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Pen Your Pride

Dedicated to Fallen777!  Thanks for the votes :)

Vince looks gutted when Sam recounts our run-in with Sketch fans on the way back to the flat.  He keeps turning around in his seat to stare at Sam as he describes how creepy the one girl, I think it was Felicity, was acting around me.  Ollie winks at me from the driver's seat, using the mirror to catch my eye, as Sam defends me, saying how I actually didn't put my foot in it for once.  I poke his arm and laugh.

"You saying I was normal?"

He nods.  "Yeah.  How weird is that?"

I smile at him.  "See, I can be like all the other girls out there."

"Not quite."

"What do you mean?"

"Most girls don't snort when they laugh."

I narrow my eyes at him and pretend to be hurt. "I'm sorry I'm not perfect."

His gaze turns sincere and I spot Vince turning around to hear Sam's answer.  He chews his lip for a moment, his thumbs twirling in his lap.  "It's better not to be perfect."

"Nice answer," Vince says, just as Ollie pulls the car into its designated space.

"Yep," Ollie adds. "That could have gone horribly wrong."

I grab my bags and follow the guys across the road.  I smile when I spot Tanya and Tandy through the huge windows, waiting in the foyer.

"There you are," Tanya says when she sees us trudging through the entrance.  "I didn't know you'd all gone out."

Ollie veers off to hug Tandy.

"We went shopping," Sam explains.  "Thought it was too nice a day to spend indoors."

Tanya purses her lips.  "Too nice a day to write a song?"

Sam looks suddenly awkward and Vince looks to the floor.

Tanya rolls her eyes.  "I thought so.  This is serious guys.  You've got five months to write, record and sell yourselves into the top ten."

There's a silence that's filled with the footfalls of other tenants making their way in and out of the foyer.

"I've written a song," I say.  Everyone turns to look at me and I scoot towards Sam, like I want to hide behind him.  "I mean, I don't know if it's any good."

"It is," Sam says.  "I mean, it's not perfect."

"Perfect isn't everything," Tanya says, a relieved expression appearing on her face. 

I snigger along with the guys as we all remember the conversation that had gone on in the car.

"Well?" Tanya adds.  "Let's get upstairs so I can see it."

I feel nervous as everyone leans over the breakfast bar, where I've set my notebook open at the page of my song.  The paper's covered in squiggles and doodles and the writing's messy, crossings out littering the few verses.

Sam's the first to draw back, having already read it, and he offers me an encouraging smile.  It's so strange seeing him smile at me when only days ago he refused to even acknowledge me.  I don't think I'm ever going to get tired of the way his mouth tilts upwards, making my pulse jump and my own smile break out onto my face.  His expression is infectious.

Ollie straightens next, followed by Tandy.  They both give me smiles too and my nerves settle.  It can't be that bad if everyone's coming up smiling.  Vince claps me on the back before he moves to the other side of the breakfast bar, tapping his fingers against the counter as he goes.  It's a fast paced rhythm with an uneven beat.  I don't recognise it and I wonder if he's drumming out a beat he's made up for my song.

"How long did it take you to write this?"

I turn back to Tanya, who's still leaning into the counter, but she's no longer reading.  Her expression is hard to work out and I cross my fingers against my legs, hoping it's positive.

"A couple of days," I reply.

Finally she smiles.  "It's pretty good for something that was written quickly."

I want to tell her that it took me long into the night to work out the chorus, not quick enough when I'm dying to fall asleep,  but instead I just return her expression.

"It's definitely not perfect," she continues.  "But seeing as Sam won't show me what he's got so far I think we'll work with this for now."  As if to reiterate what she's referring to she holds up my notebook.  "I like it.  It could be great."

Ollie whoops and Tandy squeezes my arm.  "So brilliant," she gushes, looking to Sam.  "See, I told you she was the right choice."

Sam stares blankly at her for a moment before he nods, his mouth lifting on one side.  "You just love being right, don't you?"

Tandy flicks her hair back and laughs.  "Well, you know."

Sam rolls his eyes, a habit of his that I'm becoming accustomed to, before he grins.  "Whatever."

"You can work on tweaking the song with Emmy," Tanya says to Sam.  "And you guys."  She points to Ollie and Vince, "can start coming up with some music."

Ollie salutes.  "Aye, aye Captain."

"Working on it," Vince adds, still tapping out a beat on the counter with his fingers, proving my earlier theory right.

"Good," Tanya says with a nod.  "Then if that's all, I'll be going."  She turns to Tandy.  "Are you coming home with me now or later?"

Tandy pecks Ollie on the cheek before replying.  "Now.  I don't want to distract anyone."

Ollie grabs her around the waist and groans.  "You won't distract me much."

Tandy laughs before breaking free.  "It's for the best.  I'll see you later."

They share another quick kiss before Tandy follows Tanya to the door.  We say our goodbyes and I watch them leave, a light frown creasing my forehead.  When I turn back to the room Ollie laughs.

"Have you worked it out yet?"

I frown harder.  "What?"

"You're wondering why they're going home together," Sam says.

I realise that he's right so I nod.  "Why?"

Ollie smiles.  "Tanya is Tandy's Mum."

I raise my eyebrows.  "Really?  They look nothing alike."

"Neither do Michelle and Tandy," Sam adds.  "And they're sisters."

I let out a breath.  "This is a family affair, huh?"

Vince stops tapping to look up at me.  "And I thought you had brains and beauty," he says.

His indirect compliment makes my cheeks warm so I scoop up my notebook and move to the sofas.  "Yeah."

He sinks down next to me and ruffles my hair.  "You don't know, do you?"

I pat my hair back down.  "Know what?"

"That you're beautiful."

I swallow at his answer and I'm sure he can see my throat dipping with the action.  I shrug, feeling suddenly uncomfortable with three guys staring at me as one of them tells me I'm beautiful.  I lean back further into the sofa.


"Well now you do," Vince says, throwing an arm around my shoulders.  "And don't forget it."

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