me again, buddy. Maybe you are catching me on a bad day, I don't know, but you want commitment? Fine. You've got it."
"Good. I'm sure you can figure out where everything else is."
I turned on my heel and marched out of the room. Who did this guy think he was? How would that kind of attitude help anyone? How had I ever found him attractive? I hoped Mr. Jenkins hadn't made a horrible mistake in hiring him.
The band room was abuzz on Monday. Even though we were having camp at the school (where we had pre-band camp), the hours were longer, and I think I had managed to instill in everyone how important it was, and that we were taking it to the next level. Things might also have been upped because this was the last week before school began. When I walked in, North and Mr. Jenkins were talking to each other in the band director's office. This was good, because I really wasn't sure what I wanted to say to our Instructor. I had sorted through my feelings overnight, and thought that even if I personally couldn't stand him, that at least he had the right attitude for the band. If I had to pretend for everyone that I liked him, well, I would do that. Talking to friends, I was biding my time, wondering when they were going to get started. Finally, I saw the door open, and North walk to the front of the band room. He nodded at me. I clapped my hands for attention. The band, I think sensed something different, something that said, this is important guys – pay attention. I nodded back at North.
He spoke confidently, "Alright Parktown. My name is North and I'm really looking forward to working with all of you this season. I know you've been practicing hard all summer and I can't wait to see what you've got for me. You should know that I have some serious goals for us this Fall, and I hope we all look back in a few months and are very proud of our accomplishments. For today, I'd like you to break into sectionals as scheduled this morning. I'll be checking in on all of you, to see where we are and figure out how we can make things better. This afternoon, we're going to start with the drill for the show."
As much as I didn't want to admit it, North's voice and speech really did inspire confidence. The sections dismissed and walked their separate ways, but not before I overheard a number of favorable comments from the female contingent of the Parktown Pirates about the new staff member. I walked up to North and asked begrudgingly, but politely, "What do you want me to do?"
"What do you usually do?"
"Go to each section and help them work through their parts."
"Any problem sections I should know about?"
I paused for a moment, before I responded honestly, "The Guard. The Line."
North's lips pursed for a moment before he replied, "Who do you want to talk to?"
Neither. Instead, I said, "The Guard."
"So, I'll look into the Guard…"
"Wait, what?" I interrupted. Didn't he hear what I had just said?
"Rigby, you can't expect that I'm going to improve every section but yours?"
"Then go talk to the Line."
AN: So, I need to take a poll – what are everyone's thoughts on the whole student/instructor relationship thing? I'm really planning on making the story/romance about the characters and why they are good for each other, how their relationship develops and less about the 'forbidden'/'wrong' aspect of it. If Rigby is 18, and North is 22, then personally, I don't think there's any issue. I know plenty of relationships and marriages where the people are 4 years apart (or more). So, I guess this is more of a warning. If you don't like, don't agree with, or don't want to read about an instructor and student relationship, then you should probably stop reading.