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With a Little Bit of Help From His Friend

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The first time Andrew meets Kris, Andrew sees someone he thinks he might like to be in a band with. It's sort of almost the same thing as 'someone he likes' except with, well, extra talent and a side order of 'probably doesn't snore, likely pays for pizza when it's his turn and possibly doesn't mind doing the chores when it's his turn'.

What Kris sees is a guitar and maybe a pair of hands - Andrew's willing to grant him that much, when he's feeling generous and when he's still on some sort of high after a show or a set or anything at all that involves making music, really.

Kris is pretty good at making music, kind of like Andrew's pretty good at playing the guitar.

And then Kris wins Idol and Andrew sees this notice somewhere about auditions for his band, and he figures he might as well; not like he's got anything more exciting going on right now.

It's nothing personal. It's just about getting a job.


The second time Andrew meets Kris, Andrew again sees someone he thinks he might like to be in a band with, which is kind of good since Andrew doesn't think of himself as the sort of guy who turns up for an audition only so he can say he went later, and then add something along the lines of: 'yeah, they really wanted me to play with them, but I just wasn't feeling it'.

What Kris sees is a guy playing guitar. Kris sees a lot of guys playing guitar that day, and some of them are pretty good, but only one of them is Andrew, so Andrew really only pays attention to Kris's face during those five seconds or five minutes or maybe five hours his turn lasts.

Andrew figures he's done all right, after. Kris doesn't look particularly impressed or anything, but he looks happy, like he's enjoying himself - there's a bit of a 'kid in the candystore' vibe Andrew's getting from him, which is cool, Andrew gets it; they're all here for Kris; anyone would get a kick out of that.

He doesn't get nervous while waiting for the results. He knows what he can do; it's up to Kris to decide whether or not he wants what Andrew's got to bring to his band. If Kris picks someone else, it's not as if that means he's insulting Andrew's abilities, implying he's not as good with a guitar as he thinks he is.

It's nothing personal. It's just about getting a job.


The third time Andrew meets Kris, Andrew sees someone who thinks he might like to in a band with Andrew, which is a nice feeling, given that it's mutual.

Kris says 'Welcome to the band', which is same old, same old, only then he adds this dopey grin, like he actually, sincerely, completely means what he's just said, which is new - Andrew's as immune to fakery as the next guy who's spent more than a year in the music scene and isn't blind or stupid.

Andrew says 'Happy to be here', which is also same old, same old, and for a moment, he feels a grin almost as dopey as Kris's trying to sneak out, but he manages to hold it back, keep things professional; for all that he's met Kris three times, it's not as if he actually knows the guy, except from TV, maybe, a little. (Whether or not Andrew has voted in the Idol finals and, if he did, who for, is neither here nor there.)

He expects Kris to move on after the handshake, maybe go and greet the drummer. Kris is already halfway turned around (or so Andrew swears later) and Andrew's guard is not so much down as that it's never been up to start with; he's not used to surprise hugging attacks.

'Think of it as a rite of passage,' Mills tells him, once Kris has finally moved on to go and sneak up on someone else with hugging intent. 'You can handle one of Kris's hugs, you can handle anything.'

Andrew doesn't think that sounds entirely right. His impression of Kris isn't that of a guy who goes around hugging people to make them prove their valor or something like that. On the other hand, he's already concluded he doesn't know Kris all that well yet.

'So it's just a one-off thing, then?' he asks, voice casual, body relaxed.

'Absolutely,' Mills says. 'Never going to happen again after today, trust me.'


If there's any rite of passage to being in a band, it's probably the first show - by the time Andrew stands on a stage for the first time, he's already spent a whole lot of hours around Kris in a studio, or in a hotel room, or any place where Kris gets in the mood to play music and nobody comes to complain about the noise, but that first time performing in front of a live audience is always special. Different.

You can't take a break during a show, or ask things like 'Do you think it will work if I do this?' or 'Does that expression on your face means what I think it means?', let alone things like 'Yes, I am going to flirt with you using body language now, before telling the audience about how hot you are'.

Cale (it's 'Cale', now) comes to see him, afterwards, presumably so that Andrew can call him a liar some more in regards to that whole hugging thing, except that Andrew'd figured out how (un)true that was pretty much from the get-go, so Andrew just says 'Good show', just in case Cale's been unconscious for the past few hours or something.

'He's not just kidding around, you know,' Cale says. 'It's not for show.'

Andrew wonders if this is what Cale does, in addition to playing guitar: translate Kris's indications of affection to those he assumes to be too unfamiliar with Kris, or too lacking in the brains department to get the message of someone making puppy eyes at them in front of a live audience loud and clear.

'I've got eyes, thanks,' he says, not unkindly or like he's a little bit insulted.

Cale gives him a long look. 'So you're still here instead of there because?' 'There' being Kris's dressing room, presumably; he's got one of his own, apart from the band, which does not seem something to be at all apologetic or embarrassed about, although it clearly makes for good teasing material later on.

Andrew looks back, looks away, shrugs. 'Don't want things to get complicated.' It's a good, solid, professional reason.

'You ever seen him mope?' Cale asks, in about the same tone someone might use to ask 'Want me to break your legs?'.

'Don't think he's the type.'

'He's not,' Cale agrees, reaching for the guitar Andrew's packing. 'I'll take care of that. Go.'

Andrew goes.

He figures maybe this thing between him and Kris is personal, after all.