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I Will Always Think About You

Chapter Text

The tantalizing aroma of sizzling beef patties saturated the air thick around the tightly run kitchen. Morty stood behind the grill scooping up the frying patties with a spatula and flipped them, allowing for another burst of flavor to fill the air. Multitasking, he lifted a hefty takeout box full of fries and a triple cheeseburger to set on the counter, also ringing the ‘Ready’ bell. “Order up, Vera!”

I quickly grabbed the hot steamy meal and rolled from the pickup window on my roller skates to the large lot filled with cars parked next to numbered columns. I drifted over to number six where the 1969 corvette stingray sat.
“Here’s your meal sir.” I said with a plastered smile, leaning towards the window.
The man smirked at me, carefully taking the box and handing it to his friend in the passenger seat. He ran a hand through his black and red hair. It looked like flames. “Thanks, baby.” He looked me over with invading eyes and I suddenly felt self-conscious in my work uniform of a super short pink halter dress. The man fished through his wallet and took out two twenty dollar bills— plenty more than what the meal cost.

“Oh, sir, that’s way too much money. The box cost thirteen ninety-five.” I quickly intervened, feeling my cheeks warm up in a hot blush. That was an incredible tip, but if the boss saw me take it, I’d be screwed. But he persisted, taking my hand and crushing the money in my clasp. “Just take it, sweetheart. Know it’s from your boy, Hisoka.”

Oh my god this guy was such a creep. I plastered on another faulty smile and gave a simple nod before skating off with the money in hand. I’d rather try to hide the extra cash from my greedy boss than to spend any more time with that guy. Anyway, it was worth it. Another twenty dollars towards that sweet apartment on Belmont street. I couldn’t stand the dinky apartment I lived in now. Just the sheer thought of the creaky, tiny, damp catastrophe sent a bitter chill down my spine. Wiping my sweaty forehead with my arm, I entered the steamy pick-up window once more to retrieve another order. Why the heck wasn’t the first hour over with yet? Once the clock hit ten o clock, I shimmied out of my roller skates and ran to the car in the back lot that was waiting patiently for me.

“Hey, where’s my meal?!” My best friend Melanie jokingly screamed from the driver’s window.

With an exasperated laugh, I rounded the car and slid myself into the passenger seat. “Hey, Mel…” I breathed, dropping my head back against the seat. I was so exhausted. I couldn’t even think of coming back tomorrow to do it all over again. The car’s engine revved and Mel drove us far from that sweatshop of a place towards my home— one terrible place to another. I blindly reached my hand over and flopped it against her cheek. “Thanks for driving me. The car should be finished tomorrow.”

Did I also mention that my car was a lemon? Okay, maybe it didn’t look so much like one on the outside, but on the inside yes. Luckily it would be ready to pick up from the shop tomorrow, and it was just walking distance from my apartment so I didn’t need to bother Mel again to cart me around.

“No prob, babe.” She grinned, swatting my limp arm away from her face.

Sooner or later we managed to get past that wonky LA traffic and landed in front of my gross apartment. Mel put the car in park. “Wakey wakey.” She said, looking down at my sleeping form.When I noticed we were home I gave her the biggest pouty face I could muster.

“Nope, time to go inside.” Mel reached over and unbuckled me. “Do you mind if I go inside for a minute?”

I gave her a weird look but nodded and slinked out of the car, fishing for my keys in my pocketbook. I didn’t see why just talking outside in the car was such a problem; I saw it as more time for me to stay out of the apartment, but if she wanted to come in, fine. We hitched up the small flight of stairs before I unlocked my door and we entered inside. I had at least twenty fans going and all the windows open. I threw down my skates on the floor and my pocketbook on my pullout bed. The stench was horrid, but at least most of it had been aired out.

“Oh god, what happened?” Melanie exclaimed, gripping her nose with her fingers.

“My toilet got backed up.” I tried to sound nonchalant but honestly when the confession left my mouth my whole body lit up in flushed embarrassment. When Mel started to laugh, I spun around and snapped, “It’s not cause I took a big shit or anything okay? The plumbing sucks here.” I took a big sigh and collapsed down on my pullout. This sucked so much. I felt like crying.
I guess tears did spring to my eyes because Mel suddenly stopped laughing and rushed over to sit next to me.

“Hey, I’m sorry.” She replied softly, hanging an arm over my shoulders.

I just nodded. Soon. I’ll be out of here soon. Just gotta save up a little bit more and then that apartment on Belmont is mine.

Suddenly, I could see Mel begin to grin out of the side of my eye.

“What? What is it?” I turned to her with squinted eyes.

She flipped her blonde hair dramatically. “I’m the bestest friend in the whole world.”

I was slightly surprised at the statement and sat back so I could look at her fully. “Oh yeah?”

“Yes.” She grinned wider and pulled out a pair of tickets from her back pocket. “I know you have an early shift tomorrow…. so I thought I could bring you to the FunSun Festival. There are gonna be a lot of cool bands there, and honestly, I think it would be nice for you to take a fun break.”

My jaw must have been on the floor because Mel started giggling at me. That was when I propelled myself on top of her in a bone-crushing hug.

“Really? Oh my god, you really are the bestest friend ever! Yes, I’d love to go!”

We hugged for a good minute straight before I finally retracted. “Let me drive.”

“No, cmon this is my treat to you!”

I shook my head. “Melanie, you’ve been driving me around forever. Let me drive. I’ll have the car.” I tried to put on my most persuading face.

After a moment, she gave a sigh and agreed. Tomorrow was going to be fantastic.

-

BeepBeepBeep! The alarm clock sent off an annoying shrill, shocking me right out of peaceful sleep. I let out a humongous groan at the thought of having to get out of bed and slammed my hand down on the snooze button. My tired body fought to gain a few more minutes of sleep, but my brain stayed wired towards starting the day. I lifted my crusty eyes towards the alarm clock to see 11:23 AM. Oh man, it was almost noon.

Wait— NOON?! I SLEPT IN! My body catapulted out of the bed and I rushed to my closet to strip out of PJs and into my work uniform. Shitshitshit. I must have forgotten to set my alarm for the morning shift. I was supposed to go in at 9:30! Oh man my boss was gonna kill me.

After quickly washing up and snagging a granola bar, I rushed outside to jump into my car—

That’s right. No car.

“Dammit!” I screamed, stomping on the concrete. This was so not fair. I was also supposed to pick up my car before I left for work this morning.

Okay. Don’t panic. Luckily the shop was walking distance. But I had a better idea. I slipped on my roller skates and started my way down the road when suddenly I hit the breaks. The whole street was covered in cracks and potholes and not to mention slightly slanted downward. I had never roller-skated over rough terrain. This was going to be great.

Deep breaths Vera, you can do this. You’ve been skating at work for a long time now, you’re a pro. Just avoid the potholes and you’ll be fine.

I propelled myself forward. You got this, you got this.

I slid down the road and zoomed past a corner seemingly like a breeze. I was doing it. Really doing it! Yes! The shop is just a few yards away now! It’s right—

Instantly, my skate got caught in a deep crack in the sidewalk and I went tumbling down. I think I’ll just walk the rest of the way.

When I finally got my car I made sure to floor it to work.

Luckily it was so busy today because of all the people going to the festival that my boss didn’t even notice me slip in late. Each hour was overly grueling and I felt like all of us waitresses were scrambling around with our heads chopped off. The only thing that kept time interesting was the fact that I kept a mental tally of every customer that called me ‘baby’, ‘sweetheart’ or any other pet name. I hated it. I wasn’t anyone’s ‘baby’. Besides, they were simply calling me those things because of this ridiculous slutty uniform. So annoying. Why couldn’t they just take their food and go? But no, it must be a crime not to have small talk.

I heaved a deep sigh as I punched out my timecard. Cheer up, it was time to get ready for the festival now! I swung home real quick to shower and change into a pair of new clothes— taking a short moment to apply some makeup as well— before heading back out to grab Melanie. She was so excited when she saw me that she practically jumped into the car.

“I love your hair.” I complimented with a smile as I pulled back onto the main road towards the highway.

“Thanks m’lady.” Mel smirked, flipping the mirror down to check her double buns. “Are you excited?”

I opened the sunroof and dialed up the music. “Heck yeah.”

We zoomed down the highway at a swift speed, but when we neared the festival grounds, the traffic grew incredibly thick. We had gone from a cool 87 mph to a slow 9 mph.

Melanie groaned, slamming her head against the chair. “I just wanna get there already!”

I rolled my eyes at her. “We’ll get there either way. I’m happy to spend any time with you my bestie.”

“Aww. Love you, Vera. But we might as well have fun in the meantime!” Mel giggled, reaching down to turn up the music even more before standing in her seat and sticking her head out of the sunroof.

“You’re nuts!” I laughed.

We stayed like that for another ten minutes. Mel kept herself propped out of my car as I scooted myself through the painstaking traffic.

“Hey, look at this jerk.” Mel announced, pointing to a black Dodge Challenger Hellcat that was snaking and beeping itself through traffic a distance away.

I glanced into the rearview mirror at the imposing threat and rolled my eyes. “Where does he think he’s going in such a hurry? We’re all in the same boat here.”

Mel narrowed her eyes at the black Challenger as it let out another series of shrieking honks. The car drew closer and closer to mine until it finally fell right at my bumper. It inched right up towards my tail and it’s engine revved every time I barely pushed on the gas.

“Don’t be an asshole!” Mel shouted at it, but it was hard to see the driver because of the dark tinted windows.

Right then, the traffic began to clear up slowly and I quickly pulled Mel back in her seat before going off to accelerate up to 30— then 40— then 50. The car behind me was still on my tail because we still quite boxed in from all sides. I kept my eyes trained between the road in front of me and the jerk car behind me. Unfortunately, I failed to see the sudden brake lights in front of me, causing me to slam down on my break a little late—

THUUUDDD!

The black Challenger smashed its front into my back bumper. All traffic was at a complete stop now. My jaw was to the floor. I couldn’t believe what just happened. I just had this car fixed. Oh. My. God.I could feel my blood pressure shoot up and my face turn red with fury despite the tears of devastation in my eyes.

Melanie couldn’t believe it either. She stuck her body back out of the sunroof and screamed at the Challenger. “Hey, fuck you buddy! Watch where you’re going! You’re gonna pay for this! I got your license plate number!”

Right then, the Challenger was put into park and the driver climbed out. Was he crazy?! This was a highway!

The man was tall and lean, wearing dark clothes that matched his jet black slicked hair and pointed sunglasses. He walked with a cool, calm stride towards my car, going right up to my open window.

He looked straight at Mel through his obsidian-like glasses. “First off, fuck you.” Then he leaned down to look at me, sticking his hands in his back pockets. “Listen here quick, dollface. I’m in quite the hurry, so next time the traffic lifts I expect ya to move yous little ass into anotha lane so I can pass or else I won’t mind putting anotha dent on this shitty hunk of car. Got it?”

Mel and I simply stared back at him with agape mouths until he collectively strode back to his own car and got in. It was like he timed it all because the traffic started moving once he turned his car on with the blare of his engine. I was so shocked into chickenheartedness that I did exactly what he asked for, cramming my car into a small opening towards the right lane. The Dodge Challenger shot by in an instant, continuing to honk at other cars in its way.

We stayed silent the rest of the car ride until we pulled into the parking lot of the festival. It was Mel who spoke first.

“Damn…he was hot.”

“Excuse me?!” I screamed, staring at her with wide eyes. “He /hit/ my car!”

“You didn’t think he was sexy?”

“He was rude!”

“But still sexy.” She eyed me over close with a smile. I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. Mel just lifted her eyebrows expectantly. Okay, he wasn’t the most hideous thing in the world, but he was still a total jerk. When I didn’t contest, she let out one of her signature giggles.

“Shut up. I’m pissed about what he did to my car.” I snapped, clearly showing her that I wasn’t going to have it.

Mel instantly stopped. “Let’s go see the damage.”

We slid out of the car and rounded the back to come face to face with a little dent on the bumper that was half a foot wide.

“See that’s not too bad now is it?” Mel noted with a sunny grin.

My eyes skimmed the slightly scrapped up bumper and dent. I didn’t want to admit it but she was right. I was expecting a whole lot worse. With a deep breath, I grabbed her arm and dragged her in the direction of the festival entrance. “Cmon, I just wanna have some fun now.”

“That’s the spirit!”

Chapter Text

The festival was already packed thick with music lovers of all kinds. Half the people were already sunburnt too, but luckily Mel and I remembered to lather on that sunscreen. Melanie studied the lineup sheet in order to figure out our plan of attack while I sat on the grass and people watched. I enjoyed seeing everyone’s own sense of festival fashion. There were even some girls wearing flower crowns. I couldn’t help but to giggle at that. It was a fond memory of my own early festival days.

“Okay,” Mel said, plopping down next to me in order to show me the lineup sheet. “I think we should trek to these two stages, that way we can watch the bands interchangeably. They’re good bands too. The main band is actually going to play there too.”

“Oh, who are they?” I asked curiously.

“They’re called the Gorillaz.” Mel replied, double checking the lineup list again. “I know a few of their songs. And from what I’ve heard it’s really good. They’re really popular I guess.”

Honestly, I never heard of them. Seeming that my car radio didn’t work and my WiFi sucked at the apartment, I couldn’t really catch up with relevant music. I felt a little embarrassed, but hey, I was at this festival wasn’t I? Now was my time to catch up.

“Alrighty lets go!” I exclaimed, jumping up excitedly.

Mel followed, leading me to the stages she picked out.

When we got there, everyone was packed towards the stage on the right because the first act was about to play, so Mel and I ran up to the almost empty stage on the left to secure a spot. We snagged fifth row from the gate.

We danced to three performances before the main act was close to coming up. People started to filter towards the stage we were at and soon it felt like we were packed sardines.

However, a small group of rowdy guys slipped their way all the way to the near front. The one leading the two other boys forcefully pushed people out of the way without any sincerity. He had long blue-black hair and a tattoo of a snake on his neck.

“Can you believe that jerk?” Mel pointed out with a scowl on her face.

I nodded. “He’s kinda scary looking too.”

Melanie narrowed her eyes, watching them closely as they pushed their way all the way to the gate. “They’re all kinda scary lookin’ if you ask me.”

The two other guys stood behind the snake tattoo guy like he was their leader or something. The one who was shorter than the others wore a leather jacket that read “3XG” in green letters on the back. I couldn’t help but to wonder what that stood for. I was pondering on that for so long that I didn’t even notice the stagehands setting up the main acts equipment.

“Earth to Vera.” Melanie waved her hand in front of my face.

“What?”

“The band is gonna come out! Pay attention girl!” She stated, gently turning my chin towards the stage breaking my contact with those weird guys.

Right when I turned my attention back to the stage, a deep string of bass poured out of the huge stereos. I could feel the rhythm resonate in my chest. The drummer walked out first and started his beats as well before two others appeared.

The crowd went wild. I was suddenly propelled against Mel’s side.

“Calling the world from isolation…'cause right now, that's the ball where we be chained. And if you're coming back to find me, you better have good aim...”

The blue haired lead singer sang seemlessly into the microphone in front of him. Everyone in the crowd swayed in strong back and forth waves to the beat. Despite the intensity of the moment, I had a grin on my face and so did Mel. When the song ended, the crowd erupted again. The lead singer gave a small smile and waved people down so he could have a chance to speak. “Hi everybody,” he announced in a very thick yet silvery British accent, “thanks for coming to see us Gorillaz. That song we just played was called Humility from our new album The Now Now, which is going on sale soon, so look out.”

Melanie giggled to herself, squeezing my arm in her hand. “Aww, he’s so cute! Don’t you think?”

I laughed at that. Mel always fell head over heels for British men. But he was quite adorable. However, I wondered what had happened to his eyes in order for them to be completely white without pupils. Must have been some really terrible accident. My heart instantly grew heavy for him.

“I’d like to introduce our lead guitarist Noodle,” the singer went on, gesturing with a long arm to an eccentric Asian girl that had the coolest purple and black guitar I’d ever seen. “and our drummer Russel,” he pointed to the big guy on the drums. He also had the same eye problem as the singer. Super strange if you ask me. What could have happened? “and finally myself 2D.”

“I love you 2D!” Someone from the crowd screamed, and everyone else started laughing lightheartedly.

The singer, who I guess was named 2D, cracked another smile at that comment and replied with an I love you too before finishing his little introduction speech. “Now I know most of you are wondering where Murdoc is…”

Suddenly the crowd erupted once more, so much so that I even thought the ground shook.

2D timidly scratched the back of his neck. “He can’t be with us right now because he’s in a little bit of legal trouble. But I’d like to introduce his replacement, our new bassist Ace!”

With that, the next song started playing as the new bassist strode out onto the stage strumming his striking obsidian bass that matched exactly with his gleaming sunglasses.

I felt my heart shoot up into my throat. It was the guy. The guy from the highway.

Mel and I instantly looked at each other with agape mouths before staring back at him. He looked incredibly into the music up there with a sly grin on his face as his fingers worked magic on the guitar. It seemed that fans of the band were hurt not to see this ‘Murdoc’ there, but despite the fact, they all appeared to still fall under the new bassists’ hypnotic spell of deep thumpin’ rhythm. The crowd cutting weirdo guys at the front of the gate bellowed and shouted in honor of Ace ever since he stepped on stage. I wondered if they knew him personally.

So Ace was his name. It made me hate him even more. ‘Ace’ was the type of name given to good noodles; it received responses like “great job, Ace!” with a pat on the head an a plethora of golden stickers. Well, that’s what came to my mind anyway. I used to go to camp with this boy named Ace. We were like seven at the time, but the kid was already winning all these awards for being best at the athletic games and the crafts and memorizing patriotic songs. Stuff like that; good noodle stuff.

But this ‘Ace’— this Ace was so not the good noodle type. I couldn’t picture the name with the face.

As the song came to a close, I was able to turn to Mel without totally screaming over the stereo, “I can’t believe it’s him!”

“I know!” she exclaimed, shaking her head slightly with a dumbfounded expression. “Now we know why he was in such a rush earlier.”

Song ended, 2D fixed the microphone he had in his hand back on the stand in front of him. “That was Sorcererz, from the Now Now as well. Before we start the next song, real quick, I’d like you to look at those screens there. A number is going to be shown in just a second, if you text GORILLAZ to that number there is a chance you will win passes to our secret after party later on at the end of the festival. Alright, I’ve done enough talking now.” 2D smiled and they instantly started their next hit.

I glanced up to the gigantic screens that stood on either side of the stage to see a five digit number appear suddenly. Everyone had their phones out, typing frantically to send the message.

Melanie had her phone out as well with a big grin on her face.

“Please tell me you didn’t do it!” I yelled over the music at her. She gave me a jolly little wink. “Already done!”

I groaned. But what were the chances of winning? None probably. I just didn’t want to have to be in the same building as Mr. Ace over there.

When I looked back up at him, he was leaning over the edge of the stage in order to give a high five to the dude with the snake tattoo during a break in the song. See, I had a feeling they all knew each other!

“HEY, I WON!” A voice suddenly ran out from the crowd. It belonged to a younger boy who stood a few people down from Melanie.

I glanced up at my friend with a shrug. “Oh well.”

She gave me a pout but a small sly smile lingered on her face. I raised an eyebrow skeptically at her before turning back to the music. I had to say it was quite enjoyable. I felt pumped up by the steaming energy of the crowd. The strong smell of sweat and pot wafted through the air and tingled my nose, but I barely noticed. Melanie and I interlocked arms and swayed back and forth to the song Saturn Barz.

The sky had turned a bright navy blue by the end of the day with the dying presence of the sun. Festival lights lit up the whole park in flashes of color like fireworks. The Gorillaz had finished their last song, so everyone was departing from the stage now. Honestly, I didn’t want it to end. I didn’t want this day to end! The lights, the people, the music, it was all such a great break from constantly working. That job was so shitty. The only reason I tolerated it was because I got to skate around and look at various cars. Also, I needed the cash, but that was a given.

I sent a satisfied grin towards Melanie’s way, but it instantly faulted when I noticed her spot was empty. “Mel?” My heart sped up. Glancing around, I could see her nowhere upon the sea of wandering bodies until—

“VERA! I’m over here!” Her voice shouted back. My eyes followed and that was when I noticed her standing all the way stage left at the gate. She was with someone too. I weeded my way through festival goers with a frown. “What the hell is wrong with you? I thought I lost you!”

“Don’t worry, you know I wouldn’t leave you!” She reassured but I just kept frowning. That’s exactly what she did! “Anyway, this was for good cause. I just paid Andy here for his after party invitation he won.” Melanie gestured to the younger boy next to her before grinning at me. She showed me the forwarded text message from Andy on her phone. It said:

‘Congratulations! You won an invite-only access pass to the Gorillaz after party! Head to the Gorillaz Merch table in order to pick up the required lanyard and for more information.’

“No way!” I exclaimed, snatching the phone out of her hand to thoroughly examine it. “How much did you pay for it?”

“Eighty-five bucks.” The boy Andy intervened with a giddy smile. “I’ve seen the band plenty of times, I’d rather get cash for the win, and your friend was willing to pay it. Thanks again.” He nodded to

Melanie then slipped away into the moving crowd. What were the chances?! I giggled in astonishment as I playfully hit Mel in the arm. “You’re so nuts! I can’t believe you managed to bargain for the invite!”

She strung her arm around my shoulders and we slowly made our way to the Merch tent. “I have my ways. But I’m surprised to see you so excited to go!”

Can I admit that I myself was surprised that I was excited to go? I wasn’t that much of a party person but— “That band was so amazing, Mel! Of course I’m excited to go to their after party! Maybe I can see that Noodle girl’s guitar up close?”

I mused at the thought while Melanie showed the Merch seller her text message to confirm her win. Luckily she was allowed to take a plus-one like we had assumed so I also got a lanyard pass. We were told the time and location of the party as well.

The building wasn’t far from the festival grounds. Melanie and I arrived at the foot of a heavily secured bar entrance. The party was being held upstairs on the second floor. Flashing lights of green, blue, pink and purple danced out of the shiny windows and the sound of bass scaled down the walls and rocked the ground.

As we neared the entrance, I was able to get a closer look at the two beefy security guards checking IDs and Invites.

My arm was instantly snatched. “What are you gonna do?” Melanie whispered in my ear with slight panic. I was only 20 right now, so I couldn’t legally drink. Which was such a bummer because all my friends were over the age. However—

I grew a crafty smile and pulled out an ID from my wallet, waving it in front of her face.

Mel’s eyes lit up in shock as she grabbed it from my hand. “Since when did you do this?”

Okay, I was sick and tired of being the odd one out on these sort of things. I decided that I was going to get a fake ID when I had to decline my fifth invite to go out with my co-workers after a long shift. Besides, my birthday was only a few more months away; I’ll just get rid of the fake then. Plus, having something a little illegal made me feel like I actually had some balls. Melanie was always bragging about the cool and risky things she did. Why couldn’t I have a risky secret of my own?

I threw a playful smile at her. “You underestimate my wild side.”

Melanie rolled her eyes in reply but a grin still slid onto her face. We entered the bar seamlessly thanks to our IDs and lanyards. Once we stepped in, the strong smell of booze and weed instantly burned my nostrils. The bar was relatively empty despite a few drunken stragglers lounging at rounded tables; everyone else was upstairs.

“Are you ready?” Mel cheerfully asked, eyes sparkling from the nearing strobe-lights.

I nodded. “Of course.” We both giggled as we ascended the stairs into the packed Gorillaz party.

Chapter Text

The first thing that blinded my vision was glitter. There was glitter flying from the ceiling and on the floor and on everybody. We were instantly given feather boas from waiters and offered appetizers. The floor bounced with bodies of people and the constant energy of the music. Mel had gotten drinks so fast that I didn’t even notice that she had left for the moment; I was so hypnotized by the fantastic scene in front of me. The floor was so gigantic that it was impossibly hard to spot any one of the members from the band. There must be over a hundred people here! Mel and I were a bit hungry so we hung out near the windows while binging on appetizers and slurping down our drinks. The alcohol gave a hot tingle in my throat and I felt like I was already quite tipsy when Melanie said: “Oh I see one of them!” She jabbed her pink fingernail in the direction of the drummer. He was chilling next to where the DJ fired up his beats. “Imma go talk to him. Okay, babe?” She didn’t even wait for a reply before jetting off into the sea of people.

Jeez. Fan-crazy much? Or boy crazy? Probably both. Melanie was always hunting for some hunk of man. Oh well. I definitely wasn’t gonna stand between her and love. My eyes wandered over the bobbing heads in a distance before I noticed a tuft of bright blue hair. Speaking of fan-crazy. Whatever! I wasn’t /that/ big of a fan, I just maybe wanna say ‘you have a good voice’ or something. Just being polite. I set my red solo cup down on the banister of the window and made my way onto the dance floor with everyone else. I almost lost my footing however, when someone knocked right into my side. “Hey watch it!” I exclaimed, only to see the irritable face of the guy with the snake tattoo from earlier. He literally hissed at me before trudging away. Super creepy. What was his deal?

I decided not to trail on his weirdness and continued my way to the lead singer. The closer I got, the more I noticed that he was skating around in circles. People left the center of the floor wide open so that the blue-haired singer could wheel around in roller skates. He looked pretty happy as he rode to the rhythm of the music. The way his hair fluttered in the air and all that ecstatic freedom that emanated from his white eyes almost took my breath away. Was it the booze that was making my cheeks blush? My feet were cemented to the floor despite my yearning sensation to go out there and dance with him. I stood there like a fool while everyone else let their souls jive to the music.

When the next song began to decrease into its end, the singer was able to depart from his fun escapades and notice my statue-like stance. My heart tightened when he rolled over to me with a glowing, yet concerned, smile on his face. He was so close I was able to count how many uneven teeth he had. Two were missing in the front.

“Are you okay?” He asked, wide white eyes blinking tentatively.

Speak, Vera! Goddamit. My tongue felt like lead. What did he say again? “What?”

“You’re not dancing.” His head tipped slightly to the side. “Are you having fun?”

“This party is beautiful.” The words rolled off my tongue without going through any filter. That was such a stupid reply, Vera! Shit, am I that drunk already?

He chuckled at me, which made my heart lift. “I wish I could roller-skate with you.” Those words poured out just as fast as the others.

His thick eyebrows rose in surprise, but then he gave a jaunty grin. “Your wish is my command. What’s your size?”

Was he serious? “Eight.”

“I’ll be right back.” With that, he rolled away into the thick of the crowd. I stood speechless for about five minutes before he came back, a pair of yellow roller skates in his hand. “Try these on for size.”

My nimble fingers took the skates and I plopped onto the glitter-covered floor to slip them on my feet. Was this a dream? Was I just about to go roller skating with an uber-popular singer? He held down an open hand once I was all laced in.

Seemed like yes, yes I was.

Upon grabbing his hand, he swooped me up and we started to go about in large circles. He was about to let go of my hand, but when I lost his support I almost fumbled down from being too wobbly. However, the singer was quick enough to grab my arm and steady me. He let out another silvery chuckle. “What’s your name? I’m 2D, if you didn’t know.”

“Vera.” I replied, trying my hardest to sober myself up enough to skate with a steady hand. But each time I looked at the floor, it slanted in whacky ways and my mind went dizzy.

“Nice to meet you, Vera.” He shifted his grip to hold onto my hand. “Why don’t you just focus on the music, yeah?” He looked at me with one of those glowing smiles and waited for the song playing overhead to intensify before letting some space drift in between both of us. He kept hold of me with that one hand but was free to skate to the rhythm now. He rolled backward facing me and pulled me with him, going faster and faster. I could tell he was a pro at skating; Much more than I ever was. As I watched his hips swing to the music, I began to loosen up myself and soon I didn’t even notice that I had let go of his hand.

We danced together as we went round and round in what seemed like our own little skating rink. I couldn’t help but to let out a gleeful laugh. This was one of the most fun nights I have ever had. Hands down. Yet half of me still felt like this was a dream. For a moment, I took my eyes off of 2D and searched for my best friend. It was hard to spot her, but eventually, I found her near the windows now talking to the drummer.
2D and I danced to a few more songs before I totally zonked out on the ground. He wasn’t as tired as I was, but I just assumed it was because he’d been partying a lot more than I have. He plopped down next to me. “You’re a real corker at skating, have you done it before?”

I almost caught myself snorting at his question. “I work at Flo’s Drive-In down near Venice. That’s all I do is skate. But I’m no pro. I fell just today trying to skate down my sidewalk!”

2D simply shrugged. “Gotta fall before flying, I suppose.”

When I got my skates off, 2D helped me back up. His hand was nice and warm. I gave him a sweet smile. “Thanks for letting me skate with you. How’d you get the extra pair anyway?”

“Noodle has her own pair. I thought she wouldn’t mind me borrowing them.” He blushed a little, as if just now feeling embarrassed for his actions. He scratched the back of his neck. “You just so happened to fit her size. I had a feeling you would anyway; that’s why I offered it.”

I was about to respond when suddenly I was interrupted by another voice. “Hey 2D, I’m gonna take Noodle for some ice cream, then bring her home.”

My eyes slowly wandered to the tall figure. Highway guy. Ace.
He wore hot pink Star shaped novelty sunglasses that concealed his eyes just as nicely as the obsidian ones he wore earlier.

“Hold on then, lemme say goodnight to her.” 2D replied, jogging off in the direction Ace came.

My feet were cemented again. Even though I wanted to run away from him, I didn’t. My anger began to boil all over again.
He was just as shocked to see me as I was to see him. But instead of my scowl, he wore a sly grin.

“Well hello, dollface.” he mused, “what are—“

“I want you to pay for the damage!” I instantly interrupted, poking a finger in his face. I was not going to let him get away with this. Even though he was apart of a really cool band, I really didn’t give a shit about his fame status.

His arched eyebrows rose above the sunglasses at my interruption and his smile slipped down into a frown. “Listen, dollface, I barely even nicked your car, okay? Let’s just say I was in a bad mood and late to rehearsal and I’m sorry, alright?”

His apology didn’t sound sincere; actually, it was more on the tone of aggravated. I didn’t remove my scolding finger from his face.

“First off, stop calling me dollface.” I began, “Second, that’s a pretty lame excuse for HITTING MY CAR! Not to mention you got out and threatened me!”

I could tell he gave me an eye roll under those ridiculous glasses and muttered, “I wouldn’t use the word ‘threatened’.” He took my finger and curled it back into my palm. “You want money then, sweet cheeks? Fine.” Ace slipped out his wallet from his back pocket and grabbed five twenty dollar bills. “Here. Is that enough to cover it? Or do ya need my whole fuckin’ wallet to fix the teeny scratch?”

For a second, I felt like I should be guilty taking his money like this. But taking one look at his sour expression, I snatched the money and pocketed it. “You’re a jerk.”

His sour face twisted into a plastered smirk. “Thanks.”

Just then 2D appeared next to Ace. “She’s at the door.” He gestured in the direction to where Noodle stood, leaning against the door frame. 2D glanced from me to Ace with his big white eyes and grew a jolly smile. “You’ve met my new friend, Vera?”

Ace nodded. “Vera…” my name rolled off his tongue slowly as if he was tasting every syllable. “Yeah, I’ve met her.” He casually slid off his sunglasses to finally reveal his eyes. They were dark but appeared pink due to the lights overhead. Those eyes glared at me. It was almost like he was trying to tell me not to say anything stupid in front of his current employer. I gave him a crafty smile in return.

“Oh, we met earlier on the highway when he hit my car.”

I could almost see the seething anger through his eyes, piercing me like daggers. But on the outside, he remained as cool as a cucumber, turning to 2D with a faulty smile. “It was just an accident, ‘D.”

2D looked us both over with skepticism before letting out a light chuckle. “Don’t you be pullin’ a Murdoc now, Ace.” He gestured to his eyes with two fingers; however, his smile began to dwindle as if what he just said bothered him inwardly.
I had no idea what he was referencing, but I guess Ace did because he responded with a reluctant chuckle. There was a soft tension in the air all of a sudden.

“Uh, imma get goin’.” Ace said suddenly, “I know Noods is waitin’.”

I couldn’t help but notice his eyes slip towards mine before they hid back under those starry glasses. I watched him stride away through the bodies of people until he reached the young guitarist, holding his arm up so she could link her own arm with him.

“I’m gonna get going too.” I muttered aloud. Ace was about to exit with Noodle when he was stopped by snake tattoo guy and the two other friends. It was a small exchange, but Snake tattoo guy handed off a black pocket knife and a rolled up bag of pot into Ace’s hand. The whole transaction didn’t seem to be noticed by Noodle, who was texting on her phone with her free hand. Pocketing the items, Ace gave the others a nod. Suddenly, my line of vision was disrupted by 2D.

“Don’t you wanna stay longer?” He asked, a soft expression on his face. My mind was a jumbled mess at the moment; what did Ace need with a pocket knife? I felt unsettled by that exchange, but something told me that Noodle wasn’t going to be in any danger from him. She looked like she could handle herself. Still, the whole thing was creepy.

On another note— Melanie. Was she still with that guy? I needed to find her.
However, the tone of disappointment laced in 2D’s voice made my heart tremble. “I’m sorry,” I mustered, “It’s getting late, and I still have to find my friend.”

“I get it.” He nodded in agreement, reaching up to scratch the back of his neck. “We’re playing at the Blue Monkey a week from today, seven o clock; I was wondering if you’d like to peep on in?”

His cheeks lit up in pink. I couldn’t tell if it was the colored lighting overhead or really his blush. The whole ordeal made me blush as well. “Blue Monkey? That’s right in my neighborhood. I’d love to go.” I gave him a warm smile and thanked him before heading into the crowd.

“Thanks for the chat! And all…!” I heard him call after me.

I couldn’t believe this night. So much had happened, and half of it didn’t even seem real. I wandered the perimeter of the party a few times before finally stumbling across Melanie. She was hanging out at the bar, draped over the counter as she spoke with the bartender.

“Hey, Mel.” I said, interrupting their conversation. “It’s getting late.”

Melanie looked me over with shiny eyes and a goofy grin. I could tell she was pretty drunk by now. That was definitely my cue to start leaving. With a huff, I grabbed her by the arm and dragged her out of the building careful not to let her fall on top of me.

Once I managed to get her in the car, the drive home was easy. The only thing that lingered in my mind was 2D’s offer. He wanted to see me again. My heart fluttered at the thought, but I had to remember not to get too ahead of myself. I had made a friend. An adorable, very popular friend. And I couldn’t wait to see him again.

Chapter Text

“What do you mean I only have two months before the foreclosure?!” I exclaimed into my poor cellphone. I was talking to the woman in charge of real estate for the apartment on Belmont street. I had managed to convince her that I was going to pay the whole thing in cash up front. I had already put in half of the money so that the deal would be legitimate. I was the best bid. But now she was telling me that if I didn’t come up with the rest of the money fast, then she would give the apartment to another interested buyer.
Two months would never be enough time. I could feel my hand shaking as I gripped the phone to my ear. “Okay, I’ll see what I can do. Have a good day.” I whispered; my throat dry. I was about to set the phone down on my coffee table before it went off in a starling ring. Who could it be now? I didn’t feel like talking to anyone else. Running a hand through my hair, I noticed that the call was from my mom. I hesitantly picked it up with a sigh. “Hi Mom…”

“Hi, sweetheart!” Her voice screamed through the device. I had to hold it an inch away from my ear. “How’s it going down there?”

Taking one look around my dilapidated apartment, I wanted to exclaim that I was living in a shit hole and that nothing could ever beat my cozy clean bed back at home. But of course I didn’t. “It’s going well.”

That wasn’t a complete lie. Despite the horrible news on my dream apartment, I was having a great time adjusting to California ever since I moved here two years ago, and Melanie was such a great support system. Plus, going to that festival last week had really brought my mood up— it felt nice to meet new people. 2D had been such a sweetheart.

“Well, that’s great to hear!” She responded gleefully, “I want you to come back home to Townsville.”

I nearly toppled over on my chair when I heard that. “What?”

The last thing I wanted was to fly all the way over there! Of course, it would be nice to see my parents but I was finally free from that place! All of the horrid memories from my childhood threatened to flood back in but I managed to block them out with some deep breathing. “Mom. Why?”

“I miss you, Vera!” She sounded sincere but there was something hiding behind that tone. I stayed quiet until she finally broke: “Okay, Okay; your father has been running for town office, and he’s finally going to be inducted as mayor. I know he’d really want you to be there!”

I physically cringed. “Mom, I really don’t have the time or money to—“

“I’ll pay for your flight!” she exclaimed, full of hope. “Please…just come?”

The eagerness in her voice made my heart heavy. I know she really wanted to see me, and I knew how much my appearance would mean to my father; maybe it wouldn’t hurt to go just for a few days? Plus, I missed them too. I let out a breath that I’d been holding in forever. “Okay. Alright. I’ll go.”

“Great! I’ll buy your tickets and everything. Don’t worry about it! I’ll talk to you soon then!”

We said our ‘goodbyes’ and that was it. I was going back home to Townsville. I suddenly grabbed my keys and fled the apartment. I had to tell Melanie everything.

-

The next day I arrived at work with one minute to spare. Tonight was the concert at the Blue Monkey. I was able to get a ticket last minute before they all sold out. When I went to Melanie’s house yesterday, I told her everything from the deadline on my future apartment to my trip back home, but I kept my mouth shut about this second Gorillaz concert. I wanted to go alone, and I knew if I said anything, then she’d want to come with me. Plus, I know she’d get a little jealous if I told her I was personally invited by the British boy. I didn’t want to deal with any of that right now.
A puff of hot, hamburger saturated steam blew straight in my face just as I rolled over to the pickup counter.

“Morty, how can you stand this heat?” I groaned, grabbing two meal boxes.

The rotund chef snorted and wiped a string of sweat from his forehead. “Who said I could stand it? At least I can be around the sweet smell of burger.” He smirked and flipped a sizzling patty.
I had worked for about five hours before I was ready to clock out. But before I did, I skated over to the Boss’s office. Deep breaths. I hated talking to him, but it needed to be done. Knocking on the ajar door politely, I rolled in slowly. “Mr. Sorento?”
The older man glanced up from his laptop with an irritated look.

“Uh, sir, I’m sorry but I need to take some personal time off. Two weeks from now I have to fly home; family stuff. It would just be about four days off.” My throat grew dry as he simply stared me down. “P-please sir?”

He slowly shut the laptop and arched his fingers chapel style. “Then you’re going to have to work over time. Starting tonight.”

Instantly my chest released its inner tension. He rarely gave those many days off. I couldn’t help but smile, “Thank you sir! I’ll start right away—“

Wait a minute. Overtime? Starting tonight? I froze at the door. Oh no, the Blue Monkey! The show started at seven, I wouldn’t make it in time!

“Is there something wrong, Vera?” Mr. Sorento questioned in a bitter tone.

I couldn’t push him even more so I just shook my head. “No, everything is fine.” With that, I skated back to the pickup window. Maybe if I worked fast enough, he’d let me go in just a few hours. I’d still be able to catch the last bit.

It was 9:45 when I was finally let out. I had to only assume the concert was still going until ten. I threw myself in my car and zoomed all the way to the small rock house. I didn’t even care that I still had my uniform on, it was too late to go home and change. The tiny venue was packed to the gills when I arrived, but not in the way I would have liked it. People were disembarking outside instead of inside. Don’t tell me I missed it!
I ran up to the building, snaking through bodies of people and managed to sneak myself into the venue without even my ticket. The floor was nearly empty; all except a few stragglers that were excitedly waiting to grab the setlist when the roady peeled it off the ground. There were no band members or even leftover microphones to be taken. All that was left was the drum set and a guitar waiting in its case. I felt tears gather in my eyes. I couldn’t help it. Today sucked. I was so excited to see my new friend 2D, but now he wasn’t even here. I hated my job. If it weren’t for that stupid job then I would have gotten here on time and had a fun night. I wandered to the side of the stage and plopped down on the stairs, resting my head on the support beam. Just as a tear fell from my eye, a presence emerged beside me.

“Hey-ya dollface, is that you?” The New York accent stunned my ears.

I quickly wiped away the embarrassing tear and glanced up to see Ace looming over me. He had no sunglasses on this time so his dark and naked eyes peered down towards mine.
Just great. I didn’t need this jerk to see me crying.

“Yeah, it’s me.” I stood with a small frown. “And I was just about to leave.” Just as I turned, he reached out and grabbed my shoulder, stopping me in my tracks. He could see the shiny trail of the tear streaming down my cheek thanks to the stage lighting.

“You cryin’?” His voice actually sounded concerned.

I shrugged his hand away and spat, “No. Don’t touch me.”

He raised his hands innocently. “Hey, I see a girl in distress, I get concerned. Unfortunately, ya still turned out to be a bitch so…” Ace turned away to climb back onto the stage, but I quickly slipped ahead of him.

“Excuse me?! You’re a real gentleman, aren’t you? Why do you have to be so rude?” I swatted an accusing finger at him.
He looked up at me with indignant eyes that seemed to glow in the dark shadows of the stage wing. A few strings of his jet black hair hung out of place but he swiftly brushed them away. “If this is still about the stuff on the highway, I tried to apologize. Not my fault you keep a stick up your ass.” Ace took one step up and suddenly he was towering over me. He smelt like sandalwood. “And again with the finger pointing—“ his eyes slipped down to my jabbing finger of accusation that was still lifted towards his chest. “If ya don’t put that little finger away then I’ll—“

“You’ll what?” I shot back, lifting my finger up to boldly bop his pointy nose.

He seemed even more irritated but at the same time, he grew a soft ironic smirk. Those eyes were staring into mine with silence until he finally replied, “Actually, ya look a bit familiar, dollface. We’ve never met before last week?”

“I highly doubt it.” I narrowed my eyes slightly, wondering if he looked familiar as well. But I couldn’t pinpoint anything. We stood in silence for a moment longer, simply searching each other’s eyes. The air felt thick and tense. I retracted my gaze when the sudden shrill of a car horn was heard from outside in the front. It was in this moment when I actually realized he had a gentle grip on my hand, the one responsible for bopping his nose.
Ace noticed as well, and as if he was in shock, he jolted backward running both hands through his hair. “Uh, I gotta get goin’ sweet cheeks. I was truly graced by your presence.” The last sentence held bitter and sarcastic undertones. The bassist limbered up onto the stage, reaching down to lock up his bass guitar in its case. The guitar was a white one this time with a few stickers on it. One of the stickers was green and read ‘GX3’, another was a skull and the third was a cartoon picture of three little girls— but I couldn’t make out who they were as he shut the case. However, it was the ‘GX3’ sticker that struck a chord with me. I had seen that on one of his friend’s jackets.
Taking a deep breath, I climbed up the rest of the small steps onto the stage. Trust me, I wanted nothing but to run out of there and go home, but I was curious. Ace shot me an irked glance but ignored me and started towards the exit door, case in hand.

“Hey, what does ‘GX3’ mean?” I asked, following him out the door. “Is it like ‘G times three’ or something?”

I could tell Ace was suddenly over the whole conversation thing as he sighed when I spoke again. But he still replied, “It’s short for Gangreen Gang.”
I gave him a funny look when I heard that but he kept his gaze straight forward. When we neared his black Challenger, he popped the trunk and carefully placed his guitar in.

“Isn’t gangrene like a disease or something?” I questioned, raising an arched brow. What a strange name for a gang.
Ace slammed down the trunk with a huff and leaned on it, finally turning to look at me. “Yeah, but that’s different. Our name is GanGREEN; like in the color?”

Still weird. “So you’re really in a gang? Like a boy band?” I couldn’t help but poke fun at him.

But he did not seem to be in the mood all of a sudden. “No, not like a ‘boy band’. How come you’re just full of questions now? I thought you couldn’t stand me.”

“I saw one of your buddies at the festival. He was wearing a jacket that said ‘GX3’ on it. Then I saw it on your guitar. So I was curious.”

Ace simply ignored me and slid into his car, waking the Challenger up with a rev of the engine. I frowned slightly but went up to his rolled down window. “Can you tell 2D I’m sorry that I missed the concert? He’s the one that invited me here tonight.”

“Oh is that why you were cryin’?” He reached into his glove compartment and slipped on those obsidian glasses. “You missed seeing the Brit boy. You one of them fan girls or somethin’?” A judgmental grin grew on his face.

I narrowed my eyes at him. “I wasn’t crying!” That was a big fat lie. “And I’m not some stupid fangirl. I barely even knew about the Gorillaz before I saw you guys at the festival.” And that was the truth.
I could tell Ace didn’t seem to believe me as he threw out a light chuckle.

“‘Kay, babe. I’ll tell ‘em, don’t you worry.” He slid down his glasses and winked at me.

I simply rolled my eyes and backed away from the car. “Why are you wearing sunglasses? It’s night.”

Ace pushed the glasses back up the bridge of his nose. “They help me see better.”

I couldn’t tell if he was serious or not. He cracked a smirk and instantly zoomed off. He was so weird. I had never met someone so oddly complex in my life; one minute he’s pissed off, the next minute he’s all flirtatious, and then he’s acting all weird. With a sigh, I made my way back to my car which I had to park in the parking garage a block over. It had quieted down significantly ever since I had arrived, so I was pretty much the only one out. As I neared the garage, I could hear voices in a distance and it sounded like they were coming from the alleyway up ahead.
I made sure to quiet my steps. Someone sounded like they were in distress as I heard, “Hey, I can’t help you. Just let me go!”
My eyes widened. Was someone in trouble? My heart sped up as I inched towards the corner, right where the voices were coming from. I had to pass by the alley to get into the garage, but I had a feeling in my gut that was a bad idea. Bracing myself, I slowly turned my body in order to peep around the corner.
To my unfortunate horror, Snake tattoo guy from the festival and party was standing there holding another dude up to the wall sheerly by the neck. There was also a third person as well. He was the short one I had seen before wearing the ‘GX3’ jacket. Actually, the two were wearing the same leather jacket tonight.

“Don’t lie to us, man. You know where he’s being moved to.” Snake tattoo guy hissed, tightening his grip on the poor man's throat.

The man squirmed, trying to pry the hand from his throat but continued to fail miserably. “I-I told you! I don’t k-know!”

Snake tattoo guy frowned and suddenly threw the man to the ground. “Have at ‘em, Lil Arturo.”

Right then, the shorter guy, Arturo, grabbed the man by the shirt collar and decked him right in the jaw a few times. “C’mon man—c’mon, tell us where! C’mon!”

The man weakly raised his arms up to try to protect his bloody face. “Okay…okay! He’s…he’s being moved to—“

A rock was kicked out from my feet as I shot myself boldly across the open alleyway. Shit, shit. Did they see? I didn’t look back and ran as fast as my legs could carry me. The only thing I heard was, “Hey, what was that?” But I just kept going until I got to my car, throwing myself in. I sped out of there right as I put the keys in the ignition.

Chapter Text

The events of the night before played like a broken record in my mind as I leaned up against the take out counter, drumming my fingers unconsciously as I waited for the food. Those were Ace’s friends for sure. What did they want from that poor guy?
Morty hit the little bell next to the grill, jogging me out of my thoughts to grab the to-go ready meals. I skated over to a parked punch buggy and handed off the food. The driver quickly paid me then was off; I expected another car to take the buggy’s place but instead, another human was standing there. A blue-haired human.
I nearly tipped over on my skates when I saw 2D standing there. He smiled nonchalantly and rolled right up to me.

“So this is where you work, huh?”

My mouth was still on the ground. It took me a minute to reply; “Uh, yeah— yup. It’s quite….” I looked around at my surroundings. “..the shithole.”
My cheeks lit up in hot blush. I couldn’t believe he was here! Suddenly however, I remembered last night and a saddened frown grew on my face. “About last night, I’m really sorry I didn’t make it in time. I was looking forward to seeing you— you guys, again.”

2D nodded and placed his hands in his back pockets. “It’s fine. Ace told me.” Right then he lifted up his leg to show me his skate. “Can I skate around with you again? I know this is your work but I wouldn’t be—“

“Yes.” The reply tumbled out. I didn’t care if I got in trouble. Finally, I’d be having some actual fun at work and a friend to keep me company. “Obviously I still have to deliver meals but you can just follow me around. Mr. Soretto barely leaves his office so I think we’ll be fine anyway.” I grinned.
2D grinned back and rolled a circle around me before stopping by my side, holding an arm out for me to link with. We skated to and fro from the pickup box to the awaiting cars for what seemed like hours, sometimes doing little circles and twists in between. I had no idea why he would ever want to do this with me. Nonetheless, I really enjoyed his company. Those white eyes were filled with so much happiness it radiated right into my aura.

“Hey 2D, can I ask you a question?” I asked, finally able to muster up some words after a long while of silence.

“Lemme check—“ he paused as if double checking with himself then said, “Yeah you can ask me a question.”

I blushed slightly. “Why are you here? Like… with me? Doing this?” The question was weird but I was curious. I mean, given who he was, I was just some random average girl. And he had a super awesome band. Wouldn’t he have millions of friends and fans already?
2D paused momentarily, as we were currently skating figure 8’s together, in order to really think about the question. Then he replied, “Well, we’re always busy, ya know? On the road with tours and the like. But this summer we’re staying in Los Angeles. So, I was thinkin’ to me-self, why don’t I try to make friends for once? I’m gonna be here for a while, might as well.” He gave a small shrug before his eyes wandered to mine. I could see him blushing softly as well. “You seemed cool. At the party.” 2D trailed off after that, and I could tell he was suddenly having trouble trying to find the right words to explain further, but I understood. I understood how it felt to not have a lot of friends, but I was fortunate to have Melanie.
I rolled closer to the blue haired singer, instantly noting that he smelled delightfully of peppermint, and held out my hand. He was hesitant but placed his on top of mine. We interlocked fingers and I pulled him to roll around with me in a bigger figure 8.

“You’re cool too, 2D.” I replied in a soft voice.

He glanced at me with those apprehensive yet delighted eyes and grew a small sweet smile. We were able to roll around a bit longer until we were interrupted with a blaring car horn. I glanced behind my shoulder to see an unattended, impatient Corvette Stingray waiting to get waited on. Usually there was another waitress on duty to be in charge of cars parked on the left side of the lot, but no one was there. She must have stepped out for a moment.

“I gotta take this.” I told 2D before quickly skating over to the car. However, the closer I got, dread overcame me. It was that annoying flirt with the flaming hair from last week.

He was such a creep! Oh god, please don’t be creepy again, please don’t be cree—

“Hi! I’m sorry about the wait, can I take your order?” I asked with a fake grin and cheery voice.

The guy leaned closer into his open window and a sly grin slid onto his face. “Well hello again, baby. I wouldn’t have honked so rudely if I knew you were coming.”

I simply gave him a silent smile. I held my pen and pad out higher in front of me so that maybe he’d get the hint to just order.

“You’re like the best waitress here.” He went on, half hanging out of his car now. He was practically drooling. “And the most beautiful. You’re the only reason I come back to this joint, you know.”

“Oh, you’re so kind,” I replied through closed teeth. “Is there anything you’d like to order today?”

The guy glanced towards the menu plastered on the column adjacent to the car before looking back towards me— or rather, my boobs. “I’ll have the vanilla milkshake.”

Kill me now, kill me now! Oh god, I wanted to hurl. This guy was such a scumbag! After making note of the order, I quickly skated away, casually covering my butt with the notepad so he wouldn’t be able to relish my behind view. I gave the order to Morty then reunited with 2D again.

“What’s a matter?” He asked, noting my distressed expression. His thick eyebrows knitted together in concern.

“That guy I just waited on is the definition of sexual harassment.” I muttered, gesturing in the direction of the Corvette with my head.

He casually glanced over to see with narrowed eyes and frowned. “Looks like a no-gooder.”

I slowly hid behind 2D’s frame when I noticed that the guy was looking towards my direction now. He was talking on the phone with a smile on his face. I couldn’t help but perceive that he was talking about me.

“Can’t you get someone else to wait on ‘em?” 2D asked.

“I would but she’s not here right now.” I scowled, crossing my arms over my chest.

Suddenly, Morty rung his bell and served up the vanilla milkshake. I inwardly groaned, leaving 2D’s side to retrieve it. However, when I turned around to bring it to the guy, he had managed to speedily creep up towards the pickup building.

He placed the car in park and hung out of the window again, this time way closer to me than I wanted. I was so shocked that he had moved his car I almost dropped the shake all over my feet.

“You didn’t need to drive up to the pickup window.” I said, handing him the milkshake in exchange for money.

“I thought I’d be generous and save you the trip.” He replied, licking his lips as he ogled at me. “And besides, I wanted to ask you a personal question…” As he spoke he reached out and ran a finger down the side of my arm. I nearly died at his touch, instantly trying to jump back but he managed to grab my wrist.
2D was watching the whole thing on the side, but when the guy grabbed me, he shot forward and stood in front of me. “‘Ey sod off!”
I kept my eyes trained on the assailant, but I couldn’t help but to catch a glimpse at 2D’s angered expression— and his black eyes. The creep let go of his grip on me which was a relief but then something worse happened. He got out of his car.

“I don’t know what ‘sod’ means but I’m guessing it’s not something I’d like.” He replied in a deadly tone.

“Just leave her alone.” The blue-haired singer took another protective step in front of me.

The creep just chuckled. “Listen I’m not gonna let some sissy Brit prevent me from getting what I want. Now move your ass.”

When 2D stood his ground, the Asian guy grew impatient with a growl, lunging forward in order to try to grab me again. However, without thinking of the consequences, I flung the entirety of the milkshake at him; the sweet dairy drink drenched his clothes and clung to his shocked face allowing a quick 2D to advance, swinging a speedy fist right to his jaw. The guy stumbled backward in pain, but then took a blind lurch forward to attack 2D. The singer was able to duck away from an oncoming punch, but he was unfortunate the second time around and a fist landed straight into his gut. I screamed, watching my friend crumble onto the pavement.
The creep finally wiped his face of the milky drink and proceeded to target 2D, decking him right in the face for good measure. I couldn’t take this anymore. I couldn’t let my friend get pummeled, and I sure as hell wasn’t going to run away like a coward. So I did what my gut told me to do— I kicked him in the balls.

“You got any manners?” The creep growled at me, instantly setting his vicious eyes towards me. Unfortunately, my moment wasn’t as heroic as I thought because I kicked at an angle (he was hunched over 2D’s limp body) and missed the bullseye. The creep suddenly yanked my skirt and caught me in his arms. But before I had time to react, we were both startled by the close and extremely loud rev of a car engine. We both looked over to see a black Challenger creep up extremely close before parking. The tinted window rolled down.

“Hey, fucko!” A New York accent arose, “What do you think you’re doin’?”

The creep winced but limped over to the open window dragging me along. “Who the fuck are you callin’ fucko?”

Ace sat there in the car with his sunglasses on like always. I didn’t know if I felt frightened or relieved to see him.

“Is that any way to treat a lady?” He asked in an innocent voice, raising an eyebrow.

“Look here bud—“ the creep began, placing his hand on the car in the spot where the window would be.

“No touchy.” Ace suddenly interrupted voice like poison. Ace slipped off his glasses, revealing an infuriated glare. But the creep guy ignored him, continuing on.

“—I don’t care who you think you are, but this is my girlfriend. And that guy over there was trying to harass her—"

Um, excuse me?!

“Are you deaf?” Ace raised his voice, “Don’t touch my fuckin’ car!”

The creep paused in his liefest and rolled his eyes with a chuckle. “Dude, it’s just a—"
But that was it. Out of nowhere, Ace flipped up a pocket knife and stabbed it through the guy’s hand, impaling it like butter. The creep let out a painful screech, letting go of me in the process.

Ace quickly turned to me, voice commanding. “Get in the car.”

I didn’t question him; I flung open the back door and threw myself in. I watched in utter shock as Ace yanked out the knife, allowing the guy to stumble towards the ground away from the car. Then he got out, towering over the guy.

“Don’t ever touch her again. Don’t ever talk to her again. If I see you anywhere near her I will kill you. Understand meathead?”

When the creep didn’t reply, Ace leaned down and punched him right in the face. “Understand?!” He repeated louder.

The guy nodded and began to crawl towards his own car. Ace let him go and went over to pick up 2D who was still laying on the floor. He dragged him all the way to the car, lifting him into the backseat beside me, then got into the car himself.
Everyone was quiet as we drove away.
I had no idea where Ace was taking us but I didn’t want to speak up and ask. I was still in shock over the whole situation. I thought 2D was unconscious, but when I glanced over at him, he huddled up into a ball and leaned his head on the window. His black eyes stayed glued to the floor. His bloody nose continued to trickle out but he didn’t seem to care. Feeling a pang of guilt, I reached over and gently placed a hand on his shoulder. I was the reason this all happened. 2D didn’t deserve to get beat up, he was just trying to have a nice day making friends.
He twitched slightly upon my touch, but when he glimpsed over he forced a small smile. “I’ll be okay.”

Ace’s perturbed eyes graced the rear view mirror. “Are ya sure about that ‘D?” His voice was laced with subtle concern, but I could tell he was trying not to show it. “Damn asshole,” he continued in a burst of anger, “I hope his wound gets infected.”

“Don’t say that.” 2D muttered, reaching up to grip the bridge of his throbbing nose.

“Um, where are you taking us?” I finally spoke up, leaning closer to the driver's seat in front of me.

“The studio.” Ace replied pointedly like it was the obvious answer.

Oh okay.

“Shouldn’t we go to the police?” I replied in the same tone. I wanted to file a report against that man. Like hell I was going to let that happen again.

“The police?” Ace snorted and was about to say something preferably snarky, but then paused for a moment. “Alright.”

He didn’t seem too happy about it, but it was the right thing to do.

I kept a watchful and concerned eye on 2D until we arrived at the police department.

“Go in, love. Dont’cha worry ‘bout me.” 2D muttered with a lazy wave of his hand.

I frowned at that but gave a curt nod. “I'll try to make it quick.” I patted his hand then exited the Challenger. It was then when Ace killed the engine and got out as well.

“Fuck, I don’t mesh well with the Fuzz, but someone’s gotta back yous up.”

Wow, jerkface Ace was really stepping up to the plate how sweet. I wonder how long that will last.

The whole ordeal with the police went quite well actually. They ended up calling my boss and pretty much whooped his ass for not noticing the incident. Then told him to implement better security standards for the drive in. Maybe my shitty job won’t be as shitty anymore.

Unfortunately, we were there for about an hour and a half (which I was told wasn’t bad at all considering), So Ace had to make frequent checks to 2D in the parking lot.

But inside, sitting in a bright orange scratchy chair, Ace held the most unsettling resting bitch face I had ever seen, and his glossy eyes jittered all around. His long nails clicked on the counter in an irritable fashion as well. When the cop began questioning him for me, the bassist replied in short, curt answers— and the nail tapping grew worse. He omitted the entire part about stabbing the creep with his switchblade. Good thing I hadn’t mentioned that part already.
When it was time to go, Ace surprised me when he crept up to the front desk on our way out to ask a question. I couldn’t hear him too well, as he was hunched over the entire counter, but I did make out the name “Murdoc Niccals”. The name seemed vaguely familiar but I couldn’t place it at the moment. My mind was too preoccupied with the thoughts of getting back to 2D.

“Okay now we go home.” Ace announced happily once we pilled back into the car. But before zooming away, with a grin that split his face from ear to ear, he held up something quite random— a pink frosted doughnut. “I stole the secretary bitch’s doughnut. And a twenty dollar bill.”

Chapter Text

After driving for twenty more minutes he swerved into a tiny back entrance parking lot that sat behind a two story building. After parking, he got out quickly, going over to pull 2D from the backseat into his arms. This was not the home I was thinking of.

“Are you comin’, dollface?” He asked, staring at me for a second with a bloody and collapsed 2D in his arms as if this was the most normal situation for him.
I nodded and quickly scooted out as well, popping off my roller skates to follow them into the building with just my socks. I guess this was the ‘studio’ then.
It had been a long day and my bones literally ached, but I made a mental note that anywhere was better than my crumbling apartment. We entered a tight hallway then asended a flight of stairs coming up to a blue door. Ace took out his keys and skillfully unlocked the door while juggling the body of 2D.

“Welcome to our diggings.” 2D muttered, forcing a tiny smile towards me. “I woulda polished it up a bit if I knew you were coming.”

I blushed a bit at his words but couldn’t help but to bite back a laugh as I watched Ace simply drag 2D to the couch in the living area.
The whole apartment-like complex was wide and spacious; there were large factory windows that allowed in a lot of light. The kitchen was the first thing we walked into followed by the living room at the far end, then the open space cuts off to the left with a hallway that lead to what I assumed to be bedrooms. It was actually quite nice despite all of the dirty dishes pilled up, the old left over Chinese food on the table and the random pieces of clothes on the ground.
I went over to sit next to 2D on the couch and right as I did he set his head on my shoulder. My heart instantly skipped a beat. Ace had grabbed an ice pack from the freezer and threw it rudely on 2D’s lap before vanishing from the room.

“He didn’t need to throw it.” I muttered with a scowl, noting how it caused the blue haired singer to cringe. 2D simply raised the ice pack to his cheek and wiped away his bloody nose, turning to look up at me with those dark eyes. “No, it’s okay. He was polite enough to get me the pack in the first place.” He paused then said, “Vera, I’m sorry about that arse at your work. I should’ve done more, ya know?” He sounded truly sincere, sitting up slightly and shifting closer. Those sad eyes were staring straight into mine; for a moment I actually thought he might kiss me. But then we were interrupted by a looming and quickly nearing shadow. Ace was suddenly right there, moving to slide his body in between us. He wasn’t going to take no for an answer so I instantly catapulted myself away to make room. I did not want to be sat on.

Ace, who was now wearing something more casual than his leather jacket earlier, smiled widely with a stretch. “Sorry sweet cheeks, but this is my spot.”

“You’re ridiculous.” I replied with an eye roll, scooting further away from him despite my love for the smell of his sandalwood cologne.

“Uh-Uh. I claimed this spot eva since we moved here. This is a coveted spot.” He shot back with a silly grin. Without his sunglasses on now and all the natural light filtering in through the large windows, I could actually see that his eyes were a tinge on the pink side.

2D nodded in agreement, lifting a finger as he said, “Yes, it’s quite coveted.” And I’m pretty sure he was dead serious too.

Alright then; the couch was not meant to be messed with. I slid out my phone and decided to text Mel.

Can you do me a favor and pick up my car from work? I know you have a spare key.

“Hey, Vera.” 2D piped up, glancing over the crown of Ace’s head at me. “Would you rather go… I dunno, somewhere else? We could go in my room. It’s a whole lot quieter.” His last sentence was a jab to Ace, who had clicked on the TV to watch Cartoon Network.

A warm pit grew in my stomach for some reason at his request and my face grew flushed but I still nodded. “Sure thing.”

However, as we began to get up, Ace grabbed me by the wrist to keep me at bay. He held me down close so he could whisper, “I wouldn’t go in there if I were you. His room is like a garbage dump.”

Oh and I wonder what yours looked like? I nearly burst out laughing.

Ace then raised his voice a little louder so that 2D could hear as well. “Why dont’cha stay here and we can watch a movie? I’ll make popcorn.”

I really didn’t want to stay on the couch next to Ace to watch a whole feature film but I was surprised when 2D suddenly complied.

“I like popcorn.” He announced. “Can we watch one of them old timey pictures that you like so much?”

Ace suddenly stood with a sly victorious smile on his face, like he was relieved that 2D was now in favor of staying here with me. “I was gonna put one in anyway.”

The bassist went over to the television were a large stack of DVDs sat towards its right. He skimmmed through the spines before picking one out and popping it into the player. Then he strode into the kitchen to make the popcorn.

2D got up on his feet as well. “I’m gonna go change real quick.” He said to me before rushing away.

It was when I was alone when Mel miraculously texted me back:

Mel: Sure. What’s up?

Me: Something happened at work. You’d never guess where I am now

Mel: ?

Me: I’m in the Gorillaz studio apartment. 2D came to see me at work today but shit went down and he got punched in the face. Jerkface Ace ended up saving both of us and now I’m sitting on his freakin couch!!

Mel: HOLY SHIT!

Her text made me giggle a loud and I had to slap a hand over my mouth. 2D came back wearing a slightly oversized blue and black striped sweater that had a few holes in it and plopped down back in his spot. He kept his hands inside the sleeves and bundled the sweater towards his face as if he was smelling it.
He looked quite adorable but for some reason those black eyes wreaked of hidden sadness.

Mel: Why was 2D at your work??

My phone buzzed again, causing the singer to glance over at me. He gave me a forced smile, but his eyes brightened slightly. I smiled back.

Me: He wanted a new friend I guess.

“You’re eyes are beautiful.” The soft British voice swirled through my ears amongst the quietness of the moment and my heart nearly flew out of my chest. My eyes wandered from the screen of my phone towards the melancholy ones of the blue haired singer. “I’m sorry.” He instantly interjected, blushing himself, “I was looking at you just now and I thought to me self your eyes….they’re brilliant. It’s true.”

Mel: He’s adorable AF, Vera!! Try to get with him!!!

My face must of been as red as a fire hydrant by now but luckily Ace drew the blinds to create ambiance for the movie. I slid over to the singer and boldly kissed him on the cheek before drawing back. “You’re too sweet, 2D.”

“OKAY!” Ace suddenly announced, throwing himself between us with a bowl full of popcorn in his lap. “Time to watch the movie!”

He clicked play and the movie began, rolling the title “Frankenstein’s Bride”.

As the movie started, we all kept silent except for the crunchy munching sound of popcorn that filtered through the air as the two band members ate.
I made sure to keep to myself; to be honest, I felt a little awkward sitting here with them in their studio. I was definitely out of my comfort zone; it wasn’t like I was friends with them for a long time (well, I wouldn’t call jerkface Ace a friend in a million years), and I barely knew the other two members of the band. I felt like I was trespassing.
Well, it wasn’t my choice to come here anyway. It was kinda a done deal decision on Ace’s part. But even though I felt odd being in the home of such a famous band, I also felt honored that they’d actually welcomed me in. And honestly, I needed anything to take my mind of off what had happened today at work.
As the movie progressed, Ace seemed to deflate comfortably into the couch. I could feel his body start to press up against mine from lack of space. He was surprisingly warm. His hand drifted down and accidentally grazed over mine, as he was laser focused on the movie, sending goosebumps down my spine. His contact made me flinch back and I jumped up, quickly moving over to the recliner chair adjacent to the couch.

“What’s a matter, Vera?” 2D asked, glancing over to me with concerned eyes.

“Uh…” I didn’t want to say that it was because Ace was getting too close and comfortable with me, but I still jumbled over words. “I… I wanted a different perspective.”

Lame. 2D looked confused at my response and simply stayed quiet at that.

“Good choice.” Ace actually replied with slight bitter undertones, eyes slipping over towards mine momentarily. “Yous were sittin’ in Noodle’s spot anyway.”

Right then, Mel texted me again.

Mel: Question for you. How are you gonna get home?

I hadn’t thought of that. Maybe I could just call a cab or something… “Maybe I should get going.”

“What? No!” 2D suddenly perked up, looking at me again with concern and sadness. “Please stay, love.”

He looked so devastated at the thought of my departure. “But I don’t quite have a ride home…” I faltered, “I was thinking I’ll call a cab or something.”

2D sat up more, extending his long arm over to grab my hand. “Nonsense! We’ll have Ace here bring you home!” His tone sounded more like a command than a suggestion and Ace quickly caught on.

“Whatever.” The bassist muttered, dumping a whole lot of popcorn in his mouth.

Great, more time alone with jerkface Ace. I was about to open my mouth to protest when suddenly I noticed that 2D hadn’t let go of my hand. His touch was soft and gentle but assertive; I could feel that he didn’t want to let go anytime soon.

I couldn’t get a read on him. He said he just wanted to make friends earlier today, but now it seemed like he was really jumping bases. Not like I had any problem with that… I really did think he was cute and he made me blush constantly. I just couldn’t understand why he would want to get with me. I mean, if that truly was what he was doing. I was normal— average. The only exciting thing in my life right now was my shitty job. And he was so cool, with his band and all. Maybe he enjoyed the fact that I can roller skate. I don’t know.
Oh well. He wascute. I let him entangle his fingers with mine.
2D gave a soft smile and snuggled deeper into the corner of the couch. I smiled too, taking a quick moment to text Mel back with my free hand telling her that I’ll be all set.
We sat through the rest of the movie in that position. However, I swore out of the corner of my eye I could see Ace secretly eyeing our interlocked hands with dismay every now and then.
When Frankenstein collapsed the building on him and his unrequited lover in a suicide attempt, 2D suddenly erupted with a “What?! No!”

Ace started snickering as the movie ended and the credits rolled. “It’s a monster movie ‘D. No happy romantic endings in this one.”

“Oh 2D, don’t cry!” I exclaimed, glancing over to see the blue haired singer leaking big fat tears down his cheeks. That was when he finally let go of my hand. He hurried to wipe away the tears with the fabric of his sweater.

“They were supposed to run away together! And fall in love!” He sniffled, bundling the sweater closer to his face.

Ace simply rolled his eyes in disgust. He turned to look at me, noting my distressed expression. “It’s okay. He cries over a lot of things.”

“Shut it.” 2D snapped, trying to pat his face dry but more silent tears continued to pour out.

Right then, the front door to the apartment swung open and the two other members of the band strode in. I really felt like trespassing now.

Noodle, if I remember her name correctly, was carrying two large pizza boxes as she entered. Russel entered behind, going into the dining room to take off his jacket, hanging it over the back of the chair.

“Nē, min’na! Yūshoku wa kochira!” Noodle announced, going into the kitchen to place the pizza boxes down. “Come and eat!”

Ace jumped up, discarding the nearly empty popcorn bowl on the floor and headed straight towards the food. “Pizza again?! You knows me so well, Noods!”

“Hey man, don’t eat it all.” Russel spoke up, trudging into the kitchen behind the bassist.

Noodle was the one who quickly noticed the odd scene in the living room. She came and stood in front of the TV with her arms folded across her chest. She eyed the sobbing 2D up and down then turned to me with a concerned frown. “Are you 2D’s friend, Vera?”

It shocked me that she knew my name already but I nodded, quickly standing up so we could be respectively at eye level. “Yeah that’s me.” I tried to give her a bright smile. “Hi.”

“He’s talked about you a lot.” She replied. I couldn’t tell if her tone was passive aggressive towards me for some reason. I was hoping that she was just concerned over why 2D was crying.

I couldn’t get over the fact that 2D had been talking about me to his other band mates, but that had to be mulled over at another time.

“We were watching the Bride of Frankenstein and he started crying at the end.” I pointed out in order to give her some context.

Noodle scowled, going to her knees in front of the couch. She reached out to place a comforting hand on 2D’s shoulder. “You’re not crying because of Frankenstein, are you?”

His response was almost impossible to hear as he said it so inaudibly low, “I miss him.”

Noodle nodded to herself at that and stood back up, turning to me with a smile this time. “He’ll be okay. He cries a lot over silly things. It’s nice to finally meet you! I’m Noodle.”

Okay, this time she sounded a lot more welcoming. She almost made me think that I was the cause to his crying.

What did he mean by ‘I miss him’ though? Surely he didn’t mean Frankenstein. Right? Something else must be bothering him. I frowned to myself inwardly but outwardly I was smiling happily towards the guitarist. “It’s really awesome to meet you too. But maybe I should get going now? I don’t want to intrude any further.”

Right as I said that, Ace stuck his head around the corner. His mouth was stuffed with pizza but he still managed to announce, “She’s only here ‘cause I saved their asses earlier. This fuckface was sexually assaultin’ Vera and he punched 2D in the face.”

Noodle’s eyes went wide. “Shinseina tawagoto.” She muttered in Japanese before reaching down to pry 2D’s hands from covering his face. He was too embarrassed to show his wet and bruised face so he was stubborn, but she ended up winning, pinning his hands away so she could look at his dried bloody nose and bruised cheek.

Her lips dropped down into a frown and she glanced up to me. “Are you okay, too? That’s terrible to hear.”

Suddenly Ace appeared behind 2D. “I stabbed him with my knife.” He grinned proudly, holding up his switchblade.

Noodle ignored him as I replied, “Yeah, I’ll be fine. The whole thing was scary though.” I paused then forced myself to say, “Gotta give Ace credit. He arrived just in time.”

I’d like to say that I didn’t need his help. But if I had to be realistic, I wasn’t a black belt or an athlete and I blew my nut-cracking kick— the creep was eventually going to over power me and if it wasn’t for Ace’s quick wit who knows where’d I be now?

“Well that’s good to hear.” Noodle muttered with a nod, resting her hands on her hips now.

Ace gave a victorious smirk towards me and slipped away the blade. “Aw, thanks honey. But just so ya know, I was only there ‘cause I was pickin’ ‘D up.”

I gave him a fake sour smile in return before leaning down towards the dilapidated 2D. He still had his face hidden under the bundles of the sweater. Being close now, the sweater didn’t smell like his usual scent of peppermint; it smelt musky. Could it be someone else’s sweater? He seemed very attached to it. I reached up and placed a hand where his cheek would be. “2D, I think I’m gonna get going now. I’m sorry you’re feeling sad.”

When I spoke, the blue haired singer slowly peeled down his barrier to peer at me with his black eyes. He then pulled himself off the couch, taking me by the hand again and led me towards the front door, leaving the others and passing Russel who was in the kitchen; he simply watched me with skeptical eyes.
2D pulled me all the way into the hall outside of the apartment in order to be alone. He gently took my other hand so he could cradle both. “I’m sorry.” He mustered after a few long silent moments. “I’ve been going though… a rough patch. But they’re right; silly things do make me cry a lot.” He blushed and glanced down at his feet. “Not very manly, huh?”

“Who gives a shit?” I replied, squeezing his hands softly. “Everyone cries.”

2D gave a smirk at that and looked back up, his dark eyes sparked a bit more confidence now. “Thanks, love. You make me happy, you know that?” He paused, as if contemplating something then said, “My real name is Stuart. You don’t need to keep on calling me 2D if you don’t wanna.”

Stuart? That name was so adorably dorky; I couldn’t help but to smile with giddy. “Alright, Stuart. Ya know, you make me happy too. I’ve been working that job non-stop, and besides Melanie I don’t really have much of a wild life. You let me have fun, and I really appreciate that.”

“Good.” He smiled a big cheesy smile, and his dark eyes seemed to start turning lighter. “And I wanna get together again soon. Hop over to the studio anytime too. Just give me a buzz.”

“I don’t have your number.” I pointed out feeling flushed. He grew red as well and let go of my hands to scramble for his phone which was in his back pocket. We exchanged numbers, then 2D awkwardly backed away towards the door. “Sorry again about that manky arse at your work today. But I’m glad we got to spend the day together.”

“Yeah, I know, that guy was an asshole.” I frowned as I recounted this afternoons events. I really hoped that I would never see that guy again. Seeing the sincerity in Stuart’s face made my heart melt and I boldly leaned forward to place a small kiss on his bruised cheek— however, the door swung open and Ace suddenly appeared.

I jumped out of my skin at the sight of him, instantly pulling away.

“Alright. We gonna get goin’ or what, dollface?” He muttered, his pinkish eyes full of lethargy.

“Huh? Oh yeah.” My mind was in shambles for a moment. I had gotten just enough confidence to go in for a peck but now it was all shattered. 2D simply gave a small smile with a departing wave and slinked inside behind Ace.
The bassist swung the door shut behind him and went on his way down the stairs of the building towards the back exit. I trailed behind silently, whipping out my phone to send a quick text to Mel telling her I was about to get a ride home from jerkface Ace; that way she’ll know I was with him if anything goes wrong.
I mean… he did save me today from that terrible guy and he seemed really defensive about it. But, I still assumed there was a 30% chance Ace was going to run me over with his car or gut me with that switchblade of his— yet again, I was letting my imagination run wild. I had to try to cut him some serious slack. Maybe deep down I was the one who wanted to run him over with a car.

Chapter Text

“Get in, princess.” The bassist commanded, staring at me with his naked eyes for a second before slipping into the driver's seat.
It’ll be fine, I only live like…, half an hour from here. With a deep breath, I ducked into the passenger's side, closing the door behind me. I was locked in now, no going back. The inside of the car was very dark at night, with all the black leather interior. He started up the Challenger with a rumble; the car desperately cried out to be driven over 100 miles an hour.
As we went off, I hoped and prayed that it would just be a silent trip, but unfortunately, we weren’t even down the block when Ace opened his mouth.

“You like ‘D, huh?”

“Excuse me?”

He glanced over at me with miffed eyes which glowed due to the blue light of the screens on the dashboard. His lips were also pulled into a very slight frown. He didn’t ask me the same question so that I’d clarify; he simply continued. “Well, 2D is a lover boy. He falls in love with anything he sees…, or likes for that matter.”

I narrowed my eyes. I could tell he couldn’t stop being a jerk for one second. “You mean like how he ‘cries all the time over everything’? I get it. He’s an emotional guy, who gives a shit really? Why don’t you just leave him alone?”

His jaw clenched at my response and he shot me another miffed look. “Listen, ya really don’t understand the situation here. I don’t know why you of all people had to become his ‘friend’, but I’m just tryin’ to tell ya that ‘D has a messed up past and a messed up way of coping.”

Everything Ace was telling me hit like a ton of bricks. What the hell was going on right now? “What do you mean ‘coping’?”

He was silent for a moment as if mulling over his words, then replied, “Just be careful ‘round him, dollface.” The next part was almost barely audible, but I heard it and I swore I nearly spit out my own spit. “I don’t want ya gettin’ hurt.”

Ace looked as if he was even disgusted with what he said, scowling like there was a bitter taste in his mouth. He quickly glanced over to see my bewildered expression and suddenly added, “It’s not like I care or anything. I just thought you should know. Fuck around with ‘D if ya want. Whatever.”

My jaw was literally on the ground right now. I was definitely not prepared for this conversation. I couldn’t even tell yet if I was fuming or just plain dumbfounded as my face turned red. “I didn’t think you could be any more of a shithead, but you just proved me wrong.” I snapped.

Who did he think he was? Saying all this weird crap about Stuart and then presuming that I was simply slutting around.

Ace raised both hands momentarily off of the steering wheel in defense. “Woah, babe. I didn’t mean it in a bad way, I swear.”

“Yeah, sure.” I crossed my arms over my chest and turned to look out the window. The air grew thick.

Ace eyed me over with masked concern, mumbling out, “I mean it.”

I tried to ignore him but my anger kept bumbling higher and higher. I couldn’t silently stew for any longer after just a few tense minutes before exploding. “Oh by the way, quit calling me all those pet names! I’m not your dollface or babe!”

The bassist simply let out a long exasperated sigh at my words, reaching down into his glove department to pull out a pack of cigarettes. While still keeping a slight hand on the wheel, he multitasked getting and lighting a singular cigarette to smoke. After taking a drag towards the rolled down window, Ace finally retorted, “That’s just the way I talk. You’re gonna have to get used to it— honeybunny.”

We were silent the rest of the ride home, and the brewing anger I could feel radiating off of Ace was thicker and frankly scarier than mine. We were at least ten minutes from my home now. The car had rolled to stop at a red light in downtown LA, and that was when Ace suddenly noticed something off in the distance, instantly perking up in a better mood.

“What are you doing?” I demanded when he chose to take a left turn instead of a right turn towards my house.

He didn’t seem too jarred as I was, simply replying with an obscure, “I’ll have ya home soon. Don’t worry.”

We pulled underneath an old an abandoned highway bridge off of the main road. I could see in the near distance a small fire blazing from a trash bin and a large figure standing next to it. There were two other figures there as well, but one was rolling around on a skateboard and the other seemed to be spraying graffiti on the archway wall of the bridge.
I frowned at the scene in front of me, unconsciously taking a glance to my door to see if it was locked.

Unfortunately, Ace put the car in park and went to get out. I quickly reached over and snagged the sleeve of his jacket. “Wait! What are you doing? Please, can you just bring me home?”

Ace gave me one of his classic smirks and particularly pried my fingers from his sleeve. “Don’t yous worry, princess. You can stay in the car if ya want, but they’re gunna wanna meet ya I’m sure.” Once he got loose of my grip, he slid out of the car and jogged over to the figures. The one on the skateboard came closer to meet up with him and that was when I could see it was Snake Tattoo guy! There. That just confirms that they were all friends in that Gangreen Gang. Did that mean Ace was aware of what I witnessed the other night? When they were violently interrogating someone in the alley?

Ace, holding a big grin, pounded fists with snake tattoo guy. My window was rolled down slightly so I was able to listen in.

“How’ve things been goin’ without me?” Ace pried with an ounce of arrogance about him, as if he was assuming things were going horribly.

His lanky friend rolled his eyes at that statement and hopped off the skateboard, kicking it up to lean against his leg. “Just fine, actually. Big Billy’s the only one that misses ya.” He gave a salty grin in return, and suddenly Ace was bombarded from behind with a huge hug from a very large dude.

The air was kicked out of the bassist’s lungs but he still kept his glare towards snake tattoo guy, ignoring the large dude’s blubbering remarks on how he missed him so much.

“Take that fuckin’ grin off your face, Snake.” Ace bit back, obviously annoyed at the thought that the gang was doing just fine without him. “I’m gonna find some more time to hang with yous guys I promise. I just gotta—"

“Just gotta take care of yous new friends?” Snake interjected. “Don’t think we haven’t taken notice— yous priorities have changed.”

Even from the car I could see that Ace’s eyes held pain. He lifted up his hands in a defensive stance. “My ‘priorities’ haven’t changed. But ya know that this is a big gig for me.” Suddenly his voice dropped a few octaves. “And ya know what I’ve been tellin’ you about Stu-Pot; so yeah, as his friend I need to be there for him. But yous guys are my brothers though. Brothers.” He placed a strong hand on Snake’s shoulder.

“Hey baby, do you work at Little Caesars? ‘Cause you’re hot and I’m ready.”

I nearly screamed when I heard that smoky voice right next to me. I whipped around to see a young man sitting in the driver’s seat. He was shorter than the others and his hair hung slightly in his face. Looking at him now, I inwardly remembered I had seen him with Snake (and of course his name was SNAKE of all things) before; at the concert and the alleyway. He was the one who dished out the beatings. It took me a moment to digest the fact that this dude was suddenly sitting so close to me in the confines of Ace’s car, but then it took me a whole other minute to comprehend the cheesy pickup line he just used.

One word. Ew.

“You must be one of Ace’s friends…” I plastered on a fake smile while simultaneously sliding further away in my seat. Try to be nice, Vera. Try to be nice.

He gave a slimy smile and slid closer. “Ya got that right. Are you Vera? Acey mentioned you. He’s such a jerk for hittin’ your car, right? You don’t deserve that treatment. Why don’tcha just forget him and vámonos with me, yeah? C’mon baby.”

He was literally climbing over the seat towards me now as his words spilled out. I backed up all the way until my back was pressed flush against the door; the only option for me now was to reach down and strategically pull the handle, bursting the door open behind me. I tumbled out, bracing myself for the tar ground, but I was caught by a big pair of arms.

“You’re a pretty girl!” The big guy announced loudly.

My heart was literally beating out of my chest and my eyes were as large as saucers right now. What the hell was happening?!

“Please put me down!” I shrieked, squirming against his tight grasp. I felt like the air inside of me was slowly being squeezed out. And to make things worse he didn’t smell too good either.

Ace took notice of my shrieks, quickly jogging back over, glancing into his opened car as he did so to see his friend in there. “Arturo what the fuck are ya doin’, man?” But he didn’t wait for a response and directed his attention towards my situation. “Yo Billy let her go.”

“But she’s so pretty!” Billy marveled, reaching one hand up to pat me heavily on the head.

Ace instantly shot him a deadly glare. “Put her down, shithead. She can’t even breathe.”

“Oops.” Big Billy realized his fault with a giggle and instantly dropped me. I stumbled as my feet hit the ground and I slunk over to stand by Ace’s side, catching my breath slowly.

Ace extinguished his dying cigarette on the tar with a stomp of his foot, then looked over at me with an amused glint in his eye. “Sorry ‘bout them. Arturo’s a little demon, but Billy’s harmless. He’s like a big menacing teddy bear.”

Harmless? Yeah, that’s for sure. That guy was like the Hulk. And he was menacing for sure, with a thick ginger beard and hair that nearly covered his eyes, his strong and rotund build was the only thing going for him. Suddenly, Snake skated up next to me, openly eyeing me over. “So this is her?” His tone was bitter. I instantly ranked him as number one to dislike out of the whole group. Something about him was not right, and it made me feel uncomfortable. Maybe it was just the way his shady eyes scanned me over.

“Yeah,” Ace replied, awkwardly slipping his hands into his back pockets. The next sentence was directed to me. “I may have mentioned you to them once.”

“I’m sure it was with good intentions.” I retorted with an eye roll. “Anyway, can you take me home now? You’re the worst Uber driver ever.” My sour joke actually made a chuckle drift out of his lopsided smile. Snake wasn’t amused though; instead, his eyes narrowed to slits, scrutinizing me.

But catching my cue, Ace yanked his friend Arturo (who was still lounging about) out of the car through the passenger seat in order to clear a way for me. He held open the door acting like a gentleman.

“In ya go, dollface. I’ll have ya home before curfew don’t ya worry. Won’t want daddy to give me a beatin’!” Ace winked at me whilst sticking his tongue out mockingly, but I could tell his jabs were in good spirits. He seemed to be in such a better mood when his friends were around; unfortunately, his childish naivety shot up tenfold. He slammed the door closed for me before heading around the car to the driver's side. However, Snake quickly shot up to him and grabbed his elbow to get his attention.

“Before ya go,” he began with a sly tone in his voice and a grin that read wicked all over it, “I’ve been talkin’ to some people— ‘an I’ve got the inside on Niccals…”

Niccals; there was that name again!

Ace’s bubbly expression drained away and sunk dark with fury; the sharp glare his eyes held at his friend scared me indefinitely. The pit of my stomach grew uneasy and I was half preparing myself for a fight to break loose right at the front of the car. Instead, Ace shrugged away from Snakes grip on his elbow and crossed his arms tightly over his chest— as if by that action he was physically restraining himself from throwing a punch. “Didn’t I tell ya to stop with that bullshit? He’s like a member of the gang, what the fuck is wrong with you?”

Snake’s smile fell but he looked even more fiendish now, and his voice crueler. “But I thought yous liked your new job? Bein’ a famous bassist isn’t good enough all of a sudden?”

“I’m not gonna tell ya again, alright?” Ace backed more towards the driver’s side, reaching down to open the door. “Drop it.”

He turned towards the other two members and saluted them goodbye out of courtesy then ducked into the car.

“Fuck you.” Snake sneered just fast enough for Ace to hear before he slammed the door shut.

That beaming spark in his eye was now gone, and his head hung slightly as he pulled back onto the main road. I had no idea what that was all about, but I knew it made me dislike Snake even more. Obviously, his words were like venom towards Ace, and it really upset him.

“He seems like a jerk.” I murmured, my eyes darting towards his somber face.

Ace was silent for a few moments then decided to reply, hunched over the wheel. “He wasn’t like that before I joined the band. But he’s been scheming things and causin’ a lot of trouble. Not like good trouble either.”

It was right then when Ace ran a red light. I nearly had a heart attack when we were barely missed by another car. “Illegal!” I shouted.

“Excuse me?” His face was calm in unnerved slack.

“You…you went through a red light! Aren’t you paying attention?!” I blinked at him with round eyes.

“You should see how many stop signs I go through—” he rolled his glossy eyes towards me and stared just to see my horrific expression.

“What is wrong with you?!”

“—only when I’m in a bad mood.”

“So?!” I couldn’t believe this guy! This really was the death Uber. He was going to kill me. “That doesn’t excuse lawbreaking!”

Ace was full on laughing now. “Can you randomly shout out ‘Illegal!’ again? That was great, princess, I really enjoyed that.”

“Shut up and bring me home.” I muttered but the corner of my lip couldn’t help but twitch upwards. “Is this why you don’t like the cops? Because you enjoy breaking the law?”

Keeping silent, the bassist’s pinkish eyes flickered with amusement as the passing city lights cascaded over his plastered grin. The rest of the drive home was relatively short, and soon the beastly Challenger halted on its brakes in front of my apartment.
Ace had swiftly unlocked the doors in cue for my departure, but my butt stayed stuck to the leather seat; I lingered in the car a few moments more than I was supposed to. I didn’t want to leave— breaking the connection between the fantastic and funky Gorillaz and… normal life. I’ve had a bizarre day, and besides the horror of the creep at my restaurant, things have been so interesting. It seemed like every time I was around Stuart or Ace, whacky things go down. And honestly, I really enjoy it. Barely glancing towards Ace, his whole form was shrouded in darkness now that we weren’t moving through the city; the car was also shut off. The bassist had lit another cigarette, so the flame was the only illumination towards his face. “Are ya gonna get a move on or what?” His lips formed a straight line.

At his words, I gained a sense of reality and with a tight inhale, I gave a tip of the head. “Right. Thanks for driving me home.”

One step away was all it took to send the car back to life and down the road into the blackness of the night.

Chapter Text

The next morning the Gorillaz apartment was chaotic to say the least. Despite some pushback to the idea, Noodle went ahead to book a visit to the jail their ol’ member Murdoc Niccals was currently being held. She rolled out of bed first thing, eyes squinting at the harsh sunlight peeking through the blinds, and padded over to her closet. It didn’t take her long to figure out a fashionable outfit despite her morning grogginess. To be honest, this was the first time she actually wanted to stay sluggishly groggy. The guitarist knew that in just a short few minutes, she had to endure the emotionally strange 2D in order to coax him into coming along. Ever since Murdoc had left he had been acting weird— WEIRDER than usual. It was like he couldn’t decide if he missed him, or if he truly enjoyed life without him.

Noodle hummed to herself as she wandered into her bathroom. She could relate to that thought. Murdoc was a dick, and he deserved a good butt-whooping— yet at the same time…..

“2D?!!” She exclaimed in cold-shock, a hand flush against her chest in order to contain her heart from leaping out.

The blue-haired singer was standing still, limbs limp and unmoving like a statue, in front of the sink. His pale eyes stayed fixed on his reflection in the mirror. He didn’t even flinch as his name was shouted. He was so still in fact, Noodle feared just for a second he was actually frozen— a standing corpse.

“2D?” she asked, quietly this time, stepping closer with caution. Something was definitely not right here. “What’s wrong with you?”

Just before her fingers were able to grasp his slim frame, the singer finally stirred.

He blinked those owlish eyes quite a few times before turning to face Noodle with a cheery grin. “Mornin’ Noodle! We’re gunna see Muds today?” His tone was strangely nonchalant.

Was he not aware of the major freakazoid moment?? And how in the HECK did he know about the prison trip? Noodle narrowed her eyes to slits, looking him over from top to bottom. Her hands laid on her hips as she replied, “I never mentioned going to see Murdoc to you.”

2D pursed his lips in thought. “Oh. Well. Aren’t we?”

“Yeah, we are.” She replied slowly, still skeptical about this whole situation. “How’d you get in here?”

At her question, 2D glanced around to double check his surroundings. He seemed at a loss and simply shrugged. “I got lost? Guess I was looking for the john. Found it though, didn’t I?” An innocent chuckle exited his lips. With a frown, Noodle crossed her arms tightly over her chest. 2D was a dummy, and he frequently got lost in familiar places, so maybe that was true, but the whole mirror experience was super creepy. Noodle made a mental note to keep an eye on that behavior. 2D simply kept a smile on his face then slinked out of the bathroom, leaving Noodle’s room entirely and took a left down the hall.
The guitarist had to take a moment to gather her thoughts before continuing on with her morning routine. There was a sense of danger in her gut but she chose to push it away. Sweeping the shower curtain to the side, she turned the knob to let the water run, then begun to undress.

However, the guitarist was once again startled, this time by an exuberant Ace who rudely ran straight into the bathroom. “Noods! Is it true?! We’re goin to see Murdoc today?! Like, today today?!”

“Dono yō ni anata o aete!” Noodle’s eyes flew wide at his sudden appearance, and gripping her shirt to her chest, she roundhouse kicked him right in the groin— causing him to literally fly out of the room and land halfway on Noodle’s bed.
“Just let me get ready!!” She screamed before slamming the door.

Ace let out a small groan and a curse under his breath before picking himself back up from the ground. He stalked his way back into the kitchen where 2D and Russel sat at the counter. 2D watched intently as chocolate syrup poured straight down into his tall glass of white milk, but he didn’t stop like any normal person would after a few moments— it was almost like he was going to empty the whole bottle!

“What’s wrong with you, man?” Russel pipped up, staring at the blue-haired singer incredulously.

When 2D didn’t respond right away, Russel gave him a good smack to the shoulder, thus prompting 2D to snap out of it.

He slowly placed the bottle down and swirled around his drink to mix the milk and syrup together. “I like it sweet that’s all.” He muttered, but it still seemed like something else was on his mind.

Ace gave 2D a weird look as he rubbed his aching groin from Noodle’s karate kick, then said, “You knows what’s goin’ on today right, Russ?”

“2D just told me.” The drummer shook his head in disappointment, sporting a sour frown. “I don’t know why we gotta see that cracka’ ass when he’s never done shit for us. I think he should rot in that hole.”

Ace sucked in a deep breath, unsure of how to answer that. Murdoc was an asshole… but he was still a good friend. No one should ever have to experience prison. The thought made the bassist shudder.

2D in the other hand, who was currently chugging down his chocolate milk, suddenly slammed down the glass in horror. A thin line of milk clung to his upper lip. “Rottin’? Like a zombie? Can you imagine?”

“Murdoc’s already half way there!” Ace snorted, laughing at his own dig. He couldn’t help but to still throw shade. Russel cracked a chuckle as well.

With a fading closed mouth smile, 2D turned away and slowly dragged himself off the chair. “I’m gunna get dressed.”

The two band members watched silently as the blue haired boy padded down the hall towards his room.

It was Russel who spoke first. “Something smells fishy.”

“Excuse me?” Ace raised an eyebrow at the random line and leaned closer to the man across him.

Russ’s ghostly eyes stayed strained on the empty hallway before them. “That boy has been acting weird. And I mean weirder than usual.”

Ace’s pinkish eyes dropped with a small forming frown. Yes, something was a bit off with 2D— but everyone simply assumed it might be because of Murdoc’s disappearing. Either way, Ace simply stood tall again and plastered on a normal smirk. “Well, I know one thing’s for sure…” he swiftly grabbed the bottle of chocolate syrup and shook it upside down, yielding only a few disappointing droplets. “We’re gunna have to get more of this stuff.”

Russel just rolled his eyes.

------------

Soon, Noodle had everyone in the band’s 1967 Camaro— everyone except for 2D who was still in the studio. Noodle huffed to herself and slammed her wrist into the steering wheel horn, letting out a shrill of honks each hit. “Where is that idiot? I thought he was excited to go!”

“Isn’t the visit scheduled for noon?” Russel asked aloud, noting the time on the car’s clock to be 11:53 AM.

Noddle nodded and let out a few more impatient honks. Ace let out a humungous sigh from the back seat, clawing his hands down his face. “Gawd, I’m car sick!”

“We haven’t even left yet moron.” Russ snapped, getting aggravated himself as well. He didn’t want to be late, and frankly, Noodle’s beeping was getting on his nerves now.

Everyone seemed to be growing frustrated, and when Noodle finally announced that she was going to check on him (and also kill him), the right car door suddenly flew open and the missing person slid in. He slammed the door behind him without a word and assumed his position next to Ace in the backseat. The three bandmates stared flabbergasted at what their eyes held before them. 2D gelled his hair back; a style never before seen or used until now. For a moment, Ace had even thought a different blue haired person had entered their car and he almost grabbed for his switchblade— the look was that shocking.
But no one said anything. It didn’t seem like 2D was seeking any attention about it anyway because he simply stared out the window with his hands gently laid in his lap. After a moment, Noddle just cleared her throat and started the car, going off towards the jail.

Chapter Text

The jail was a rinky-dink old cinderblock. It held low to moderate criminals but nothing more, and it wasn’t meant to hold prisoners permanently. The four friends each took in the location before entering, noting the horrid smell of human decay and the blood stain on the wall. Just wonderful.

“It fits him,” Russ muttered and was the first to enter through the metal double doors.

The rest followed in, but Ace was hesitant; he held a thick distaste for anything police. It was horrible that he went into that station a couple days ago, and now he was actually going into a jail! But he had to remind himself that this was for Muds. Worst-case scenario, for some wild reason he’ll be thrown behind bars as well and will spend more bonding time with Muds than he would have liked. But that was just his imagination.

“C’mon Ace.” 2D muttered, glancing back at the bassist who was still stuck at the front door of the lobby. His first utterance since breakfast.

With a curt nod, Ace jogged back towards the group but kept a firm guard up, with eyes sharply bouncing around beneath his obsidian glasses. The four made their way to the security desk, and Noodle was the one who ultimately did all the talking. Soon, each band member was forced through a scanner and dis-pocketed all items into a scratchy plastic container. A security guard guided them down a thin hallway into a cramped room, which held a glass panel to separate the prisoner from visitors. There were four folding chairs already set up so everyone took a seat in front of the counter that held the glass panel; all was silent until there was a jarring buzz from behind the glass and the hiss of a heavy door opening.

Out came an orange-clad lanky figure, hands bound in front of him by metal cuffs, and black hair disheveled over his eyes. He plopped down in front of the glass with his head hanging.

Everyone instantly rushed forward to get closer, squishing together in order to see through what limited window space they had. Noodle instantly picked up the phone with a flick of the wrist.

The prisoner grew a grin under his dark facade and slowly reached a hand up to grasp the dirty phone, pressing it to his ear…

“Did you kill someone?” were the first words uttered on behalf of Noodle who glared at him with piercing eyes. She was practically leaning over the counter until her nose was barely an inch from the glass.

“So you’ve brought everyone…” Murdoc Niccals replied, each word rolling off his tongue.

“We came to say goodbye, Murdoc.” Russel spoke up, arms crossed and tone cold.

“Tell me!” Noodle went on, now jabbing a finger against the glass, “Did you murder someone? Did you steal?” She grew more furious by the minute.

Ace grew uncomfortable in his chair; everyone seemed to be furious except for him. He didn’t have any grudges towards Murdoc, and he was thankful that they’d always stayed decent buddies throughout the years (that’s why he was put in place as Muds’ current replacement). But he knew how Murdoc could be and well…. he kinda felt sorry for these idiots who had to live with the man.
As Noodle continued to yell, Ace slipped his eyes over to see 2D who had his arms and head set down on the table. Even though he was watching Murdoc with those white eyes, it almost seemed like he was hiding from him in the corner. 2D slowly reached until his fingertips gently pressed against the glass barrier in front of him.

“What does it all matter?” Murdoc finally raised his eyes towards the guitarist. “What does it bloody matter what I did or didn’t do? I say I was duped or set up or what-ever-you-want-to-call-it, and nobody believes me.”

“Who would set you up?” Ace asked, suddenly a little more concerned and interested.

“Beats me. One second I’m arriving in beautiful L.A, the next I’m being thrown in the slammer.”

Noodle frowned at that, choosing now to finally sit back in her chair. “He has a lot of enemies. But you’re right; who cares why you’re here? You deserve it. The band’s going straight.”

There was no other emotion on the prisoner’s face other than a slight widening of the eyes. “Noodle—"

“In other terms, we don’t need you anymore.” Russel reiterated sharply.

The former bassist narrowed his dark eyes with a bitter scowl. He could feel his clawed hand tighten around the phone. “Gorillaz is mine you fucking sod! You need me. You all need me. I’m what pushed you all to bloody stardom. You’re all a bunch of thots if you think you can go on without me and succeed—"

“2D’s already written an album.” Noodle cooly replied.

Murdoc glanced down at the blue-haired boy, who appeared bluer than usual with eyes downcast and body still slumped over the table.

Trying to swallow some anger, Murdoc asked, “What it’s name?”

“The Now Now.” 2D finally spoke.

The prisoner inwardly rolled his eyes. Stupid name.

“I want you to listen to it, so I gave the guard a copy.” 2D continued, now sitting up a bit more and meeting his melancholy gaze to his bandmate.

Everyone else looked at 2D in silent shock, not knowing when he was strategic enough to do such a thing.

Murdoc simply snorted. “You think I want to listen to that rubbish?!”

“But it's not rubbish—“

“The last time you did an album yourself it was a complete load of horse shit! You people need my genius! I’m the reason why our band is so bloody brilliant! The faster you realize that the faster you’d be trying to get me out of this lousy crud hole!”

“SHUT IT MURDOC!” suddenly everything seemed to go dead silent when 2D had gathered enough courage to belt out those words towards the glass. He was standing now and his eyes held a growing bit of fury.

“What was that, faceache?”

“You heard me!” The singer spat back, fists balled. “You’re never going to stop being an arsehole, are you? You don’t deserve us. I’m glad you’re in the slammer.”

“Sure you are.” Murdoc simply glared into those white eyes, drinking in every ounce of that miffed expression. He tried to see if the tears started bubbling up, but 2D seemed to be standing tall this time. Something about him was unsettlingly off.

“What’s up with the hair?” Murdoc continued, attempting to throw back the insults. “You look like a real wanker.”

Weird. Still no tears.

Instead, 2D grew even more furious that he slammed his fist right into the glass as if to punch Murdoc in the face. He hit his knuckles so hard in that one punch that they began to bleed, leaving streaks of bright red blood.

But the singer didn’t seem to notice the pain or the blood at all.

Noodle jumped up at such uncharacteristic violence, reaching to pull 2D away but he kept his ground. His blank eyes poured right into Murdoc’s dark ones without a budge.

“Stuart, what is wrong with you? I know he’s a dick but this is not like you!” She exclaimed, giving up tugging on him.

Russel nodded his head in agreement at the situation. “I think we should go.”

2D grit his teeth, trying to ignore them. He felt like slaughtering the man in front of him— ripping off that stupid bemused face of his and tarring it into little pieces. It was true, he didn’t understand why he was thinking these horrible thoughts but….he couldn’t help it. He didn’t even realize his hand dripped blood from its balled position on the glass until now, like some other force made him throw the punch.

“Forget it.” He muttered, and nobody really knew why. Maybe he was saying forget it to the murder plan his brain had currently been hatching. Then he continued, disconnecting his gaze from the prisoner, “I don’t need you. I’m moving on. I…I have a girlfriend now, and….this album. I’ve never been happier.”

But for some reason, 2D didn’t appear happy at all. He was more depressed then he ever would be. And everyone could see this. Including Murdoc, who simply grew a smirk and snorted.

“When you decide to crawl on back to me, I’ll be right here, waiting for you.”

2D clenched his jaw and closed his eyes tightly. Those words felt like daggers in his heart— but hiding behind the burning, aching pain, was a seducing temptation; he’d always be there for me…

No.

Swinging his fist back on the glass, the singer regained his composure— a rigid bitterness consumed him, and the words came tumbling out: “Go fuck yourself.”

With that, 2D turned on his heel and left just like that. Everyone, including Murdoc, was left flabbergasted.

Russel was the first to follow suit, not even saying goodbye.

Then Noodle went to the door, but then she froze; as if 2D had transferred his absent tears to her, she glanced back at the prisoner with watery eyes. “He’s right, you know. You never will stop being an asshole.”

Then she left.

Ace was the last one. He still sat in his chair, frozen to say the least, at what had just taken place before him. Staring at the blood stains on the glass, the New Yorker felt like he had just witnessed something he shouldn’t have. And he had been so excited to see his friend earlier, but now, he didn’t even know what to say.

Murdoc numbly glanced down to his old buddy. “Ace. Go.”

Hearing that, Ace gave a curt nod and stood, briefly looking at his friend to say, “I’m sorry, Murdoc.” and left as well.

Murdoc Niccals sat alone now; the phone still pressed up to his ear as if he was frozen in time.

The former bassist let out a breath that he had been holding in for what seemed like centuries, and shut his wide eyes. And no one would ever know that right then and there, a single tear rolled down his cheek.

Chapter Text

Just staring at the flight ticket on my phone gave me anxiety. My flight home to Townsville was literally a week away. Honestly, I didn’t feel like going home during the midst of my independence. But I suppose it wouldn’t hurt to see dad… it had been a while. With a heavy sigh, I threw my phone down on my bed and padded into my bathroom for a late evening shower. After adjusting the water to my liking, I began to de-clothe; but of course, right as the bra was coming off there was a knock at the front door.

“UGHHH!” I groaned, tangled up in this harness of a bra around my head (because I started to pull it off the t-shirt way instead— BAD IDEA). “HOLD ON!”

I wrestled around the small confines of the bathroom until I finally had the dreaded thing off and slingshot it towards the bed. The door sounded another round of impatient bangs. I quickly threw on my silk kimono robe and tied the band tightly around my waist so nothing would be sure to spill out when I ran to the door, not caring— or remembering, actually— to fix my hair from the bra strangling.
The only thing I saw when I opened the door was a flash of blue hair and a very tall figure jolting my way and then— lips. Against mine. They were surprisingly cold but intruded with hot breath, and there was a taste of chocolate syrup. Hands grabbed at the back of my kimono and the figure bent closer, causing us to stumble further into my apartment.

It was when there was a small gap of space between lips, that he whispered, “I like you.”

My mind was a buzz. Looking up to his face, he had his eyes closed, as if too nervous to look at me.

“Stuart….” I murmured, a little speechless myself. The last thing I was expecting was the Gorillaz’ singer to burst into my apartment with a kiss. I hadn’t seen 2D in a few days and last time we were together there was some sweet tension, but none like this.

And he looked different too; his hair was slicked back and he had his collar popped up, and he was a bit chilly— definitely not radiating his usual warm feeling.

He set his forehead against mine and let his hands rest on my hips. “I’ve been goin’ bonkers at the thought of you. I couldn’t help it.”

“Look at me,” I replied, reaching up to place a hand on his chest.

At my request, his expression crunched up and he tipped his head away, still unwilling to open his eyes. “Vera, I just wanna tell you…” the words started soft, innocent; then he pried those eyes open, turning his gaze towards me, this time with a growing seductive smirk; “I want you.”

I felt like I was going insane with all the shock of the moment because I could have sworn…those eyes…. something was there… behind the white: something red. Something hypnotic. But it was gone just as it came with another blink of his eyes. His smile faded when I didn’t respond right away.

“I’m such an idiot.” His hands slipped away and he stepped back, gripping his forehead. “Great fucking tosser, I am. I’m sorry, Vera.”

Being apart from him now, I had a moment to take a full breath for myself an try to regain my composure but my stomach was so full of butterflies I felt like throwing up and my brain was boggled beyond belief. I re-adjusted my robe and glanced up at him, noting the knuckles on his left hand were dried over with blood.

“You’re not an idiot.” Was what I finally said. “I’m just… surprised. And you’re just so… different all of a sudden. I don’t know.”

2D dropped his hand and turned back to me. His expression held slight agitation. “What do you mean?”

“Are you kidding?” I didn’t want to seem mean, but I nearly laughed. “You have this whole new look,” I gestured towards the spiky gelled hair, “and your hand is all bloody. What happened?”

The singer glanced down at his knuckles and shyly hid them behind his back. “It was nothing. Just an accident.” He paused, then stepped closer. “Nothings changed, Vera. I’m still… still 2D.”

I kept a small skeptical frown; his response wasn’t that convincing at all. But something seemed to be bothering him inwardly, so I just assumed that whatever was upsetting him was simply the cause. Otherwise, he had just confessed that he liked me— wanted me. And he didn’t seem to be giving up on that topic because he had inched his way back into my personal bubble, reaching down to grip my hand in his. “Do you not like me?”

I was quiet again, unable to open my stupid mouth to utter a reply. I felt his hand begin to slip away, but I squeezed it, leaning forward on my tiptoes to press a gentle kiss on his lips. This time they were warmer. A smile returned to his face and that’s when he bent down to even the height difference, returning the kiss with deep fiery passion.

Strategically, I lifted my hand and pushed the front door closed, sealing my fate for the night.

Chapter Text

The alarm clock read 2:16 AM, and 2D still laid awake at the edge of the bed. His beauty laid next to him, peacefully fast asleep; yet he felt anything but peaceful. For some reason, his heart hurt and he felt like his brain was slowly imploding as he stared at the white ceiling in the darkness. Was his eyes playing tricks on him, or was he really seeing black and red swirls every now and then?

After another agonizing ten minutes, the singer slipped his arm out from around Vera and sat up, deciding that maybe it was best just to head back home.

So, he got dressed and politely left a note before leaving without a sound.

He managed to find his way back to the studio, in the meantime smoking a cigarette to try to calm his mind, but it didn’t seem to be helping.

He was surprised to see Ace still up, lounging on the couch and watching cartoons, smoking a cigarette of his own. Or maybe it wasn’t that surprising…

Everyone here had bad habits.

The bassist instantly sat up at the sound of the front door creak open, and squinted his overly pink and groggy eyes towards the Brit boy. “‘D! You back?”

“Mmm.” Was the only sound that emanated from the kitchen, where 2D striped off his jacket to drape over the chair before padding in. The TV lit him just barely, but Ace could tell the complete look of hellish pain and exhaustion that was plastered all over him. 2D didn’t even bother making the trip to his room, and threw himself right on the couch next to Ace. It was long enough for 2D to lay flat on his back but his legs had to dangle off the edge.

Ace scowled at the way his friend took up the whole couch, leaving him with nothing but a corner now, but he didn’t comment on it. Instead, his mind was elsewhere; like on what specifically had happened earlier in the jail.

“Since when do you have a girlfriend?” The bassist muttered, attempting to keep a flat tone.

“Since today.” 2D stated.

“I’m guessin’ it’s Vera?”

“Bingo.”

Silence, then, “So, she really likes you?”

“Appears so.” Another cigarette would be great right now. 2D glared at the dying bud his fingers held. Just as the flame was sizzling out, a random cold sweat enveloped slowly over his body. His stomach twisted in knots. Maybe… maybe another cigarette wasn’t a good idea now.

“Is that where yous were? With her?”

“Will you just sod off!” 2D spat back with irritation, plopping hands over his face. He felt color literally drain from his body, and he involuntarily shook. Suddenly a blanket of nausea came and—

Chapter Text

I don’t know what came over me, but the amount of bile that spilt out of my mouth was sickening. Hunched over the toilet seat, my body clung to the cold plasticky plumage until the nausea past. Shaken, I stared into the blackness of what sat in the bowl; the swampy vomit was nothing like I’d ever seen before. Why was it black? That’s what I couldn’t understand. There must be something wrong with me…

I slowly wiped the rest off my mouth, and gripping my tender stomach, I began my shaky ascension upward.

A snarky bit of laugher suddenly enveloped behind my ears. “HeHeHeHe...”

“WHOS THERE?!” I nearly screamed, spinning around a one-eighty on my heels only to tumble with my back smack against the wall. My heart beat faster now and the dizziness started to creep up again. “Stuart?”

Maybe he didn’t leave after all. Maybe he was still here. That laugh sounded so real I couldn’t have just imagined it!

The fluorescent glow of the bathroom lights suddenly began to flicker and dim. My whole plain of view increasingly grew darker as if someone placed a veil over my eyes and—

“HeHeHeHeHeeee!”

Across from me now, the floor gave out an ominous creak as if someone had stepped into the bathroom. I felt like passing out but I simply couldn’t. “Stuart, cut it out!”

Surely it was him playing games. It was just him.

An elongated shadow began to develop over the door— a horned figure. It slowly crept along the door like a ghostly painting. I couldn’t take my eyes off of it.

Suddenly it began to shift, revealing a crab-like claw—

“Darling, Stuart’s not here right now.”

The words tickled my right ear in horrific proximity. I spun my head to it’s direction, terror-stricken to see a red face with glowing green eyes glaring back at me.

That’s it. With a flash, I ran out of my apartment, grabbing my cellphone on the way, and dashed two floors all the way to the sidewalk across the street. I was barefoot and only wearing a long shirt and some underwear but that was the least of my problems. What the fuck did I just see?

With trembling hands, I dialed Melanie’s number.

Chapter Text

I couldn’t stop shaking. Curled up in a blanket on Melanie’s couch, the sight of sunrise filtering through the window adjacent from me didn’t seem to bring any comfort. My mind stayed haunted by what I had witnessed back home.

“Try to explain what happened again.” Melanie stated, handing me a steaming cup of camomile tea. “Slowly, this time.”

The warm cup felt cozy in my clammy hands. With a long exhale, I racked my brain in order to try to get my story straight. “I saw something....” I began, but just looking into Mel’s skeptical eyes, my tongue turned into lead. I had already gushed to her the whole horrific bit back in the car ride here, detailing the freaky sounds and the ‘man’ in the shower. But she didn’t seem to believe me then. Why would she believe me now?

Noting my hesitance, Melanie spoke up, trying to keep a calm tone. “You said there was this scary face.... and it spoke to you. Do you think your apartment is haunted?”

Her question surprised me, and I suddenly felt a bit more open to speaking. “I’m not sure. I never really believed in all that ghost stuff before but.... Mel, this really scared me. It looked and sounded so real.”

Mel frowned at that, staring down at her lap while twisting her hair around a finger; she was deep in thought. I didn’t want to sound like I was insane so I added, “Like, why the hell would I make any of this up?”

She looked up with scanning eyes, and after a moment, said, “I believe you. I’m just reeling as much as you are. This is nuts.”

I set my tea down on the coffee table and flopped back into the couch. “God dammit. I want that apartment on Belmont even more now.” I bit down on the inner corner of my cheek in my own contemplation, and muttered on, “I mean, I was alone. 2D had left a note, so it couldn’t—“

“HOLD UP!” A finger was suddenly swung towards my face and Mel’s eyes were three times bigger. “What do you mean 2D left a note? He was in your apartment?!”

Oh yeah. I didn’t mention that whole part about Stuart yet. I could feel my cheeks light up in a red blush, and I tightened my grip on the blanket wrapped around me. “We slept together.”
Melanie literally slipped off the couch at the sound of that news. Hearing that confession slip out of my mouth sounded strange, but at the same time, I had no regrets.
I had no time to actually mull over our escapades since my horrific morning, but just thinking about the time we had made me grow butterflies.
Mel jumped up and ran for her cell phone in the other room. “Gimmie his number, babe. I need to call him!”

“What?!” I shrieked, looking over at the clock to see that it was only five in the morning now. “Why?! Besides, it’s still super early! He wouldn’t pick up.”

“I don’t care, I’m still trying.”

Nice explanation, Mel. I was not going to let her interrogate him at five in the morning just so she could hear the details. “I’m not giving you his number.”

“Doesn’t matter!” Her smug voice shouted back. “I got the drummer’s number from the party!”

ARGHHH! I crashed my face into a pillow and endured the painful phone-call I heard in the next room:

“Hey Russel! This is Melanie, Vera’s friend! Can I speak to 2D? It’s urgent.” She sounded so chipper it killed me to the core.
There was a long moment of pause before she responded with a thank you and came padding back into the living room, plopping next to me and hit speaker phone.
Over the pillow, I glared at her.

“He’s bringing the phone to him.” She smirked at me as the other end stayed in silence. But it wasn’t long until a voice came through the speaker:

”Cinco A.M. CINCO A.M! Are ya too stupid to understand this is no call hour?! What do you want?!”

My eyes flew wide at the sound of that voice. Definitely not 2D. It was Ace.

“Where’s 2D?” I asked before Mel could throw back a snarky response.

“He’s sleepin’, obviously. But he didn’t feel good earlier so I didn’t want Russ to wake him with this bullshit call.”

Strange. Did he have the same illness I had earlier ago as well?
“But he’s there with you?” Mel asked.

”Last time I checked.”

“What time did he come back from Vera’s house?” She continued.

I could tell Ace was getting even more impatient now by the irritated tone in his voice, “Jesus, I don’t know. Like two-thirty, three? What’s the big deal?”

“Well, Vera had a freak encounter earlier in her apartment and I wanted to make sure it wasn’t 2D pulling some kind of sick prank.” Mel frowned, looking at me while she spoke.

There was silence, then a burst of laughter arose from the phone. “‘D? Pranking? Gimmie a break! He’s too much of an airhead to devise any such thing!” The laughing continued long enough for it to get an eye roll from both Melanie and I, but then it suddenly died down, and his tone became serious as if he finally digested the words ‘freak encounter’, “Is Vera okay though?”

“I’m fine.” I spoke up. “Everything’s fine. Sorry about Melanie. Goodnight, Ace.” With that, I quickly reached over and hit the end button. I stood up suddenly as if to get my jacket, but then I remembered how much I did not want to return home. So I simply threw Mel an irked look. “2D wouldn’t prank me like that. What’s wrong with you?”

Mel held her hands up in innocence. “I am just trying to see out every consideration. I don’t know him that well, and when you said he was over earlier I thought he might have been the assailant. No harm no fowl. But honestly, if he had answered the phone, I would have ripped him a new one for leaving you in the middle of the night with just a god damn note.”

“Hey, at least he left one!” I snapped. I was really loosing my patience with her over protectiveness right now.

“What did it say, anyway?”

For a moment, I couldn’t remember. Tonight was so crazy a little measly note wasn’t the forefront of my thoughts. But then it came to me: “It said, ‘not feeling well, I’ll see you tomorrow, love’ with a heart and his name.”
Huh. So he must have had the same sickness. I couldn’t wrap my head around that idea.
“Can I just go to sleep?” I muttered, looking towards the palm trees swaying outside of the window.

Melanie sighed but gave a nod. “I’m sorry, Vera. It’s just, you called me crying and freaking out at two in the morning, and now there’s all this stuff with that singer... I’m just concerned that’s all.” She got up and went over to give me a hug.

“I know.” I whispered, resting my head on her shoulder. My mind needed a rest.

Chapter Text

The green grass of the camp yard blurred my vision as I was thrown to the ground. A chunk of dirt forced its way down my throat and there was a crunch as my arm twisted in the wrong direction.

A sick, pre-pubescent laugh filtered through my ears as I tried to roll over, but my body felt like it was weighted by a thousand pounds. A foot came down to assist, nudging at my shoulder until I was flat on my back. The sun was hot. I couldn’t see anything except a short figure.

It kept laughing. “Screw you, Pringle! No one likes you!”

“It’s Prindle! I’m not a chip!” I cried, tears blurring even more of my vision now. My arm burnt and I couldn’t move it. “Seriously, leave me alone!”
The rest of the kids weren’t even paying attention. And where was the camp counselor?
Suddenly a second figure came into view. “Just stop it, Willy.”

“Ha! Teacher’s pet to the rescue! Why don’t ya make me?”

“Just stop it! She hasn’t done anything to you!”

Willy reached down and grabbed my pink tail, yanking it up towards him. Why was he so tall? I screamed in pain. “I want to see Pringle break.” He sneered.

That was it. The second figure rushed towards Willy, tackling him to the ground despite the height difference, and socked him in the face a few times. I had to lay there frozen... petrified to even move one muscle in my arm. Something was definitely wrong with it. My chest tightened and it felt like I couldn’t breathe; I wanted to go home. I hated it here, I just wanted my parents.

“Vera, are you okay?” A voice was right besides me now; I still couldn’t see, but I was pretty sure my rescuer was that popular goodie-two-shoes, Chase.

“I just want to go home, bring me home, Chase.” The words tumbled out of my mouth but I couldn’t remember saying them.

“My name isn’t Chase, Vera. ...Vera?”

“Vera!”

My eyes blinked open to see a red and white bedroom, not the Townsville camp— and an exhale of relief escaped my lungs. It was a dream. Or rather, an unfortunate memory? I couldn’t understand why I would dream up that horrific instance in my life— but I guess anything would be better than dreaming about what I witnessed in my apartment eariler.
Shaking off the negative sleep, I sat up and noticed Melanie sitting on the other end of the bed. She smiled at me and held out a mug of coffee.

“It’s almost noon. I thought I had to wake you up sometime. Plus...” she scrunched up her nose in hesitance but added, “you have work at one, right?”

The coffee was a nice little gift but once I heard ‘work’, I let out a huge groan. “God dammit.”

Melanie sighed too, but kept a half-smile. “Unfortunately I have your work schedule memorized. This is what happens when your car is a piece of shit and I have to drive you everywhere.” She got up and pointed to the vanity table where my uniform sat. “I went back to your apartment to get it for you. You’re welcome.”

I opened my mouth to respond but then closed it again. Why was she so good? After a few sips of coffee, I got the courage to ask, “How was it? When you went back to the apartment?”

“I didn’t see anything suspicious.” Mel replied, thinking it over by tapping a finger on her cheek. “And nothing was out of place. ...But I guess this whole thing gives you a better reason to move into that apartment on Belmont street, doesn’t it?”

Ah yes, my dream apartment. I was so close to getting all the cash I needed... but I was taking a week off of work. Speaking of, I reached down and grabbed my phone, quickly skimming over my flight information to make sure it was still in check. Deep down I was dreading going back home. But there was nothing I could do about it. Maybe my dream was simply preparing me for the revisit of childhood memories I had left there.
Either way, I let out a large pent-up sigh, downed the rest of the warm coffee and slid out of bed to get dressed.

I opted to walk to work this time instead of having Mel drive me. I needed fresh air.
The bright green eyes of whatever-the-hell I saw stayed plastered on my brain. I just couldn’t shake the scary thoughts off of me, no matter how hard I tried. I swear... what I witnessed was real. And it made the hairs on the back of my neck stand on end. What was I going to do?
As I rounded the block, I watched a Starline bus tug by. Maybe it was good that I was going back home? It would give me some time away from the apartment. Maybe that’s all that I needed? It could be possible that the cruddy air vents were simply messing up my mind.
Yeah, maybe that was it.

Taking a deep inhale and exhale, I crossed the street over to the drive-in. I was just in time; I punched in my card and slipped on my skates.
Honestly, I lost track of time, but I’m guessing it was a few hours later when I saw a tall, blue haired figure leaning on Morty’s counter. He was wearing a very nice salmon-pink blazer, and his hair was more-so back to normal today. His fingers picked at a carton of curly fries, munching on them here and there. I smiled at the sight of him, but at the same time I didn’t bother to go towards him. I was stuck frozen in my skates with a stomach filled to the gills with butterflies— and maybe a little nausea. And for some reason, I felt silly and flushed in red. Was it because I was totally crushing on him? Or was it because I felt embarrassed? Embarrassed for jumping bases with him and embarrassed for puking my guts out after, and embarrassed for seeing.... seeing god-knows-what that scared me half to death.
Watching him from behind a lane column, he popped another curly fry in his mouth and chatted it up with Morty behind the glass.

Get a grip on yourself, Vera.

I patted my cheeks and prayed the redness would go away as I grew the confidence to finally skate over to him. When he saw me, he stood up straighter and strolled over with a giddy smile.
“‘Afternoon, love.” He said, nonchalantly slipping his hands around my waist, tightening the gap between us without any qualms.

“I wish you stayed,” was all that I could mutter.

He raised a dark eyebrow at me. “I’m right here, yeah?”

I rolled my eyes at him and smacked him gently on the shoulder. “I’m talking about last night. You didn’t stay. And I wish you did.” I trained my gaze to his feet, feeling my cheeks flush again. But I felt a bit more perturbed than embarrassed now.

A frown formed on his lips and I could feel his nimble fingers press into my hips; he tried to keep the gap between us intimate. “I mean, it was either gonna be pavement pizza at your home or mine. So I was like, no she wouldn’t like that. I’d rather be iffy by me-self. But I’m sorry if I offended you.”

“It’s okay.” I bit my tongue for a moment, but I knew I needed to tell him about my scary moment. If he got sick too, then maybe he experienced something as well. “But I just wish you didn’t go because I ended up getting ill too. And...after that I...saw something....”

Because I still kept my eyes fixed from him, 2D lifted a hand to grasp my chin, guiding my face towards his. He looked concerned with those eyebrows still arched.
I tried to explain the whole incident the best I could to him. But as I spoke, his white eyes seemed to light up in an unusual faint glow— especially when I mentioned the red face of whatever I had seen sticking out from the shower. Then he would just blink his eyes as if they had been bothering him, and everything would be fine again.
When he didn’t answer me right away, I asked, “Are you okay?”
Stuart dropped his hands from my body and took a slight step back. He seemed apprehensive as he ran a hand through his hair and replied, “I wouldn’t worry about that.” He paused then straightened himself out and reached for my hand. “If I were you, I’d be worried about these bloody chips.”
He pulled me towards Morty’s pickup counter where his fries were, but they were all soggy now sitting in the paper basket. “What a crying shame.” 2D shook his head with a huff, then exclaimed, “Lemme take you to lunch! I know this real spanky place, got three and a half stars and everything!”

I was actually quite baffled by his behavior all of a sudden, and I couldn’t string a single sentence together. I mean, he was always aloof, but he didn’t even seem to a knowledge the fact that SOMEONE was in my apartment and that it scared me half to death.

“Stuart,” I interjected, “Did you even hear what I just told you? I’m genuinely frightened and all you care about is freaking curly fries?!”

Hearing that, 2D frowned again and released a long breath from his nose. He glanced down at his toes for a moment, then crept forward to cradle both of my hands now. “I just don’t want you to be scared.” He leaned closer and met his lips with mine. He was gentle about it, but his hands snaked their way back around my body, fingers gripping and pulling at the fabric of my uniform. The smell of dollar store mints and old cigarettes mixed with the fiery warmth radiating off of him intoxicated me. For some reason... for some reason the terrors of last night began to fade away.... And a strange calmness seeped into my veins. There was no reason to feel better about the situation; but maybe I really shouldn’t be worried about it? Like he said.
Suddenly, my name was shouted and I pulled away from the man in front of me to see Mr. Sorento leaning on the pick-up counter with his arms crossed. His scrutinizing amber eyes scanned us up and down. The way his wrinkled lips were pulled into a scowl made my stomach twist. “Vera,” he seethed, “I’m sorry to break up the smooch-fest, but I thought it was best to remind you that you’re at work; not some damn swingers party!”

2D cocked an eyebrow at that. With a swift step, he departed from me and strode closer to my furious boss. “I’m sorry we’ve bothered you, mistah gaffer, but it’s my fault ‘cause I was eating some of your product, but then I saw this brilliant lady and I couldn’t help but to kiss her. So it’s really not her bad.”

“I don’t care!” Sorento snapped, turning his sharp eyes to me. “Prindle you’re fired! You bring too much trouble to this establishment.” With that, he turned and stalked back to his office.

“Trouble?!” I exclaimed, feeling flabbergasted. I knew exactly what he was implying by that; my whole instance with the creep customer and the police. Oh, my blood boiled and I could swear steam shot out of my ears. “Yeah, well fuck you!” I shouted without filter, ripping off my detachable apron and threw it on the pavement.
As Stuart stood, frozen momentarily in shock at my words, I stomped past him to the counter.
“Nice working with ya, Morty! You were cool!” I saluted the overheated cook, then stomped back to the blue haired singer in a huff. “Get me out of here.”

2D looked down at me with raised brows, but then he cracked a small smile. “Lemme take you to that real spanky place I was telling you about.”

Chapter Text

Stuart was beaming like the sun with those white eyes as he adjusted his Burger King crown on the top of his head. The world seemed bluer since what had happened at work, but he could always make me giggle.

I took a curly fry and dipped it in the pool of ketchup on the wrapper. “If you wanted a good burger, we could’ve gone to In-N-Out.“ I glanced up to him with a silly skeptical look.

“Well do they have any of these special chips? No. No, they don’t. This is why you gotta do research, Vera. Hours of research.” He waved a floppy fry in my direction before dropping it in his mouth.

A sigh escaped my lips as I realized that he was only here In L.A because he was on tour. How much longer would he even be around? And I was leaving to go back home... which by the way, I still hadn’t told him.
I ran my curly fry through the ketchup slowly, and kept my eyes down as I said, “Stuart, I’m going away for a few days.”

He was in the middle of trying to compare the length ratio of his curly fry to a straightened out curly fry when I spoke up. The singer slowly glanced up to me, and I could instantly see the white glow from his eyes begin to dissolve into a darkened gray. “What do you mean?” He whispered, as if fighting back the beginning of tears.

I frowned when I saw his confident aura dilapidate, so I reached over and patted his hand. “I’m flying back home to see my parents. I was kinda forced into the whole thing, so it’s not like I actually want to up and leave. My flight is two days from now.”

He nodded, and grabbed my hand as if he needed an anchor. His eyes were black now. It’s the second time that had happened.

Inwardly, I wanted to ask him about what had happened to make them like that, but I knew this wasn’t the time.

“We’re only staying for another week. And then it’s off to Mexico.” He confessed, reaching up to slip the paper crown off of his head. We were both silent at that information until 2D’s phone started to ring.
His body twitched at the sound, but he let go of my hand and timidly answered it. “This is 2D— Who’s this?— Oh, ‘afternoon, Noodle—— Where am I?— I’m at Burger King——Yeah, they got good chips— I’m with Vera— Did you want me to get you something? They got good chips—— Oh, sorry. I’ll shut up now, yeah?——— Really?———— Okay. Thanks, Noodle.” When he hung up, he kept his head down with a somber expression. He snatched his lip between his teeth; I could tell he was really trying not to cry now.

I was silent for a moment as I examined his face, but then I asked, “What’s a matter?”

“He’s going to Wormwood.”

The words that tumbled out of his mouth had no resignation with me at all, and I blinked blankly at the blue haired man in front of me. He squeezed his eyes tightly for a good minute. But when he opened them again, he seemed to be back to normal. Sparkling white eyes.

He glanced up to me, and plastered on a tiny uplifting smirk. Suddenly I could feel a warm hand press against my thigh.

His mood swings had me on a whirlwind, but the way he looked at me now had me feeling like I was getting hypnotized. He plopped the faux crown back on his head and his sly smile grew wider.

A fire began to sprout up inside of me— as if my whole soul was lit in flames. Everything around me blurred except for him— except for those eyes. Black and red. Swirling.

Swirling. Things began to stretch and tilt, and the heart that sat inside my chest beat as if it were ready to combust. Was this what drugs felt like? Was this what it looked like? The hand on my thigh matched the fire that was inside me. And instantly we were walking, even though I don’t remember ever getting up from the table. My hand was in his and I let him pull me into a dark room. When the door closed behind us, blinding florescent lights switched on. But I could still only see him.

“Do you burn like me?” His lips whispered, before pressing them against mine.

Chapter Text

The new cell was dark, with only one barred window and a shitty twin sized bed with a popped spring.

Oh well. This was all the more better than that damned ten hour flight from Los Angeles. A ten hour flight of a transferring prisoner, mind you. The epitome of zero class economy-economy.

Murdoc Niccals let out a long breath from his nose as he padded into his new living quarters. The thick door behind him slammed shut but he didn’t flinch. His heavy eyes fell down to his cuffed wrists before him.

Wankers. He thought, Couldn’t bother to take ‘em off?

His lips pulled into a distasteful scowl, and he ended up trudging over to lay on the springy mattress. At least he was back in the ol UK, that shitty cubical in LA always smelt like sweat and weed and no one would come by to spark up a nice chat.
Suddenly there was a scream from down the hall and the sound of bodies thumping around— ah, yes, Wormwood was so much better.
Murdoc stretched his lanky arms out, popping some bones here and there before laying down. He stared at the white brick ceiling and briefly contemplated what the rest of the band was doing. He couldn’t admit it aloud, but deep in the crevasses of his heart he felt a twinge of saddened pain towards Noodle. Sure, he’d always been called an arsehole here and there. Did he deserve it? No, because of course they were the aresholes. But, this time.... when Noodle had called him arsehole back in LA.... she was serious. He could just feel it.

“Damn.” The old bassist muttered, turning on his side with a hand clawing at his chest. The black heart throbbed. And 2D....
His thoughts for 2D were the worst of all. Maybe he shouldn’t have—

Right then, the florescent lights in his cell began to flicker and what appeared to be a thick, soaking red fog poured into the room. A giggle echoed through the walls, and Murdoc suddenly was up on his two feet. He wasn’t scared, but it sounded like someone was in his room. It was fairly dark now, as one of the lights blew out, but the red fog seemed to create a slight glow in the room. Murdoc could see the outline of a figure in the blackness of the corner.

“Alright, enough with the bloody theatrics.” He uttered, a slight frown pulling his lips down.

“I’m sorry, I just can’t help myself,” A new voice sounded from the black figure, “Murdoc Niccals...?” The fog dispersed slightly and the figure slinked forward, barely visible, but Murdoc could make out the red skin and glowing green eyes.

The prisoner narrowed his eyes slightly, but his frown was instantly replaced with a smirk. “Who’s asking?”

The mysterious figure began to twirl around the room, appearing and disappearing in and out of the smoke. “H. I. M.” It sung in a silvery voice. Then it stopped and set a crab-like claw on Murdoc’s shoulder. “You’re one of Satan’s favorites, hm?” It hummed from behind, “I gotta little message for you. Two things, actually.”

Murdoc stood as still as a statue, the claw keeping him completely planted. But once he heard the devil’s name, his heart sped up in excitement. Finally, some much needed action.

The figure continued on, “First, from my employer: El Merida.... He wants to thank you for all your sacrifices; pleading guilty for him? You’ve been such a fantastic customer...”

At the sound of that, Murdoc’s fantasies came crashing down. Nevermind. This was El Merida shit. God damn. The excitement was suddenly replaced with bubbling anger. Murdoc clenched his fists, and shoved his shoulder away from the demon. “Let’s get something straight, yeah? I didn’t plead guilty to no ones shit. Merida fucking framed me. Should’ve known... bloke was dodgy as hell.” He shook his head and stared at the floor.

The demon simply giggled at him. “What did you expect? He’s a crime lord AND a soul harvester... speaking of... second: he’s quite enjoying the soul of Stuart Pot...and I’m enjoying his body.”

“What?” Murdoc seethed, fists squeezing so hard that veins felt like popping. This was all just supposed to be a harmless little deal— give up 2D’s soul in exchange for some goods— nothing more. Nothing more.

The demon swirled around Murdoc’s body and gazed at his furious eyes. “Free carcass, room for possession. Surely you know that, Muds.”

Sweet Satan, the way he mouthed the nickname Muds caused the prisoner to burst forward, swinging his fists violently to land a hit on the creature. But of course he couldn’t as it evaded seamlessly. Only 2D called him that. That fucking face-ache. Why was he such a fucking tosser that he had to let a demon posses him? “Get out of him! He doesn’t need this shit.”

“But this is what you signed up for when you made a deal with my employer.” It grinned. “He promises his demons bodies to posses. And with every harvested soul comes a fulfilled promise.”

“Why are you telling me all this?” Murdoc hissed.

“So that you have to live with the consequences. It’s fun to watch worthless humans suffer.” The demon giggled again, but it’s voice had suddenly dropped a few octaves and the floor shook.

Murdoc stepped closer into the demon’s personal space with dark eyes that held the epitome of fury. “I’m gonna find a way out of here. Ooh, and when I do—“

“Oopsie, hold on!”The demon interrupted, slinking away now. “Stuart needs me. Poor boy just found out you’re transferred to Wormwood!” It chuckled manically, eyes glowing greener. The red fog grew heavy once more and enveloped the demon, but before he disappeared all together, he growled with a sickening grin, ”Time to make him BURN.”

Chapter Text

“What. In. The. Actual. HECK. Is wrong with you right now?”

I was currently seated cross legged on top of a chair with Jerkface Ace sitting across from me. He wore an uneasy frown and his fingers jittered in agitation on the arms of the chair. I simply shrugged at his rude question, pulling the sides of 2D’s pink blazer closer in order to snuggle deeper in it. The blazer was a looser fit, and the shoulder pads made me look a bit like an extraterrestrial, but the lingering peppermint smell made it all the more better.

“Vera,” Ace continued, with an irritated voice of concern, “You’re not even wearing shoes.”

Glancing down, I noticed that he was indeed correct. I couldn’t remember ever taking off my shoes... but, oh well.

“And since when do you smile like that? It’s creeping me out!” The bassist shook his head at me, and his frown seeped into a disgusted scowl.
I hadn’t realized I’ve been grinning either, and I traced my fingers around the corners of my lips to feel a gigantic plastered smile. What was interesting to me was that all this time and I still don’t remember ever leaving Burger King with 2D.
“Where am I right now?” I slowly asked, the words sounding funny as they left my mouth.
Ace just looked at me with eyes as wide as saucers. He was silent for a moment, then got up, left the room and came back with a cup. “Drink this.”

“What is it?” I took the cup from him with slight hesitance.

“It’s magical mermaid juice.” He kept a poker face for a moment, but when I lifted my eyebrow in question he rolled his eyes and said, “It’s H2o.”

The cup was nice and cold in my hands, and the water felt fantastic down my throat as I drank the whole thing. Ace plopped back down and stared at me with his naked eyes.
“Seriously, are yous dehydrated right now or somethin’? We’re at the NME American studio. 2D has an interview and he brought you along. I really think you’re dehydrated.“

“I think she’s just in love.” Another voice sounded, and we both looked over to see an NME worker standing there with a clipboard. “Honey, you got all the symptoms.”

“In love?!” Ace exclaimed, nearly in a shriek. His face held the epitome of disgust.

I nearly laughed at that, with eyes wide myself. In love? No. No, I was not in love with 2D. But he was quite the catch. I shook my head at the woman, feeling indefinitely flushed. “Sorry...but I don’t think so.”

She simply shrugged. “It’s either love, or someone’s just good in bed.”

Okay. The embarrassment from this moment was seriously going to make me implode. But I think she had a decent point. Of course, I wouldn’t confirm that out loud.
The woman just winked at me then continued, “Noodle would like to see you. You can follow me.”
I gave her a silent nod, but as she was speaking, I could feel the furious mortification emanate from a red faced Ace. I tried not to look at him, but when I got up I was shocked to instantly feel his hand gripping my shoulder.
He had his obsidian glasses back on, so I couldn’t read his eyes, but he held up his pair of shoes. “I can’t have ya walking around barefoot, dollface.”

My face heated up in another round of blush, and I glanced at my naked feet then to his shiny black boots. The air was thick with awkwardness, and the sweetness of his words hung in the air until he quickly added, “Its just weird.”

I didn’t know what to think about the gesture, but I guess it wouldn’t hurt to put them on. My feet were a bit chilly anyways. I glanced back down to my cold toes that curled on the speckled tile— which is when I noticed Ace’s pink, blue, and green striped socks. A giggle escaped my lips even though I tried to hold it in.

Ace simply scowled and with a turn strode into the hallway, hands instantly digging into his pockets in search of cigarettes.

After slipping on the slightly bigger shoes, I clomped my way behind the worker down a series of hallways until we reached a studio room. Noodle and Russel were standing in front of a soundproof glass window, which looked into the rest of the studio where 2D sat talking to the interviewer. Through the intercom, we could hear everything they were saying—

The brown haired interviewer held a tablet in front of him, as if he was reading the questions from it. His eyes skimmed over a few words then he smiled and asked,

“Do you think you’re a natural frontman? Which iconic lead singers of the past do you take inspiration from?”

2D, who was sitting in a wheely chair, couldn’t help but to slowly spin around in a circle by pushing off with his foot. When the question was asked, he stopped and pursed his lips to think about a reply. “I wasn’t always.” He began, resting his foot on top of the other knee with a restless jiggle, “They used to have to push me onstage with a long stick, or lure me out with a Crème Egg dangling from the ceiling. Now I don’t need either, although I still like Crème Eggs. It’s my fans that get me out there now. My 2Disciples. I hear their call and I go to them, like Batman when he hears a scream for help. Sorry, I’ve forgotten the rest of your question as I’m now just thinking about Batman.”

—I knew the glass was soundproof, but for some reason I felt like tiptoeing in. I went to stand next to Noodle, who took one look at me and began to laugh. “Nice shoes.” She shook her head, turning to me now with her arms across her chest. “2D really did a number on you, huh?”

“Excuse me?” My fleeting memory insecurely forced me to rethink what actually happened at Burger King. I hugged 2D’s blazer closer around me.

“What? You’re telling me you don’t remember every lustful little detail?” She giggled with a smirk, but Russel just let out a large sigh in the background obviously not amused.
Glancing back up to Stuart, he was smirking at the interviewer and his white eyes glowed with confidence. His bare arms were exposed and he unconsciously stretched them, flexing the little muscles that he had.
No, I remember now. We were together and things happened. Good things. A small smile glinted across my face. I hadn’t been listening to the interview, but suddenly Noodle exclaimed to Russel,
“See? Did you hear that? He knows exactly what he’s on about, but now he’s talking about damn Tolberones!”

“Yeah, he’s dodging questions.” Russ agreed.

I frowned at his words and crossed my arms over my chest. “What do you mean?”

“Obviously,” Noodle replied throwing a hand up in guesture, “2D’s been lying. Just look at him.”

I didn’t see anything wrong with him. The singer seemed up-beat, with an air of confidence— granted his focus wandered time to time and he appeared a bit antsy but that was how he was all the time.
2D gave a smirk towards the interviewers’ next question and sat back in his spiny chair. “I don’t mix well with criminals. Well, not at the moment anyway, ‘coz Murdoc’s in prison...” He took a moment to twiddle his thumbs as if he had to plan exactly what he was going to say next. Then he simply chuckled to himself and continued, “I don’t know who this El Mierda is, either, but he might have contacted me on Facebook,”

“I didn’t know 2D was smart enough to be an ass.” Noodle muttered and shook her head, staring intently at the British boy.

“Who’s El Mierda?” I asked, tuning out the rest of 2D’s reply (and frankly Noodle’s rude comment).
The Japanese guitarist let out a long sigh from her nose, letting her frown deepen. “This crime lord of some type. Murdoc informed me that was the man who quote-on-quote framed him.”
Russel nodded in agreement at that and added, “We don’t know if we believe him though.”

Interesting. Every time I hear about this Murdoc the more he appears to be the troublemaker. Right then, Russel and Noodle were called into the studio to answer some questions as well.
I guess all there is to do now is to wait. I sunk down in a padded chair, stretching my legs out in front of me. The chunky black boots looked funny on my small feet.
It was actually quite nice of Ace to lend me his shoes. I wonder where I left mine....
Just then the bassist himself wandered into the small room, plopping down next to me. He wreaked of tobacco.
“Feeling any better?” He murmured, not even turning to eye me over.

“Yeah, I guess.” I gave him a small smile, trying not to carry over the same awkwardness from what happened earlier and what was implied by that worker. “Things have been kinda crazy, to be honest.”

Ace cracked a soft smile at that. “Aren’t they always?” He glanced down at me now with those pinkish eyes. “—Like what?”

The ghost-demon-monster thing in my apartment. I didn’t feel like explaining it all at the moment but he should at least know. I was about to open my mouth when I caught the solid white eyes of Stuart fixed on me. His eyebrow twitched and his head cocked to the side as if signaling he could read my thoughts just now. The pit of my stomach started to burn. Then he grew a gentle smirk, rolling his gaze back to the interviewer again.
“I got fired today.” I told Ace, “I don’t work at the drive in anymore.”

“No shit.” He exclaimed, eyes wider with a concerned frown. “That sucks. I mean, the place was fuckin’ creep-city. But I guess gettin’ the money’s what counts... what are you gonna do now?”

I shrugged. “I don’t know, Ace.” I felt frozen in my chair and frankly a bit dazed all of a sudden. Why did I tell him I got fired? I was going to say something else, wasn’t I?
Ace leaned forward, craning his neck in order to see my eyes. His low voice was laced with serious concern as he muttered, “Are ya sure you’re okay, dollface?”

Right then the rest of the band members entered from the studio, 2D sauntering on in straight towards me. “Thanks for holding my jacket, love.” He smiled down and held out a hand to yank me up and out of the chair.
He ran his hands down my shoulders, feeling the texture and fabric of his pink jacket. “You actually look quite brilliant.”

I felt myself blushing at his statement, but then suddenly I was startled when Noodle cleared her throat behind me.
I turned and saw her with her hands on her hips. Russel and Ace were standing behind her. “We’re going to get dinner, Vera. If you’d like to join us.”

“I’d love to.” I replied instantly; it was still a whirlwind that I was actually getting to hang out with these people. But then I paused when I remembered my clothing situation. I couldn’t just go around in these man-boots and Ace— I glanced at his socked feet— he simply couldn’t go out like that.
I grew a small embarrassed frown and faltered over my words. “It’s just... maybe I should change? And give Ace his shoes back?”

Noddle let out a small giggle when she noticed Ace’s feet as well, but then smiled and stated, “I always carry extra clothes on me, you can take whatever you want.”

“Wait, you do?” Russel wondered a loud.

Noodle nodded, moving the conversation into the hallway now and towards the car. “Have you ever looked in Stylo’s trunk? I made it into a fashion pop-up.”

Chapter Text

Lo and behold she was right. Noodle had various tops and skirts and shoes and dresses all packed away in the trunk.
I was able to replace my old work uniform with a black turtle neck tank and a pink skirt. It matched with 2D’s blazer, which I still opted to wear. I also threw on some black wedges.
For some reason, I wasn’t completely surprised to find this mobile mall in the trunk of their car. Anything seemed to be possible with these people.
After the quick change, we all huddled into the two doored Camaro, with Russel driving. I guess it was secretly decided that we were going to a Chinese Habachi because thats where we arrived; but it was one of those cool ones where they cooked in front of you.
“I haven’t been to one of these in forever!” I exclaimed, exiting the car behind 2D.

“Then I wonder if you have what it takes,” Noodle grinned playfully, “The Shooting Vegitables in the Mouth game is taken very seriously here.”

Ace shook his head at that and crossed his arms. “Um, I actually hold the leading score, soo...”

But Noodle wasn’t going to take that. She smacked him in the arm which made me giggle. “We’ll see about that! Zenkai yūshō shimashita.”

At the sound of her words, 2D actually raised his eyebrows and gave a small unsure shrug. “I dunno Noodle, you only got half the zucchini. I wouldn’t call that winning.”
The guitarist simply ignored him, but I looked up at him with curiosity. “You know Japanese?”
He did a little shrug again and replied, “Sometimes I do, sometimes I don’t. Depends on the weather I guess.”

I rolled my eyes at that but smiled and we all made our way into the restaurant. Russel took control of making sure to get us a good seat at the hibachi, and soon we were all piling in at the large square cooking table.
“Just a quick minute, love.” 2D interjected right before taking a seat and ran off towards the toy crane game he spotted near the bathrooms.

“He’ll be there forever.” Russel muttered with a frown, but didn’t really seem to care. He took his seat next to Noodle and grabbed a menu. I sighed, frowning slightly at such a childish impulse. That was something Melanie would probably do.
But suddenly I was surprised to see Ace pulling out a chair and gesturing towards it for me. “Your seat madam.”

Interesting. I narrowed my eyes at him but took the seat anyway, he sat down next to me. “Thank you.” I hesitantly said, eyeing him up and down. He was being oddly nice today.
Ace noticed my cautious look and simply replied, “Don’t flatter yourself, Princess. I just want my chicken teriyaki.”
I rolled my eyes at him then turned my attention to my blue haired man; he was slumped over the machine, moving the joystick meticulously in order to get the hold of a prize. The crane jerked left and right then down and up.
The chef came over, greeted us and took orders. Noodle gave the chef what she thought 2D might like to eat for him. Ace was beaming when he gave his own order and held up the silverware knife, swooshing it around as he spoke. What a ham.
Soon, the chef had most of our meals whipped up from the hibachi, simply simmering in the corner but before being plated, the vegetables needed to be cooked. And thus, the Shooting Vegetables in the Mouth game.
As the chef chopped up the zucchini, Noodle glared intently at Ace, making a slitting throat gesture at him. He set his glasses down and glared back at her, keeping a competitive sneer fixed on his face.
Russel just chuckled at them with a shake of his head. He held his menu over his mouth slightly as if signaling that he didn’t want to play. Across the table I shot him a look of ‘they take this seriously don’t they?’ and he gave a big nod at that in return.
The chef began flipping cubbed zucchini towards the mouths of the other people at the table, so in the meantime Ace leant towards me and whispered, “Yous can be like my lucky charm, okay? My cheerleader.”
I nearly snorted at that, but nodded, trying my hardest to pretend to be serious. Like hell I was going to be his cheerleader. When the chef turned to Ace, and fired the vegetable— I said in a loud voice, “Well, then I hope Noodle whoops your ass!”
Ace was so shocked at my words that he missed the zucchini entirely— his one and only chance at fame. Victorious shrieks of laughter belted out of Noodle and she nearly fell out of her chair.
My turn now, and the chef flipped the vegetable towards me— and just my luck I caught the first one right in my mouth! Everyone cheered except for Ace who was currently shooting daggers at me with a livid scowl. Unfortunately I wasn’t that talented to catch the second zucchini in my mouth, so the chef went on to Noodle who caught a whole lot of ten cubes in her mouth all in a row!
“Holy shit!” I exclaimed, glancing excitedly from her to Russel. After she swallowed them all we all broke down laughing. Except for Ace. He simply went on to stab his plate with the silverware.
Finally, we were all given our meals and I could feel Ace’s energy lift slightly when he was rewarded with his chicken teriyaki. That’s when 2D finally decided to show up, sauntering around the corner to plop down in his empty seat.
“Sorry darling.” He said to me, “Look, I won this dishy tattoo.” he stuck out his left bicep in order to reveal the freshly imprinted Betty Boop. He grinned at me with that missing top tooth.
I raised my eyebrows at the thing. “Wow. Fancy.” I said in a flat tone. Really, that’s what he was gone this whole time for?
When 2D saw the less interested look on my face, he held up a finger in a gesture of patience. Digging a hand into his back pocket, and after a few moments of wiggling around, he pulled out a fragile little cocktail umbrella and held it high with two fingers.
With a plastered smile he said, “I swiped this up for you too.” He gently opened it up to reveal the whole hot pink parasol with lime green flower print. “It’s pretty, like you! Here, you can put it in your drink there.” 2D plopped the thing into my cup and grinned wider, obviously content with his peace offering.
Any other girl probably would have liked a stuffed animal from the claw machine, but this made me giggle. At least he tried. I reached over to pace my hand under his jaw and kissed him on the cheek.

“Where’s my drink umbrella, ‘D?” Ace piped up, eyebrow sharply raised as if offended; but he held a playful smirk as to show his sarcasm.

2D simply shrugged, grabbing his chopsticks to pick at the white rice on his plate. “You don’t get one.”

Right then, Noodle gasped and held out her phone for everyone to see. “Look at this. Not even a full day in prison, and we got this nonsense!”
I narrowed my eyes to see the screen better— it was a Facebook post stating #FREEMURDOC.
When Russel saw it he shook his head in annoyance. “Dammit Murdoc you son-of-a-bitch.”

Ace and I didn’t seemed fazed by it at all; or at least, Ace simply kept his head down so to not get involved.
Noodle looked as if she held a bitter distaste in her mouth, scrolling through social media with irritation. “He needs to learn to face consequence.”

I felt an arm draped itself around my shoulders right then, and noticed that 2D was quietly shifting closer while keeping his gaze away from everyone else. His hand squeezed my shoulder when Noodle proceeded to call Murdoc a bunch of names under the sun in English and Japanese.
“Are you okay?” I whispered low enough that only he could hear, studying his solemn face. Those white eyes traveled up towards mine instantly lighting a fire within myself, and he set his lips against the back of my ear, murmuring my name softly. His other hand reached over to trace his fingers down my thigh, hot like matches.
I could feel my whole face turn pink, and I tried to glance away, feeling a multitude of feelings at the moment— especially embarrassment as I didn’t want Ace to see.
But 2D was like a drug, and he didn’t seem like he was going to be stopping the necking any time soon.
Noodle was still on her phone and Russel was eating, but I still didn’t dare look at Ace. I shifted in my seat, turning more towards Stuart and whispered, “Don’t get me wrong...but don’t you think the PDA is a little much?”
2D ignored me, instead his fingers traced their way up my skirt even more. I was so shocked that I placed my hand on his to stop him, saying firmly now, “We’re in a restaurant.”

He pulled back, but only slightly, only to look at me in the eyes again. His words were so low and so surprising that I had to take a moment to digest it: “I think I love you.”

My brain was static. I felt paralyzed with my heart racing a thousand miles per hour. Was he serious? How could he be?
I took his hand and guided it back to his chopsticks. “We’re in a restaurant...” the words poured out of my mouth again. It didn’t make sense but I had nothing else to say.
I finally turned to look at Ace, but no one was there. His seat was empty and there was money on the table.

Chapter Text

I found myself outside, wedges clopping heavily on the slick pavement. It had begun to drizzle and the sky was overcast in gray clouds. A chilly breeze swept down my spine.
Behind me, 2D dashed out of the restaurant and quickly caught up with those long legs of his. He grabbed my shoulder, instantly gluing me to one spot.
“Where are you going?” He asked, sounding perturbed.

“I just needed a moment.” I breathed, placing my hands on my burning stomach. Something felt off.

“Lemme look at you,” He walked around me, placing both hands on my shoulders now. ”Vera.” The way he said my name struck me like a lightening bolt, and my eyes shot up to his.
But those whites weren’t white anymore— nor black— but swirling, and red. Was I.... was I imagining this....?
“Look at me.” He commanded again, coming closer, closer, closer until his lips were against mine.
My stomach burned even more. But this time I returned his lustful kisses, and set my hands around his waist. When there was a moment to breathe, I kept my eyes on him and whispered, “Can we leave?”

He nodded, taking my hand tightly in his and yanked me over to the car. He quickly flung open the door to let me climb inside and once he was in off we went.
“What about Noodle and Russ?” I asked, glancing from him to out of the window. We were already on the highway now. Going at least 95.

2D grew a sinister little grin, lighting a cigarette with one hand while the other hang on the steering wheel. “Told ‘em to get an Uber.”

[The two remaining Gorillaz members sat in stricken awe at the hibachi table. Russel with his eyebrows raised at the stolen car keys and Noodle with a look of utter flabbergasted shock at her band mate for ditching them. After a moment, she couldn’t help but to scream “2D!!”]

The smile on his face didn’t seem like him... but that uneasy thought was instantly washed away from my mind when I felt his burning hand on my thigh again and I reconnected my eyes to his.
He tipped his head back and forth, beginning to hum something aloud, “I'm walking to the something bla bla bla bla bla bla bla. Collapse.”
The car began to accelerate past 100 now I’m sure.
“I'm drinking too much bla bla bla bla bla bla bla bla bla. Fall out.”

It didn’t seem like him. It didn’t seem like him. That’s all that kept popping into my mind... then washing away... then popping back again. I felt like there was a fire inside of me. I placed a hand on top of his.
He glanced over at me with that plastered sneer, continuing to mutter in tune, “I'm feeling really bla bla, I want to bla bla bla. Collapse.”
Suddenly, I noticed bright blue and red flashing lights behind us in the mirror and my heart beat quickened. “2D...” I whispered, my tongue feeling like lead suddenly. My head was spinning. The lights were too much.
There was black.
And the next thing I remember was that we were stopped on the side of the highway.
Black.
The cop strolled over and Stuart rolled his window down.
Black.
“Sorry copper. I just got caught up in the driving, I guess.”
Black.
“License? Right then. —You know what? Think I left the bloody thing in my other pants. The cruddy pair in the wash. Bet ya it’s in the rinse cycle now.”
I couldn’t keep my eyes opened it seemed, and I kept going in and out of black for no reason. What... what was wrong with me?
I saw the policeman bend down to look past Stuart and when he saw me, he instantly demanded 2D to step out of the car.
But the blue haired singer didn’t move. He simply blowed a stream of Tobacco smoke in the cops’ face before saying with a grin, ”No.”

“Listen, get out of the car right now.” The policeman commanded louder.

There was suddenly a giggle. It didn’t sound like it came from 2D...it sounded familiar actually. And I instantly grew goosebumps. My eyes sank closed again. Right then, there was a whooshing sound and a CRACK and then a car engine.
When I forced my eyes open again we were on the road as if nothing happened. The speed was still over 100, and his hand was still on my lap.
The only thing different was the fact that there was red on 2D’s hand. A liquidy red.

“And in the end it means I bla bla bla bla bla bla bla
The end.”

Chapter Text

His bed was springy and it squeaked every time I moved an inch. It was dark too, with the curtains pulled shut and the air was thick. Only thin slits of light filtered in. Ace wasn’t lying when he said the room would be a mess. Patterned shirts, pants, various colored blazers and shoes were scattered about as if the floor was the laundry basket. 2D didn’t seem to mind however, and stepped right over everything to get to his vanity. I had a feeling in my soul that his eyes were still messed up, but the oddness of that thought would instantly drain away. Even sitting on the bed now my brain would switch on and off— things would go black or I’d forget for a second where I was. It was as if someone else was controlling my mind.
2D kept glancing back at me through his mirror keeping that provocative smirk glued to his face as his bloodied hand reached into a drawer to pull out a small bottle. He flipped the top open and downed at least three mysterious pills. Then he turned back to me— eyes practically glowing in the darkness. “You know,” he began, slowly creeping forward, “ever since that fuckface was sent away to jail, I’ve been feeling quite chuffed— much more than I’ve ever been actually— and then I got caught up with you Vera and, to be honest,” he made his way into the light now, casting a shadow on the wall; but it wasn’t his shadow. It was the silhouette of the creature I saw in my apartment a few days ago— crab claws and all. “You’ve been such a drug to me. I’ve barely thought of him this whole time and you’ve been simply delicious—“

It was real. The creature. It was real, it was right there. Right behind 2D. I felt paralyzed, my body shaking in complete fear. But he kept coming closer, until he was right before me, and took my face into his hands. His touch burnt. “Look at me.” He commanded, his sweet British voice turning deep and sour. I couldn’t help but to lock eyes with him at his word— those swirling hypnotic eyes— and soon my hands unconsciously drifted towards his shirt, reaching up to unbutton each button.
“I really think I love you...” He bent forward to press his lips against mine, but they were chilly. A shiver ran down my spine, and I kept undoing the buttons until there were no more. He slipped off his shirt, dropping it on the floor with the rest of the neglected clothes, and climbed onto the bed, pushing my paralyzed body down beneath him. His icy lips trailed their way down my jaw to my neck while murmuring my name softly against skin. “...Let me keep you.”

He felt so good, but how could something so good also inflict so much pain? The only rational thoughts I had instantly turned into static. My hands dragged down his bare back, feeling little bumps of bone here and there. “Why...?” I whispered through numb lips; I wasn’t sure if the question was rhetorical or not or why exactly I even murmured it.
2D stopped kissing my body suddenly and tipped his head back up to look at me. He grew a tasteful smile, “Like I said darling, you’re delicious.”
When he grinned at me that’s when I could see it; the red face, the green eyes— a demon. It wasn’t him. It wasn’t 2D.

Was it 2D? It was 2D. The scary thoughts were gone. Someone pulled them out. I ran my hands through his soft blue hair, grabbing at the bundles. An unconscious smile drifted onto my face.

His lips drifted across my jaw again, and he whispered in my ear: “Let me keep your soul.”

-

I can’t really recall the rest. For some reason it keeps popping in my mind that it was good, and I enjoyed all of it. But those thoughts contradicted the pain I was feeling right now— hunched over the toilet seat once more, gushing up black goop from my mouth. 2D didn’t appear to care, standing outside of the bathroom door with a cigarette hanging from his lips.
The smell of the tobacco made me even more sick and another round came hurdling up. My mind was completely spinning.
It took me about an hour to finally get cleaned up, dressed and overcome the sickness. Luckily 2D’s eyes were back to normal— which for some reason I had it in my mind that they were like that the whole time, but....that just didn’t feel right— and after I exited the bathroom, he had already slipped on a leather jacket and some shoes.
“Let me take you home.” He stated, reaching out to grab my hand and turned towards the door.

But my feet were planted to the ground. “Can’t...can’t I just stay here with you?” I faltered. The thought of going back to my apartment made my gut twist. There were just too many bad things associated with it.

“No.” He sharply replied and yanked me with him all the way to the car. “I’ll just take you to your friends’ house.” It was if he could read my mind.
I frowned at him but he wouldn’t take no for an answer.
The car ride was weird and utterly silent. He kept a hold of my hand the entire drive, grasping it tightly as if he’d lose me the second he let go.
“You’re hurting me.” I murmured, wincing at his abnormal strength. He didn’t say anything at first, but when I glanced at him I was shocked by the amount of pain his face held. Those white eyes strained in holding back tears, his jaw was set and his whole frame shook. “I’m so sorry, Vera.” He lamented under hushed tones. “I...I haven’t been...myself.” When he looked at me all it took was a second for those hurting eyes to switch to that allusive black. I’d only seen him with those eyes in just a handful of occasions.... but something was telling me that this was his normal. This look was how it was supposed to be.
But the thought made my mind go spinning again and I glanced away.
I could barely hear his next words, but I swore he had whispered, “I’m scared.”

Chapter Text

The lights flashed on and off like a strobe; there were pinks and blues, but the atmosphere remained dark. People were packed together like sardines jiving on each other as the music thumped in the background. The bar remained surprisingly quiet, with a few stragglers on the stool bars while the party went on in the near distance. Ace hunched over the counter, grasping a beer bottle in one hand while a burning cigarette hung from his lips. His pinkish eyes stared into the shiny counter beneath him, as if he was staring into a void.
Suddenly, his cell phone rang and with a scowl, he answered it bitterly. “What?”

“Hey man. I got news for ya.” It was Snake.

The sound of his best buddy made Ace feel relief, yet annoyance. He was still pissed at him from the last meet up. Snakes’ parting ‘F-U’ stayed clear in his mind, and it burned. Ace stayed silent until Snake went on:

“And it’s important, K? You gotta listen. I’m tellin’ ya right now.” He sounded urgent, but it annoyed Ace even more.

“Alright, just tell me.” He replied, setting his beer down to rub his forehead. He expected some un-important stupid shit to come out instead. Something about his ex-girlfriend or that Lil’Arturo fell into the toilet again.

But Snake wasn’t planning on talking about either of those things. “Okay, it’s about Niccals. —Don’t fuckin’ hang up on me! I’m serious man... listen. I know the gang and I know you know that we were gonna screw Niccals over even more so that you could stay longer as a famous bassist...”

Ace rolled his eyes at that. Stupid idiots. He still couldn’t understand how they’d even pull that off— but it wasn’t like he wanted them to anyway.

“...but we ain’t doin’ that anymore. I was doin’ some digging and Niccals is already in deep shit. Well... not with the law. We think he really did get framed, man. Don’t ask how— but I gotta hold of his records, and supposedly he got thrown in the can from some overdue parking tickets. I mean, what a load of shit! Who goes to maximum security for that?! But it’s even worse— the guy who we think‘s involved with it is called El Merida—“

“Noddle’s mentioned that name before.” Ace muttered, his tongue dry. Snake had been talking so fast, he couldn’t digest all of this information.

“Yeah, well the guy’s not just a drug lord man.... he’s bad. Like real bad. Arturo says in Mexican folklore, El Merida is like this really powerful grim reaper—“

“You don’t believe that shit right? I mean, you’re not telling me—“

“Listen... I dunno, man. But we know Niccals and we know what he’s into. Wouldn’t surprise me if something happened between the two. Bad ju-ju, man.”

Ace couldn’t form any words. How could he? This was insane. Suddenly he felt uncomfortable in his seat, as if someone had eyes on him.
He glanced around, but no one in the club was paying any attention to him.

Snake continued. “I thought you’d like to know. Be on guard, Ace. Things are fishy.”

“Yeah. Thanks bud.” He replied, ending the call right there. Parking tickets? Grim reaper? What the fuck Murdoc. Ace stood, feeling as if he should head back to the studio now. This was important— or at least, quite interesting— news that Noodle and Russel should probably know about.
As he walked down the dark streets of LA, the more unsettled he became. Grim Reaper. Please. Murdoc was into that type of demonic shit but.... it couldn’t mean it was real right?

None of the lights where on in the studio when he finally reached it. Strange. Usually Noodle or at least 2D would still be up at this time. The only source of light came from the TV, which showed blue static only. The uneasy feeling in his stomach grew each step he took. “Noods?” He called, switching on the kitchen light. “Russ?”
No answer.
A frown pulled its way onto his lips, and he laid his jacket on the table before strolling right towards Noodle’s room. Raising a hand, he was going to knock on the door—

“Ace,”

The bassist literally jumped out of his skin as his name was uttered in such close proximity. He turned to see 2D standing there, only backlit by the blue static glow of the television. An eerie silence hung in the air before, “Back so soon?”

Narrowing his eyes inquisitively, Ace nodded. “Yeah, I got this info on Murdoc I gotta tell Noodle. Or Russ... are they back yet?“

There was that silence again. The bassist had to take a second to wonder if 2D even heard what he said. Ace opened his mouth to reiterate—

“No, you don’t.” 2D stated nonchalantly. Yet, his statement didn’t match with the question.
Ace’s stomach was in knots now. What was wrong with this guy?

“‘Scuse me? I gotta talk to them, are they around?”

The same response. “No, you don’t.” It was so weird, so off-putting that Ace almost scoffed at the tone. He decidedly rolled his eyes and lifted his wrist again to knock on Noodle’s door. “Stop fuckin’ around ‘D, before you try my patience.” But just as his knuckles we about to hit the wood, his fist haulted mid air as it was grabbed by another.
With wide eyes, Ace slowly glanced over to see 2D’s silhouette close now, hand gripping his extremely tight— it hurt.
His sweet voice floated into the air, “How ‘bout you just forget what Snake told you?”

Ace was literally sweating now. What was going on? How’d he know the information was from Snake?! The bassist threw his other hand forward with hard force on 2D’s shoulder to try to push him away, but it only made things worse. 2D seemed to have this abnormal strength all of a sudden, taking Ace’s other arm and throwing him back into the living room. The bassist stumbled backwards on to the floor. He wasn’t hurt, but he was so flabbergasted he could utter a word. 2D stepped above him, the TV lighting the singer up brilliantly now— that’s when Ace could see his eyes. Those swirling black and red ones.
Holy shit. Suddenly the idea of this Mexican grim reaper didn’t seem all that far fetched.

“And we won’t be tellin’ anyone about that now will we?” 2D replied, practically reading his thoughts. “Please?” he added in a whisper, “‘Cuz don’t want to hurt you.”

Maybe Ace was just wasted that’s all. Maybe this was all a drunken hallucination or dream or something!

But 2D kept proving him wrong. “Oh Acey. Don’t be so silly. It was just under some unfortunate conditions that we had to meet again. However I must admit did miss you. You were always such a baddie in the good ol days.”

That voice... it wasn’t 2Ds’. It sounded familiar. But Ace shook his head in disbelief, “Stuart, just stop fucking around! I’m...I’m gonna beat the...the fucking shit out of you, I swear to god!”

“Ooh, I like it when you talk like that...” A red grinning face with bright green eyes appeared in a blink in front of 2D’s face then disappeared like the Cheshire Cat.

Ace couldn’t believe his eyes. He instantly scrambled up, using the couch behind him as support. His whole frame shook, and he felt like puking. “No...not you... it can’t be...”

“In the flesh!” the singer paused, glancing down, then added, “well, if you count the possessing part.” 2D suddenly began pacing back and forth, his shadow behind him mimicking his movements yet— was in the shape of the demon.

“HIM.” Ace muttered, keeping his eyes completely trained on the possessed person in front of him. He couldn’t even begin comprehending all of this, but it was happening. This was the demon he had seen in his nightmares years ago in Townsville (during his worst years— full of horrific crimes and drugs).... but he never thought this thing could be REAL. But most importantly why was it in 2D?!

“You can thank Murdoc Niccals for that.” 2D sneered with a grin, but his eyes watered in silent tears. “And speaking of, he needs to stay where he is. I can’t let anyone screw that up— especially with the likes of you. So again, I’ll say this nicely, why don’t you just forget what that little bloke told you, hm? Because if you don’t—“ 2D was instantly against Ace, a strong hand gripping his neck. His voice fell a few scary octaves, causing the floor to shake, “I’ll take what’s left of this idiots’ body, kill all his friends, including you, and I’ll even kill that pretty girl, Vera. Got it? And it won’t be short and sweet.”

Staring into those evil, possessed eyes, Ace could picture his death and the others. There was fire, and it was gruesome. The bassist shuddered at the thought and nodded in response, lips trembling too much that he couldn’t promise a verbal yes.
The demon grinned, and that was the last thing Ace saw before blackness.

Chapter Text

I stared at the phone in front of me, lock screen lighting up with messages and it wasn’t even noon time yet.

2D: Listen, sorry bout last nite...should of let U stay with me. I regret it cuz I wanna see U again... and you’re goin away 2morrow so lemme take U out 1 more time

2D (20 seconds later): I mean...I know U gotta pack and stuff...so go and do that jazz. But lemme take you out later plz

2D (five seconds later): Plz luv

I couldn’t help but to roll my eyes at the bombardment of messages. Melanie glared at me from across the dining table as she noshed on an apple. “Is it him again?”

I nodded and set the phone down, not wanting to respond right away. I was exhausted. My head throbbed and my body ached. Honestly, I didn’t feel like seeing him again— something in me felt off. My stomach burned at the near thought of him. And I didn’t know why. My eyes watered in tears and I pressed a hand towards my temple. “I don’t know why I feel this way.”

“What?” Melanie spoke up, raising her eyebrows in shock when she saw my tears. “Are you crying? Dammit. I knew he was no good.”

“He’s fine!” I quickly stated, “No—nothings wrong. I mean... it’s just....every time I’m with him I get sick. And I always forget things. But I know it’s not his fault. He’s sweet and gentle and—“

“Vera Prindle.” Melanie took a crunch of her apple before rounding the table to take a seat closer to me. Reaching out, she flipped my hair over my shoulder and said, “You have a goddamn hickey, so don’t tell me he’s a gentle-ass-fairy.”

My eyes widened and I nearly choked on my own saliva when she said that. My fingers felt along my neck until they met a small wilt under my jaw. No way.

“He didn’t look right to me last night either.” Melanie went on, “I mean he didn’t even politely acknowledge me when he dropped you off— the only slight acknowledgement he had was some pissed off side eye.”

Last night. Yes that’s right, he dropped me off.... but why couldn’t I remember the ride over? “He’s not usually like that...” I murmured unconsciously, trying hard to recover the memories of last night.

“Like what?” Melanie asked, and when I didn’t answer her for a second she waved a hand over my face.

“Sorry,” I blinked, “Like pissed off and rough. 2D is a really nice guy.” But for some reason those words felt strange leaving my mouth. Granted, I only have memories of him being sweet to me, but for some reason my gut was telling me that there was a darker layer to him that I was missing.

2D: babe...?

When my phone buzzed, I jumped in shock slightly. And with a sigh, I replied:

Me: Ok. That’s fine

I could sense Melanie’s impatience at my choices grow stronger by the second, and she let out a dramatic breath when I started typing back to him. “Seriously Vera, you’re giving in?”

“Look, Mel, I’m literally going away for like a week— far from here. Might as well go on one more date with him! I know I’ll miss him anyway.” I frowned slightly at the thought of being away to simply go back home.
Her frown was deeper and more intense which made me feel as if I was being scolded by my mother. Not a great feeling. “Don’t say I didn’t warn you, K?” she went on, “—And it just dawned on me, what happened to your work uniform? You weren’t wearing it when you came back last night.”

“Oh, about that....” I could feel my face flush at my confession of getting fired. I’d never gotten fired before actually... so it was super weird when I would say it out loud. All I got in response from Mel was an ultimate face-palm.

-

I thanked Mel for letting be stay over again a million times before walking home to pack my clothes. The apartment smelt like damp mold and soggy humidity because I hadn’t been there in the past few days to keep the fan on. Just being back again reminded me of how much I wanted to leave. But now I didn’t have my job anymore and....it was such a long shot for that house on Belmont street now, wasn’t it?

I heaved a sigh, collapsing on my bed next to my suitcase and placed my head in my hands. Tears bubbled in my eyes.

—KNOCK KNOCK KNOCK.

I nearly jumped out of my skin at the sudden sound of knocking on the front door. Pulling myself up, I wandered over to open it, revealing a chipper 2D standing there.

“Hello, love.” He playfully grinned, “longtime no see.”

I tried to keep the tears in, but when I saw him they poured down my cheeks. A frown instantly tugged at his lips and his hands reached out to caress me. “Why are you crying?”

His hug was warm and I rested my head on his chest. “I don’t know. It’s just... I haven’t been feeling well... I’ve been so drained. It just feels like something’s wrong.”

2D quickly shook his head, pulling me into the hall and closing the door. “Nothings wrong, darling.” His fingers ran through my hair soothingly before he began coaxing me down towards the car. “Lemme take you out. I got a really good place in mind.”

Stylo was sitting there, passenger door open, ready to go. I wondered how Noodle felt with 2D continuously stealing the car.

-

I was surprised to see that 2D had brought me to an indoor roller skating rink. The last time I went to one of these was back in the East coast around middle school.
But he grinned at me nonetheless and pulled me over to the roller skate counter. “It’s like when we first met, remember?”

He was so cute, I giggled lightly and nodded, recalling that amazing night a month ago. After we got our skates on, we both rolled into the rink hand-in-hand. Not surprisingly there were a lot of high-schoolers and younger kids rolling all around, and a few of them took notice to the famous singer I was with.
A trio of young fangirls followed us around the rink, giggling and whispering about how hot 2D was which made me roll my eyes. Stuart didn’t seem to notice the attention until one very brave girl rolled right up in-front of us and held out her phone. “Can I take a picture with you, 2D? I’m your biggest fan!” She beamed at her idol.
2D raised his eyebrows and smiled back, letting go of my hand to stand next to the girl. “Wow, biggest fan, huh? Biggest in all the world or all the universe?”

“In the universe!!” She squealed, holding her phone up to take a selfie with him.

“Impressive.” He chuckled, rolling back to my side, taking my hand.
His action made the girls’ smile twitch into a slight frown, and she gave me the nastiest glare before skating away.

But I laughed with roll of my eyes and set my head on his shoulder. Silly girls. I used to be like that at one point in time. But it was all just so stupid. “They can be vicious, huh?” I wondered a loud.

2D just shrugged. I could tell he didn’t really mind the attention, but he simply stated, “Russel likes to call them piranhas.” He was quiet for a moment before taking both of my hands in his. “So you’re leaving tomorrow?”

“Yeah.” I was still conflicted over the trip. Home was home, but LA had been so wonderful, and part of me didn’t want to leave it. Part of me didn’t want to leave 2D either. Stuart seemed equally sad, if not even more. He rested his forehead against mine, murmuring, “I’ll be leaving to Mexico soon too. So just... try to come back quick, okay?”

When I gave a small nod in response, I could feel his fingers drag their way down my jaw and towards my neck, stopping at the bruise he had made the day before. ”Just remember who you belong to when you’re gone.”

“2D,” I took his drifting hand in mine and laughed softly at his words. But when there was silence, I glanced up at him and his eyes said it all. He was serious.
The British singer took this moment to plant a heated kiss on my lips. I started to think about the other day when he had mentioned twice that he loved me. Was it true?
I looked into his white eyes, “Sing for me?”

He looked surprised at my words, as if no one ever miraculously asked him to sing for someone privately before. He took a minute, glancing around the rink to see that all the fan girls where gone or at a further enough distance that they wouldn’t tackle him at the sound of his singing, before choosing a song:

”I'll be a regular guy for you, I never said I'd do that. Why you looking so beautiful to me now when you so sad?” 2D ran his fingers down my jaw, looking at me with eyes full of emotion now.
”I will always think about you. That's why I'm calling you back on my way through. I wanna stay with you for a long time, I want to be stone love. I wanna see LA in your eyes when I'm leaving with your love. I will always think about you. That's why I'm calling you back, 'cause I got to run soon...”

When he finished, his eyes were closed shut, and his hands held my clothes in gentle fists. His bottom lip was thread between his teeth and he looked as if he was going to start crying. I had never heard the song before, but it was so beautiful I almost had tears as well. I smiled, placing my hands on his cheeks tenderly. “Oh Stuart...”

Feeling my hands, he leaned down to press another kiss on my lips.

“...did you make that up for me?” I asked when we parted. I could feel his grip on me tighten, and a tear rolled down his cheek. I even thought he was going to tell me that he loved me again but his response was the total opposite—

“No. It was made for someone else.”

Chapter Text

“...That’s why I’m calling you back, on my way through.”

The last words of 2D’s song echoed through Murdoc’s head as the prisoner laid on his springy mattress. Back in the LA jail he was able to listen to that new album 2D snuck in, and since then he kept the songs memorized in his brain. It was that last song on the album that really resonated with him though.
His black heart ached at the thought of 2D’s current state. Murdoc had never ever felt so guilty in his entire life until now. It was ridiculous; it was horrid! But he couldn’t deny that’s how he felt. If only that fucking demon didn’t show up then everything would have been fine— more like an ignorance is bliss sort of thing. It was only since that visit that Murdoc’s heart thumped with unusual guilt.

The prisoner scowled at himself and buried his face deeper into his pillow. “Oh faceache...” he murmured with lament. His soggy eyes drifted close, but he didn’t get that much snooze in before the sound of his name wandered through the cell.

“Murdoc—“ there it was again; closer, louder. But the criminal didn’t stir until he could feel the light touch of fingertips run across his forehead to brush away his dark hair. Murdoc instantly opened his eyes in shock, flinching backwards simultaneously only to see a blue haired figure hovering above him.

“2D—?” The ex-bassist gaped, feeling his heart shoot up into his throat. The singer was right in front of him, right here in the cell, clear as day. 2D inched forward, placing a chilly hand on Murdoc’s shoulder.

“Why’d you do it, Muds?” He whispered, inching closer and closer. ”Can’t you see I’m burning? And I miss you.... I miss you.” Their noses almost touched now, and the air was thick.

Murdoc sucked in a small breath, moving his shaky hand up to place on the other’s arm— double checking if he was actually there. “2D...?”
He wasn’t able to spit anything else out before something started to go wrong.
2D didn’t look sad and vulnerable anymore, and his eyes began to spin. His body grew dark like a cloud of smoke and he began to recede away into the shadows. ”You’re too late.”

“No wait... 2D—“ Murdoc reached for the boy, but he was unable to grasp him. “2D?!”

The figure was gone as quickly as he came. Murdoc sat up in a pile of sweat, clutching his chest with a hand. He glanced around in a hurry for his band mate, but when he saw no one, he collapsed back down onto the bed. Another fucking nightmare.

“I gotta get out of here.”