A/N: Fair warning - there is nothing of substance here. This is just silly fluff and I apologize for the copious amounts of unquality. Sheree planted the idea in my head (as is usual) and I couldn't sleep until I finished writing it.
Stevie's not sure how late, though, because she can't see the clock from her current vantage point on Zander's bed. She's lying across the width of it on her back, bare feet up on the wall, head hanging off the side to survey Zander upside down. He sits across the room from her, lounging in his oversized beanbag chair as he strums chords in alternating patterns and hums absently to himself. Even upside down, she can tell he's starting to fade. His eyes are closed and while it's not at all unusual for him to close his eyes when he's in a songwriting zone, he hasn't been in that zone all day and he's obviously not right now, either.
It's just late, is all. And they're both tired and fading fast but they need something to bring to rehearsal tomorrow because they promised the rest of the band and they've got a gig in a week and they need new material to showcase.
"Zander," she snaps at him, with as much force as she can muster. His eyes snap open, only to immediately droop again. "Wake up."
"M'awake," he mumbles at her.
"I'm awake, Stevie," he says, a little clearer this time, but his eyes are almost closed again. She shakes her head - a difficult task upside down, she finds.
"What was the last chord progression you played?" she challenges.
He hesitates before running through a couple progressions that sound nothing like the one he had just been playing. "I have no idea," he admits.
"That's what I thought." She pauses for a moment, trying to call it to mind. "It was one - flat seven - four - one, by the way. In… F. I think." He starts to strum it, sleepily. "It's not what we're looking for," she adds quickly.
He plays through it a couple times anyway, pulls a face. "That's not quite it. You're right."
"I always am."
"Always?" he repeats, raising an eyebrow. "What about the time you thought that the words to the French part in 'Michelle' were 'play piano song?'"
"Shut up." Stevie can feel the blood rushing to her face, but she's not sure if it's from the memory or just from hanging upside down for so long. Zander just laughs. "That's how my brothers used to sing it, okay? It never occurred to me it was in French!" The more she defends herself, the harder he laughs. Annoyed, she sits up and finds a pillow, flinging it at him as soon as she gets her hands on it.
She's just flopped back down - on her belly this time - when the pillow flies back at her, landing a direct hit on her face. The scent of whatever shampoo he uses hits her almost as hard as the pillow did. "Zander!"
"Now we're even." He smirks.
"I don't think you understand how 'even' works. We were 'even' when I threw the pillow at you." She gropes around on the floor by the bed for it, manages to clutch it with one hand, tosses it awkwardly at him because she's not in prime pillow-throwing position. He deflects it easily. The pillow spins away, landing somewhere near his desk. "And now we're still not even because you just blocked my revenge." Dragging herself along his bed, she grabs at his other pillow. Before she can turn to throw it at him, something soft and solid connects with the back of her head. She looks up to find Zander standing triumphantly above her, holding the first pillow in both hands. "Oh, so that's how you're going to play?" she asks. His only response is to whack her again, which is as good as a declaration of war. "It's on now."
She blocks his next swing with her foot and then rolls herself into a sitting position, narrowly managing to use her pillow to absorb the force of the following hit. She's on the defensive and she doesn't like it, so she swings her legs over the side of the bed. Ducking under another swing of the pillow, she slides off the edge of the bed and onto her feet, her pillow arcing through the air and making a nice, satisfying thud as it catches Zander in the side of the head. He staggers a little - obviously there was more force behind the blow than she had thought.
"Are you oka-" she begins, but he takes advantage of her distraction to hit her back twice as hard. "Cheap shot!" she complains.
"All's fair in love and war." He smirks at her again and her stomach chooses that moment to become some kind of Olympic gymnast and she's pretty sure this is not fair so she just swings indiscriminately at him.
"You" - thud - "are so" - thud - "infuriating" - thud - "sometimes." Thud, thud, thud.
"Tell me how you really feel, Stevie!" He's laughing as he tries in vain to ward off her flurry of attacks, and despite the newfound acrobatic abilities of her internal organs she's laughing too.
"I really feel" - thud - "like we should probably have something to bring to rehearsal tomorrow."
"Well, to be fair, I'm not the one who started a pillow fight."
"And I'm not the one who was falling asleep while we were working," she retorts, jerking backward just in time for Zander's pillow to sail over her head.
"You do realize I let you nap for like an hour while I ate dinner, so you're a little more well-rested than I am."
"An hour? Give me a break. I know how fast you eat. I was out for ten minutes, tops."
They trade blows a few more times, but their energy is obviously flagging just as quickly as it came. Stevie finally catches a glimpse of Zander's alarm clock and it's late, definitely; a lot later than she thought it was. She'll be camping out on his couch again, she knows. If they even get to sleep at all. It wouldn't be the first time they'd pulled an all-nighter.
"We should probably get back to writing," Zander says, getting in one final whack before tossing his pillow back to the head of his bed.
"Yeah, you're probably right." Stevie glances from him to the pillow still in her hands back to him, though, and the prospect of getting Zander while he's defenseless is just too good to pass up. He's on the same wavelength as her, though, like always, and he realizes what she's going to do at the same time she does. She lunges at him just as he tries to dodge out of the way and they collide somewhere in the middle, heads smacking together as they fall in a tangle of limbs to the floor.
For a moment they're both still, assessing the damage. The left side of Stevie's forehead is throbbing painfully and she's sure a lump must already be forming. Her right ankle seems a bit tender and she thinks she likely twisted it on her way down. There's also a pain in her side that she can't explain until she realizes that Zander's elbow is digging into it.
"Zander," she coughs out. "Your elbow is in my kidney."
"Oh. Sorry." He shifts a little, relieving the pressure on her organs, but makes no attempt to get up.
"You okay?" she asks, concerned. She hopes he's not really hurt, because they don't have another guitar player to call up on short notice, and anyway they do still need to figure out something to bring to practice.
"Huh? Yeah, I - I'm fine."
She feels him push himself up, one arm on either side of her, and she looks up at him. There's a red spot on his forehead - likely a match for the one she's sure must be on hers. Before she can stop herself she reaches up, traces it. "That's going to be beautiful in the morning," she teases.
"What about you?" he asks. He props himself on one arm, freeing his other one to push the hair from her face. Rough fingertips brush carefully across the tender bump on her head.
"I'll be fine. You're the one who has to worry about what your little fanclub is going to think about your third eye."
He rolls his eyes at her. "They're not a fanclub."
"They're a gaggle of freshman girls that have t-shirts with your face on them."
"Okay, so they're a little… enthusiastic."
"More like desperate," she grumbles.
She jabs the red spot on his forehead with one finger and he winces. "You wish."
The correct response - the one she's expecting, honestly - would be for him to scoff, to play it off like the joke it is. Instead, there's a long stretch of silence, during which time Zander stares at her and their legs are still entwined in the same way they were when they landed and his hand never quite made it away from her face so now it's just kind of resting against her cheek and she can't tell if his hand is cool or her face is just warmer than usual. Her stomach starts doing that Olympic gymnast thing again and she really wishes it would quit it because she's having a hard enough time getting her bearings as it is.
"Your hair's a mess," she tells him, voice almost a whisper, because it's the only thing she can think of to say and she has to say something.
"Well, you were just beating me over the head with a pillow a few minutes ago."
She runs a hand through it: once, twice, three times, until it's more or less flattened out. "Better."
Another pause. Stevie cocks her head to one side, peers at him.
"What are you thinking?" he asks.
"That your hair looked kind of good when it was messy, actually." Grinning, she reaches up with both hands and rubs the top of his head vigorously until every hair is in the exact wrong place. Zander laughs, attempting to jerk his head out of range, but it's futile.
When she's finished with her handiwork she clasps her hands together, resting her entwined fingers on the back of his neck. She's struck suddenly by the intimacy of the situation. With anyone but Zander, this would be weird. (Pointedly, she ignores the flipping of her stomach that is telling her in no uncertain terms that this is weird, too.) If she wanted to, it would be so easy to just pull him down and kiss him.
If she wanted to, of course. Which she doesn't (she tells herself, as she pointedly avoids looking at his lips). Because their thing is music and not love - using their mouths to hum tunes and sing lyrics, not to kiss each other.
It's not the first time she's considered it, though, if she's being honest. Because when your best friend is a guy, and not a bad-looking one at that, it crosses your mind from time to time, especially when his face is just a little too close to yours. And at the moment they're admittedly not doing much of the writing thing, so maybe if they-
"I got it!"
Zander's excited voice breaks into Stevie's thoughts and he jumps up, out of her grasp, crawling clumsily over to his beanbag chair where his guitar is waiting. He pulls it into his lap and strums experimentally a couple times before playing out a progression as he half-sings, half-hums along. It's a relatively simple progression, Stevie knows, but sometimes simple is best.
"Well?" he says as he plucks it out again.
"I like it. Maybe change the key, though. I'm not sure that's quite Kacey's range."
He plays it one more time, Stevie singing along with nonsense syllables to test it out. "Like that?" he asks.
"Yeah, like that."
They trade lyrics and rhythms back and forth for the better part of an hour, until they've got a working draft of a song to show the rest of the band. Once it's jotted down in their shorthand on scraps of paper, Zander piles a pillow and some blankets into her arms and sends her out to the living room so they can both get a couple hours of sleep before school. It's that easy, for them to slip back into it, and anyway Stevie's not sure she would have been prepared to handle the fallout from what would have happened had inspiration taken an extra ten seconds to hit Zander.
Still, as she's falling asleep, she resolves to glare at those fanclub freshmen a little more than usual.
Just because she can.