Jon Walker doesn't date boys in bands. It's a decision she made a long time ago when she started playing in bands, and it's a decision she doesn't plan on budging on ever. There was one time that she would like to forget, when she fell in love with Tom for about three days, but they don't talk about that.
Jon Walker does not date boys in bands. Especially boys she's in bands with.
"Joni Walker!" Bill Beckett's voice is pounding in her head and she cannot take that right now. She's a little hungover from the night before. That's Bill's fault, too, and she's not letting him wake her up early now.
"Joni Walker, it is time to get out of bed!" Bill puts on a mom voice that almost makes Jon forget that she's not at home and her mom isn't waking her up for school. "Right now!"
She groans, feels for a pillow that she can throw at Bill's head and then curls deeper into the blankets. She's going to kill Tom for not keeping Bill from the crew bus. He promised.
"Joni Walker," Bill says, and suddenly there are no more blankets. She's lying in bed, curled around herself in nothing but a tank top and loose boxer shorts that probably belong to Tom (she hopes because if not she'll have to figure out who the fuck they do belong to), and God, she can't remember last night at all.
"Go away, William," she says.
"This is my bus. I am not going anywhere. Not unless you tell me why you are asleep in Thomas Conrad's bunk. I need to know these things, Joni Walker."
So they are Tom's. Good to know.
"Where's Tom?" She doesn't think she had sex with Tom last night, but it's not impossible. They've been known to do that when they're both drunk and forget they agreed that sex and them was a bad idea under any circumstance.
"How should I know?" he says. She feels the bed dip beside her as Bill leans over. "Get out of bed, Joni Walker. You have work to do."
"Don't call me that," she says through clenched teeth. Jon Walker does not like anyone calling her Joni. William does it to annoy her, and she hates it. She's punched him in the face at least once for it and in the arms more than she can count.
"Whatever you say, Joni Walker," he says, grinning and pulling her by the arms. "Let's go. You've got guitars to tune. I don't care if you drank your weight in Jack Daniels last night."
That part she remembers.
"I'm just saying," Jon says, "I can drink every single one of you under the table." Bill, Tom and Sisky are sitting around backstage, watching as Joni tunes some of the guitars and teasing her about getting drunk last night. "You guys were gone long before I was."
"Except Tom," Sisky says, earning a glare from Jon and a punch to the arm from Tom.
Jon and Tom have not talked about how she woke up in his boxers in his bed this morning. She thinks they probably never will.
She finishes Tom's guitar and puts it down, moving to push herself between Tom and Bill. The thing about Tom is that they're best friends. Sometimes things happen between them and it's really nothing, but Jon wishes sometimes they would at least acknowledge it. It just seems kind of wrong not to, but she's not going to bring it up if Tom won't.
"Oho!" Bill says, and jumps up, running at a couple of boys who are walking backstage. "If it isn't my newest little buddies."
One of the boys looks like he would rather be anywhere else than standing in front of William Beckett being called his 'little buddy.' The other smiles, leans in to hug William and say hello and then waves at the others. She hasn't met them before.
"You two have to meet little Joni Walker."
"William," she clenches her teeth again, balls her fists. "Stop it." He just grins at her.
"Joni Walker, this is Brent and Brendon. They're in Panic! at the Disco." Bill makes a show of saying the name of the band, flailing his hands and everything. The one guy, the one who doesn't look happy to be there, flinches a bit and the other one grins.
"I'm Brendon!" he says, and Jon thinks, briefly, that he's kind of cute in a really dorky sort of way, but she pushes the thought away. The last thing she needs is two boys on this tour fucking with her personal philosophy.
"Despite what William says, my name is Jon," she says.
"Joni gets a little defensive about her name."
"I will hit you, William Beckett."
Brendon laughs and it's, okay, it's kind of amazing, but Jon's not thinking about that. Brendon is a boy in a band, and he may not look like most of the boys in bands she knows, but he's still a boy in a band, and she's not interested in dating boys in bands.
Brendon takes Bill's spot next to Jon, puts his headphones in his ears and starts flipping through his albums. Jon does this thing, that's probably not fair, where she judges people based on their musical taste, and okay, so maybe she peeks over Brendon's shoulder to see what he's listening to. She ignores the looks she's getting from Tom, Bill and Sisky. Instead she puts a hand on the one Brendon is using to scroll through his music and says "Hey, was that Aladdin?"
"Yeah!" Brendon's eyes go wide and a little excited. "Do you want to listen?" He pulls one of his head phones out and hands it to Jon.
She takes it.
Jon and Brendon sing the entire soundtrack at the top of their lungs and don't care when everyone else leaves the room.
Brendon is hovering in the corner with a couple of guys from Panic! -- Jon thinks their names are Spencer and Ryan, but she hasn't actually met them. Ryan and Spencer look unsure, like they think maybe they're not allowed to actually walk in.
"Hey, guys, just a minute." She puts down her drink and jumps up, walking over.
"No, seriously, guys. She said it was cool. Anyway, William's not going to bitch at us for coming into a public space at a venue."
"Hey," Jon says. "You came!"
"I said I would." Spencer and Ryan share a look that Jon makes an effort to ignore. "Oh hey, this is Ryan and Spencer."
Spencer has a nice smile and hips that Jon thinks she would probably kill to have. Ryan is small and looks like almost every scene kid Jon's met, but there's something different about him, something Jon can't place.
"It's nice to meet you guys. Look, seriously, Bill's smashed already, so he doesn't know who's here. Come on in."
Ryan and Spencer go ahead and Jon looks at Brendon and says, "Brent didn't want to come?"
Brendon shrugs and says, "He wasn't feeling well." It feels like there's more to it than that, but Jon doesn't want to push.
"Ryan Rossy!" Bill practically squeals, standing and running over, pulling Ryan in for a huge hug. Spencer gives Jon a look. "What are you little kids doing in here? Did little Joni Walker invite you? That's so cute." He leans in close, whispering to Ryan in a way that cannot possibly be intended to be secretive, "I think she has a crush on your lead singer. Keep an eye on that one."
Brendon looks at Jon, laughing a little. "He's got an imagination, doesn't he?" Jon can tell he's laughing it off to make her feel better.
That doesn't actually bother her.
Jon loves taking pictures. There was a time just after 504 Plan broke up when she thought, yes, maybe, maybe this could be what I do for a living if music doesn't work out, if I can't find another band. This will do just fine.
She's got stacks of them. Pictures of places she's been, of people she's met, of Tom, of Bill, of Ryan and Spencer and Brent. From the last few months she's got more pictures of Brendon than she does of anything else.
She doesn't want to think about what that means.
"What the fuck do you mean Brent's not here?" Brendon says into this phone, rubbing at his eyes and lets out a loud sigh.
It's been slmost six months since Jon met Panic! at the Disco. She's started gravitating toward them, ignoring Bill and Tom to watch movies with Brendon and Spencer or talk with Ryan. It's not that she doesn't love Tom and Bill anymore, but there's something about these kids from Vegas. She feels a pull, like that's where she's supposed to be.
But she's not in their band and she's always kind of on the outside looking in. Tom tells her it's because she has a crush on Brendon and maybe, maybe a long time ago that was true, maybe when it first started, but it's gone long past that.
She loves these guys, all of them.
"Fuck." Brendon hangs up the phone and kicks at the wall. "FUCK."
Jon wants to ask him what's wrong, but it's not her band and they're not really her friends. She's just a tech, and it's not her place.
"Jon! You play bass, right?"
It was the last thing Jon was expecting, but she studies him, nods, says, "Yes uh, why?"
"Seriously, can you do us like a huge favor? Because Brent's not here and Ryan and Spencer can't get ahold of him, neither one of them, and we go on stage in like an hour and a half."
"You want me to take his place?"
"Please, Jon. You know I am not above begging if I need to. I will buy you like fifty lattes. I'll buy you beer. Or I would if I was old enough. But seriously, please."
Jon cannot tell Brendon no. That scares her a little, but when she looks at him with his big, pleading eyes, she just can't say no.
She learns their songs in an hour, and that night she plays her first show in nearly two years in front of a crowd of people who probably just wants to know who that girl on stage with their boys is.
She loves every fucking minute of it.
She's the next to last off the stage, just before Brendon and when she gets backstage, Tom and Bill are standing just off, whooping and screaming and telling her how awesome she was. Ryan and Spencer smile at her and thank her, and then there's Brendon who looks at her and smiles wider than she's ever seen, and then tells her how grateful they are and how much they owe her.
He gives her a hug, and she feels her resolve crumbling.
Jon wakes up in Tom's bunk and groans. She had been really excited after the show last night, and yeah, okay, maybe she had a little too much to drink. She feels like she had a valid reason for it, but she's really tired of waking up in Tom's bed after a night of innocent drinking.
"Get up, sleepyhead," Tom says. He's standing just outside, completely dressed. It must be mid-afternoon at least. "Your boys are waiting for you."
"Yeah, the kids. Whatever. Brendon's here," he says. She knows she must be hearing things because she's sure there's a hint of bitterness in his voice.
"Are you okay, Tom?"
"Fine. Yeah. Seriously. I think Bill was about to scratch Ryan's eyes out, so you might want to get out there." His voice is tight, and she doesn't want to admit that maybe the reason she keeps falling into bed with Tom is because maybe there is something there, and she just doesn't return it. She doesn't want to think about it.
She fishes around for her jeans and pulls them on, slips on her flip-flops and walks into the lounge to hear Spencer say, "...it's only temporary."
"What's only temporary?" she says.
"Jon, hey, uh," Brendon says, and gives her a smile. "Can we talk somewhere that's not in here?"
She nods, telling him to follow her, and they go into the small kitchen. She's not going to talk to Brendon in Tom's bunk. It seems wrong for so many reasons.
"Look, so." He looks down at his feet. "I know it's a lot to ask, but we sort of kicked Brent out of the band last night. It was a long time coming, and we had to do it, but now we're kind of. Well, we're down a bassist. So, we thought, you're good, you know, the best we know that isn't attached to a band already, and Pete knows you and likes you, and you're already used to touring with us. You know our stupid habits and haven't tried to kill any of us yet. So, maybe you know, I don't know, fill in until we can find someone permanent." He sounds unsure of himself, like he thinks she'll say no.
"You," she says, "you guys want me to play with you?"
She wants this. Jon Walker wants a band again. She wants to get up on stage every night and play bass and hear the kids in the crowd singing back to them. She wants this. She wants this with this band, with these guys. She wants it for a long time, but if all she can get is temporary she can live with that.
"Yes," she says with no hesitation.
Brendon's head snaps up and he smiles at her, pulling her into a tight hug. "Thank you, Jon Walker. You will not regret this."
A month later they make it official. Jon Walker is Panic! at the Disco's new bassist. She could not be happier.
"So, Jon, what's it like being the only girl in a band full of dudes?" They're in some city in the south, it gets hard to keep track, doing some radio interview. The DJ is a woman in more make-up than Ryan, which makes Jon want to laugh in her face hysterically, since she's on the radio and no one is going to see her anyway.
"Well, it's kind of..." She looks at Ryan and Spencer and starts laughing.
"I think what Jon is trying to say," Spencer says, fixing the DJ with a bitchface that Jon sometimes secretly wishes she could have, "is that she's actually the most masculine member of this band."
Jon loves her boys, kind of a lot.
"So, Jon, since you're the only girl in the band." Jon gets really tired of people bringing it up. It's not an issue for her. She's in her band with her boys and no one ever talks about how she's the only girl. She shares their bus and their bathroom and they've all seen each other naked. It's not an issue for anyone but everyone who isn't in the band. "Has there ever been anything awkward? You know, anyone walking in on anyone in the shower?"
Spencer laughs, it's loud and infectious and Jon is glad to have it or she would start punching every interviewer who brings up her sex. "Well, that all happened before she was even in the band, so."
"I've seen these guys without clothes on more times than I ever wanted to. Trust me. It's not as nice as you would think," Jon says, laughs it off.
"How about any awkward hook ups? Crushes?"
Jon does not want to talk about crushes. The only thing that she doesn't like about being in this band is that her ridiculous crush on Brendon gets worse and worse. Now she has to be with him all the fucking time and see him with other girls, and yeah, it's stupid and she hates it. She does not want to talk about crushes.
"God no!" Brendon says, laughs, and it's amazing and heartbreaking all at the same time. "Jon's like a sister to all of us, seriously. None of us would ever hook up with her."
It's not like she doesn't already know. He doesn't have to scream it to the world.
They have a small break from touring and Jon goes home to Chicago. Tom is there now and won't say anything to Jon about what happened with Bill. Tom won't really talk about anything at all with Jon, and it breaks her heart.
Still, she convinces him to go out and they get a little bit drunk. They're back at Tom's apartment sitting on his floor with their backs against the couch.
"So, I fucking hate it, you know. He's just so," she says, flailing her hands around, "and I know, you know, I fucking know. Nothing is ever going to happen with Brendon, right. I know that. I'm not stupid, but he has to go and say it in interviews and I just," she says, groaning and flailing her hands around again.
"You love him," Tom says. "You're in love with him." Tom isn't looking at her. He's looking at the bottle in his hands, at his lap, at his coffee table, at anything that isn't Jon.
"No," she says. "No, I have a stupid crush, and it needs to go away."
"Jon, I know you," Tom says and then, "Look, if you..." He stops and takes another drink. "Say something to him. If you don't, and then he goes off with some stupid little emo band and is amazing and famous and a rockstar and you miss your shot, you're going to regret it."
"I'm serious, Jon. Tell him. Trust me on this."
"So, I'm sure you get asked this all the time," the interviewer says, "but what's it like being the only girl in a band full of boys? Do they ever try and hit on you? Any awkward hook ups."
"Oh God, seriously," Brendon laughs, a little too hard. "No, no way. Jon's like our sister, you know. We know way too much about her to be attracted to her and vice versa."
Jon laughs a little, tightly, and the interviewer finishes up, asks them about the tour and are they working on the new album? Jon's not really paying attention and fakes her way through the rest of the interview. Brendon talks enough for all four of them most of the time, so it's not like she has to say much.
The interview ends and she books it back to the dressing room, needing to get out. She keeps thinking about Tom and what he said and the look on his face. She's a chickenshit though, and revelations aren't happening unless she's really, really drunk.
She never gets drunk around Brendon anymore, not unless Spencer is there to stop her from doing anything stupid.
"Jon, are you okay?" Of course Spencer would send Brendon in to check on her. It's perfect, really.
"I'm fine. Just a little lightheaded."
"You've been acting weird since the break. Did something happen in Chicago?"
"No. Maybe. I don't know," she says.
"Did he...? I don't know. It was kind of obvious that he had a thing for you, so I thought maybe something happened."
"No, not. I mean, I'm pretty sure Tom was in love with me, but no. It's not about Tom, not really." She thinks this is probably it. This is probably the moment where if she's going to say something, she should say it
"Look, you know you can talk to me, right?" Brendon says.
"Yeah, of course," she says.
"Right, yeah," Brendon says, pausing. "Okay, so Spencer swears I'm wrong, but you've been acting fucking weird around me, right? Like, since Chicago? Did I do something wrong? Because you're one of my best friends and I kind of don't want --"
"Do you mean it?" She says, cutting him off.
"What?" Brendon says, looking confused
"Like, what you always say? All that shit about how I'm like your sister and no, my god, seriously, nothing will ever happen with Jon because whatever. Do you mean it?" Jon isn't sure she's going to like the answer, but she has to know.
"Of course I mean it. I love you, Jon." Brendon says, and she hates him for being so fucking earnest.
"Yeah, seriously. That's what I thought. Okay, cool. Hey, I'm going to go." She hopes she's not blushing as furiously as it feels like she is.
"Go where? We have a show tonight," Brendon says, blocking her from the door. "Seriously, Jon, what the fuck is this all about?"
"Move, Brendon." Jon hopes she comes off as forceful, rather than desperate.
"Not until you tell me what's wrong with you lately." Brendon is a skinny fucker, but when he wants to, he can take up a lot of space. Like, a whole doorway's worth of space.
"Brendon, I," she says, stops. She could tell him that she's in love with him and has been since she can remember, that it started out with this tiny stupid crush but she ignored it because she does not, under any circumstance date boys in bands, but she doesn't. She can't.
She kisses him instead, puts everything she has into it and tries to say everything with a kiss. He doesn't pull back at least, so she figures it must be okay. It's not amazing. It's actually more than a little awkward, and Jon notices that Brendon's having trouble deciding where to put his hands before they settle on her hips.
"Jon," he says, pulling back, "what?"
"I'm sorry, I," she says, pushes back, pushes away, and thinks, yeah, she's ruined it. She's ruined everything because he doesn't want her that way, and now he's going to be so fucking awkward around her because he knows.
She's going to fucking kill Tom Conrad.
"What? Why are you sorry?" Brendon frowns at her.
"Because I --"
"That you kissed me?" Brendon's speaking quietly, like maybe he can't quite find his voice.
"Yeah. Christ, Brendon. I'm sorry. I feel stupid, but I've kind of been wanting to do that since the day we met, and now I'm with you all the fucking time, and Tom told me I'd regret if I didn't, and..." She's rambling and she knows it, "you just. I'm sorry."
Brendon laughs, and Jon just wants to sink into the floor.
"What's so funny?" she says, looking down at her feet.
"This. It's just. God, Jon," Brendon says, and then he's there. He's right there, standing in front of her. "This is kind of hilarious."
"Thanks, jackass. I'm glad you find me pouring my heart out to you to be the funniest fucking thing ever." Jon is frustrated with Brendon, and would rather be anywhere but here. He's not helping by laughing at her.
"No, it's. Jon. Look at me." Jon shakes her head, and keeps looking at the ground, her feet, anything but Brendon. "I'm kind of in love with you."
Her head snaps up. "But you said! And you dated people. And you just said, not even five minutes ago that I'm like your sister."
"Yeah, I know. Because I thought you wanted me to. That's just," Brendon says and then sighs, "I was pretty sure that you would never go out with me in like a million years because I'm kind of a dork and you had Tom and--"
"Well, Bill said you and Tom had a thing that was kind of epic and a little fucked up, so I just thought, you know, and I could never compare with Tom as far as coolness goes, so whatever," Brendon says. He won't look at Jon now. He's focusing on everything else in the room. She really wants him to look at her.
"But you," Jon says.
"Yeah, I know," Brendon says, and then, "Can I kiss you again?"
And then she lets him.
"So, I know you're probably tired of hearing about this," the interviewer says, looking at Jon, "but what is it like being the only girl in the band? Does it ever get weird?"
"No, not at all. I mean, I love these guys, you know. They're my best friends."
"What about dating? Have you ever dated any of them? Would you ever?"
"I'm seeing someone right now, but I mean, that's my personal life, you know. I don't really bring it into the band."
The interviewer seems satisfied enough with the answer and doesn't push. Brendon smiles at her and then says, "And to be honest, we don't really want to think about her dating. We're kind of protective of our Joni Walker."
She'll get him for that later, but for now she just laughs.