It was easy to understand why Zane was intimidated when I got to the Royal Albert Hall. Wow.
When I thought of 'concert venue', I thought of a club with a stage, basically, or the outdoor places that huge bands came to play in the summer. Oh, my city had a couple of old theaters that had become concert locations, former-glory palaces with lovely facades and insides that clashed charmingly with their crowds and the music played in them. But a decrepit aura still lingered.
But this was one level on that, older and classier than any old Midwestern movie house. Round and looming, it struck me as more the kind of place where orchestras would play, not indie bands.
The posters I passed coming in the doors confirmed my impressions - it was a crazy eclectic mix. Jazz groups, the BBC proms, classical concerts, Elton John, more rock groups, international ballroom dancing championships, Buena Vista Social Club…. impressive. And I was damn proud of Snowborne for being able to play in a place like this.
As I entered the lobby I did my best to not look so struck by my surroundings… needless to say, none of the young, fashionably dressed Brits entering at the same time as me appeared particularly impressed.
I approached the ticket booth, and the middle-aged woman looked at me with eyes that suggested she was unimpressed with my choice of entertainment. This is what Zane had told me to do. "Um, I'm a special guest of Snowborne, one of the bands?"
She located me, and nodded. "Just go on in where Tom is, there -" She pointed to young man at the doors, those closest to us, "and tell him you're on the list."
"Thank you!" I scampered to him, told him I was indeed on the list, and after he confirmed with a look at the ticket seller and her return nod, I was in.
The crowd was growing rapidly, as was the energy. My dislike of crowds, of crowds that had a sense they could turn on you at any moment, came back to me. It was the passion, the frenzy. I'd largely suppressed it successfully, what with all the mingling with near-strangers I'd been doing lately, and the bars and clubs… but this was overwhelming.
I went and got a drink, something with vodka. It tasted good. It sorta helped my nerves.
How different a vibe it had from my first concert with them in my hometown was incredible, no matter how impressed I had been at the time with their popularity and the crowd energy. Zane had been wrong, to an extent… it wasn't sudden, this madness, from the first concert to the one in Chicago. The energy, the excitement, the level of fan excitement had been mutating. Growing. Oh, it'd always been there, he'd always been a rock star to me and others.
But the adulation, it'd hit fever pitch. This didn't feel indie any longer, it felt… well, like the couple of times I'd been to bigger concerts, when my dad took me to U2 (And spent most of the time on his cell phone), or going with Mina to see Taking Back Sunday.
My stomach flipped as I was reminded of what this probably meant. I felt like a fly stuck on the window of an airplane. It was unlikely I was going to stay attached once the Snowborne Machine hit a higher altitude. There was no use denying it - I wasn't so lost in my fantasies and how head over heels for Zane I was that I didn't recognize what was bound to happen.
But it made me even more focused in my purpose. Wow, I was nervous. This could totally fail. There could be something up with Zane I didn't even begin to understand and he hadn't told me. There was a good chance I wouldn't have an opportunity tonight, and would have to try after the concert, or tomorrow. This could be the stupidest thing I'd ever even considered, putting myself in a situation fraught with the possibility of so many different flavors of failure.
But, to me, it was worth the risk. With that fortifying thought I got myself one more drink. Had I eaten enough for this? Hopefully. My stomach churned.
So: two opening bands. That would give me some time. For all the energy and the girls and excitement the crowd obviously wasn't capacity yet; the first band was a much-beloved but still very new Welsh group that hadn't had a stomping hit yet. Concentrate, Ethan, you're really going to do this thing, right?
I retreated again, backstage, glad that I had that haven. No one wandering and zipping around getting ready paid me any mind.
At one point 3 guys and a girl wandered by, and I figured out from their conversation with the probable stage manager that they were the first band, what was it, Essex Down? Or something.
"Make sure the drum is far back enough, right, mate?" one of them was saying. I looked at him; he was good looking, small and compact, shorter than I was. Boyish, with sharp, foxish features. Looked good in very skinny black jeans. "If it's too far up I can't hear myself sing."
"You're such a little girl, Callum." A slightly pudgy man said sanguinely; that was probably the drummer.
"And you're an overloud cunt." The singer snapped back. The girl rolled her eyes, and the other member seemed to be trying to pretend the whole exchange wasn't even happening. Well, I guess Snowborne got along great compared to this group.
The stage manager went on about a few other things, and then the band drifted by me, towards the dressing rooms. Where I needed to go. Where I was avoiding going.
Callum gave me a sharp look as I went by, and I automatically gave him one of my apologetic smiles. I mean, really, I was an interloper. His response expression could only be called 'arch' and then summarily dismissive.
Couldn't say I liked him right then much. But my mind went back to the issue at hand, and then I forgot all about him. This being permanent would have been preferable.
I slipped back to where the dressing rooms were, and confirmed that the band had dropped off their stuff and moved to the social area, where a bunch of attractive young things and some nervous teenagers with the badges of contest winners waited. Jared was there, flirting cheerfully with a couple of light haired girls with cute pixie cuts, drinking something in a plastic cup and looking a bit leery-eyed.
Now that Zane had mentioned drugs… well, it did explain a lot about the bassist. Like him being a jackass the first time I saw them, back at home. Rick and Zane worrying about him. Wow, I was naive! So many reminders of that at every turn.
I nodded at Toby, one of the roadies I'd met now a couple of times. They would be with the band throughout Europe, I'd found out, and these two worked with Snowborne every time they were here. They were a quiet, efficient Russian named Andrei, and the chain-smoking, rambling brit that was Toby. Everyone else called him Toppers. I didn't know why, and I'm not sure I wanted to, what with the slightly lascivious way it was said (And Erica's accompanying eye roll). They kept away from me, didn't know why. Maybe because they were smoking buddies with Rick and he'd talked shit about me, or maybe because I didn't seem permanent. Hard to say, and I tried not to think too much about it.
I had a new very nice and roomy blue messenger bag - justified because I would need one next year for college anyways - and in it was everything I'd need.
If this failed I was would be so damn devastated. Have I mentioned that yet?
Snowborne had the biggest dressing room, naturally, which wasn't actually very big due to the age of the venue we were in. It actually had a certain charm, brick walls, lighting that wasn't very strong (Although this was possibly an annoyance when you wanted to make sure your makeup didn't look like crap), a leather couch. Leather. Hmmm. Plus: easily cleaned. Minus: ouch?
Didn't matter, it would do.
"Hey, Ethan." Dustin said with a smile. Zane was sitting at the makeup table, putting on eyeliner. I had to smile; it was funny seeing him do that. Not a complaint, it looked incredible on him.
I smiled back at the drummer. I'd not wanted to know that he'd cheated on his wife… I had a dim view of cheaters, after my father. But I still liked him… and who was I to judge? Wasn't Zane cheating on Charice with me? Even if they weren't REALLY going out? I mean, they were on the road endlessly, right, young men with an endless supply of hot young fans throwing themselves at them, worshiping them…
But, so, how did that reflect on Zane? Wasn't *I* one of those 'hot' young fans? Man, I needed to stop thinking about such things. Especially since it was building parallels to my father to an even stronger extent, him teaching, all these beautiful young and worshipful English majors thronging around him and wanting him to read their writing in that confident, sanguine voice of his… My mind was a scattered prism at the moment.
"Hi!" I said with overblown cheeriness. Damn, was I blushing? Don't blush! So stupid! I felt like I was 10.
Well, no, that was a bit disturbing, in light of my goals.
Dustin was still smiling at me, now a touch quizzically. His sticks were tapping out a rhythm on his knee - it was as if they were working separately from his serene face. I was still standing there. Probably also still smiling like an idiot. That vodka was kickin' in now, it really was.
"Um… you nervous?" What an inane question. Dustin, however, was kind as always.
"Yeah." He stopped noodling for a moment and ran a hand over his bald head. "Yeah. This is a big place, you know? Fancier than what we're used to. It's crazy." He blinked, flashed another smile, and started drumming again.
Yeah, okay, he was nervous. Twitchy.
"You'll do great. You're better than any of the other bands here, by far." This was a claim I was unable to back up empirically, as I'd only vaguely heard or heard of them, but I actually believed it with the fervor of the religious. I worshiped at the shrine of Snowborne.
"Thanks, Ethan. As usual, you're a bit of fresh air."
I blinked. What did that mean? Sounded positive, I suppose, but was a strangely old-fashioned term. Dustin: A unique man, most definitely.
He looked at Zane, who had obviously finished his eye makeup and had turned to look at me. There was a question in his slightly narrowed eyes, a tension despite the small smile on his lips - as if he wondered if I was still mad at him, or upset.
Me, I was like a deer in the headlights, immobile. Our eyes locked.
Dustin turned to me, and then to Zane again, and then lifted an eyebrow. "Huh. Okay." He stood up, and stretched. "You know what I think I need? A drink. A big, stiff drink to relax. Yup. Gonna just slip out and get a drink." He was making fun of us, obviously, his voice a touch theatrical. Couldn't blame him, and it made me relax and smile. "We got a lot of time until we go on, so, you know, you guys talk, chill."
He patted me on the shoulder as he went out, and he was gone. It was probably projection and his perma-bemused countenance, but I swore he suspected what I was going to do. He at least seemed to know I was up to SOMETHING.
The sound of the door closing behind him was very definitive. To me it was very loud, a sound effect in my personal radio play that suggested a change of scene.
There was a beat.
Sound drifted in from the hallway, but it seemed miles away, a different reality, like a movie being played in the next room.
"Hey." Zane broke the silence, turning back to the mirror. "Did you have any problems getting here?"
I shook my head, but, of course, he wasn't facing me. "Um, no, not at all. I mean, it's a famous place. The cab driver knew where it was, of course."
Wow, how inane was I?
He turned and smiled at me, his eyes and the smile lines around his sensual mouth crinkling. Perhaps he was relieved that I didn't seem upset any longer. He patted the chair next to him, and I gratefully sat down, putting my bag next to me.
"This place really is incredible." I said, trying not to wince at how 'perky' I sounded. "I can see why you were nervous! But, I mean, you really shouldn't be. You deserve it. This is awesome."
"Yeah," he said, leaning on one hand, looking at me; still smiling, but I could see the nerves around his eyes, in the slight furrow between his brows. "Yeah, yeah it is."
"Looking forward to going on?"
"Sort of, yes. I mean, I feel better about it, especially after being with you earlier." His hand reached out, and he lazily tapped and ran his finger tips over the back of the hand I had placed on the table. My heart flipped into my throat. He'd shifted, so our knees were touching. Those long, beautiful, masculine fingers.
"Good." Wow, articulate, Ethan. "You still seem worried," I ventured.
"Mmm, I guess I am." He leaned back, and stretched. This called attention to how loooooong he was, and briefly defined his package beneath his jeans, and his muscled stomach beneath his cotton shirt. Yum. I wanted him. There'd been some worry on my part whether I would sabotage myself, be too nervous to be turned on, but, no, that wasn't going to be an issue.
Do it Do it Do it you absolute pussy…
Reaching over as casually as possible, I placed my hand on the knee closest to me. This didn't seem to bother him, as he un-stretched a bit and put a hand lazily against my forearm.
"When do you have to leave?" I asked. Excellent, my voice didn't crack.
"Oh, not for an hour and a half, at least." As he spoke I'd let my fingers drift upwards. "I just got ready early because I'm nervous…" He ended the statement with a verbal question mark.
My hand now followed the trail of seams of his pants, getting tighter over his thighs. My touch was light but not without intermittent pressure, alternating with my palm to dance closer to his cock.
But I did it slowly, not wanting to be too obvious. This needed to take him by surprise, needed to hit him before he knew what was coming.
"That feels good," he purred. Damn, I loved it when he purred. It was just a low rumble, but Zane was so good at modulating and changing his voice that it was a unique, turned on sound, a sexy encouragement that landed on my nerves and made me so hard, so fast.
His legs spread a bit wider, inviting me further. ”Slow down,” I chided my erection.
Shifting in my chair so more of my side was pressed into his and also so that I was able to shift forward, I ran my free hand up the arm he was using to connect us, matching the teasing movements.
Then, knowing it was unexpected, I let my lips follow, starting in the crock of his arm and then moving lightly up the arm, feeling the muscles through the light cotton.
Because he had stretched out he was low in his chair, meaning it was easy for me to reach his breast bone. My butt was barely on my own chair at this point.
I let my fingers hit his cock at the same moment my mouth hit the bone beneath his smooth skin, and his response was gratifying. There was a distinct twitch beneath my hand, and definite growth.
"Mmmm, damn…" He chuckled as I kissed and nuzzled his chin, licking, keeping my other touch light and easy, playing with the zipper but not undoing it quite yet.
Thank god it's not button-fly this time.
He straightened slightly and leaned forward, catching my mouth, matching my playful kiss, our tongues volleying.
A hand went up to my hair, and he pulled it through with a smile. I leaned in the touch. "You trying to relax me, Ethan?"
I grinned. "Something like that."
”But before you relax I want you really, really turned on,” I thought.
Zane growled/laughed, and we were kissing again, hands roaming everywhere.
Our bodies came together, and I was now on his lap, completely out of my chair and with my legs to his sides. His fingers were running down my back, and moved my hips slowly, keeping the pace, not wanting either of us too turned on, too fast.
Leaning back, Zane smiled at me as I let my fingers dance down and find his fly again, opening the zipper and shifting so I could take his cock out.
"That feels great…" he moaned, and he interrupted my light, teasing jacking to make me lift my arms and for him to take off my shirt, and then shift his hips so his jeans shifted down a touch, allowing me better access.
We played with each other, his fingers and then his lips on my nipples, running his hands up my abdomen, my sides, down my arms. It felt incredible, I wanted to take him harder, pull harder, get him on the edge of an erection, but that was too soon… It was fucking sensual, and it was fucking hard. I wanted him NOW.
But if you want to play a game better than a master game player, well…
I pushed myself back and slipped off his lap, and then reached forward and pulled his pants off, smiling at him and watching his expressions, which was heavy-lidded, he was breathing deeper, he watched me with an amused but thoughtful smile.
I stepped back to look at him.
Maybe to someone else it would look silly, him sitting there in just his T-shirt, no pants, legs wide and his cock so damn hard. To me it was incredibly sexy, so hot I couldn't stand it. But I wanted him more naked, I wanted him naked. Would that equal vulnerable?
He looked perplexed at my delay and tilted his head at my scrutiny, but I distracted him. "Take off your shirt." He laughed, and did so.
As the fabric slipped over his head I locked the door to the dressing room. Thank god it had a lock.
"That's probably a good idea," he chuckled, and I heard relief.
Keeping him off guard… I'd known that's what I'd have to do. All it took was enough time for him to pull himself together, to feel the strength to say his weird 'no' for me to be screwed.
Or not screwed. Whatever. It was probably a cheap shot, doing this to him when he was already feeling vulnerable and unsure, but I didn't care. Screwing around with me, turning me on, and then refusing to fuck me without giving me a reason why was cheap also, right?
First I took off my pants, letting them fall when I was two steps from him. Zane's brow furrowed and he opened his mouth to most likely ask me what I was doing, but I didn't let him speak - I went down on him and took his cock in my mouth in one easy, fast and smooth movement, gobbling it like I couldn't get enough, didn't want to get enough, licking the sides and taking him in and sucking like my life depended on it. It tasted so good, I let him go with my lips to play with his balls, and he lifted his hips, I could tell I had him, he was getting very hard, fingers in my hair.
So I stopped, and looked up at him. I'd place the bag strategically next to the chair so I managed to somehow reach out, find it with my fingers, and pulled out a bottle of lube, and a condom. He blinked, eyes wide, chest moving up and down. I then pushed myself back up against him, on his lap and brought my lips against his ear lobe, grinding my naked body into his. Arms snaked around me automatically, gripping me closer. His skin was heaven.
His expression was so unreadable my first thought was he was very pissed off. Not so pissed his erection wasn't still pulsing against me, his arms weren't still around me. No turning back now.
I turned around, running my body against him, and then pushed my ass against his cock, and braced myself against his legs. "Fuck me." Pushing back, I rubbed my crack up and down against his length.
"Goddamn it." He growled. Or maybe it was more than a groan, but he didn't pull back, thrusting forward.
His hands were on the side of my ass, fingers digging in.
"You sneaky little…" but he wasn't angry, there was a chuckle to his voice, and his fingers dug deeper.
He smacked my ass. I gasped and started, but he held me down, and his fingers were now roughly kneading my muscles, and he smacked me again. It barely hurt, it was the shocking sound, the unexpected - and goddamn sexy - sting that made it. Also the knowledge this was new, he'd never done this before to me. I wanted him to do it more.
Who pulled who forward is hard to say, but we were kissing again, almost fighting, hands everywhere. And then he got up, picking up the lube and condoms and flinging them on the couch… and we kissed and ground until we were at the ugly leather monstrosity, and he spun me around, and bent me over. Kissing between my shoulder blades before another light smack.
I groaned, and wiggled. He ground his dick against me. I felt so fucking vulnerable, sorta scared, somewhere.
But mostly I was turned on, crazy hot, having trouble thinking. My cock was hard, bobbing against the bottom of the table. I wanted to touch myself so badly. Resisted. So hard to resist.
I wasn't in control any longer.
"You are so…" that light smack!, "unbelievable…" I felt him moving, and looked over my shoulder to see him crouching, and pulling my cheeks apart, another rough squeeze. "And so fucking hot."
Then his tongue slipped inside my ring. The weird, delicious sensation shot through everywhere. "Oh fuck Zane." I wanted to writhe, didn't want to knock him off. When I did he slapped my ass again, which made me want to squirm more. In and out and playing around. Fuck, how long was his tongue?
It felt so good that I didn't know how long it went on, only him stopping, him kissing the back of my thighs and roughly running his tongue up them, and then the distinct "pop" of the top of the lube bottle.
"Zane…" His fingers were now inside me, one, first, and I pushed back against. "Want you inside me…" I pleaded.
"Impatient?" He growled, and another finger joined the first, I felt slightly stretched, increasingly full. He leaned forward, licking my back. "I'll show you impatient. Is this your revenge for earlier?" It was a whisper, menacing, but fuck, in the best way.
"Only if you want it to be," I breathed/moaned, not even sure I was intelligible. Must have been, because he laughed again.
Somewhere at this point talking and then music started through the speakers, obviously the sound of whatever was going on on the stage. It made me feel okay for groaning significantly louder.
Then another finger, or 10, whatever, his lubed-up digits moved around and feeling so good, he touched my prostate, feeling, and I moaned. Felt so incredible…
Wow, my legs were shaky, I was so excited… when he pulled me away and up, suddenly, I wondered what I had done. But Zane kissed me roughly and then sat down on the couch with his legs spread, strong hands digging into me, and unexpectedly pulled me down on top of him.
"You'll like it better this way," he growled, and as he leaned backI understood instinctively that I needed to straddle him, My legs hanging next to his side. His cock rubbed against my cheeks. It felt hard, lubed up, and I rubbed up against it, squirming, wanting him in me so badly.
Zane could tell, and he had the wolfish, gorgeous grin on, despite his flushed face and his deeper breathing. He raised his torso, and in response I bucked up.
"Lift up," he ordered smoothly, and I did so as he took his dick in one hand. He guided it to beneath my hole, swirling the tip against the muscle. "Relax," And I did, breathing, thinking about him inside, and I dropped my hips.
"UHH," My eyes squeezed shut, and I moaned as I took him in, I heard him say something about slow but no, un uh, no goddamn slow. I dropped on to him, and as his head hit the spot I jerked, felt so damn GOOD. I moved some more, testing it.
Zane squeezed me, hard, and groaned as I wiggled. Taking it all in, feeling full, feeling weird. It hurt, but that was so little compared to the pleasure.
"Ethan," Zane growled, and there was a question there, checking to see how I was. In response I lifted my ass up and let it fall again, slightly, my head lolled back and almost hissed as his hips rose and we were in rhythm him contracting up and me first slightly rocking, rocking, so tight and full, him starting to repeat my name, almost hissing it out.
Rocking fucking it felt like everything I thought it would be and a lot more. "Zane…" I said at one point, and he pulled me down, lifting his legs so we could kiss, our tongues fighting sloppily as he was inside. DAMN! Zane was inside me and he used the opportunity to rock me more, deeper and harder, I could tell he wanted to get deeper and take control. I wanted him harder…"Stand up?" I asked, breathless.
He nodded, as if he knew exactly what I was asking, and as if he wanted it also… I got off him, and leaned again against the dressing room table, anticipation making me tremble.
But he didn't make me wait, quickly spreading more lube and, after firmly squeezing my ass he pushed in, slowly at first until I slammed back, and -
my mind was an explosion as he fucked me hard this time, slapping his torso against mine, and I groaned his name, pushing back, wanting more, wanting all of him -
And when his hand slipped around my cock, pulling in time, I could barely breath. I wanted to come so badly, feeling his movements get more erratic and shorter faster harder - and I was coming everything was light and no more rhythm control -
"Ethan-" He groaned/growled my name like a bit-off curse, "Nnnnnnnnnnnnngggggggggh," and jerked harder into me several times as I clutched the table, not able to do more than hold on, screw letting go.
"Zane, god.." I don't know if it came out that well, it sounded more like a garble. Okay, I don't even know what I said at that point, I was probably just making noises. Really pleased noises. Noises as my world exploded, and seemed to keep exploding, and contracting, and….
For a moment there was nothing but the sound of our breathing against the backdrop of the music over the speakers, the drone of indie guitars. Zane's fingers lingered on my back for a second, touching my sweaty skin. He pulled out, and I sighed, suddenly going from feeling incredibly full to feeling empty.
I turned around, and Zane pulled me to him. The smell of his sweat was fantastic.
"Wow, Ethan…" He breathed into my ear, and laughed, a shaky sound. "That was incredible. That was - unexpected."
I grinned. "But in a good way?"
"Did I call it incredible, or did I not?" He gave me an eyebrow, and nipped my ear, causing me to yelp. He laughed, and pulled us around so he was leaning against the table and me against him.
We stayed like that for a moment, my nerves returning to something approaching a normal state, my body coming down from the extreme pleasure overload.
Zane sighed, and with a squeeze of my arm stood up. "I should probably clean up and get ready to go out… I think the Repairs are almost done."
I nodded, and smiled to show I was okay. It sucked, but I couldn't have him forever, could I?
That was pertinent in both a long term and short term sense, really. He slipped on his pants and shirt, and unlocked the door before entering the hall.
It then hit me I was pretty darn cold.
I got cleaned-up (I'd even brought a towel - I was so prepared, it was embarrassing) and dressed, and as I stood up to get my clothes, okay, OW, a bit. I flexed my muscles, moved around a bit, and nothing seemed broken, I was just… SORE. Raw. It was nothing bad, and Zane'd used a LOT of lube. I smiled wryly to myself as I put on my shirt. To be expected, really.
I was nervous as the doorknob to the dressing room turned. Now it was over… Would the feeling of intimacy completely disappear?
To my relief, he had a smile on his face. His hair was back under control, and other than his redder-than-usual lips you wouldn't know that he had just fucked me. Hard.
Was it ridiculous that I was thinking about the next time he'd fuck me? Or the positions? Or the -
"What's so funny?" I asked, tilting my head and trying to get my mind back on track. We DEFINITELY didn't have time for a second go-round.
He came up to me, and put his hands casually around my torso, squeezing me. The intimate gesture made me giddy. "Don't you think there's a bit of synchronicity here?"
What do you mean?" I was puzzled, but it hit me in a second. "Oh! The dressing room."
"The dressing room." He kissed me, and nuzzled in my hair, close to my ear. He liked to do that, I noticed. I loved it. "You sure you've never done that before?" he whispered.
"You'd never know it." He pinched my arm playfully. "You're damn good at seduction."
I winced somewhat dramatically. "My body knows it."
"You okay?" He asked, suddenly worried.
"Totally." I smiled. "Just… sore."
"The least you deserve." He pulled me closer. "You know-"
I didn't know, and I wasn't going to find out, because right at that moment the door opened. Zane smoothly stepped away from me. I tried not to sigh in disappointment. Also, it smelled like sex, and no matter how much I might have pulled myself together, I definitely felt like I had just been fucked. It was a sexy feeling.
"Hey, Butler, your band is waiting. The blond git wants to go over something with you." It was the lead singer from the group that had passed me earlier, the one that had been squabbling. Callum - as his bandmate had so hissingly spat-out.
"Got it. Thanks. Aren't you guys on next?"
"No, it's Blanket Dance, but I had to get away from Emma, she's being a cunt." He said languidly. I guessed Emma was the woman he'd been arguing with earlier.
Then he looked at me, as if suddenly noticing a pet in the room, gave me an assessing up-down. It was expressionless, and yet his eyes spoke volumes. I'd never thought of someone's look that way before, but… yeah. Maybe I was just sensitive. Not like I had paid too much attention to the music. I wonder why he came to get Zane?
"Huh, that sucks. See you later, Ethan." Zane gave me a little smile, looked himself over quickly in the mirror before turning.
"Have a great show!" Man, I hope that wasn't as lame as it sounded. At least he winked at me in response before slipping out.
I expected the other singer to disappear behind him… yet he didn't. Instead he stood there, the door propped open, still with that look. It was making me uncomfortable. It was probably only a couple of seconds, but it felt like hours.
Before I could ask him a polite question, however, he cut me off.
"He's a great fuck, don't you think?" And then he smiled and was gone.
It took me a good long while to process that one. Unfortunately, Callum wouldn't let me avoid it.
I did go out and catch the concert, I couldn't resist. Hearing the crowd cheer, and the sound of a female voice greeting them before a bass line kicked in. I knew this group, Blanket Dance, a bit artsy and lots of bouncing around the stage. They were fun, and damn the lead singer could wail.
I'd decided to go to the floor as opposed to staying in the wings and watching from back stage - it was a very different experience, and isolating. Now I just wanted to get lost in the sound.
And then Callum's band, Yar Pep (What did that mean?), came on. The crowd must have been at maximum capacity, or close to it. All the seats appeared to be full, and the floor was a crush, although a politer crush than what I was used to at US stage shows. Sure, they were good, I guess. There was a sibilant quality to his voice and movements, a reptilian charm and certain attractive contempt in his being.
Yet he had no stage presence, in my mind, it was nothing compared to Zane's. Also, the moody self-involvement of his music annoyed me.
Or maybe I was just pissed off because he'd blunted my enjoyment of the night considerably with his suggestion that he and Zane had had sex at some point. This was not something I needed to know, or wanted to know. Needless to say, I started to convince myself he was probably lying.
Another lull, I was going to get myself a drink, but then I noticed it would be near impossible to get the good spot near the stage I'd taken once Yar Pep had finished.
Anticipation: I loved that feeling before Snowborne's concerts. Wow, when did I start loving concerts? Before all this started I'd mostly hated them, and now it was different, the rhythm, the other people, even the dirty floors and ringing ears.. it was FUN. Huh.
The fact I'd just been fucked, that I'd had sex, and it was awesome, and I wanted it again soon, never was far from my mind. But despite the fact that it had just happened it also felt like some sort of dream, or memory. Bizarre, but not unpleasant.
I chatted a bit with the group next to me, a bunch of French guys whose sexuality was unknown but charm was undeniable. They seemed amused by my American-ness. They'd come from Paris by train to catch the show, and were going to see them again in a week in France. Huge fans, they said, if new ones.
It was astounding how quickly people could get fanatical, I thought. This applied to me, also, didn't it? Luckily, they were so excited and wired (high?) that I didn't have to say anything at all about myself except for country of origin.
And when Snowborne bounded on stage - and, yes, they really did, I'd never seen them so WIRED - the crowd lost it. And it was a BIG crowd. Was it possibly the biggest the band had ever played?
"Hello, London!" Zane called. "Are we having a good time?"
Standard rock star patter, yeah, but his voice soared, and the callback was deafening.
They opened with "Silly Thing", and it was ON. They were On. I bounced and pogoed and sweat and sang with the rest of them. I forgot Callum. "Yeah, he just fucked ME", bounced around my head and it made me hyper. The guys next to me laughed at me, and one of them at some point got me a drink.
Zane was on fire. Glorious rock-sex god mode, strutting, singing with beautiful clarity (It helped that the acoustics in the Hall seemed to be significantly better than the average concert venue.) Tall and lean and his muscled arms, those legs and that perfect ass. And his boots, of course. How could I ever forget those boots?
Rick was also incredible, shredding like a god, snarling attractively.
It was a short set and a little over an hour and half, but they ended on "Let it Rise", of course, with the whole crowd singing it as they did.
There was a demand for an encore, they did two songs, and then they had to come out again. They looked delighted at the crowd's reaction, the stomping and yelling, I even saw Rick smile, and Jared looked like he wanted to bounce off the stage.
Snowborne finished on a hilarious, fun cover of Lady Gaga's "Bad Romance", which Zane's voice managed to make slinky and sensual. And then it was their slow song, "Slow Climb Downward". Zane had once told me that a quiet song was chosen as the ender for all encores in order to bring down the energy and finally finish the whole thing up. Most venues didn't let bands stay on indefinitely, even if the performers themselves wanted to.
The band exited, the lights went up, and people started shuffling (or sometimes bounding) towards the doors. My new friends were talking to each other in French, and then seemed to remember I was there.
"That was very good." The tallest of them said to me with a grin. His accent was adorable. I agreed with him. "Want to go with us, somewhere?" They all looked at me in anticipation.
It was tempting, but not as tempting as seeing Zane again.
Yes, I was thinking about more sex; seeing him perform had gotten me very horny, like it always did, and my mental menu of what I pictured and wanted to do with Zane had expanded. Or even if we didn't fuck again, I'd gladly do whatever he wanted. And I really did mean anything, right then.
"I can't, I'm sorry." I smiled, truly regretting that I couldn't. They were nice guys, and probably would have been a lot of fun to hang with. "I have to, uh, meet my friends. They're waiting for me." I mean, I hoped they were. Maybe they weren't.
"Who are your friends? Why aren't they here?"
"Eeethan!" Came a voice that was borderline shrieking, and it wouldn't have surprised me if someone told me I had winced. At the very least I winced inwardly. That voice was unmistakable.
Once I had braced myself, I turned. "Hi, Charice." I smiled at her. It was mostly real. She was blonde now, but that didn't change her fundamental look. "You're back in London?"
"Yes! I never left. I just had other things to do. Wasn't the concert fabulous?" She was wearing a glittering miniskirt dress that appeared to be made of metal and was barely long enough to quality as a 'dress'. This was above a pair of torn purple tights, and big, scrunchy grey boots. Her eye make-up was smoky, her hair long and choppy, her jewelry eclectic, and she was a sight. That's not a criticism, she was a hipster goddess, and carried herself accordingly.
She slipped her arm into mine. "Want to go find Zane with me?"
"Zane?" One of the French guys said. "You know him?"
"Of course we do, cutie." And with a wicked, pointed smile, she dragged me off. I was a bit sad I didn't get their email addresses: I was starting to figure out that having contacts in different places could be a good thing.
We mounted the steps to the stage, Toby nodding at us. It gave me a brief but powerful chance to see what the Royal Albert Hall looked like from center stage, and it was breath-taking. No wonder Zane was nervous.
But he had killed it, Snowborne had killed it, and there was no way the reviews were going to be less than ecstatic.
Seeing Zane after his incredible concert while with Charice was not the happiest thing for me, as this maybe meant I wouldn't be alone with him again that night, at least not until very, very late… but it wasn't about me, was it? I'd gotten what I wanted, we'd had incredible sex, my first time had been with the person I'd wanted it to be with. That should be enough.
All in all, I wasn't unhappy. Until we stepped backstage.
Callum was there, arguing, once again, with his female bandmate. She had her arms around herself, face a picture of frozen rage, and his was an unattractive vision of pissy-ness. Everything about him just seemed… snotty. Superior. Dickish. Nope, didn't like him.
"Emma, Callum!" Charice said gaily. They both looked at her, and there was a moment on both of their faces where the emotions of their argument comboed with the surprise of being interrupted to make a nasty little expression. Charice didn't seem to notice. Or chose not to. "How are you two?"
In a second they both had composed their faces into something more welcoming. Another arch look in my direction from Callum. Why do I keep attracting the attention of these complete assholes? I thought. I tried to smile.
"Charice, sweets. How are you?" They leaned in, and kissed each other on the cheek, and the same with Emma. She was a pretty woman, chestnut hair, round but attractive features, even when she looked like she was trying to suppress anger. "Did you see the show?"
"I did! Yar Pep was so on."
"Thank you." Emma was less than enthusiastic, but she did appear to be trying. She'd stepped away from Callum, as if she couldn't stand to be near him any longer.
"I haven't seen you perform since Isle of Wight, 2007; I love the new sounds." She did that mad cackle of hers. "Remember that, you, us and Snowborne sharing crash space? What a wild weekend!"
"It was, true." And he smirked at me. His point was clear: That's when he'd hooked up with Zane.
"And how about you, haven't heard from The Tears in a while. Still together? I heard there were some… issues." It was such a polite, simple question, but even I could hear the sense of delicious schadenfreude underneath. His accent was so posh it was almost a caricature of a British accent, something I'd heard on the Masterpiece Theater productions I'd watched with my mom.
"Oh, we'll be at Glastonbury, album's recent enough that they invited us back. We got together just last week, played some shithole, went okay." Charice shrugged, and the bitchiness seemed to roll right off her. Her obliviousness extended to asshole-ness, it seemed. I kinda liked her for that. "Fucking shit happens, you know, we'll deal. Or not. "
Callum seemed disappointed that his bait was left dangling. "I hope you do. You are… so unique. Such a show you put on. As the Guardian once said, 'Imagine a Courtney Love clone hemorrhaging glitter and the guitarist throwing meaningless riffs into the seizure-evoking stew that is the aural mess they call 'music'." His tone was light teasing, but the words bit.
Charice couldn't ignore this blatant an insult, expression frozen, eyebrows high. Even I was shocked; that was a cruel, horrible quote.
Emma made a small noise in disgust. "I need a drink," she muttered, and stalked away towards the door to the dressing room area.
"Glad you like us, Callum." Charice's voice had lost its enthusiasm, and her smile had wilted. "So we'll see you later, I'm sure." She started to pull me away. I went willingly.
"Oh, I'm sure you will." He purred, eyes half-lidded. "Zane and I will probably connect at some point before they're off to France. We always do."
Huh? More random bragging to upset me, I told myself.
My current guide didn't even bother acknowledging that, marching me purposely forward, her heels clicking. It disappointed me to be taken towards the exit to outside instead of towards the dressing room, where the band was, and where the acts were probably having an impromptu celebration. Once we hit the warm air of the empty alley Charice took out a cigarette, lighting it expertly and taking a couple of quick, angry little stokes. She cut me off before I could tell her I was going to go look for Snowborne.
"He's such a little prick," she spit, face twisted in hurt. "I never understood why Zane would choose to fuckthat. It must be like making out with a razor blade. I always forget why I avoid his ass until I see it again."
"Fuck?" I asked. Damn. Callum hadn't been lying.
"Yeah." She said it like a valley girl would say "duh", all teenage intonation. "I mean, you know Zane's bi, right? Or gay. Or something. You've been with them a while."
'Or something', indeed.
"He doesn't talk about it much." I hedged. That was a true enough statement; it was an answer that let me avoid revealing too much while trying to clamp down on my internal reaction.
"Yeah, that's true. He doesn't, does he? And he doesn't like it to get out, you know, sex symbol and all that. Image. Or some shit in that vein." She rolled her eyes, showing what she thought of that. "But a couple of years ago they hooked up, and he makes it sound like they still do. Fucked up." She looked askance at me, and I nodded weakly in polite agreement. "I mean, Zane could do so much better; his choice of fuck friends totally leaves something to be desired." She snorted in contempt.
This last comment hit right where it hurt. That Zane had other 'fuck friends' - shit, what else was I? - was not something I needed to hear.
As usual, I didn't have the self control to compose my face. My cheeks felt drained.
"Anyway, he's a mega dick. So let's find Zane and tell him that, don't you-" She then tilted her head at me, curiously birdlike. "What's wrong?"
Damnit, I'd hoped she'd be oblivious to my reactions, like she usually was. Or maybe my expression was too extreme to ignore. I tried to smile, but my muscles just rummaged around unhappily, and finally gave up.
Then and there I was confronted with the final, inarguable proof that Charice was not at all completely dense.
"OH. Oh." She threw her cigarette butt and stamped it out while looking intently at me. "Shit, I'm a fucktard. You're screwing Zane, aren't you?"
I didn't really say anything; it didn't really need to be said, since the answer was obvious to her. It didn't seem to make her mad, thank god. But, of course, how could I think it would? It'd been clear for a while she wasn't more than a friend. Yet at that moment, this didn't make me feel significantly better in any way.
"Well!" And she grinned widely, putting an arm around me unexpectedly. I almost pulled away, but didn't. "My respect for Zane's taste just went way up, seriously. Does Rick know his cousin is fucking his lead singer?"
"You're not even Rick's cousin, are you?" She asked craftily.
"No. Thank god."
"Heh, he's not that bad, once you get passed the attitude issues. He's not a total nightmare like Callum, who's full of snotty and bitchy upper-class contempt through and through."
I wasn't so sure about that I agreed with her - the Callum being somehow better than Rick part, I mean. But I'd give her the benefit of the doubt. "I guess."
"Well, I wouldn't worry about that little posh fuck. With you around, I doubt it'd even be an issue. I know which one I'd choose." And with a wink, she grabbed my hand and took me inside, towards the dressing rooms.
As expected, the band party was in full swing, all the groups hanging in a very large, non-descript group dressing room in the back, beer and wine on display, several young men and women mingling, many with press passes.
I saw Zane across the room, talking to someone with a BBC badge around his neck who was standing next to a sound engineer. They were obviously recording him, so I knew I would have to keep myself busy for a bit.
This was probably a good thing, because I was twitchy. I wanted to ask Zane about Callum, and yet I knew there was no point. I mean, what would he say? 'Yeah, I fucked him?' I mean, it didn't matter; I certainly didn't expect that Zane'd never been with anyone before, and just because he'd regularly messed around with an asshole didn't mean anything.
So why was I still upset? Wasn't sure. And it wasn't an issue at that moment, or even that night.
Eventually I would figure it out, but probably too late...