Tuesday, February 5, 2013

[Prologue] Chapter 14: Thank You for Being My Friend

Rigby and Delilah recently became teenagers, and to celebrate their newfound freedom they spend Friday night hanging out at the arcade downtown.

Blissfully unaware of Kieran’s true feelings for her, Delilah chats with him about everything from music to boys, clothes, and hair.

“Let’s get our picture taken!” she exclaims suddenly, noticing the photo booth behind him.

Kieran fidgets uneasily at her suggestion. Photo booths are small and cramped, which naturally leads to touching and contact, and he’s not sure that’s such a good idea right now. “I don’t know. I’m not dressed up or whatever.”

But Delilah won’t take no for an answer and stubbornly drags him inside.

“Oh, they turned out great!” she giggles as her eyes scan the page. “I look so fat though!”

Rigby snorts. “A chicken called, and he wants his legs back.”

Delilah glares at her brother, but Kieran cuts her off before she can think up a suitable response.

“Don’t listen to him, Lila,” he tells her softly. “I think you look beautiful, just the way you are.”

Mia Sinclair, one of Delilah’s schoolmates, butts her way into the conversation.

“I think he likes you,” she whispers once Kieran turns away.

Delilah frowns. “Why can’t guys and girls be friends without everyone reading something into it? There's nothing between Kieran and me.”

Mia smirks. “Well that’s good, cause I heard that Ondine Sutherland wants him to ask her to prom next month.”

Delilah pushes her away irritably. “Ondine is a senior. No way does she give a crap about Kieran.”

“Whatever you say,” Mia replies with a devious grin.

“What are you guys gonna do about prom?” Kieran asks as he sits down to play some video games with Mason and Rigby. “I mean, who are y’all going to go with?”

“Mia.” Mason’s answer is immediate and reflexive, with no hesitation whatsoever.

“Are you two dating now?” Rigby wants to know.

Mason shakes his head before angrily blowing up one of Kieran’s tanks. “Nah, not yet, but I’m working on it. She loves me; she just doesn’t know it yet.”

“What about you, Rig? Are you going to ask Heidi?”

Rigby blushes slightly and shakes his head. “She’d never say yes. Delilah told me that she wants to go with Austin Hayes.”

Kieran grins. “You gotta ask her, dude! You’ll never know unless you do.”

“What about you, Kieran?” Rigby laughs. “Last I heard, Delilah doesn’t have a date yet…”

Kieran refrains from replying, instead opting for a stealth attack on one of Rigby’s players.

“But you can’t go stag!” Heidi, Delilah’s BFF, exclaims. “What about Austin? Austin Hayes? He’s the only freshman on the varsity football team…”

“Rigby’s a freshman, and he’s varsity,” Delilah retorts, purposely avoiding her question.

“And besides, I’m going with Austin,” Mia chimes in.

Heidi glares at her. “Until he asks you, he’s free game.”

“I don’t want to go with him anyway,” Delilah grins. “He’s all yours, Mia, but just make sure to break it to Mason gently. He’s going to be heartbroken.”

Footsteps on the stairs alert the girls to another visitor, and Mia immediately departs to go say hello.

Ondine Sutherland doesn’t actually want to be here tonight, but she’s on a mission and no freshman is going to get in her way, particularly not one as annoying as Mia.

“Should we go rescue her?” Delilah asks quietly. “You know how Mia can be…”

Heidi smirks, watching the scene with a mixture of amusement and glee. “Nah, she can handle it herself.”

“Why are you talking to me in public?” Ondine sneers as Mia babbles on and on about something irrelevant. “I don’t believe I gave you permission to speak.”

Mia doesn’t miss a beat. “Because you own the world and every Sim in it, right? Oh wait, you’re not the boss of me. Nice try, but you lose.”

Ondine blinks, temporarily shocked into silence. “Your clothes are ugly,” she says after a pause.

Mia rolls her eyes and rejoins her friends. Verbal sparring is no fun if you don’t have a partner worthy of your skills.

“Hi Kieran!” Ondine chirps as she joins the boys on the couch. “What are you doing?”

Kieran glances over at her before quickly turning his attention back to the game. “Hi Ondine. Delilah’s over there,” he tells her pointedly, praying that she’ll pick up on his not-so-subtle hint.

“Okay,” she giggles. “But I came here to see you. Is that a new jacket? I really like it!”

“I wear it, like, every day,” he deadpans.

“It looks nice on you,” Ondine replies as she inches closer to him. “Do you like my top? I heard purple was your favorite color…”

Kieran doesn’t even glance up. “I like blue.”

Ondine frowns. “Oh, well that’s okay. So, are you going to the prom this year?”


“Who are you taking?”

Kieran shrugs.

“I don’t have a date yet either, even though like a million guys have already asked me. I’m waiting for someone special.”

“Cool. Rigby, how’d you do that thing? With your gun?”

Frustrated, Ondine gets up to leave, but she runs into Delilah on her way out.

“Boys!” she vents. “I can’t believe he’d rather shoot imaginary people than talk to me!”

Delilah grins sympathetically. “Yeah, never get between guys and their video games. You’ll never win that battle.”

“Whatever,” Ondine rolls her eyes as she stalks away.

Luca gave Delilah a guitar for her birthday, and she spends most of her spare time trying to master the instrument.

Kieran smiles and leans up against the doorway, patiently listening as she strums her way through a simple song.

“You’re pretty good,” he tells her.

Delilah laughs and shakes her head. “Not as good as you. I’m just beginning.”

“But you’re getting better,” he insists.

She shrugs and sets down her guitar. “What’s up, Kieran?” she asks as she hops onto the bed. “I hope you didn’t come here just to embarrass me…”

Taking a deep breath, he sits down beside her. “No, I wanted to ask you something.”

“Sure,” Delilah grins at him with the same effortless charm that she’s always had. Kieran wishes it were that easy for him, but he’s not nearly as adept at social situations as she is.

Do you want to go out? The words play through his head, the whole speech practiced countless times in front of the mirror, but he can’t seem to get his voice to cooperate.

“Do you, uh… Do you want to start a band?” he blurts out instead.

Delilah’s face lights up. “A band?! With you?! I’d love to, Kieran!”

Kieran forces himself to smile, but inside he feels like screaming. “Great, yeah. A band.”

“I can play the guitar and sing,” Lila says, “and you can play the keyboard and Rigby can play the drums, but what about the bass?”

“Hmm?” Kieran asks distractedly.

“The bass,” Delilah repeats. “We don’t know anyone who can play the bass. And where are we going to practice? I doubt my dad would like a bunch of teenagers jamming away in his house at all hours.”

“I’ll find some place,” he assures her. “And maybe Rigby can help us find a bassist?”

“Awesome!” she exclaims. “I can’t wait!”

Thoroughly bummed out by his conversation with Delilah, Kieran heads to the nursery to visit with her little sister Zosia.

“Kee-rin!” the toddler shouts excitedly.

Kieran leans down and sweeps the child into his arms, tickling her the entire way up. “How’s my best girl?” he grins.

“Kee-rin happy?” she asks, eyeing him suspiciously.

Kieran chuckles and kisses her cheek. “No, Kieran is sad today, Zosia.”

“Kee-rin sad?” Zosia repeats with a questioning frown.

“Kieran is too shy to ask your sister Delilah out on a date, and he wonders if he’ll ever get up the courage to go through with it. Your friend Kieran is lame. Can you say lame, Zosia?”


“Close enough,” he smiles.

“This is amazing!” Delilah gushes the following week when Kieran shows her the space he found for their band. “I had no idea the public library even had a third floor! And it’s completely empty, too.”

Kieran beams, pleased with her reaction. “Yeah, and as long as we practice when the library’s closed no one will even know we were here.”

“You’re the best!” Delilah exclaims as she throws her arms around him. “Thank you for doing this.”

Kieran closes his eyes, savoring the touch of her body pressed up against him. “I-It was n-nothing,” he stammers.

“Rigby found us a bassist, too. We can start practicing tomorrow.”

The next day, Rigby introduces Delilah to the fourth member of their band.

“Austin Hayes?!” she sighs dramatically. “But he’s the school jock! What does he even want with our band anyway?”

“He plays the bass,” Rigby explains, “and he is willing to jam with us. He doesn’t even like football, Lila. His dad makes him play.”

“Ugh, fine. But I want to be center stage. I don’t need anybody crowding my spotlight.”

Rigby rolls his eyes but lets it go. He doesn’t feel like arguing with her today.

Band practice goes… well. They’re not awesome, not yet, but at least they hit all the notes and stuff.

A couple of weeks later, Kieran makes an announcement.

“I sent off a tape of our band to some record labels,” he tells Delilah over leftover birthday cake. “We’ve gotten better, and I think that we’re-”

“You did what?!” she gapes. “Kieran, we suck! The only one who’s even remotely capable of sounding decent is you, and-”

“We don’t suck,” he interrupts. “I- I thought you’d be happy…”

“I want to make a career in the music business someday, not shoot myself in the foot before I’ve even begun!”

Kieran frowns. “I’m sorry, Lila. I didn’t mean to make you mad…”

Delilah just glares at him in response.

A few hours away in the bustling city of Boscaster, Melvin Roscoe rubs his head in agitation. As a top executive at one of Sim Nation’s leading record labels, he has the often frustrating job of finding and recruiting new talent for his company. With the recent, and sharp, decline in music sales, he knows that if he wants to keep his lucrative position then he will need to find a fresh face to exploit, but lately he can’t seem to hold on to any new artists. His label’s notoriously stingy royalties and stifling grasp on production tend to make his musicians feel inhibited and put upon, and in the golden age of the internet several of them have decided to go at it alone. No, he needs someone who doesn’t know any better, who will let him make all the decisions and blindly follow his orders.

“BEXLEY!” he calls out suddenly. “BEXLEY COME HERE!”

Bexley Maddox, a pretty redhead with long legs and even longer ideas, strolls into the room.

“There is a device nowadays called a phone, Mr. Roscoe. It’s a pretty nifty little tool that allows you to speak into a box whenever you need to talk to someone, instead of yelling down the hall for them…”

Roscoe glares at her. “I have vocal chords for a reason, Miss Maddox, and they’re far more handy than any phone ever was.”

“Have it your way,” Bexley smirks. “Did you call me in here simply to bask in the glow of my company or did you have another reason in mind?”

“Indeed I did. We need to sign some new talent to our label, Bexley, and soon. I want to find someone fresh and inexperienced, someone who won’t question our choices or challenge our tactics. I want to find a teenager.”

“Fine, I will send our scouts out today, and hopefully in a few months-”

“No. I need someone now. It doesn’t matter who. Any pretty face will do, but they need to be local and accessible.”

Bexley frowns. “I suppose I could look through some of the tapes that we’re always getting,” she muses.

“Bring them in,” he suggests. “We’ll do it together.”

Three videos later and Roscoe is already bored.

“What about them?” he offers. “The girl is cute enough, and the boys make a good backdrop.”

“It sounds like she learned to play yesterday!” Bexley exclaims. “The keyboardist is fine, but her guitar skills are laughable.”

“Doesn’t matter. She’s the one,” he decides with an air of authority. “The papers say she lives in Jericho, and that’s not too far from here. You can go see them play in person this weekend, and if they look even halfway decent then we’re done. We’ve found our next star.”

“You can’t be serious,” Bexley scoffs, pausing the tape on Delilah’s face. “They’re totally unproven!”

“That’s enough, Bexley,” Roscoe barks, his voice suddenly low and serious. “They’re our group, and I’m making you personally responsible for their careers. If they fail, then you fail. Understand?”

Bexley nods reluctantly. “Yes sir.”

“Good. Then I’ll see you when you get back from Jericho.”

“Hi Rigby!” Heidi greets him with a big smile later that day. “Where’s Delilah?”

“She and Kieran already left for the library. The whole gang’s meeting up there tonight to hang out after the band practices.”

“Oh.” Heidi’s face falls. “I guess you’ve gotta go then too, huh?”

Rigby nervously drums his fingers against the side of his pants. “Yeah, I should, but…”

“Yes?” she grins.

Taking a deep breath, Rigby looks her straight in the eye and says, “Heidi, I think you’re awesome, and I want to go to prom with you.”

“Okay,” she giggles. “Is that all you wanted to say?”

Rigby looks amazed at his good fortune. “Yes… I- Well, no. One more thing.”

And then he kisses her, short and sweet and perfectly to the point.

At the library, Kieran just received a phone call from Bexley Maddox’s personal secretary.

“A scout from Boscaster wants to listen to us play!” he tells Delilah enthusiastically. “She is arriving in town today and can meet us at the bar off of Dalerport Street tomorrow night.”

“You’re kidding!” Delilah squeals. “No way! What am I going to wear?! What songs should we do?! Oh my gosh, we’ve got to tell Rigby and Austin!”

“Don’t get too excited,” he cautions. “They haven’t offered us anything yet.”

“But a real record company scout? And she wants to come listen to us?!” Delilah shrieks again. “No way!”

In celebration of their audition tomorrow night, the band calls off practice for the evening to hang out with their friends. Kieran, who has never been a fan of large groups, borrows Lila’s guitar and allows himself to get lost in the melodies.

“It’s pretty,” Delilah tells him. “Did you write it?”

Kieran nods, not looking up from his instrument.

“What’s it about?” she asks quietly.

“A girl,” he whispers after a moment of hesitation. “The most beautiful girl you’ll ever meet, with sparkling eyes the color of amethyst and skin that shines in even the palest glimmer of moonlight. And when she speaks, her voice fills the air with music, and when she laughs her face can light up an entire room with sunshine.”

Leaning up against him, Delilah smiles contentedly.

“Thank you,” she murmurs in his ear. “Thank you for being my friend.”

Friend. The word stings of rejection, but Kieran remains silent and continues playing, drowning his pain with the strum of his fingers.

Challenge Notes:

Let me start off by saying that I know NOTHING about the music industry or the recording process or any of that stuff, but I really wanted to try and make Delilah’s career seem plausible and realistic. So, here’s my feeble attempt to explain why Sims can go into their local community theatre as a roadie and come out as a pop icon! WOOT! But no, I realize that this whole story line is fairly unbelievable, but I honestly have no clue how one gets “discovered” in real life and this was the best I could come up with.

Also, to all those Kieran and Delilah fans… Y’all were right, of course. =D But really, HOW CAN I RESIST HIM?! This chapter was not supposed to be all about Kieran and his relationship with Lila, but I <3 him. And just wait until the next chapter or so… ;)