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The Beat Goes On

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It was a long and very depressing summer. Marley didn't think it was possible for this summer, the summer when she was no longer alone and preparing to start a new school would be the saddest. But it was. Glee club was over. It was never coming back. Many for her friends were leaving. Sam and Blaine having left for New York two days after graduation. Kitty went off to cheer camp, leaving Marley, Unique, Jake and Ryder in Lima with nothing to do but mope.

"Child, we need to find something to do, because I refuse to go into my senior year feeling like this," Unique exclaims as they sat with their feet in Ryder's pool.

"I just miss performing. There's only so much singing in my room that I can do. It's just hard. I miss the choir room."

"We could sing here. Ryder has this huge yard and his neighbors are never home," Unique suggests.

"That just sounds lame. Might as well just give it up it's over," Jake says from the pool before doing an impressive underwater handstand.

"We could start a band," Ryder says before diving into the water and splashing Unique and Marley. When he comes up for air, Marley was staring at him, head cocked to the side in question.

"It was a joke," is all Ryder says before swimming over and shaking his wet hair all over Unique who tries to look annoyed but is mostly blushing at him.

It's not brought up again for weeks, but it's all Marley can think about. They'd get to perform together. Maybe they'd never get out of Ryder's garage, but what if they did? They could play at Breadstix, they could play Bar Mitzvahs like Sam told them he did when he had his one man Beiber band. Marley could try out more of her edgier songs.

It sounded like the best idea, but she had no idea how to even get started. But she knew someone (who knew someone) who did. So she put in a call to New York.

"Well, you definitely have more than I did when I started. You have a drummer and a Jake plays guitar. What about those guys who played in Glee club?" Kurt asks Marley over skype. She watched the screen, Blaine was smiling so brightly as Kurt spoke, it warmed Marley's heart to see them finally happy together.

"I think they all graduated with Blaine, right?"

"They did. But I one of them is actually going to Lima U, i can give him a call," Blaine says.

"How do you know that?" Kurt asks at the same time Marley asks "Which one?"

"Eric the blonde guitarist. He um, he gave me his number last year. We texted a few times. Mostly about music. He also plays bass."

Kurt raises an eyebrow at Blaine and they seem to have a completely silent conversation before turning back to Marley.

"I'll have him call you," Blaine says, smiling brightly, "good luck Marley. You'll have to keep me posted on what happens."

"I will do that. I'll just um, let you guys go."

It took Marley a few days to build up the courage to bring it up to the group. She figured mentioning one by one would be best, if she could get Unique on her side, it would be easier to convince Jake.

“You’re serious? Us start a band? Girl, these wigs are not cheap, I will not be crowd surfing or head banging or whatever it is garage bands do. Why can’t we start a cute little girl group like The Supremes, I’ll even let you attempt to beat me out as the Diana of the group.”

“No, not that kind of band, we don’t have to crowd surf and I don’t even like head banger music. No way. Just us playing live like we did in Glee club, only Jake and Ryder and this guy Blaine knows would be playing instruments. Like, I don’t know, the Jonas Brothers or Hanson.”

“Hanson? Marley, I have failed you a best friend.”

“Unique, please just think about it. We could make some cash too, and I know you’ve been eyeing those shoes we saw at Nordstrom Rack the other day.”

Marley knew she was playing dirty, that just by suggesting that Unique would be able to buy expensive shoes, she’s win her over. It was a little manipulative, but for a good cause. So she didn’t feel too guilty about it.

The next day, they had plans to have yet another hang out by the pool at Ryder’s, the main difference being that Kitty was back in town from cheer camp.

Marley had a plan in place. She had her Mom help her make everyone’s favorite snacks. Her famous Snickerdoodles for Ryder, Mozzarella sticks for Jake, and cupcakes for Kitty and Unique. She got to Ryder’s early enough to have everything set up and warm and perfect when they got there. She even grabbed some lemons on her way there and made them fresh squeezed lemonade. No one seemed any the wiser until Kitty arrived.

“Okay Marley, what’s with the food? I know you and the second you start showing up with platters of freshly cooked, not from Kroger food, I know you’re up to something. That’s how you roped me into helping you shop for Blaine’s stupid graduation gift, which was a waste of time because he definitely did not need yet another bowtie. So what are you asking for now?”

“Nothing, what makes you -”

“I’m gonna stop you right there, you have no poker face and the only person more obvious than you when they’re lying is Arthur and I’m not in the mood to talk about him. So just come out with it before I push you in the pool.”

Marley deflates, “Fine. I guess now is as good a time as any. Guys, I kinda want to talk to you about something.”

Ryder and Jake climbed out of the pool and joined her at the table, Unique following her (and Marley was trying to ignore the way she and Ryder kept sneaking glances at each other.). She poured them each a glass of lemonade, Kitty rolling her eyes but taking it anyway.

“Well, the thing is, when school starts back, there will be no Glee Club. My Mom heard that Mr. Schue may not even come back to McKinley this year and no way is Principal Sylvester going to reconsider. But we all really miss performing together and I had this idea of how we could do it?”

“I’m not busking outside of the coffee bean for change. No freakin way,” Jake says.

“What? No, that’s not my idea. My idea was that maybe Ryder was right that time. Maybe we should start a band.”

“Hell no. Nope. I’m not going to be in like some sad little wedding band, or some weird S Club 7 looking band like whatever what’s his face has back in New York. Count me out. I’ll make signs or something, but nope. I’ve had my fill of sacrificing my popularity for noble reasons and all it got me was a break up email.”

“Kitty could be our manager!” Ryder says excitedly bouncing in his seat, “She scares people, which means no one will try to screw us over as we try to find gigs.”

“Wait, wait, wait. Hold on a second, only two of us even play instruments. Don’t we need a bass player? It can’t just be me on guitar and Ryder on drums,” Jake objects.

“Blaine handled that part for us, he’s still in touch with the band guys from Glee and one of them is still in town.”

“Of course he is,” Jake says under his breath, “Okay, so saying I go along with this, what kind of band are we? Because it’s not as simple as just playing our own instruments. Who’s the lead singer? Do we all sing? Are we a cover band?”

Marley looks at all of their faces as they wait for her to answer, Kitty just shakes her head and rolls her eyes.

“Obviously, Marley and Unique are gonna be the lead singers while y’all sing some more of her maudlin, sappy original songs. Have fun with that.”

“I was actually thinking we could be more of a mix, you know? We can do some of my songs, but I don’t have that many, so we’d have to do cover songs. And maybe you guys can help me write some songs. I’ve been trying out some, I don’t know, edgier stuff lately. I just have a lot more to say these days with the way things have gone down over the last few months.”

“If you think I’m going to play guitar on a bunch of songs about how much you hate me for cheating on you-” Jake starts, getting up out of his seat.

“It worked for No Doubt, I’m sure Gwen’s ex cried himself all the way to the bank,” Kitty says, everyone stops and looks at her, surprised, “What, you think I haven’t caught that episode of Behind the Music two thousand times since i was six? Everyone knows this stuff. Jesus.”

“Not all of my songs are about you anyway, Jake.”

“And maybe you shouldn’t have cheated in the first place,” Ryder adds.

“Maybe you should stay out of it,” Jake argues back.

“You guys are off to a brilliant start,” Kitty says, “I can’t wait to try to sell you guys to whatever family is desperate enough to hire you for a Bar Mitzvah.”

“Are you guys in or not?” Marley asks, getting exasperated.

“Unique is completely in, doing this for you, girl.”

“This sounds awesome, I’m totally in.”

“Yeah, yeah, I’m in,” Jake says, last. They sit quietly for a second before Kitty interrupts the silence.

“Do you have a name yet, or what? And don’t try any lame play on words, it’s bad enough our old Glee club sounded like “Nude Erections’ depending on who was saying it, and I’m not managing a band with a stupid name.”

“I hadn’t thought as far as a name,” Marley says. Ryder jumps up from his seat and grabs Marley by the shoulders.

“I got it!” He announces bouncing up and down.

“What, a name?”

“Yeah, Outcasts. Like that song you wrote and well, we still kinda are.”

“You do know there’s a really popular rap group already called Outkast, right?” Jake asks, Unique nods along.

“Trust me, no one is going to mix you losers up with Outkast. Just throw a “The” in the front, and boom, obnoxious name for an obnoxious band. Now let’s discuss how much I’m not doing this for free.”

“Kitty, we can’t pay you, we don’t have any money.”

“Who said I wanted money. You can pay me in your Mom’s delicious snacks at every gig. Ryder can pay me by driving me to school everyday next year. Unique has a belt I want to borrow, and I haven’t decided what I want from Jake, but I’ll come up with something.”

After that, things went full speed ahead, it didn’t take much convincing for Blaine’s friend Eric from the McKinley jazz band to join them. Practices were held at Ryder’s house, where the garage was empty and large enough and far enough apart from the house next door that he didn’t have to worry about disturbing the neighbors. Marley wrote three new songs that week, and Unique came to the first rehearsal with a list of cover songs for them to work on.

Thanks to Kitty, their first gig was at a picnic being held for the 4th of July by someone at her church. They set up a stage in a park, and as long and they didn’t play any songs with profanity, they were given complete control of the music.

“I’m kind of nervous, I don’t know if we’re ready, this is really scary,” Marley says as Jake tunes his guitar and Unique checks herself in the mirror.

“You’ve been eating right? Just don’t pass out and we’ll be fine,” Kitty says, not looking up from her phone.

“We got this Marley. We’ve been practicing everyday, my Dad likes what he heard of us. We’ll just go through the set list one more time," Ryder says.

“Okay, we open with That Thing You Do, then Hazy Shade of Winter, then one of my songs, then Our Lips are Sealed, followed by Just a Girl and then we take a break.”

"See, no problem. We know those songs really well. We got this," Ryder says.

"And then you guys get free food, which is as close to you getting paid for this gig as I could get," Kitty tells them.

"I have no problem with free food, I can smell the grill all the way over hear and it smells delicious. Good thing I brought a change of clothes, getting BBQ sauce on this outfit would be a tragedy," Unique says with a snap of her fingers.

"Katherine, are your friends ready to perform?" A woman asks as she walks around to the back of the makeshift stage.

"Yes they are, they'll be going on right now."

The woman smiles and walks away, Kitty rolling her eyes at the use of her full name.

"Okay guys, bring it in. This is going to be so much better than Glee Club. We have 100% creative control, and none of Mr. Schue's dumb white board themes. Marley isn't gonna faint and you guys are gonna kill it. Do not make me regret this. So go team or whatever," Kitty says.

"You need to work on your pep talk skills," Jake says under his break as they head to the stage.

***************
Their first gig was a breeze and the crowd loved them. In fact, they booked two more gigs with people who were in the park and heard them playing on that 4th of July. Kitty sent the video to Blaine and Sam who quickly created a you tube page for them.

That night, full on free BBQ and the rush of their first successful performance, they laid in the grass together watching the fireworks.

"I can't believe I was so worried, that was great. I can't wait for the next one. And we'll be paid!" Marley says excitedly.

"10% of that goes to management. Just sayin'" Kitty says as she types into her phone, "well, looks like it's made the rounds through every former glee club member. And the creepy piano player who is apparently Blaine's facebook friend now. I don't even wanna think about why that is."

"I hope Mercedes saw it. And not just because she has connections. She just gets it, you know?"

"I think this summer may be turning around for us," Unique says, stretching.

"Maybe next year won't be so bad after all," Marley says.