Disclaimer: I don't own Spectacular! or any characters mentioned in this piece… Song by VHS or Beta
A/N: Dedicated to an entire afternoon of iCarly, which ended in iFight Shelby Marx. Don't ask how long it took me to work out Shelby was Tammi (Victoria Justice), let's just say I'm especially dumb today!
Lyrics in italics
I Can't Believe A Single Word
Summary: Complete – Songfic – He was right – playing Rock The World by yourself was sad… she just never expected that if he offered to play with her, she'd finally see in him what she'd always wanted to… :: Janet and Royce.
She rocked at this game. Rocked! She could beat out the drums like a professional, hit the notes like a singing superstar and was now shredding her way through Stairway To Heaven like Jimi Hendrix. Rock The World – she owned it! Too bad that she owned it alone. Caspian was studying so couldn't make it out tonight. He was her usual partner-in-crime now that her best friend was distracted by a certain new rockstar boyfriend. Janet was happy for her bestie, and Nikko and Courtney were so perfect together, aside the fact it reminded her she was horribly alone. Well, she was almost never alone actually. Her Spectacular! team were with her all the time. Since Nationals they had grown even closer, drawn together by the possibility of future success and enjoying all the fun stuff that came with knowing a recording artist (or four). They were all here now, enjoying a rowdy game of bowling, but Janet had quickly grown tired of gutter balls and retreated to Rock The World, a game she had started to live on since Nikko had first introduced her to it all those months ago. It was an escape from reality. She loved music, she loved performing, but she hated the pressure. In Rock The World she could perform, enjoy her music but not have to worry about stuffing up. She got the song wrong, so what? A quarter later and she could try again. Reset buttons were nice. If only her life could have one…
It had been two years since she'd joined Spectacular!, following her best friend in and never suspecting she could sing like Nikko later revealed she could. Back then things had been very different to now. Back then she'd been shy. Now she was keen to share her opinions. Back then she second-guessed her own judgement. Now she stood by her convictions. Back then she'd fallen for her best friend's boyfriend. Now… now she wasn't so sure what she felt.
Royce Du Luc: Spectacular! backstabber. Breaker of Courtney's heart. Ta-Da's talented superstar – a huge voice and an ego to match. He was the enemy in designer clothing and a BMW.
She couldn't believe she'd liked him. She couldn't believe a part of her was convinced she still did.
She felt pathetic. Stupid and pathetic.
Of course Courtney didn't know about Janet's lingering crush. She hadn't known when they were going on and Janet certainly wasn't going to tell her now. The peppy brunette gave a small shudder if you even mentioned his name. What she'd do if Janet admitted anything? Well, a small shudder would be a nice hope. It would more likely be a violent shake and then a trip to the counsellor. A trip that was probably warranted.
So caught up in her own sanity (or lack thereof), Janet didn't notice she'd dropped more than enough chords to get kicked off until the screen lit up a bright red 'You Lose'. Janet glared at it before re-setting the device with a new quarter. She proceeded to flick through the songlist, not keen to tackle Stairway anytime soon. The song was too long and she got distracted by thoughts of…
"Playing Rock The World by yourself? That's sad."
Janet glanced up at the new voice. Him. Speak of the devil and he appears. Curse this universe. "Royce." Janet's voice took on a strange constricted tone as she tried hard to smother surprise and sound disgusted by his presence. It didn't work and he gave her a small frown. She swallowed deeply and tried again. "What are you doing here?"
"I heard the unnecessary murder of Stairway to Heaven and came over to investigate. Naturally it's a Spectacular!"
She didn't rise to his bait. "Oh yes, and Ta-Da's would do better?"
"Probably not, but I could."
"Do they get heavy?" Janet smiled as Royce looked confused. "All those tabs on yourself? Do they get heavy?"
He looked momentarily impressed before putting his designer jacket down and picking up one of the microphones. "Go on then, choose a song."
"I thought you were going to outdo me on the guitar?" Janet said, ignoring as Royce grabbed one of the nearby stands and set up a microphone in front of her. "Now I have to play guitar AND sing?"
"Well, if you prefer I go and you can just keep playing by yourself?"
Janet punched the key to bring up Random Select. "Bring it on Du Luc." The guitar started up long before the words, just her luck a duet, thankfully one with few female parts. Royce thought he was so clever so she couldn't wait to see him try and sing a rock song. She was sure she'd never heard that from him before having always stuck to the safe ballads. But turning away from him, she began the guitars until the pink line started. "Hey you in the middle of the night with the lights on, do you believe that you could love?"
"Hey you with your head up in the clouds and your eyes closed, did you ever think we'd grow?" Janet glanced back at him for a second and found Royce seated, not even bothering to get into the song. She was tempted to force him onto the drums, but knowing the one-talent wonder he'd probably make them lose. It was safer to leave the drums to the computer.
Her part was next and she thought it fit so appropriately for Royce so sung it straight at him. "Hey you, throwing everything away just to save face, and the silence of it shows."
Him again. "Hey you, and you could wish it all away in a heartbeat. But is it free? Free, free, free, free." Janet couldn't stand his smug expression much longer so looked back to the screen. "Don't you start, everybody wants you but you can't say no if you even tried. What you see inside, if you could believe it, but you can't believe a single word. I say to you, would you ever want to walk away from here if you really loved?" Janet glanced back at Royce, the words being taken just a little too personal by him, his voice constricting under the weight of truth like hers had earlier. Was there something more in the line 'would you want to walk away from here if you really loved?' than she'd first imagined? Or was her naïve hope that under all that arrogance would be a human, clouding her judgement? She assumed the latter as Royce continued. "Believe now whatever you want to believe, but you can't believe a word. I said, I can't believe a word." Janet dropped two notes as she tried to regain her place and he gave a cold laugh. "Losing it already?"
"Just shut up and sing Du Luc." She snapped back. Janet frowned. Stupid Royce. How could she have ever thought there was any more to him than met the eye? If he were any more one dimensional, he'd be a drawing on a piece of paper.
She'd been the first thing he'd noticed when he'd walked into the bowling alley, ignoring the raucous cheers of his old show choir who were celebrating that Rock-boy had just rolled two strikes in a row. Well, older show choir. Now he and Ta-Da had parted ways Royce was between show choirs. Of course it was only a matter of time before he was snapped up, he was Royce Du Luc after all, but it was still annoying. Nationals hadn't been long ago, but long enough for him to start wondering if it was time to put his glee club days to rest and start on something more serious – like musicals. There was only so far that show choir could take you before you had to step up and move on. And right now stepping up and moving on was his plan when he spotted her at Rock The World, staring off into space completely unaware the game was continuing right in front of her. She'd always been airy like that, it was one of the things that had always confused him about Janet. She was smart, brilliant in almost all of her subjects, but with that nerd stereotype came shyness. She was horribly shy, debilitatingly so, even on stage. She'd stay at the back and follow along where necessary, quite happy to stay a tachy. And then Nationals… she'd come out of that shell quickly. Now here she was rocking out alone in public sporting jeans shorts so short her grey peasant top almost covered them. He'd always thought Janet cute, but not his type. Now, if he were honest, he wasn't so sure.
The song, which he'd never heard before now, was getting the better of him. The song's lyrics were too close to home. It said everything he needed to say – he hadn't really wanted to leave Spectacular! but his relationship with Courtney had hit a plateau. He'd known that the year before when he'd gone down to sing to the judges, a desperate move and one that gave their rivals Ta-Da the win. But it had been a plea for hope. Courtney's dance moves were dull and didn't work. He did as much as he could to bring new ideas in, but Courtney didn't listen well to advice. He was knocked down and back and eventually blamed for their loss at Nationals. So when Tammi Dyson rocked up at his house with an offer he couldn't possibly refuse he jumped at the chance, unaware he'd stepped out of the fire and into the frying pan. If Courtney was dull and controlling, Tammi was her twin with bigger control issues. It was like working for the puppet-master: jump, stop, clap, sing, turn… yawn. One of Ta-Da's most talented dancers had muttered she was a lion tamer minus the whip. She'd heard. He was shown the door (and probably a whip) not long after. Royce still counted his blessings he made it out alive, even if it had meant sacrificing his precious trophy.
He awoke from his own thoughts to find Janet frowning at him. His line started in three seconds so he raised the microphone quickly. "Hey you, still silent in the eyes of the idols, did be believe that you could know?"
"Hey you, doing everything you can just to blend in, what was there to show?"
Royce couldn't believe Janet had never sung lead soloist before; she was a natural. Her voice hit the notes like she wasn't even trying. She was his equal, and from him that was a real compliment for he was the best male soloist in show choir history – even if he said so himself. "One day, we are never gonna fear when it's over, until I raise my hand."
"Hey you, you could never know your way like you wanted, just set us free, us free, us free, free, free, free."
Royce attention stayed on Janet as she started a new set of guitar chords, her tongue sticking just a little out of the side of her lip as she concentrated intently on pressing the right coloured buttons at just the right time. "Don't you start, everybody wants you but you can't say no if you even tried. What you see inside, if you could believe it, but you can't believe a single word. I said, I can't believe a word." The guitar solo started, a long line of chords and drums. Royce took a seat and watched the bright green, yellow, blue and red lines and pulses come up. Janet hit every one of them, a smug look on her face as she threw a flyaway comment back at him.
"Anytime you want to step in and show me how it's done."
He smothered a smile and took the last chorus. "Don't you start, everybody wants you but you can't say no if you even tried. What you see inside, if you could believe it, but you can't believe a single word. I say to you, would you ever want to walk away from here if you really loved?" Would he have left if he really loved? No. He hadn't loved Courtney. He hadn't really loved Spectacular! He'd loved winning. He'd loved the feeling of success, the feel of praise. He loved everything about it. He loved knowing he was the best. He loved a challenge.
He'd always loved a challenge.
Right now the girl in front of him was posing just that and he was surprised by how desperately he wanted to win it. "Believe now whatever you want to believe, but you can't believe a word. I said, I can't believe a word." The song drew to a close as the screen lit up a bright green with the words 'You Rock!' flashing across it over the sounds of a very appreciative audience. "Well, there we go, we rock."
Janet put down the plastic guitar with a snort. "I rock, you didn't do anything." She looked back at him as she spoke, watching him shrug, staying seated like he expected her to challenge him to a new song. "So Royce, would you ever want to walk away if you really loved?" The question was openly obscure. If he answered it properly he could win a new challenge, but if not he could give too much away and thus leave himself open to trouble. Royce Du Luc didn't invite trouble – it just kinda came with the territory.
"That depends how you look at it." Janet sighed. Typical Royce, diplomatic in his answers as always. All she wanted from him was one sign he was human, or least remotely guilty about everything he'd done. She wasn't asking for him to start bawling and begging his way back in because that would be far too weird, but something, anything, would be a welcome change. "But I guess no. If you were 100% happy and loved then you wouldn't."
She decided to stop beating around the question. "Why did you leave? Why did you go join the ice cold demon creature…" Janet stopped before she couldn't Tammi Dyson names unsuitable for ears.
Royce just chuckled at the explanation of his ex. "You forget 'conniving'." Janet gave him a blank look. "I wanted to win. I didn't think about anyone else. Courtney and I were having problems, we weren't winning and I was bored, so I left. I know it was selfish, but it was leave or let a fight tear Spectacular! apart. I didn't want either, but then Tammi's offer came up and it was too good to refuse. Plus it solved the problem."
"No, it made a new problem: we were down a lead male soloist."
"Which, in turn, made the happy couple over there." Royce thumbed back towards the lanes, not really looking at where he was pointing. He was a little off the mark, but Janet knew who he was pointing to. "So in the end things turned out fine didn't they?"
"Except that Tammi Dyson got a trophy she didn't deserve."
Royce shrugged. "If you can live with it, I can… try and find a way to steal it back." Janet chuckled. "So, do you forgive me?"
"Why do you care what I think?" Her eyebrows lowered with a slight warning and Royce backpedalled.
"I don't, just wondering."
"Well, it's not up to me, but I'm very prepared to give you a second chance…" Royce started to smile then Janet thrust the guitar in his face, "to prove you're better then me like you say you are," she finished.
Royce stood, dropping the strap over his shoulder. "Bring it on…" he realised he didn't know Janet's last name. "Wait, what's your last name?"
"Oh yeah, right, I knew that…" he punched the console in front of him, bringing Random Selection up again. "Bring it on Chan-Kent." The game whirred into life, flicking through a new list of songs for the perfect one as Royce looked back at Janet. "I am sorry for what I did to Spectacular! You do believe that right?"
Janet shrugged. "We'll see." Then, picking up the microphone, she motioned to the console. "Let's do this."
"I'm the guitar master, you're going down."
Janet scoffed. "Sure sure, I can't believe a single word…" then the song began and they fell back into it, absorbed in their own thoughts. She wondered how a game could prove her hopes so right. He was wondering how a game could open his eyes to what was right in front of them. Both were wondering when Random Selection would give them a song they could get lost in together… one they could later call theirs… just in case…