Three weeks later
Lloyd Dobler dropped out of the tour a couple weeks early, after news of their legal trouble was splashed across every newspaper and gossip website in the country. They had all gone home to ‘lay low’ until things got straightened out, as Mr. Wentz had ordered. Pete hadn’t heard from Izzie since their bus had pulled out of the venue their last night, he figured she needed some space. He had been talking to his dad though, and their case was moving along pretty smoothly. They still hadn’t found Mike, but the FBI knew there was a good chance he was in the Cayman Islands. The band would also get all their money back, it was just going to take a few months to get through all the paper work and legal stuff. Fall Out Boy were in New York, hanging out at Angels and Kings to celebrate the last night of tour. Pete was sitting at a booth with Andy and Patrick, he didn’t feel much like partying. “Dude, quit moping around. You’re depressing me.” Andy laughed, shoving him gently in the shoulder.
“I just miss Izzie. I finally got her back and she’s gone again.” He sighed, taking a swig of his beer.
“Just call her. What’s the worst that could happen?” Patrick shook his head.
“I don’t even know where she is, my dad said she’s in New York with her dad.”
“Then why don’t you just stop by while we’re here?” Patrick shrugged.
“But what if she doesn’t want to deal with me right now? I mean, she hasn’t tried to call me at all.”
“When has she EVER called you?” Andy said.
“True. She usually just broke in my house.”
“What’s up guys?” Gabe shimmied up to the table, wiggling his hips in time with the music. “Hey, did somebody die?” he looked at Andy and Patrick, nodding his head towards Pete, who just sighed in the corner. Andy shrugged and shook his head like ‘don’t talk about it.’ “Yo Pete, I heard you’re hooking up with Izzie Page.” Gabe grinned, making Pete’s head snap up. He slid into the booth across from Pete as Joe jogged over to join them.
“What are we talking about?” he squeezed in on the end by Pete.
“You slept with her again? No wonder she won’t call you.” Patrick sighed.
“You know her?” Pete’s eyes widened.
“Know who?” Joe looked around, confused.
“Izzie.” Patrick whispered across the table.
“Yeah, they opened for Midtown for a couple of tours when they were first starting out. I’m not going to say we DID anything, because she was underage and that would be illegal. It sucks what their manager did to them, doesn’t it?” he downed the last of his drink.
“You’re still friends with her?”
“Yeah, I had strict instructions never to mention her in your presence. She’s actually staying with me right now.”
“Yeah, she told her grandmother she’s staying with her dad, but she’s too afraid to confront him. So she’s been crashing on my couch. You’re all she ever talks about.”
“Really?” Pete’s face lit up.
“It’s all Pete this, Pete that. ‘Where’s Pete? Why won’t Pete call me? I wish Pete would talk to me.’” He whined in a girly voice.
“You have nothing to worry about.” Patrick nudged him.
“Does she seem ok?” Pete’s face grew concerned again.
“Well…she hasn’t left the apartment in two weeks, and all she eats are Pringles and root beer.” Gabe shrugged.
“That’s her sad food.” Pete nodded, and everyone gave him a funny look. “She eats Pringles and root beer when she’s depressed. She has since she was 12.” He clarified.
Pete woke up to the strange sound of –scrape…crunch, crunch, crunch…scrape…crunch, crunch…- He had no idea what time it was, but knew it was WAY too early for him to be up. He cracked an eye open and glared at Izzie, perched delicately on the end of his bed, noisily eating a bowl of cereal. “’Sup?” She grinned when he looked her way. “You snore.”
“What are you doing here?” he grumbled, throwing his pillow at her and pulling the blankets up over his head.
“You sent me a text that you wanted to go to the mall. You KNOW I only go to the mall on Tuesday mornings when all the screaming little kids are at school.” She smacked him in the butt with the pillow. “Now I’m ALL ready to go, and you’re still asleep.”
“What time is it anyway? Is the mall even open yet?”
“10:30. It opened half an hour ago.” She stood up, bouncing on the bed, trying not to spill her cereal. “Come ON! I’ll drag you out of there if I have to.” She jumped off the end of the bed and stuck her hands under the blanket, grabbing his ankles and pulling. “You better not be naked.”
“Fine. If you give me some of your cereal, I’ll get up.” He sat up as she handed him the bowl. “Are these my Lucky Charms?”
“Yes. Your mom gave them to me. And technically you didn’t buy them, she did. So they’re her Lucky Charms.”
Gabe was on the sidewalk pacing back and forth in front of the door of his apartment building the next morning. He dropped his cigarette on the ground and stamped it out as a cab pulled up in front of him and Pete stepped out. “Man, are you as hung over as I am?” Gabe groaned, rubbing his head.
“Nah, I wasn’t drinking that much.” Pete shook his head. “Is she in there?”
“Yeah. She’s watching a marathon of the Golden Girls. You want to go up?” They headed inside and upstairs to the apartment. “You ready?” Gabe paused in front of the door.
“I guess so.” Pete shrugged. Gabe flung the door open, storming into the apartment.
“Get up!” he grabbed the half empty can of Pringles out of Izzie’s hand and tossed it on the ground, as she sat stunned.
“Grab her arms!” Pete pried her feet out from where she was sitting on them as Gabe grasped her under her arms.
“Ah! What are you doing?!” she shrieked, when they picked her up and started carrying her to the bathroom. “Don’t touch my boobs!” she glared up at Gabe. They dumped her in the shower and Gabe turned the water on as Pete held her down. Gabe slid the glass door closed and held it, so she couldn’t get out. “I thought you were my friends.” She whined, glaring at them from the opposite side of the door. Gabe and Pete stared at her with their arms crossed over their chests and grins plastered across their faces.
“It’s time for you to re-join the land of the living. The shampoo is over there.” Pete nodded towards a basket stuck to the wall. Izzie looked down at her soaking wet pajamas and dripping hair.
“If I’m going to take a shower, I have to take my clothes off. And I’m not getting nekkid in front of you pervs.” She scrunched up her nose.
“Do you promise not to get out until you’re clean?” Gabe raised his eyebrows. She gave a sad puppy dog face and a little whimpering sound, scratching her fingers at the door. Gabe and Pete looked at each other and shrugged. “Fine, we’ll leave.”
“It’s not like we haven’t both seen you naked.” Pete grinned, causing her to flip him off as they exited the bathroom.
Hey, you look almost human again.” Pete smiled, as Izzie stomped into the kitchen where he and Gabe were sitting. She had on clean jeans and a fresh tee shirt, and her wet hair was starting to get wavy as she scowled at them and opened the cabinet.
“Where are my Pringles?” she snapped.
“We hid them.” Gabe said, guiding her to a stool at the counter. “Pete has something to tell you.” She hopped up on the stool, wrinkling her nose at him in disgust.
“It better not be about music.”
“So, everything you guys have been through the last couple weeks with Mike…” Pete wrinkled his eyebrows.
“I don’t want to talk about it. I’m quitting the band, my dad was right.”
“Your dad doesn’t know what he’s talking about. Your band is bigger than his ever was. Just hear me out, you don’t have to do anything about it if you don’t want to.” He waited until he was sure she was listening. “So, I was talking to Bob. You know, our manager…”
“I know who Bob is.”
“Well, he’s actually in Chicago, he met with the rest of the band yesterday. He wants to manage you. The rest of the band agreed as long as you were cool with it. They’re flying into New York this afternoon to sign everything if you say yes.” He placed his hand on her upper arm, stroking it gently. “You guys are one of the best things to happen to music in years. You can’t just give up right when it’s all going to pay off.” Pete and Gabe both looked at her expectantly. She was silent for several moments, considering the offer.
“I guess if everyone else wants to.” She shrugged, a big grin sneaking out. Gabe scooped her up in a bear hug, that was more like a headlock and swung her around.
“Welcome to the Crush family!” he cheered. Pete flipped open his Sidekick and hit a few buttons.
“Ok, the plane leaves in an hour. You can sign everything before sound check.” Pete grinned.
“Yeah. You’re coming back and playing the last night of tour.”
“Says who?” she gave him a look.
“Says me. Now let’s go.” He grabbed her hand and pulled her towards the door.
“Where are we going now?”
“To talk to your dad.” She dug her heels into the carpet.
“Whoa, that was not part of the deal.” She tried prying her arm out of his grasp.
“Just go and say hi. Tell him what’s going on with all of this.”
“I HAVE talked to him.”
“No you haven’t” Gabe scoffed.
“I talked to the housekeeper. She said he’s been reading about it in the newspaper.”
“You used to like your dad.” Pete coaxed.
“That was before he said I was throwing my life away, and I should become a doctor or an accountant instead.”
“Come on, I’ll go with you. If he says anything, I’ll kick his ass.”
“Don’t do that, he’s my daddy.” She pouted, following him out the door.
They climbed out of a cab in front of a swanky apartment building just off Central Park. Pete paid the driver and looked up at the building towering over him. “Wow.”
“Oh, yeah. You’ve never been here. So, this is where I grew up when we weren’t on the tour bus. I learned to ride a bike over there on the sidewalk. Morning Bruce.” She waved at the elderly doorman as he held the door open for them. She led Pete to a private elevator off to the side of the marble lobby. It opened and she pressed the only button on the wall, labeled ‘P’. A David Bowie song was playing quietly as they rode up in silence. “With our own elevator, my dad also customized the elevator music. Uncle David was NOT happy.” She giggled. Pete laughed nervously as he watched the floor numbers go by. “What’s wrong? I should be the one who’s nervous.”
“I’m about to meet your dad. I had his poster on my wall when I was a kid, I’m kind of freaking out.” The door opened and they stepped out. An older woman stepped around the corner to meet them.
“Hi, Miranda.” She smiled at the woman. “This is Miranda, our housekeeper. This is Pete.” Miranda smiled and shook his hand.
“Your father is in his office, and your stepmother is at the spa for the weekend.”
“Thanks. I’m going to show Pete around real quick.” She pulled Pete down the hallway as he looked around in stunned silence. The apartment was bigger than most people’s houses. It was decorated all in black and white marble with clear glass and shiny black furniture with red velvet and black leather and silver accents. There was music memorabilia decorating the walls. Exactly what you would expect from a rock star from the 1970’s. “So, this is the foyer, living room’s in there. This is the kitchen and the ‘kids playroom’.” She said using finger quotes. “In other words, you’re allowed to sit on the furniture in this room.” Pete laughed. “Down there’s where the guys stayed when we were recording our second album, before Mike got us the apartment.” She pointed to two doors at the end of the hall. “They just look like guest rooms now. This is my stepbrother Jeff’s room.” She opened a door and stepped in. The walls and carpet were matching bright green, the furniture was all silver metal and the comforter on the bed was black. There were music and skateboarding posters and stickers covering every available surface. “And this is my room.” She went across the hall and entered a room. The carpet and bed were bright white and the walls were hot pink. The furniture was spray painted with graffiti and little anime murals. There was an amp and a couple guitars in the corner and some posters on the walls, but not nearly as many as the last room.
“This is really cool.” Pete ran his finger along the artwork on the dresser.
“My dad had it custom done and imported from Tokyo when I was 10. I was a big fan of Sailor Moon. And the graffiti and tags we’d see on the way to his recording studio. Jeff stole most of my posters.” She looked around at the nearly bare walls. “Do you want to come meet him now?”
“Do I have to?” he gulped.
“You dragged me here, yes you have to. You’ve been begging me to introduce you since you were a teenager.”
Izzie nervously poked her head in the office door before opening it fully and pulling Pete in behind her. “Hi, Daddy.” She smiled innocently at the legend behind the desk.
“Isabella, you’ve certainly gotten yourself into trouble this time.” He said sternly, standing and crossing in front of the desk. She cast her eyes to the floor.
“We didn’t do anything, it was our manager.” She said quietly.
“Now, who’s this?” he glanced over at Pete.
“Oh, um…this is Pete. He, um…” she stammered.
“I’m her boyfriend. I have to say I’m a huge fan of yours.” he grinned, sticking his hand out to shake, while wrapping the other around Izzie’s waist. Her eyes went wide as she stared up at Pete.
“He grew up next door to Grandma, you might remember.” Izzie nodded.
“That’s right. The one with the goofy hair.” Mr. Page chuckled. “You’re in a band also, I understand.”
“Yes, sir. We’re called Fall Out Boy, we’ve been on tour with Izzie’s band.”
“Yes, I picked up your album. It’s pretty good.”
“Thank you, sir. I actually write all the songs.”
“Really? This one’s got talent.” Izzie’s dad raised his eyebrows at her, nodding at Pete. Izzie laughed slightly, nervous at how well her dad was getting along with Pete.
“So, Daddy. I actually came here to tell you the good news.” She smiled, sitting in one of the plush chairs across from the desk, and curling her feet up under her like she had since she was 2.
“Did they find that rat?” he glared.
“No. But they think they’re getting close. But, they’re guaranteeing that we’ll get all of our money back. It’s just going to take a little while. And actually, Pete’s manager wants to sign us so we can keep touring and recording and promoting the new album.”
“That’s great, really. But, you know if you’d have let me read through your contract before you signed it, you wouldn’t be in this mess.” He shook his head.
“If I told you about my contract before I signed it, you wouldn’t have let me. Then I would have had to lie to you and run away like Jeff did.” She scowled.
“That’s probably true. But I would have seen how passionate you are about it eventually and come around.”
“Then it would have been too late.”
“I could have helped you get another contract.”
“We wanted to prove ourselves. We wanted to get signed because of our talent, not because my dad knew a guy who owed him a favor. Why didn’t you want me to be a musician? I mean, you raised me around it. It’s all I know. Did you not think I was good enough?” Izzie’s dad sighed, and sat down in the chair next to her, while Pete was sitting silently in the corner watching everything unfold.
“Of course not, Bella. It’s the exact opposite. I thought you were TOO good. I saw friends of mine become drug addicts, become has-beens before they were 25, destroy relationships, over dose, die, have liver transplants by the time they were 30. When I sent you away, it was the hardest thing I’ve ever done. But I knew it was best for you. I didn’t want you to experience any more than you already had. And I didn’t want you to grow up to be some rock & roll cliché.”
“But I love rock & roll.” She sniffed.
“I know that now. You’d never get caught up in all that, because you love the music more than the fame. And that’s why I was so upset when I heard how your manager was taking advantage of you. You were just a bunch of eager kids who wanted to play your music, and he exploited that.” He pulled her in for a quick hug.
“We’re playing tonight at the Roseland Ballroom. You should come.” She smiled.
“I wouldn’t miss it for the world.”
“Good, well we should go.” She looked over her shoulder at Pete.
“One more thing before you leave.” Her dad sat back down at the computer. “Do you know how this MySpace thing works? Mick told me I had to listen to this band he heard last week, but they don’t have a CD, they’re only on MySpace.”
“Sure, what’s the name?” she typed a few things as he handed her the scrap of paper with the band name on it.
“Oh, super. I would have been here for an hour trying to find that.” He chuckled as the music started up.
“Bye, Dad.” She grabbed Pete’s hand and headed to the door.
“I’ll see you tonight, sweetheart. Pete, nice to meet you.”
“Nice to meet you two, sir.” Pete waved as Izzie shut the door. She snorted and rolled her eyes at Pete. “What?”
“Hello, sir. Yes, sir. Nice to meet you, sir. What are you, in the army?” she laughed.
“I got nervous.” He took her hand as they stepped into the elevator. “Patrick would freak if he knew your elevator played Bowie.”
“So, did you need anything specific?” Izzie asked as they were walking through the practically deserted mall.
“I don’t know, I just wanted to hang out I guess.” Pete shrugged.
“Cool. I need shoes” She looked down at her black Converse as they walked.
“You always need shoes.”
“You say that like it’s a bad thing. Are those my pants?!”
“I’ve been wearing them for a couple days. I like that they’re tight.”
“Yeah, because they’re girls.”
“Where can I get pants like these?”
“In the girls section.” She gave him a ‘duh’ look.
“Can you help me find some, yours are kind of short.”
“That’s because I’m kind of short.”
“I can’t believe they actually fit me.” He laughed.
“They’re a little too big on me. How do you fit your boxers in there?” she wrinkled her nose.
“I don’t.” he grinned, slyly. She thought about what he meant for a second.
“EEW! Ok, you can keep them. I don’t want them after your junk has been all up in there!” she shuddered. “Did you just take them out of my closet when I wasn’t looking?”
“Yeah. I also took your eyeliner.”
“Of course you did. Let’s go buy you girl jeans.” She sighed and turned into Hollister.
“Just sign one more time, down here and we’re in business.” Bob pointed at the bottom of the last page of their new contract. The band members all scribbled their names and put their crayons down. They had insisted on signing in green crayon, Steve decided it would be good luck. “Congratulations, it’ll be great working with you guys. Sound check sounded great.”
“Thanks. Do you want to approve the set list?” Taylor pulled a folded up piece of paper out of his pocket.
“Yeah, and I have a couple outfits, if you want to tell me which one…” Izzie motioned towards her bag in the corner of the dressing room. Bob shook his head and sat down across from them on the coffee table.
“Guys, what you had with Mike…he wasn’t a manager, he was a dictator. Your daily business is your responsibility. I’m concerned with the bigger picture. As long as you maintain the quality of performance that the fans expect, I don’t care what you play or what you wear.” They all stared at him with their mouths open.
“So, we can play that cover song we’ve been working on?” Kyle took the set list from Taylor and wrote something down.
“I can wear this if I want to?” Izzie looked down at her skinny jeans and black tee shirt.
“Yeah.” Bob nodded.
“I can go blonde?” Izzie perked up.
“We can get our lips pierced?” Taylor added.
“You can shave your heads, dress up like nuns and do musical interpretations of car alarms if the crowd’s into it.” Bob laughed. Izzie and Taylor looked at each other, excitedly and jumped up off the couch. They ran out the door giggling, and Izzie almost ran straight into Pete.
“How’d everything go? Where are you guys going?”
“We’ll be back before the show starts.” She called over her shoulder.
Oo, that was longer than I expected.
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