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"Listen to the Band"
Title: Listen to the Band
Rating: PG-13. Also for language.
Disclaimer: Did. Not. Happen.
Summary: A semi prequel to 'Somewhere Only We Know'. Sometimes you just have to stop thinking and go with whatever life gives you.
A/N: I take far too long with these, sorry :( To get the series kick started again, I proudly present this piece of Torksmith fluff! This takes place about a week and a half before 'Somewhere Only We Know.' And speaking of, I would like to make a massive correction. I credited that song to the Kinks, only to discover that it wasn't them that sang it. Why I thought they did, I don't actually know. But I apologise for my idiocy and any confuzzlement of people. Also, Listen to the Band is a wonderfully sexy song. That is all.
Mike sat on the porch, tuning his guitar and watching his bandmates from under his eyelids. Down on the beach, Davy was trying to teach Micky how to walk on his hands. Micky flung himself forward onto his hands, but only managed to balance for a second before he fell over onto the sand. Mike watched Davy laughing at him and extend a hand to pull him back to his feet. It was good to see them getting on better. Not that they'd been getting on badly at all, but it seemed as if there was something off about Davy. Mike had figured that Davy had fallen in love with Leila, who Micky was currently seeing. He had been convinced that was it, but when he'd asked Peter about it, he had become slightly vague about it and changed the subject so skilfully, Mike hadn't even noticed at first. It wasn't like Peter to be so evasive about something like that and he was starting to wonder if Peter knew something that he didn't.
Right on cue, the bassist stuck his head out of the back door.
'Mike?' He looked around for his friend. 'There's a phone call for you. It's from Mr Tanner at that new club. He wants to talk to you.'
'What about?' Mike yawned, standing up and coming back in.
'He didn't say, he just said he wanted to talk to you.'
With a sense of foreboding, Mike took the phone. Club owners phoning never boded well.
'Hello?' he asked suspiciously, his accent thickening as he subconsciously prepared for a battle.
The voice on the other end dispensed with pleasantries and went for the kill. 'Mr Nesmith, I'm afraid there has been a slight change in our terms with you, and we need you to come down and discuss them.'
'What kind of change?' Mike half growled into the phone. There couldn't be changes, they needed this gig. But Mr Tanner was firm. He needed to please come down now and discuss them, and then the call was cut.
Holding off a torrent of swear words, Mike slammed the phone down, making Peter jump. Mike looked over at him, standing nervously next to the sink and felt his rage subside.
'What did he want?' Peter asked, putting the last of the dishes into the cupboard.
Despite himself, Mike could feel all his anger with Mr Tanner return. 'Wants me t'come and talk about the gig. Think he wants to change it.'
'He can't do that!' Peter's eyes were round with shock.
'I think he can, shotgun. I hope he's not going to but I think he can,' Mike sighed heavily.
Peter thought for a minute. 'I'll come with you!' he decided. Mike began to protest but stopped when Peter spoke again. 'If there's two of us, it might convince him to keep things as they are. There's strength in numbers, right?' he smiled.
Mike was impressed. Peter's shyness around club owners was almost legendary so his offering would have taken some guts. If that weren't enough, that smile could have sold him on just about anything.
The Karma Discotheque was Malibu's hottest new night spot and to get a gig there was possible only with some kind of divine intervention.
And came with a whole lot of baggage Mike seethed as the two musicians listened to the owner's long spiel about why their gig needed to be changed. Apparently, Mr Tanner and minions had seen another group they had liked just as much and wanted them to play as well. Mike and Peter had (just) been able to accept that, but when it came to the issue of their fee, Mike took a stand.
'Look, you took us on first. Why are we suddenly gettin' our money halved because of this?' he snarled. Very few people dared to cross Mike when he was this angry, but this was evidently something Mr Tanner had not realised.
'Mr Nesmith, I cannot afford to pay the two groups at full price-'
'Well, why did you ask them too?!'
It went on for ages, round and round in a circle. Peter stood quietly, leaning against the stage and watching them. He knew that he should perhaps intervene but he also knew that it would make little to no difference - both men had abandoned all attempts at politeness and were being openly hostile. Despite that, he marvelled quietly at how Mike was just so confident at being able to stand up to the club owners. It was something he knew in his heart he could never do and was one of many things he admired about him.
Peter snapped out of his dreamy state when Mr Tanner laid down his final ultimatum.
'Mr Nesmith, you either take the offer as it currently stands or I terminate the employment.'
Mike stopped. Peter could almost see his brain whizzing around at top speed under his thick, dark hair. He took a steadying breath and tried to speak again.
'Look,I just don't think that-'
'Forget it! Consider yourselves no longer playing in this establishment this weekend!' The club owner's snap made them both jump. Mike could hardly believe his ears - how the hell did they end up here? His confusion was suddenly replaced by a furious rage, and he was moving towards Mr Tanner, when he felt a hand on his arm, and two softly spoken but emphatic words came floating into his ear.
He turned round. Peter had his arm in a surprisingly tight grip, a soft look of pleading in his toffee coloured eyes. What he was asking for, Mike didn't actually know (it certainly was not what he had frequently dreamt of him asking for), until he realised that his right arm was balled into a fist and he'd backed Mr Tanner into the wall. Perfectly reasonably, the man looked terrified and Mike felt both shaken and exhausted at the same time. He knew his temper required a lot to be kept under control, but at times, it ran ahead of him.
'Fuck this,' he said quietly, turning and storming out, across the dance floor, through the back passages and finally out the back door into a deserted alley and the cool night air.
Unbeknownst to Mike, Peter had followed quietly and was now standing, watching him. Watching how the soft light of the sunset illuminated his face, his defined jaw line as he turned his head away, trying to fight down a hundred different emotions and retreat back into his stoic, leader mode.
Mike turned, and saw him standing there.
'What the hell are we gonna do, Peter?' he said, running a hand through his hair. He didn't bother putting a face on - Peter was one of, if not the only person that could ever see him in his more vulnerable, insecure moments. 'Mick an' Davy are gonna kill us an' there's the rent as well.'
Peter sighed, putting a hand on his shoulder. 'Something will sort itself out, Michael. It always does,' he said, more or less repeating his promise to Davy. 'If we have to, we can always busk out in the street!' His face lit up with childlike enthusiasm at the idea. 'We could get noticed that way!'
Mike chuckled but became sombre again quickly. 'We shouldn't have t'do it though! Goddamn owners, they're just cheats-'
Mike went storming round in a circle, frustration finally snapping and shocking Peter into moving from his spot against the wall. As soon as Mike came near enough, he grabbed him by the shoulders and spun him round, so that they were face to face and there was less than six inches between them.
'Michael,' he said, quietly, 'you need to calm down. We'll find something, don't worry.'
There was approximately three seconds of silence, before Mike pushed him back against the wall and gave him the most heated, passionate kiss. Which was returned with equal fervour.
How long exactly they stayed like that, they didn't know. It was only when a cat walking along the wall opposite them mistimed its jump and fell off and landed against a dustbin with a loud CLANG that they jumped apart, shaken out of their own world and back to the real one. They watched the tabby stalk half-haughtily, half embarrassedly out from behind the bin and continue its journey up the alley before they turned back to each other. They both looked slightly dishevelled, with red, kiss-swollen lips and untidy hair. Mike was terrified inside that he had scared Peter off in some way by doing what he had just done. The thing was, he hadn't actually meant to do it - he was just so upset and angry and Peter's softly-spoken attempts to calm him down had just about done something to his soul. But that response......well, that was interesting.
Peter broke the silence. 'Shall we head back to the car?'
The Monkeemobile was parked two streets away and they didn't say a word during the whole walk, until they were back in the car. Mike turned the key and the engine roared into life. He turned the big car around and began the drive back to the pad.
Peter watched him out of the corner of his eye. All of his earlier rage was totally gone, but he now looked incredibly jittery as he steered the car through the streets. Peter could easily guess why. For the rest of the journey, he thought.
Why had Mike kissed him? He wasn't quite sure. But flashes of remembrance were coming into his head suddenly - how he kept seeing Mike watching him surreptitiously across the room. How they always seemed to be together writing songs. How Mike had become ever so slightly more protective of him.....Peter hadn't minded, in fact, that had helped him develop a bit of backbone of his own. But Mike could never want anything like that to do with him....could he?
Did he mind? That could be answered in one, two letter word. He had known for several months how he felt about Mike, and if the Texan wanted to kiss him, well, there was no problem there.
But the third question required a bit more thought. Would he want to do it again? Well, yes of course, but (and this was a big but) not if Mike didn't want to. If it was a one time thing, Peter could deal, perhaps not exactly what he wanted but he could deal. But if Mike had actually fallen for him......he could feel his pulse speeding up at the thought.
Peter sighed. They were going to have to talk this one out.
As if Mike could read his mind, he slowed the car and stopped at a crossroads. They had just missed their green light and now had about four minutes in which to talk. Not looking the other man in the eye, he started talking, sounding nervous and unsure of himself. Quite unlike his usual self.
'Look, shotgun, about......about what happened back there, I'm-' he began but Peter, knowing he was going to apologise, cut him off.
'You don't need to apologise, Michael. I think I've known how you felt for..well, for a while,' he said.
Mike turned his head around so fast, he almost cracked his neck. 'You, what? How?'
Peter smiled serenely. 'Just watching.'
Just because you don't seem that smart, Pete, that don't mean you're not. Mike was beyond astounded at this point. He always suspected that Peter was much smarter than most people gave him credit for, but that confirmed it. And, checking the lights were still red, he swallowed and blurted out the last question before he lost his nerve. 'D-d'you mind?'
The street was deserted and, after making sure of that, Peter leant across to Mike and kissed him square on the lips. There was nothing overly sexual or explicit behind it, but Mike knew he was right - Peter routinely did something to his soul.
As he pulled back, and indicated that they should drive, Peter ran a hand through his hair, still smiling. 'You need to stop thinking so much, Michael. Just go with it sometimes.'
Mike couldn't keep the grin off his face.
They were besieged by Micky and Davy the second they got in the door, like a pair of excitable puppies.
'Well, what did he say?' Davy burst out.
'Did he change it? Are we still working there?' Micky said, at the exact same time.
Mike and Peter looked at each other. With all the ...other stuff, they had totally forgotten about the altercation. Mike heaved a sigh.
Micky and Davy fell silent almost at once, wearing identical shocked expressions.
'We'll find somewhere, don't worry,' Mike continued, before turning and addressing Peter. 'Come upstairs, Pete, I've got an idea for a song.'
'OK!' Peter scurried off to his room for his guitar and a pile of sheet music and took the stairs two at a time. Neither of them came out for the rest of the evening.
Micky looked over at Davy. 'Mike never reacts like that when we lose a gig. Do you think something funny's going on, babe?'
Davy frowned. 'Definitely, Mick. Something very funny indeed.'