"Brendon, I'm fine."- "Stop saying that!" he screamed. And this time, it wasn't because of the volume of the music.
Chapter Four: Desperate Clubkids
It's the static from the floor below
Then it drops and catches like fire
In to the overflow
Where the girls get down to the
Sound of the radio
Out to the electric night
Where the bass line jumps in the backstreet lights
The beat goes around and round
It's the sound of the underground
Chain reaction running through my veins
Pumps the bass line up into my brain
Screws my mind until I lose control
- 'The Sound of the Underground'- Girls Aloud
"Ow!" I winced as a shoebox fell on my head, scattering old notes and Polaroid's around my feet like petals. Fresh out of the shower and still clad in a towel I'd been looking for some underwear on the top shelf of my closet when my fingers had accidentally knocked Brendon's "souvenirs of life" shoebox. Sighing, I knelt down to gather my boyfriend's old memories. Such a packrat, I swear...
My hand stalled and I did a double take, noticing a familiar face in the last few pictures. Audrey Kitching, Brendon's ex. I hadn't known it but they'd been dating our senior year in high school. I only met her once and that had been after a messy breakup that had something to do with cheating. It had been at a party (My first party in the L.V. fresh off my move into the suburbs) and it had been hella awkward. Audrey was "that hot pierced chic", "the girl all the bad guys want"; you know the type. Gorgeous in a creepy kinda way.
I knew she didn't like me from the get go. Like I said before, I was a product of Northeastern aristocratic bloodlines. Her eyes ripped my white, bohemian styled dress to shreds as she glared at me half the night, barely saying two words to me when we were introduced.
So what if I'd kept my hair it's natural color? So what if I didn't have emo bangs and big bland eyes? So what if I wasn't broken, walking around with a blackened heart, dirty All Star Converses and a cigarette between my lips? So what if I didn't grow up listening to Pink Floyd or Guns n' Roses. So what if my style was different from hers? I shouldn't have cared about her judgments but for some reason it had always bothered me.
So what? /Damnation/, that's what. Her reaction had given me the depressing realization that no matter how hard I tried, no matter how much I loved Brendon and most of his friends, no matter how much wit and sarcasm I offered, I wasn't one of them. I hadn't grown up in the suburbs, working or being denied anything. Both of my parents had college degrees and hardly ever raised a hand to their children. Their idea of hard liquor was champagne. My friends were carbon copies of the girls who had most likely haunted the halls of Audrey's high school. Mocking her, giggling about her clothes, her hair.
But so what, right? So what if the bands I listened to were kind of mainstream? So what if I didn't have a nose stud? So what if I wasn't skinnier than Ryan? Which, by the way, was saying quite a lot. When we'd first met I'd just wanted to feed that boy a steak.
Staring at an all body shot Audrey had taken herself I was amazed at how thin she was. Staring at that picture was like staring at a target. /'That's what I want' /I thought to myself. It wasn't disgusting, trailer trash thin, it was petite, starving artist thin. Hmm, maybe that was my problem, I'd never been starving and I'd never been an artist. I'd have to look into that whole bohemian thing a bit more in depth...
"What's all that?" Brendon came in, also clad in a towel (though his was hanging off his hips while mine was a full body ordeal), rummaging through his boxer drawer as his soaked bangs dripped over the carpet and down the sides of his face. I stood up quickly.
"Nothing, just some old pictures I found on accide"-
Before I could gather everything properly he was behind me, snatching the Polaroid from betwixt my fingertips. A surprised frown graced his features and he took the box from me this time as well, throwing his ex's photo in it's depths before shoving the whole mess back to it's proper place on my shelf.
"If you're even /thinking/ what I think you are"-
"It's nothing," I cut him off quickly, "I was looking for some clothes and it just- it just fell is all." I stuttered. Why was I stuttering? I didn't have anything to stutter about, I was telling the truth.
"So why were you dwelling? I hate it when you dwell. That's too much mess that I can't fix." he told me, melancholy eyes and all while laying a hand on my cheek, caressing his thumb back and forth. For a moment I considered telling him bits of the truth, the saner parts anyway. But even those seemed like dead ends in the face of possibly worrying my boyfriend for no reason. I was fine, I could handle myself. But fuck, I used tell Brendon anything, when had spilling my guts for him ever been a problem? His open mind was what had attracted me to him in the first place. He was always right there with me, just as cynical, just as bitchy, just as insecure. So why was this so difficult all of a sudden? Why did I feel like I was back living with my Goddamn parents?
"I'm not dwelling," I reassured him with a smile and a quick kiss, "I'm looking for my underwear."
It was then that a most curious flush of crimson decorated his cheeks. "Yah, about that..."
"Oh no, I know that look." I groaned playfully, "What did you do /now/?"
"I didn't really /do/ anything, per se..." I followed him from the closet out to his suitcase, which (even after an entire week home) remained (for the most part) unpacked (Lazy mofo...). He knelt, shoving his hand into the swallows of dirty, unfolded band shirts and destroyed girl jeans that were sure to have a few fresh rips between them all. From the bottom he pulled a handful of lacey/satin/cotton material, most of which was pink, teal or black. My thongs...I cocked an eyebrow and folded my arms over my chest.
"I know girl jeans make panty lines a problem but uh..."
"No," he laughed, "I snuck these out before I left. You know, for the road."
Snorting, I shook my head as a sideways smile plastered itself over my lips. Snatching back what was rightfully mine, I made my way back to the closet to get dressed for that night. Hmm, what to wear to a scenester rave...Aha! White lace micro mini (you always wanna have something white on under those black lights, never be caught unprepared ladies ;) ), cropped grey tights, and a vintage, hot pink "The Go-Go's" tee from the roaring 80's rolled up and secured in the back with a pony tail holder for a snug fit. Add some costume jewelry (again, remember the black lights), grab some classic, hot pink pumps and we were ready to roll.
Brendon was going for his usual tight jeans, fitted black button up and a random, yet sexy tie. Damn...lucky bastard didn't even have to /try/. There he was, just gorgeous as always. Ryan and Brent had to show us up as always though with their flashy shoes, accentuating off-white pinstripes and velvet blazers. Spencer opted for the more simple jeans and white oxford combo.
"Thank you!" I exclaimed when he emerged from the bathroom, "Finally someone who doesn't make me feel fashionably inept!" my glare was pointedly aimed at Ryan. I swear he should just start his own fashion line and then maybe, if he made chick clothes too (or hell, unisex clothes, whatever works), we could call it even.
"Don't hate me 'cause I'm hotter than you." he chuckled, checking the battery life on his flip phone before shoving it in his pocket.
"Don't worry about it, /we'll/ be the ones laughing when they ask him to be on /Queer Eye for the Straight Guy/." Spence smirked at me.
"Alright guys, /come on/, /come on/! Maitland and Nadia are probably waiting for us already." Brendon whined from the door. This kid was so impatient I swear I'd be surprised if he hadn't been born prematurely.
"Calm /down /Sparky, we're coming." I said, fixing my skirt as I strut out the door. I got a curt slap on the ass for that as I walked past him. Turning to walk backwards towards the car I blew him a kiss on my middle finger, grinning like a cat. The five of us shoved ourselves in my car, Brent acting as chauffeur for the night. Actually we let him act as chauffeur /most /nights since he was the best driver out of all us pathetic excuses for license holders. Within thirty minutes we had arrived in the heart of the strip. Neon monstrosity, USA. Actually it was pretty fun at night, high glam and all that. Even the lights made you feel alive. Though half the time they also made you feel like a runway traffic controller as well.
Parking in a garage that was two blocks away we made our way down a few streets to a swanky, old strip club. That wasn't quite our destination, however. A literally underground rave club called /Heat Wave /was hidden down two flights of stairs past the bathrooms of the strip club. Only the hippest scenester crowd knew about and frequented this spot, so /of course /we were there.
We got in easily and, having no coats to check (I did /love/ the L.V.), immediately pushed towards the bar. After the boys ordered their undoings Dean, the bartender, turned to me.
"Alright Bails, what can I get for you?" Yah, I was a regular at the bar. What can I say? However this particular night I was practicing alcoholic celibacy. Way too many carbs., or calories for that matter. No, better to go sweat on the dance floor.
"Actually Dean, I'm going dry tonight, thanks though!" I called to one of the best bartenders in town as I dragged Brendon towards the floor.
"What!? Since when do you say no to liquor? There's no way in hell you're making yourself designated driver, you drive like your drunk half the time anyway!" he shouted over the blare of "Dare" by The Gorillaz. Ugh, I was sick of this parent trap game. Time for a change of pace and a serious change of subject.
I turned on him, now a mere inch from his face as I stared him dead in the eyes, "Maybe I'm not so much thirsty as I am hungry." I told him, my voice low but clear as I licked his lips, lightly teasing the crotch of his pants with my fingertips.
He gave me a 'Way-in-over-my-head' look, "Please tell me you're not planning on teasing me like that all night long."
"Am I really that cute when I lie?!" I smirked, once again shouting over the music as I resumed my conquest towards the dance floor.
"Tragically!" he screamed back. I blew him a kiss over my shoulder just before wrapping the hand I was holding around my waist, rolling my spine against his body.
"Well, if you're gunna date a liar, it might as well be me!"
"Damn straight!" he grinned. I couldn't help but grin along as we jerked our bodies along to the DJ's indie/dance selections. Powerhouse songs about disco balls and girls with smiles like razorblades. Artists like Daft Punk, Madonna and Paul Oakenfold ruled these waters and when you went swimming it was in emo infested waters, sharks who wore their sunglasses at night. I loved this club, this scene. Glow sticks, all the people (Â½ of them on ecstasy), the heat, the dark, Brendon's fingers gripping my hips, and of course, my dear friend: the bass beat. It invaded your system, first at the fingertips and toes until it had charged its way through your veins into your rib cage where it built up in a dark, vibrating mass of earthquake magnitude.
The songs passed in blurr of natural highs and the feeling of raw, tingling nerves. I wanted to let a scream rip right through me. The noise, my heartbeat, the strobe lights. Dancing so fast for so long had an affect similar to hitting up on speed. I was dizzy and my chest was throbbing, constantly on the edge of bubbling over with laughter. I felt like I was going to explode. I was on fire for dreams, a cataclysmic ball of energy burning brighter than the sun. If the military was looking for weapons of mass destruction, they really needed to start surveying the scene for teenage dirt bags who reveled in sin and body heat, unstable and ready to spontaneously combust at any given moment. It made you wonder: What were they thinking letting kids like us loose on the streets? Kids who craved freedom as much as attention.
We were like pirates. Rebels, fashion plates for the forbidden desires of man that could never (and should never) be truly repressed. Bring us that horizon, we demanded, mapping out our own adventures with torn maps and faulty compasses. When we got lost, it only added to our grins. This wasn't about the destination, it was about the recklessness of adventure. It was the thrill of a renegade chase and exhilaration was the only deity we worshipped. It was up to the stars then to guide us home, but to hell with listening to the /stars/. We had enough prideful faith in ourselves, all we wanted to take from the stars was the killer view. "Trust us, we're young, we know everything." we said.
But it was a shame, because we didn't know anything at all. Especially not how to stop. Not now, not ever. Not even when it came to personal battles with our insecurities. In fact maybe that's all any of this was. This getting dolled up and strutting around the streets in stilettos. Maybe this was just one big ego-trip band-aid.
Wow, I was getting a little too deep for comfort that night. Seats. Nowish.
"Wooh!" I hollered, breathlessly falling into the curved booth that we had marked as our territory earlier. "Damn, I've really missed this!" I slurred, not from alcohol but from the high on life I was currently experiencing. That, and very likely a bout of dehydration as well. "Brendy," I turned to my lover, simply radiating heat because suddenly our lack of movement was making it hotter than Hades. /'Welcome to Heat Wave, self.' /I'm not sure if it was my exhaustion or just my nature as a random performer but when I spoke, a British accent came tumbling from my mouth, "Might you possibly get me some water? Not much, just a pint or two, and make sure it's chilly. It's like a whorehouse on a nickel night in here."
"I thought you were going dry tonight." he mocked me, standing in the process, letting me know that despite his being difficult I had indeed won him over.
"I thought you wanted to get laid tonight." I shot back. Obviously he got my point, even if I was just kidding around. As he walked off I closed my eyes, leaning back into my seat. My head was pulsing deep, hard and fast. Hmm, sounded a lot like sex. Come to think of it, kinda felt like it too, minus the extreme pleasure and up one on the pain. That's when another kind of pain set in.
'Oh! OW! Holy shit, that's my feet, definitely my feet. Oh, I am so throwing these shoes away as soon as I get home. Fuck, what possessed me to wear heels?'
It was then that St. Brendon showed up with my water. 'Bottled and chilled, ahh, I knew I kept him around for something...Mmm, and I think I'll keep him for a bit longer, this water is amazing.'
"Thanks babe," wiping my mouth with the back of my hand I twisted the cap back on my water and threw it into the depths of my purse. Immediately I was up on my feet again, ready for more. 'Bring me that horizon,' my mind chimed to itself in irony. However, I wasn't even leaving shore. As soon as I stood my vision was invaded and impaired by splotches of black, seeping over the rave before me like spilled ink. My knees gave out and I collapsed back into our booth.
Within seconds I felt Brendon's hands firmly on my shoulders, "Bailey! Hey, slow it down there. You alright?"
I frowned, struggling to open my eyes, "Yah, I'm...I'm fine I just...." I was having difficulty breathing, which was making it near impossible to form a coherent sentence. "I'm probably...just..."
"Here," I felt the cold sweat of my water bottle back in my hand, "You're probably dehydrated. Have you been drinking enough water?"
"I've been drinking pleh.../plenty/ of water, I just need to...breathe." I told him, struggling to take deep breathes the whole time as my lungs contracted on their own. I drank from my water bottle, swallowing only when I could afford the absence of air. Soon my stomach was getting pissed from all the space I'd invaded way too quickly. As I sat back and tried to relax, Brendon watched me, putting puzzle pieces together like stars in a constellation.
"You're not eating enough, are you." he said, the disappointment clear in his voice. Slowly my eyes opened and his pale features came into not-so-clear focus. The spell of Eiffel 65's "Move your body" seemed to fade and suddenly, in the midst of drama, the music was no longer a drug but an idea of euphoria being held in front of us pulled along on a string for us to chase. For a moment I had nothing to say, but quickly caught myself.
"Stop saying that!" he screamed. And this time, it /wasn't /because of the music.
"Brendon, I swear,"-
"Look, I'm taking you home. I don't give a shit if it's only 12, I'm taking you home."
"Fuck you! I didn't wait to go out with you for a week just so you could play daddy and tell me I need a nap!"
He gave me a look that told me he thought I was going insane. "What are you planning on doing? Going back out on that floor? You can barely walk damn it! You think you can /dance/? I /don't /need a visit to the emergency room tonight!"
"And what are we going to do at home? Huh?"
"We're gunna /talk/, that's what we're gunna do." he said grabbing my bag and my forearm and ushering me out. We hailed a cab and I got busy ignoring him as soon as I sat down, crossing my legs, arms and glaring out of my window at the city as it flashed by. /'Come and get you some' /it called us out, /'Spend your money, get trashed, take home a stripper, forget your problems for the night.' /the signs beckoned. If only we were that naÃ¯ve. Ignoring the fact that I was ignoring him, Brendon told the driver our address and whipped out his cell, calling Brent to tell him we were going home and not to worry about us.