Being on tour is sort of like being on a very long road trip where no one has any money, everyone is sleep deprived and Ian gets phone calls at odd hours of the day and night from his Twilight girlfriend even though she told Ryan Seacrest that they’re just good friends.
“We are just good friends!” Ian says whenever anyone brings it up.
No one believes him. It’s more fun that way.
Sometimes with things get particularly boring Dallon and Spencer break into Ian’s phone and read the text messages she sends him. They’re full of <3’s and sap and never fail to break up the monotony of the road.
A month into the tour, they link up with The Drums. On the whole they’re good guys. Fresh off opening for Kings of Leon, they take to headlining the way Dallon likes to think he and Camisado would. For a while now Brian has been telling them it’s just a matter of time. Dallon isn’t Spencer and Dallon doesn’t think three steps ahead like Spencer does, but so far the crowds have been good. In Sweden they were really good. Both the shows they did in the capital were sold out and the local media coverage was favourable.
“The Swiss get us,” Ian agrees.
“Swedes,” Jonathan Pierce corrects, grinning over the rim of his bottle of beer.
Ian makes a face. Through the bathroom door, Spencer says something about Ashley Greene getting Ian (and wanting to get into his special bathing suit area). It’s mostly muffled but it makes Ian go white. For a second or two Dallon things about explaining that the Followill’s aren’t actually gunning for Ian’s blood, but thankfully Spencer steps back into the room and as his mouth curls into a sly smirk, Dallon remembers how much fun teasing Ian is.
The set they end up playing that night isn’t too bad.
Ian’s a little sharp in places, but a few kids are singing their songs back at them. It feels like it evens out. Afterwards they go down into the crowd to listen to The Drums. Maybe they should be over it, but it is fun. At least, it’s more fun than packing away their gear. Within a few minutes Dallon looses Spencer when he goes outside to answer a phone call. He’s back just in time to catch Jonathan and his guys play their final encore.
“Brian?” Dallon asks, because he figures he should.
Spencer shakes his head. “Ryan.”
“Oh,” Dallon replies. “All cool on the home front?”
Spencer shrugs. “More or less.”
Dallon thinks he knows what that means. Maybe he should, but it’s easier not to ask for details. Ryan’s always been Spencer’s thing.
There isn’t really an after party. With The Drum’s set finished, the bar empties out. One of the bartenders gets them all a fresh round of drinks which they end up sharing with a reviewer from some music blog Dallon can’t remember the name of. A photographer who is either attached to the blog or is working in freelance capacity or just a random guy with a camera shows them some of the shots he took. They aren’t too bad. Ian asks if the guy can email copies to his mom. It makes everyone laugh even though Ian probably wasn’t joking.
When the bar closes, they pack up their stuff and move on.
Two weeks later, they reach Paris. Dallon is driving because Spencer is a little bit drunk and because no one likes to let Ian behind the wheel. According to the text they all received the night before, Cash has just arrived in London. The plan is they'll meet up with him in a week. Hopefully in London, but they know him too well to count on that. Dallon half expects to see him opening Clémence Poésy's apartment door. It's a bit of a surprise when she does. But he can't remember the last time he slept, so most things are a surprise especially Spencer's ex who has a washing machine, spare room, and clean bathroom she's willing to let them use.
It shouldn't be though.
Before they left L.A. Clémence told Spencer they could crash at her place when they were in town and then a day ago she'd called them to check in. Spencer had talked to her for most of the morning, his voice a soft murmur from the backseat of the van. Ian and a few of The Drum’s techs had joked about it later. Not that Spencer cared. (Dallon thinks if he were Spencer he wouldn’t care either).
In a wrinkled shirt dress and soft jumper, Clémence is sleepy and beautiful when she shows them in. With one hand she waves to the guest bedroom and bathroom. Ian being a shifty little shit makes for the bathroom and locks the door behind him. From the outside, Dallon lets himself makes a fuss just to make a fuss. That gets boring after a while though, so he ends up shoving his dirty laundry into Clém’s washing machine. It isn’t the stuff MTV would include on one of their profile reels, but Dallon’s never really given a shit about that. It’s much better to sit with his back against the machine and call his wife.
The thing about Clémence is she fell for Spencer when he was just Ryan's assistant. Or maybe that's the problem about her. Where Ryan was the star to her co-star, Spencer was the guy who was technically on summer break but was actually getting coffee and trying to organise vegan options in rural Ohio in between dealing with stylists and runners and directors and people who Ryan couldn’t deal with because apparently that was beyond his unique skill set. But instead of seeing Ryan, she saw Spencer and his (then) shitty band that wasn’t quite a band and his shitty taste in literature and the way he could say so much with just a single look.
No one even noticed for the longest while.
Everyone liked Spencer. (Everyone liked Ryan more when Spencer was around).
It made sense that she'd eat lunch with the two of them and let Spencer fill the crosswords in her paper and sometimes help him out with his school assignments during the breaks in shooting. Not even the paparazzi noticed. With Ryan in the shots and sitting on the other side of the table no one did.
Except then Spencer went back for the fall semester and on the weekends when she'd normally be hanging at the house the studio had rented for Ryan or going to the parties the crew held in the local bars, she was flying out to LA and – that was when Clémence became an issue for everyone who wasn’t Spencer.
Spencer is vaguely embarrassed by Ian and Dallon, but he’s also still vaguely intoxicated so he can’t bring himself to feel too ashamed by the medley of pop songs Ian is singing in the shower or the way Dallon has commandeered Clém’s laundry room. Spencer is a little uncomfortable about how he suspects Dallon is using Clém’s washing machine, but thankfully the door is closed.
She laughs when he tries to say something. “I do not mind.”
He really thinks she should, but she waves away her concerns as if they are nothing at all.
It’s easy to miss her. It’s easy to tell her that too. It makes her ducks her head and smiles a small quick smile.
All the windows in her apartment are open. It isn’t quite spring yet, but they sit with their wine glasses resting on the ledge as if it were. Spencer still feels tipsy from the night before and the glasses of wine she continues to pour him don’t really helping him sober up.
“Just one more,” she tells him. “To celebrate.”
He can’t say no.
The wine colours her lips and he can’t say no to her. For a little while they trade stories. His exchanges tour ones he’s already told her for stories that ramble and perhaps don’t really have a point. Once or twice she says things which make him laugh. He finishes his glass with a yawn. She pats his hand.
Predictably there is no hot water left. Clém’s bathroom pipes rattle but Ian and Dallon have taken all there was to be had. Spencer gives up on miracles and brushes his teeth. With the bathroom door open behind him, Spencer hears Clém puttering around in her kitchen and Dalllon grumbling about something, probably Ian spooning him the last time they had to share a bed. Otherwise it’s quiet. The months of moving without pausing feel like they’re catching up to Spencer when he glances at his reflection in the mirror. They aren’t even half way through though. Spencer makes himself remember that.
Stealing some of Dallon’s clean laundry, Spencer changes and tries to help Clém clean up but with a fond look on her face she shakes her head.
“Bed,” she repeats.
“No,” she says, shooing him away.
It makes him laugh. Kissing her goodnight he heads off into the guestroom. Crawling up onto the remaining edge of mattress, he dodges a half hearted slap from Ian.
“Go away,” he murmurs. “You’ve got a bed, you don’t need ours.”
Dallon mumbles something in agreement.
Spencer pinches both of them.
From the doorway, Clémence laughs and in the morning Spencer cooks for her and she pours him a glass of fresh orange juice.
It feels like home.
The thing about Clémence is she fell for Spencer instead of Ryan.
They’re doing two shows in Paris, and a radio gig that Brian arranged.
With a full night sleep behind them and dressed clean clothes that smell of lavender and lemon peel the radio gig feels easy. For an hour they talk about their album and Paris before they play an acoustic version of their latest single. When Ian mentions Clémence, the hosts ask a few questions that make Ian smirk but do not affect any outward change in Spencer.
Ian might be Shane’s cousin, but a couple of nosy questions from a Parisian student radio host aren’t going to rattle Spencer. Ian doesn’t really care though. He might have meet Spencer on one of Shane’s sets, but for Ian, a victory is a victory and he treats it as such, teasing and prodding Spencer with sense of true delight. So much so, that Dallon joins in.
“Do you see what I have to deal with?” Spencer tells the host.
Dallon leers. “Is a beautiful French blonde not worth the trouble?”
Spencer rolls his eyes.
Dallon thinks he hasn’t has such fun since Ashley sent Ian a care package while they were in Brussels.
The interview ends up running long and by the time they get to the venue that are only able to do a quick sound check. While The Drums do theirs, Ian and Clémence dance in the empty club. It’s very silly and very embarrassing and Dallon stays out of it. Spencer doesn’t. But he wouldn’t. All it takes is for Clém to hold out her hand and he’s done.
“You guys should be ashamed of yourselves!” Dallon heckles from the sidelines.
“Fuck off,” Spencer swears, the corner of his mouth twitching.
Clémence just tilts her head back and laughs.
The show they end up playing in the evening is one of their best so far. Clémence comes and brings half the city with her. Ian sings like he is made of sunshine, Spencer doesn’t miss a single beat and Dallon’s fingers don’t slip once. From his side of the stage he looks out at the crowd and sees almost all of them singing back. The high from it lasts all night; carrying them through the show all the way back to Clém’s, where she and Àstrid Bergès-Frisbey take their high heels off and slow dance with Spencer despite the music Florian Lukas and Matthias Schweighöfer insist on playing.
“He’s a very good dancer, no?” Clémence says, curling an arm around Spencer's neck.
Àstrid smiles shyly and nods. Spencer rolls his eyes.
Dallon snaps a few pictures but gets bored quickly. He and Jonathan end up in Clémence’s kitchen eating a late dinner of whatever they can find lying around. It makes Eva Green’s nose wrinkle a little when she sees them. Made up of translucent skin and smoky eyes, she glances at them briefly and then returns to her conversation with Gustaf Skarsgård. Jonathan is aghast, Dallon equally so. Spencer thinks it’s hilarious when he finds out. But he would.
The night goes on until Clémence’s friends run out of stories to tell, and/or crash from drinking too much.
The next day they do it all over again.
Cash turns up just before they are about to head off.
In this season’s Hugo Boss and trashy two dollar sunglasses he grins down at them from his position the top of the van. On the drive to England, he updates them on what’s happened since they left. Rumour has it that Brendon got offered a role in some superhero franchise. Ryan actually was offered another part in the same film, but since Spencer is pretty certain Ryan won’t accept (too popcorn for his taste), Spencer doesn’t mention it. Of more interest to Cash, apparently Gabe and Travis serenaded Maja at some party Cash attended. Or maybe William and Maja serenaded VickyT. Cash can’t remember.
“Someone did sing. I think. Or gave a lap dance,” he pauses to think. “Maybe it was Ashlee?”
Spencer rolls his eyes. Cash gives him the finger.
In London, they play at the Flowerpot. While they’re on stage Cash gets into a fight with Alex Kapranos and Marcus Mumford. According to Shane who’s in town doing some sort of video clip for one of their bands (Spencer can’t remember which – maybe neither given how Shane spends the better part of the night taking to Binki Shapiro), it was pretty epic. No one gets kicked out though. Alex and Marcus don’t get kicked out of anywhere, not anymore. Cash really should but he’s always fallen on his feet. By the time The Drums are on, all is good between them and Cash is flirting with Alex’s sister. Or his girlfriend. Every now and then he sneaks covert glances at Ian. Ian doesn’t notice. But he also thinks he and Ashley Greene really are good friends.
From his position at the side of the stage, Shane films the entire gig and afterwards Cash gets the idea to film the rest of the tour. He borrows one of Shane’s hand held camera’s and forces everyone to get used to having it shoved in their faces.
“So, Dallon,” Cash drawls. “What is the significance of late 90s post modernist New York City counterculture movement in your songwriting?”
Cash turns to Ian and asks him what his favourite colour is.
Ian smiles like sunshine and tells Cash it’s pink.
“That’s lame,” Cash announces. “And gay.”
But he doesn’t turn to Spencer to annoy him. It’s pretty fucking transparent, but it’s a long tour and Spencer’s not one to look a gift horse in the mouth. Cash trailing about Ian is always funny.
Occasional Cash edits together a few clips and posts them on their myspace. Ryan thinks it’s stupid.
“It’s ten minutes of him annoying Ian, five creepy minutes of him going through Ian’s stuff, and one clip of you performing where instead of filming you guys, it’s of him talking to some random tech about where to get the best seafood in Naples.”
Spencer doesn’t understand Ryan’s point.
Somehow Brian manages to get them into a festival bill. They end up looping back to London after playing a show in Glasgow and just make it on time. The crowds are intense and even though they’re only playing on a side stage it feels pretty fucking amazing. It starts to rain halfway through and by the time they trudge towards the bigger stages to try and catch the end of LCD Soundsystem’s set, the fields are muddy.
Spencer gives up on his shoes.
He gives up on his jeans and his one remaining clean shirt too, when Cash takes a running leap and knocks them both to the ground. Squirming around, Spencer gets in one good punch but Cash bites Spencer’s thigh hard enough to make him howl. It could have gone on longer, but in the distance they hear the start of Sound of Silver so they scramble to their feet and race each other to the stage instead.
In the afternoon, they take up residence in the catering tent. Jonathan and his guys spend it doing interviews. For some reason Ian decides to sit in on most of them and the ones Glasvegas are doing on another table with NME. Against all odds, they all find it charming. By the end of the first set of questions, Jonna Löfgren and Ian are exchanging details and invitations to appear on stage with their respective bands.
“Hey,” Spencer yells across the tent. “Are you losers replacing me?”
Ian shrugs and smiles that stupid grin of his. “Had to happen sooner or later old man.”
Jonna nods. (James Allen makes a face).
Spencer gives up. Outside the tent, he runs into one of Ryan’s ex co-stars. As far as Spencer is concerned, Emile Hirsch has to be one of the nicest guys in the business. The three months he and Ryan had spent in Wyoming filming together had been among the quietest and most stress free Spencer has ever had. In cut offs and red gumboots, Emile grins when he catches sight of Spencer.
“Man, is that Spencer James Smith the Fifth I see? Don’t tell me Ross has you running around London picking up bespoke suits.”
Spencer shakes his head and hugs him hello.
As it turns out, Emile is in London in talks about adapting one of his unpublished novels into a play. Nothing big. Just a small production. The theatre company is enthusiastic about his work though. From what he says, it sounds like it could be a good fit. He’s excited about it, Spencer can tell. Quietly so.
They end up going to see Soko together.
“I want to marry that girl,” Emile says as she plays her ukulele and sings about never loving anyone more than Paul McCartney.
Spencer looks at her, tiny and honest and true. “Yeah. Me too.”
In the evening Spencer convinces Emile to come hang with him and the guys. In the back paddock of the festival grounds they spread out stolen deck chairs around an industrial heater and Dallon announces that they’re going to write a concept album.
“I talked to Charlie,” Dallon says, pointing to a dazed looking Charlie Fink who is curled up with Laura Marling under a knitted blanket. “And we both decided that is the next logical step.”
Cash scoffs. “Fuck that noise. Concept albums are for lame ass 80s rock bands or gay ass bands that wish they were lame ass 80s rock bands.”
Dallon mouth narrows. “What would you suggest?”
“No one wants some symbolist shit about the 1640 Catalonian revolt. You should make a soundtrack to Gossip Girl or some shit,” Cash says. “That’s where the money is. Get Clém to hook you up.”
Spencer stays out of it. Emile doesn’t. By the end of the night Dallon and Charlie are recreating scenes from Into the Wild.
Every action has an equal and opposite reaction.
At some flea market in some place halfway between the gig they played the night previously and the gig they’re playing in the evening, Cash buys Ian a Zither and Dallon and Cash catch Spencer calling Clémence to tell her.
“He’s always calling her,” Ian says when they bring it up. “What’s the big deal?”
Dallon and Cash exchange a smirk.
The thing about Clémence is she fell for Spencer.
In Berlin, Cash goes and gets very, very drunk. The next day, hung over and smelling of piss, he forces everyone to go to museum after museum with him. Myles Matheny and Chris Stein try to beg out, but Cash refuses to let them.
“What’s going on?” Myles asks, Spencer as they linger in the Lustgarten as Cash stares down the bust of Queen Nefertiti.
Spencer really doesn’t know. Squinting in the early morning light, he tries to think but can’t. It’s too early and – Spencer doesn’t think he managed to sleep for more than an hour. Next to him, Spencer catches sight of Jonathan, Dallon, and Chris leaning against each other. Spencer thinks about joining them, but that would involve moving. Spencer doesn’t think he can do that.
Five museums and a google alert later, Ian works it out.
“Alex,” he says.
“Oh,” Spencer answers.
Spencer first met Ian when Brendon was playing a kid who stumbled into Andy Warhol’s studio. It was Shane’s pet project, his first feature after making a career of directing video clips. It had taken him the better part of a year to get the funding secured and the better part of two to get Brendon.
Ian spent most of the shoot play pretending him was a socialite instead of a high school senior. Brendon being Brendon encouraged it, letting him tag along to every charity thing, premiere and red carpet event. Cash was at every one. He and the Alex’s had been at every single one since they were kids. Only now, it was more fun. Or less fun. Something. Ian worked out which before Brendon won his first Prix d'interprétation masculine at Cannes.
It took Cash longer. (The Alex’s are still figuring it out).
There are no speed limits in Germany, but they end up having to drive though the night. It’s okay for The Drums. They have techs and a tour manager. Spencer, Dallon, and Ian just have themselves. At about ten, they stop for dinner at a roadside petrol station/restaurant. The Europeans know how to do roadside eating.
A country or two away, TMZ reports new details of Singer’s disastrous DJ set at Versace’s S/S party.
Ian tries to delete all the google alerts but Cash catches him.
Spencer hears from Shane who hears from Charlotte Dellal that it wasn’t quite as bad as the press makes out, but it was still pretty painful. Nothing fancy, just a combination of too much liquor, too much talk and unfamiliar sound equipment. Despite that, at their next gig, Cash does manage to get himself kicked out. Refusing to answer any of their calls or texts, they panic. It doesn’t achieve anything bar a crappy show. They end up finding him sitting by their van with a bloody nose, torn shirt and missing a shoe.
“You can’t do that,” Ian yells, red faced and furious.
Cash mumbles out a half assed apology, but it’s not good enough and Ian doesn’t speak to Cash for days.
Clémence thinks Ian just needs some time. She wasn’t there for Ian’s less than glorious period of B listing, nor had she witness Cash’s life time of it, but she has a way with people. She tells him not to worry, and that it will blow over.
“Everything does,” she says. “If you give it enough time,”
With his head cradled in his hands, he takes a deep breath and exhales slowly.
“It’ll be okay, Spence,”
And the thing is, when she says it he believes her.
The thing about Clémence isn’t that she fell for Spencer. It’s that he fell for her.