Jon has just finished taking the photo when he hears the low laugh behind him. He turns, self-consciously adjusting his hoodie, and finds a tiny guy with ridiculous scene hair in his eyes grinning hugely at him.
'Dude,' the guy says, 'you're taking photos of your own graffiti. I don't know if that's, like, sort of arty and cool or a really special kind of lame.'
Jon grins, slow, and tucks his thumbs into his belt loops. 'I could develop it in black and white,' he says. 'That would maybe give it a bit more artistic cred, right?'
The guy lets his gaze skim over the JON scrawled into the slats of the fence. He looks doubtful. 'Dude,' he says, 'You've mis-spelt your own name. You're missing the H. The art kids would laugh in your face.'
Jon laughs, biting his lip.
The guy raises his eyebrows. 'Oh, is it, like, short for Jonas?'
Jon looks at him. '... no.'
Ten minutes. Ten minutes, and Zack will say that time's up, ladies, the guys have got to go back in their cages now, say your goodbyes. Then ten minutes after that, Spencer will sign his last autograph for the day and Zack will roll his eyes irritably at the two girls that think he can't see them standing behind the door, and then Spencer and Brendon and Ryan can go back to their bus and pretend to be normal again.
Nine minutes. Spencer looks up from his hands and smiles blandly at the girls approaching the desk. 'Hi,' he says politely, mentally rolling his eyes at the way the blonde one is jutting her chest out, 'how're you doing?'
The girls simper and bat their eyelashes at him until he manages to get 'Charitee, no 'y', double 'e',' and 'Briony with an 'i',' out of them, scrawling something suitable on their (new) copies of Fever. Which, okay. Is still all kinds of awesome, even if the girls get annoying after a while.
Spencer gives the girls a little wave as they walk away, then checks the clock again. Six minutes.
'Gwendolyna-Jayn,' says a male voice, 'No 'i', two 'y's, an 'a' and no 'e'. And no 'h'.'
Spencer looks back in surprise. A short, vaguely familiar guy with lots of facial hair is smiling at him from across the desk. He has nice eyes, Spencer notes absently. 'Do I – I've seen you around. You're – '
'Gwendolyna-Jayn,' the guy interrupts, nodding. 'I hear you guys are pretty good. Would you sign this for me?'
Spencer looks at the scrap of paper Short Guy passes him. There's a smiley face and the word coffee?
Spencer looks up sharply. Short Guy – and Spencer knows where he knows him from, now; he's one of The Academy's techs – is smiling at him easily. He really does have nice eyes, Spencer thinks. 'Sure,' he says before he can convince himself not to. 'But I don't think I'm going to get Gwendolyna-Jayn on here; have you got anything else I can write on?'
'No,' Short Guy says, and smiles wider, 'but try spelling it with one 'j', one 'o' and an 'n'. Does that fit?'
Spencer blinks. 'Jon,' he says eventually. 'No 'h'?'
'Seriously?' The freakishly tall dude with the neck tie around his jeans leg was introduced to Jon a moment ago as William. He's staring at Jon as though he's seen God. 'Your name is Johnny Walker?'
Jon shrugs. 'I guess? Jon, usually. It's short for Jonathan, though, so. Different spelling.'
William's face falls, a slow drop. He shakes his head. 'You hate me, don't you?' he says. 'You don't even know me. Why would you say something like that to me?'
Jon pats him on the hand (William's shoulders are kind of beyond his reach). 'There, there,' he says soothingly.
'Trick!' Pete shouts. 'Trick, man, where've you been?'
Patrick turns around to see Pete swaying towards him. He's dragging a short, slight bemused looking dude behind him, the one Patrick saw William talking to earlier, and Patrick smiles reassuringly. 'Hi,' he says. 'Sorry about him.'
The short guy – shorter, Patrick supposes, Pete's hardly huge – smiles and opens his mouth to reply but Pete jumps in before he can say anything. 'Trick, this is Joe. Joe. Joooooooe, this is Trick. Trick, this is Joooooe. Say hi, Trick.'
'Hi, Joe,' says Patrick obligingly, biting down on a smile.
Pete beams. 'Now you, Joe. Say hi to Trick.'
'Hi, Trick,' says Joe, smiling at Patrick. 'Though, uh, most people actually call me – '
'Joe,' says Pete sternly. 'Not – Jack or Jim or, fuck, another Alex. Joe.'
Joe looks like he's trying not to laugh. Patrick shoots a grin at him. 'Anything else you're not called?' he asks.
Joe's smile grows wider. 'I'm not James or Josh or Jake. And there's absolutely no way I'm called Jonathon, because that's got, like, way too many letters in it.'
Pete's nodding along sagely. Not-Jonathon continues. 'But if you ever wanted to call me Jon – without all those extra letters – that would probably be okay. I'd probably know who you were talking to.'
Patrick nods solemnly. 'Okay,' he says. 'But only if Joe doesn't work first.'
Pete looks up. 'Why wouldn't Joe work?' he asks, frowning at Patrick.
Patrick pats his arm. 'Oh, I don't know,' he says lightly, and he and Not-Jon grin at each other. 'Call it a feeling.'
Ryan beams down at the guitar tech fixing his pedal. The guy grins up, an easy expression, and pushes his fringe back.
'Hey,' Ryan says. 'I don't know your name.'
'Yeah,' the guy replies. 'I know yours.' He puts down the pedal and pushes his sleeve back, reaching up. 'I'm John,' he says, offering his hand.
Ryan frowns. 'No, you're not.'
The guy drops his hand. 'Um. What?'
Ryan shakes his head. 'That sounds – that's all wrong. I'm a lyricist, come on. The words – you can't be a John. That doesn't fit at all.'
The guy rocks back on his heels. 'Seriously? Because I really am John.'
Ryan chews his lip. 'Is it spelt differently or something?'
The guy laughs, losing his balance and falling off his knees onto his butt. 'Oh my god,' he says. 'Oh my god, Ryan Ross. Nobody has ever done that before.'
Ryan raises his eyebrows and the guy grins widely at him. 'It's J-O-N, no H. Hi.'