Lou returns to spend the day with the Panic! boys, but this time, she brings Yankee with her. And what's up with Spencer? Part 1 of 2.
Oh, and I hope that Brendon's meeting with Yankee is what you guys were hoping for. He also interacts with him in the second half of the chapter aswell.
I fought down a feeling of déjà vu as once again, I found myself being tugged down a long corridor.
However this time, it was Yankee who was leading me, his claws clicking on the floor as he followed my brother and Zack, the guy I had met yesterday and who I learned was the band's bodyguard. Listening to the small talk that was happening between him and Chris, I lightly re-adjusted my grip on the harness, feeling Yankee's tail hit my legs gently while he panted excitedly, sniffing his surroundings while remaining alert for any danger that could befall me. He had meticulously sniffed Zack when we had met him earlier, familiarising himself with the man and committing his scent to memory, just in case it was needed again.
I let Yankee guide me around a corner, my body becoming stiff with nerves and anticipation as we got closer. The German Shepherd picked up my sudden wariness and whined, halting abruptly. "It's okay boy, I'm alright." I reassured him, burying my free hand in his fur. Yankee was still for a moment, then made a whuff sound as he moved forward again. In front of me, Chris and Zack continued talking, unaware that I'd stopped. I caught a few words of their conversation to know that they were talking about football. I rolled my eyes, shaking my head. Football was my brother's other love, behind music, so there was really no surprise to here him discussing the subject.
Faint chords reached my ears and I recognised a song I had heard only yesterday. I swallowed hard, realising we were close. And sure enough, a few steps later, I heard Zack knock on a door before opening it and greeting the people inside. Chris hung behind, placing his hand on my shoulder to help me navigate the doorway, but I shrugged him off, letting my dog lead me into the room instead. I still hadn't forgiven my brother for his comment last night, even though I knew he was sorry and hadn't mean it, but still. You'd think by now he'd have learnt not to incorporate that phrase into his vocabulary, especially around me. But all that was driven from my mind as I was greeted by a loud cry, making me raise my head.
The rush of footsteps was the only warning I had before Brendon was upon me, slipping his arm round my shoulders and walking me forward towards the middle of the room. "I'm so glad you came! I - " he stopped abruptly, and I swivelled my head to the left, looking at where I estimated his head to be. I sighed, turning my head back, guessing that Brendon had just noticed Yankee.
I was right.
I felt the arm being removed from my shoulders and the front man moved away from me. I rolled my eyes, making introductions before Brendon jumped my dog, or did anything else to him. "Brendon, I'd like you to meet Yankee, my guide dog and best friend."
I heard a sharp intake of breath. "Can... Can I touch him?" asked Brendon, his voice slightly higher than usual. "Because my mom always said not to touch guide dogs."
Giving a small laugh at the last sentence, I nodded my head. "Sure, of course you can. Let him memorize your scent so he can remember you if he needs to."
There was silence for a few moments before a dry chuckle I recognised as Jon's broke it. "Brendon, stop looking like that. He's not gonna fucking eat you!"
"But he's huge!" I heard Brendon gasp. "I didn't realise he was this big - he could swallow me whole!"
"I think if anyone's gonna be swallowed whole, it'll be Ryan," Spencer commented briefly before adding, "Hey Lou, nice to see you again."
I flashed a smile in the direction of the drummer's voice. "Hey Spencer." Letting a sigh escape from my lips, I reached out a hand to Brendon. "Here, give me your hand." Gulping loudly, he placed his palm in mine. I slowly lowered the handle of Yankee's harness so it wouldn't hit him and rested it in his fur. I tugged Brendon closer, giving Yankee the command to sit. He obeyed, and I felt the singer stiffen as he yawned, widening his jaw and flashing sharp teeth. I laughed again. "Here," I repeated. Keeping my other hand in Yankee's ruff, I directed Brendon's in front of his nose, letting my dog sniff them cautiously before licking them gently. Hearing the sounds of a lapping tongue, I grinned. "He likes you," I said, feeling the grin radiate from Brendon's face. I let go I his hand and Yankee leaned in to his touch as the singer began to pat his head. I quietly took off his harness, signalling to Yankee that work was over for the moment and he could relax a bit.
More footfalls reached my ears, as well as the sound of a guitar being set down, and I soon found myself surrounded by three other guys. One by one, they introduced themselves to Yankee in the same fashion, and soon he was lying on his side while the four of them scratched his exposed side and stomach.
I swung my head from side to side while they bonded with my dog. If I had had my sight, I would have been glancing around at my surroundings. Jon must have noticed my unease, because he asked me, "You alright Lou? You want to sit down?"
My head flew to where his voice had come from. "Oh yeah, that would be good, thanks."
Someone straightened from their squatting position and I heard Ryan speak as he gently took my hand. "Here," he said, "this way." He carefully led me over to the couch where I had been sitting yesterday, letting me take a seat before sitting his body next to mine. I felt his shoulder brush against mine as he leaned forward, picking up what must have been his guitar before leaning back and settling into the soft cushions. A soft melody was soon coaxed out of the strings, and I let it wash over my body, listening to Jon, Spencer and Brendon croon over my dog. I didn't hear Chris or Zack, and realised they must have left the room while I had been occupied with Brendon and Yankee. Frowning slightly, I listened to the melody properly. Something was wrong. I turned to my left.
"Your D string is out of tune," I told Ryan. The tune ceased abruptly.
"What?" he said.
"Your D string," I repeated. "It's slightly out of tune."
I could feel him shaking his head. "It can't be," he replied, starting to sound confused. "I just tuned it this morning."
"Well, it is," I answered. "It sounds like this, when it should sound like this." I sang two clear notes, letting them ring out across the room. When silence followed, I knew the others were listening. I felt their eyes as they turned to look at Ryan and I.
"What - I - How?" he stuttered. "You have perfect pitch?"
"You can sing?" Jon echoed Ryan's question with his own.
Ducking my head, I fiddled with my hands in my lap, not liking the sudden attention I was getting. "I... Uh... I don't know. I've always been able to tell when Chris' guitar was out of tune..." They continued staring at me, and I was sure a couple of them had their mouths open. "Then he would always make me tune it for him," I added, filling the stunned silence with my nervous words.
"Here," Ryan finally managed. He slid the guitar toward me, using his slim fingers to help my own hands grip the instrument, placing it in my lap. "Tune it," he said when I didn't react. "Please?" he added as an afterthought.
I responded by letting the fingers of my left hand slide up the neck in a spider-like fashion. Deciding it would be easier to tune the whole guitar again, I felt for the first knob - low E - and plucked the string with the pick that Ryan pressed into my hand, humming a note as I did so. I felt the band continue to stare at me as I worked my way through the rest of the strings. When I reached the last string - high E - I let it ring for a moment, the newly-tuned note sounding clear and crisp in the silence that followed. I bowed my head, embarrassed.
"Here," I said, trying to hand the guitar back to the guitarist next to me. "It's tuned now; you can play again." I felt a pair of thin fingers gently touch my hands, stopping me.
"No," said Ryan. "Play something."
Biting my lip, I shook my head. "I just tune guitars... I can't... Can't actually play anything. Not with..." my voice trailed off again, my cheeks heating up. Luckily, Ryan caught my meaning.
"I'll teach you then," he decided, positioning the guitar back on my lap and shuffling closer to me, apologising as we bumped shoulders. I stiffened visibly as his leg brushed mine and his right arm slipped behind me. He must have noticed because he gave a short laugh and said, "Its okay, I'm not going to hurt you." My blush deepened but I relaxed my muscles, leaning back into his body slightly and feeling his breath whisper softly against the skin on my neck. Ryan's sudden closeness had set all my senses on fire, and they were now alert more than ever. I wouldn't normally be like this, but this was the most intimate I had ever been with a guy besides my brother or dad, and it wasn't just a guy. I mean, despite the fact that Ryan was a normal, average teenager, he's still a fucking rock star for crying out loud.
I vaguely heard Yankee whine, wanting attention again, then he fell silent as someone - probably Brendon - began to provide him with the attention he wanted. I couldn't be too sure though; my mind was still trying to focus properly while Ryan was so close. But because he was so close, I was able to widen my small bank of knowledge about the lyricist and guitarist.
For instance, I soon learned why Spencer had made his earlier comment about being swallowed whole, and why Ryan had been the butt of the weight-related jokes made by his band mates yesterday.
Strong, thin arms encircled me, pulling our bodies closer together carefully. Though I could feel that Ryan had a few layers of clothing on, I could still make out the outline of his narrow chest easily, giving him a delicate frame. I knew that if I was to run my hand over his front, I would be able to feel every bone in his rib cage. If I had been blushing before, it was nothing compared to what I was doing now, especially at the last thought. I was sure that I had turned as red as a fire truck supposedly was, and it didn't help that I could still feel eyes on me.
He leaned forward, his left hand guiding my own to the strings on the fret board. "Put your fingers like this," he instructed, carefully placing each individual finger where he wanted them. When he had finished, I was left with a strange, stretched feeling in my small fingers. "Now hold your pick like this." Ryan manipulated my left hand with his own, opening it and putting the pick in the desired position. Satisfied, he covered my hand with his own and moved it towards the strings. "Okay," he began, his chin brushing my shoulder lightly as he craned his head to watch what he was doing. Soft hair tickled my cheek.
"I'm gonna teach you a little riff to one of our songs that you would have heard yesterday," Ryan explained, fixing my fingers on the fret board as they slipped. "It's real simple and easy. I'll help you."
With his hand still holding my own that held the pick, he slowly began to help me pick out a tune, murmuring the names of the notes in my ear as we played each one. I was engrossed in what I was doing that I jumped when I heard a loud cough in front of me.
"Are you okay, Spencer?" I heard Jon ask. There was an edge to his voice that I couldn't place, almost teasingly-like.
"I'm fine!" Spencer retorted defensively, and, like Jon, there was something else in his voice that I couldn't put my finger on.
Ryan's hair brushed against my face again as he glanced up, probably giving Spencer a look. He was quiet for a few moments, then went back to teaching me the riff. He was right, they had played it yesterday, but I couldn't remember the name. Something about nails, I think.
"Then," Ryan was saying, "when you play it full speed, it sounds like this." Guiding my right hand, he played the series of notes he had just taught me, turning them into a tune that I definitely recognised. "Now you try it by yourself," he said, removing his hand from mine.
"Okaaay..." I breathed out slowly. "Like this?" At about half of Ryan's speed, I carefully played the notes that he had familiarised me with. My only mistakes were the changing of strings - a few times I misjudged the distance and accidentally plucked the wrong string - but other than that, it wasn't too bad.
"Yeah, exactly," Ryan said, nodding his head and I could feel the radiance of his smile. "You're a fast learner." He turned his head slightly to look at me. I blushed and averted my blind eyes downward where I randomly played a couple of strings on his guitar.
A loud crashing noise startled us both and made us flinch, pulling away from each other automatically.
"The fuck?" Ryan exclaimed.
"Spencer, you alright?" Jon asked, repeating his earlier question.
"Dammit!" Spencer groaned. I heard sounds that made me think he was picking himself up off the floor. "I just... Clumsy me," he mumbled.
"Dude, the chair was right in front of you!" Brendon said. "It's unusual for you to be so clumsy; normally I'm the clumsy one. You'd have to be, like, bli-"
There was a comical gasp from everyone in the room but me, and I heard a thud, making me think that someone had hit Brendon in the head.
"Idiot!" Jon hissed, and I guessed that it had been him that had hit Brendon.
"I'm sorry Lou! I didn't mean it!" The singer hurriedly tried to make amends for his slip. I immediately felt all eyes on me. I raised my head. Ryan still hadn't moved away from me.
I startled them all by giving a small laugh. "Guys, it's nice of you to be so sensitive, but really. You only just met me, and while I don't exactly like people using that saying around me, I don't expect you all to suddenly change your vocabulary overnight." I shrugged. "I'll allow a few slips every now and then, but seriously," I added, "you guys don't have to freak out about it and act like the world is ending."
"But we don't want to be insensitive about it either," Jon said. He must have shot a look in Brendon's direction because I heard him mutter, "I said I was sorry; I didn't mean it."
I smiled again. "It's okay Brendon. I'm not mad or upset. I know it was an accident."
I heard Spencer begin righting the mess he made as Brendon went back to patting Yankee ("Who's a good boy? Who's a cutey-wooty good boy?"), Jon moved to get a drink of something and Ryan and I went back to playing guitar. After a couple more times, I was finally able to get the riff up to the speed it was played at with few - if any - mistakes. Ryan had removed his arm from around me, but hadn't moved away. As I finished the riff, he began to praise my progress but was stopped by a loud coughing noise - the same one I had heard earlier - which was then followed by someone lowering their body onto the seat next to me.
"Hi Lou," Spencer said brightly, proceeding to engage me in a conversation. In the middle of it, he cleared his throat pointedly and I felt his body shift as he sent a look in Ryan's direction. Slightly to confused as to what was going on, I let Ryan take back his guitar and slide back to his original position on the couch. Remembering I still had his pick, I offered it to him in my open palm.
"Keep it," he said, closing my fingers over it with his own. "I have tons of others. Besides," he added, and I could tell he was smiling from the way his tone changed slightly. "I'll make a guitarist out of you yet."
I smiled back, still unsure of what was going on. Ryan began to play again and Spencer resumed our conversation. I had only met him yesterday, but even so, I could tell that his behaviour so far had been strange. Why, I had no fucking clue, but I was determined to find out by the end of the day.
Part 2 - ...Tacks for Snacks - will be coming shortly. Don't forget to let me know what you think of this chapter by leaving a review and rating it!