In Hollywood Hills, You Might Have Recognized Me...
"But Bill! You said that-"
"I said you could hang around with us, not distract us from when we're supposed to be practicing for the gigs. Even if you are my best friend's sister, and my ex, you still have to follow tour rules."
"Screw the tour rules...where's Sisky?" The seventeen year old Aussie wondered, reaching to pull her blond highlighted red hair out of her eyes, before grabbing her laptop from the side arm of the couch she was sitting on.
She logged onto her laptop, and immediately clicked on the story she'd been typing before she'd gone to bed the night before. It was an older story, and it had all started with the release of the video for Fall Out boy's 'A Little Less Sixteen Candles, A Little More Touch Me', where William and Mike had made cameo appearances as vampires.
"When hearts hang on the line, and all that you fear has happened Let the memories count the miles, and never be forgotten."
"We never knew what hit us. We were living one second, singing our hearts out at concerts of the bands we'd grown to love, lost in Pacific Time, the sound of the music and the ambiance it created taking us away, and then the next – nothing.
The nothingness was worse than the waiting. At least when waiting for said concert, we could talk and discover others like us that shared a common taste in music. And now, the nothingness? It was too quiet, there was so much – missing. The sound of the voices screaming as the band jumped onstage, the crackle of the amplifiers as the guitars they were hooked up to poured life into them, the steady beat of the drums melding in the between the guitars and lead vocals – gone.
But we would never be forgotten.
"Nicki! If you want to that concert, get your ass down here!" Angelica yelled, poking her head into the stairwell, not expecting a bag full of makeup and a mini top hat to be flying toward her.
"Really Nicki? I've already got make up on!"
"Not enough if you want Brendon to notice you!"
"Notice me? Nicki, we've got front row AND backstage passes! How the fuck is he going to not-" Here she flipped her blonde highlighted brown hair out of her face, blinking those raccoon lined emerald eyes of hers, "Notice me?"
Nicki rolled her blue green eyes, reaching up a hand to pull her ponytail tighter. Having curly hair was such a hassle, so she almost always pulled it back.
"You're so conceited, you know that?"
Angelica laughed, adjusting the black silk mini top hat on top of her hair and pouting, "How do I look?"
"Like you just stepped out of the video for the ballad of Mona Lisa, now come on, I'm ready to leave, I'm ready to live, I'm ready to go…" Angie shook her head, "Come on then! Otherwise we're eating Nails for Breakfast and Tacks for Snacks!" she hollered as the pair ran out to the bus stop, taking it down to the Rivera in downtown Chicago, where Panic! At The Disco was playing that night.
After the concert, both girls were surprised nether of their make-up had smudged, although Brendon's had. Making their way backstage, both girls couldn't stop smiling for the life of them.
"You guys are amazing; I started listening with A Fever, and then Pretty. Odd. Came out and I loved it and-"
Suddenly Nicki heard a voice inside her heard, it sounded like Brendon. And then realized she was looking Brendon right in his eyes, lost in hazel irises.
"You are letting me take your friend tonight; you'll see her soon, although you won't remember anything that happens tonight. The Academy Is…will be playing here in a few months, and they're our friends. If you come to that show, you'll see all of us shortly after. Now…blink, and you won't remember anything but TAI is coming soon, and everything will Slow Down and fall into place."
Nicki blinked, "Wh-where am I? I'm supposed to be home…" she said shyly, yawning, suddenly tired.
"Well I'll call you a cab, sweetheart. This is a concert, if you're supposed to be home, we should get you there," a man with dark brown hair and hazel was saying. Nicki nodded, "Thank you mister."
Twenty minutes later, Nicki walked into her apartment, and headed to bed. How had she ended up at the concert? And who was that man?
"I'll never let you go Don't ever forget Tell me you'll remember Forever young
I'll never let you fall It's not over yet You and me forever Forever young We're forever young…"
Nicki Sanders could just stand forever and admire the band that was playing in front of her. From the lead singer to the guitarist, everyone in the band was cute. And while The Academy Is… played 'Summer Hair = Forever Young" she sang along.
"Don't come any closer Don't tell me it's over Don't kiss me goodbye Here we are, am I taking this too hard?
Don't say that it's easy The hardest part is leaving Don't you wonder why... Suddenly, we're all running out of time…"
Damn. In the middle of the song, the lead singer looked at right at her, his gaze piercing hers with undeniable bedroom eyes. She had to use every ounce of self control to not drop her camera and jump onstage and tackle him, she'd felt a connection right away when their gazes locked. Well, she had the backstage pass, so….maybe it was worth something.
After the concert, Nicki worked her way backstage to see the Aussie guitarist, Michael Guy Chislett putting away his guitar, which was a very pretty Gretsch white falcon.
"I love the solo on 'New York' (Saint in the City). It just resonates with something in my heart," Nicki told him, smiling, completely unaware she was flirting with him. Chizzy smiled back, and after locking the hard-shell case his guitar was in, offered her his hand.
"Nicolette Sanders?" a voice called, and she could instantly recognize it. It was William Beckett, the lead singer. "
After clicking out of that, she clicked onto her second one she'd started, "Pacfic Times Are Out Fast Times."
"She had always been fascinated by the large mansion looming over the relatively quiet Chicago neighborhood. The way it seemed older then the city itself, she just could stare at those iron gates for hours, imagining the life that went on inside those ornately carved doors, the thick drapes preventing sunlight from revealing the interior of the beautiful building.
"AJ! Hurry up, we're gonna miss the bus!" A voce yelled from somewhere behind her.
The girl turned, to see her best friend Amelia Clearwater waving her hands in a 'hurry up and get your ass over here' motion. Shaking her head and clearing her mind of the thought of sneaking in and exploring the enchanting mansion, AJ ran down to the bus stop to wait with her friend.
While they were waiting, Amelia had managed to get a song stuck in her head, and started humming it.
"I've got myself to blame for this I've tried to compensate for everything I'm not, and every face forgotten. You felt the sun warming your bed you looked so quintessential, pressed against that cross,
in the face of what was lost. Still I'm not asking much of me, and you're ignoring the matter..."
She started, grinning as AJ looked up. Of course the younger girl had recognized the song, it was by their favorite band, 'The Academy Is…' AJ smiled as she began to sing the chorus again with Amelia. "You'll shut me up and bleed me dry. Cheap champagne and a complicated lifestyle If nothing else matters, then I will die trying, thinking about you and I."
"You know, we're not bad…if we can find a Sisky, Butcher and Carden of our own, we can do a TAI cover band. I'll be Chizzy if you're Beckett." Amelia laughed, already playing air guitar, her fedora titled down over her forehead.
"Three years on Friday since we met you felt that existential kiss upon your neck. How could we forget that? Still I'm through acting like this feels right, and that nothing else matters."
AJ sang the second verse, laughing all the while.
"Yeah….we wish…If only we could…I dunno, like, met them!" "You'll shut me up and bleed me dry. Cheap champagne and a complicated lifestyle If nothing else matters, then I will die trying, trying not to think about you... Yeah…"
"You do know Daniel did say something about a contest for the members of Santi's Little Helpers…right?" Amelia asked. AJ shook her head.
"Something about a cover. If any SLH member does a cover of a TAI song and uploads it on the site, they could be chosen to get meet & greet tickets to any TAI concert of their choice."
"Get out….you serious?" AJ squeaked excitedly.
"Would I be talking about it if I wasn't?" Amelia shot back, laughing.
"It's on yourself and no one else. It's on yourself and no one else. But without hindsight, I guess it serves me right."
"Dude, we should enter. But we'll just be the two of us, like how Bill and Chizzy do their acoustic shows. I can sing, and you can play guitar. Think that'd work?" AJ suggested, smiling.
"Why the hell not? I say let's do this, Santi!" Amelia shouted, holding her hand up for a high-five, to which AJ slapped and continued singing.
"You'll shut me up and bleed me dry. Cheap champagne and a disappearing lifeline. if nothing else matters then I will die trying thinking about you and I."
And so the plan was settled. To enter the TAI contest, the girls would film an acoustic over of the band's song 'About A Girl', their first single from their third CD, Fast Times A Barrington High. As the bus pulled up and the girls grabbed their backpacks, they sang the last verse / chorus, many of their friends rolling their eyes as they walked to their seats, still singing.
"Shut me up and bleed me dry it's only a matter of time Cheap champagne and a complicated lifestyle it's only a matter of time."
As the bus pulled away to head to Barrington High, the school the girls attended, everyone knew the next cue. Rolling their windows down and sticking the heads out them, almost every junior on the bus had yelled Mike Carden's last word in the song at the top of their lungs in unison.
"What are you doing, Nicki?" William asked as his eyes glanced over the screen, curious as to what she was typing.
"It's just a story..." She explained before adding, "I'm gonna have Panic in it, and you guys, and possibly Fall Out Boy..."
"Have you talked to any of them about this?"
"It's not like it's gonna get posted, silly!" Nicki complained, lightly smacking William's shoulder while still trying to keep the laptop on her lap.
He only rolled his eyes and looked at her, completely surprised when she leaned forward and kissed him, square on the mouth.
She pulled back a few seconds later, smiling sheepishly before adding, "I'm sorry."
As she walked back to her bunk on the tour bus, William Beckett's gaze followed his ex-girlfriend.
What the hell had just happened?
"Hey Butcher, can I borrow a drumstick?"
"I think I'm going to see how far into Bill's eye socket it'll go." Nicki replied with a straight face, not even flinching.
Andy 'The Butcher' Mrotek shuddered. He knew the break up had been hard on both her and Bill, but things only got worse when the group went on tour and Chizzy had decided to bring his little sister along once again. Not that Butcher minded, she normally was a very sweet girl, unless you pissed her off or just happened to be William Beckett.
"Do you not recognize sarcasm when you hear it? Geez, you're worse than Carden sometimes. To think he actually thought I was pregnant…" Nicki trailed off, the memory from when she and Bill's relationship had reached its peak fresh in her head.
She had been lying down in bed one night, waiting for him to come to bed. He and Chizzy had gone out to look at more gear, and Sisky, Carden, and Butcher were downstairs playing videogames in the living room.
She'd walked down the stairs around 11:30, yelling at them to turn the stereo system the Xbox was hooked up to down, when suddenly she felt sick.
Running to the bathroom, she really knew something was up when she threw up. She tried counting back what she'd eaten that day, but nothing seemed to fit the traditional 'I-ate-this-so-I-have-food-poisoning-now' diet. Then she remembered that food poisoning took twenty-four hours to show up.
The knock at the door had startled her thoughts, and she shakily called a, "Y-Yes?"
"You okay, Nicki?" Mike Carden called, he prolly was leaning against the door-frame waiting for her reply.
"Yeah…I'm just a little sick."
At that moment she heard the front door open, and she assumed Bill and her brother had walked in.
"Hey man, guess what?" Carden said point blank, causing both men to look at him.
"What?" Bill had asked, expecting the comment to be about the gear search or god forbid the video games.
"Your girlfriend's pregnant." Carden said with a smirk, knowing how much those three words would get under not just Bill's skin, but Michael's as well.
At that moment Nicki opened the door, a shocked expression on her face, waving her hands in effort to get Carden to shut up.
"She's what?...And how the fuck do you know that?" Bill wondered, glancing at his girlfriend, standing in the doorway of the bathroom, looking as though she was about to faint.
"NICOLETTE ELIZABETH CHISLETT!" her brother yelled, and Nicki's head dropped. She was dead, all thanks to Carden's stupid little comment.
Of course, after a few hours of explaining that she had only gotten sick because of the Taco Bell she'd eaten the night before, both Michael and William managed to calm down some, though every time either looked at Carden it was painfully obvious they were fighting the urge to kill the black haired, green eyed rhythm guitarist.
Butcher and Nicki both laughed at the memory before he added, "Look. I know he's your ex and all...but with this tour coming up, I wouldn't mess with him. We're all a bundle of nerves, and Bill's perhaps more stressed out then any of us," he explained.
Nicki nodded, "I know...that and my brother is so...he's too overprotective. That's why I went out with Bill in the first place, so he could keep an eye on me."
"He's overprotective because you're our Lil Chiz. There's a reason Sisky likes to act crazy with you, the same reason why Carden always finds a way to get under your skin. It's also the reason why Bill fell in love with you in the first place."
"And why's that?" She asked, dumbfounded that he had just matter-of-factly explained her connection and pastimes with the band.
"What do I know? You've got to find that out yourself...who knows, you and Bill could end up writing together..."
"Who knows, you and Bill could end up writing together..."
'Light bulb moment,' Nicki thought. If she couldn't win him back by playing hard to get, she'd do it the only way a musician knew how.