McKINLEY HIGH - SUNSET
Figgins had reluctantly agreed to it: a field trip for the Glee club to one of the only musical events to hit Lima in a long time. Such a rarity, Will thought, surveying the students as they boarded the bus. It was strange, too, to have any band with any degree of popularity touring in Ohio. In Lima. Well, hethought, popularity in Canada, that is.
Artie rolled by, heading toward the back of the bus and onto the lift that would carry both he and his wheelchair onboard. As though reading Will's mind, he spoke: "They're probably going to suck, Mr. Schuester."
"C'mon, Artie", Will said, trying to be positive. "It might be a good chance for you guys to broaden your musical horizons."
As Artie was lifted onto the bus, a voice from behind Will, dry and humorless, caused him to turn. "Hello, William."
He cringed and turned. Sue Sylvester swaggered toward him, dressed in an ink-black tracksuit with red stripes, collar up about her neck like a vampire's. "You know," she said softly, dangerously, "I think you just might be right. It's about time you broaden the horizons of these poor kids and show them what sort of life awaits them outside of high school."
Will sighed. "What do you mean by that Sue?" The patience he had for her was, at best, minimal today.
"I mean, William, that once these poor, deluded children realize that stardom is not, in fact, within the reach of each and every one of their grubby little hands, it might be good to know where they'll end up. Singing in awful independent bands with names like-" she lifted a piece of paper up, a flyer, inches away from his nose - "SEX BOB-OMB! I can't believe Figgins agreed to let you leave on this little escapade. Why, if I were still principal-"
Not that he really wanted to, but Will gripped the flyer and snatched it from Sue's hand so he could see her face once more. She looked a little put off by his display of aggression. "Well Sue, you aren't the principal anymore, so if I were you, I'd get over it, get used to it, and get out of my face."
Mercedes strolled by behind Sue, heading for the bus. She raised her eyebrows at the exchange, then offered Will a thumbs up. He allowed himself a small smile.
Sue quickly regained her composure, sneering. "Don't be smug William. It doesn't become you, and there's no place for it here, because I'm chaperoning this little journey with you."
Will blinked. "What?"
"That's right," she said with just barely the hint of a sinister smile tugging at her lips. "I put my name in the hat and it came up, luckily." She paused gazing off into space, thoughtful. "Or not so luckily, considering I replaced all the names in the hat with my own."
"Why!" Will was outraged. "What could you possibly gain from coming with us!"
"It's my way of keeping an eye on you," she said with a shrug. "I need to make sure you don't get any good ideas for regionals. And if you do gain inspiration from these insipid Sex Bob-Ombs," she spat the name like a curse, "however unlikely…I'll know, and have a way to counter-" She suddenly stopped, sniffing the air. "What is that….?" She fanned the air over his head. "I thought I smelled bacon grease." She backed away from him, stepping onto the bus and poking her head back out one last time. "I'll shave it off, William," she declared, jabbing a finger in his direction. "One of these days. I swear to you." Then she disappeared onboard once more.
Finn Hudson moved down the aisle of the bus, shuffling past Quinn and Sam. They were kissing and whispering affectionately to one another. He felt bile rise in the back of his throat. He continued down the aisle, past Tina and Mike, who were doing the same as Quinn and Sam. Finn was glad the bile didn't come up again, but he was sure it was only because he hadn't dated Tina or had his place on the football team usurped by Mike. He was moving past Puck now, who sat alone. His eyes lingered on his tan friend, who sat there, glowering at the back of the seat in front of him, strumming a guitar in his arms. Finn hovered there for a moment expectantly. But…expecting what? Puck didn't even look up at him, and Finn swallowed a lump in his throat before moving on. He didn't know why they still hated each other. Well, he actually did, but it was ancient history, right?
He was beginning to realize that, since he had broken up with first Quinn and now Rachel, there wasn't really anyone in the club he could talk to. They were all otherwise engaged…except for Puck. Speaking of Rachel, Finn was passing her at that very moment. She looked up at him, longing in her soulful eyes. He turned away before she could speak, feeling the bile beginning to rise again, and he moved past her without a second glance. Finn sighed, preparing to sit by himself. It was then that he was caught off guard by-
"Kurt!" Finn exclaimed. "What are you doing here?"
Kurt was sitting on his own, staring out the window. He looked up at the over-excited Finn. "Mr. Schuester invited me," Kurt said, looking about awkwardly. "I just forgot to let you know about it earlier before school."
Finn blinked at him. Kurt blinked back before opening his mouth. "Would you…like to sit down?"
Finn was like a gleeful puppy. Kurt swore he could see a tail wagging. "Sure, man!" Finn exclaimed, and plopped down next to Kurt, who shifted closer to the window.
"OH, HELL TO THE NAH!", Mercedes' voice rang out. She stormed up to the two of them, having just entered the bus. "Sorry, Finn, but you can't sit next to Kurt!"
Annoyance crossed Finn's features. "What? Why not? I've got every right to sit next to him! More than you do, anyway. He's my stepbrother!"
"Exactly," Mercedes said, putting her hands on her hips. "I never get to see him now that he's going to school at Dalton's. You do."
Finn looked at Kurt, who simply raised an eyebrow and shrugged apologetically. Finn finally relented. "Ugh…fine." He moved away from Mercedes and Kurt in a sulk, going off to sit by himself. How had he ended up like this? He was supposed to be one of the popular kids! He found himself looking over at Puck again, his ex-best friend still strumming his guitar. He sighed and looked at the floor, that lump rising to his throat again.
Puck looked over his shoulder down the aisle at Finn. He ran a hand down the length of his mohawk thoughtfully as Finn slumped his wide shoulders, gazing at the floor. Puck grunted, then went back to strumming his guitar, narrowly avoiding Finn's gaze when the tall boy glanced up at him.
Santana sat in the back of the bus next to Brittany. Brittany sat closest to the aisle so she could be next to Artie, who had wedged himself there between the seats.
Santana considered the two of them. "I don't think that's safe."
"Don't think what's safe?" Artie asked softly.
"Sitting there. If we hit a bump you could roll backward, smash through the glass of the rear door and fly out the bus," Santana said simply.
Artie laughed lightly. "I don't think that could happen."
Santana hmphed. "So much for getting some alone time with my girl."
Brittany looked back and forth between the two of them. "Please…I want you two to get along. I love you both. I made a wish for you, you know."
"A wish?" Artie turned his head quizzically.
"Yes. I was going to the bathroom," she said earnestly, "and I saw a penny sitting at the bottom of the toilet bowl, like it had dropped from somebody's pocket. So I reached down there, because I thought it would give me good luck. Then I didn't know what to do with it. I thought maybe I could wash it off, but I had already pulled my pants down and didn't want to stand at the sink washing off the penny in just my underwear. I also didn't want to get toilet paper to wipe off the penny with my wet hands, because the toilet paper would get all shredded and sticky. It all just got really complicated."
"Then I remembered that I could make a wish if I threw the penny into a well," she continued. "The toilet's not a well, but it's sort of like a well that people go pee in. So I threw the penny back and wished, with all of my heart, that the two of you could be friends." She finished her speech and smiled at both of them like she had done them a huge favor.
Santana and Artie both blinked at her. After a small silence, Santana spoke first. "That was really thoughtful, baby."
"I know," Brittany said with confidence. Then she stopped. "Now that I think about it though, pulling the penny back out of the toilet before throwing it in may have caused the wish to be reversed and curse the two of you instead…" Worry suddenly clouded her features. "Oh no," she said flatly, dreamily. "What have I done?"
Santana and Artie shared a look.
Everyone finished boarding the bus, all of them expressing hushed surprise at Sue's entrance onto the vehicle. Will boarded after her and, seeing there were no seats left, opted to stand, supporting himself on the back of Puck's seat.
Sue, in her seat behind the driver, turned to look back at him. "Oh come now, William, don't be shy. Why try to avoid me now? We should get used to each other's company again. After all, it's been awhile since we've been this close in proximity…ever since we were at your apartment and shared that almost-kiss."
Will just shook his head. "No thanks."
Puck glanced up, his face an unchanging mask of perpetual boredom. "Seriously? You almost kissed her?"
Sue smiled. "He almost did, my young, mohawk-ed Casanova. He was trying to seduce me with his feminine charms. I had almost succumbed…at least until I realized that I was about to share saliva with a form of life lower on the totem pole than an amoeba."
The bus rolled out of the parking lot. Will sighed. It was going to be one long night.
LIMA CONCERT HALL - SUNSET
The Lima "concert hall" was no more than a rectangular building only a little bigger than a high school gymnasium. Folding metal chairs had been arranged about the stage, and they were already filling up with eager Lima-ites attending the only worthwhile event of the night. The only event of the night, for that matter.
"Oh dear god," Wallace said in his usual monotone. "This place is swarming."
Fun Fact: Scott Pilgrim's gay best friend
"Swarming with AWESOME!", said a shrill, high voice. He turned to look at Knives, who trailed just a little behind him, her bright eyes casting about, her long scarf trailing behind her.
Fun Facts: She used to date Scott Pilgrim, she's friends with the band's drummer, and she's very naïve.
"Calm down, Knives," said Ramona, standing just a bit behind Knives. "It's no bigger than the bar where you first saw them play."
Fun Facts: She likes to dye her hair a different color every week. She's also Scott Pilgrim's girlfriend.
"In fact," Ramona continued, folding her arms across her chest, "it may be smaller…"
Wallace moved up toward an empty row of seats, stumbling and blinking slowly. "Why are all these seats empty?"
Ramona stepped up next to him. "The row is reserved for the McKinley High Glee Club."
"How do you know that?" Wallace queried.
"Because the papers taped to all the seats in this row say 'Reserved for the McKinley High Glee Club'. …Have you been drinking?"
Wallace snorted, holding in a laugh, but ignoring the question. "What's a Glee Club?"
"I don't know," Ramona said.
"I heard they sing!" Knives said excitedly. "Is that true?"
"I really don't know," Ramona said. "I mean, just because I'm from the states doesn't mean-"
"Glee Club." Wallace interrupted aloud, as though testing out the words on his tongue. "That sounds really gay.
Knives laughed, prompting Wallace to turn toward her, scrutinizing with his half-lidded eyes. "What's so funny, Knives? What are you even doing here?"
Knives slapped him lightly on the arm. "I came with you to support the band! Duh! And don't pretend that you don't like to hang out with me!"
Wallace smiled thinly. "Pretend?"
"Please don't embarrass me, guys," Ramona sighed. "Looks like we're going to be standing for the show."
Backstage, where the general hubbub of the audience could be heard only as a dull roar, Scott was tuning his bass.
Fun Fact: He battled Ramona's six evil ex-boyfriends (and one girlfriend) to be with her.
"It feels great to be part of the band again, Stephen," Scott said, looking up. Stephen was tuning his own guitar nearby, standing near a set of drums, a tall young man with a gruff exterior.
Fun Fact: He's gay, too, like Wallace (and Kurt), but it's a secret.
"Yeah well, Neil couldn't come with us. Which you already know," he said.
Scott frowned. "Yeah? So?"
A young woman's voice from behind the drum set: "So…what he's saying is that you wouldn't be back on the band unless Neil had been marooned back home." The voice belonged to the band's drummer, Kim.
Fun Fact: She used to hate the world. Now she hates it just a little less.
Her expressionless eyes regarded Scott from beneath a veil of orange hair. "But, for what it's worth, I'm glad we have a bass player. Rather than none at all."
Scott put his guitar down. "Thanks a lot Kim. I appreciate it."
"You ready to rock 'em guys?" Stephen asked lightly.
Kim said nothing. Scott turned to him. "Sorry, did you say something?"
Stephen glanced back and forth between his two band mates. "Yeah, I did. ARE YOU READY TO ROCK 'EM!"
Scott fist-pumped, letting out a confident cry. Kim just stared, wildly un-thrilled.
"Okay, calm down," Stephen admonished. "There's something I have to tell you."
Scott waited expectantly. "I don't like the sound of that."
"Yeah, Stills," Kim sighed. "He's not gonna like it. To be honest, it's not my favorite idea either. But, then again…when have I had a favorite idea?"
Stephen was about to open his mouth, when a girl's voice reached out of the shadows toward them, sounding as though it had come right out of an old black-and-white noir film, rich and sultry.
"Don't worry, Stephen Stills," the voice cooed. "I'll tell him."
Scott blanched. "Oh my god."
The speaker stepped forth, revealing herself. She was dressed in a glaringly white and, frankly, expensive-looking overcoat, her hair the color of starlight, lips red as a rose.
Fun Fact: Once upon a time, she broke Scott's heart. In response, he broke her new boyfriend's face.
"Oh my god," Scott reiterated.
Envy's eyes seemed to launch imaginary daggers through the air. "You said that already, Scott.
Scott glanced back at his friends, then back at Envy, then back at his friends one more time. "What is she doing here?"
"Well," Stephen said, taking a breath," I thought it would be a good opportunity for the band. Clash at Demonhead was already on tour and I figured we could get a leg up and gain some popularity by playing with Envy since Clash already has some clout here in the States."
Scott looked over to Envy reluctantly, eyes glaring right back at the stunning young woman. "And what's in it for you?"
"Why, Scott, dear, it's a chance to defeat you once and for all", Envy informed him. "You see, this is no ordinary concert for either of us. The first song on the set list has two parts. One for Sex Bob-Omb…and one for The Clash at Demonhead. We'll be playing against each other."
Scott glared at Stephen, who only looked helplessly bewildered. "Wait, what? We never agreed to anything like that!"
"I know, Stephen Stills," Envy cooed. "But I asked a special favor of the sound crew a moment ago. It's already set. We'll be battling one another. There's nothing you can do about it now that we're both supposed to be onstage in twenty minutes…" She smiled. It was a flat, razor-sharp smile. "If you lose, the sheer power of the music of The Clash at Demonhead will wipe you, Scott Pilgrim, clean off the face of this earth."
"This is revenge isn't it?" Scott muttered, stunned.
Envy sighed. "Of course it is, Scott. Must I spell everything out for you?"
Scott snapped back to attention. "You weren't supposed to hear that."
Envy just shook her head, preparing to leave. "See you onstage." She took one last look at them, her gaze lingering on Stephen. Her eyes roved up and down his body, lustful. She smiled again, a predator's smile, a shark's smile. "See you around, Stephen Stills." Stephen gulped. With that, she melted back into the shadows, a white ghost, heading off to wherever The Clash at Demonhead was prepping for the forthcoming battle.
There was a long, pregnant silence.
"Well," Kim said finally, "I already had it figured that she was going to try and kill Scott."
The New Directions were filing into the "concert hall," heading for the reserved row of seats. Ramona and Knives stood with Wallace near the back of the room, uninterested, as the students passed by. Wallace, however, was very interested, his man-scope on full alert. The first boy he saw pass by, a fit young man of Asian descent, was wrapped around one of the girls in the club. Wallace hmmed. Well, no hope there. The next one he saw pass was very delicate looking, but handsome, with perfect skin and well placed hair. Cute, but not Wallace's type. The porcelain boy was followed by another of the girls in the club, a dark skinned-girl, curvaceous and pretty. Behind her trailed a tall and loping figure. He seemed a little downtrodden, but Wallace saw those cheek dimples, that dark hair, those awkward good looks and thought, that's more like it.
He quickly forgot the freakishly tall student, however, when another possible candidate passed in front of him. No…not a possible candidate, a definite choice. He had olive skin, was well built and had a roguish look about him, sporting a mohawk and carrying a guitar. "Shit," Wallace breathed quietly, quickly sobering as that hunk of high-schooler stalked to his chair.
Ramona snapped out of her bored daze, glancing in Wallace's direction. "What's up? Something wrong?" She followed his gaze, settled on the mohawk kid, then turned back to Wallace, recognizing that dreamy grin on his face, those drooping eyelids. He was locked-on, target-sighted, take the shot. "Oh. Oh wow. Wallace, no. Definitely no."
"Why not?" Wallace said, hardly paying her any mind. "I've been dragged here, gallivanting across the continent and forced to take time off work as it is. I might as well try to have some fun."
Knives was listening to them, catching on. "Who are you looking at?" Knives' eyes widened. "Ooooh. I like his hair. And he's cute…well, in an 'I can punch a hole in your face' sorta way. And he has nice lips."
"He's perfect," Wallace crooned. Ramona smacked him roughly on the back of his head. "Ow."
Kurt sat and Mercedes sat next to him. Something very tall and very awkward landed heavily in the seat next to Mercedes. She glanced to the side. Finn sat there, staring ahead at nothing in particular. Mercedes raised an eyebrow, then leaned over to Kurt.
"He's lonely," Mercedes whispered.
Kurt suppressed a laugh. "He obviously hasn't gotten around to patching things up with Rachel yet."
"And you know what that means," Mercedes said ominously. "He's going to be lumbering around, trying to find a new best friend." Mercedes stuck both arms out ahead of her, eyes in a daze, groaning like Frankenstein's monster. "Beeeee myyyyyy frieeeeeeeeeeend."
Kurt couldn't help himself. He started chuckling, his eyes squinting as he laughed. Finn glanced over at them, a smile just begging to be released, ready to laugh at their secret joke. "What's so funny guys?" Mercedes quickly put her arms back to her sides before he was able to catch on.
"It doesn't matter," Kurt said quickly. "Trade me seats, Mercedes, would you?" She nodded, and the two of them swapped places.
"So," Kurt said to Finn once he was settled. "How are things with you and Rachel?" He already knew the answer, but he needed some way to start the conversation.
"Not so good," Finn said glumly, as expected.
"I haven't seen you even make an attempt to speak with her," Kurt commented.
"Well, the thing is…" Finn glanced up at Kurt. "I don't really want to, dude."
Kurt was taken aback. "But…that's not…I mean, if the two of you keep avoiding each other, the rest of the Glee club will need to come to school with hatchets to cut through the tension that the two of you create." Kurt looked past Mercedes down the line of students. "In all seriousness, Finn, look."
Finn followed his gaze. Rachel was leaning forward, staring at Finn with puppy-dog eyes across Sam, Quinn, Mike and Tina. They were clearly made uncomfortable by the intensity of her stare, leaning back as far as they could in their chairs. "It's a little pathetic," Kurt said.
Finn sighed and shrugged. "It's over and done with. At least for me it is. I don't know what to do about her. She's getting really annoying. And creepy."
Kurt crossed his legs, regarding Finn. "She really hurt you, didn't she?" Kurt patted Finn's shoulder in consolation. "There, there. You'll forget about her soon, I promise you." He removed his hand, then leaned over to talk to Mercedes again.
Finn didn't know what he had expected from Kurt, but he supposed Kurt wasn't the best to talk to about girl problems. You know…since he liked guys and expensive clothes and stuff.
He wished he could talk to Puck. It wasn't too long ago that Rachel had tried to cheat on Finn with Puck, trying to make Finn jealous. Puck had gone along with it at first, and that should've made Finn angry, but then he found out that Puck had eventually turned Rachel down, and all for Finn's sake. It had meant a lot to Finn. But did it mean that, somehow, after all that had happened, Puck and he could go back to the way thing's were? Finn sure hoped so.
He also hoped that this concert wouldn't be too long. He was getting hungry. He tuned back in to Kurt and Mercedes' conversation, hoping to take his mind off his rumbling stomach.
"…and what kind of a name is Sex Bob-omb anyway?" Kurt was saying.
"Dude!" Finn leaned over to Kurt, eyes wide with disbelief. "You don't know what a bob-omb is!"
Kurt was amused at Finn's vehement reaction. "Should I…?"
"Bob-ombs are from Super Mario Brothers!" Finn practically shouted. "You've never played Super Mario Brothers? They're, like, the greatest games of all time!"
"Well, I have played a little…" Kurt said, "but I've never in my life heard of a bob-omb. And what do they have to do with sex?"
Puck, sitting past an empty seat, Mr. Schuester, Coach Sylvester and another empty seat, heard Finn's wild exclamations. He found himself listening in, vaguely amused. He stole a glance down the aisle at Finn and thought he felt…something. But what?
The room was filled with the invisible energy of longing stares crisscrossing through the subspace highways of people's minds. Ramona, who sometimes used these highways herself, delivering packages for , detected them easily, and raised both eyebrows. So much drama, she thought.
Rachel stared intensely at Finn, who stole glances at Puck, who was in turn was stared lustily at by both Wallace and Knives.
Ramona was vaguely amused…until Clash at Demonhead (to her surprise) and Sex Bob-Omb took to the stage. Soon, her own longing gaze joined the tangled crisscross of energy when Scott came into view. He locked eyes with her across the auditorium and smiled, though he was clearly nervous. She tried to send her support across the subspace highway. You'll do great Scott, she thought. Your band sucks, but you'll do great.
The lights were dimming. At the edge of the reserved Glee Club seats, both Santana and Artie noticed Brittany looking about nervously.
"What's wrong, baby?" Artie asked soothingly.
"I think I might have really cursed us," she said apologetically.
A smile started to show on Artie's face. Santana shook her head at him discreetly, and his smile disappeared as quickly as it came.
"Why, Britt? What's up?" Santana asked seriously.
"It's just, I've got this weird feeling. It's sort of like an upset stomach," Brittany tried to explain. "It was the same feeling I had right before it happened last time."
"Before what happened last time?" Artie said curiously.
Brittany took a deep breath. "Last time the spaceship came. The spaceship where I was probed."