Not too far in the future, the world will be ruled by former emo kids.
This isn't a big, impactful statement in any way; it's a simple fact, and responsible for it is solely Father Time. As older generations retire, a new one rises to power, and that generation just happens to have sported scene haircuts and all-black outfits in their youth. After all, most members of this generation have ditched the teenage angst and become useful, productive members of society.
And the rest…well, the rest went on to form emo bands of their own.
~ ~ ~
The five members of The Heist fell squarely into the second category. Not only were they an emo band, worse: they were a highly successful emo band, and almost as loved by teenagers as they were hated by their parents. Their debut album, Sad Boys Take Over Your Radio Station, had been a surprise hit. With their sophomore album, Not Every Long Sentence Is A Song Title (Sometimes, They're Album Titles), they had become household names, playing themselves firmly into the hearts of gloomy teens and nostalgic twenty-somethings everywhere. Now they were on album five, and they were still reliably providing the soundtrack for middle schoolers throwing tantrums in their rooms and crying about how no one understood them after a single argument with their well-meaning parents.
(Or, you know, letting out their anger about actual problems. But since when have teenagers ever had any of those?)
For now, however, the five of them weren't playing for their adoring fanbase. They were seated together on a couch and two armchairs, a small table between them holding glasses of water, while the interviewer across from them was desperately struggling to hold their attention.
"So, Sky," she addressed the vocalist, "can you tell me more about the songwriting process—uh, Sky?"
Sky Anderson didn't respond; he was holding a notebook in one hand, a pencil in the other, single-mindedly scribbling away. Most people would probably assume he was writing down new song lyrics, but anyone brave enough to look over his shoulder would've found him working on a surprisingly accurate doodle of Hello Kitty.
Of course, no one dared to look over his shoulder, and no one dared to disturb him. Sky was intimidatingly broad and sturdy, with menacing but probably painted-on shadows around his eyes, and about as dangerous as the average tree. He just stood around the landscape and sometimes rustled in the wind, unless he suddenly and randomly decided to drop a branch on you.
"Sky," Rowan said in an undertone, nudging him in the side. "At least try to pay attention, okay?"
Now Sky did reluctantly put down his doodle book, only to reach for a glass of water and try to produce sounds by running his finger over the rim. The interviewer sighed. "Alright," she said, "should I take that question over to Rowan?"
"Yeah, sure," the bassist answered. The interviewer relaxed. Rowan Hill had the advantage of both being more talkative than Sky and leagues more approachable while also knowing exactly how to answer any question, although most people would probably underestimate him at a glance. It didn't help that he looked comically slim next to his vocalist, something not even his voluminous emo hair could save him from, or that…well…he played bass. But those who knew him knew he was one of the creative masterminds of the band, not to mention a protected species as the only nice New Yorker known to humankind.
While Rowan balanced between answering questions and trying to get Sky to pay attention, Neo Roadhouse turned away to wave over the young woman carrying a tray of full water bottles. She was pretty, though nowhere near as pretty as the lead guitarist himself; but if he made that the standard, he would remain single forever. For now she was cute enough, and Neo was bored.
"Can I help you?" she asked politely, her hazel eyes avoiding his electric blue ones like she was afraid of them. She didn't need to meet them, anyway. The telltale blush on her cheeks had given her away.
"You just have to keep serving drinks, huh?" Neo asked in a low voice, tilting his head down to move into her downcast field of vision. He could, of course, simply get off the armrest and sit on the couch like a normal goddamn human being; but that would be uncomfortable, and Neo hated being uncomfortable. "Pouring drinks for famous assholes. But when was the last time someone poured you a drink?"
The young woman's eyes widened, her blush deepening as Neo took a bottle off her tray and poured her a glass. "Just in case you're thirsty," he said with his most charming smirk. The double meaning of the comment wasn't lost on him.
Whispering a thanks, the woman reached for the glass—and almost dropped it on the ground as a ball of grayish fluff hurtled over her feet in an eager effort to get to the rhythm guitarist in the armchair.
Neo bit back a curse. Zeke goddamn Carraway, baby of the band, bane of his existence. Where had the bastard even found a dog in a place like this, let alone gotten it to run over to him for ear scratches? They were supposed to be in an interview, and here the guy was, ignoring everyone around him and getting distracted by an animal of all things, not even realizing how much his laughter and 'who's a good boy's were getting on everyone's nerves. How could he be damn near twenty-five and still acting like that? Would he ever start acting his age and take this stuff seriously?
Glancing up from the mutt—seriously, where did he keep finding the creatures?—Zeke briefly met eyes with Neo and stuck out his tongue. Neo flipped him the finger, but Zeke had already gone back to ignoring him, so he very spitefully decided to be a good role model and pay attention to the stupid interview for once.
Biting back a curse, he sat on the couch properly, because it was uncomfortable and he could handle it like a pro, unlike certain other people in this room. And he was most definitely not looking at Zeke. Or the dog. Or even thinking about them. His senses were all tuned in on the interviewer. Focus, focus—what was she saying?
"I'm, uh…just gonna leave," the water girl muttered. Neo winced. He had completely forgotten about her.
"No need," he began, forgetting his professionalism, but she had already disappeared. He swallowed another curse. Back to square one. Great. Fantastic.
"That's awesome!" the interviewer was saying, sounding less excited and more like she needed a long vacation. "So how was it like, working with a big name like Blake Benson?"
"I can answer that!" Teddy piped in from the second armchair, lifting his hand like a schoolboy. There was a glitter in the drummer's ever-mischievous eyes, excitement at finally getting to answer an interesting question. "It was really—"
"Not to interrupt, but, uhm, I was actually asking Rowan and Sky," the interviewer cut him off. "No offense, but I was looking for a serious answer on this one."
Teddy's shoulders dropped. "I was serious," he muttered, and Neo was tempted to believe that. The thing about Teddy Castillo was that he acted like a goofy airhead, and most of the time he was a goofy airhead, but there was also solid evidence that he was actually quite sharp. But since no one could predict when he was about to let his smarts shine through, people always tended to assume he wasn't.
Rowan took over the question, because of course Sky was distracted again, and Neo let his thoughts drift while looking as professional as possible. He probably wouldn't get more than a question or two anyway, a leftover advantage-disadvantage from when he had made everyone repeat their questions because he was unfamiliar with their accents. He idly wondered if this technically counted as discrimination against foreigners. He was, after all, the only non-native English speaker in the band, although there wasn't much to give that away these days except for a slight Finnish accent.
Time crawled by. The interview ended. Neo did get his usual question-or-two; Zeke and Teddy got very little, which was all par for the course. He'd had to suppress a yawn (and the annoying urge to glance at Zeke and the dog) several times. Interviews were boring; it was like all journalists on Earth had silently agreed to keep asking the same three questions like a Groundhog Day loop.
"That went well," Sky told them in the van back to the hotel. "Good job, everyone."
"Good job, me, doing the whole thing alone," Rowan muttered under his breath. "Not that I mind, but, you know. If you guys could ever just…pay attention a little more, sometimes, every once in a while…that would be nice. No big deal if you don't. Just…nice."
"Whatever," said Neo.
"Sorry!" Zeke burst out, actually having the gall to look genuinely embarrassed after not giving a damn earlier. "I really wanted to, but then I thought about public speaking and my brain just shut down, and then there was this dog, and, uh, I'm really sorry! I'm gonna do better next time!"
Rowan smiled tiredly. "Don't worry about it," he reassured him. "Like I said, it's fine, it would just be nice to not have to do an interview alone for a change."
"I was paying attention," Teddy muttered, still sulking.
Neo snorted. "You don't count."
"It's true," said Sky. "You're a drummer. No one cares what drummers have to say."
"Not you too, Skyscraper, are you serious?"
"Anyway," Sky went on like Teddy had never said anything. "Free evening tonight. Have fun, everybody. Don't miss the flight tomorrow."
"That part's important," their manager piped up from the passenger seat. Roxanne Davis had known them long enough to not question their conversations anymore, instead focusing on simply herding her boys away from disaster. "There's a severe storm warning starting tomorrow afternoon, and if you miss the flight, nobody knows when the next one will be. And you can't risk missing the release party, got it?"
They all made vague noises of acknowledgement. The van rolled on through the sunset. Teddy dozed off against the window. Zeke appeared to be looking for funny shapes in the clouds. Neo, bored and stuck in the middle seat, had no choice but to start planning his evening.
He should probably find himself a club, he mused. Somewhere with decent music and decent drinks and lots of attractive people. Attractive women, of course. The rest of his identity would have to stay home tonight, sleeping in the closet where it belonged.
Which still made this difficult enough. Where on earth was he supposed to find a decent location with decent company on a Monday night?
Whatever. In the end, as they faded into the night, he always figured out something to do.
And if it turned into a long night…
Well, he could always set an alarm for tomorrow morning.
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