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“Are you sure about this guy, Noodle? I’ve never heard’a ‘im… sounds kin’a sketchy.”

“2-D, I am positive. He has got not only the Murdoc seal of approval, but the Noodle seal of approval as well!”
Noodle said as she whirled around, facing Stuart, now walking backwards down the hallway of the studio, a wide grin gracing her face, one that was meant to be reassuring… or at least to her it was. 2-D couldn’t help but just frown at her, narrowing his blackened orbs away from her.

“It’s nice that you f’hink he’s okay but like, most things that Mudz approves of ain’t really, wha’s the word for it?” He paused in his moment of thought as he scratched at the back of his head. “I can’t think of a better word right now but bad. Let’s jus’ go with bad. He usually has really, really bad ideals.”

This time it was Noodle’s turn to frown, rolling her eyes a little bit at 2-D’s completely irrational fears.

“Immoral, corrupt, depraved, indecent, nefarious - come on, this is not even my first language and I thought of more than one word to describe what you mean.”
She gives a small huff, a loose lock of bangs flying from her eyes.
“And I have already told you that he is an just ex-gangster who is willing to be Murdoc’s replacement until he gets out of jail. Not to mention, he is a lot less extreme than Murdoc so I think you will have an easier time getting along with him, anyway.”

The guitarist attempted to reassure once more, only receiving an exasperated sigh from him. She shook her head and whipped back around as they reached the door to the studio, opening it and letting herself inside.

Stuart was fully aware that Murdoc wouldn’t be getting out of prison any time soon, thank God. It saved him a lot of uncalled for beatings and improved his life for the time being (even though something in the back of his mind nagged at him, telling him that what the bassist was incarcerated for was a baseless accusation). While he didn’t miss him a whole lot, he didn’t feel right just replacing him for who knows how long. One would think that Murdoc would be infuriated by the mere thought… but no. From what Noodle said, Mudz recommended this guy specifically.

A real shocker, he had to admit. Murdoc had a lot of pride so now knowing he’d so easily step down was the very last thing he expected, right under an actual suicide pact to completely end the bands entire existence. No, he was absolutely not exaggerating right now, by the way. He would not in the slightest be surprised if Murdoc tried to get everyone to kill themselves just to avoid letting himself be even temporarily replaced.

2-D walked into the room after Noodle, eyes cast to the ground, almost afraid to look up at the stranger who’d been waiting for them there, just chatting with Russel from what he could hear when he walked in. He pulled his arms up above his head, resting them there while he pushed the door shut behind him with his foot.

“Hey, why the long face there?”
A cool, almost rough toned, American accented voice he absolutely did not recognize in the slightest hit his ears and then a hand with a skin color eerily similar to Murdoc’s was held out to him. His brow furrowed a little bit and he looked up at the owner of both traits. He blinked a couple of times before one of his eyes squinted to better examine the man’s features.

No wonder Mudz chose this dude… he looked damn near just like him. Probably wanted to confuse the fans.

“Not a shaker? Then maybe you’re the type of guy who greets with hugs, huh?”

That warning did not come soon enough as Stuart had actually no time to react before a pair of leather jacket clad arms snaked around his torso and pulled him into a hug. One that absolutely felt mocking to him.

“They are getting along already!”
Noodle cheered out, fists thrusting into the air in triumph while Russel just leaned back in his seat, letting a snide grin find its way across his face, knowing just how uncomfortable 2-D had to have been at that moment.

“You ain’t wrong, Ace. He does like his hugs.”
Russel chuckled out as Stuart huffed in the way a child would if they were getting teased by an older sibling and attempted to free himself.

“Good info to have.”
The man known as Ace let a cocky smirk find its way to his features and released 2-D from his hold.

“Can I stop being trea’ed like a child for five minutes?”
Stuart pouted, straightening out his clothes.
“I’m sorry for not shakin’ your hand already, that was rude of me. Jus’... got dis’racted is all.”

2-D held out his hand and Ace took it with a low chuckle escaping his throat.

“I get that a lot, don’t worry.”

Stuart opened his mouth to retaliate but closed it, again. He wasn’t entirely sure what this guys temperaments were and he didn’t want to end up stepping over any boundaries right now. He looked like Mudz but the real question was if he acted like him. They’d have to find out over time, he supposed. He pulled his hand away without another word to Ace. He didn’t seemed interested in speaking to him in the slightest- or, well… he did want to see if he could learn a little bit about the guy. But one definitely had to understand why he was so stand-offish right now, right?

“He got the music scores, right Noodle?”

“You don’t gotta talk like I’m not here. And yeah, I did.” Ace rejoined the group once more, giving a slightly smug OK gesture with his hand. “Pretty sure I’ve got ‘em down perfect.”

2-D wanted so badly to be smug right back at him, but again, fear was preventing him from doing… pretty much anything, really. Instead he just gave an awkward, toothless smile to him.

“Yeah? Well le’s do a quick rehearsal of uhh… le’s see… Sorcererz while we wait for the producers to get here.”
He stated while the others just silently agreed and headed into the booth where their instruments were located safe and sound. He picked Sorcererz in particular because it was one of the ones for this track he wanted to sound a very specific way as far as the vocals went. And he had to admit, he was still a bit unsure of how well it would go for himself.

Stuart headed into the booth behind the others and shut the door behind him while he shuffled through the music sheets. It must’ve been obvious he was nervous because it wasn’t long before their guest spoke up while strumming at his bass to make sure it were properly tuned.

“Hey, don’t be so tense, man. Just relax… the songs on this album of yours will go down in history. When’ve you all ever failed to please a crowd, anyway?”
Ace dipped his head down enough to reveal his eyes, a very clear glint of confidence flashing throughout them.
“I’m no perma’ replacement for Murdoc, but ya know… I still don’t wanna disappoint.”

2-D blinked a couple times as he stared over at Ace. That was some weird encouragement all of a sudden… he wasn’t quite used to that sort of treatment.

But honestly? That was the first thing said to him all day that actually helped him relax at least a little bit. A crooked smile found its way over his face as he stepped over to his Casio and microphone, silently thanking Ace for the reassuring words. He seemed to get the message as he turned his attention back down to his bass.

“Alrigh’ then… should have a good 20 minutes or so to warm up before the producers get here.”
Stu tapped a one of the buttons on his keyboard to set up the beat for everyone, tapping the side to signal the rest of the band in. First few seconds? He wasn’t mad at it. It was a little sloppy, but that’s to be expected for a warm up… but everything seemed to just fit together like a puzzle that had been missing pieces for far too long.

So maybe this wouldn’t be so horrible after all.