It's not that Macy has a problem with them, specifically - their music's pretty catchy, and they seem nice, and Jon's actually really cool - it's just that this school has its megastars, and she's already put her eggs in that basket (because it's the best basket, obviously), and nobody competes with Macy Misa and gets away unscathed.
So when she sees the flyer up on the bulletin board outside the gym advertising a DiscoFreaks meeting after school, it's not because she has anything against the guys in Panic (Jon's been a super-awesome addition to the JONASheads, even), or because she's worried the meeting's gonna take any of her JONASheads, it's just that JONAS are the band here, and JONASheads is the fan club, and they scheduled their meeting at the same time as the standing JONAShead meeting, and they put their flyer in the JONAShead flyer's spot.
When Macy plasters one of her flyers over the (ugly, what the heck is with all the roses) DiscoFreaks flyer, she's not starting the war. But she's darn sure going to be the one who ends it.
"So, I'm gonna miss tonight's JONAShead meeting," Jon says, hiding behind the locker door like he's afraid she's going to hit him. "I, uh, doctor's appointment."
"You're going to their meeting," Macy says, and doesn't miss the way he scoots a little closer to the lockers so the door covers more of him.
"It's fine. I can't force you to do anything."
"You could break my nose," he says, but he shifts out from behind the door so she can at least look at him. "And it's already kind of funny-looking, so it'd be cool if, y'know, you didn't."
Macy could totally break his nose. It's probably good that he knows that. Still, it's a little insulting that he thinks she would, even over something as important as the fan club. "I wouldn't break your nose. Go to your meeting, I don't care."
"I'll be back on Friday," he promises, coming out all the way. "I'll bring those cookies you like."
He tugs her pigtail a little when he walks away, leaving Macy to fume alone. The poster and the meeting time were one thing, but stealing a JONAShead - even the kind of JONAShead who calls Kevin and Nick both "Fluffy" because he can't tell them apart - is on a whole new level.
Whatever. If they want to fight dirty, Macy can fight dirty.
Kevin and Brendon have been blinking at the giant poster taking up about 90% of the bulletin board for twenty minutes, like it's in a foreign language or something. Macy takes pity on them at minute twenty-one.
"I don't remember agreeing to this," Kevin says, when she asks.
"Me neither. And Kevin has a crappy memory, but I don't."
"It was Nick and Ryan's idea," Macy says, because it's only a half-lie. Sure, it had originally been hers, but all she did was mention the possibility when the two of them were arguing over who'd memorized more of the thesaurus. They're the ones who made it a reality, it's not Macy's fault the principal just happened to be nearby, in hearing distance when Macy happened to mention how much attention it would get for the school.
BATTLE OF THE BANDS!!!!!
Panic! At The Disco vs JONAS
Saturday, 7 p.m.
Come cheer for your favorite!
The band with the most applause wins!
"What's the prize?" Kevin asks, and it breaks Macy's heart to use her extensive knowledge of all things JONAS for her own gain, but when Kevin's fan club is victorious in the end he'll totally thank her.
"A trip to the zoo," she tells them. "All expenses paid."
"Oh," Brendon and Kevin say at the same time. "Oh. It's on."
Jon's leaning against the atrium wall when Macy walks by after the JONAShead meeting - attendance was low, but she's not worried. Panic's new at this school, they don't have anywhere near the following JONAS does - and he smiles when he sees her.
"I didn't know if you'd still want a ride home, so I waited just in case."
Good, the DiscoFreaks meetings are short. Their president probably isn't an expert the way Macy is.
"Okay," she says, because Jon's a nice guy and so far he's been a good friend, but his defection, even if it was temporary, is a well-timed reminder he's technically the enemy. Still, she lets him take her bookbag and help her with her coat, and it's not like him being in the wrong band makes his arm around her shoulders feel any less nice while they walk to his piece-of-junk car.
"So, the battle of the bands," Jon says, as they pull out of the parking lot. Macy bites her lip - if he's about to say something she can use, give her an idea what Panic's strategy will be, well, there's a part of her that thinks that'd be awesome, but also a part that has her stomach twisting up hotly with guilt that he trusts her enough to think she wouldn't do that. "The prize is a trip to the zoo, right?"
"Um, yeah," Macy says. "All expenses paid." Paid by the JONASheads fan club, because it's a totally valid use of their fundraiser money to send the band on a victory zoo trip.
"If we win, you wanna come with? Like, y'know, a date?"
Oh. Maybe that's what the hot twist in Macy's stomach was, or maybe him saying that just made the guilt-twist change into the same warm cloud of butterflies she gets when he stays after school to bring her home, when he takes her books and brings her extra apples at lunch and smiles at her with his eyes all soft and warm.
Butterflies or no, though, Jon's the enemy, and this would be the worst time to forget it.
"We're not dating," Macy says, and instantly cringes a little. There was probably a nicer way to say 'no'.
A few too many beats of silence pass, enough to get awkward, enough she knows she probably hurt him, before Jon says, "I know that. Like, a friend date. I mean, the guys are gonna be there, why would I bring you on a date with my whole band, right?"
"I - right."
"So, like, just, as my buddy, if we win? Buddies."
You're not going to win, Macy thinks, but all she says is, "Yeah, okay."
When Macy gets to school on Friday - late, because she walked, because she didn't know Jon wasn't picking her up - something is very, very wrong. Everyone's walking around with these heartbreakingly sad looks on their faces; maybe someone died.
"Brendon and Kevin broke up," Stella says, appearing suddenly at Macy's side like a gossipy ninja. "It's horrible. Brendon cut through the atrium on his way to first period and I'm pretty sure all the plants were, like, wilting in his path."
"Oh no, that sucks." Macy means it. Sure, Kevin being in a relationship means she only has a shot with two-thirds of JONAS, but Brendon and Kevin are such a cute couple it's hard to be sad about that.
"Which reminds me," Stella says, in that fake-casual voice that means she's considering ending someone's life, "whatever you did, fix it."
"I know the Battle of the Bands thing was you, because everything that involves JONAS here is you. Joe and Spencer aren't talking to each other, and they're driving me crazy putting me in the middle. Like, usually I love being in between them, they get so — forget I said that, never mind. Anyway, fix it.”
“I didn’t - “
“Fix it,” Stella hisses, and stomps off down the hall.
Macy isn’t above asking for help when she needs it, it’s just that she’s very good at getting herself out of her own messes. Maybe this time, though, she went a little too far. This whole having enemies is tricky, probably because her enemies are all nice guys and she can’t hurt them without hurting Kevin.
Anyway. Asking for help, yes. Macy knows Kevin probably better than anyone else on Earth knows him, except maybe his brothers, but she’s very specifically not learned anything about Brendon. There’s no room in her head with all the JONAS facts she has to remember, and even the adorable stories Kevin tells her only half-exist in her head, just the parts about Kevin. She needs an ally, and she knows just the one.
Except when she finds Jon at his locker, he’s talking to one of the DiscoFreaks. The kind of talking where he leans in close and ducks his head and maybe blushes a little and she’d think he was flirting except that’s exactly how he usually talks to Macy. Um, the way he talks to her before he asks her on a date. Okay. Okay, he’s flirting with a DiscoFreak.
“Hey, um, can I talk to you?”
The DiscoFreak glares at her, but Jon just smiles at her, wide and easy. “Always.”
Macy waits for the DiscoFreak to leave them to their conversation, but she seems pretty comfortable leaning against the locker and just a little too close to Jon. He doesn’t make any move to tell her this is a private conversation, and okay, fine, that’s fine, Macy doesn’t need his help. But he’s standing there waiting for her to talk, and she can’t just walk away because no way is she going to look like a weirdo in front of this - pretty, maybe prettier than Macy - DiscoFreak.
“Um, you didn’t pick me up this morning.”
“Oh,” Jon says, “yeah, sorry, Brendon couldn’t ride his bike ‘cause, like, rainclouds were following him, so he took the seat you usually get. I should’ve texted, I guess.”
“Yeah,” Macy says, “no, it’s fine.”
“I probably won’t have room to bring you home, either.”
“Right. I have my bike, anyway. Whatever.”
“See you at the meeting tomorrow?”
Maybe Macy doesn’t want him at her meeting, him and his stupid cupcakes with the JONAS logo in the wrong shade of blue. She doesn’t tell him that, though, mostly because he didn’t wait for a response before he went back to flirting.
Screw fixing things, the DiscoFreaks are going down.
During Macy’s free period, she likes to run a few miles; on Friday, instead of putting those miles in on the track, she runs from the central staircase to the yearbook office. The editor was on the wrestling team last year, and he’s a little scared of her, scared enough to design some flyers and let her use the copier as much as she wants when the staff supervisor isn’t around. So Macy grabs a stack off the copier, runs to the hallway, forces flyers on everyone - almost everyone, not the DiscoFreaks, that would ruin her plan - and by the time she runs back there’s a fresh new pile of flyers.
It’s the most brilliant plan she’s ever come up with, right until the moment she forgets to make sure the coast is clear and Stella catches her slipping special flyers into a DiscoFreak’s locker.
“Macy,” Stella says, in that voice she gets when she thinks Macy is taking her JONAS thing a little too far, slow and patronizing, “did the Battle of the Bands actually get moved to a school an hour away?”
“Yes?” Macy tries, but she can’t really lie to Stella under normal circumstances, and definitely not when Stella’s holding one of the real flyers with the real location. “No.”
“Okay.” Stella loops her arm through Macy’s and pulls her down the hall, snatches the stack of modified flyers and drops it in the first trash can they pass. “Maybe it was my fault for not being clear. When I told you to fix it, I didn’t mean make it worse.”
Macy starts to answer, to try and explain, but Jon comes around the corner surrounded - seriously, literally surrounded - by girls, only half of them DiscoFreaks. And maybe it’s weird to watch them walk by, without so much as a nod from Jon, but it’s just, as far as Macy knew she was Jon’s only friend here outside his band.
“When did he get so popular?”
Stella stops walking so quickly she jerks Macy back a little. “Are you serious? He has a beard, his own car, and he’s in a cool band, everyone loves him.”
“But he doesn’t - “
“Ever hang out with anyone but you? Yeah, but it’s not like no one else is trying.”
Something about that, about knowing that Jon could have any friend he wants but he turns them all down for Macy, makes her feel the same way she did when he asked her on a date, that fluttery anxious clench in her stomach.
“You could just ask him out, Mace,” Stella says.
“If I wanted to date him, I could.” Macy's saving herself for a Lucas. Stella knows that. Everyone knows that.
Stella sighs and unlinks her arm from Macy’s. “You’re an idiot,” she says, “and it’s a good thing I love you.”
Jon shows up early for the JONASheads meeting, with a tray of cupcakes and no girls in sight. There is absolutely no reason for Macy to be relieved about that.
“I didn’t think you were coming.” The battle of the bands is turning into an all-out war, which is mostly Macy’s doing, and she’s not sure it’s a good idea for Jon to be here. Then again, he’s always seemed kind of immune to the rivalry.
“I have a bulletproof vest,” he says, “and I promised cupcakes. Uh, I thought letting Brendon help frost would take his mind off stuff, but he gave them all sad faces.”
Jon’s cupcakes are supposed to look like Kevin, but usually they end up more like what would happen if Kevin had a baby with Nick, and that baby grew up and had a baby with Joe, and then when that baby was a little older it got run over by a truck full of frosting. The sad faces are actually kind of an improvement, except Macy can’t shake the mental image of a sad Brendon sitting alone, forlornly making cupcakes as depressed as he is.
Maybe Stella had a point, maybe Macy really did go too far. She frowns at the cupcakes; when she looks up, Jon’s frowning at her.
“Is everything okay?”
“Um. Can we hang out after this, maybe?” she asks, and Jon smiles a little.
“If you think I’ll survive the meeting.”
Macy bites into a cupcake instead of telling Jon she’d probably kick out every single one of the JONASheads if she thought they’d hurt him.
The Panic boys live together a few streets away from Macy; there’s an adult that supposedly lives there, but he’s not one of their parents and none of the stories Jon tells about Pete make him sound like much of an authority figure, and Macy’s never seen him. It’s not as big or unique as the Lucas house, but their basement recording studio is huge.
Jon leads her upstairs and to the room he shares with Brendon with a hand on the small of her back; she barely lets him sit down and start to ask what she wanted to talk about before it all starts spilling out.
“So I started the battle of the bands just to remind the DiscoFreaks that our school already has an awesome band and they better not forget who’s the best - no offense - and I knew Nick and Ryan would go for it and I told everyone it was their idea but it wasn’t, it was mine, and now everyone’s fighting and I didn’t mean to break up Brendon and Kevin and I want my band to win but I probably shouldn’t want that more than I want my friends happy and I don’t know how to fix it but Stella says I have to but I kind of don’t want to if fixing it means JONAS might lose - no offense - and I don’t know what to do and who were all those girls you were hanging out with?”
“Wow,” Jon says, when she has to stop to breathe. He doesn’t say anything else, though, just leans over and pulls a shoebox out from under the bed. “First, you need to calm down.” He pats the bed next to him until she sits, and then he opens the box.
“It’s soft and it’s prickly,” Macy says, pets Jon’s beard some more. How had she never noticed how interesting it was?
“You said that six times already,” Jon says, but he sounds amused, not annoyed. Petting Jon’s beard when he’s talking is even cooler than petting it the rest of the time, wow. There was - wasn’t there something she was supposed to be doing? Like, something other than cuddles? Everything feels slow and syrupy in her head; if this is what being high is like, no wonder Jon’s so relaxed all the time.
Jon starts combing through her hair, and that feels so good she forgets to try to remember what it was they were supposed to be doing. She falls asleep like that, with her head on Jon’s chest and her hand on Jon’s jaw and her hair between his fingers. She thinks Jon says something about the battle of the bands while she’s drifting off, but she’s too stoned and sleepy to process it.
The Lucas house is chaotic when Macy shows up on Saturday morning, more than usual. Nick’s fighting with his dad about what songs they should play, Joe’s accusing Stella of sabotaging him so her boyfriend (Macy had thought Stella was dating Joe this week, but maybe not) can win, and Kevin’s in the corner with his guitar singing something about a sad panda. Which is good, because Macy’s on a mission, and Kevin looks like he needs a distraction.
“I think you should throw the competition,” she says, then looks around to make sure everyone’s too distracted to have heard her.
“Nick’ll never go for it.”
“He doesn’t have to. You just have to be so bad it doesn’t matter how good Nick is, no one other than the JONASheads will be able to clap for you.”
“I don’t get it.”
“Well, see, if you suck, then you can tell Brendon it was because you were so sad without him you couldn’t play right. Do it with your eyes all big and there’s no way he’ll be able to gloat at you.”
“If we lose, all the DiscoFreaks will make fun of you.”
“I’ll live,” Macy says, and she’s almost entirely sure of that.
JONAS are so bad not even all the JONASheads clap for them (Macy writes down the names of all the non-clappers, because she might want JONAS to lose but she doesn’t tolerate disloyalty).
Unfortunately, Panic are either really stoned or had the same idea Macy did, because they’ve got Spencer on vocals and Jon drumming and they’re just as bad. Maybe worse.
The principal hands Macy the official applause-o-meter results, and it’s a dead even tie. Macy thinks for a minute - a long minute - about coming up with a tiebreaker, something she knows JONAS will win. She’s given Kevin his sad-puppy story about being too sad to play right, and he’ll definitely be able to get Brendon back, and Nick and Ryan would probably love to have that to fight over for the next month or so, and Joe and Stella and Spencer are always breaking up and getting back together in weird combinations, so what does it matter if they break up over this?
Jon waves at her from across the backstage area, tries to twirl his drumstick but ends up hitting every single one of his bandmates before dropping it on his foot. He smiles at her, sheepish, and Macy smiles back.
“Since there was a tie,” Macy says, from the podium she’d expected to use to announce JONAS victory until this morning, “the JONASheads would like to graciously offer the grand prize to both bands.”
They lose Nick and Ryan at the reptile house when they get caught up using the snakes as metaphors for how horrible their sabotaging bandmates/brothers are, and Spencer, Stella, and Joe with the primates, arguing about whether monkeys should wear pants or vests. Brendon and Kevin stick around until the otter tank.
Macy takes Jon's hand when they’re alone with the penguins, and rests her head on his shoulder. He’s just as comfy when she hasn’t smoked anything.
"So what I don't get," he says, "is how your boys were bad enough not to beat us. It took me like half an hour to convince Brendon and Spencer we needed to lose, and like another hour after that to talk Spencer into singing."
"You - you did that?"
Jon shrugs, his shirt dragging against her cheek a little. "Winning really mattered to you. And I thought it might help Brendon and Kevin."
"JONAS were that bad because I talked Kevin into losing on purpose," Macy says; when she tilts her head to look up at Jon, he's grinning down at her.
"Yeah," Macy says. "But it was for a good cause."
Macy threads her fingers with Jon's and squeezes a little. "If you didn't win the zoo trip, how were you gonna take me on this date?"