Copyright © 2009 A.Matheson.  All Rights Reserved.

Feedback: good/bad/ugly, all welcome if constructive. Though flattery is sought.



by Antonia Matheson

Part three: The TOUR

Living in a box (sort out a nicer van? Sorted)

The rushes of the first night were looking good, Kirstin thought, kicking her feet up as she idly skipped through the footage on screen. She was lounging in the back of the large, and rather plush, live truck they had commandeered for the US side of the tour. It was familiar territory for her and would probably act as their 'hub' from now on.

The majority of their equipment had been packed in the larger lorry that had gone ahead of them the night before, but Kirstin had been insistent they be able to work while on the road. There would have to be a lot of work done between shoots to be able to keep on top of all the footage they were already generating. For the moment however, there wasn't much to be done except review what they had captured so far.

This is good, Kirstin thought again.

There was a lot of it, and most of it would eventually be scrapped, but being able to give her crew permission to shoot everything and anything that they could was certainly going to have its advantages. Unfortunately this meant trawling through reels and reels, as well as tapes and tapes, looking for the perfect moments. That was where Suze came in. With the pair of them able to keep an eye on the cameras, or at least be in radio contact, they could bookmark each great moment or shot as it happened, meaning they could refer to it much more quickly later on, when they came to putting the piece together. It was like the clapperboard equivalent for unscripted, live film.

'Bitch fest' was one of those very book-marked moments. Kirstin smiled to herself as she flicked over to the feed that had come from Kate's camera. Kate was good. Her framing was impeccable; not too contrived and with a keen sense of where the action was headed without entirely pre-empting it. That was hard to do in a live situation. Kirstin congratulated herself for chasing Kate down for this project. It hadn't been easy, but Kirstin could be very persuasive when she needed to be. She gave her elbow a rub, remembering the arm wrestle that had sealed the deal.

Watching the scene replay again Kirstin couldn't help but laugh at Meg; the girl that had once been so dour. She was still a little droll at times, perhaps, but she had lost the inherent sadness that Kirstin had always thought lurked somewhere beneath that angry teenage exterior. Now there was a distinct glint behind her eyes, a confidence in her manner, and even a certain grace in her usually awkward frame.

Maybe that's what popularity gives you.

At school they had both been outsiders in one sense or another; Kirstin because she was essentially English, which either courted intrigue or ridicule, and Meg because she wanted to be. Or at least that's what Kirstin had assumed.

Meg had once been at the core of a very popular crowd at school, but one day she had fallen from grace. Kirstin had never really worked out why, and she had certainly never asked, but what she did seem to think was that if Meg hadn't been so stubborn she could have regained her position. Instead she seemed revel in her outcast status, and the girl she once bullied had almost become her friend.

Almost. 'Preppy'. Jeez.

Kirstin rolled her eyes. “I mean yeh I studied a lot…” she thought out loud.

She stopped the tape and switched to the onstage camera they had set up. Shooting TV style did lack the quality that Kirstin craved, and was certainly capable of, but in many ways she understood that limitations like these often lead to better innovation; if you weren't lazy and had the inclination. Kirstin was far from lazy.

The footage they had so far was divided between the live digital video they had been watching on the monitors, and some 35mm film they had thrown in for good measure. As the tour continued she hoped the majority of it could be done on real film. Working out how to combine the two styles without a huge leap in quality was going to be her main concern, she decided. But there were a few ideas to mess with and she certainly wasn't worried about the content at this point. That seemed to be taking care of itself.

“…Check out Billy he's got - nothing to say,

But I like his soul and I like his shoes.

Well check out Billy he's going it alone today

Cos God knows Billy's got nothing to lose…”

The on-stage sound hadn't been mixed in yet, but the camera sound wasn't bad considering its position. Kirstin found herself tapping a foot along to the song she was watching. Jess really was a great front woman, she worked the crowd easily and it all added to the raw edge that Grapple clearly had. Bluesy, and at moments almost fragile, smattered with punchy full-on punk-rock angst. Her voice was hauntingly hollow.

No wonder there are people shouting her name.

“Hey!” It was Suze climbing through from the front of the truck where she'd been snoozing.

Kirstin chewed at the pencil in her mouth, oblivious and evidently enjoying herself.

“Oi, take your cans off…” Suze said nudging her with a foot to get her attention.

Kirstin turned to her in surprise and frowned, “Huh?”

Suze pointed to her ears.

“Oh, oh, sorry…” said Kirstin taking off the large headphones she was wearing. “Sorry, what's up?”

“We're stopped if you wanna stretch your legs a little?”

“Oh, yeh, I suppose I should, right?”

“Yes, you should. You having fun?” Suze smiled at her taking a look at the screen she had been so engrossed in.

“Actually, yes - yes I am,” Kirstin said flicking a few switches on the equipment in front of her. “They're pretty good,” she commented nodding to the screen.

“I told you, didn't I?”

“Yes. Whatever.” Kirstin answered curtly, not so neatly brushing her ignorance aside. “And you found some great moments Suze,” she went on, changing the subject, “I particularly like the bit where Jess is like being all cocky just before they go on stage and then apologises seconds later.”

“Ah, you can thank Josh for that. He pretended to turn the camera off to see if she would drop the act…”

Kirstin turned off the monitor she had been viewing and grabbed her wallet from the table quickly shoving it in her back pocket. “You know, I'm not so sure it is an act…” Kirstin breathed as she pulled open the large metal side door with some effort and kicked down the steps.

A burst of white sunshine greeted them.

“Well, we'll see I guess.”

They both squinted in the morning sun as they walked over to the sister bus that had pulled up a few metres ahead. It was a lot warmer outside than it has been in the dark, air-conditioned truck. Quite a stark contrast in fact, Kirstin noted as she migrated to the shade of the other bus.

There was a muffled shout from within. Kirstin and Suze looked up at one of the smoked-out windows where they could just about make out Josh being manhandled by Kirstin's camera girl of the moment, Kate. He was calling to them both for help, and only really half joking. She seemed to have a hold of his grey hoody.

“Oh my God, can't she give it a rest?” sighed Suze. “She's worse than the talent!”

Kirstin laughed, giving Suze a sideways look.

“She's ok. A bit of a punk maybe, but I like it,” Kirstin's eyes widened in excitement, “she's wily!”

Suze glanced round at Kirstin, unhappy that she didn't share her irritation.

“What?” Kirstin asked bluntly, “I thought you two got on?”

“Humph.” Came the response. “She has way too much energy for me at the moment,” Suze glared.

Ooh, something's got her, thought Kirstin, wondering briefly if it might have something to do with Josh.

“Well maybe we should put that energy to good use then…” she said with a sparkle in her eye.

The other five crew members stepped off the bus to join them: Kirstin's runner James, then sound guys Gerard and Seth, followed by her two camera operators; Josh, who was pushed out, and Kate who jumped out after him.

Yes, I have a job for you young lady, thought Kirstin.


Good morning Megan – get permission from the naked girl

Meg was ever so slightly hung over. She hadn't meant to be, but in retrospect it seemed inevitable. She lay still for a moment, aching slightly, deciding whether or not to seriously consider moving. She decided to consider it, but not seriously.

A shout came from somewhere further down the bus. “Crap!” And then quite a lot of giggling. “Shut up, fuckers!” It was Jess's voice; she sounded almost as bad as Meg felt.

Meg's consideration of movement became more serious when she realised how desperately she needed the bathroom. Turning over to get out of her double bunk she collided with what must have been last night’s object of affection.

“Oh fuck!”

The face squinted back at her and started laughing.


“Nice do,” the girl pointed to Meg's mess of hair.

Meg began to put the evening back together in her head. “I thought you were with Ben?” she said.

“I was,” said the girl.

“Ugh, sick! What are you doing in here?! We didn't??”

“He snores,” she said simply in answer to her question. Meg relaxed for a moment. “You're a better kisser though…”


Meg closed her eyes momentarily and shook her head, not really wanting to think about what might have happened for her to know that. Not really wanting to know if that comment was even true or not. But slightly flattered all the same.

“Don't say that to him…” she said crawling over her to pull the curtains aside and jump down. She was confronted by a ‘Jess’ with a very wet face and torso striding towards her up the gangway.

“What in the hell happened to you?” she asked.

“OJ,” Jess glared unhappily. “The juice of a goddamned orange happened to me.” She stopped in front of Meg and they both regarded one-another. Meg was the first to smile, though she was trying not to.

“Stop it…” Jess frowned trying not to smile back, “it went in my eye, it hurts…” she moaned.

“Well, now you know how that feels don't you?”

“Humph. Yeh. Ok, it's probably karma…” she said pushing past Meg toward the bathroom, “Nice hair by the way,” she said shutting the door behind her.

Meg decided she needed to check it out. Ducking down she caught a glimpse of herself in the window opposite.

Nodding at her reflection she gave her hair a quick ruffle.

“Yep, pretty damned sexy!” she mumbled, then was reminded why getting up had been so urgent. “Ah fuck… JESS! Hurry up, I need to pee!”

She turned back to face the bathroom door momentarily, but realising she'd be waiting a while she span back round to go and join Ben at the front of the bus. It was at that point she met with the second collision of her day.

“Agh! What in the Hell?” she bellowed, narrowly avoiding a full-on impact.

“Hey Meg!” the voice said brightly in a true Texan style.

“When did you get on??” she said screwing up half her face as a beam of sunlight hit her.

Kate stepped back a little to give her space and brought the camera back to her shoulder, “At the last service station. Do you mind?”

“Uh…” Meg, though half asleep, realised she probably didn't have a choice, especially since Jess and Ben had clearly agreed it was ok.

“I've been doing a post-gig type piece with the other two down the front,” she continued, “Well, I say two, you seem to be multiplying!”

“Huh?” Meg looked past her to see a few of extra bodies lounging there.

“Man, I can't believe you slept in here…” Kate said capturing some shots of the bus.

“It's really not that bad,” Meg stated with a deadpan face. Feeling devilish she pulled back the curtain on her bunk to reveal a large comfy bed with a cute girl still lounging in it.

“Sometimes we have to, y'know?” she said in earnest, quite pleased that Kate just smirked from behind the camera.

“Do you make a habit of that then?” Kate asked nodding at the girl.

“I don't even remember this one,” Meg joked flippantly, and with that she turned again on her heel.

Unashamedly still in her PJ substitute of vest and shorts, she headed down the bus to Ben and whomsoever she might find, leaving the girl in her bed to pull faces at the camera.

“Mistaken identity…” the girl slurred at Kate.

“Aha…” Kate raised an eyebrow from behind the eyepiece.

Kate panned round quickly to catch Meg still swaggering down the aisle.


Slash fiction

“Nice idea!” Suze commented as Kirstin turned up the sound on Kate's live feed coming from the tour bus ahead of them. The tour was practically in convoy, but since they had a satellite link if they needed, it didn't much matter.

“Yeh, well, I know I said I'd wait before we became too intrusive, but to be honest, judging by the behaviour of this band, pretty much anything seems to go. I think they'll be more than happy to chuck us out when they get bored, or if we get too close.”

“They have quite a reputation you know?” Suze dropped her voice for effect as she settled down in the seat next to Kirstin.

“I'm beginning to get that impression…” Kirstin nodded slowly.

“Have you read their website?”

“Nope, but I've a feeling I might not have to…” Kirstin said raising an eyebrow at Suze who was already flipping open her laptop.

“Ha, look at this!” Kirstin nudged at Suze who looked up just in time to see Meg pull back a curtain to reveal a half naked girl.

“Oh my lord, has it started already?”

“Apparently so. That's one consent form we definitely need,” she said scribbling a note to remind herself to do just that. “Do you think she slept with her?”

Suze cocked her head and mockingly frowned at her. “You're kidding right?”

Kirstin smiled. “No, I'm not that naive Suze, it's just a bit weird to realise she's gay.”

Suze laughed. “You mean you couldn't tell just by looking at her?! I thought you were supposed to have that 'dar' thing?”

“Nooo. I mean - yes it makes sense, but I just never really thought that about her. It didn't occur to me she might be, she used to be pretty straight.”

“Kirstin I don't think this girl's ever been straight. I mean look at that walk!” The shot on screen followed Meg as she walked down the aisle of the bus. “No straight woman could ever pull that off.”

“Trust me, her prom date was very much a guy…”

“That doesn't mean anything… we both know that. Wait a minute… that's not even on the website. How do you know that?”

Kirstin turned to look at her. She took a breath while she decided how much to reveal, before blurting out the beginning of the truth.

“She used to live next door to me…” she answered candidly, also wondering just how well Suze had studied the band's site.

Suze's face was a picture. She half snickered. “I'm sorry, you used to know her?”

“Yes. In a way.”

“When was this?”

“A long time ago, when we were kids, when I lived in Buffalo.”

“You lived in Buffalo??”

“Yes, Suze,” Kirstin said drolly and explained again, “I lived in Buffalo when I was a kid and Meg here,” she pointed at the figure on screen who was rubbing her eyes, “lived next door.”

Wow. That's kinda weird.”

“Yes, I know. It is.”

“I never knew you were from Buffalo!”

Kirstin frowned, confused at how her having once lived in Buffalo was more interesting to Suze than the fact that she had a weird affinity with the subject currently on screen.

“I'm not from Buffalo. Not really. Clearly not really.” Kirstin said referring to her English twang. “And I didn't stay after high school anyway, so I don't really think it counts.”

“Oh, I dunno,” Suze mused, “You suddenly gained a little street cred with me.”

“Shut up!” Kirstin shoved her shoulder lightly. “So come on, lets see what you've found out then.”

Suze turned the PowerBook towards her and opened up the website.

“Fl-ashy…” Kirstin remarked sarcastically.

“Fu-nny!” Suze imitated as the graphics of the front page swam about to reveal the navigation bar. She clicked on the button marked “fan fact/fiction”.

“Fan fiction?? I thought that was uber cyber stories?” she remarked, elongating the strange word.

“You're such a geek.” Suze smirked under her breath before continuing, “This is a neat little take on reality. Some fact, some fiction,” she explained.


“Ok, so basically this is like a forum where people trade their stories of meeting the band. Most of them are very basic and cute. Some of them are like blogs, some of them are well written like reviews or articles, and some of them are more like literature. There are lots of styles, and basically anything seems to go. The thing is most them are based on real accounts, but they label it 'slash' fiction because some of it is potentially libellous.”

Kirstin's brow furrowed. “And by this you mean?”

“By this I mean references to meeting them at parties and drinking excessively, or taking drugs, and even on occasion sleeping with them.”

“Huh…” It was Kirstin's turn for her face to be a picture.

“Mostly the band places a 'no comment' tag at the end of the post. I was guessing that this made for better publicity 'cos it makes them look rock n roll, y'know?”

She clicked through a few pages looking for a particular post.

“The lamer ones they usually 'verify' as true, and on occasion they deny some of the blatantly stupid ones. But then I came across a few that even I was shocked to find they verified. Ah, here we go, read that!”

She pushed the laptop over for Kirstin to peruse, watching her intently. It was a piece of rather well written prose, describing in no uncertain terms a very sexual meeting between the writer and two of the band members. It wasn't pornographic, but it was very clear about the interaction that had ensued:

“It hadn't been my intention to be flirtatious, but the raw sexual energy that seemed to bleed from every pore of her made it impossible for me not to be suggestive. Before I knew it I was holding onto her hand and pulling her to one side, kissing her fiercely. She had no idea that not five minutes ago I had been all over her band member. When it became apparent to her that this was the case, she didn't seem to mind and even suggested we all go up to her room…”

Kirstin blinked. She scrolled down quickly to read the tag that Jess had left there “Verified - I have to admit, this one is true.” Kirstin's eyes quickly flicked to the authors name.

“Oh my god…” She breathed, “The Maggie Gustov? The writer?”

Suze nodded her head. “Yep.” She answered succinctly.

“How do you know it was really her that wrote this?”

“I emailed her…”

“You what?” Kirstin asked incredulously.

“She said it was the best lay she's had in a long time and if we wanted to interview her for the documentary, she'd find some time for us…” Suze waited.

Kirstin just started laughing.

“I have no idea what to do with this information,” she said shaking her head, “except to say that I don't wanna read anymore of it…” she pulled a half pained face through the pursed smile that remained and pushed the laptop back.

“I'm telling you, this part of the site is legend. It doesn't even matter if most of it isn't true, so long as some of it is. And when you have someone like Maggie writing something like that? It pretty much sets the rest in stone, true or not. If it's a publicity stunt, then it's a very well thought out one.”

“Is Maggie bisexual?”

“I have no idea, but it seems that Jess must be…”

“I think Jess is omni-sexual,” Kirstin said in a serious tone. “It certainly explains a few things.”

“Like what?”

“The way Ben looks at her sometimes, I knew there was some chemistry going on there.”

“Oh, yeh, I thought that too. At first I thought it was a little weird, but it looks like they must've had a relationship at some point.”

It's still a little weird. Kirstin was lost in many a thought.

“So you wanna interview Maggie?”

She snapped back into the moment, “Um, yeh, I mean, I guess we don't have to use it, right?” The question was clearly rhetorical so Suze didn't bother to answer. “I don't see any harm. Though I have to say I'm not sure we should linger too much on the sexual content of their lives, you know?”

Suze nodded in agreement. “And yet it seems we apparently can't ignore it!” She muttered distracted by a glimpse of Ben on screen, kissing the girl that had been in Meg's bunk.

“What in the Hell have we gotten into?” Kirstin asked the ether.

Suze just bit her bottom lip.


Break a leg

The tour was going very well. It had been four weeks since they'd pushed off in L.A and there wasn't a single venue that hadn't been a sell out. Kirstin was beginning to build a satisfactory picture in her head of the profiles of each band member and how they lived. She was also getting to know not only the tour crew, but her own crew a lot better.

The long journeys were spent editing out all the unusable footage from the dates before and logging the interesting bits. She already had quite a pile of definite contenders, but even now she knew she'd have to throw half of it out in the final edit.

A picture was slowly surfacing of a band that had made it on the underground music scene and taken the industry by surprise. These were the stories legends were made of. Heroes and villains over-living life, teetering on the edge in the glare of the cameras.

She had started out thinking that Jess's antics were all an act; that she played at being rock and roll on stage and for the cameras, but actually deep down the girl was seriously sassy and had played the media for all they were worth. What Kirstin was now beginning to realise was that Jess just felt she'd gotten lucky. She only snapped into civilised behaviour because she knew that she should behave, not because she had an underlying agenda. She really had to work at curbing her language and her antics, and when she was on stage she knew she was allowed to let them rip. Something she certainly did.

It was curious Kirstin thought, to find that Jess's act was actually performed off-stage. Similarly Ben joined in with the musical theatrics, but he wasn't quite so concerned with curbing them off-stage. However to be fair he wasn't as brash as Jess, he had a far gentler manner, so it wasn't quite as noticeable.

And Meg?


Meg was harder to work out. Her job seemed to be the straight-guy, ironically. Deadpan. Get on with the job, keep the beat going, allow the other two to shine. And yet she was capable of upstaging them both with just a couple of well-chosen words, or at times with something as seemingly small and insignificant as a smile.

When you demonstrate rarely, what little you do show seems to yield greater impact.

The thought reminded Kirstin of the advice her mother had once given her on the art of wearing clothes.

Some rules are cross platform I guess. Less is more.

But it was a fine line to tread between intrigue and boredom. There had to be a handing out of little tit-bits here and there, not too many, but just enough. Meg walked that line of mystery very well. Kirstin had found herself wondering if she even knew it.


Smoothly wasn't a course Kirstin expected things to follow, so she was unsurprised in Tennessee when Kate radioed through to the live truck during a show to tell her she had a serious problem.

“Do I need to dial 911?” Kirstin asked calmly.

“Yes, fuck yes!” came the hurried response.

Shit!” Kirstin hissed ripping off her headphones, “Suze, you're going to have to take over.”

Suze jumped right up as Kirstin grabbed the venue radio she'd been handed the day before and flung open the live truck door.

“I need a call for 911,” she stated.

There was a crackle as the radio came alive. “Hello, report the incident please,” a deep voice buzzed back.

“I have a sound man down backstage. He was in the fly rigging, and we're not entirely sure where he is now, but he seems to have hit base.”

Kirstin tried to keep calm, but Kate had been close to hysteria and it was hard not to think the worst.

She was running through the front of house entrance holding the radio in one hand and showing her pass to whoever cared with the other.

“We have issued a call Miss Hart, a medic is on his way. Back-up won't be long.”

“Thanks,” she shouted and clipped the radio to one of her jean pockets.

Heading backstage she could hear the muffled commotion already.

“Kate?!” she shouted heading towards a group of people huddled in the darkness.

The band were still on stage.

Kate turned round from the back of the cluster and rushed to her.

“I don't know what the hell happened Kaye, he was right behind me one minute and the next I just hear a load of clattering.”

She was clearly in shock, but Kirstin was more concerned with seeing Gerard, wherever the fuck he was.

A large man was pulling what looked like a chunk of metal off the figure she could now see lying limp on the floor.

Fuck! Oh, sweet Jesu.

“Excuse me,” Kirstin pushed her way through with ferocity to reach the scene. There was Gerard, covered in a heap of mangled metal and broken plastic. But it was a moving heap.

He's breathing, good, fucking good!

She instinctively began helping the larger man remove debris from the area, and when it was clear enough she knelt down over his head.

“Gerard, can you hear me?” she muttered.

“Hey lady, you a doc? I don't think you should move him,” the large man said.

“Lets make sure that's he's alive before we worry too much about that, hey?”


Gerard was alive, that was the good news. He was covered in cuts that he'd gained while falling the twenty-something feet from the fly tower ladder, hitting almost every obstacle on the way; he was severely winded and had some sort of trauma to his left leg, but he was alive. It was the obstacles breaking his fall that had saved his life, so the medic had said. She was sure Gerard wouldn't see it that way.

Sparing a brief glance upward before she followed his stretcher to the ambulance, Kirstin could see where he'd fallen from and she was fully aware of how close to death he had come.

Kirstin arranged for someone to pick up the camera Kate was still clutching in order to take it back to the truck. She put an arm around her.

“It's not your fault Kate.”

She just shook her head. “We should have checked it was ok up there before we went.” Her usually bright, deep southern tone sounded disconcertingly lifeless.

“Look, it could have been a lot worse, trust me. And it's the venue’s responsibility to shut off any area that's deemed unsafe. They knew we were all running around, and they gave permission to access the fly tower. Like I said, it isn't your fault ok?” she assured her.

Kate sniffed and nodded.

Kirstin turned to the paramedic, “Where are you taking him?”

“Nashville General,” he smiled easily, “it's only a few blocks away.”

“C'mon, we'll get a cab ok?”

Kate nodded again.


Let your hair down

No matter how hard Kirstin tried to change it, all the figures proved to her that she had no choice but to board tomorrow's flight back to NYC. The band were scheduled to be on The David Letterman Show and Kirstin simply had to be there, it was too good an opportunity to leave to fate, on many levels.

She had originally planned to leave before the rest of the crew and allow them to finish up in Nashville. That, it now seemed, was just not going to be possible. She simply didn't have time.

“Welllll… Fuck! Fuck, fuck, fuckety fuck-fuck,” she grumbled in a clipped version of her usually gentle English accent.

A head peeped around the connecting door of her hotel room.

“Auditioning to be Hugh Grants wife?”

Kirstin swung round in the big leather chair she was seated in. Meg smiled at her broadly. The filmmaker was a little shocked to discover how pleased she actually was to see her. Then she remembered the question.

“What?” she asked her, a little confused.

Meg imitated her “Fuck, fuck!?”

“Ah, the bumbling English idiot… no, not exactly, but coming close…” she sighed waving her in to the room as she swung back and hit enter, sending the email she'd been writing off on it's way.

“Everything ok? We thought you'd been gone by now but Suze,” she directed her thumb at the conjoining room she had come from, “mentioned that you were going to be around tonight after all?”

“Ah, yes. Yes I am. Unfortunately, for both him and me, Gerard managed to break his leg yesterday. Which has left him laid up, and me not only down a sound operator at short notice, but also with a small accident claim to deal with.”

“Ooo, fuck… I mean we all knew he got hurt, but ouch!”

Kirstin turned back to her. “Mmm. Legal needs a pile of paperwork. Hence the swearing.” Meg nodded sympathetically.

But mostly I'm not too keen on flying and now it seems I don't really have a choice, thought Kirstin, feeling a little guilty that her fear seemed more important right now that Gerard's leg.

Meg took a glance around Kirstin's room. It was in a more conservative state than her own room, but was pretty much the same except for the laptop and a pile generally geeky items Kirstin had set up on the desk.

“Well,” Meg slouched to one side like a kid asking if her friend could come and play, “we reckon you should come and join us for a night of frolicking as soon as your done doing… whatever it is you need to do…” she gestured to the air.

Kirstin smiled at her thankfully. She reached behind her without looking and shut the laptop with a click.

“I'm done,” she winked. “What's on the menu?”

She was rewarded with a genuine smile, “Well, if the preppy can take it, we all thought we go find us some food, some pool and maybe a movie?”

“In that order?”

“Yes, in that very order,” Meg smiled even more broadly, having already cottoned on to Kirstin’s obvious love of food.

“Right now?” she asked, realising how late it had gotten.

“If you're ready, yeah.”

“Gimme two secs,” Kirstin said taking a quick look down at herself and stealing an even quicker look at Meg's chosen attire. She grabbed a clean set of clothes from her case and headed to the bathroom.

Meg waited for her patiently, suddenly feeling a little uncomfortable invading Kirstin's privacy.

Oh fuck it, she's seen me on camera almost every morning in my kecks for the last month, this is hardly an invasion.

But the feeling somehow managed to pervade.

There wasn't much of Kirstin in the room she conceded, it was a hotel room after all, and they had only been there a couple of nights. Yet it still seemed that a lot of Kirstin lingered here despite that fact.

Meg noted the lack of personal effects; no pictures, no books. She reasoned that Kirstin was probably too busy to think about things like that, she was working after all, unlike the band who felt like touring was their reward for all the hard work building up to it.

It was the smell Meg decided. She hadn't realised it until now, but it was apparently Kirstin who was responsible for supplying the fresh trail of subtle, sweetness that was quite noticeable after being surrounded by hardworking techies in dark, dank venues. Kirstin had a very distinctively sweet and alluring smell. It made Meg smile, again.

“Ok, will I do?”

Meg turned around feeling a little caught out.

Kirstin had changed from her half suited attire into a more comfortable jeans and tee ensemble.

“You'll more than do,” she smiled at her.

“You ok?” Kirstin asked, sensing Meg was not quite there.

“Sure, sure, I'm just hungry,” she answered hurriedly.

“Oh good!” Kirstin exclaimed. “Me too. I haven't had anything since the lunchtime hospital visit.”

She grabbed a brown leather jacket that was hanging from the back of the door and pulled it on.

Meg followed her.

“Is he going to be ok?”

“Gerard? Oh, sure. I mean, they pinned some stuff back together, he was a bit of a mess, but he's off the morphine now,” Kirstin replied, patting her pockets, checking for her wallet and keys.

“Fuck…” Meg shook her head, wincing slightly at the thought as she held the door open for Kirstin.

“Yeh… FUCK indeed.”

Meg stopped suddenly before she closed the door behind them.

“Is it usual for you to hang out like this with the 'talent'?”

Kirstin turned back to regard her.

“The 'talent'?” she repeated, the word sounding inappropriate coming from Meg's lips.

“I know that's what you call us.”

Kirstin smiled cheekily. “Do you indeed?”

“It kinda seems like a fully-loaded, backhanded compliment.”

“It's not really a compliment at all,” Kirstin admitted.

“So I gathered… thanks for the confirmation.”

“Where'd you hear that?” Meg didn't answer, causing Kirstin to qualify herself. “It's just a term we use. To be honest I don't think it really applies to you guys.”

“Thanks!” Meg said turning and shutting the door.

“I don't mean you're not talented…” Kirstin added quickly.

“Yeh, yeh whatever,” Meg said swinging back round and holding her hand up to stop the apparent insult, but smiling nonetheless.

Kirstin licked her lips and smiled back at her, realising Meg was pulling her leg a little and that she didn't really take it personally. “I actually happen to think you guys are really good,” she said with sincerity. “And in answer to your question: It's not unusual for people like us to hang out together, but in all honesty the 'talent' tends to stick to it's own, and so do the crews.”

“People like us?” she teased, bumping Kirstin's shoulder with her own as they wandered down the corridor towards Suze's room.

“You know what I mean drummer girl.”

Meg just smiled back at her.

A thought suddenly occurred to Kirstin.

“Why didn't we just go through the joining door??” Kirstin shook her head.

“Uh, I have no idea?” Meg pulled a face.

You came through it didn't you?” Kirstin poked.

“Yeh, but I was distracted.”

Kirstin looked at her through narrowed eyes before tapping lightly on the door in front of her.


“You’re cocaine, you prob’ly think this song is about you”

They had all gone for dinner at a Thai place in the city. Sitting at a huge ornate table, they had been spinning shared food round and clinking glasses for an hour or so. It was one of the first evenings that both teams were able to relax and just enjoy the city. Most people had spent their day discovering the underground markets at the edge of the city zone, Kirstin discovered. She herself had been tied up first at the hospital, and then later in meeting with a solicitor. She was regretful because she felt she'd missed out, judging by the stories. She fully intended to make up for it however.

The food was good, which always improved Kirstin's mood, and she had found a much-appreciated dining ambassador in the shape of Amie, the bands lighting engineer, who had apparently been a chef in a previous life. She was half Puerto-Rican and Kirstin had already decided that at some point she was going to have to get Amie to cook for her.

“Yes! I totally love that little place!” Kirstin exclaimed. “How can you possibly know about it? There's like ten people in the world that know about it!” Amie beamed back at her. “Right,” Kirstin hit the table with her free hand, “that's where we're going when we get to England, okay? No matter what happens, we'll bum a ride out there. If for nothing else than the cheesecake!”

“Oh, god, don't even get me started on the desserts!” Amie scrunched up her face.

“No, really please, don't get her started on the desserts!” piped up Laura, who looked like the female version of Josh except that her blond hair was in dreads. “She wants to taste everything on the menu, but she can't eat it all and then I get drafted in to help!” Kirstin had worked out a week or so earlier that Laura was Amie's girlfriend, or she was fairly certain of it anyway.

“Oh you and I need to hang out more,” Kirstin nodded at Amie. “Trust me I can definitely help you out in that department Laura!” she winked and patted her stomach neatly.

Kirstin caught the gaze of a pair of blue-grey eyes from across the table. Meg had been watching her in wonderment. She was astonished at the ease with which Kirstin seemed to command the attention of the table without even realising it. She stuck the tip of her tongue out briefly before being coerced into a whispered conversation with Ben.

“What?” Meg asked him. “Oh, right… really?”

“If you want, I'm just saying, didn't want you to feel left out,” he growled in an effort to be discreet.

Ben looked quite out of place in this restaurant, Kirstin thought, but in a really good way. The choppy jet-black hair and stylised beard complimented his Mediterranean skin tone, and the camera certainly loved him. Tall, dark and broody, but with such a kind face it almost betrayed his chosen array of piercings and tattoos.

He and Jess never failed to look like they were in a band. They were always with the make-up-from-the-night-before look. Though Kirstin had to concede it usually was from the night before. Meg on the other hand was much more subtle she thought. She suited the onstage look, but she scrubbed up just as well without it.

Meg pushed back from the table, tossed her napkin down and headed off for the restroom. Ben rubbed his nose and repositioned his tall frame to accommodate the long legs that carried it under the table.

He must be easily six foot four, Kirstin thought.

He almost dwarfed Meg and she wasn't exactly short. Kirstin tried her best not to stand too close to him on the rare occasion she needed to, on account he made her neck ache.

Meg pushed open the restroom door. It was a pretty posh place. She based a lot of her opinion of a place by the quality of its bathroom, and this was very nice indeed. Large ceramic sinks that acted as basin and dryer in one, set in the same carved dark wood found in the main restaurant. Stone floor, stone tiled walls, tinted mirrors, and very large cubicles. It was almost an invite.

“Jess? You here?”

A door un-clicked and a naughty looking face peeped out followed by a hand that grabbed her and pulled her inside.

“Hey… steady!”

Jess giggled and sat back down on the already lidded toilet.

“Want some?” she asked innocently, as if she was offering her potato chips.

Meg's eyes flicked to where Jess was gesturing. There was a line already laid out for her on the top of the paper dispenser in Jess's special silver coke tray.

“Sure,” she said taking the already rolled $100 bill that Jess was offering her. “Is this the same stuff?” she asked as she leaned over to inhale.

The rolled up note already reeked from last nights binge, a rich, heady scent of money and drugs. The good thing about high class establishments was that no-one would be checking for more than one pair of feet under the door. In fact the door was ceiling to roof and the cubicle was well lit and spotless. It was almost as though the owners expected it.

Fools if you don't.

“Yeh, same stuff. We've loads left,” she smiled through half hooded eyes, swallowing the chalky taste as it dripped slowly down the back of her throat. “I just need a little something to keep me awake after last night, I figured we could sleep if off tomorrow.”

Jess fiddled with the fabric of her mesh skirt. She looked fucked, but then, Meg considered, she always did, that was her look wasn't it?

“Yeh, I'm up for that,” Meg answered standing upright again and sniffing hard one more time for good measure. “I'm having a good time. You got any spare I can take with me?”

“You got someone you want to share with?” Jess asked seductively, rising up to meet her and wrinkling her nose.

“Not yet, but who knows?” Meg rolled her eyes suggestively. “You going out after this?”

“Yeh,” Jess breezed reaching for the coke tray, tapping it and folding it up.

She took out a small clear bag from one of the top pockets in her shirt and carefully transferred some of the contents of the tray into it. “Ben's found a little dive he wants us to 'discover',” she said studying the journey of the white powder intently. “You coming?”

“Nah, not really up for a club. I think I'll stick with the others and checkout movie-land.”

“Ok, pussy,” Jess joked sealing the bag and handing it to her. She lifted up her chin. “Check?”

Meg took a look, “All clear, me?” she responded and raised her own chin.

Jess took a good look.

“Just a li-ttle here,” she said wiping a smudge of white dust from under Meg's nose with her fingertip.

“Thanks,” Meg said reaching behind her and unlocking the door.

“You're welcome. Shall we?”

As they headed back to the table they noted the bill had been taken care of.

“Who paid?” asked Jess boldly.

No-one apparently knew.

“Nah, c'mon guys, seriously, who paid?”

Again she was greeted with no claimants.

“Honestly, we don't know,” confirmed Amie, “the guy just came over and told us it'd been taken are of.”

“Mystery kindnesses eh? Ok, well, thanks!” she shouted out to the restaurant. The place was so busy no-one else really heard her. “Ok, cool. Well, I know you guys planned to go off to a movie but if anyone wants to join us me 'n Ben are hitting the town,” she announced to the table with a flourish.

Kirstin waited to see what other people were doing. Josh and Suze both shook their heads, Amie declared she was a little weary, which counted her and Laura out. Seth the other sound operator looked a little at a loss since he'd been hanging out with Gerard who was now laid up. He looked over to Kate.

“I will if you will?” she whispered. He nodded. “Ok, we're up for it,” she grinned at Jess who gave her the thumbs up. Kirstin was pleased she had perked up a little since the day before.

James, Kirstin's runner had taken a fancy to Sally the band’s instrumental engineer, and he jumped on board the second she did. Since Pete, the tour manager, and Sam his head roadie had taken for an early night that only left Meg and Kirstin. Meg looked at Kirstin, almost willing her not to go.

“I'm good thanks,” Kirstin eventually told Jess when she turned attention to her.

Good, thought Meg smiling to herself, not realising she was still looking at Kirstin who puckered her brow in silent question.

Meg turned to Jess quickly, “Like I said, I'm gonna stick with these guys,” she directed at Jess.

“Ok, well, I guess we got ourselves some more recruits anyways,” Jess said, “Have fun, give us a call if you get bored.” She picked up her coat and the others followed her cue. “See you back at the hotel I guess?”

“Sure, ok,” Meg affirmed.


“Do you always talk so much in movie theatres?”

“Um… actually I'm usually a lot worse,” Kirstin dipped her head and flashed Meg a sheepish grin as they walked ahead of the others to find a cab.

They'd chosen to sit together in the cinema since they were with, to all intents and purposes, two other couples: Amie with Laura, and Suze with Josh. Kirstin didn't let the latter go unnoticed and she engineered the seating perfectly with a sly wink at Josh who just shook his head but was grateful. Meg had been more than helpful in the orchestration of her little plan. Kirstin was very pleased, not only with her match making but also for herself. She was really beginning to like spending time with this new Meg who was polite and smiled a lot.

“Can I ask you a question?”

Meg looked at her, “Sure. Go ahead.”

“Are you high?”

It wasn't what she had expected.

Caught. Shit. Oh well, what's she going to do? Meg giggled nervously and nodded.

She cocked her jaw, “Yeh. I'm sorry. How could you tell?” She didn't think it had been that obvious.

“It's ok,” Kirstin waved off her worry. “The sniffing had a bit to do with it, plus I never knew anyone that could sit through a whole movie with me without mentioning my constant second guessing and shot commentary.”

“Oh, no, I actually kinda thought that was cute.”

“No, trust me, no-one thinks it's cute unless they're drunk, or high.”

Meg laughed openly. “Ok, then I guess we'd better do this again sometime when I'm not high. Test your theory.”

“I'd like that.” Kirstin answered quietly.

Meg took a quick look behind them to check how far away the rest of the group were.

“Do you want some?” she asked Kirstin in a hushed tone.

“What?” she asked, before realising, “Oh, um… well, what is it?”

“It's just coke,” Meg said quietly, “but it's good.”

Kirstin thought for a second. She reasoned she was going to feel awful tomorrow anyway. It had been a while since she'd taken anything, and right now, in this minute, the thought of escaping on a medium coke high was very appealing. Even if it was a Sunday.

“Sure, ok. Thanks,” she nodded.

Meg suddenly got a second hit, it rushed through and she with smiled with wild abandon.

“Hell yes, gimme some of that!” Kirstin laughed.


Meg's room was the safer place Kirstin had told her. Even though Suze was thoroughly liberal, Kirstin was still her boss and she was technically still in charge. Doing cocaine in the room next door to Suze seemed to her a little wrong. The main reason however for the departure to Meg's room was that she knew Suze would try and stop her in view of the flight she had to take the next day. And if she were Suze, she'd do the same. But she wasn't. And if Kirstin had already done it… well, then the decision had been made, hadn't it?

“So you can get drunk, but you can't get high?”

“Um, yes, I do see the discrepancies…” Kirstin's said pulling on her lip. She was sat on the end of the plush double bed in Meg's hotel room leaning over a long line that she'd only half made her way through. “Technically I shouldn't get drunk either…” she smiled looking up at Meg devilishly, “except on my day off.”

“You rebel! Isn't this your day off though?”

“It should be yes…” she said putting her head back down and finishing up. “Ooo, that's good stuff…” she breathed.

“I know, and I'm so glad you're going to be on my level now, I was beginning to feel a little lonely…”

Kirstin got up and went to retrieve her jacket from the table where she'd slung it ten minutes earlier as she'd rushed off to the bathroom.

“You may as well leave that, we'll probably come back up for some more right?” she asked hopefully.

“Oh, ok, cool, I didn't wanna presume, y'know?”

Meg ducked down to meet her face to face. The blond filmmaker was a good couple of inches shorter than her.

“It's cool, okay Kirstin? It's not even mine really. If you wanna invite anyone else for some that's ok too,” she smiled at her.

“What happened to Preppy?” Kirstin enquired, ruffling the hair off the back of her neck.

Preppy has its place, I think preppy might just be a daytime thing,” she shrugged. “Now come on, Jess just text me, they're headed back.”

“Are they high too?” Kirstin asked, suddenly a little nervous that it might be obvious to everyone else.

“Yeh, relax,” she breathed. “It brings out the green in your eyes.”

“Shut up!” Kirstin almost squealed, hitting her on the shoulder. “Go on, get outta here!”

Meg laughed and duly obliged, trying to sober up quickly when she was met with a porter in the hallway.

“Hi,” she spat suddenly, realising he wasn't at all convinced.


Love’s disgusting

Kirstin was glad of the seat, and of the beer. It had been a long weekend, but a relaxing evening. It was certainly good to have an evening off, even if there was an underlying worry about the next days travel. Thanks to the company, and the newly found energy boost, her mind had been quite pleasantly occupied.

The rest of the gang had rejoined them and those that were still in the mood for socialising had moved to the Hotel Bar.

The whole place was, by any standards, pretty hip and it was mostly populated it seemed by non-guests. This apparently served to advertise how cool the hotel was; if you couldn't afford to stay here, you at least tried to drink with the people who could.

Over the course of the last hour or so their group had slowly diminished as people sloped off to their respective rooms. The hardcore crowd remained, just sitting, relaxing, drinking and chatting. Meg and Kirstin had been nipping upstairs every half hour or so, to top themselves up. Jess and Ben had joined them on a couple of occasions, but even Ben by now had decided he needed to flake out.

There were only a few of them left: Sally, Adie, Jess, Laura, Kate, Suze, and Meg. Kirstin noted that there were no boys left at the table and laughed to herself.


She wondered how the evening had gone for Josh and resolved to ask him in the morning.

It was nice, Kirstin thought, that they all seemed to enjoy one another's company. She had known most of her own team for years, but rarely got opportunity to relax with them like this. She liked it. Even if she was in a slightly heightened state.

“Love's disgusting.”

The voice was low, and slightly hoarse.

They had been having what Meg would term as a thoroughly sickly discussion about love and more specifically about there being one true love for everyone. Meg hated 'the one' conversations, she liked to put them to an abrupt end once they were out of control. Since people were beginning to raise their voices in volume as well as pitch in an effort to be heard, she had decided they had reached the point of her intervention. Especially since a few people had started to make references to their own sickening relationships. They all turned to look at her.

“What?” asked Sally, James's crush, speaking for most of the group who were equally baffled by Meg's understated conversational entry.

Kirstin figured James must've gotten bored of trying it on with her.

Meg repeated herself, “Love's disgusting,” she said simply.

They all regarded her, still bemused. A few of them exchanged looks. There was a brief silence passed between them all.

“Love's insane,” Kirstin offered. She was staring at the floor apparently fascinated by her feet, fingering the glass in her hand. Meg cocked her head as she turned to her, and smiled. Kirstin looked up and met Meg's eyes evenly, tucking some hair behind an ear.

Now they all looked at Kirstin.

Meg nodded, “A humiliating business,” she returned.

Kirstin almost started laughing, “Oh, how true…”

“Ok, ok,” Jess interjected, “enough of this. Who said that?” She hated being left out and was fully aware they were quoting something.

“A poet,” Meg answered dismissively, her eyes never leaving Kirstin, who returned the gaze with a warm smile.

“A poet?” Jess was bewildered. “Since when did you start reading poetry? And, more to the point, quoting it?” she laughed.

Meg turned to Jess and raised an eyebrow, “There's a lot you don't know about me Jessie…”

“I'm beginning to realise that!” she said. Leaning over she took hold of Meg's collar in a playful way, “who is this pansy and what have you done with my friend?”

Meg laughed at her. “Ok, so it's not exactly poetry…”

“I knew it,” Jess was triumphant. “It's a song, right?” she guessed.

“Yes,” She answered quickly, “now would you shut up?” she pleaded, her brow knitting together.

Jess assessed the situation and reasoned it was probably an embarrassing song so she uncharacteristically let the matter go. She too was bored with the love debate.

“I think there are LOTS of 'ones',” Jess threw out to the group. “Different kinds of 'ones'. They all serve a purpose, but they're not all for the duration. I don't think anything really lasts forever…”

“You're so cynical,” Sally shook her head, “look at Adie and Laura,” she pointed out.

“Ugh.” Jess rolled her eyes.

Adie turned to Jess, “What was that for?” she inquired a little defensively. Jess had hit a nerve.

“You guys just make me sick,” Jess pulled a face.

“Ten years,” Laura said joining in, “you can't argue with that.”

Jess was feeling bolshy and she rolled her eyes again.

“You know what?” she asked rhetorically, “You guys are gr-eat at playing mushy-mushy.”

Adie looked a little uncomfortable, clearly sensing something brewing.

“Do you have a problem with that?” Laura questioned her.

Jess raised both eyebrows and pursed her lips pulling another face.

“Ok look, if you have a problem with us just say…” Laura continued, clearly not willing to let the matter drop.

Jess sat silent. This annoyed Laura even more. She narrowed her eyes.

“Are we too 'coupley' for your gang? Is that it?” Jess just laughed at her, which angered Laura more. “Cos we all know how you like your single status. Are we not cool enough now?”

Jess bit her tongue and repeated herself, “All I said was you guys are good at playing mushy-mushy.

Suze and Kate were feeling a little uncomfortable and made gestures of needing to get a drink to Kirstin and Sally who could do nothing but sit there. The two of them slinked off toward the bar conveniently disappearing into the crowd, leaving Kirstin envious. Kirstin tried to keep her head down.

“What exactly are you saying?” shot Laura.

That's what I'm saying!” replied Jess clearly aggravated.

Adie heard Jess's meaning loud and clear and tried to diffuse the brewing argument “Can we just drop this and talk about it some other time?”

“No!” Laura raised her voice. “If she's got something to say she can say it right here.” Though still seated her posture became threatening as she squared up to Jess.

Jess shook her head “Don't push me Laura ok?” she warned.

“Don't push you?” she asked incredulously.

“I mean it…” Jess was twisting the bottle in her hand. “I'm sick of taking your crap!”

“You're really something you know that?” Laura spat. “What you don't have or can't understand you just have to shit on don't you?”

Jess cleared her throat, “I'm sorry, what?!” she exclaimed, turning to engage with her.

“You heard.”

That was a red a rag. “Are you trying to say I'm jealous of you and Adie?”

Adie looked a little scared of where this was heading.

“Because in all honesty I don't see what's so damn good about your relationship anymore.” Jess gave Laura her full attention. “From what I can tell the only thing keeping you two together is this DAMN tour!” she threw back at her.

“What?!” snapped Laura her voice rising in shock.

Jess continued, “I mean when was the last time you guys actually FUCKED?”

Oh dear. That was low.

This was getting serious. Kirstin edged her body away from the incident, shying from the drama. She saw Meg close her eyes briefly in what looked like a moment of despair.

They could all see things getting ugly very quickly, Meg interjected now, “Hey c'mon Jess,” she reasoned, “not here, huh?”

“No!” Jess was angry, “I'm sick of those two giving me disapproving looks, like I'm wrecking people's lives, like they're better than me cos they're stuck in a relationship that's past its sell-by.” She took a swig of beer, briefly noting Laura's surprise. “Everyone can see it,” she gestured.

Adie jumped in as calmly as she could manage, “You're out of order Jess,” she stated. Laura was upset, and she wasn't too happy herself.

“Fine, sure. Whatever. But you know what?” she looked at them both in turn, “in future, do me a favour and rather than boring me to death with your moaning and your insecurities, try talking to each other!”

Laura couldn't believe what she was hearing, she sat there shaking her head. Adie got up from her seat and went over to her. She took a hold of her hand to pull her up.

“Grow up Jess!” she glared at her. “C'mon,” she said softly to Laura pulling her away. Laura was in too much shock to fight her and allowed herself to be led out of the bar, the sting of tears clearly visible.

Sally, Meg and Kirstin collectively but silently sighed in relief that they hadn't been asked to take sides and that a full-blown fight had been at least postponed, if not averted.

Jess acted nonchalant. Meg looked at her a little disgruntled.

“What?” shrugged Jess.

“Go and apologise,” she said flatly.

“What?!” Jess said in disbelief, “No! YOU didn't hear the lecture I just got from 'holier than thou' Laura just now in the toilets. Why do you think we were having this conversation when you came back from the bar?”

“Look,” Meg said, “I know she can be an ass sometimes, but did you ever think part of the reason she's like that is because what you're saying holds more than a grain of truth?”

Jess sighed begrudgingly.

“She's your friend Jess.” Meg kicked her gently from across the floor table. “Now go and apologise or she'll make Adie shine lights in your eyes for the rest of the tour. And your eyes are the same as my eyes, okay?”

Jess frowned.

Jeeesss…” Meg pushed her.

“Okay, okay! Jesus,” she hissed. “I'm not taking it back though,” she grumbled as she got up to follow them.

Satisfied that Jess would sort it out, because she always did, Meg turned back catching Kirstin's eye.

“Ouch,” Kirstin remarked, “sounds like that's been brewing for a while.”

Meg snorted, “Yeh, you could say that,” she answered. “I suppose they know each other too well. It's best just to stay out of it I find.”

“I can imagine,” agreed Kirstin.

“Sheesh. Well, now that was just too exciting,” remarked Sally, “I think I need to go pee…” she excused herself leaving Meg and Kirstin alone.

They both watched her wind in and out of the crowd until it became inconceivable that either of them could see her any longer and they both had to turn and regard one another. Not before each taking a breath and regarding the room first of course.


They both knew they were doing it. They both knew the other knew it too. When their eyes eventually did meet they both started laughing.

“Are you still… ?

“Yeh,” Meg nodded.

Kirstin tried to suppress a grin. She had the urge to go and join Meg on the sofa that she was now occupying on her own, but she figured it might seem a little inappropriate.

“Does that happen often?” Kirstin asked more to break the tension than out of curiosity.

“Ah, they're two sides of the same coin is all, they've known each other so long that they know the right buttons to press when they piss each other off. It's not always bad thing.”

“Actually, I kind of admire Jess for saying exactly what she thinks.”

“She could have chosen more appropriate company. Or maybe just less company!”

“I guess. But if Laura really was giving her an earful in the toilets I can see why she did it.”

Meg shrugged and took another slug of beer.

“So which side of the coin are you on Meg?”

It was quite a personal question, but Kirstin was feeling a little tipsy and the coke had kicked her head into talk-mode. She was interested in what kind of person Meg had become. She saw the everyday façade, but she knew enough to know that a little of the girl she had once known still lingered. Somewhere.

“Whaddya mean?” Meg looked at her with intrigue.

“Are you the settling down and nesting kind, or the young, free and single, sleeping around kind?”

Meg seemed lost for a moment, looking at Kirstin, the smirk slowly fading from her face as she contemplated the question.

“Ha!” she half snorted. “Y'know, I don't think that's any of your business,” she stated, changing her tone drastically.

Kirstin was unnerved and a little flustered. “I'm sorry, I wasn't meaning to pry.”

Meg sighed and briefly looked away in thought. Kirstin was suddenly made aware of a boundary that she hadn't known existed. She admonished herself for not realising that it should.

“I'm sorry,” she repeated. “I wasn't thinking, what with the stuff ‘n all… You don't have to tell me anything you don't want to. I'm not trying to trick you Meg, I was just interested.”

“It's ok,” Meg said, turning back to her. She took a breath of decision. “You should know I'm not quite as into the whole 'lets-expose-our-life-on-screen bullshit' as Ben and Jess are. I'm not opposed to it, I just like to keep some things to myself, you know?”

“I get it, really, I shouldn't have asked. I just took my professional hat off for a moment and forgot to tell you… I can't expect you to know that. I'm sorry.”

Meg nodded. “It's ok. And I'm hoping it's a good couple of hours since you took that hat off,” she smiled at her kindly.

There was a long silence between them. The room seemed to swell with people.

Kirstin felt the need to say something, or rather for something to have been said.

“You know, just for your information, and you can be as cautious as you want to be, and I won't be offended, but as far as I'm concerned: if it wasn't caught on camera it didn't happen.”

Meg allowed her eyes to once again settle on Kirstin's. She had an intensity that Kirstin found hard not to surrender to.

“There are many ways to reveal yourself, Kirstin. Words are the simplest, but in my case they are often the most confusing. I'm not very good with words. It's not about being on camera. But I appreciate what you're trying to say.”

You're just the Hobnob of cookies to break aren't you? Thought Kirstin.

“You know I think I kinda broke the mood,” Kirstin said putting her drink back on the table. “I think I'd better take myself off to bed.”

“Oh no you don't!” Meg said leaning over and putting a hand on her arm to stop her from getting up. Kirstin took a breath a little confused.

“Ok, look. Sit back down, ok?”

Kirstin didn't look too certain.

“I'm going to answer your question, and you're going to stay.”

Kirstin shook her head, “You don't have answer my question, it was a stupid question…”

“No, I know I don't have to answer it, but I kinda feel like I do.”

Kirstin frowned in further bewilderment. Meg pulled her gently back down and over to the sofa where she was sitting, making her sit and putting the glass she'd laid down on the table back in her hand. Kirstin gave in.

“See, I told you I wasn't very good with words… what I mean is, I know I don't have to, but I kinda feel I should, or I want to. Or something like that.”


“Because…” she let the word hang there suddenly not sure why she'd dragged Kirstin back.

“Because?” Kirstin encouraged.

“I don't know,” she answered honestly. “I changed my mind. Is that okay?”

She laughed back at her kindly. “Yes. Yes, that is totally okay. And anytime I ask you anything you don't want to discuss, it's okay. Okay?”

“Right.” She regarded her. “I'm sorry, I think the coke made me a little defensive or something…”

Kirstin sighed audibly and furrowed her brow, “It's okay, I think it made me a little too inquisitive! I hope you have some dope, because I'm not looking forward to knocking on Josh's door in search of some later…”

Meg looked guilty. “Um… I think we may have to…”

Kirstin closed her eyes and leant back into the comfort of the deep leather. They both looked out into the crowd for a moment, silent, in thought. It was Meg's turn to break the stillness.

“This is kinda weird Kirstin,” she said turning to her. “Even though it's been like what, nine years?”

“Something like that…”

“A lot of things have happened in that time, and I think we're probably really different people, but when I look at you, or talk to you I still get this feeling of being like sixteen again.”

“Mmm,” Kirstin had to agree with her.

“But I know we're not those kids anymore.”

“Noooo, you're a whole lot nicer to know!”

Meg pulled a disbelieving face. “Here I am trying to open up to you and I get shot down!” she laughed.

“Oh, how the tables have turned…” Kirstin teased before draining her glass. “Is it just me or have we been here for a while now, on our own?”

“You make a very good point. I don't think any of them are coming back!” Meg breezed.


Kirstin allowed herself to be secretly quite happy about that.

“So you said if I stayed you'd answer my question…” Kirstin reminded her, taking the bottle from Meg's hand and taking a sip.

Meg accepted the new drug induced intimacy for what it was.

“You said I didn't have to…”

“I changed my mind! C'mon, keeper or player?”

Meg laughed, “What?! Keeper or player?!”

“Yeh, are you a keeper or a player?”

“Can I be both?”

“No! That's such a cop out.”

“Ok, well I'd like to think I was a keeper, but I expect I'm thought of as a player.”

“How very bashful, best of both worlds eh?”

“You're so sarcastic.”

“I know. Problem?”

Meg just smiled. She decided she was doing that a lot recently. She liked it.


Balconies aren’t always for watching

Having secured themselves a little green to help them both sleep, Meg and Kirstin soon realised that they couldn't really smoke it in the building. Though for a moment they had both seriously considered it.

“I mean what are they going to do? Throw us out?”

“Yes, yes I rather think they might!” Meg had smirked at her.

Instead they snook out to the roof yard on the 6th floor and found a sneaky corner in the bushes with a bench.

“You think they put this here on purpose?” Kirstin asked innocently.

“Yes, but not for smoking pot…” Meg answered drolly.

“Oh, oh, right. Jeez.” She laughed in the face of her own naivety. “So we should be kissing not smoking right?”

Meg looked at her.

Kirstin didn't seem to look as stoned as Meg felt, she still seemed bright, and flushed, and with it. Meg ignored the comment anyway. She was feeling a little heady with the combination of intoxicants, and as usual the wacky was giving her goldfish syndrome.

“Where's Jess?” she asked instead.

Kirstin looked at her, “We don't know…” she said tapping her brain with a finger.

Meg put the last hour back together briefly in her head until she'd made sense of it.

“R-ight…” then quickly forgot it all again.

“You know what this reminds me of?” Kirstin asked Meg, hitching one foot up on the bench and turning to her slightly.

“No, what?”

“The Prom… do you remember?”

Meg took another long drag on the well-sculpted reefer and sat back, smiling.

“Yeh, I remember the Prom,” she said the memory somehow much easier to access than the last four hours. “How could I forget?” she said, passing the dooby back.

“I totally hated my date!”

“Me too, boys that age are so lame.”

Kirstin giggled, “I found you skulking around up in one of the old theatre boxes…”

“I was hiding, not skulking, you make it sound like I was waiting to pounce on you.”

“Ha!” Kirstin laughed. “Well if you had've the whole evening would have been a lot more exciting!”

There was a brief moment of silence.

“We threw water down onto the kids on the dance floor from the balcony!” Kirstin said giving the water bottle in her hand a squeeze and causing it to ejaculate over the bush in front of them.

Meg burst out laughing. She grabbed a hold of the water bottle and looked for a target in the garden below.

They both heard a woman shriek and ducked down in their seats trying to suppress their giggles. Meg silently punched the air in triumph.

“Was that the first time you smoked?” Meg whispered as the hilarity died down.

“Yeh…” Kirstin admitted shyly.


“Hey, I thought that was a daytime thing?!”

“Oh, I change my mind all the time, don't count on any consistency from me…” she warned shaking her head and reaching to take the joint back off Kirstin. “Especially when drugs are involved.”

“I'll keep that in mind,” Kirstin vowed.

“That's the last of it,” Meg announced chucking the butt in the bush.

They headed back through the fire escape on to the landing and took the elevator to the 9th. Kirstin suddenly felt very tired.

“Hey, I need my jacket,” she remembered.

Meg nodded.

They reached her room and Kirstin leaned lazily in the doorway waiting for Meg to retrieve her coat. As Meg sauntered back over with the item in question Kirstin took it and looked up to meet her eyes.

“I had fun tonight,” she said looking at her seriously.

Meg stopped. “So did I,” she answered simply.

They both lingered in the doorway for a moment. Kirstin smiled briefly. “I'll see you tomorrow then.”

“Yeh. Sleep well.”

“You too,” Kirstin added turning and heading back down the corridor.

Meg smiled to herself, again, and shut the door with a click.


Continued in Part 4

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