Lucy Pullman traverses the hallways of Liberty High School with little thought beyond her impending Spanish exam. The small, sandy blonde fresh-faced freshman is a good foot shorter than the upper classmen boys crowding the north hallway.
Walking with a friend she passes by a group of boys, among them Joey Cobb. He takes note of her, the lightly freckled ninth grader in a flowy almost-white light pink blouse, with large green eyes and cunning youthful figure. His eyes follow her down the hallway.
Days later, crossing to the back field parking lot — where he always parks as there's rarely campus security there to monitor any on-goings — Joey passes the girls' JV field hockey team, dressed and ready, waiting for boys' soccer to clear the field for their practice. There among the chattering girls is the one he'd noticed the other day. Still cute in her pony tail, shin guards and knee socks. He decides to establish contact. "Hey!"
The whole team of girls turns his direction, but it's only Lucy he's looking at.
"You know what time it is?" Joey knows it doesn't matter what he asks or says, all he's doing is laying groundwork — showing her he's noticed her from the others. The payoff comes later.
The girls all look towards Lucy, some of them giggle. Lucy, who has a big brother and thus isn't particularly silly in the face of older boys, looks right at him. "It's almost three."
"Yeah? What if those guys," he means the soccer players, "'re late?"
"They usually are," she says dryly. "Then it's more like 3:07."
"Okay," he nods with a smile and starts to head off. But before he actually moves away he looks right at her again, "You have a good practice."
As he heads down the gravel path towards his waiting car he hears the eruption of girl laughs and "oohing" he'd been banking on. Mission accomplished.
Three days later, after fifth period passing but before the late bell for sixth, Shane and Joey head to the east wing of classrooms, moving away from the gym and the spectacle they'd been witness to.
"Man, who was that girl?"
"The one cornering Catalano."
"Oh. Who f-in knows."
"She was at the loft last night."
"Yeah; the loft, the hallways, classrooms, Tino's. Suddenly she's everywhere and nobody even knows her. Chick's decided she's in love with him."
"What's he doing about it?"
"Nuthin'. If he's smart. That one comes with all kinds of roadblocks 'nd fine print. Not. Worth. It." Shane drums against a locker with his ubiquitous drumsticks.
"Yeah?" Joey retorts. "Who're you seeing? I don't see you not putting in any effort."
"Man, I was just with Nicole last night."
"Which Nicole? Malpee or Hendrix?"
"Ohh! Well, no effort necessary."
"Right," Shane nods simply.
"Gets old," Joey shakes his head. "No challenge."
"Pretty sure I'm not looking for a challenge," Shane swags. The boys laugh.
"Trude!" Shane turns and sees Nate at the other end of the hall calling him.
"Later, Man." Shane does a quick handshake thing with Joey and heads off in the same direction they'd been coming from. Joey continues on and then spots her, the freshman he's been watching. Jamming his hands in his pockets he ducks his head and approaches Lucy, giving her a head nod and flashing her an empty smile as he does. "How's it going."
A faint blush spreads across her face but she doesn't look away; "Good."
"Yeah?" he grins. His eyes travel down her person. "What're you up to?" She looks down, and swallows a giggle. He watches her. Through a smirk he asks, "What's so funny?" She has no answer. Beneath a self-satisfied cocked brow he checks her out, watching as she pushes back her hair. "What's your name?"
"Yeah?" his eyes drift over her. She can almost feel his gaze on her. "So, I know you?"
"Um, you've been to my house." He hadn't expected that.
"What," he looks at her through squinted eyes, "you got a sister?"
"You're in my brother's band."
"It's Tino's band," he corrects coolly. "Who's your brother?" Joey moves in, leaning one arm against the wall of lockers behind her head. She blinks.
Once more he pauses to check her out, much less subtly this time, starting from her face, traveling down and slowly back up again. "You adopted?" Lucy lets the backhanded compliment land and once more pushes the hair away from her face. He deliberately never looks away. "So, can I call you?"
"Do you want to?"
He bites his lower lip in anticipation, "You want me to?" Lucy says nothing. Joey straightens up and kind of wags his pointed index fingered at her with a bit of a swagger, "I'm gonna see you around."
Rich Pullman the wild-haired Frozen Embryos bassist stops and breaks away from his group of metal-head friends when he spots his kid sister coming his way. "Hey," he nods at her.
She stops. "Hey."
"How's it going?"
"Fine." She's been in high school for almost a couple months now and he's still checking up on her.
"You, meeting people?"
"Sure." She kind of laughs at the over-protectiveness. At home Rich is always nice, a good brother, but they're not exactly friends. They've never shared friends or social lives, and it's strange to her now that he's been taking such an interest. They've always gotten along as equals, he hasn't played the big brother card in ages.
He's not detracted by her well-adjusted confidence and looks at her straight on. "You talkin' to Joey?"
"You heard me. You know what I'm talking about."
She tilts her head and purses her lips. "No." He studies her to see if he can trust her. She looks at him, "What?"
Rich stands there, deliberating what to verbalize and what to worry about on his own. She's looking at him, practically daring him to tell her what to do, smiling that little kid smile of hers as she does. Rich blinks. "Nothing." She's a smart kid, why get into it?
The music behind the double heavy doors grows louder as she pushes one open. The boys of Frozen Embryos are mid song and two hours deep into practice; no one notices when the bassist's little sister enters the loft. Lucy paces a bit, wandering the length of the loft looking it over as she waits for the cacophony to end.
When it does end they move straight into something else, or at least Rich and the lead guitarist Tino do. The others call it quits and that's when she's noticed.
"Hey kid." Marco, who's over eighteen, tousles her hair as he moves past her to the outer hallway and stairwell. He's pulling a cigarette from its carton with his teeth as he exits, his electric guitar slung back across his shoulders. "Night," he calls back through gritted teeth. "I'm out."
Rich looks up. "Luce, what the hell. What're you doin' here?"
"Mom's downstairs, she's waiting for you."
"Wull, hold on, we're—"
Tino strikes his guitar decidedly, "Ah, get going already. J's gone already and Sampson just bailed." Lucy smiles as she gets that was a remark about Marco's long silken tresses. "How ya doin' lil' sis?" Tino nods at her. He paces a few steps as he plays a couple bars of Billy Idol for her benefit; meanwhile Joey silently rises from the drum kit and heads to the loft's mini-fridge. He pulls out two beers. And so armed he moves towards the spot where Lucy stands. As he's about to hand one off to her Rich unplugs his bass and crosses the room to intercept the beer.
"Thanks," he says pointedly, taking it from Joey's extended hand.
"No doubt," Joey covers, but he's looking at Lucy when he says it. He smiles at her. "Hey. Guess you weren't joking 'bout this guy." He drinks from his own can, his eyes still on her. "Still hard to swallow."
To make a point, Rich takes one drink from his claimed beer before setting it down. "Shut up." To his sister he says, "Come on. Tino: later." Tino nods a goodbye. Rich grabs his leather jacket, pushes his sister a little with the neck of his bass, "Grab that," meaning the guitar case, and ushers her out the loft.
"Have a good night," Joey says after them. It's all too clear to whom he was speaking.
As the loft door shuts heavily behind them Rich hears Tino: "Shut up."
The metal music raging from the garage is fairly standard in the Pullman house. Rich plays with two bands: the mostly alt-punk grunge one with Tino, the one with the name that always reminds his sister of Jurassic Park, and the one much more thrash and hardcore he messes around with with his actual friends. If it's not his amps blasting it's his stereo blaring. When Lucy comes home with a friend the music overloading their senses is hard and loud and rough. It must be Stephen and Miles and Russell. Which is why when she steps into the garage she's surprised to find the Embryos in their stead, going at it like she didn't know they could. Rich is doing his thing, Marco's head banging like only someone with his hair can, and Tino's going outright berserk. Jordan Catalano's keeping the rhythm, breaking a sweat but as cool as always, and in the back, Joey's striking the drums like a death march on speed. The intensity and force with which he brings down every strike practically rocks the garage off its foundation. The veins in his strained muscles bulge each time he lifts and beats down. The sound is giving her a headache but the image is definitely impressive.
"Come on!" Lucy's friend shouts into her ear. "Lets's go!" Lucy nods, but not before she looks once more at Joey. Rich, whose entire face is covered by his coarse locks flying, doesn't even realize she's in there, but the blue eyed rhythm guitarist catches the look exchanged between their barely teenaged audience and their very — everything — drummer.
It's early on a Friday night and the crowd at Louie's is a mix between the younger kids who want to be out but know nowhere else to go, and the older ones who have no better place to pass the time before they head out to where they're ultimately going.
Jordan Catalano breaks and the multicolored pool balls explode across the felted surface. Two striped balls land in corner pockets.
"Hustler," Tino grumbles through a smile. Jordan wags his eyebrows at him and shoots again. The twelve makes it into the far side pocket. "God damnit."
"Relax," Jordan says through gritted teeth biting down on a toothpick. He lines up his next shot, aiming the nine ball at the left corner pocket and planning to knock Tino's six way off course in the execution.
Tino leans back against the table right beside where Jordan's lining up his shot. "So, you stood her up." Jordan doesn't answer, only narrows his eyes to see the shot clearer. "You just, didn't show?"
Jordan's focus remains undivided, "I know what you're doing..." He steadies his back hand.
Tino plays innocent, "All I'm saying is ya could'a been nice about it. You're the one who started it up." Jordan blows the shot, scratching the felt.
"Christ." Tino sniggers, self-satisfied. Jordan straightens up and holding his cue upright turns and leans against the table. "I started nuthin'."
"Bull, and you know it. What'd she say? After?"
"Nothin'," he says flatly. When it's obvious Tino's not buying it, Jordan adds Ithaca a gesture, "She walked away."
"Maybe she's as smart as she looks," Tino kids and he prepares to even out the score. But as he does Jordan spots a group of younger girls moving through the room, among them one girl he recognizes; with the back of his hand Jordan double taps Tino's arm. Tino looks, then straightens up and turns. With barely any detectable movement Jordan's extended out his pool cue to block the girl's path.
"Hey. Lucy Pullman." Lucy turns and finds it's her brother's band mates. It was Tino who'd called her name and now he's seated atop the table edge, feet swinging over the side, repeatedly throwing his pool cue up an inch or so in the air just to catch it again as it falls. Lucy watches him do this, and though she's usually very comfortable around boys, she blushes slightly and smiles when her eyes meet Jordan's. The two boys take the blush in stride and Tino sets about chatting her up, "So, how you likin' high school?"
Lucy cocks her head to one side, "What do you want?" Jordan laughs.
"Brass tacks," Tino nods. "I can do that. Here goes—" but Jordan beats him to the punch.
"Don't mess around with Joey." Lucy did not see that coming.
Incredulous that these two would get involved in this her brows rise in disbelief; "Really?"
Tino answers. "We're just looking out for you, kid."
"He's your friend," she points out.
"We're not fourteen-year-old girls," Tino retorts. "He's a creep. He's our friend, but he's a creep. I woudn't let my mother around him."
"Go for someone your own age," Jordan dispassionately advises.
"Or younger," Tino throws out. "Shane's got a little bro."
"He's in eighth grade," she reminds them.
Tino shoots her a calculated finger point, "Exactly."
"I was just in eighth grade; it doesn't mean the boys are nicer. Or less lethal." This time both guys laugh. "Did Rich tell you to talk to me?"
"No." Tino lightly swats her ankle with the end of the cue, "Consider it our good deed for the day."
Jordan nods at her, "You like 'im?"
Lucy bites at her lower lip, "I don't know…" She can't control her bashfulness around him. She breaks her eye contact from him and those emptily flirtatious lashes, glad he isn't one of Rich's better friends always hanging around the house. She isn't certain she does like Joey Cobb, but whether she does or does not, she could not tell Tino Mourlot, and definitely not Jordan Catalano. There's something about him, gorgeous of course, but he's... easy, conversational, familiar — it draws a person in; but at the same time he's distant and coolly closed off. She'd tell him anything he wanted, but there'd be no point — she's only a little kid to him and she knows it. And she's partly glad of it.
Jordan answers her with dry, absolute assurance: "He doesn't like you. Not actually."
Lucy swallows. "Thanks."
Jordan looks at her with dispassion, "Truth hurts."
"Better to know now," Tino rationalizes.
"Look, we're not being mean—"
"You're 'lookin' out'," she finishes for him.
Jordan laughs again, he definitely appreciates her worldly sassiness. "Yeah," he nods.
"Well," she says, meeting their eyes, "nothing's going on."
Tino makes a face. "Don't play dumb girl." He looks up to the ceiling for frustrated effect, "I don't know who it was who told girls to play the dumb card." He looks back at her, "There's nothing more annoying. Be awesome Luce, don't be dumb."
"I'm not." Now she's frustrated, having to justify and re-explain herself, "He asked me how I was doing; I said 'fine'. That's it. That's all that happened. It wasn't anything."
"You smile?" Jordan's arched eyebrow acts as an accusation.
"I don't know."
"You laugh?" this time it's Tino.
She doesn't answer but Jordan nods knowingly. "He thinks it's something."
Lucy's incredulous, "Because I smiled?"
"Yeah." Jordan doesn't blink, and in truth finds a little pleasure in telling her the way it is.
"So," her brow furrows, "you think any time a girl smiles at you, it means she wants you?"
Tino grins and nods slowly. "It does."
She laughs at them, "Who told you that?"
"Experience," Jordan snorts.
Tino reaches out and tugs her hair as they send her away, "Stay away from drummers."
The following Thursday the varsity girls field hockey players take the JV team out after a big win against a rival. They end up at a party at the house of a guy one of the senior girls is dating. At some point in the night Lucy runs into Joey.
"How's your night?"
"You guys celebrating something?"
"We beat Banning."
"Well, 'way to go'."
"We're going to playoffs."
"Pretty cool." He looks her over. Joey bites his lower lip, "Like to see you in action." He moves in and tucks a strand of hair behind her ear. "Wanna..." his eyes travel as he rolls his tongue behind his lips, "take a walk?" She looks down. "Aw, com'on," he cajoles. "Take a little walk." Lucy lifts her head, smiles faintly, and nods.
The next day Jordan's hanging at the east stairwell landing with Shane, deliberating whether to go to the next period. He's leaning back against the wall while Shane borrows his Visine and squeezes the drops into his dry red eyes. Jordan'd gone to work and then crashed, but Shane had been out last night, late.
Lucy Pullman passes by as she descends the stairs. If she sees them at all she looks right past them. Her head's cast down and she looks miserable. When he notices this Jordan straightens up, more alert, his eyes following her as she goes. Jordan hits Shane with the back of his hand to grab his attention. Shane catches sight of her stepping off the last step and turning the corner. Lucy seems to be trying to cover her face and steeling her expression against stronger emotions.
"What's that about?"
Shane glances at him, "You didn't hear? Word is," he hooks his thumb at his belt buckle to make his point, "she didn't pass her oral exam. 'C-'"
"Who do'ya think?" Shane tosses back the little plastic bottle; "Joey."
"He's spreading that around?"
By the time he'd heard about it he couldn't find her at school so Rich cut his remaining two classes, got on his bike, and rode home. He knew she was there the instant he opened the front door, her purple backpack is blocking the entrance way. Rich steps over it, tucks his hair behind his ears and calls out, making his way to her room. "Luce?" There's no answer. Her door's open and he sticks his head inside. He speaks softly. "Hey." Nothing. He steps in. "Hey. Lou." Lucy's on her bed, laying on her side, her head pillowed by her arm. Her reddened face is wrinkled into tears. "You okay?" She hasn't moved and he cocks his head in impatient disbelief she's not even acknowledging him, "Hey, com'on now."
Drearily she lifts her tearful head, "I can't believe this."
He nods slowly, "I know." Lucy pushes herself upright and he takes a seat beside her.
Wiping the hair and tears away from her eyes Lucy looks at him imploringly, "Does everybody know?"
"I don't know," he equivocates. Lucy exhales. Rich shrugs, trying to be encouraging, "It'll blow over."
"It will." He tucks his hair again and gestures, "People never talk about the same thing that long."
Lucy stops and looks at him. She sniffs. "You hate me?"
"'Hate you'?" he scoffs. "Yeah, I 'hate you'." Rich shakes his head lovingly, "Knucklehead."
The day after, the Embryos, most of them, are in the loft ready for practice, should it ever start. Jordan's seated on a plastic dairy crate retuning his tuned guitar just to pass the time. Shane, maybe hoping for a chance to step in, 's sprawled out across the couch; Marco's hanging out an open window smoking a cigarette, and Rich is pacing back and forth as he plucks his bass in agitation. No Tino. No Joey.
The loft door opens; Shane props himself up half way and they all turn their heads toward the entrance — is it Tino or is it Joey? It's Joey, and Rich is about to explode. From the window Marco calls out sociably, "There he is!" in a feeble attempt to stave off conflict. But Rich is fuming and a lighthearted greeting from Marco's not doing anything to restrain him.
Rich moves several paces forward in blunt anger, "Hey! That's my little sister, man!" When Rich Pullman's angry his voice goes up at the end of his sentences, and it does so now. Joey finds him irritating, just not all that intimidating.
But still, upon confrontation Joey bristles immediately. "Yeah? Well, I didn't do anything."
Rich is indignant, "You didn't 'do anything'? You've got the whole school talking about her! She's not Rayanne Graff or Cynthia Hargrove!"
"Hey," Jordan interjects (there's no reason to go dragging other people's names into this, people he used to go around with).
"Listen—" Joey moves in, towering over Rich, speaking with intensity and muscles straining with the intention to intimidate or worse. "Get off my case, or I'll—"
"Or you'll what? Take a swing at me? Go ahead!"
"Get outta my face, man!"
"You've got to be kidding!"
"Yo! Cool it!" This time it's Shane who stepped in; they ignore him too.
"She's freakin' crying, man! You gotta apologize!"
"I don't think so!" There's barely any space between them now, and if it looked like it would come to blows a few seconds back, now it looks like Joey might actually kill Rich.
Jordan's on his feet in no time, "Hey! Knock it off!" He's right between them, speaking first to Rich, "Back up, man," then addressing Joey, "Just apologize; ya know what ya did." He tries to reason with Joey, "You made her cry — say you're sorry."
Joey looks Jordan in the eye then turns away with a scoff, "Whatever."
"'Whatever'?" Rich cannot believe the arrogance.
Shane steps in with the intention to placate, "It's over, man."
"Really?" Rich looks around the room. From Shane, to Jordan, to Marco. Not one of them's looking to throw Joey out. Not one of them is appropriately pissed off. He shakes his head. "I'm outta here."
Jordan exhales, it doesn't have to come to this; "Wait—"
"No," Rich says flatly. "And ya know what?" he addresses the room. "I never liked you in the first place. I'm only here cuz'a Tino. And where is he? I'm done."
"Richie—" Marco tries.
Rich unstraps his bass in one fluid movement and grabs his case and jacket, "I'm sick of covers anyway." Having a hard time believing he ever showed to this practice he's out the door, "Find someone else to be your Fat Mike." And he slams the door behind him.
Two days later Jordan finds Rich hanging at Vertigo Coffee House. Wordlessly he pulls up a chair at the small unsteady table and waits for him to speak. Rich's surprised to see him after all that went down and he tucks his hair and blinks at Jordan who's now leaning back in his chair, sedate and level-headed, "Hey."
Rich nods his acknowledgment, "Hey." Though Rich's always been cool with Jordan, to him everything that happened the other night is bull shit. Catalano can sit there as zen as he chooses, Rich is out. Band or no band. His actual friends wouldn't 've seen it play out that way.
"How's it going?"
Rich swallows and nods. "Okay. Tino send you?"
"'Send me'?" Jordan questions. "Uh, uh."
"You here about the band?"
He shakes his head, "No." Jordan stretches and looks about casually, maybe stifling a yawn, "Just, here. Talking t' you."
Rich's eyes narrow, "You side with Joey?"
Again Jordan silently shakes his head. "No sides."
Rich shakes his head, "See, man? That's wrong. 'Cuz there should be sides." Jordan traces his finger through some spilt sugar on the table surface. Rich looks right at him: "You got a little sister?"
Once more Jordan shakes his head. Eventually he speaks up, clearing his throat a little as he does, "No. I uh," he scratches the back of his head, "got a half sister; she's older."
"But you get what I mean, don't you?"
"Well," Jordan fidgets with his ring, "sure."
"I don't treat girls like that," Rich says flatly. "I don't think it's cool when guys do. Sister or not."
"… Yeah," Jordan kind of nods. "… Course."
Rich tucks his hair, "I mean, a girl spends time with you, you don't turn round and treat her with freakin' disdain." He looks to Jordan, "Right?"
Jordan doesn't like to be put on the spot like this; he's not ready to look back and analyze all the ways he's ever treated girls, but there's only one way he can answer and stay in the conversation, "Yeah. I mean, 'no'."
Rich shakes his head, still confounded by the course of events. "Man, that guy's an a-hole."
A couple minutes before the bell Tino and Jordan stride into a freshman English class. Towards the back Tino slides into the empty desk beside the younger of the Pullman siblings while Jordan stands crossed-armed to the side leaning up against a bulletin board, a straightened paper clip between his lips.
"Lucy in the sky with diamonds," Tino beams as he tugs her desk and her along with it a few inches closer to his; "How does it go?" Her tight lips form the shape of an obligated smile of recognition. "Ya not talkin'? To me, or ta anyone?"
Lucy looks first at her classmates then back to Tino, her voice is low and devoid of much emotion. "What would I have against you?"
Tino's smile says he's nowhere but on her side; "Some might say I told ya so."
She looks from Tino to Jordan, "You did tell me so."
"Well, no hard feelings?" Tino arches his brows in that goofy way that screws up his face and never fails to get people with him. She halfway smiles. "Look, guys are jerks, what can I say?"
"But I didn't even like him, he went after me."
"That's the cost of being cute and young."
"That doesn't make sense."
"It's high school kid, welcome to the rodeo." Tino leans back in his desk, crossing his outstretched legs at the ankles, "So, what'd ya learn?"
"What you said; 'guys are jerks.'"
"Well," Tino rubs his eye and sits up a little, "come on now, play fair: we're all jerks, when it come to someone else's feelings. Your type's no better with that; let's be real."
"So," Lucy searches for what Tino might see as another possible lesson, "'listen to you'?"
Tino grins, flashes a quick eyebrow wag at Jordan, then looks back to Lucy, "Much as I like that, gotta think there's somethin' more meaningful."
"Yeah," Lucy nods, "I get it."
"Good." Tino pounds her desk lightly with his fist; "You're gonna be great. 'Member, not everyone's worth pleasing." Lucy nods solemnly.
"So," she looks to both the boys, "Richie's out of the band?"
"My band? Haven't jumped him out yet, so I think he's still in."
Jordan finally speaks up, "Ya want him in?"
Lucy shrugs. "He liked it."
"Things might be kind of different now," Tino points out. The late bell rings, class is starting.
"Doesn't mean everything has to be," she says plainly.
"Atta girl," Tino pats her on the shoulder.
"Mr. Mourlot. Mr. Catalano. Where are you supposed to be right now?" The teacher up front is trying to get her class started.
Jordan straightens up and Tino rises from his desk, calling out as if to reassure a crowd, with the quieting hand gestures to go with it, "It's okay; we're not lost." The teacher starts to say something more but Tino cuts her off, still speaking much too loudly for the occasion, "We're O-K." The freshmen giggle.
"That's very good to hear, Mr. Mourlot, now could you please—"
Tino tugs Lucy's desk back into place; in the now quiet room the metal desk legs dragged over the linoleum makes a terrible sound. Tino only grins. He pats Lucy's shoulders and calls out, "This girl's a champ! Class act!"
"Gentlemen, would you please?"
Tino points and winks at the teacher like their operating on the same secret level as he gets she wants them gone. Tino makes a duplicate sound effect of finality through the corner of his shut mouth and turns to join the amused Jordan who's waiting for him by the classroom's back exit. Passing through the back row of desks Tino gives a high five to a boy who's held up his hand to him, and with a final knock on the door frame, Tino and Jordan exit the classroom into the now empty hallway, leaving the teacher to try to regain order over her class.
Two weeks or so later as Tino follows Jordan out to the bleachers for a smoke, he catches sight of Lucy sitting with her friends on the grass eating lunch. "Hold up," he says, and Tino circles back and takes two freshman girls by surprise when he takes a seat between them sitting cross-legged across from Lucy in their little lunch circle. "Hey kid." Tino lets on like there's nothing unusual about an upperclassmen guy sitting Indian-style with a bunch of ninth graders on the grass by the girls' locker room.
Lucy tries to play it straight, answering in turn, "Hi."
Jordan, standing behind Tino now, squints into the sun and nods a 'hello', "How's it going?"
"Fine." Lucy pops a large green grape in her mouth. The other girls continue quietly eating, taking in every detail of the exchange.
"'Fine'?" Tino's not at all satisfied with that assessment. As he continues he holds out his hands like a catcher, hoping to score some food. Lucy tosses him her ziplock of grapes and he wolfs down a handful before handing the bag back to Jordan. Though his mouth is still full with half eaten grapes Tino resumes the conversation, "Ya happy an' ev'rything?"
"Mm, hm." She blushes when she looks towards Jordan, realizing he's been watching her. He looks away to give her a break and entertains himself with tossing a grape up to catch with his mouth.
Ankles still crossed, Tino's knees are in the air, supported by his arms wrapped round them. He looks right at her, "Ya know your big bro's back in the band; he tell ya?" He leans in to the girl on his right and ducks his head into her lunch bag. Spotting pretzels he cocks an eyebrow at her and flashes an impish grin; she giggles and drops a handful in his outstretched palm.
Tearing off a corner of her peanut butter and honey sandwich Lucy nods, "He said."
"It still cool we use your garage?"
"It's fine." Her response is flat and she bites into the small piece of sandwich with absolute dispassion.
"Watch out now," Tino warns as he rises, "don't grow up too quickly. Ya gotta be old 'fore you get as jaded an' apathetic as Catalano."
"Shut up." Jordan smiles and nods collegiality to Lucy as they head off, "See ya around." As the boys make towards the bleachers the five girls practically swoon.
First Frozen Embryos rehearsal in the Pullman garage since the blow out at the loft: Shane, a sometimes in - sometimes out member of the band 's in attendance as all-around sub 'n case anybody flakes. (He can't play bass, but this is Rich's place, so they should already be square with that one.) Tino's in the kitchen scrounging for food, Jordan's messing around on Rich's bass, trying to get his phrasing right, Rich's seated on the concrete step leading into the house, his hands crossed before his upright knees, while Shane sits at the drums working out a beat. Marco's in a lawn chair reading Tino's tattered copy of Zen and the art of Motorcycles. If Joey's showing, he hasn't done so yet.
Lucy enters from the house, side stepping Rich as she does. "There she is!" Shane announces jovially and drums a little riff for effect.
"Hey," Jordan smiles blandly at her. "How's it going?"
"Hey," Lucy smiles mildly. She's making this appearance to prove she's okay — both to the other boys and to her brother — and to show this is her house: she's not going to hide out. Still though, it's a little embarrassing knowing what they know.
Shane rises, "Hey Luce, get behind this drum kit and strike out a beat." She hesitates. He holds out his sticks to her, "Come on."
"Do it," Jordan advises. "Never turn down learning an instrument."
"Thought the lesson was drummers are bad."
"Only when the drum kit's not around," Tino asserts from the doorframe he's now leaning against.
"That could'a been a lot dirtier," Jordan observes as he pivots away from the conversation, still messing around on the bass.
"Here," Shane makes room for her to pass and she sits. Setting the drumsticks in her hands he adjusts her fingering, "Hold e'm like this. Loose. Okay, now," he takes hold of her wrists and drums her through a little riff. Rich's stood to watch and Marco's put down his book. With Shane's help she almost has a rough beat going. At this point Joey's walked up the cracked red concrete driveway and is standing right beyond the opened garage. Seeing the guys enclosed around her such as they are, the message is received: Don't mess with her.
With a final strike on the drums Lucy rises from behind them, makes her way through the garage, making a point not to avoid making eye contact with Joey, then reenters the house and closes the door behind her.
In short time the Frozen Embryos start up their first song. (Not a cover.)