The House Band

Author's Note: This is technically the fourth story in my East Peaks series of stories, beginning with Sorry and most recently Bridesmaid To Be. It can be read independently, but spins off directly from Chapter 3 of BTB. I'm attempting to post it chronologically with BTB at the same time.

Lengthwise, this was a NaNoWriMo story which means it's longer than fifty thousand words, but not by much. Don't expect anything short or extremely drawn out.

Warning: Probably somewhat annoyingly, this story alternates first person point of view per chapter. It might help to think of it as a series of ten stories about the four guys, but probably not. This chapter is narrated by Kyle, who I consider to be the true main character of the story.

Chapter 1: Kyle Introduces

"Ready guys?" I ask, looking to the rest of my band mates. It's not our first gig, but for some reason it feels like it. We've done this before. We've been here less than a week, but we have done it. I close my eyes and take in a deep breath.

Maybe I'm feeling nervous because there are celebrities here tonight. An American TV channel is filming a reality show here tonight. I'm fuzzy on the details, but we had to sign some forms to appear. We're pretty stoked of course. Imagine us being featured on some TV show... even if only for a few seconds. It's amazing. Perfect even since we really only took this gig for the publicity (and, okay, the permanent pay check helps a lot too). We're buzzed... and absolutely terrified out of our skins!

"Ready," lead guitarist Mick smiles at me, his dyed red hair seeming just as cheerful as he is.

Alan, our drummer, just grunts. He's already sat down on his stool, twirling his sticks in anticipation.

The last member of our band is Iwan, the bassist. He only nods in answer to my question.

I guess you might have figured out that I'm the lead singer and sometimes keyboard player. My name is Kyle, and this is our band.

x x x

As usual the crowd on the dance floor stills as the recorded music slides off and our microphones are turned on. I grin at the blur before me and begin to speak. "Welcome to the HOLLY everyone!" There's a half-hearted cheer and I'm a little nervous about what everyone has been expecting from us. Like I said, we've only been here a week. "We're the house band. I'm Kyle, that's Mick, Iwan and Alan. Make some noise for the club!"

We launch into the Holly's theme song. It's a simple tune that the regulars all know. Back when the club began, the owners, Ellen and Stan, decided that their main point of difference would be live music every night played by the house band. While they brainstormed the two of them, being a little musically inclined themselves, penned a little theme song. It started out as a jingle. The sort of thing they'd hum to each other and occasionally add to on their breaks.

They weren't getting attention from any of the financial backers they were looking for. But walking in humming the tune one day, they found the courage to not take no for an answer. They walked out with the loan they needed. And that evening, as they celebrated, Stan wrote it down. The first house band was nothing more than a couple of their friends. One was a keyboards player and the other sang a little. They weren't fantastic, but they were enough. The first thing they played was the theme song.

That's when it became pretty obvious that they needed a licence for the band to play requests. Stan and Ellen got one. A new band turned up. They started taking requests. The rest is history and the Holly's been the place to be for ten years now. An oldie, but a goodie, the socialites all say. Or so I've heard.

The four of us haven't been living in Sydney for very long. We're originally from Newcastle and had absolutely no idea that the club existed when we first came down here. We all had day jobs, but no gigs. Until a week ago when we came in and heard the lead singer. She was crap and we were so convinced that this supposed hot spot could do so much better. It was Iwan's idea for us to usurp them, so we wrangled ourselves an audition/interview with Stan and Ellie, and the next thing we knew the duo before us were history.

So tonight, like every other night this week we begin with the house theme. Our version (every incarnation of the house band has always been allowed to remix the theme song), starts off with a very soft drum roll. Followed by the bass. The rest of the guys and I hum a little to the tune before the guitar kicks in and I start with the lyrics.

After the first verse, I scream the club's name and take a breather. The bass amps up and there's a little guitar solo before going into the second verse.

I hum us out, and the guys slowly peel off the instruments until it's just the drums again. And just as everyone thinks the song is over (and I do hear a few scattered claps), it's a bass solo, and together we scream. What we scream usually changes from day to day, depending on our mood. Mostly it's because everyone decided that there should be a scream, but no one knew what.

The audience is pumped now, and we launch into our first original song of the set. Iwan wrote it mostly. He writes most of our songs. I guess you could say that he's the most musical of us. I'm definitely the least musical. I am definitely not coordinated enough to hold an instrument, let alone play one. That's why Alan is my hero. He may not be able to hold a conversation and drum at the same time, but he certainly knows how to rock out. Iwan tends to write ballads. They're heavy ballads, full of musical fruitiness (I told you I'm the least musically inclined), layered. But at the same time, they're not exactly rock and roll, and that's the sort of band we decided to be, all those years ago in my garage.

Because yes, we were a garage band, and it was my garage that we always rehearsed in. That's probably half the reason why they kept me around in the first place. I love the band because it's us, but I just don't see myself pursuing music forever. When I'm in my thirties, I can only ever imagine myself with a wife and kid (more than one would be too many) and in some tax-related job like my dad, complaining my arse off at all my friends who are, of course, rich and successful and living Hollywood lives. Somehow I've never really thought that I would be anything more than domesticated. Heck, if I'm the one looking after the baby and my wife is also living some enchanted Hollywood-type life that still feels closer to the real me than me still singing, years on.

So Iwan writes us musically brilliant songs, then Alan adds his edge. Iwan fights him the entire way, but in the end, Alan always wins out and I reckon Iwan knows that without him, we'd sound like we weren't us. Maybe sometimes Iwan wanted to be just himself; for our band to be just like him, but those days were always interspersed with more where we were just friends. It wasn't an official rule, but I was always sure that if it came down to it, it would be bros before the band. I didn't want this thing we'd cooked up on our high school's asphalt to be the end of it. To be the end of us.

But I do have to admit that it was the band that brought us together. Mick and I had been friends since primary school. We've lived down the street from each other our whole lives. Except, of course, for the past few months when we've been living here in Sydney. Here the four of us share a two-bedroom flat in Newtown. Everyone else in the building is a uni student. We're the only working people in our twenties. Well, of course some of the other students work, but they're full-time students. At random hours of the day and night they're scrambling out of the flats and meandering down the road to the campus.

We, on the other hand, sleep in all day, then drag the car kicking and screaming out to the city, if we're lucky. We have one between the four of us simply because we only have one parking space. It's kind of ridiculous at times. Who on earth would leave a bunch of guys in their early twenties with the one car? Us, apparently. Half the time we take the bus, actually. Our only car is not particularly reliable. I don't know how we got it here from Newcastle in the first place. It certainly wasn't our driving. Alan's the only decent driver amongst us. None of us would ever admit it out loud, but we're shitty. None of the rest of us passed our Ls or Ps the first time around. We're still on green Ps, and judging by what I've heard about the test, I think we're going to be keeping them for a while. Our only hope is Alan. Would you believe that the junk bucket we have now (which was originally Iwan's) was the best of the options we had? I didn't have a car, since I shared with Stephen, but there was Alan's and Mick's to choose from, and Iwan's turned out to be the best. We had to sell the other two so that we'd have enough for first and last month's rent, and enough to live off until we could get day jobs.

I guess it helps that we don't have girlfriends. Seriously. And that's not just because I'm pretty sure Iwan is gay and hasn't told us. The rest of us are straight. We've had girlfriends. Secretly, I still think of my last ex, Martine Brand, as my best friend. Don't tell the rest of the guys, though they'll just pretend that it doesn't matter to them. I guess they aren't all as sentimental as I am. My brother Stephen thinks I'm the biggest wuss because I was never into sports like he was. As a kid my favourite thing to do was help mum cook dinner. I was always fascinated by everything. Seriously. I was amazed by the gas burners, and the oven and... well, maybe I was actually just a little pyromaniac at heart. I certainly burnt more than a few attempts at pasta sauce before I was twelve. Mum indulged me. Dad found it hilarious, and Stephen would try to beat me up. I was always faster than him, though. He was always built more sturdily than I am. Then I'd run and jump on mum and dad's bed and he'd try to round me up, but I'd always be off before he even got close. Dad would tell us how ridiculous we were being and then mum would clean out the pan and start over.

The pursuit of girlfriends was what made us decide to become a band in the first place. Seriously. We were pimpled, gangly things, the epitome of pubescence. All of a sudden we were sprouting in a variety of ways and none of us was comfortable in our school. I remember that it had been a particularly hot day. We'd tired ourselves out with a couple of rounds of handball. Other guys had been playing too, but we were the first four out and honestly couldn't be bothered waiting to get back in. I think Alan started with a beat then, and Iwan of course said it was ridiculous. Mick thought they were both tossers, but I thought they were onto something. Then Penelope Marsch had walked past. We were lying on the ground, so all we could see as she walked past were her perfectly pale, perfectly hairless legs. A lot more leg than was strictly acceptable according to uniform policy, but she, like all the other image-obsessed girls in the school, rolled up her school skirt.

She'd honestly asked if we were forming a band, and just like that the four of us were in. Not the classiest of origin stories, but it was ours. We were hardly friends back then. We only saw each other at school and never went out of our way to talk to one another. We sat in the same general area as we ate lunch and occasionally did a group assignment together, but that was all. After that we were the band. The band, which never did get its own name.

We ran through name after name, each week we had a new one. Martine likened us to Mystik Spiral, the band from that show Daria that she used to watch religiously. To this day she still refers to the band as Mystik or MS. One day we'll have a name for real. That will be the day I'll know that we've arrived. Right now we're an amorphous thing. Misshapen. Clay long before it's even ready to be fired. It's kind of fun to be like this, actually. What are your young adult years if not a time for self-discovery? We still had parents. Parents who would, without fail, bail us out of any scrape we ever got ourselves into. Except for jail. My parents had been very firm about that when they'd heard I wanted to be a musician. No drugs. No miscreant behaviour. If I got into jail, they would not be trying to let me out. My mum said something to Mick's mum and soon enough that was the status quo for the four of us. We've hardly done anything noteworthy since we've been here. Seriously. The most illegal thing we did was hound Ellie and Stan. We caught them outside while they were accepting a drinks shipment and just followed them in. I was singing, of course. Mick was our spokesperson. He was the most gregarious of us. Still is. What am I talking about? It was last week!

Yes, Mick does like to drink and have sex. More often than not Iwan is camped out on our floor because Mick wants the bedroom for himself and a lady friend (or not-so-ladylike friend as the case may be). But we're all over eighteen. It is our right to behave in this manner. But Iwan's never had a girlfriend, and hardly ever dates, so I doubt he's anything but a virgin. Alan's a fairly devout Catholic, and he would never before marriage (or very close to), and I haven't since Martine. She was my one and only. We're better off as friends, but she's the only person I'd consider no strings attached sex with. But she's back in Newcastle, so I don't think that's likely to happen.

We do all drink. But I have a pretty high tolerance, and none of the cash to back that up. One drink to me gives me the same buzz as five, so I might as well not bother getting that far. Iwan's Muslim, so he pretends he doesn't like to drink, but he's not exactly devout. He was determined to leave Newcastle before we'd even thought of the band to avoid an arranged marriage. We've all met the girl his parents would most like him to marry and don't think she's anywhere near good enough for Iwan. For one thing she has the creepiest smile any of us have ever seen on a person. Seriously. I've seen less creepy clowns. Alan drinks when peer pressured to. He doesn't like the taste of alcohol. Mick drinks enough for the rest of us, I guess.

But right now, we're playing. It's a six song set, then we'll take a break and do another six song set, and that's us for the night. The second set is always far more interesting because Mick's usually half drunk. Our second set features a lot less guitar. That makes it Iwan's time to shine. He could take over for Mick, but Mick's got to do something. So he just amps up the bass solos. Sometimes I bring out the keyboards. That's if Mick's totally sloshed. I'm not that great, but I can play a melody while I sing it. It doesn't really add anything to the song if it's just the same thing, though, does it?

First set's over, and I all but stagger backstage. Singing takes it out of me. I am out of breath. Seriously. I need to get fitter. Most guys as skinny as I am want to bulk up. I just want to be able to sing a set longer than six songs. How am I ever going to manage a two hour long concert? I collapse in the back room where we dump our crap. It's the staff room with a few lockers and a table and chairs. I prefer to stay back here in between shows. Sometimes Iwan and Alan stay, sometimes they don't. It depends on how they're feeling. Mick is already out there, probably flirting with some girls that he'll have to shout out to while we perform.

Someone knocks on the door and Iwan answers it. It's Alex Atherton.

I grin at him and wave. "Hey."

"Mick told me you guys were back here." Alex grew up with us in Newcastle, but he spends half his time in Sydney now, where he works. The rest of the time he spends up the coast with his dad's family. He and his mum used to live two blocks away from me. But his mum died about six years ago. We've hardly seen him since. I think he's more interested in East Peaks now, ever since he got a boyfriend from there.

"So how is the boyfriend?" I ask Alex, then take a long sip of my water. We'd looked him up a few weeks ago and had a chat over some beers and pub food.

Alex smiles at something I can't see. I can only think of what my brother would say if he saw that look on his face. Especially knowing it's caused by another dude. My brother is the complete opposite of Alex, which is probably why they've always been best friends. Stephen would probably try to beat him up. Alex is taller, though, so he'd probably win. "That's why I'm here, actually. I had no plans to come out tonight, but apparently movie stars don't keep to schedules."

I give him an odd look. "Your boyfriend's on that reality show?"

Alex shrugs. "Apparently. So am I. So are you guys. Anyway," Alex surveys the room. "My sister's out there too. I thought you might want to meet her."

I've heard a lot about Alex's half sister. He is right in presuming that I want to meet her. "Let's go," I say to Alan and Iwan.

Iwan rolls his eyes, but he stands up. Alan is slower to follow, but he does.

Alex leads the way out to the main club. He immediately puts his arms around a slim brunet. I presume that's his boyfriend. The cameras are focused on him and the girl sitting beside him. A brunette about the same size as the dude, with hair the same shade. Hers is long and curly, though, and I figure she's Alex's sister, Bandy. When they both turn to look at us, I'm struck by how similar they do actually look. Their skin is the same shade of pale and they've both got blue eyes. It's really odd. How can Alex go out with a dude who is basically a male version of his sister? Freud would be all over that. I just push it to the back of my mind.

I smile at Alex's sister. She is a lot more attractive than I thought she would be. She introduces herself, and I introduce myself and my bandmates. She doesn't look to be in the best of moods despite the fact that she's at the hottest nightclub in town with her celebrity friends being filmed for a TV show.

"It's great to finally meet you," I say to her, looking over at Alex. He seems to realise that it was probably a bad idea to introduce us to his sister. "I have to say you're not what I was expecting."

"Well he is only my half-brother," she says. "I guess he looks more like his mum."

"He does," I agree. "I'm guessing you look more like yours, too."

"Not really," she says. "I look more like my dad, actually."

"That's not entirely true," Alex's boyfriend puts in. "Your eyes are more like your mum's than your dad's."

"It's too bad I never got to meet Alex's mum," says Bandy. "I hear she was amazing."

"She was," I say. "One of my earliest memories is of trying to steal cookies out of the oven when she was making them. I burnt myself pretty badly, but I did get a cookie."

"After you cried all afternoon," Alex adds. "Stephen was ready to kill you because of the fuss you made. I had to remind him that if he did there was no way he'd get any cookies."

"Stephen's your brother, right?" Laurence says to me.

"Yeah," I say, reminding myself to call him soon. "But Alex was always like a brother to me, too. He and Stephen used to gang up on me all the time."

"You have to admit you're an easy target," says Alan. "Scrawny as you are."

"Actually," says Alex. "Kyle wasn't as scrawny back then."

"Impossible," says Iwan.

"It's true," I say. "I was a fat kid."

"So," says the only girl at the table, looking at Iwan and Alan. "You guys didn't know Kyle and my brother back then?"

"No," responds Alan. "We only really got to know him in high school."

Pretty soon afterward, Alex leaves to get drinks and his sister goes with him. That leaves us to torment Alex's boyfriend. Oh sorry, did I say torment? I meant 'get to know'. Wait, that sounds pervy. That is not what I meant. I definitely meant torment.

"So you're dating Alex, right?" I begin.

He looks up at the cameraman, then nods, but doesn't say anything. I wonder if he's shy. I suppose the three of us can be a little intimidating. If you don't know us. But I think most of the general population is more intimidating than us in general. Especially us individually.

"So you're in a band?" Laurence says, though it's pretty obvious we are if he was in the club at all while we were playing.

"Since high school," I say. Stupid question or not it's better than silence. "What do you do?"

"I'm at Darlinghurst University," he says. Of course he is. He wouldn't be working. "Are any of you at uni?"

"Nah," I say. "This gig actually pays enough to live off."

"Barely," says Alan.

I'm about to give up on this absolutely awkward conversation when Alex and Bandy return with drinks. Bandy looks to be in a better mood and she smiles at me. She's carrying two cocktails, and Alex has a jug of some kind of beer, and some glasses on a tray. I smirk. It's pretty obvious what's for whom. My guesses are proved accurate when Bandy all but drops a cocktail glass in front of Caden before sipping her own.

Her twin smiles at her, well aware that he's been outed as the gayest one at the table. Alex pours and the rest of us take a gulp. Free booze is the best tasting I'm aware of. You'd think we'd get more by working here, but we vetoed discounted drinks in favour of more money during contract negotiations. I guess you'll be able to guess what the numbers were like in that vote.

I find myself watching the two cameras focused on us, then peering behind the light to see the cameramen. It's strange, being observed- not knowing what they're seeing, but knowing that one day you will be able to see that. I just hope I don't look completely ridiculous.

Alex rescues us from the black hole of conversation: you know, where both of you say something and nothing comes out. "You guys were great tonight."

It's not much, but Caden is quick to chime in with a compliment too. "Your version of the house theme was way better than the last one."

Bandy agrees immediately, locking eyes with Caden. "You remember that woman? She sounded like a dolphin was strangling her."

We all laugh. The image is ridiculous. We'd all heard her, but she wasn't that bad. After all, her singing was in existence. And she'd known how to carry a tune. Most people would say that she'd sung well, in fact. Otherwise they never would have gotten the gig we had. Although it did seem woefully easy for Mick to convince the owners to let us play instead.

"You can thank those guys for that," I say, jabbing a thumb at Alan and Iwan. "I just sing."

"You sing pretty well," Bandy remarks. It's not quite flirting. I'm not even sure I'd know what to do if she did flirt with me. Would I want a relationship with a girl like her? Alex had mentioned that she was rich and pampered. That was just the upbringing she'd had. Could I bring her out of that world? Would she want to come? It was a good thing I wasn't really thinking about that at the moment.

"It's a good thing you can," says Caden. "After all you're trying to make a living off it."

The conversation continues as my gaze is drawn away from our little circle for a second, toward the dance floor. Mick is grinding with a redhead. That probably means he's had about three drinks. I check my watch for the time. There's still almost an hour left of our break. We were going to have to pull him back if we wanted him standing for our next set. The other guys follow my gaze.

Iwan glares. "I'll get him." Iwan's the one who takes this whole band thing the most seriously. Maybe because he's the most musical, or maybe because he doesn't think he has any skills he can back himself up with. He was never very good at school, besides in music. He and Mick get into it often, because Iwan thinks Mick's not taking it seriously enough, and Mick thinks Iwan's taking it too seriously. Of all of us, Mick's the one most interested in being in the band because of the lifestyle. He wants the sex, drugs and rock 'n' roll that we promised right at the beginning. Well, his drug of choice was alcohol. We'd tried other stuff; who hadn't? But the only one any of us went back to was alcohol.

I don't know whether to let Iwan go, because frankly, there's nearly an hour left until our next set and I don't want to have to deal with Mick's semi-pissed off, semi-pissed state for that long. But if I don't let Iwan go after him, then Iwan will be the one pissed off. And what's more, Iwan will carry that into the set. Playing with an angry Iwan is like riding a bucking bull or something. Everything he plays is still pitch perfect, but he'll mess with the rhythm or something and make it sound angrier. The rest of us struggle to keep up. He might as well be the whole band at times like that.

I wonder why I'm talking of 'letting' Iwan do anything. He's his own person. I'm not the band's leader or manager or anything like that. Sometimes I think they let me pretend to be because I'm just the singer and mostly useless, and of course, it suits them to let me do the paperwork... and the cooking. Lazy sods.

I'm resigned as Iwan slinks off.

Alan shoots a look at me, grabbing my arm. "Why the hell did you let him go?"

I'm taken aback. Apparently I am in charge in this situation. "I'm not his keeper." I'm the lead singer. Not the band leader. Seriously, Mick's lead guitarist and no one ever looks at him the way Alan is looking at me right now.

I can almost see him say, 'How dumb are you?' His look says everything his lips don't.

"I'd rather deal with a pissed off Mick than a pissed off Iwan, okay?"

Alan's mollified. It seems as if he hadn't thought about it and that he respects my decision. When exactly was I voted the leader? I can't have been there when it happened. I mean, there's being a leader, and then there's just wanting everyone to do what you want them to do. Is it leadership when all you want is to get your own way? Is it leadership just because they fulfil what you want them to do?

"What's that about?" Alex asks, when his sister and boyfriend are busy talking about something. She seems to be teasing him. The two of them are obviously close and I wonder if Alex is ever jealous of either of them. It must be hard to date that closely in your circle. I'd never want to date any of my brother's friends, and not just because he doesn't have a single decent looking friend. His friends are all pretty bitchy. I don't really know why. In general, his friends aren't anything like mine.

"That's Iwan and Mick having another one of their patented 'Music is the most important thing in life' debates."

"And who's on which side?" Alex questions me.

I'm surprised he has to ask. I know that he and I know each other best, since he's my brother's friend, but he's met all the guys before. I guess it's because he'd left before we got it into our heads to start the band, and we've really only seen him about once a year since. "Iwan's the affirmative. Mick's the negative."

Alex peers over to look at them. Mick is still clinging on to the girl he'd been dancing with earlier on. She looks decidedly uncomfortable and Iwan is scowling at Mick. He seems more upset than usual. I guess the whole thing's wearing him down. "Right. I should have known."

I can see the bouncers eyeing the pair of them and wondering if they should be separated or wait a moment. This happens every night, so they're used to it. Iwan and Mick have never come to blows. For one thing, Iwan sober is not stupid enough to be taken down by one of Mick's drunken charges. It's like fighting a disabled person: absolutely reprehensible. But Mick's letting go of the girl now, and she runs off to join her girlfriends. Mick's practically spitting, now, and I think now's a good time for me to get involved.

I head over there, and push through the crowd of onlookers. Seeing me, the security guards step back. In the back of my mind I note that even they seem to think I'm in charge. Where would they get that idea from? Mick's always been our spokesperson. If it came down to it, I'd probably describe myself as shy. I'm insecure about everything when I'm by myself amongst people I'm not familiar with. But we've been here for hours every night for the past week and I'm about as settled into it as a person can be in a place where they don't live. Because of that it's easy to ignore everyone else in the circle around two of my best friends.

Mick is speaking. "Poncy fag!" Or 'yelling insults' would be a better way to describe what Mick is doing, I suppose.

The crowd seems to take his as a homophobic slur and reacts appropriately. I know that Mick's not homophobic. It's hard to be bigoted when you don't give a shit. What he wants is to draw Iwan into a rage. There are only three topics that can get him riled up more than he is right now: his supposed gayness that he'll never admit, when his mum starts talking about which chick he's supposed to be marrying, and one time in year nine when he liked this girl Rachael and Marcus Finch swept her right out from under his nose.

Iwan's about to swing at Mick, who has probably managed to sweat all the alcohol out of his system at this point in time.

I step in between the two of them, catching Iwan's blow on my shoulder. Good thing I don't need it for later. "Guys, back off!"

They both stare at me, as though wondering where I came from.

"I mean it," I continue, taking a moment to glare at both of them, one at a time.

Iwan stands down first, sighing heavily and storming into the back room, presumably for some time to himself.

I turn around and face Mick, putting my hands on his shoulders and looking him straight in the eye. "Dude. Everyone's going to think you're a homophobic bastard. We could lose our gig over this."

Mick blinks as he processes this. I'm standing an arm's length away from him and the stink of alcohol on his breath has me wondering if he's increased his tolerance of alcohol. He smells like whiskey and bourbon, but I'd been assuming he'd only had three or four beers. "Sorry," he apologises.

I roll my eyes. "Don't apologise to me. Iwan's the one you offended. You can't just go around telling him that he's gay. He has to acknowledge that by himself."

Mick nods slowly, and I can see his dizziness.

"Now go and apologise. Then shower. Our gig's on in half an hour."

Mick nods again, but I can see that the crowd isn't just going to let him past. Before I can start trying to placate strangers, a tall, dark-skinned man shouts. "Let's party!" He begins dancing with himself, soon drawing the crowd in with him and losing his shirt in the process. In a split second the crowd is entirely focused on him and I can almost swear that I can see him wink at me.

As we leave, I hear what the people with their phone cameras out are saying. Apparently the man is Jasper Briars, a famous movie star. I wonder if he knows Alex and if that's why he got us out of that situation. Either way I'm thankful. With any luck, by the time we're back on they'll have forgotten what Mick looks like, and we'll still have a job.

x X X x

A/N: So there it is. I hope you enjoyed.