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Boys in the Band

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There are times that Ric almost wishes he *wasn't* in the same band as Gav.

The redhead wields the Strat like it was a sword, and the sound cuts through the smoke and chatter of any club they've played at.

He's beautiful on stage when the light hits his hair and he and that old guitar are practically having sex with each other.

He's beautiful and it drives Ric bananas that he can't sit and just watch sometimes.

And even though it's just a rehearsal, in this crap old building they've laid claim to, he still plays like they've got an audience. And while Ric's body is busy laying down a bassline that rumbles underneath those notes like an earthquake, his brain is busy planning how to ask his boyfriend for a solo later on.

And the song ends, Jamie's smooth/coarse voice still ringing in the acoustics and for a moment, the spell breaks, and Gav is just a big, awkward, 20-something with a guitar and smile in his eyes that never quite reaches his mouth.

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Jamie was like a room full of toddlers on a sugar high.

They were all excited, Ric guessed, but Jamie took it to a new, and infinitely more irritating level.

But still. It wasn't every day you got a call from the first lady of music television herself and a contract to appear on a world-famous show.

So he figured he could tolerate Jamie and his current Betsy Braddock fanboy explosion. At least long enough until he could get away and figure out where Gav had rabbited off to.

He found him half an hour later, perched on the roof of the old funeral home they were all living in. He had his headphone amp plugged in, but Ric could tell what he was playing just by the way he was playing it, one bootheel tapping out the rhythm on the roof tiles.

Ric waited until he was done, then leaned forward and tugged on a bit of his hair. "HEY."

Gav startled, the smile that was Ric's alone breaking across his face. "Hey!" He shouted back, paused, then took off his headphones. "Hey."

Ric scootched himself closer. "You took off really fast after rehearsal. What's wrong, amigo?" He quirked an eyebrow at the bigger man.

"I have...reservations? About this show." Gav said after a few moments of chewing the inside of his cheek. After years in the states, Gav had lost most of his unpronounceable, former-soviet-bloc country accent, but when it started seeping back in, Ric knew something was up. "I recieved email from Sem yesterday." He added.

"Oh, god." Ric stared out at the upper manhattan skyline stretching around them. "What'd say?"

Gav sighed and fished out his mobile. He showed the email, entirely in Cyrillic, to Ric, who glared at him, then started to read. "Dearest fruit of my loins." He started with a long-suffering sigh.

"Your dad is very, very weird, Gav." Ric mumbled, leaning over to look at the email he couldn't read anyways.

"I know." The redhead sighed again. "Hope you are well, I saw your mother in Paris,blah blah blah, Will be in new york this week. Rolling stone doing article on Wildways. Hope to see you soon. Give much love to Julio, tell him bride price is now 1957 Les Paul custom and two goats." Gav rolled his eyes and slid the phone shut.

"Shit. How the hell am I supposed to afford a 1957 Les Paul? And where th' fuck am I gonna find two goats in Manhattan without raiding a petting zoo?" Ric groused until Gav slapped him in the back of the head.

"Julio, forget the goats. My father is going to be town the same time we are doing show." He ranted. "A show run by Ms. Braddock, who is friend of my mother. It seems too... coincidental. I am worried."

The implications of that finally caught up to Ric. "Oh. Oh no."

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"You know.." Ric murmured as he stretched "maybe your dad will just... you know, stop by, you guys can have a cuppa coffee and that'll be that?"

It was an hour since he'd coaxed Gav off the roof and about ten minutes since he'd gotten his "solo performance" off the redhead.

The room they shared wasn't fancy, and the bed was little more than a couple of mattresses with sheets and blankets, but when they were tangled together on it, there wasn't any place Ric would've preferred to be.

Gav nuzzled his face against Ric's throat and gave a short bark of laughter. "Remember what happened last time? When we were on the Warped Tour? Who just shows up and decides to get on stage with another band just because they happened to be within a hundred miles of us?"

Ric winced. Sem's sudden appearance had driven their set an hour over, gotten some much bigger names royally pissed at them and gotten them booted off the tour as frosting. "He means well. I think. Except for the thing with the goats." Ric muttered.

"But look, we go into the studio, we perform, we get interviewed, we see a massive surge in our CD sales, it's all good. Chances are we'll be in and out before Sem even knows where we are exactly." Ric ruffled the bigger man's bright hair. "It's all good, babe. Promise."

"I will hold you to that, you know." Gav lifted his head, gently licking across Ric's lips until they parted and let him in for a kiss.

"Like I said. It'll be fine." Ric murmured against his mouth. "So, I guess I get an encore?"

He took Gav's downward trailing kisses to be an enthusiastic "yes".

Unfortunately, the next morning:

"Oh this is so not good." Darwin moaned around his coffee. "Have you guys seen the music boards online?"

His four internet-challenged housemates shrugged and Darwin put his head down on the table. "I left it up for you to look at. Especially you, Captain Doesn't Read His Contracts All the Way." He gave Jamie a pointed look.

"House of M Special: Young Guns." Jamie read out loud, words slowing mainly to give him more time to escape before the others decided to slap him in the back of the head. "Oh, lookie."

"Force Majeure. Isn't that your old band, Ric?" Guido asked, scratching across his shaved head.

"Yeah, me an' Gav's. Looks like Jimmy and Dom are touring again with some new guys. And Laura Howlett on lead." Ric sighed. "She's good." He glanced over to Gav with a sly look. "Maybe even better than you."

"Lies. Look, that's Sam Guthrie in that picture. I didn't know he was..."

"He's back with the band I played in with him and Bobby first. The Mutants." Ric leaned over Guido's shoulder, then cast his eyes towards Jamie. "Jamie. Why are all our old bandmates showing up for this?"

"I don't know, but even Monet and Terry are going to be there." Jamie groaned and tapped the monitor. Things had not ended well with the beautiful Theresa Cassidy.

They scrolled down the webpage and Gav made a strangled, tiny sound.

At the bottom. "With Special Guests "Wildways" and.."

"A mystery guest? What the hell? Is this, like Scooby Doo?" Guido sat back.

"Jamie, what did you get us into?"

"Oh, god. My father will be there after all. Is it too late to go into witness protection?"

"I guess I should be happy that Gabe's still locked up in Turkey or else he'd be showing up too."

The room fell silent and all of them looked at Darwin. "What?"


This was not going to end well at all, Ric feared. Not well at all.

Sem was definitely going to ask him for the goats.

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"Well, this is nice." Jamie said through gritted teeth.

They were all sitting in the House of M studios, high above Rockefeller Center and gathered near X-Factor were the assembled members of the other featured bands. Some of them looked apologetically at each other, while in other cases it was little more... hostile.

They were all waiting for Betsy Braddock.

"Stop glaring at Howlett, ok? I'm sorry I said she was better than you." Ric muttered, bumping Gav's knee. The two guitarists had been looking at each other since both bands had taken their seats.

Ric would've been jealous, except he knew that look. It wasn't the "I'm flirting with you" look- which Gav did miserably bad anyways- it was more the "show me your weakness and I will destroy you on stage" look. And it was coming from both of them.

"I'm not glaring and she is not better than I am." Gav whispered back, insulted.

On the other side, the room was about 10 degrees colder than it should've been, thanks to the frosty shoulders that both Terry and Monet were throwing at Jamie.

"So, whaddya all think of the Mets chance t'go t'the series, huh?" Guido blurted out and everyone just groaned.

Ric thought they were all going to die of awkwardness when Betsy swept in.

"It's so wonderful to see so much young talent in one place." She cooed.

While Ric knew, intellectually, she was the same age as Gav's mother, Betsy Braddock was one of those people who looked- much like Gav's mother again-preternaturally young and attractive. He didn't dare voice any of that, though.

Julio Richter was no fool.

Betsy tucked a lock of purple-black hair behind her ear and perched on the edge of a seat. "I hope you're all prepared for the cameras this week!" She said cheerfully as she looked around the room, gaze coming to rest on Ric and his bandmates. "They'll be following each band throughout their days as we ramp up to the special, so make sure you're all on your... best behaviour."

There was a brief round of soft murmurs from the gathered bands, broken only by the sound of a sharp slap on the back of Jamie's head.

"Did you know about the cameras?" Ric hissed at him, leaning over Guido to try to smack him as Darwin had. The drummer just kept his arm in place like a barricade while Ric flailed.

"That part? yeah I did. I thought it'd be good exposure." Jamie said. "We're young. We're good-looking, except for maybe you. I thought it'd help."

"Arrrgh." Ric pounded his head against Guido's arm. "Never, ever again do we let you do contracts on your own."

From across the room, Sam Guthrie's drawl broke through the conversations. "Ms. Braddock? What about Wildways, then? We saw'em listed with all of us."

"Wildways." Betsy's plum-coloured lips curled in what Ric could only describe as an evil, evil, smile. Next to him, there was a creak as Gav started to slump down in his chair in an attempt at invisibility.

Considering he was six-three, with brilliant red hair and a port-wine mark across his face in the shape of a star, it failed miserably.

And with Betsy's next words, they were all staring at him. "The sponsors thought it would be grand for the members of such a classic group as Wildways to act as special mentors to our rising young stars. I think that should be wonderful, don't you all?"

"We're doomed." Gav groaned.

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So far, Ric had to admit, the cameras weren't such a bad thing. True, Darwin had refused to come out of the bathroom this morning and Gav had surfaced from their shared room long enough to get a mug of coffee before disappearing. But Jamie loved the cameras, and as long as he kept yapping at them, the cameramen were less inclined to bother the rest of them.

Ric eventually found his boyfriend camped out on his favourite spot on the roof. "Hey, babe." Ric said as he clambered out to join him. "How're you doin'?"

Gav muttered something back in Vorozheikan that Ric understood as "I hate my life." and shook his head. "We're supposed to be getting our 'mentor' today." Ric added, scooching next to the bigger man.

The redhead sighed and slumped over, leaning across Ric's shoulder. "I don't think it will be my father. I'm sure Ms. Braddock realises that the two of us arguing will not make very good television." He said with forced hope, then sighed again and nuzzled his face against Ric's neck. "How did you avoid the cameramen?"

"Jamie won't shut up. It's like his entire life has been building up to the moment where he'd have cameras following him around 24-7." Ric laughed and took a sip of Gav's coffee. "The rest of us have been using that to our advantage."

"You must think I'm a coward." Gav muttered.

"Never. I know you and your dad don't always get along, but he's not a bad guy, Gav. You know that. Even if he *does* want to sell you to me for two goats and a Les Paul." Ric started. The rest of their conversation trailed off as they noticed the cameramen and Jamie out on the sidewalk.

Ric scowled down at the cab pulling up. It wasn't Sem that got out, though. It wasn't even Wildways' charismatic lead singer, Remy. It was some blonde guy, no older than they were, who looked like he rather belonged in some Finnish kvlt as fvck death metal folk band.

"Who the fuck is that?" He squawked and Gav leaned over the edge of the roof to stare with him.

"Julio. Do you remember what I told you when we first started dating?" He said carefully.

"What, that your dad had tried to marry you off to some landowner's kid back in Vorozheika when you were little?" Ric turned to him.

"Yeah. That." Gav chewed the inside of his cheek.

"Are you sure?" Ric looked back down at the viking striding into their home with a guitar case and a duffle bag. "I mean, you were what? Ten?"

"I'm positive. He's still got the scar next to his eye where I punched him in the face." Gav winced. "Dad said he'd spoken to him recently. I didn't think anything of it."

"Oh, good. This'll be fun, then." Ric sat back.

Goats or no, Gav was his, and no Teutonic lothario was going to change that.