Characters: Sam, Artie, Puck, Mike, Rory
Rating: PG-13 for now
Synopsis: Sam and Artie start a boy band. They ask Puck, Mike, and Rory to join, and they are on their way to stardom.
This chapter: Chapter 1/? - The Call
Pairing: Slight Sam/Artie
Artie was studying in his dorm room when he heard a knock on his door.
"Come in," he shouted, knowing that it could only be one person: his best friend Sam.
Sam entered the room and closed the door behind him before kicking off his shoes. He perched himself on Artie's desk, leafing through the piles of paper littering the table.
"Whatchu doin'?" he asked distractedly, knocking a bunch of papers down on the floor.
"Studying for my German cinema midterm. Pick that up, will ya?" Artie replied, focussed on his work.
"Sounds boring," Sam remarked, crouching down to pick up the papers. "Hey, what's that?"
Artie was used to Sam's nosiness and he didn't mind, so he didn't even bother answering. He completely forgot about it, absorbed by his notes on Leni Riefenstahl. A few minutes later, the sound of a guitar strum disturbed him and he looked up.
Sam was sitting on the bed, trying different chords on Artie's guitar, a page torn off from a notebook next to him. Artie didn't know what Sam was playing until he started singing.
"When I take you in my arms, oh baby! I just gotta let you know... Baby I'll never let you go..."
"Oh my god, no, stop it! You weren't supposed to see that – "
"I think it's pretty good," Sam said with a cocky smile. "You wrote these yourself?"
"Just for the heck of it and shut up, these lyrics are rubbish!"
"I think, with the right arrangements, they could sound pretty nice, kinda... boy band-ish?"
Artie bursted out laughing. "Oh my god, they would, wouldn't they?"
Sam was still strumming the guitar distractedly, laughing with Artie. He suddenly stopped and sat up.
"Dude, we should totally start a boy band!"
Artie kept laughing, thinking it was part of the joke.
"Think about it, man," Sam insisted. "We're good at that stuff! Remember, back in high school, we did Bieber, One Direction, Rebecca Black..."
"Oh god, you're not kidding."
"Chicks dig boy bands, man. And we'd have so much fun!"
"Get out of here, man. Not gonna happen," Artie said decidedly, rolling back to his desk to resume his studying.
Sam picked up his shoes and left the room, making Artie promise he'd think about it.
The next day at lunch, Sam joined Artie in the cafeteria.
"So, did you think about it?"
"Think about what?" Artie asked distractedly.
"The boy band, dude!" Sam replied, bouncing with anticipation.
"Say, hypothetically, if I said yes. We can hardly form a band by ourselves, especially with me in a wheelchair. Who would be in it?"
"Puck would probably wanna join, and Mike could help with the choreography."
"I'm sure they have way better things to do than joining a boy band."
"Ask them yourself."
Artie glanced at the cafeteria entrance. Puck and Mike were making their way towards them.
"What are you guys doin' here? You don't even go here."
"Beats me," Puck replied.
"Sam didn't say," Mike added.
"Gentlemen," Sam said solemnly. "You must be wondering why I gathered you here today – "
"Cut the secret spy crap, Evans," Puck interrupted.
"Artie and I are starting a boy band, and we wanna invite you guys to be part of it."
Puck shot a look at Artie, cocking up an eyebrow.
"Don't look at me," Artie said defensively. "I keep telling him it's a bad idea."
"Puck," Sam continued, "you'd be perfect to add that bad boy touch to the band. And Mike, you could be our official choreographer, as well as a part of the band."
"And what would you guys be?" Puck asked with a smirk.
"Artie would be the gangsta. All the pop songs have rap parts, nowadays. And I would be the leader with the boy-next-door charm that makes the girls swoon," Sam added with a sly smile.
"We'd need a fifth member, though," Puck pointed out. "Everyone knows all the good boy bands have five members, like the Backstreet Boys and stuff."
"We could ask Rory," Mike suggested. "Chicks dig accents and his baby face would appeal to younger audiences."
"Done," Sam answered, digging his phone from his pocket. "I'm texting him to meet us."
"So it's decided, then? We're really doing this?" Artie asked incredulously. "Don't you guys have anything better to do?"
Puck shrugged. "Pool cleaning fell through. Turns out LA already had plenty of pool cleaners."
"I'm halfway through dance school, so it would be a great occasion to learn," Mike added. "Plus I get to hang out with my bros instead of a bunch of uptight ballet dancers."
Rory got there half an hour later.
"So, what's the big secret project? Sam got me quite curious about it!"
Artie sighed. "Apparently we're starting a boy band, and we want you to be the fifth member."
"That sounds awesome, man! I mean, I'm only a freshman, so maybe this will get girls to notice me!"
"That's the spirit, dude!" Sam exclaimed, grinning as excitedly as Rory was.
Sam high-fived everyone, then took out a pen and a notebook out of his bag.
"Alright, let's get organized!"
"Calm down, dude," Puck said. "This is a boy band, not the motherfuckin Baby-Sitters Club! What do we need to be organized for?"
"Well, for starters, we need a name for the band."
Sam's declaration was met with a stunned silence.
"Dude, what do you know about the Baby-Sitters Club?" Artie finally asked Puck.
"I used to read them to my sister as bedtime stories, okay?" Puck answered defensively.
Sam looked around and tried to go back to the subject at hand.
"Maybe we should take a few days to think about it?"
"Okay, next thing: the music."
"I play guitar," Puck said.
"Me too," Artie added.
"So do I," Sam replied. "But that's not what a boy band does. Our job is to sing, dance, and look good. Most boy bands use electronic backing or a musical band to back them."
"Well, I'm still friends with John and Scott, I could ask them," Artie suggested, finally getting used to the idea.
"Who?" everybody asked at once.
"Seriously, guys? The jazz band dudes from high school. They hung out with us for four years and you've never bothered to learn their names?"
The rest of the guys were all embarrassed, awkwardly trying to come up with some excuse. Artie grunted, slightly annoyed.
"I'll ask if they want to help us out, maybe being some of their friends, too, if you promise to make an effort to them."
The other guys promised, and Sam took a note in his pad.
"So, how do we get famous?" Rory asked eagerly.
"We can play some gigs on campus and put videos on YouTube."
"Dude, you really researched all that, did you?"
Sam nodded proudly. Puck's cough barely veiled the "geek" insult he threw at him, but Sam knew it was affectionate.
"First thing we need is songs. Artie and I already composed one – "
"Accidentally," Artie clarified.
" – and it's almost done," Sam went on. "We could also do some covers of popular songs; everyone on YouTube does that. Plus, it gives people something to like before they get to know our original stuff."
"We should cover songs from all genres, and give them a pop feel," Mike suggested, and they all agreed.
By the time Sam and Artie had to get to class, Sam had actually given them all an assignment: to find ideas for the name of the band, and to find songs they could cover.
The next Sunday, they met at Mike's college, which had plenty of dance studios they could use to practice. Artie came with John, Scott, Derik, and some or their friends from the jazz band, who agreed to help them out.
Sam was already in a corner of the room, standing near a black board reading Band Names. He waited until everyone was seated.
"Alright," he started, sounding strangely like a teacher. "Did everyone think of names for the band?"
They all vaguely nodded. Puck was the first to make a suggestion.
"What about Puckzilla and the Motherpuckers?"
"You serious?" Sam asked, sighing.
"Hell yeah, it's an awesome name!"
"For an ironic death metal band, maybe!"
"How about The Bros?" Mike suggested.
"Can't. This was already a band in the 80s or something," Sam replied.
"Dude, you're way too invested in this shit," Puck said.
"I think Sam's right," Rory piped in. "We have to know what we're doing, if we ever wanna get famous."
Sam flashed Rory a grateful grin.
"Well, actually, I may have one." Artie figured that now that Sam dragged him into it he might as well enjoy it and it might not be so lame.
They all looked at him in anticipation, Sam with a smile so big it seemed to stretched even more his so-called "Trouty Mouth".
"Okay, so I've been listening to a lot of old school R&B recently, like R. Kelly and stuff, and I really love the song Ignition and I thought it would be a cool name."
"Ignition?" Sam repeated, testing the sound of the name.
"I love it! Guys?"
"Awesome," Mike said, Rory nodding approvingly next to him. Puck fist-bumped Artie.
"Great, so it's decided," Sam declared, writing it in huge white letters on the board.
Artie smiled. This could be fun, after all.
Sam suggested to try arrangements for Artie's song, since the band was there. He gave them the lyrics sheet he had photocopied and played it on his guitar to show them what he wanted to do with it.
While the musicians worked, Sam gathered the others to work on the vocals while Artie wrote his rap part.
Artie suddenly realized that he loved it. He was doing what he loved with his bros and it reminded him of the glee club in high school, which he really missed since he started college. He looked over at Sam and beamed at him, his smile conveying how grateful he was that Sam had put this together – and basically forced him to join. Sam nodded in understanding.
A few hours later, they put everything together – the vocals, the rap, and the music. It still needed a lot of work, but it was enough for mike to start working on choreography.
At the end of the night, they were exhausted but happy. They went for a beer in a little bar on campus where they talked about songs they could cover.
"Should we reuse our old hits?" Artie suggested. "You know, Somebody to Love, Friday, What Makes You Beautiful..."
"Don't forget Let Me Love You, it was a blast," Sam added.
"Right, that one," Rory said bitterly.
Artie shot him an apologetic look. Even if Rory and Sugar didn't last long, there was still some sort of rivalry between Artie and him. Artie resented Rory for his blatant lie about getting deported, which successfully landed him Sugar. And Artie felt like Rory resented him for something else, though he didn't know what. He especially noticed it when they hung out with Sam.
"We should totally cover Backstreet Boys songs, too," Puck declared. "As Long As You Love Me is awesome."
Mike nodded and Artie laughed.
"Puck, I think you are a closeted BSB fan," he teased as everybody laughed.
Puck shrugged and called a round of shots to shut them up. Shots came – lots of them – and they soon forgot they were supposed to talk songs. Mike and Rory eventually left - they had classes in the morning. Artie moved out of his chair to the seat Rory had left, next to Sam. He realized he had no idea what time it was, and he couldn't remember how much he had drunk. Sam and Puck were engaged in a lively discussion about something. Artie couldn't concentrate long enough to understand what they were debating about, but the words "Mario" and "Luigi" came up quite often.
Too drunk to focus on anything else, Artie took a long sip of beer and stared at the way the soft bar lights made Sam's blonde hair shine. Puck stood up to get another beer at the bar, and Sam turned to look at Artie.
"You okay dude? You've been staring at me for like ten minutes."
"Soft," Artie whispered, lifting a hand to tangle in Sam's hair.
Sam chuckled as Puck came back with a pint. "Artie is plastered, dude, it's hilarious! I think I'm gonna bring him back to the dorms, though."
Puck fist-bumped Sam.
"Sure thing, bro. I'm gonna hang here for this last beer, there's a cute redhead alone at the bar," he added, winking.
Artie was already half-asleep when he felt Sam's strong arms wrap around him to put him back in his chair.
"That's the advantage with Artie," Sam said to Puck. "When he's wasted, I don't have to carry him, just push his chair."
They laughed and high-fived before Sam wheeled Artie out of the bar. They didn't have to walk far, but the night was a bit chilly. Sam noticed Artie's teeth were clattering, so he took off his jacket to cover him. Artie was almost passed out, but he noticed the warmth and Sam's familiar scent surrounding him. He smiled and muttered a feeble "thanks".
When Artie woke up, he noticed four things:`
1- His head was about to explode;
2- The sun pouring out between the curtains wasn't helping;
3- He wasn't in his bed;
4- He was lying next to a warm, half-naked body.
The last point finished waking him up. He didn't remember how the previous night had ended at all, so he was seriously wondering with whom he went home, and if they had done anything. The head next to him finally emerged from under the pillows and Artie recognized Sam's blonde hair. He suddenly felt a warm tug in his gut that strangely reminded him of the previous night.
The sense of relief he felt when he found out he wasn't in a stranger's bed suddenly disappeared when he realized that didn't mean they hadn't done anything. Sam turned towards Artie with a yawn and a smile.
Artie was too startled to answer Sam's greeting. He just wanted some reassurance.
"Did we – I mean – last night?"
Sam chuckled heartily. "Absolutely not, don't worry. I just brought you here because it was closer."
Artie felt utterly relieved, but he also felt something else – it felt oddly like disappointment, though he didn't know why.
He blamed it on the hangover.