Syryn's Song: Chapter 9


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All his life Ken Graham had dreamed of being a rock star. When that dream is taken from him he would do anything to get it back, but his new voice comes with a price.

 
 

Syryn's Song
Chapter 9
Little Big Bang

By
Amethyst

“What instrument was he teaching you to play?” Mai waggled her brows suggestively.

 
Author's Note: Here's chapter 9 of Syryn's Song. Thank you as always to all my readers for the comments, kudos, and thinking that my work is worth reading. Also thanks to the Big Closet team who work tirelessly to give us all a wonderfully supportive venue to read and post TG fiction ~Amethyst.
 


 
Chapter 9: Little Big Bang
 

I awoke slightly confused by not being in my own bedroom, but I quickly recalled the events of before I fell asleep and smiled as I happily gazed at Ian’s naked form asleep beside me. “Who could ever forget a night like that?” I murmured to myself as I looked around the room. I hadn’t had much interest in the décor the night before, since I kind of had other things on my mind at the time, so I took a quick look around. Ian’s room, much like the rest of his apartment, was much tidier than one would expect from a bachelor, the only clothes strewn about were those that we had shed last night in our mutual passion. It wasn’t overly furnished or decorated since it was just where he slept, most of his waking hours at home, or those spent entertaining guests were spent in the living room. There were clothes hanging in the closet, the bed itself, a dresser and a nightstand with an alarm clock on it that read 6:23.

I half wanted to curl up and sleep beside Ian for a little longer since the night before we had decided to forgo our morning training sessions for the day to ensure we had a good night’s sleep before a brief pre-finals band practice. It was a Sunday so none of us had felt too bad for wanting to have a bit of a lazy day before having to put our game faces on for the last day of the Battle of the Bands. Still I didn’t want my sister to wake up without me there. Allie was clinging to me uncertainly like I was a dream she feared forgetting when she woke up, and I wanted her to know that her big sister wasn’t going anywhere, and neither was she.

So I leaned over and softly kissed my lover, whispering softly in his ear, “Ian honey. As much as I would love to stay here snuggled with you all day, I really should get back to my place, Allie needs me.”

Ian turned around sleepily to caress the side of my face and plant a toe-curling kiss on me before speaking. “I know babe, I’ll take what I can get for now, she needs you more than I do. I hope you don’t have any regrets about last night, because that was the most amazing night of my life.”

I shook my head and smiled at him. “No, no regrets at all. You were everything a girl could hope for and more, and it was my decision, one that I’m very happy I made.”

“Good, because I would never want to do anything that you would regret. I know it may still be a little early in our relationship, but damn do I love you. We’ve only really known each other for the summer, and half of that we weren’t even dating, but you’re sweet, kind, beautiful, funny, honorable, determined to do the best you can at everything you do, and we have so much in common. Best of all you’re you, and I can’t help loving everything about you. Now go, your sister needs you.” He gave me one last kiss and a playful smack on the bottom.

For a moment I just laid there beside him my heart fluttering wildly in my throat as what he had just said hit me. “He said it! He said the L word!” I knew that I was in love with him, but I had never dared hope that he really felt the same for me. I bit my lower lip slightly trying to hold back the tears of joy as I attempted to calm my racing heart and get my mouth working properly. I didn’t want to stammer what I was going to say next. Then with a bit of a sniffle and wiping away an errant tear I leaned forward to kiss him one more time. “I love you too Ian, try to get some more sleep lover, because we have a big day ahead of us.”

“You too babe, we’re going to need you at your best today.” He held my hand in his for a moment before kissing me one last time and just stared at me for a moment, as if trying to etch the moment into his memory before he reluctantly let my hand go. “Sleep well, I know I will.”

With that I grudgingly found my nightie and panties, put them on, and left his room to put on the pink silk bathrobe and collect my bathing suit, both of which had been hastily left on his couch the night before. Then, taking a brief moment to place his acoustic guitar carefully back in its case, I slipped out of his apartment and down the hall toward my own. Once there I took a brief hot shower before putting my nightie on once again and climbing into my bed with Allie, my arm wrapped around her protectively as I drifted back to sleep.

-H-

It was just after eleven o’clock when I awoke again to the smell of frying bacon. Allie wasn’t in the bed, so after firmly clamping down on the brief surge of fear and worry that accompanied that realization, I climbed out of bed, put on my robe, and made my way out the bedroom door. Nobody was in the living room, but I quickly found Allie puttering around in the kitchen alongside Jennifer and Leslie. “Mornin’,” I called out to the trio.

“Not for much longer, it’s almost noon Candy,” Leslie retorted with a grin. “We thought that we’d whip up a good brunch so our star could start her day off right.”

“Yeah, you were sleeping so soundly that I didn’t want to disturb you when I got up, and I wanted to do something nice for my big sister,” Allie agreed as she flipped pancakes on the flat grill.

“Thanks girls,” I offered with a smile, shaking my head a bit. “I’m not a star though, we’re a band and we all contribute equally. If anything I think Riff is the star, I mean did you hear the reactions to his guitar solos?”

“Candy, with your looks and voice you were bound to be the headliner, that’s what we planned on going it and none of us will resent you for it. Sure we’re all really good at what we do, we work well together, and Ian gets the crowds amped up with his solos, but people are expected to cheer out at guitar solos, especially when they’re as mind blowing as Ian’s. When you’re singing though, it’s like they’re all in awe of you,” my best friend explained. “Have you been looking at our website, or the site for the battle of the bands at all?”

I looked down at the floor, hands clasped behind my back as I scuffed the floor with my fidgeting foot. “I’ve kinda been too afraid to see what they’re saying.”

“Educate her please, will you Jennifer?” Leslie asked her protégé, before adding, “Allie and I should be finished with brunch in a few minutes”

Jennifer grinned at me as she grabbed my hand and guided me to the kitchen table. “Aside from the inevitable anti-mutant assholes the response has been pretty great. The first day was all about Rave’s big introduction, the songs, your voice, and Ian’s guitar solos. Yesterday though was huge, RevolveR was the only band to actually benefit from that trick of giving you an entire set of songs that you were unfamiliar with at the last minute. You all played solidly despite the unfamiliar songs and meshed well together, but the big thing was your voice and your vocal range. You floored everyone, especially when you finished up with that Evanescence song. Hell, there are already mp3s of all those songs making their rounds on the internet. If you don’t believe me, try reading this.”

Jennifer slapped a copy of the New York Times Sunday edition down in front of me and quickly opened it to the music section. There on the first page of the music section was the headline: RevolveR Shoots for the Stars at Day Two of the Battle of the Bands. The article talked about the solid performance we had given as a group, despite the curveball that all the bands had been thrown, but then went on to talk for most of the article about my “superhuman range” and vocal talents and how we were the stand-out favorite from day two. It even referenced a few comments from the Battle of the Bands website. The comments had said I was using “mutant powers” unfairly in the competition, but both those running the event and the writer of the article were of the opinion that there was nothing power related at all, I simply had a very good voice and I wouldn’t have the range and control over it that I did without training it just as hard, if not harder, than any other lead singer.

One thing I hadn’t known was that after Day One the group organizing the Battle of the Bands had actually brought in a mutant whose abilities let him know if other mutants were actively using powers and what type. Sensor had a very good reputation as a neutral observer nation wide and was paid well for his services. He had been employed in courtrooms, police interrogations, talent contests and a variety of other things. He had been watching us all from backstage the whole time and cleared me of using nothing but my telekinesis, Starbright of only using her light powers, and Riff his force field. The others hadn’t used any of their powers that day, except for Rave during her introduction of us and the set-up and take-down. He had stated both on the website and in an interview that none of these powers would have had any effect on my singing or our performance as a whole since he could see that I was only using the TK field to allow myself to fly.

“Umm… wow, I didn’t realize they had someone watching us yesterday,” I managed to get out as Allie and Leslie joined us from the kitchen. “This is exactly why I don’t want to use my empathic abilities in a show until we’re well established, and only then rarely, after telling people exactly what to expect first. I wanted it to be our music and my voice that makes us big, not my ability to make people feel things.”

“Well now that’s the case, we’ve been cleared of any wrongdoing and the fans are loving us. Our social media pages for the band have jumped by over thirty thousand subscribers since last night,” my best friend said as she snatched the newspaper and placed a plate of bacon, sausages, scrambled eggs, pancakes and melon slices in front of me. “Now eat up, we still have to practice and get ready before the show starts at three o’clock.”

We took our time eating brunch, talking about how things had gone so far and what was ahead of us today. It was nice to just spend that time enjoying a good meal with my sister, her best friend, and my own best friend. I was hoping that even after Leslie and Jennifer moved into another apartment in the complex that we could make this a regular Sunday thing, even if it was breakfast instead of brunch. It could only have been better if Tessily were there.

-H-

We were headed toward our studio for practice when Mai pulled me aside, half dragging me into hers and John’s apartment as John and Ian went to join our waiting audience. Leslie gave Mai a curious look, raising her eyebrow slightly before following us in. “What’s up Mai?” Leslie asked once she had slipped inside and closed the door behind her.

Mai’s eyes were on me though as she grinned, “Okay Candy, dish! How was it?!”

“How was what?” Leslie asked, giving me a confused look.

“Her first time with Ian of course,” our Japanese friend said with not one iota of doubt on her face.

“She and Ian had sex?! When did that happen?!” Leslie was gaping at me now.

“Come on Candy, we want all the deets,” Mai pressed.

I was probably turning bright lavender from the blushing as I awkwardly looked anywhere but at my friends, the floor seemed good so I went with that. “Ummm… I couldn’t sleep last night so I was thinking about going for a swim, but I heard Ian playing his guitar so I went to talk with him and he started teaching me to play.”

“What instrument was he teaching you to play?” Mai waggled her brows suggestively.

“The guitar,” I answered firmly. “He was so close and it felt so nice having him that close so I kinda, maybe started kissing him and things got a little heated so I wanted more.”

You made the first move?!” Leslie spat out, gaping at me.

I nodded, still staring at the floor to hide my blush. “Yeah, but every time we were going to go further he kept asking if it was really what I wanted and felt ready for. He’s so sweet and romantic. Anyway we took it to the bedroom after that and… well…” I couldn’t finish that sentence and my blush intensified.

“And you knocked boots, did the deed, bumped uglies,” Mai listed off, teasing me mercilessly.

“We made love,” I clarified as adamantly as I could. “It wasn’t something dirty, it was nice and he made me feel special.”

“I’ll say he made you feel special. I felt it, twice,” Mai said with a knowing smirk.

“Oh my God, you and John…” I started to ask before trailing off, completely mortified.

“Relax Candy, it was just me, John is a sound sleeper. John slept through the whole thing. But the walls can be a bit thin here, our bedroom is right on the other side of the wall as Ian’s and apparently you’re a screamer. That being said, I know just how ‘special’ he made you feel, at least those last two times.”

Leslie’s head swung from staring at Mai, to me, and then back to Mai again. “You felt it?”

Mai nodded, grinning at me. “Ian must be great in bed. Candy lost control of her empathy and the voice thing after a while, and as much as our girl here likes to keep her powers under control at all times, that’s saying something. Don’t worry about it too much Candy, I’m just teasing you mostly and giving a friendly warning about maybe using the pillow to your advantage in the future, not that I minded going along for the ride. I’m just glad that you’re finally to the point where you’re feeling comfortable enough with yourself and Ian to do that.”

I wrapped Mai up in a hug, though I could still feel the flush of my embarrassment bright upon my cheeks. “Thanks Mai, I… ah… appreciate the warning, and you trying to tell me somewhat privately. I’m glad you pushed me to go out with him that first time. When I left this morning he… he told me that… he loves me.”

Leslie and Mai both squealed in excitement, nearly smothering me in hugs. “See I told you that you two were perfect for one another, did you tell him how you feel too?” Mai’s voice asked from beside my ear as she and Leslie held me and I savored the moment.

“I told him that I loved him too,” I admitted as the pair released me and then crushed me once again.

After we had all sufficiently calmed down we went to join the others in the studio. “Sorry girl talk,” Mai explained as we entered the converted apartment and made our way to the instruments.

Sasha stood up, holding out her hands and motioning for us to wait a moment. “Before you all begin I feel that I should tell you that we have been getting a lot of followers on the social media accounts, and a large amount of activity and messages through the website as well since your performance yesterday. Included among those correspondences were offers from representatives of three separate major record labels to get you under contract. I am afraid that after speaking on the phone this morning with the representatives though, that as your agent and manager I have decided to turn down these offers.”

John dropped his drumsticks, quickly fumbling to catch them before they hit the floor. The rest of us just stared at the android until Mai blurted out, “We have offers from three major record labels and you refused all of them?! This could be our big break!”

“You already had your big break yesterday and you have made the most of it, or you would not be receiving these offers,” Sasha gently corrected her.

“So why did you turn them down?” I asked, figuring that she must have had pretty good reasons for doing so.

“Several reasons,” Sasha admitted. “Firstly, their offers were significantly smaller than the standard rate for the industry and I feel that because you are mutants you are being undervalued.”

“In other words they were trying to lowball us,” Ian said with a derisive snort. “And they were hoping that you would be a pushover and that we would be too eager to sign on with a major label to negotiate.”

“That was my conclusion as well,” our agent agreed. “Secondly, they loved your sound, particularly Syryn and Riff, but they wanted you to ‘drop the mutant gimmick’ and adopt a more mainstream image.” Sasha even used the finger quotes.

“So they want us, they just don’t want us to be us,” I spat out in disgust.

Amy was absolutely livid. “No fucking way! I know that I’m not an actual member of the band and I shouldn’t really have a say, but we can’t let that go! Candy has exposed herself for this, and you’ve all put in way too much work to be told that you have to become some cookie cutter band and pretend to be something you’re not in order to succeed.”

“Not to mention that anyone who recognizes Syryn’s voice, or your sound, from the Battle of the Bands could put two and two together and peg you as mutants. And without the masks you’d just become a big target,” Brianna pointed out. “They’re essentially asking you to out yourselves.”

“If those are their opening offers, I’m glad you refused Sasha. What are our options then?” I asked.

“We either wait for more realistic offers, or we invest the money and effort into starting our own record label,” she explained. “There are risks and challenges to each of these, but for you I think the best option is to start your own label and cut out the middle man. It would allow you full creative control over your image and final product, a fair percentage of all profits, and we could do most of the work in house and set up a postal office box as the address for the corporation. We already have a recording and practice studio here, I am programmed to handle the business aspects of such a venture, I could manage any digital and online distribution, and for manufacturing and distribution of completed physical media forms such as CDs, we could contract them out to a reputable distribution company.”

This wasn’t a decision that I wanted to make on my own, nor should I have. This was something that we all needed to decide together as a band, as a team. I turned to the others, not just my bandmates but all of our weird and wonderful family that were present to watch us as well and asked, “What do you all think? I’m leaning toward saying ‘fuck the establishment’ where it concerns the music industry. I’d like to do our music, our way and be who and what we want to be. We’ve already got a developing fan base and exposure as we are now and I think we can succeed on our own if we put the effort into it, especially with Sasha handling the business aspects. It’s not just my choice to make though and I want to know what you think. All of you.”

Amy was the first to speak, calling out exuberantly, “Fuck the establishment! If three of those vultures have circled already that means that RevolveR is doing something right. You don’t need them, it’s they who need you, and they fucking know it. I vote that we don’t mess with a good thing and that RevolveR stays as is.”

Allison looked at me uncertainly for a moment before grinning like an idiot, “I’ve only been here a few days, but you’re my sister and I want what’s best for you. You were my hero as soon as I first saw you, even before I knew you were my sister and these guys are trying to hustle you. Nobody screws with my sister, so I say fuck the establishment. You don’t need them anyway.”

Jennifer looked like she wasn’t sure what to say, but an elbow from my sister prodded her onward. “When my family was killed I thought I had lost everything, especially when I Activated and woke up in that hospital. I thought I’d be there forever and I was all alone, but Dr. Park, Marcus and Allie showed me I wasn’t. Then you and Leslie came and took me and Allie in, even though you barely knew us. It’s weird, but sometimes I feel like I have a family again. It’s big and kinda weird at times, but a family. I agree with Amy and Allie, start your own label and don’t give those bastards another offer, they had their chance and blew it. Nobody messes with my family.” The last was said with such fierceness in her eyes that I thought it was no wonder Smog that had decided to call her Savage.

“I shall not tell you what to do hanun lien, you need to be your own person. If it were me though I would not trust someone who would rather change who I am than embrace me for it. I would make my own way. A person’s self-identity means nothing if it is so easily subdued. Sometimes, especially in this world, one needs to stand behind who they are and not give ground to those who would attempt to make them seem lesser than they are,” Tessily contributed. I smiled at my Mahar and nodded as I tallied another vote for starting our own label.

“You know,” Ian muttered as he absently strummed his guitar, “It was always my dream to make it big and land a recording contract with a major label, but now it seems like it would be more of a nightmare. Screw ‘em. We’ve been doing our own thing our own way until now and, if the Battle of the Bands is any indicator, we’re doing pretty damn well so far. I vote that we make our own label, so we can keep doing our own music our own way.”

Leslie grinned at me, “Hey, you’re my BFF and I’ll always stick by you. We started this shit together in New Haven and we’ll finish it together, our way, no matter where that takes us. Fuck the establishment!”

Mai was frowning, but seemed to shrug it off quickly. “I’m like Ian, I wanted to make it big in the traditional way, getting signed by a major label. You know what though, any label we’re on is going to be a major one, even if it’s our own, because we’ll be doing it together and when we do something together we rock. It was also my idea in the first place to push us along the path we’re on now. I know most of you weren’t sure about it at first but you stuck with it and look at us now. We’ve done everything we set out to do. We got Candy a little payback, knocked the douchecanoes out of the competition in the first day, and now we’re going to the finals. And we’re damn well going to win, so you know what, fuck the establishment and long live RevolveR!”

John leaned over to plant a steamy kiss on his girlfriend. Then, once he had come up for air he said simply, “I couldn’t have said it better myself. Fuck the establishment and long live RevolveR!”

Brianna and Blake had remained silent thus far, but Brianna now turned her attention to her brother, some hurried whispering passing between her and Blake before she nodded and added her two cents. “Blake and I think you should stay free to be yourselves and make your music your way. We would be willing to invest the start-up costs associated with creating your own record label, as a gift. The money would be yours, no strings attached and no repayment expected or desired, but I have one condition. Since I was responsible for your look, I want to become your permanent Artistic Director. That means I want creative control with anything associated to your look. I want to design any changes to costumes, future looks, album covers and such. You would all have your input of course, but I’d like you to trust my artistic and fashion sense.”

“And I want to be your Technical Advisor,” Blake quickly put in. “I’m already designing and maintaining all of your gear and vehicles and such, but I think I could help out with other things as well, like set-up security concerns at live shows.”

“Those jobs would have been yours regardless,” I said with a laugh, though I was fighting back tears from the generosity of our friends as I, and the other members of the band wrapped the pair up in a group hug. “You two have really helped us to get to where we are now, and I couldn’t think of anyone I’d rather have doing those jobs. We’ll trust the two of you and Sasha to handle the logistics, and we’ll handle the music.” The others heartily agreed and we were in a very good mood as we began our short practice.

-H-

My good mood lasted until we arrived in the sky above Sullivan Hall aboard the tour bus. Down below us, gathered in front of the building, and harassing those waiting in line, were protesters bearing signs saying things like “Hypers Go Home”, “Mutants are Abominations”, or my personal favorite, “Syryn Sold Her Soul to Satan.” The latter had a picture of me with horns drawn on it. I groaned as Sasha showed us scene, zoomed in from the tour bus’s external cameras.

“I am so glad that Allie hasn’t deactivated her collar so she could spend the whole weekend with the same look,” I said with a sigh of relief. “At least with her blonde and blue-eyed confused form she fits in. I fear what could have happened to her down there without her collar if someone made her angry or afraid. Even just being excited would have been a problem. That electric blue hair and eyes stand out and she can’t control her super speed at all yet. And what about Jennifer? What if someone notices her fingernails?” I looked on worriedly trying to see if I could spot the pair.

“Chill out Syryn, they’re fine. Jennifer’s been keeping her hands hidden in the pocket of her hoodie and they’re with Lisa and the others, and Riff’s family too,” Twilight tried to reassure me. “Lisa just texted me. They’re already inside and making their way to their seats.”

“Damn, those protesters have all the doors covered,” Decibel muttered, gesturing to several of the screens.

“Are they really stupid enough to think that that will stop us from getting inside? We have a freaking teleporter.” Starbright put in, frowning at the screens that her boyfriend had pointed out.

Rave snorted disgustedly, in a very unladylike manner that Brianna was trying to ease her out of. “Well if they are, I’ll be only too happy to disappoint them.”

“I don’t think they’re trying into keep us out, just make their presence known,” Riff said with a shrug. “They’re opportunists, and us being in the finals is big news, so they’re trying to make us and any other Hypers uncomfortable while getting exposure for their cause. Sure they’d probably attack us if we were stupid enough to enter the usual way, but hurting us isn’t their whole purpose.”

“Well it’s about time we got backstage,” I said with a nervous sigh. “Rave if you would be so kind?”

“You got it Syryn.” The green light of her eyes and the patterns on her skin flared briefly and then turned a steady bright emerald as a portal opened. We all stepped through, arriving backstage where the other two bands were lounging around and stage hands were at work preparing for when the curtain rose. There was a nervous energy in the air as we and the other bands waited and tried not to let on to one another how tense we all really were. This was it, the finals would be starting any time now and only one of us would go home the winner.

Finally it was time and the show began. We stood offstage watching Black Malice and Drunk Uncle play their sets. They were good, they deserved to be in the finals, but almost all of their material was cover songs, they only had one original song between them. They did manage to get a generous amount of applause though, and as we were preparing for our set I found myself wondering if we should have planned some cover songs too. All of our songs for today were originals, would that work against us somehow?

“Too late to overthink it now Syryn,” I muttered to myself. “It’s time to do this, our way with our songs.” We finished the set-up and headed off stage so Rave could do her introduction once the curtain rose again.

Once we had cued the stagehands that we were ready the MC walked up to the stage addressing the crowd. “And we now come to our final band of the night, the final band of the final round of this year’s Battle of the Bands. They gave us a hell of a show yesterday and should need no introduction by now, but I think you’ll find that they’ll get one anyway,” he said the last with a chuckle before walking offstage as the curtain rose.

Rave stood there, mid air atop one of her teleportation discs and grinning like a maniac. “You heard the man, this is the moment you’ve all been waiting for and I’m not going to disappoint you. So here now for your listening pleasure, from right here in New York City… They wowed you yesterday and they’re gonna blow your minds tonight… Lets hear a big round of applause for the one, the only, RevolveR!”

The crowd burst into applause and the atmosphere was electrifying as Rave opened the portal and we stepped through onto the stage and to our positions, waving enthusiastically for the crowd. We had to let them calm down a bit before I tapped on the mic in my costume. “Thank you Rave for such a great introduction, and thanks to all our fans who came out to cheer us on today! We are so excited to have gotten this far and to be playing in front of you today. You didn’t come here to here me talk though, you came here for the music!”

There was another roar of applause and I had to raise my hands to the crowd to let them know I wasn’t finished talking just yet. “I’m sure that many of you have noticed the protestors outside. I know I did, and I saw the signs, and what they said. So this first song is for anyone who’s ever been looked down upon, bullied, or made to feel worthless just because they’re different. Remember, whatever your shape, size, gender, sexual orientation, skin color, intelligence, or physical abilities; you are a beautiful person and don’t let anyone ever convince you otherwise.”

Decibel started setting down the beat on the drums and Twilight jumped in on the organ almost immediately with the slow, sad, and languid tempo. Riff and Starbright began to fill out the melody on guitar and bass and I just let it wash over the audience, floating slowly and steadily to the front of the stage before I let the words of the first verse slip sorrowfully off my tongue, being very careful to hold back my empathy and subsonics to let my voice itself convey those emotions. I didn’t want to use that ability during a performance yet, and not just because it would be wrong to use my emotions to manipulate them. I wanted our audience to feel the music, hear the words, and let those alone resonate with them because the message was important and not because of how I felt.

Some people play at being sharks
They prey on those alone or sick
Their biting seems to leave no marks
But how can people be so thick?
All the scars are deep inside
Each day hiding them gets harder
Then one day it’s suicide
And bullies get away with murder

I remembered far to well being on the receiving end of that kind of treatment, how my friends and sister had suffered through it as well. I thought about the protestors outside and allowed the sadness and disgust at all of it be heard in my voice as I sang. I let that final word hang, dropping like an accusation, as the interlude began and then when the tune slipped into the chorus I beseeched my listeners to hope as I rose further into the air and the words flowed from between my lips.

A single candle in the night
It doesn’t really seem so bright
But stand up tall and hold it high
So that others see your light
You might find not everyone’s so heartless
When that one candle is a sign
To call more candles in the darkness
And together you will shine

I let the final word carry, keeping that hope alive in my heart and my voice as long as I could before the next interlude. Then as the next verse began I thought of my mother and how much her words and actions had hurt me since I had Activated, about her connection to the Right Hand and the Church of the Purity of Adam and all that mindless hate that they stood for. I would stand against that hate whenever I could and try to help heal the hearts and minds of others who had suffered it. I would protect those victims whenever I could. I poured all of that conviction, and the hurt that had spawned it, into the next verse as I reached out my hands.

They say you’re a freak, they say you’re a loser
They call you so many hurtful names
Whoever they are they’re just an abuser
Don’t be a victim to their games
You’ve heard their side, now hear my side
It doesn’t matter what they’ve said
We may all be different on the outside
But in the end we all bleed red

I let the message and the words slowly ebb away, wanting the audience to know where that kind of hate could lead. I took a quick breath, taking the opportunity to calm the feelings boiling up inside me before the chorus began again and I once more put all the hope I could muster into those words and my voice.

A single candle in the night
It doesn’t really seem so bright
But stand up tall and hold it high
So that others see your light
You might find not everyone’s so heartless
When that one candle is a sign
To call more candles in the darkness
And together you will shine

The next verse was more insistent and it was the real message that this song was meant to convey. We are all people and we don’t need to allow others to make us feel like something less. With friends and family at our sides we can, at the very least be accepted and together we are stronger. I conveyed my own confidence and belief in the message through those words as I started to sing them.

Who you are, where you come from,
Who you love, the color of your skin
It doesn’t matter, you’re still someone
And what counts is what’s within
Take it from someone who’s been there
Just hold high that candle’s light
There are others with a light to share
And together things can be alright

I took another good quick and silent breath of air as I now floated over the first two rows of the audience, briefly touching raised hands, a little simple human contact to let people now that I wasn’t just some strange looking woman on the stage, but real, a person just like them. Hoping that I could change just one person’s life with a little human contact and the lyrics of the song, I reluctantly floated back to the stage and broke into the chorus one last time, hoping that that would be the case.

A single candle in the night
It doesn’t really seem so bright
But stand up tall and hold it high
So that others see your light
You might find not everyone’s so heartless
When that one candle is a sign
To call more candles in the darkness
And together you will shine

Yes, together we will shiiiiine…

Facing the audience, imploring them with my voice and my eyes as I held that last note I finally, hesitantly let it fade to nothing as the others brought the song to its conclusion, the melody growing ever more silent until it had faded completely, leaving only silence.

Silence gave way to applause, and dozens of hands in the audience holding up the tiny flames of lighters, and I had to wait until it had died down a bit before floating back down to center stage and addressing the crowd again. “Thank you everyone! That was called Light the Darkness and our next song is the first song that Twilight and I ever wrote together. It’s called In the Shadows and I hope you enjoy it.”

Twilight began to play that amazingly haunting melody letting the organ take the forefront as Starbright, Decibel and Riff jumped in to fill it out. The melody was slow and filled with loss, hurt, and uncertainty. It pulled at the heartstrings making them ache in sympathy. When Twilight had first played it for me it made me feel her pain and allowed me to voice my own. In that moment was when she had become my best friend and as I shifted into a soprano and slipped into the lyrics of the first verse, I remembered the pain that had brought us together and I poured all of that sorrow and pain into the words.

It looks like my secret is finally out
Of this I have no doubt
There’s no way that your love will last
My heart breaks like glass
I retreat to the shadows of my mind
Hoping that I might find
A little darkness where I can go hide
And put reality aside

I held back the tears that threatened to make their presence known, keeping myself together as I took a breath and waited out the brief respite for my voice before starting in on the chorus. I wasn’t the same person I was back then and this pain had faded with time and a family who really did care about me. I thought about Tessliy, Allie, and all of the others out there in the audience and confidently began to sing the chorus.

Take me or leave me, I come as I am
Whether you accept me, I don’t give a damn
This book has a cover that blatantly lied
A hidden treasure awaits you inside
You just need to reach out, and if you hold my hand
To set aside our differences, then you‘ll understand
Because there is a light that nobody knows
Down deep in the shadows

A slight smile anointed my lips as I finished the chorus. I took in a mouthful of air before closing my eyes and singing again. This verse I was more animated as I floated toward the audience, projecting my voice to near its limit and letting it and my body language to show the hurt, anguish, and fear of loss that my mother had put me through when I first Activated.

Your lips are moving, but there’s no sound
My heart drops to the ground
And I just cannot hear what you’re saying
But I start crying
One look at your face, tells me everything
And I stop breathing
You claimed to love me, where’s that love now?
Did you disavow?

I carried the last note for several long seconds as Twilight and the others played on. Then I spread out that my hands as if to push away that last verse and put it behind me as I took a quick breath and launched into the chorus again.

Take me or leave me, I come as I am
Whether you accept me, I don’t give a damn
This book has a cover that blatantly lied
A hidden treasure awaits you inside
You just need to reach out, and if you hold my hand
To set aside our differences, then you’ll understand
Because there is a light that nobody knows
Down deep in the shadows

I finished the chorus with a flourish and, after a brief pause to refill my lungs, I gestured to myself filling my voice with the hurt, pain, and loss again as I stared to sing the next verse and rose into the air again, above all of those feelings.

I may look different but it’s you who’s changed
Loyalties rearranged
I don’t fit in the box you set up for me
Oh why can’t you see
Whether our skin is black, white, or blue
What’s inside is true
And if you can’t take all that is me
Please just leave me be

Another short breath and I floated downward, toward the crowd. I had come a long way since that song had been written and now it only served as a reminder that I needed to be myself and be happy with who I was and the family that I now had. I had gotten on with my life, and I was determined to keep doing so, so as I threw my voice and determination, being careful not to use my empathy or subsonics, into that last repetition of the chorus I began to smile.

Take me or leave me, I come as I am
Whether you believe me, I don’t give a damn
This book has a cover that blatantly lied
A hidden treasure awaits you inside
You just need to reach out, and if you hold my hand
To set aside our differences, then you’ll understand
Because there is a light that nobody knows
Down deep in the shadows

As the band began slowing the rhythm and the sound of Twilight’s organ began to fade I softly sang, “Deep down in the shadows,” one more time slowly and softly letting it fade away until the music ended.

There was another silence as the song ended and the audience seemed uncertain of what to do for a moment, and then the applause began in earnest. I waited until it had died down slightly before smiling brightly at the crowd and holding my hand over my heart in the excitement and wonder of the moment. “Thanks everyone! Our next song is another original piece, in fact all of the songs that we’re playing today are. This one is called Moving On.”

Moving On was another gothic rock song, but less haunting and more hard and edgy than In the Shadows. Riff, Decibel, and Starbright all started in on the slow and steady melody, setting the pace before Twilight joined in on her organ, punctuating the rhythm and adding the Goth to the rock as the song began to speed up and I began to sing the first verse.

I trusted you to hold me tight
To keep me safe within your arms
You disappeared into the night
Ripped out my heart, left only scars
You tried to turn it all around
By accusing me of treason
Your heresy the only sound
Your every word is poison

I shouted out that last word of the first verse in my powerful soprano as I rose upward, thinking of all the pain, rejection, and betrayal that mutants suffer everyday by those we love and who claim to love us. Save Riff, everyone in the band had suffered this, as had my sister, Jennifer, and so many other mutants out there. The melody slowed and the strains of the organ became softer making way for bass, guitar and the steady beat of the drums as I softened my voice as we eased into the chorus with something like hesitation.

Hell is a long way down
And I’m sure you’ll find your way
Don’t let me stop you now
I should have known you’d run away
Look at me and see your lies
I am the truth you cannot face
Your craven heart I so despise
I’m moving on past your disgrace

My voice dripped with disgust as I sang those lines and held that last note. Once again the tempo increased as the organ came to the forefront and I let my voice become harder again, tinged with hurt and betrayal.

I must admit you got me good
A betrayal I could not foresee
And though I didn’t think I should
I bared my soul for you to see
You had me fooled and I believed
That you could really love me
‘Twas you who made the choice to leave
Was meant to hurt but set me free

My voice softened as I closed my eyes, spreading my arms wide and letting hope slip in as I sang the last note and the music started to slow again as we slipped into the chorus.

Hell is a long way down
And I’m sure you’ll find your way
Don’t let me stop you now
I should have known you’d run away
Look at me and see your lies
I am the truth you cannot face
Your craven heart I so despise
I’m moving on past your disgrace

There was less disgust and more resignation as I finished the chorus this time. We can’t really change how people feel about us, we only control our own actions, just as they control theirs. As we entered the next verse the music and my voice became louder, harder, and more insistent than any of the verses before while not straying from the original music. We’re here, we’re proud, and we’re not going anywhere.

Oh I don’t cry about it now
I’m better off without you
I think I’m ready to allow
Myself to try to love anew
I don’t need you anymore
I’ve shed enough tears for you
About time you know the score
It’s over now and we are through!

I shouted out that last line and instead of carrying the note this time I ended it abruptly, allowing the strains of the organ and steady strumming of the guitar stay at the forefront until the music once again slowed and softened into the chorus. Where the first time the chorus was meant to sound hesitant, this time it was steady and sure.

Hell is a long way down
And I’m sure you’ll find your way
Don’t let me stop you now
I should have known you’d run away
Look at me and see your lies
I am the truth you cannot face
Your craven heart I so despise
I’m moving on past your disgrace

I let my voice softly fade as the music continued along its path, the melody of the chorus repeating and fading slightly more with each repetition until the last notes rang out and the concert hall erupted into applause.

“Thank you, thank you!” I called out once the applause had dissipated. “And now, for our last song of the night, here’s our own little party anthem, Little Big Bang!

I looked toward Starbright and grinned as she and the others dove straight into the hard rock beat of the song. This was a new one and we had been working to get the kinks all worked out of for over a week now. Star and I had worked on the lyrics together while Riff and Twilight had come up with the music and we were all pretty happy with the way it had turned out. Before the first verse could begin as the song was really starting to wind up I floated over to Star and together we sang:

Little big bang
Little big bang boom!

The music jumped right into high gear as the “boom” left our lips and we were both grinning like idiots as we felt the energy of the song and started dancing on stage. As our bodies were beginning to move to the music I began to sing the first verse.

My mood is pretty bleak
I don’t feel very well
It’s been a really long week
And work was hell!
But now I’m seeing the light
And I’m done with the grind
‘Cause it’s Saturday night
And I need to unwind!

Star joined in with me and we half shouted and half sung the last line, bumping our hips together as we finished and the beat changed to the chorus, still hard rock, dominated by Riff’s guitar but pumping and pulsating with Twilight’s keyboard as well. Star and I gave each other a wink and I gestured outward to the audience as the two of us jumped into the chorus.

Hey it’s Saturday night so turn the music on!
Down a drink, prepare to party ‘til the break of dawn!
You can’t resist the rhythm when the Syryn calls!
So turn up the volume ‘til you’re shakin’ the walls!
Hit the dance floor; get your hands up baby!
Start to move your body like you’ve just gone crazy!
Shout it so loud that they hear you in Japan!
“Let’s get this party started with a little big bang!”

The stress of performing in front of others was gone as Star and I just let ourselves dance to the music as we sang and she played her bass. At the words “get your hands up” I shot my arms into the air like a drunken lunatic. By the time I started to sing the next verse the crowd was on their feet and really getting into the song.

The party’s just startin’
When I finally arrive
My adrenaline’s pumpin’
And I’m really feeling alive
I’m feeling the music
No time for small talk
Because it’s party time
And I’m ready to rock!

Once again Star joined in on the last line, singing/shouting along with me as we danced and played to the crowd close to the front of the stage. Before we jumped into the chorus again I shouted out, “Hey everybody! This is all about the music today! So if you all feel like dancing, get up and dance!” Star and I jumped into the chorus again as more people began to get to their feet, dancing to the music.

Hey it’s Saturday night so turn the music on!
Down a drink, prepare to party ‘til the break of dawn!
You can’t resist the rhythm when the Syryn calls!
So turn up the volume ‘til you’re shakin’ the walls!
Hit the dance floor, get your hands up baby!
Start to move your body like you’ve just gone crazy!
Shout it so loud that they hear you in Japan!
“Let’s get this party started with a little big bang!”

Star and I finished the chorus leaning back to back, stopping for just a brief moment to take a breath and then we were dancing again as she and the others plowed into the next verse and I let my voice ring out to join them an instant later.

I hit the dance floor
Put my body in motion
And the party erupts
Just like an explosion
At the centre of it all
I’m just doing my thang
All eyes on me
I’m the little big bang!

Fireworks burst in the air above us as I sang out the word explosion and I gestured out to the audience, trying to draw their eyes toward me as I shimmied and shook as sensually and seductively as I could to suit my on stage persona. I think I succeeded with more than a few of the men in the crowd and I had to stop myself from actually giggling as Star jumped in to sing the last line with me.

Hey it’s Saturday night so turn the music on!
Down a drink, prepare to party ‘til the break of dawn!
You can’t resist the rhythm when the Syryn calls!
So turn up the volume ‘til you’re shakin’ the walls!
Hit the dance floor, get your hands up baby!
Start to move your body like you’ve just gone crazy!
Shout it so loud that they hear you in Japan!
“Let’s get this party started with a little big bang!”

This time some of the people in the audience were raising their hands when we sang out those words, causing Star and I to smile and wink at one another. After another brief pause for air we were dancing side by side once again as the others started playing the last verse and I waited for the right second to add my voice.

When the party is over
Hell I don’t mind
‘Cause somewhere out there’s
Another party to find
There’s another party down the street
And I show up with the gang
Then it all starts again
With the little big bang!

Star jumped in for the last two lines this time, singing the words alongside me as our voices synched together just right. Practice makes perfect and the two of us had been working hard on making our voices work well together. Another hip-bump as we danced and we took a quick breath before singing the chorus one last time.

Hey it’s Saturday night so turn the music on!
Down a drink, prepare to party ‘til the break of dawn!
You can’t resist the rhythm when the Syryn calls!
So turn up the volume ‘til you’re shakin’ the walls!
Hit the dance floor, get your hands up baby!
Start to move your body like you’ve just gone crazy!
Shout it so loud that they hear you in Japan!
“Let’s get this party started with a little big bang!”

With the chorus seemingly ended Star and I halted our singing as the music continued waiting for the last three punctuations in the song and with each pulse of the music we sang one more line.

Little big bang!
Oooh little big bang!
BOOM!

As we shouted out that final word the song suddenly ended, a massive fireworks display exploded over the stage in a myriad of colors and shapes, and any of the crowd who hadn’t been on their feet already had stood up to wildly applaud. Star and I high-fived and turned to the crowd and then we all raised our hands in the air and took a bow. ”Thank you very much! You’ve been a wonderful audience!” I called out as the curtain fell. We turned off our mics and unplugged our instruments, beginning the take-down as Rave and Sasha came out to join us.

“Omigod! That new song was fucking awesome! You played it even better here than in the studio!” Rave said with a grin before hugging each of us in turn. She managed to calm down after a few minutes though and we all got to work packing up our gear and moving it through the portal she had created back to the tour bus. It didn’t take too long to finish and then we were backstage with the other bands again nervously waiting for the audience’s votes to be tallied. The first two days there had been special judges, but today it was all about the popular vote of those who had been watching in the seats.

It seemed to be taking forever and Star, Twilight and I were all pacing nervously as Sasha, Rave, and the guys looked on. “Don’t worry, win or lose we gave it our best and we had those people on their feet. I think that count’s for something,” Riff pointed out.

“I suppose you’re right, it doesn’t really matter, it’s just that the suspense is killing me,” I groaned in protest.

“Well I don’t think we’ll have to wait much longer, the curtain is rising,” Decibel said, gesturing to the curtain in question. Then the stage hands were shooing us and the other two bands onto the stage where the MC was already waiting, envelope in hand.

“We have had a great competition this year,” the MC started out saying. “All three of these bands are winners, but alas only one can take first place and the prize that comes with it. Without further ado, placing third, from New Jersey, Drunk Uncle!” He walked over to the band and handed them a plaque and a small envelope. Then he turned back to the audience again waiting for the applause to die down while the tension thickened around us.

“And duking it out for first and second place are two bands from right here in New York City; Black Malice and RevolveR! Both of these bands really brought their all this year as I think they are both winners, but in first place, and winners of the 2013 Battle of the Bands, RevolveR!”

“Omigod I can’t believe we won!” I thought as Star, Twilight and I squealed in excitement, hugged each other, and jumped up and down. Riff and Decibel showed just a bit more decorum as they merely high fived one another. We waited as the MC gave a plaque and an envelope to the members of Black Malice and then there he was handing us a trophy and a giant cheque for two thousand dollars. I may have spaced out a bit after that, I mean it’s not everyday that your wildest dream comes true.

 © 2013-2020 Amethyst Gibbs
All Rights Reserved


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