Over the past month Feste had been invited for rehearsals with Kay C, until they finally recorded. They had a few gigs with Dodo’s friends, and worked as DJ at some exclusive parties held by Oberon III’s friends. They hosted twerk battles at Fabian’s, and found an ukulele for Willow, when the kid started pestering them with the desire to play the guitar. What they hadn’t done, however, was to see or talk to Phil.
It was annoying that they still thought about him after so long. Every now and then Feste would find themself having a conversation with Phil in their head. They didn’t know what to do about that. It was something that had never happened to them before. And they were angry at it, but at the same time, too embarrassed that it was happening in the first place.
At first, they thought going out with some new people would make the memory of Phil less important, but it didn’t. They could hardly remember what those hook-ups looked like.
They kept busy in order to avoid the thought. Feste drank, and played music. They drank more, and played with music; and drank even more, until not even music could play them. Focusing had never been exactly easy for Feste, but that subject was usually the exception, so they practiced, and they listened to brand new artists and to obscurely old ones, trying to come up with something new. Or maybe not new, but fun.
Feste started messing around with Robin’s Love in Idleness, doing a fully electronic version of it, and spent hours in the studio, working on the idea. There was the problem of Robin’s advice: according to him, playing the song too fast defeated its purpose. So Feste decided to have a few seconds of the original song playing here and there, over the electronic version, letting the metallic sound of the strings become one with the beats before fading.
Andrew came to check on them whenever he got bored, so Feste turned those interruptions into an opportunity to steal Andrew’s food or drink, or whatever he was having, which meant they didn’t have to leave the studio. Andrew would listen to whatever Feste had to show, and asked them questions.
“Are you playing this one in that festival you told me about?”
Feste shrugged. “It’s not ready yet. I’m not sure it’ll be ready in time. Do you think they’ll like it at Fabian’s?” Andrew nodded. “Then I’ll play it there, when it’s finished. Let’s see how the crowd reacts.”
“How do you know when it’s finished?”
Another shrug. “I don’t,” they confessed. “But I know this one needs some polishing.”
He left, and Feste kept working on the song. They didn’t have their phone on them, or any kind of distraction other than more music, so they had no idea how long they’d been inside. But that was a thought that only got to Feste’s head after the next visitor arrived.
At first, they thought it was Andrew again, and didn’t look up from the laptop, but then a tiny hand grabbed Feste’s arm. It was of course Willow. “What are you doing?”
“What am I doing? What are you doing here?” The kid simply showed them the ukulele as a reminder. “Didn’t we agree I’d teach you at Snout’s?”
“You weren’t there,” Willow reminded them, very seriously.
“Alright. I’m sorry, ok? I was busy with my music, I didn’t realize it was today.”
“It was yesterday!” the little monster told them, clearly exasperated.
The new information worried Feste. “How long have I been doing this?” Willow didn’t have an answer. “I should probably have some water.”
“And soap,” the kid added, much to Feste’s shame.
To deal with the embarrassment of being told they literally stank, they asked: “Have you been practicing?”
“Of course. Beast said he’ll pay me five bucks if I play Metallica. Can you teach me Metallica?”
Feste laughed at Willow, for not realizing Beast was just messing around, but also at Beast, who was going to have a big surprise. “Sure,” they said, steering Willow into the kitchen, where they shared some cookies first.
After that, they told the kid to play for them. Willow had had four lessons so far, and hadn’t given up yet, so Feste kept their part of the deal, giving the kid some instructions. They left Willow in the kitchen, practicing, and had a shower.
When they came back, the kid was teaching Andrew how to play. He stopped trying as soon as he saw Feste, giving the ukulele back to Willow. “You’re finally out of that room!” he said, throwing his hands up, like it was great news. “I was looking for someone to have a drink with me.”
“Let’s go to Snout’s,” Feste decided.
Willow practiced on the ukulele, showing Tom the progress made so far, while Feste intervened whenever necessary, and had a few bottles of beer with Andrew, at the same time. Later, they took the ukulele from Willow, and played it for long enough that people coming back from work stopped by Snout's to listen and drink beer, which started a spontaneous party at the corner bar, that evening.
Feste woke up around noon, and went back to the song they had been working on. They gave it a few finishing touches and then listened to it a few times, just to be sure. The song was done. But was it worth anyone's time? Why wouldn't they listen to the original instead? Feste needed an audience.
They left the studio, and played it for Toby, Maria, and Andrew to give their opinions. Andrew started bouncing to the beat within seconds, Toby smiled and nodded here and there, as if agreeing with the song, with his arm around Maria, who looked like she wasn't sure about it.
“It sounds familiar,” she said, when it was over. So they explained it was one of Robin’s old songs. “Is he ok with you using his song like that?”
Feste shrugged. “He let me use it once.” But just saying those words was enough to make them realize they couldn’t simply assume Robin would give them his permission to use the song like that. “I’d better ask him.” Maria nodded.
They borrowed a bike from Toby, and found Robin in Oberon senior’s company, as expected. When Feste explained the situation to them, their teacher just twitched his lips, trying to smile but failing miserably.
“I have no taste for that kind of music,” he reminded them, “but I’ll listen to your song. Show us what you’ve got.”
Feste hit play, and made a conscious effort not to stare at the old men while they were listening. But they could see Robin making a face like he had to focus very hard to understand it. Oberon senior didn't look like he was listening to the song at all, playing distractedly with Robin's hair.
“Too busy for idleness,” Robin said, not for the first time.
Oberon senior, however, had an argument for that: “That genre is supposed to sound busy,” he told Robin. “I’m sure my grandson will like it," he said, directly to Feste. "I myself always had a weak spot for that song.” As he said those words, he started opening a smile, which he directed towards Robin.
Feste felt deeply frustrated, when they had to endure two old men flirting with each other, before they could all go back to the topic. “Do I have your permission to use the song like that?”
“Love in Business?” Robin suggested. “What?” Feste had no idea what he meant. “You’re going to need a new name. It’s not idleness.”
“So I can use it?” they insisted.
“Sure. Just buy me a present if you ever make any money with it.”
“Love in A Hurry,” Oberon suggested.
“I’ve got it: Love in Urgency,” Robin said, smiling proudly at the idea. “I like it,” Oberon agreed.
“Love in Urgency it is,” Feste decided.
Feste stayed for a few drinks with the two of them, and when Oberon excused himself, their teacher took the conversation to another direction: “Have you tried playing Love in Idleness like it’s supposed to be?”
“Sure,” they nodded, unable to fight a smile off their face, thinking about that time.
“How did that work out for you?” Robin asked, smiling like he already knew the answer.
Feste laughed. “Just like you said it would,” they admitted.
“And what exactly are you trying to achieve with this new version?”
“I don’t know, I just couldn’t get it out of my head any other way.”
“Sure. But why was it there in the first place?” Feste didn’t understand the question. “Is there anyone inspiring your work?”
The very idea was laughable, and they didn’t hold back. “That’s not how it works for me,” they explained, shaking their head. “I just have the sounds playing in my head, and I need to get them out.”
Robin nodded. “Having a muse is fun,” he insisted.
"You never told me Love in Idleness had side-effects," they finally mustered the courage to say.
"What do you mean?"
"You said it would get me laid, but you never told me I would get stuck with it in my head."
"Are you still talking about the song?" Robin checked. Feste shook their head no. "I see. You don't look all that happy about it," their teacher observed, a little too amused in Feste's opinion.
"That's not how this is supposed to happen. People should get me stuck in their heads, not the other way around."
Robin chuckled. "What are you doing about it?"
"That song," they told him, with a shrug.
"Aren't you going to do anything more… direct?" Robin suggested.
Feste shrugged. "He's too far away for anything more direct."
They changed the subject, when Oberon senior came back. Feste stayed there for a few hours, until they could show the song to Oberon III, who thought Feste should try it at Faerie Experience. They considered his suggestion on the way home.
Feste spent a great deal of the next day in the salon, getting pretty for the big event, and catching up on whatever new gossip they had. It was a long time until their hair was braided with red, blue, and purple extensions, so they heard about everyone’s families, and petty enemies, sometimes volunteering information just so they could learn more about one story or another.
Maya had done half their head, when Titania got started on their nails. “You’re riding the bus Oberon hired, right?” she asked, as soon as she began removing their old polish.
“What do you mean I'm riding the bus? Aren't you?”
"No, I'm leaving with him tomorrow night. He has to be there to oversee the preparations." Feste nodded. "But there will be familiar faces riding with you,” Titania reminded them. As soon as she said that, a funny smile took over her face, and Feste knew she hadn’t told them the best part yet. “Guess who?”
Feste had no idea, and just shrugged. “Maya?” they took a guess. “I wish. Some of us have kids to look after,” the girl said, never stopping the work on Feste’s hair.
Titania laughed and shook her head. “It’s Orsino.”
“Oh.” They would never have guessed right. That was not a name that crossed Feste’s mind when they thought of friends who might go to Faerie. "I haven't seen him since he and Cesario moved out. You guys still hang out?" Titania nodded. "What's the girl's name again?"
"Olivia," she told them, with a smile that made Feste wonder what she was thinking of. "Can you imagine it? Whose side do you take when the other two are fighting?"
"That's not even close to what I was imagining," Maya let them know. "I'm still stuck in the basics of it." The three of them shared a laugh.
"They're living in a nice place, and all, so I guess it's a better deal than two, when it comes to money," Titania went on telling them.
"Doesn't it cancel things out?" Feste wondered. "I mean, three people make more money, but they spend more."
Titania shrugged. "All I know is that their house is cute. They have a backyard, and all. Orsino has this gardener side, so he's planting violets in it."
Feste chuckled. "And they're all honeymooning in Faerie?"
Titania confirmed it. They saw no harm in riding the bus with the trio, and figured they wouldn't see much of them during the festival anyway. When she finished their hands and feet, Maya still had work to do. It was another hour and a half, before Feste left the salon as the person with the coolest hair in all Illyria.
The bus ride to the country-side was fun. There were Oberon’s friends, whom they had already met, and a bunch of musicians like Feste, who would play in the alternative stages. As promised by Titania, Cesario and Orsino were there accompanied by Olivia. Feste waved at them, who waved back. But the truth was that the trio wasn't as interesting as the sight of the other musicians. So Feste talked to them for most of the wait, until everyone was there.
Once they got inside the bus, Lysander, Oberon’s show off friend, who had a guitar, called them over to (guess what?) show off the song he was playing. His friends and girlfriend were begging him to play Bob Marley instead, but he insisted on showing off his overly complicated stuff. Feste read the audience, and knew what to do. They waited patiently until Lysander was done, and nodded emphatically. “That’s a funny warm-up exercise. Now, play us some Bob Marley.”
Lysander’s friends agreed with the second part, whether or not they agreed with the first. They went back to asking Lysander to play what they wanted. He gave Feste a sullen look, which they responded with a smug smile, as the boy complied to his friends’ request.
Before they even arrived, they could see the field where the huge festival tents had been set, and some small ones scattered around. The camping site, where people who would be staying for the three days of the festival were setting their tiny tents, was also visible, and it was already bigger than Feste had anticipated. Enough to give them a first round of jitters that kept them quiet for the remainder of the ride.
Once the bus came to a stop, they were in a trailer park lot, where each musician was assigned a trailer and given the key to it. Feste was impressed. Sure, they got one of the tiny, unimpressive ones, while there were shiny RVs parked right next to them. But they had sort of expected to have to figure out the sleeping arrangements on their own, and that was better.
Oberon found them some time later. He accompanied Feste when it was time to check the stage, and make sure everything was in order. His presence certainly contributed to the forthcoming manners of the staff. Feste really appreciated how quickly those guys understood everything they were asking for. The ground was shaking with the bass in no time, and every sound was loud and clear. They never wanted to go back to playing at clubs.
They took a nap in their trailer until early in the evening, when Titania knocked on their door asking if they wanted to watch the first main attraction with her.
"Looking good," they said, noticing Titania was wearing a plastic flower tiara, butterfly wings and lots of glitter around her eyes.
She laughed. "What did you get?" Feste didn't understand the question. "In your treat bag?" she insisted. When they still didn't know what she was talking about, Titania went through the trailer, and found it on top of the mini bar in no time. "Let's see what you got."
She opened the white plastic bag and started pulling items out of it, and handing them to Feste. There was a Faerie t-shirt they ignored in favor of a purple flower tiara, and translucent wings, which they thought were not as cute as Titania's orange and black ones. Although things weren’t perfect, Feste wouldn't say no to the opportunity of being a fairy.
Titania helped them put on their accessories, before they both joined the festival. On their way to the stage, they saw lots of people wearing flower tiaras and plastic ivy vines (which they turned into boas), red devil horns, unicorn tiaras and various types of wings. It was definitely not the real world anymore.
Lysander and Hermia passed them by, running through the crowd hand in hand, which they didn’t think much about, but then, a few seconds later, they saw Demetrius running in the same direction, and not long after that, Helena.
“You think they’re alright?” Feste asked Titania, more out of amusement than concern.
“I think they’ve got the spirit of the festival.”
Under the main tent, there were all kinds of neon lights and laser cannons, there were bubbles being blown in all directions, and petals made of paper falling on them.
They found Cesario, who had made their ivy vines into a crown, accompanied by Olivia and Orsino, whose wings matched Feste's hair, but his tiara flowers were pink. Feste and Titania hung out with them for a little while, but they planned on getting as close to the stage as possible, so when the show started, they left the trio behind.
After the show, in the backstage area, they found Oberon in Theseus' company. Hippolyta was there too, and Feste wondered how the guy had managed that. But mostly they wondered where Phil was. No matter how annoying it was to be constantly thinking about him, Feste didn’t have the power to make the thought go away, so they were a little distracted when Oberon steered them in some direction. Suddenly, Feste was shaking hands with the DJ whom they had just seen on stage. It was enough to bring them back to reality.
There were some real jitters before Feste’s turn on the alternative stage a few hours later. Until then, they had stuck to light drinking, but it was time to get down to business, and have a real drink, like Robin always said. Feste drowned the butterflies in their stomach in vodka, and because the sound check earlier had run so smoothly, they got on stage exactly on the scheduled time, which had to be a new achievement in their career.
The audience wasn’t nearly as big as that of the main stages, but it was bigger than they were used to. And more importantly: they were reacting to their music with a lot of enthusiasm. Moving that many people was a great feeling, and with every beat Feste forgot themself a little more, focusing exclusively on the music. It was the best feeling ever.
They could see Titania, as close to the stage as possible, and next to her, Helena and Hermia, but not their boyfriends. Here and there, they spotted some more familiar faces: other DJs, Cesario, Orsino and Olivia, as well as people they didn’t know but whose looks were so remarkable Feste remembered each time they’d laid eyes on them over the last few hours.
They had debated internally whether or not to try Love in Urgency with that audience. They wanted to, but at the same time, they didn’t know for sure. Very few people had listened to it so far, and Feste had never been very good at predicting whether their songs were going to get people dancing or crying, so they hesitated. Not playing it, however, made it impossible to think about anything else. Even as they tried to enjoy the sight of so many people dancing to their music, Feste wondered if they would react as excitedly to their newest song.
The moment when Feste had to either play Love in Urgency, or end the show with the song they’d originally planned was there. They went with the one they wanted, afraid to look up and see how people were reacting. Almost two minutes into the song, Feste’s curiosity won over their fear, and they looked. There was dancing, hands in the air, there were those who kept bouncing up and down, those who howled, but the most interesting reaction was without a doubt that almost half of Feste’s audience was making out. They laughed in surprise. That had to be a good reaction.
It was all over in a few minutes. Half the audience applauded when Feste took a bow, people like Titania, for example. The other half, like Helena and Hermia, right there, had to let go of each other first, and took a little longer to start clapping hands.
As soon as they got backstage, a surprise waited for Feste. Like magic (maybe brought by the song, although Robin would say they didn’t play it right for the song to cause the desired effect), there stood Phil, with a smile on his lips, and a sparkle in his eyes. He ran to Feste, wrapping them in his arms, and kissing their cheek. “It was great! You were great!” He held them even tighter. “The whole thing was great, but that last one? I love it!”
“I made it for you,” they quickly lied, just to score some extra points with Phil.
He started laughing, and let go of his embrace. “I bet that’s what you tell everyone you wanna get into bed with.”
“Is it working?”
“No, it’s not gonna work on me,” Phil waved his index finger, pointing it at Feste. “And you know why? Because my bed is much better than yours.”
Feste played along. “I doubt that. Have you seen my trailer? It’s fancy stuff.”
“Mine is still better than yours. I’ll prove it. Let me show it to you.” He guided Feste with a hand on the small of their back.
Phil wasn’t lying, his accommodations were the kind someone who wasn’t working in any way in the event could only get with a title like Theseus’s best friend. It was one of the big, shiny motorhomes that made Feste’s trailer immediately lame by comparison. “You really got the main attraction treatment going on for you, huh?” they observed.
“It’s about who you know.”
“Isn’t it always?”
Phil hadn’t lied about the quality of his bed either. It passed with flying colors all the endurance tests they put it to. Very pleased with that, the two of them simply stayed there, enjoying each other’s company. There was no other place Feste wanted to be.
“I wondered if I’d see you here,” Feste confessed without prompting.
“I told you I wouldn’t miss it,” Phil reminded them.
“But I didn’t know if you meant it.”
“Of course I did. Your music is like magic, I can’t stay away.”
That was a nice thing to hear, in general, but it wasn’t exactly what they wanted from Phil. Feste would have prefered it, if he liked them more than their music. But at the same time, they didn’t want to focus on the imperfections, they wanted to enjoy the fact that Phil was there at all. So they suggested: “How about catching the sunrise show?” And that’s what they did.
As the two of them made the walk towards the main stage area, Feste noticed a couple they didn’t think existed: Lysander and Demetrius. “Wait, are they together?”
Phil shrugged. “I never knew who dated who with those four.”
They saw Cesario with Orsino and Olivia, dancing in funny ways. Cesario waved at them, and then the other two did the same. Feste waved back, and kept moving with Phil in search of their own spot.
After the concert, they went backstage to have drinks with Theseus, who was raining praises on the main stage artists, but excused himself from them to come hug Phil. “Tell me you’ve found something good.”
“I found Feste here.”
“I thought you already knew Feste.” Theseus looked at them, as if expecting some confirmation. It was Phil who spoke, however: “It’s not the same. Sometimes what works out in a club doesn’t work for a bigger crowd. But you know what? I think Miranda is going to want Feste in her event.”
“Who’s Miranda?” they asked, while Theseus looked at them in a new way, now that he had heard Phil’s opinion.
“She’s putting together an electronic music festival on her dad’s private island,” Phil explained.
“If you think they’ve got it…” Theseus shrugged. He went on to introduce Feste and Phil to the musicians he’d been talking to, which led to a drink, and then another, and to the telling of many stories.
It was a long time before Feste and Phil were alone again, in his RV, and even longer until they discussed their plans for the near future. Phil was the first to speak: “I was thinking, when this is over, you should come to Miranda’s with me. I’m sure after she meets you, she’ll agree with me that you’re perfect for The Tempest Fest.”
“Tempest Fest,” they tried out the name, and even liked the sound of it. “Maybe The Wind and The Rain needs an electronic version,” they said, as the thought crossed their mind.
Phil chuckled and pulled Feste into his kiss. “See? You already have the song to go with the theme. You really are perfect.” That idea was too absurd for Feste not to laugh, so they weren’t expecting it, when Phil said: “No wonder I missed you so much.”
“You sound so surprised. Can’t you tell by the way I haven’t let you go?”
Listening to him as he said that, felt good. Too good to be put to words, so Feste simply kissed him. One kiss called for another, and that was enough to keep the two of them in bed for a while longer.
“I think I really made that song for you,” Feste confessed, unprompted, a truth they had just noticed, breaking a silence they didn’t remember ever starting.
“Then you should name it after me,” Phil said, sounding like he was daring Feste to do it.
“Too late. Robin got to name it.”
Phil chuckled. “Then you’ll name the next one after me.”
“The next one is going to be The Wind and The Rain. Keep up,” Feste said, just to mess with him.
“The one after that, then. I’m not in a hurry.”
Feste appreciated Phil’s last sentence more than they wanted to, something about those words made them hopeful. Maybe he was just saying that for the sake of the moment, not planning to follow through once the festival was over. Or maybe it meant he wanted to be with Feste for longer than that, for as long as it took.
But that was a subject for the future, they decided, shaking their head in order to clear it from those questions. “What are you thinking about?” Phil asked.
“I’ll tell you later. I’m not in a hurry, either.”
Because neither of them was in a hurry, they left the bed and got ready to enjoy the last night of Faerie Experience. They watched the concerts, and danced with friends and strangers alike. Everyone was possessed with the spirit of the Festival, as Titania had described it, and the only thing each person around wanted was the same: a good time. And that was exactly what they had.
On the next day, Feste didn’t go with their friends into the bus that would take them home. They got in Phil's car, instead, embarking on a trip that would take them the farthest they’d ever been from Illyria.