A year and half ago if you asked Stiles if he’d be friends with the lead drummer in one of the biggest rock bands in Northern California he’d have laughed at you. Stiles was a loser, a nobody. His social life consisted of late nod COD sessions with Scott. Not that he was complaining, but he was lacking some social credibility that let’s face it, every teenager in America desires. So considering his social standing and lack of “cool” so to speak, he wasn’t exactly thinking “best friend to hot drummer” was a title in his future, let alone the near future. Yet here he is leaning against one of the many questionably dirty walls in a fairly good size venue in San Francisco waiting for Howling Wolves to enter the stage.
Nights like these were a weekly occurrence. His drive up to the city has become so routine that he zones out until he has to remember which street to turn onto to get to that nights venue. At least this place has air conditioning. At some point the joy he felt jumping up and down with a bunch of 15 year olds in a non air conditioned tiny venue dissipated along with his cheery disposition at shows. There’s only so much you can take.
“Are you here for Howling Wolves?” There’s a girl no older than 14 years old standing in front of Stiles with knock off Converse, cut off shorts, and a tank top from what he assumes is Forever 21. She’s smiling at him like she thinks there’s going to be an actual conversation between them. Stiles wants to squash this before it even starts but he decides not to be an asshole tonight.
“Yeah sort of. My friends in the band.” It’s not a line, it’s just fact. Sure it makes him sound like a pretentious dick sometimes but well, he is a pretentious dick sometimes.
“Really? That’s awesome! Who?” She’s almost standing on his feet she’s so fucking close. Stiles has kind of gotten used to the lack of boundaries in the scene but there’s a reason he stands off to the side instead of joining the crowd. It’s probably why she came over in the first place. There’s something about the guy who hugs the wall that screams “ATTRACTIVE” to young girls. Like they think he’ll want to befriend the new girl who read about “how to dress for a concert” in a Yahoo Answers thread.
“Derek, the drummer.” Stiles prays that the 15min intermission will end soon so she can go and join the crowd again.
“That’s so fucking cool.” Whenever these kids start swearing is when Stiles wants to tell them to go back home and stay in school. He’s only a few years older but he already feels like a lifetime away from them.
“Yeah he’s not so bad. Kind of an emotional drunk but mostly that’s just entertaining.” Finally he hears Jackson doing an introduction on the mic.
“It was nice talking to you! Maybe I’ll see you after the show?” She looks so hopeful.
“Yeah maybe.” She smiles at him before she jumps in with a few other girls to start semi dancing to the music.
Stiles is at this awkward age where he’s too old to hang out in the pit but too young to go to the bar. That leaves him with his wall along with five or six others who wonder to the merch booths to talk to the girlfriends and girl friends (aka the ones who hang onto the band but aren’t attractive enough to date any of them) of the bands playing that night. He hates this because he’s basically just biding time until the band can come down after the show to talk to fans. Of course he has to wait the appropriate 10min while fans take selfies with the band and get autographs that they’ll probably misplace and throw away within the next few months anyway.
He decides to head outside and smoke instead of standing at the merch booth checking out cd’s he’s looked at a million times. He says hi to a few of the opening band members before lighting his cigarette. He’s gotten to know a few other bands in the area but he’s still shaking off the awkward he’s carried around most of his life. It’s why he never makes real conversation with any of them. Still afraid he’ll blurt out something embarrassing or TMI at some point. He’s halfway done with his cigarette when someone knocks their shoulder into him.
“Hey.” Derek has a cigarette already in his mouth when Stiles looks over. He moves forward to light Derek’s cigarette with his own. It’s become a thing. It just happened one day and now it’s second nature to Stiles. Lean over, light, step back, take a drag, blow out.
“How were we tonight? I feel like I was off.” Derek takes a drag waiting for Stiles to answer.
“You were fine. You’re always fine.” Derek’s not really that hard on himself. Stiles thinks he only asks these questions to make him feel included or some shit like that.
“You heading home after this?” Derek does this sometimes. Small talk just for the sake of talking.
“Do I have anything else to do?” Stiles get’s frustrated when Derek is like this. When he forces the conversation rather then just letting them be in silence or god forbid let the conversation flow naturally.
“I don’t know. Do you?” Derek looks at Stiles head on this time instead of staring off into the parking lot across the street.
“No Derek I don’t. I’m going to go home and do the same shit I do every night.” He sounds cold but it’s only because Derek never invites him to the bar after or to hang out with the guys. Not the he could anyway because he’s underage but it’s nice to feel included.
“Jerking off to gay porn again?” Stiles face starts to go red but he takes the last drag off his cigarette to calm down. He drops it on the concrete and crushes it out.
“You’re such an asshole sometimes.” He punches Derek in the arm who smiles at him.
“Yeah but you like it.” Derek puts his cigarette out and heads back into the venue.
It’s such a cliché to be the bi-curious, converse wearing, show going, moody teenager. It almost makes Stiles want to vomit. He’d like to think he’s past all this labeling bullshit but he can’t escape it when he’s immersed in it every weekday from 8:00am – 2:50pm. His peers or what he likes to call demons from hell spend half their days calling him fag between coughs.
“What an original insult. Really, well thought out guys. I’m glad your parents were able to pass on those high sought out genes of theirs.” Why Stiles ever answers back to them he’ll never know.
Lunch today consists of what is supposed to be a roast beef sandwich and fries. He questions the beef part of roast beef but he’s eating for free so whatever. Thank you government for lending $2.00 a day to a young man in need. Really makes up for that crippling debt they’ve put his dad in. Stiles salutes to nothing in particular. His friends don’t even question it.
“Do you think Harris is going to give us the cat or the pig?” Scott is slathering his burger in mayo whilst talking about dissecting animals. High school my friends.
“I’ve heard rumors about sheep this year. Maybe we can keep the cotton.” Isaac is such an idiot.
“It’s wool. Cotton comes from a plant.” Stiles stabs his fries with a fork.
“Oh, well whatever. Sheep would be badass don’t you think Scott?” Scott just nods his head and smiles. Isaac could say Hitler was a good person and Scott would still think rainbows came from his fucking dick.
“I’m gonna head to class. I’ll see you guys later.” Stiles dumps his tray and heads to the art room. He could use a minute alone, or ten.
Rumor going around school that we’re dissecting sheep this year.
What did those sheep ever do to deserve that?
Exist. That’s the only excuse human’s need.
There’s something about texting that Stiles finds intimate in a way, especially mindless texting. Because when you get to the point where you can just text someone random shit and they answer then you feel like you’ve really formed a friendship. A lot of the times Derek doesn’t answer but when he does it’s a small victory in Stiles eyes.
There’s this one record Howling Wolves put out a few years back they are still trying to get rid of. Every band has to have one flop. There’s a dozen cd’s left in the bin and Stiles considers hocking them at a pawn shop but let’s be honest here, he’d be lucky if he got even one of them taken off his hands. Why does he even agree to do these things? It’s not like there’s a real payoff. It’s just, Derek asks and Stiles does. It’s the nature of their relationship. He’s been giving them away to friends, family, even at shows outside when they’re over.
“Did you finish your homework?”
“Yeah dad. I’m 17. You don’t have to ask me that anymore.” Stiles pushes the bin back under his desk and lays down on his floor.
“Something you want to talk about?” He’s hovering at the door and Stiles knows he has to say something otherwise he’ll die in that spot.
“No. Just tired.” He folds his arms underneath his head and closes his eyes. Maybe if he acts like he’s asleep his dad will shut the door and go back to watching Wheel of Fortune or whatever people his age watch nowadays.
“You know…maybe Derek could take back the rest of those cd's. It shouldn’t be your responsibility to get rid of them.”
“Dad, it’s fine. I just want to sleep.” He doesn’t even open his eyes to say it.
“Ok I’m just offering some advice.” Stiles can still feel him at the doorway. He leaves a minute later and Stiles finally opens his eyes.
The bin is like a metaphor for his life. It’s mostly empty and when he gets rid of the rest something new will be ready to fill it. Ok it’s a shitty metaphor but it’s all he’s got right now.
"Hey, Stiles!" Derek shouts to Stiles from the stage stairs. He walks over to see what's up.
"You look miserable. Why don't you come hang out for a bit before we go on."
He tries to act nonchalant and shrugs his shoulders.
"Yeah, sure." Derek rolls his eyes and waves Stiles backstage.
Stiles is sitting on the couch silently. He's nervous but he's trying hard not to fidget or blurt anything stupid out.
"But he's such a fucking asshole. He probably likes fucking assholes." Boyd takes another sip of his beer.
"What a fag. He probably takes dudes from behind and like pounds into them." Jackson acts like he's pounding his hips into someone.
"Oh dude sorry. We're not homophobic or whatever." Jackson says a little too loudly into Stiles face.
"It's fine. I don't care." Stiles steals Derek's whiskey sour from the table. If he's going to be backstage he's going to take advantage of it.
"No dude really. Look." Jackson grabs Derek's face and kisses him. Stiles is weirdly unphased by it.
He chugs the drink and puts the glass back on the table. Derek mouths at Stiles, "I'm gonna grab another one." This means Stiles having to spend a few minutes with the guys alone. Not a big deal but they always ask him weird questions like, "Are you a virgin?" or "Have you ever drank your own piss?" Drunk musicians are the best and the worst. Derek comes back a few minutes later, two drinks in hand this time.
"I'm doubly fisting it." Stiles needs the entire drink to deal with that comment.
"Won't you get in trouble for giving me these?" Derek just shrugs and takes a drink.
"You trying to get the kid drunk? Take advantage of him?" Jackson winks at Stiles.
"Hah he wishes." Derek shoots a basketball at the makeshift hoop backstage.
"Yeah definitely. Fuck me hard big boy." Yeah Stiles has had enough to drink he thinks.
"OHHHHHHH!" Derek makes the shot from behind. Everyone's too drunk to take anything seriously, especially sexual comments by 17 year old boys.
"On stage in ten." Some girl yells into the back.
Stiles takes that has his queue to leave. They have their pre-show ritual that Stiles isn't privy to yet.
After the set Stiles heads out back. He gives it 20min before the fans get to be too much for Derek and he escapes them.
"Hey." 25min, he's impressed.
Lean over, light, step back, take a drag, blow out.
For once they just stand next to each other in silence. It's nice.
Derek finishes his cigarette and gets ready to head back in.
"Thanks for the drinks." Stiles doesn't even turn around to say it. Just takes another drag and keeps looking at the oddly placed Mercedes on the street.
"Anytime man." Stiles hears the door shut. He looks down at the ground and smiles. Small victories.