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do you know what's cooler than playing a show? touring with panic! at the disco.

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"Mark," Eduardo says firmly, "put the flat-iron down and walk away. We need Dustin alive because he's the lead singer and we can't play shows without him."

If someone had told Eduardo he would be stopping death by flat-iron four years ago, he would have laughed at them. Four years ago, Eduardo walked into a Kirkland dorm room holding his old, worn guitar and said: Someone said that you guys wanted a guitarist to a band that was named The Facebook. Today, Eduardo Saverin is making sure that Mark doesn't strangle Dustin before they have to go onto stage as a band named coldFUSION because Dustin had said that The Facebook was just a dumb name and they should be called the Binary Boys or something—which the rest of the band immediately vetoed. They debated about the name for a long time, almost up until they started playing actual shows, before they had finally decided on coldFUSION.

Eduardo flops down on the couch next to Spencer Smith, an arm thrown over his eyes.

"I didn't sign up for this," Eduardo says to no one in particular, "I signed up to play guitar."
Spencer snorts, "Unfortunately, that's just part of being in a band. I think Mark went off to go find Ryan, which is not . . ."
"I will wear any abomination they cook up if it means I still have a lead singer tomorrow."
"Ryan found a godawful red vest yesterday."

Eduardo groans. He has this long-suffering look on his face that Spencer recognizes from years of having to make sure Ryan was taken care of and Spencer kind of wants to sit him down and give him words of advice, but that would be kind of weird seeing as Eduardo is, like, Jon's age. Instead he just pats Eduardo on the shoulder.

"It's okay. I'm pretty sure Ryan wants to keep the vest for himself anyway."
"I just hope Mark doesn't feel the need to have Ryan do his make-up again."

Which, really? There's not really anything Spencer can say to that because Ryan doing people's make-up tends to be both awesome and horrible at the same time. Spencer's not entirely sure how he manages that, to be honest, but he doesn't really blame Eduardo for not wanting his lead singer done up in elaborate make-up. It doesn't really go with their aesthetic at all. On the whole, though, Spencer thinks it's nice to hang out with coldFUSION. They're actually a pretty great band, music-wise, and they're not bad people to hang around even though their keyboardist is kind of homicidal sometimes. Spencer gets the sense that he's just worried about the band though, like Ryan so often was. It’s probably why Ryan gets along so well with Mark.

Mark loves his band. That is not to say that he loves the people in his band all the time, but he loves the band as an idea all the time. He likes the feeling of being on stage, the fact that people know his name and don't just think of him as that freaky kid with the keyboard. He likes the fact that their music is like them and he likes the fact that people like it.

What he doesn't like is the fact that sometimes Dustin is insufferable and Mark wants to punch him in the face, because he just keeps singing Disney songs with Brendon and there are only so many times that Mark can hear "A Whole New World" before he wants to punch the people singing it. Or melt their faces off with a flat iron. He can't hurt Brendon, though, because Brendon isn't part of his band and there's some sort of unspoken rule that you don't mess with people in other bands. He can definitely hurt Dustin, though.

Except that Eduardo is sensible, so Mark stomps off to go find Ryan. Ryan understands him. Ryan isn't a fucking plebeian like the rest of them. Ryan appreciates Mark and Mark appreciates Ryan.

It's nice to have someone who understands the true meaning of artistic vision on tour with him, Ryan decides, because Mark can actually talk to Ryan and have a conversation that consists of real and intellectual content. They can talk about things that actually matter, and Mark doesn't get bored with it like Brendon or Spencer sometimes do. Ryan likes being able to talk to someone that he hasn't been in constant contact with for the past year that he can actually tolerate. He also likes debating with someone who comes up with better arguments than your mom, especially since your mom arguments usually don't even make sense. Also Mark is better at making fabric roses than Ryan and that is a definite plus.

"I think it needs more roses."
Mark looks up from the one he's currently sewing, "Bigger ones or smaller ones?"
"Bigger. Definitely bigger."

This is going to be an amazing vest, Ryan can already tell. Absently he wonders what kind of trouble Brendon is getting himself into and then dismisses the thought because he's pretty sure that Brendon's probably just singing Disney songs with Dustin like the dork he is. They're practically made for each other.

Dustin is easily excitable and just sort of pumped in general to be on tour with Panic! at the Disco. Like, this is their first tour and yeah, they're just an opening band but it doesn't even matter because this is seriously the coolest thing to ever happen to him. Ever.

It's even better because Brendon is awesome beyond awesome and he likes hanging out with Dustin and singing Disney songs with him, which is something that Mark doesn't appreciate. Dustin chooses to believe that it's because Mark hates happiness and joy.

Brendon raises an eyebrow, "Is he like a robot or something?"
"I dunno," Dustin shrugs, "but sometimes I wonder if he is."
"I used to think Ryan was a robot. Spencer convinced me he wasn't, because no robot would ever be able to eat as much food as Ryan does," Brendon shakes his head, "It just disappears, man."

Dustin laughs at that, and Brendon grins. Lead singers usually fit into one of two categories, Brendon finds. There are the ones that are kind of high-maintenance (like William Beckett, not that Brendon would ever say that to his face), and the ones that are mostly laid back and secretly very nerdy dudes. Dustin is very clearly the second type, which Brendon thinks is great because he's not much into the first type. They usually won't sing Disney songs with Brendon, which is, in Brendon's opinion, the easiest way to tell if someone is awesome or not. Jon likes Disney music, and Jon is like awesomeness personified.

Dustin is always up for singing Disney songs, though, and that is pretty much the only thing Brendon ever wants out of people. There is seriously nothing better than breaking out into classic Disney music at the drop of a hat. If everyone thought that way, then there would be a lot less strife and stuff.

"Dude." Dustin bumps his shoulder into Brendon's. "Dude, we should cover a Disney song one night."
Brendon grins, "We should! That would require people to know how to play the song, though."
"It's Disney. I'm sure I could coerce at least part of my band into learning a song."
"I am pretty sure Jon would be down with this plan."

Which is probably not an untrue statement. Jon is pretty easy-going and laid-back, and he's usually up for anything—especially if it's hugs or piggyback rides. Chris tends to be pretty laid-back and easy-going too, but it's mostly because everyone in coldFUSION knows that all band decisions are pretty much Mark's word versus theirs. Mark needs to get his way or he sulks, which is apparently something that Ryan does too. Or so Jon said during one of the many times they were hanging out backstage and wait for the show to actually start. Jon and Chris spend a lot of time hanging out because the rest of their bands are otherwise preoccupied in band drama. Chris, for the most part, just wants to play drums. He loves Mark and Dustin a lot—they're his bros—but sometimes he wants to lock them both in a room and wait until they kill each other. Other times he wants to lock Mark and Eduardo into a room together and wait until they fuck each other. His band is so full of sexual tension between Mark and Eduardo that it's insane. Chris might actually be the straightest person in his band, and he's about as straight as a elliptical machine. Jon is definitely the straightest person in his band, but he's actually straight.

"Dude," Chris shakes his head, "how does your girlfriend feel about the fact that you're in a band that's almost as gay as rainbows?"
Jon shrugs, "Cassie's cool with it. She laughs a lot when she sees some of the get-ups Ryan makes, though."
"I think that's a given. If Ryan Ross gets his hands on clothing, everyone should laugh because the results will be hilarious."
"You wouldn't be saying that if you had to wear them."
Chris grins, "I don't have to, though. Ryan's not my problem."
"You are a lucky bastard."

Chris actually isn't so sure about that, considering his band, and he senses that Jon can see his skepticism, because Jon laughs.

"Okay. I will admit that I would take Ryan over Mark any day, but you have to admit that at least Mark and Eduardo don't do the whole silent conversation thing that Ryan and Spencer are so good at."
"True. I think my band wins in the gay category, though. I'm actually gay."

Jon opens his mouth to say something, but Ryan walks into the room wearing . . . Jon is actually not entirely sure what he's wearing. Actually, no. He can tell that it's a vest and that it appears to be almost entirely covered in roses and he can tell that Spencer is probably brainstorming ways that he might be able to burn it.

"I retract my earlier statement," Chris says, unable to believe that anyone straight could wear a vest with that many roses on it, "Your band has that."
"You get used to it."