posted on 8-Dec-2002 12:38:18 AM by Diffsluckyday
Title: The Mellifluous Clouds

Author: Diffsluckyday

Category: M/L AU

Rating: PG-13 (R, if anything, for possibility of language or drinking)

Summary: AU. Liz Parker was originally from Roswell, New Mexico, but she attended prep school in Vermont as a teenager. Her childhood best friends, Maria Deluca and Alex Whitman, join her in the northeast for college, and the three decide to make the summer after freshman year a time they will never forget.

Author’s Note: Yes, it’s another one of those band stories. Oh, and I realize how horribly pathetic the bands’ names are, but I’m just not creative like that. Characters are fully intact- there are no drastic personality switches here. Most of the main characters will make appearances, I believe. I don’t own anything related to Roswell, Radiohead, or Jettas.

The prologue was terribly short so I'm posting both it and chapter one. Look for chapter two shortly. Please leave feedback so I know this storyline is not so overdone that it's boring.

Prologue

The house was packed. Max thought to himself that if she were here, which he knew she wasn’t, he would never been able to see her anyway. Her nature was to stand in a corner, hidden by the shadows but able to watch and take everything in.

It was one of many things that drew him to her. He’d wanted to pull her out of the shadows, but now he wished he could have disappeared into them with her. Anything would have been better than how it had turned out.

The ‘turn out’ was Max up on stage, desperately searching for a face in the audience he knew wasn’t there.

They went through the set, the summer’s fixed routine causing his fingers to glide over the cords and his voice to work without conscious thought. It wasn’t his best performance because his heart wasn’t in it, but Max could see that the people in the crowd were enjoying themselves. Perhaps they’d actually won themselves some fans.

After all, it was their second time playing in this club. It was their last date tonight and had begun their club circuit two months earlier.

As Max thought about that night, the band finished their last song. He could almost see her, standing in the back of the crowd with a small smile on her face from listening to the music. “Thank you,” he shouted. “You guys were awesome.” People cheered, but he only saw her modest clapping.

Max blinked. She was still there, quietly observing from the back.

She came.

Michael was beginning to stand up, but Max quickly glanced back and made a motion with his hands. “Wait,” he mouthed. “My new one.” Michael shook his head rapidly but Max didn’t pay any attention.

“Shit,” Michael muttered under his breath, but he re-gripped his drumsticks all the same.

Turning back to the crowd, Max asked, “How would you all feel about an encore?”

If the cheering was any indication, the crowd didn’t mind. He felt a bead of sweat drip down his forehead. Nervousness. Heat. He didn’t know which was contributing more. “Well, this is the first time I’ve played this song live. I want to dedicate it to someone, but they’ll know who they are.”

And with that, Max cleared his throat and began.

One (Two months earlier)

Liz let out a thankful sigh as she closed the door to her dorm room. She tucked an errant strand of her long hair behind her ear and ran down the stairs into the bright sun. Her best friend was standing at the back of her car, shaking her head back at forth at what Liz presumed were the labels on her boxes. When she heard Liz’s footsteps, Maria looked up at her and gestured toward the trunk.

“I think that’s everything, Maria,” she announced. “I checked over my room half a dozen times and the only things left were some mothballs and some of my roommate’s incense sticks.”

“Took you long enough,” Maria complained, but she was smiling as she slammed the trunk shut. “I only packed last night and it took me half an hour.”

“Unlike you,” Liz pointed out, “I now know where my things are and will be able to unpack with relative ease.” She smiled triumphantly and hopped in the passenger side of Maria’s Jetta. The keys were on the seat, so she grabbed them and turned the car on. Radiohead blasted out of the stereo system and Liz turned to Maria, her eyebrows raised. “Since when are you into British rock?”

Maria slid into the driver’s seat and put on her seatbelt before replying, “I like all kinds of music, Liz. Just because I play in a band doesn’t mean I only listen to the kind of music we play.” Liz just looked at her. “Ok,” she admitted. “Alex gave it to me last time I saw him after I promised we could talk about doing some different stuff with the band.”

Liz laughed. “Well, Radiohead can certainly be considered mellifluous at times.” Maria shifted the car and into drive and frowned at her best friend. Ever since Maria forced their mutual best friend, Alex Whitman, to change the name of his band if Maria were to be its lead singer, Liz picked on the choice whenever she got the chance.

“How many times have I told you, Liz, that a band named the Whits just doesn’t go anywhere?”

The Whits had been the name of Alex’s band during their senior year in high school. When Alex decided to join Maria in her move to the east coast, he left behind the band’s other three members. While finding a drummer and guitarist to join Alex’s bass had taken virtually no time at all, owing to the fact that both Alex and Maria were music majors at Boston University, finding the right main singer was decidedly more difficult. After some soul searching and a few words of encouragement from Liz, Maria decided to get over her stage fright and join Alex in his foray into the music world. She renounced her solo status and took up both the main vocalist and guitarist spots, then began Plan B. After much arguing, the name of the Whits was replaced by Maria’s choice- the Mellifluous Clouds.

Liz never had the chance to see the Whits perform, but the Mellifluous Clouds were certainly very talented. She still laughed every time she heard it, though, even if their music was much less of a laughing manner. She fully appreciated Maria and Alex’s musical gifts. “So, the Mellifluous Clouds are going somewhere, are they?” she asked.

“They most certainly are,” Maria replied. “In fact, they’re going somewhere tonight at eight o’ clock, and you’re going to be there to witness the ground-breaking event.” As she tried not to laugh, Maria focused on the road.

“But, Maria, we’re going to be on the road tonight, you know, going back to Roswell.” She paused. “Aren’t we?”

“Nope.” Maria kept on driving with a straight face.

“We’re not going to Roswell?”

“Nope.”

“Oh, ok,” Liz shrugged and went on sarcastically, “You’re just going to drive and not tell me where we’re going.”

“Yup.”

“Wait.” Liz grabbed Maria’s shoulder and completely ignored the panicked look her friend shot her. Maria did not have a great reputation for dealing with distractions while driving. “Do my parents know that we’re not coming back to Roswell?” At Maria’s silence, Liz’s mouth dropped open. “They do, don’t they? You’ve come up with some half-baked… plan… or something and gotten them to go along with it.”

“It’s not a plan, Liz,” Maria told her airily. “It’s a fully scheduled musical tour on which you will be accompanying me as the manager of the Mellifluous Clouds. That is, unless you don’t want to?”

“Wait, Maria, a tour?” She took a second to process that information and then let out a screech. “Oh my god, Maria, congratulations! Why the hell didn’t you tell me?” She refrained from giving her friend a big hug in the interest of wanting to keep on being alive and bounced in her seat excitedly. “Of course I’ll be your manager! How long is the tour? It starts tonight? How did this happen? Is it just you guys or is there another band? Wow!”

The blond started cracking up. “Alex is gonna kill me,” she groaned halfheartedly. “He wanted to tell you together, but the answers to your questions are- yes, a tour; we wanted to surprise you; it’s two months long; the first show is tonight; Alex and I have connections at school; no, it’s not just us.” Maria’s face broke into the enormous smile she’d been holding in since she pulled up at Liz’s dorm earlier that day. “God, Liz, I’m so excited! Alex got us this opportunity because a friend of his he met in his creative writing class has a band too, and they were putting together a tour. They needed another band, so Alex told him about us, we auditioned, and he invited us along. His dad is some really rich dude with music connections or something, so we’re basically playing a club circuit with actual backing. It’s amazing, Lizzie!”

“Maria, you made sure everything with this ‘rich dude’ was legit, right?” Liz demanded her friend, ever cautious. “He’s not going to screw you guys over, is he?” Even though she was ecstatic for her friends, she wanted to make sure they weren’t going to get themselves into trouble.
“No, Liz, it’s all fine. We have a contract with the guy, and Alex hired his dad’s lawyer to look it all over. Plus, his son is totally hot.”

“The guy in the other band?” Liz rolled her eyes and chuckled. “Is that the only reason you are doing this? Can they actually play music?”

Maria clutched at her chest in fake agony. “Ye of little faith,” she grumbled. “Alex found them; of course they can play. It just doesn’t hurt that they’re a three-piece band and two of them are to die for.” She giggled.

Liz smirked, but then Idioteque began and she turned the volume up almost automatically. She began to sing along to the unintelligible lyrics and Maria listened as she continued driving. Even if she knew the words to the song, which she didn’t, she wouldn’t interrupt Liz anyway. Between all her science classes in her Vermont prep school, Liz had found some time for Chorus and developed a beautiful voice.

“You know, Liz,” Maria told her once the song ended, “I could use some female back-up vocals.”

Liz took that as her own cue to clutch her stomach in mimed pain. “Right, Maria, me singing with you. That’ll be the day. What am I going to do as your ‘manager’ anyway? You’ve obviously been fine setting up this whole thing without me.”

“That’s quite a good question,” Maria replied. “I think Alex and I basically told Max you were coming and that you were horrendously smart, and he said you could be Manager then.”

“Max?”

“Ah, yes, Max,” Maria sighed dramatically. “Max Evans is Alex’s friend with the rich dad, guitar player and vocalist extraordinaire of the Rhetorics, and certifiably gorgeous. His ears are a bit big though.”

“Wait, the band you’re touring with is called the Rhetorics?”

“Yeah, why?” Maria looked at her friend strangely. “What’s wrong with that?”

Liz just laughed, then finally wiped the tears from the corners of her eyes and just shook her head. “It’s a match made in heaven, Maria,” she announced. “A match made in heaven.”

XXXXXXXXXXXX

“What if she’s a psycho, Maxwell?” Michael Guerin demanded. “I mean, I don’t even know this Alex guy, that girl Maria is a total weirdo from what I’ve seen, and Kyle seems ok- but having another chick along? And one that we’ve never even met?”

“You don’t like Maria just because she won’t take your crap, Michael,” Max reminded him. “Alex is a cool guy, and you heard them play. That’s why they’re touring with us, and I didn’t hear any complaints from you while we were listening to them.” Michael twirled his drumsticks and avoided looking at Max because he knew his friend was right.

“Ok, so they’re pretty good,” he admitted. “But still- a manager? And some girl you’ve never met?”

“I trust Alex,” Max insisted. “And I have a feeling that it will work out. This girl, Liz, goes to Amherst, she’s some science major, and Alex and Maria have both known her since they were kids. Maria says she needs some extra estrogen, anyways. It’ll be fine.” He picked up his guitar and fingered a few chords thoughtfully. “It’ll be great.”

“I hope so, Maxwell.” Just then, the Rhetorics bassist, Jesse, strode into the backstage area.

“I think the girls are here,” he announced. “A beat up Jetta with a luggage rack up top couldn’t belong to very many people, could it?”

“Were you watching for them?” Michael asked him mockingly.

“Actually,” Jesse responded, “I was waiting for Isabel.” Isabel Evans happened to be Max’s sister and Jesse’s long-time girlfriend. Isabel and Jesse were a few years older than Max and Michael, and Isabel was the one who introduced her boyfriend to her brother.

“Did she call you?” Max asked. “I haven’t talked to her since yesterday, when I gave her directions. I told her she didn’t have to come early because we were just gonna sound check and warm up.”

Jesse shrugged. “She told me she’d be here ‘round four. You know how she tends to like to supervise.”

“Do I ever,” agreed Max. He looked as though he were about to say more, but then he heard Maria’s excited voice call, “There they are,” and the girl who must have been Liz entered his sight.

She was beautiful.

He snuck a glance at Michael, who was checking Liz out too, but his best friend’s eyes only seemed to look her over before they returned to Maria. Those two had it bad for each other- he just hoped nothing happened that would compromise the tour between them.

“Hey, Max!” Maria called. “Alex isn’t here yet, is he? I didn’t see his car- he said he’d be here so we could surprise Liz but I already ruined the surprise so it didn’t really matter…” She trailed off, noticing Max was still looking at Liz. “This is Liz, in case you haven’t guessed,” she supplied helpfully.

“Liz, hi. Meet the Rhetorics.” Max smiled at her.

“Hi,” Liz said softly. Maria was right about Max and Michael. Jesse wasn’t that bad looking, but he was nothing compared to Max. For once, she didn’t feel like her friend was exaggerating at all. “And you must be Michael and Jesse,” she said to the other two. They nodded and introduced themselves separately; Michael seemed to accept that Liz was at least superficially normal.

“So, what is it that you guys do before shows, then?” Liz asked. “Maria said you all need to do a sound check for each band. Do you just play and make sure everything works right?”

“Pretty much,” Max replied.

“We’re just waiting for Alex and Kyle,” Maria added, “But you guys could get on with it if you’d like.”

Max shrugged and looked at his two band mates. “My sister, Isabel, should be getting here any moment. She can just watch with you two, then, and when the guys arrive we’ll get everything set up for the Clouds too.” He gave Liz a last smile and went to confer with whom Liz assumed was in charge of the sound.

“C’mon, Liz,” Maria told her. “Let’s go sit and watch ‘em in the club. You’re going to be very impressed.” The two walked away from Michael and Jesse.

“I think I already am,” Liz admitted to Maria. Her best friend raised her hands in triumph.

“I told you he was gorgeous,” she said.

The two took seats a few yards away from the stage, and Liz tucked her hair behind her ears. “Well, let’s hear them, then.”

XXXXXXXXXXXX

Within a few minutes, Max emerged with his guitar and his band mates. He waved at the two girls. “Isabel still not here?” he questioned. “That’s strange; she’s always on time.”

As though hearing his statement, a tall blonde suddenly entered the room. “Max!” she shouted excitedly, only seeing him on up stage. Then she saw the sitting Maria and Liz and composed herself. “Hello,” she greeted them. “You’re Maria, right? Max and Jesse told me all about you. And you are?” she directed toward Liz.

“I’m Liz Parker. I’m Maria’s best friend.” Liz paused. “I’m also the manager of the Mellifluous Clouds.” She turned to look at her friend and winked.

“Well, it’s nice to meet you. Are you guys starting soon, or can I talk to Jesse?” she inquired of Max. Jesse waved from the stage, where he was bent over plugging in his bass. Maria mouthed ‘boyfriend’ to Liz and the brunette nodded. Although Max’s sister seemed cordial enough, she hoped the girl wouldn’t be joining them too much of the tour. She seemed the protective type.

Liz shook her head. She was letting her mind wander too much already. Summer vacation did that to her, she supposed.

“-gonna start now,” Max was saying. Isabel was nodding. Maria nudged Liz’s foot and gave her a questioning look, but Liz just shook her head and smiled. Max’s sister sat down with Maria and Liz, and Max returned to talk quietly with Michael and Jesse. He nodded and walked over to the microphone, tapping it to hear the sound carry throughout the club. “Testing, 1-2-3,” he spoke, and gave a thumbs up in their general direction.

In the next few minutes, Liz experienced her first sound check. The three guys poked and prodded their instruments until they were seemingly satisfied, and then Max finally returned to his face-level mike. “Let’s start with Jukebox.”

Michael began on the drums, Jesse and Max entered on their instruments, and Liz was already impressed. That was before Max even began to sing, but when he opened his mouth, she was riveted. It looked like Maria was batting a thousand that day, because Max had a smooth voice that drew her in and commanded her attention.

The three played a few songs that ranged from melodious to harder sounding, and Liz was so captivated that she didn’t even notice Alex and Kyle enter and stand behind them, merely watching the Rhetorics do their thing. When Max played an impressive guitar rift and set his instrument down amid Michael’s final drum crash, Liz clapped excitedly. “Wow!” she enthused, when the three descended from the stage. “You guys are awesome.”

Max’s face turned red. “Thanks,” he told her. Michael grunted, and Jesse was too busy greeting Isabel to mind her compliment. Suddenly, Liz spied Alex and squealed excitedly. “Alex! I can’t believe this is happening for you guys! I’m so proud of you!” She ran to him and he embraced her happily.

“Hey there, Lizzie,” he whispered into her ear. “Me and my bass finally got us somewhere, huh?”

“I can’t believe you and Maria decided to surprise me like this,” she told him, “but yes, your bass has seemingly gotten somewhere.”

“Not much of a surprise for me, though,” he answered ruefully. “I wanted to see your face so bad when you found out.”

“You know how proud of you I am,” Liz told him. “You better.” He nodded and a few seconds later released her from the hug, standing her at arm’s length.

“You look good, Liz,” he complimented her. “The removal of all that stressing about finals sure did you some good. Last time I saw you, I thought you’d go bald in a month.” Alex chuckled at the expression on her face and ducked as she swatted at him.

“Shut up, you, and go play me some music.”

“As you wish,” Alex responded, giving her a sweeping bow. “C’mon, ‘Ria,” he called, “Princess Elizabeth has ordered her troubadors to bring on the entertainment.” Kyle shrugged, used to not being acknowledged, and waved to Liz as he followed behind his band mate.

As Maria joined Alex, Liz heard her distinctly mutter, “Oh, Alex, I think the real entertainment has already come and gone.”

When the three Clouds disappeared backstage, Liz looked at Max. “So, are you guys basically equal in this whole set-up or is it more like they’re opening for you? And, just so we’re clear, I want to know what you expect of me and how we’re going to be living. Maria gave me the basics, but I need something more concrete than that.”

“Wow, she really did spring this on you, didn’t she?” Max let out a low sound of amusement. “I wouldn’t be taking it as well as you are. I’m a bit of a control freak that way.”

Liz tried not to laugh. Let him think what he would for now- she was sure they’d be spending enough time together that he would realize she was the type to organize her sock drawer. Strangely, the idea was appealing. That was, spending a lot of time with him was appealing- not organizing socks.

Before Liz could think more about socks or Max, her friends emerged and warmed up. Liz didn’t know whether it was that they’d gotten better or if being on a real stage with a real sound system greatly improved their sound, but the band seemed to have improved markedly. Liz had the feeling that if nothing else, this summer would provide her with an opportunity to hear her friends perform music she thoroughly enjoyed.

Liz hoped the summer would provide her with something else, though. Her freshman year of college, albeit fun, hadn’t exactly been filled with partying. To Liz, these next to months offered her unbridled possibility.

TBC

[ edited 2 time(s), last at 21-Dec-2002 3:12:33 PM ]
posted on 14-Dec-2002 6:33:36 PM by Diffsluckyday
I should (hopefully) have the next part up by Monday, if not sooner.

Thanks so much for the feedback.
posted on 16-Dec-2002 9:42:13 PM by Diffsluckyday
I hope you guys will forgive me- I got sidetracked by this christmas challenge I read up on the challenge board and decided to write that today, instead, so I didn't finish writing up the next part to this story. I don't want to get stuck writing multiple stories, but it was just this little idea in my head that wouldn't go away- short and sweet. Now that I've started posting, I really hope I don't start writing too many different things.

I swear it's gonna be up tomorrow, so check back soon. Thanks for the encouragement!