Disclaimer: I don't own MSB, the characters, "Smells Like Teen Spirit," an amp that goes to eleven, or any of the people, places, or things referenced in this here fic.


Money for Nothing

(chicks for free)

"What is that?" Tim demanded, looking disgustedly at a key-tar Carlos brought for someone to play. "Carlos, this is a rock band, not a science experiment."

"It's like an 80s retrospective." Arnold laughed. "I can't play that. It sucks too much."

"Keep playing your stupid guitar, crybaby." Carlos countered. "Don't you have to wear some eyeliner?"

"Boys don't cry." Arnold snapped. "My guitar isn't stupid. The amp goes up to eleven. It's louder than ten."

"Enough about your stupid amp!" Tim rolled his eyes.

"It's not stupid. IT GOES TO ELEVEN." Arnold insisted.

"So…" Carlos tossed a drumstick in the air and caught it a little less clumsily than he had the day before. He started banging the sticks together, counting the band off.

"Wait!" The rest of the boys yelled together. Carlos looked up, slightly puzzled.

"What are we going to play?" Ralphie asked. He had, after much debate, been placed on "other guitar." Arnold played lead, Tim played bass, and Carlos was on drums. The discussion had lasted almost as long as the one about what to name their band. They finally settled on "Chemical Toilet," but Carlos still referred to them as "Rock Gods."

""Smells Like Teen Spirit." That's the only song Arnold knows how to play." Carlos explained.

"Okay." Arnold arranged his fingers on the fret board.

"I don't know it." Ralphie argued.

"It's only four chords." Arnold shrugged.

"I don't know it either." Tim added.

"You're playing bass. No one pays attention to the bass line." Carlos said.

"I can't play left-handed." Tim complained. "Why do I have to play like this?" He whined, looking at his bass, whose neck was pointed the opposite way as Arnold's and Ralphie's.

"Jimi Hendrix played the guitar upside down." Carlos explained.

"I'm playing bass," Tim was exasperated.

"Paul McCartney played left-handed." Ralphie piped up.

"He actually was left-handed. Why can't Arnold play bass?" Tim continued.

"Can we PLEASE just shut up and play?" Arnold's voice cracked and he blushed.

"Which four chords do I play?" Ralphie asked.

"F, B flat, G sharp, and C sharp." Arnold told him.

"There's no such thing as G sharp. That's A." Ralphie insisted.

"Then play A flat." Arnold rolled his eyes.

"Oh, okay." Ralphie nodded in full comprehension.

"Haha, A flat, like Phoebe's chest!" Carlos laughed.

"I'm not playing Phoebe's chest!" Ralphie retorted.

"Let's do this thing." Tim said. "One, two –"

"Don't count us off!" Carlos yelled. "I count us off. Ready – go!"

The Tennellis' garage erupted in a cacophony that had Dr. Tennelli wondering why on earth she'd allowed four thirteen-year-olds have band practice on her property. She couldn't help but go over to the garage and open the door. She stood in the doorway for six minutes – she was used to keeping precise track of time – while her eardrums were assaulted with what she could only describe as an "ungodly din."

"Hey Mom!" Ralphie squeaked at the end of the song. All four boys had tried to sing, which had taken a toll on their pubescent voices. "How did we sound?"

"Do you want me to be nice or honest?" Dr. Tennelli asked, raising an eyebrow. She received a mix of answers. "Um, it was – you could use some more rehearsal."

"Well duh," Tim scoffed. "We have 'til next week."

Dr. Tennelli swallowed hard. "All right then. One more hour of practice and then you kids have to break it up." She turned and left abruptly.

"But Mom!" Ralphie whined.

"One hour!" Dr. Tennelli repeated and shut the door loudly.

"All right, from the top!" Carlos yelled and started drumming without a countdown.

"WAIT! STOP!" Arnold yelled.

"What?" Tim, Ralphie, and Carlos responded.

"Why didn't you count us down?" Arnold insisted.

"I don't need to. We're totally in sync." Carlos laughed. "Get it? 'N Sync?"

"Carlos, that was awful." Tim whined.

"And we aren't a boy band." Ralphie insisted.

"But we're all together and –" Carlos began to explain.

"Okay, then if we're 'N Sync, who's the gay one?" Tim asked, took a deep breath, and yelled "NOT IT!"

"NOT IT!" Ralphie yelled.

"NOT IT!" Arnold managed to yell quickly.

"What?" Carlos asked. His ears were ringing and he couldn't figure out why the other boys were laughing so hard, so he began counting them down. "One, two, three, four!"

This time, the song sounded slightly more like the original, although it still had a long way to come.

"Aren't there supposed to be quiet parts?" Arnold asked.

"Quiet parts are for losers." Tim retorted, yawning a bit to pop his ears.

"Drums only come in one volume: rock." Carlos explained.

"Isn't your amp set at eleven?" Ralphie asked.

"Yes. It has to be so I can hear." Arnold defended himself. "I have to hear in order to know if I'm playing the quiet parts right!"

"So your amp is turned up for the quiet parts?" Ralphie raised his eyebrows.

"At least I know the words!" Arnold argued.

"I know some of them!" Ralphie countered.

"Let's all get along!" Carlos yelled. "We aren't going to be rock gods if we're fighting over stupid things like who knows the lyrics." He thought for a moment before continuing his thoughtful speech, which he accentuated with a few gestures and by cupping his hand under his chin for extra thoughtfulness. "I mean, I know I don't know all the lyrics, but I know what they sound like. We can't fight over these little things. We'll attack each other, like wild cougars. With rabies. If we start today, what will it be tomorrow? Who's singing lead? Why Ralphie's only on other guitar? Next, it moves into our personal lives, like who gets the last Mountain Dew or who gets to dance with a girl. Next thing you know, we're all addicted to drugs and miserable. I know I don't want that to happen to you guys. We're all friends and we're going to stick together." He looked around.

"Dude," Tim started. "You watch way too much TV."

"So what are we going to do about the quiet parts?" Ralphie asked.

"I told you, I don't do quiet parts." Tim insisted.

"Drums don't either." Carlos pointed out.

"Yes they do. Watch." Tim put his bass down and pushed Carlos out of his stool.

"What are you doing?" Carlos demanded.

"Give me the sticks." Tim held his hand out.

"Ew, man, I'm not letting you handle my sticks." Carlos joked.

"Cut the crap." Tim snatched them from his hand and proceeded to lightly tap the hi-hat.

"That sounds nothing like rock." Carlos wrinkled his nose. "That's like what Wanda's mom listens to in the car."

"Rock is definitely louder." Arnold concurred.

"Like this?" Tim did a more complex beat, but much softer.

"Dude, you rock!" Ralphie exclaimed. "Why doesn't Tim play drums?"

"Because then I'd have to play bass." Carlos said contemptuously. "Everyone knows bassists are losers who don't get any ass."

"Ass?" Ralphie asked, puzzled.

"Yeah, like girls…" Carlos couldn't help but chuckle.

"Oh, you mean you'd get some –" Ralphie's eyes widened with understanding.

"DON'T SAY IT!" Arnold braced himself and covered his ears. "I hate that word."

Tim laughed. "Arnold hates –"

"DON'T SAY IT!" Arnold shrieked more shrilly than he intended.

"Why would you say ass when it's –" Ralphie asked Carlos. Arnold let out a low, rattling wail that crescendoed into a long, loud, wailing scream to drown out their words.

"STOP SAYING IT!" His eyes were squinted shut and his hands on his ears.

"Chill, man!" Carlos laughed. "No need to get your panties in a twist."

"What panties?" Arnold asked cautiously. "I don't wear panties!"

"Let's get down to business." Ralphie said. "I have an idea."

"Panned." Tim interrupted.

"What? Why?" Ralphie asked, hurt.

"Because your ideas suck." Tim said quickly.

"We need to document this." Carlos said suddenly. "We should get Keesha in here with her camera."

"Yes!" Arnold cried. "We'll love the footage when we're on Behind the Music."

"I'll get her in for tomorrow's practice." Ralphie enthused.

"No, I'll get her." Carlos argued. "You creep her out."

"I do not!" Ralphie retorted. "You smell bad!"

"Yeah?" Carlos challenged. "You're lying."

"Dude, you do kind of – need deodorant." Arnold said quietly.

"Wait, wouldn't it be cool if we all wore Teen Spirit?" Tim's excitement faded when he saw the reaction.

"Arnold doesn't need another reason for everyone at school to think he's gay." Carlos explained after a moment of awkward silence.

"I was thinking it'd be cool if we smelled… like Teen Spirit…" Tim trailed off.

"That deodorant is for girls." Ralphie argued. "And you said my ideas were bad. I was just going to suggest that we get a manager."

"That's actually a good idea." Arnold said. "I'll do it. I've got business sense."

"Stop using your racial advantages." Carlos insisted. "I'm obviously in charge. I'll be the manager."

"We're at my house, I should be the manager!" Ralphie piped up.

"I'm the only one with talent!" Tim began.

"I've got more talent in my little finger than you have—!" Carlos yelled.

"Whatever!" Tim bellowed. "I should be the manager!"

"'Whatever?'" Ralphie laughed. "What are you, a valley girl?"

"I thought you were on my side!" Tim yelled.

"I thought you liked my ideas!" Ralphie countered.

"What are we yelling about?" Dr. Tennelli yelled from the door.

"Nothing, ma." Ralphie said softly.

"Ten minutes and you boys are going home. No more yelling." She insisted and left.

"Dude, your mom is hot." Carlos said aloud.

"I'M GOING TO KILL YOU FOR SAYING THAT!" Ralphie screamed.

"Calm down!" Carlos cried. "I meant – why can't we all get along?"

"No more yelling!" Arnold reminded Ralphie.

"Okay, so we should get a manager who isn't in the band." Tim reasoned.

"Not my mom." Ralphie glared at Carlos.

"I wasn't going to suggest her." Carlos defended. "I was thinking Mikey."

"That's actually a good idea." Arnold said. Carlos wasn't amused at how surprised he seemed.

"I'm full of great ideas." He defended.

"That's not all you're full of." Ralphie snarled.

"Mikey can get Keesha in here filming." Carlos explained.

"Sounds good to me." Arnold nodded, putting away his guitar. "Same time tomorrow?"


the same time the next day.

"Meet your manager!" Mikey announced triumphantly as he entered the Tennelli garage. "I assume I'll be paid royalties?"

"We're not playing any gigs for money yet." Tim said woefully. "But we'll probably attract more girls than we can handle."

"Speak for yourself." Carlos smirked.

"Carlos, one girl is more than you can handle." Mikey scoffed.

"Why am I filming this?" Keesha asked.

"For posterity." Arnold explained.

"Posterity doesn't care about you posturing for girls." Keesha plugged the battery pack on the camera into the wall. It was going to be a long night.

"I want my eventual wives to know how lucky they are." Tim said. "I'll probably attract some gold diggers and have to divorce them." He explained quickly.

"More like they'll leave you for the sexy drummer." Carlos countered.

"Nah, girls appreciate brains." Mikey tapped on his temple. "And I'm the brains of this operation."

"Alright, let's get started." Carlos hit the drums a couple times before Ralphie could remind him to count them off.

"Wait!" Mikey waved his arms around. "Before you guys start, I have an idea!"

"What?" Ralphie asked, tuning his guitar (without turning off the amp).

"You're a grunge band, right? So you guys should not shower until the talent show –" Mikey began, trying to talk over the drone of the D string as Ralphie tuned.

"Vetoed." Keesha called from behind the camera. "If I have to be anywhere near you guys, you'd better not smell like rancid teenage boys."

"Rancid is awesome." Carlos retorted.

"You guys are boys. You'll smell even if you took showers that morning." Keesha wrinkled her nose.

"Good one, Keesh." Ralphie rolled his eyes and moved on to the G string.

"Anyway, I think you guys should grow out your facial hair." Mikey continued. "It'll make you look rugged."

Keesha couldn't stifle her laughter. "Are you going to get matching flannel?"

"That's the first good idea you had, like, ever." Tim said.

"And don't wash your hair. It'll look more grunge-y that way." Mikey continued.

"Okay, let's play!" Carlos almost started to play, but counted them down first instead. The first run-through of the day sounded great to the band, but terrible to Keesha.

"I have a quick question," Keesha tried to hide her utter amusement. "Who sings lead?"

Carlos immediately piped in. "I think it should be me. I have the best voice."

"Dude, your voice sucks." Ralphie argued. "It keeps cracking."

"So does yours." Arnold quipped.

"And yours." Ralphie replied, "And so does yours, Tim, so don't say anything."

"I think we should all keep singing." Tim said. "We sound better that way."

"I want to be lead singer. Girls go nuts over the lead singer." Carlos reasoned.

"No one can hear you over all that banging." Arnold explained.

"I'll sing louder." Carlos pressed.

"You can't sing over drums." Ralphie insisted.

"Fine. I'm singing lead or I'm quitting the band. See how well you guys can do without the best drummer in all of Walkerville Middle." Carlos stood up, ready to make good on his ultimatum.

"Um, Tim was better than you." Arnold pointed out.

"What happened to the 'let's stick together' business?" Tim asked.

"That was before you guys disrespected me!" Carlos threw down his drumsticks, causing the deep crack in one to break. "Look what you made me do!"

"I didn't make you do anything." Tim argued. "You're the one that's disrespecting us."

"You called my mom hot!" Ralphie fumed.

"She is!" Carlos argued.

"I'M GOING TO KILL YOU!" Ralphie screamed, lunging at Carlos and knocking over the drum set.

"MY DRUMS!" Carlos squealed.

"Ralphie, chill out!" Tim cried, grabbing at Ralphie's leg.

"I can't!" Ralphie grunted. "He disrespected my mom!"

"Carlos, you're not singing lead and you're staying in the band and that's final." Arnold insisted, his hands on his hips.

"Yes, mom." Carlos mocked.

"DON'T SAY MOM!" Ralphie yelled.

"Will someone please give him some Valium?" Tim sighed.

"That's your job, groupie." Mikey looked at Keesha, who laughed uncontrollably.

"Me? Groupie?" She managed between fits of hysterical laughter. "You guys are all a bunch of idiots!"

"What's going on in here?" D.A. asked. Wanda and Phoebe were close behind.

"Who invited girls?" Arnold asked.

"I had a feeling this was going to be funny, so I invited them." Keesha remarked. "And you have yet to disappoint."

"I brought popcorn." D.A. smiled.

"Alright, another run through." Tim sighed.

"Only sing the chorus." Carlos insisted. "I'm singing lead."

"Okay, but if you suck, you're off lead." Mikey insisted.

"I can't suck." Carlos replied. D.A. and Phoebe giggled.

"Can I be in the band?" Wanda asked.

"Um, rock has too much testosterone for you." Tim squeaked.

"I doubt it." D.A. laughed.

"Let's just go." Carlos said and proceeded to play. After a measure or two (so it looked intentional), the rest of the band joined in. The girls winced in near perfect unison.

"How was it?" Ralphie asked.

"Aren't there supposed to be quiet parts?" Phoebe asked.

"We decided it's better without." Carlos explained.

"Right." D.A. swallowed hard. "Maybe."

"And that I'm still singing lead." He continued.

"About that," Arnold started.

"I couldn't hear any words." Wanda pointed out.

"I can sing louder!" Carlos said triumphantly.

"Please don't." Keesha sighed.

"Like for the love of God, don't." D.A. continued. Phoebe giggled.

"Like anyone cares what you think, D.A." Carlos sneered.

"Yeah? Well everyone knows you suck." D.A. snapped.

"Calm down," Mikey jumped in. "Let's not escalate this. How about we take a vote? All in favor of Carlos being the lead singer, raise your hand."

One hand went up.

"Come on!" Carlos cried.

"All those in favor of…" Mikey started.

"Anyone but Carlos," Arnold raised his hand. Eight others raised.

"Dude, you're supposed to stay neutral or be on my side!" Carlos told Mikey.

"I can't help it if you suck." Mikey shrugged. "And you need to focus on drumming."

"But I need to get the most girls!" Carlos whined.

"Didn't Ringo get the most fan mail?" Phoebe suggested.

"See? You'll get the most if you don't sing!" Mikey said quickly.

"Fine." Carlos sighed.

"So who's singing?" Arnold asked.

"I'll sing!" Wanda offered. "I think I should be in the band!"

"Chemical Toilet has no room for girls." Arnold folded his arms.

"They're a boy band, Wanda." Keesha giggled.

"WE ARE NOT A BOY BAND." The band yelled.

"Who's the gay one?" Wanda asked.

Not even another round of "NOT IT" could determine the "gay one."

"Obviously I'm not, because I have demonstrated that I am not only irresistible to women, but also am attracted to Ralphie's mom." Carlos began.

"That's it, I'm quitting the band, and you're all getting the HELL out of my garage!" Ralphie thundered. He put down his guitar in a huff and reached for the doorknob.

"Ralphie –" Tim started.

"What?" He turned around, hoping for something encouraging.

"We don't need an "other guitar," but we need the practice space." Tim pleaded.

"Go to hell." Ralphie left, slamming the door.

"I can play guitar," Wanda offered.

"No you can't." D.A. pointed out. "You can play trombone."

"Every band needs a trombone." Wanda folded her arms.

"Trombones aren't rock." Arnold sighed.

"You can play cowbell." Mikey said suddenly. "If I had one suggestion –"

"Other than that you should stop sucking?" Keesha looked up from the eyepiece in the camera.

"We do not suck." Tim argued. Keesha laughed heartily.

"Let me do something! I want to be in the band!" Wanda repeated.

"Ahem!" Mikey cleared his throat loudly. "I was thinking that maybe it could use a little cowbell."

"I can play cowbell!" Wanda dug through a box of miscellaneous percussion instruments that she'd borrowed from the school. She produced a cowbell and started beating it while dancing and gyrating around the band as they played.

"I'm a little distracted by Wanda's cowbell." Arnold said uneasily. "I can't do this."

"Do what?" Tim asked.

"I can't play lead without Ralphie." Arnold insisted, putting down his guitar. "I'm out."

"Out of what?" Carlos asked. "The closet?"

"The band, retard." Arnold shook his head and left.

"He's got to be gay." Tim sighed.

"I can play guitar!" Wanda insisted.

"We've been over this. You can't." Carlos stated. "If only Tim had left the band, then all the useless people would be gone."

"Dude, you're mean, you know that?" Tim asked. "I'm going home." He took off his bass and left.

"You guys suck!" Carlos yelled, running out after them.

"Well that was awkward." Phoebe said.

"Yeah, I think that was kind of a private moment." D.A. added.

"Don't worry, they'll get back together tomorrow." Mikey assured the camera with a large grin. "Bands have to break up to have very lucrative reunion tours!"

TO BE CONTINUED...


Endnotes:

- "Money for Nothing" is by Dire Straits.

- the amp that goes to eleven is from This is Spinal Tap.

- "Boys Don't Cry" is by the Cure, whose singer is known for his make-up and mopiness.

- Those are the chords for "Smells Like Teen Spirit," which is by Nirvana.

- There is such thing as G#. It's the same thing as A flat. It makes no sense for Ralphie to not believe in G# but believe in Ab.

- Arnold's "DON'T SAY IT" scream is akin to Charlie's in It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia.

- The cowbell sequence is, obviously, from the famous SNL skit.

- "That was awkward" is from It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia, "Charlie Gets Crippled"

- Reviews are always appreciated. And yes, the characters are going to act like idiots because they're in that phase.