Disclaimer: I still don't own Spectacular!
A/N: We're nearing the end. Yes, it's true. So this chapter is entirely about Royce, whose character was the sole reason I wrote this piece. A large part of me wants to believe under all that arrogant is a human being… but then reality takes hold and thus this chapter was born… enjoy. Music by Taylor Swift.
On another note it now appears Tammin Sursok is joining Hannah Montana. Scary. You're twenty-six now Tammin, it's time to move on. Anyway, seems she's replacing Selena Gomez's 'Mikayla' as Hannah's new arch-nemesis. I don't know how I feel about that to be honest…
Summary: Royce bargains his way back into Spectacular!, but is the backstabber really in for the long haul, or is he playing games? (Love Square - Janet/Royce/Courtney/Nikko)
Previously: The group took a break from rehearsals to attend the Columbus Day fair, a trip that ended with the revelation that Ta-Da were to join them at Kentucky's Championships. Then, as Royce and Janet played oblivious to her triumphant looks, Tammi dropped to Courtney something that made the Spectacular! certain Royce was double-crossing them – she knew their song.
It had been half an hour. Half an hour of sitting and waiting, feeling decidedly creepy but aware that if he didn't do it his girlfriend would kill him. Following Tammi's tip-off about knowledge of their song, Courtney had set Nikko to Royce-watching duty. Finally it seemed to pay off as Royce's silver Mercedes (complete with 'showboy' numberplate) pulled into the drive and from the passenger side stepped the unmistakeable figure of Tammi Dyson. She shot Royce a smile, which the boy returned uncomfortably, before striding off down the driveway and in the direction of her own place. Royce seemed to shake himself off a bit before heading inside, but Nikko didn't notice, already on the phone to Courtney.
"She saw him." It was the statement Janet opened the doorway to and she frowned at her best friend, a mix of confusion and amusement on her face. Courtney seemed to understand. "Nikko has been following Royce, trying to help me prove he's in cohorts with Ta-Da and he saw it – Royce coming home with Tammi Dyson."
Janet stepped aside to let her friend in, the amusement gone. "Wait a minute, you're telling me you had my boyfriend followed?" Courtney gave a quick nod. "No offence Court but that's kinda creepy."
"You're missing the point here Janet – Royce and Tammi, hanging out."
Janet shrugged. "Royce told me Tammi was giving him a hard time, he was probably amusing her, getting her off his chest with a few nice words."
Courtney sighed. "Oh yeah, so then how did Tammi know our song for Kentucky?"
Janet fished from the sideboard the half-finished milkshake she'd been drinking when Courtney arrived. "I don't know, it's Tammi Dyson, I wouldn't put 'rigging microphones around the school' past her."
"Call him and ask him." Janet shook her head but Courtney was insistent. "Do it. If he comes over and tells you about it, what he said and why he did it, then I'll believe you that he's changed. But I know people like him Janet and people like that don't."
"Will you lay off then?" Courtney nodded. "Fine." Grabbing her phone Janet dialled, smiling into the receiver as Royce picked up. "Hey, can you come by, I have something to ask." She met Courtney's eye. "Oh no, nothing drastic." She gave a small laugh. "Okay, see you then." She hung up. "He'll be here in five. If you want to stick with the creepy covert thing you can hide in the front bushes if you'd like." Courtney ignored the bait.
Five minutes later a car pulled into Janet's driveway and then reversed back out, parking in the street outside. Janet glanced at Courtney and the two of them stepped out onto the porch, meeting Royce as he started up the walk. He stopped at the sight of Courtney. "Hey, what's up?"
"Um, Courtney's been really creepy of late and had you followed." Royce frowned but didn't seem too surprised either by the brunette's actions. "She saw you with Tammi tonight."
"Yeah, she came looking for me, wants me back in Ta-Da, I told you this."
Janet smiled but Courtney wasn't done. "Where did you go?"
"The 24-Hour Pancake Place on Fifth. I was hungry. She spent most of the night glaring at other customers." Royce's responses were cool and calm, but too well rehearsed for Courtney's liking. She did, of course, have an Ace up her sleeve however, something she hadn't revealed to even Janet yet.
"Really, see there was a performance down at the community hall tonight, Ta-Da performed. Special performance, to help raise money for the Kentucky trip." Courtney smiled harder as Royce's calm expression became a pout. "Ah, just in time." She pointed behind Royce at the figure of Nikko walking up the drive. "What've you got babe?"
Nikko held up the poster. "Ta-Da performing at The Regional Center." He tapped the bottom. "Starring AFJC champions Tammi Dyson and Royce Du Luc." Nikko tutted. "If you wanted to be covert Royce, you did a crap job."
Janet spoke up. "You performed with Ta-Da?"
"No I didn't," his lies were so easy that even Courtney almost accepted them, but she knew better. "I went with Tammi to see them."
"Oh please. You forget that Ta-Da's website has video footage of every single performance this bunch of show ponies do." Courtney smiled cruelly. "Now, either you can tell us the truth, or we'll just wait until the video comes out."
Royce was quiet before he finally gave in. "I performed with Ta-Da tonight. I told them we were singing The Biggest Mistake."
Courtney grinned. "I knew it."
But Royce wasn't done, and it was the rest that even Courtney hadn't expected, and what made Janet gasp. "Tammi came to me a while ago, wanting me to betray Spectacular! again. At first I said no but then, when I seemed to lose creative control, I agreed." He held up a hand and started counting things off his fingers. "I was responsible for the lost costumes two months ago."
"We had to buy new ones! They were expensive!" Courtney shook her head. "You did that?"
Royce nodded. "I changed the timetables so we would have less rehearsal time. I taped the practices and gave the tapes to Tammi so she'd know our moves."
"Why?" Courtney fumed. "Because Tammi Dyson told you to?"
"I had to do it. Showchoir is my only chance to get a good college, a performing arts degree, I need to make a mark."
"And you couldn't have done that with Spectacular!?" Courtney asked. Royce just shook his head, looking at Janet who was still silent.
She looked up slowly. "You lied to me," her voice was soft and the others had to strain to hear it. "All this time I've been defending you and you just kept lying to me." She shook her head resolutely. "We're done Royce."
"You're breaking up with me?"
"What did you expect Du Luc?" Nikko snapped, growling.
Royce frowned. "Janet, please, listen to me…" he took a step forward but Nikko stepped between them, cutting him off.
"Leave her the hell alone. You've done enough haven't you?" He raised a hand to hold Royce back and the shorter man swiped it away. With a step Nikko looked ready to move in for a fight but Courtney came between them, holding them both at arms length like she had not long ago.
As Nikko turned back to comfort Janet, Courtney stepped forward, barely an inch from his face with a snarl wiped across her expression. "You know you can use and abuse Spectacular! as often as you feel is necessary, none of that matters anymore, but to use Janet when the only thing she's ever been guilty of is being too nice?" Royce made to respond but Courtney shook her head. "You hurt my showchoir; so be it. You hurt me; I got through. But you hurt my best-friend and that's the last straw." With a clench of her fist, like she was fighting back the urge to cause him some serious damage, Courtney took a step back. "Now, leave!"
He didn't need to be told twice, stepping back so he could see Janet behind Courtney's enraged figure. She caught his eye for a second before returning her face to her hands. She was quickly wrapped in a tight embrace by Nikko who shot Royce a cold look scarily similar to his girlfriend's. With a few quick steps Royce retreated from the driveway. As he got the footpath beyond the property boundary he paused on the other side of the hedge, listening to the conversation happening behind him. Nikko was insistent that 'knocking some sense' into Royce would be the only answer, but Courtney seemed to be holding him back from violence with a few calming noises. It was Janet however who, despite the quietest, he heard the loudest. She was sniffing back tears and as he glanced behind him he saw her wipe her eyes and turn back towards her front door. Nikko and Courtney noticed and followed her in, the brunette girl assuring her best friend that everything would be fine, but she wasn't listening, just shaking away her tears. As they left his sight Royce sighed and glanced back towards his car then, popping the key fob and unlocking the vehicle, he started towards it.
"It's strange to think the songs we used to sing, the smiles, the flowers, everything is gone. Yesterday I found out about you and even now just looking at you feels wrong." A familiar voice floated softly through the doors of the music room as Royce walked past the next morning, not exactly looking for, but somehow subconsciously finding, his now ex. The night before had been a little bit restless, a billion thoughts running through his head. Not often did Royce Du Luc lose sleep over something like this, but now it seemed the whole business had broken down his handmade shell. He felt bad. It was a strange new emotion for him and he hated it. "You should've said 'no', you should've gone home, you should've thought twice before you let it all go. You should've known the word of what you did with her would get back to me." The tone gave a crack of emotion and whether it was arrogance or clarity, Royce suddenly knew Janet's words stung with the emotions she'd managed to hold back the night before. She was hurt. Let down, despondent and her normally lively spirit crushed. And it was all his fault.
Royce felt lower than a cockroach.
"And I should've been there in the back of your mind. I shouldn't be asking myself why." Royce pushed open the music room door just a tad, watching Janet (her back turned to him) as she sang. On the piano Robin tapped away at a few keys with her good hand, but most of the music was coming from the CD player in the middle of the room. "You shouldn't be begging for forgiveness at my feet. You should've said 'no' baby then you might still have me."
Propping the door open with his foot, Royce watched as Janet's voice rose with each note, managing to hit even the most difficult high ones with precision. The girl had been born to sing. "I can't resist, before you go tell me this, was it worth it? Was she worth this?" Royce watched on, entranced. She couldn't just sing; it was the moves too. Every move she made, despite being minimal, captured the essence of the song. They weren't dramatic mimes like Tammi had been prone to, but small hand flickers and movements that brought your eyes to her and left them there. He'd noticed it first during the Nationals, the way such a small figure in the centre of a huge stage could draw all eyes to her. The voice, the moves and the huge smile constantly peppering her expression made Janet the kind of person it was hard to ignore. But the smile had gone now and as she turned mid-song to find him watching her, he noticed it replaced with a frown. "No…" Taking a deep breath she signalled for Robin to stop the CD before crossing her arms and staring him down. But the expression was lost by the redness of her eyes. It was hard to stare daggers when your eyes confessed you'd been crying not long before. "What are you doing here?"
Royce stepped inside and closed the door behind him. "We need to talk." He looked to Robin. "Privately if that's alright with you."
Janet put her hand on her friend's arm. "Stay, this won't take long." She crossed her arms again. "What do you want?"
"I want to talk. I want to apologize, tell you the truth." She rolled her hand, suggesting he continue, as she took a seat at the piano whilst Robin stood beside her protectively. "Tammi offered me a position back in Ta-Da as soon as she found out they were going to Kentucky."
"Which was when?"
"Four weeks ago." Janet heaved a sigh and looked away. "I told her I wasn't interested, but Tammi doesn't know the meaning of the word 'no'."
"So what was the plan then? You keep us thinking you're working with us, then at the last minute go perform with Ta-Da and leave us to our own devices?"
Royce shrugged. "Something like that."
Janet stood, disgusted. "You're pathetic."
"Wait, look, I'm not going to do it okay? I'm going to stick with Spectacular! I wasn't lying when I said you deserved a trophy. You do."
Janet just shook her head. "We don't need you Royce. We can't trust you. Courtney was right; some people never change."
"Courtney will be singing your parts. You can go back to Ta-Da." Robin clarified.
"You can't win without a lead male soloist…" he started but was cut off when Janet turned and glared at him.
"You don't get it do you? It's not about winning - I thought you knew that by now. It's about being with your friends, having fun and doing your best." She shrugged. "I'd rather lose than sing with you Royce, it's that simple." Then, with a frown, she walked from the room. Royce sat down at the piano with a sigh.
Next chapter; Spectacular! make it to Kentucky, minus their enigmatic male soloist who is spotted coercing with Ta-Da. Has Royce really deserted Spectacular! or will Janet gets what she's always wanted – proof that her gut instincts can prevail? And who will win? Ta-Da or Spectacular!?