"C, watch out, I think it's taking aim."
Cara narrowed her eyes in
the direction of the offending object carefully. "I think you're right. Should we get in position?"
A sigh was heard
from the blonde beside her. "I don't know, man. That thing scares me. I'm afraid that my life might be in danger."
smirked lightly. "Or we could conquer it."
Aaron smiled thoughtfully. "Okay, I'm in." He bent his knees carefully and
bounced, opening his mouth just wide enough that he could catch whatever came flying at him. From his right, Cara's laugh
echoed in his ear.
"You know, if that thing knocks an eye out, I'm really going to laugh at you."
He took a
second off from being prepared to pout at her. "Seriously? You wouldn't help me first?"
She shook her head. "No way,
are you kidding? Something that stupid could make headlines. Former Teen King Aaron Carter Injured In Attack Of Flying
Breakfast. Dude, I can see the headlines now..."
Aaron groaned aloud and turned back to the offending object.
"C, watch carefully, okay? I'm ignoring you, and you're gonna miss it..."
Before she had a chance to retort, the aforementioned
flying breakfast came speeding out of the toaster, burnt to a golden brown. It came forward in a perfect arc before landing
directly--Cara fought to control her gasp of surprise and grin of amusement--in Aaron's mouth. His arms flew up in triumph,
and he grinned around the burning piece of bread.
"I rock! I am the man! I've finally conquered that evil, sorry excuse
for a toaster!" He took the bread out of his mouth long enough to pump his fist in the air. "YES!"
Cara smirked at
him, trying desperately to hide her smile. "Or maybe it just felt sorry for you because it saw you pouting last night."
made a face at her. "You're so mean, C. It's okay, though. I know you're just jealous because it only bows to my superiority."
laughed and shook her head. "Whatever gets you through the night, AC."
Aaron grimaced. "Don't you mean 'whatever gets
you through rehearsal'? I mean, in less than an hour, I'm going to be forced to abide by the rules of Satan."
frowned sympathetically. "A, it won't be that bad, okay? Just remember that you have control over your breakfast, even if
you don't have control over your life."
Aaron's maniacal grin returned as he began his happy dance around the kitchen.
"Aww, hell yeah, baby! I am king of the toaster! Ha HA!"
"You know, there used to be this really cool mandatory saying
that went something like 'silence is golden'," Nick muttered as he padded into the kitchen.
Aaron stopped his dance
long enough to wiggle his eyebrows in his brother's direction. "Yeah, I remember. It's out of date now, though, 'cause they
figured out that triumph is platinum, baby!" That said, he recommenced a horrible version of the Hammer, and Nick grimaced.
the eternal words of Avril Lavigne, AC, whatcha yellin' for?" *
Aaron began bouncing in place, and it was all Cara
could do not to laugh at his gleeful expression. "I defeated that horrible freaking excuse for a toaster. I RULE!"
winced again and squinted at his likeness. Of course, he doesn't look much like me anymore, does he? He almost shook
his head at himself, but the room was spinning quickly enough already. Note to self: drinking is a bad, bad, evil thing
to do on a Monday night. "Look, Aaron, I seriously doubt that this pounding sensation in my head is even remotely worth
the sudden inflation to your ego,
so can you PLEASE try to keep it down?"
Cara glanced slowly in his direction
and sighed. Judging by the vice-like grip he had on his head, he hadn't heeded her advice or kept to his vow to try and improve
his behavior. The squinted eyes, the sallow countenance, and the obvious expression of discomfort all screamed "hangover".
She sighed heavily and cocked her head to the side. "Bad night, Carter?"
Nick finally acknowledged her presence and
neglected to attempt a smile. Right then, any movement hurt. Badly. "You don't even know the half of it, C. I'm never, ever
going drinking again..."
"I second that sentiment," muttered a less-than-cheerful Theresa, who seemed to be an exact
replica of Nick that morning. Her delicate hands were clutching her head of tousled blonde locks, and she looked like she'd
gotten into a horrible fight with fate...and lost. "Light is evil," she continued before taking her place at the kitchen table.
She took a grateful sip of the cup of tea laid out for her and groaned again. "Ugh, tea is evil. Heat is evil."
frowned. "So is alcohol. Alcohol is infinitely evil."
Cara arched an eyebrow in his direction. "So is lack of willpower,
don't you think?"
Nick held out a hand to quiet her. "No lectures. Right now, I'm only hearing roaring sounds, mumbling,
and pounding, and it's NOT making me a happy enough person to engage in conversation."
Theresa gave a sneer. "Gee,
that pounding thing sure sounds familiar." She looked up at Cara pitifully and sighed. "Do we have cereal?"
his head, thrilled with the opportunity to aggravate the two invalids. "No, but we have TOAST! And it's not dangerous anymore,
because I am KING!"
Theresa clamped her hands over her ears, scowling when the noise increased the pounding in her
head. "YOU, Aaron Carter, are equally as evil as light, you know that?"
Aaron grinned. "No, I'm not evil, I am KING!
KING of the EVIL toaster..."
Both of the ill houseguests groaned at the ringing sensation that greeted them, and Cara
had to take pity on them.
"Okay, A, I think they got the idea."
"Yes," Theresa agreed gratefully. "For the love
of God and everything holy, shut the hell up and let me eat in peace."
"You might need toast first," Aaron smirked,
handing her a plate. "Give me a second, and I'll see if I can triumph twice in one day."
Cara rolled her eyes at the
thought. "I don't think any of us are that lucky."
Aaron's eyes widened in surprise. "Baby, it's not luck, it's talent!"
lifted her head from the table long enough to shoot a confused look in Cara's direction. "I thought we killed the ego?"
shook his head. "No, you just slightly deflated it. Cal killed it."
Theresa nodded thoughtfully. "That's right, you
had to stay after yesterday. How'd it go?"
"It went," Aaron muttered dryly as he stuffed two pieces of toast into the
eccentric toaster. "I just hope I don't have to go again tonight."
Cara smiled warmly at him from behind the medicine
cabinet. "Just pay close attention to your breathing, A, and you'll be fine. You were doing really well before, and Cal knows
that you can do it." Having retrieved the desired container, she opened the bottle and extracted four round, cinnamon-colored
pills. After a short trip to the table, she placed two by Theresa's plate and another two next to Nick's coffee mug. Both
turned to her with expressions of gratitude.
"You are the exact opposite of all evil, you know that?" Theresa told
her, happily swallowing the pills. "God, I love you, C."
Nick chuckled, immediately wincing when his head felt the
effects. "I'm not about to declare undying love, but you're definitely my hero for the day. Good God, I need these."
do you have to be at the office?" Aaron asked, finally acknowledging his brother for reasons that weren't torture-related.
Nick muttered before dropping his head against the table again. "And we're meeting with more prospective artists, so I'm gonna
be forced to listen to pre-pubescent screeching for at least three hours this afternoon."
"Should be lovely," Cara
replied, fighting back a smile. Nick didn't bother to look up.
"It's horrendous. These people should be locked in a
room and forced to listen to O-Town."
Cara shrugged lightly. "You could always just make them listen to your sister..."
tried to summon the energy to glare at her. "You're evil," he declared before his head fell again. Theresa arched an eyebrow.
Pretty Boy, I think your sister's music has more evil qualities. The lyrics are bad enough, but the fact that she's making
an effort to hit notes and continuously failing kinda speaks for itself."
Aaron rolled his eyes at Theresa while Cara
smirked at Nick. "I thought you said I was your hero for the day?"
Nick grunted. "I changed my mind."
slid her head so that she could see him from the corner of her eye. "Are you sure those gay rumors don't hold any truth?"
grunted again, and Cara bit her lip to keep from laughing. "Man, that was forever ago. I'm perfectly sure I'm not gay. Why,
you want me to prove it to you?"
Theresa sighed. "You're just more like a girl than you know, Nicky."
for the ridiculous levels of testosterone," Cara chuckled. "Besides, don't gay men have fashion sense?"
under the table for a glance at Nick's Roadrunner boxers and chuckled with her friend. "Yeah, point taken."
found the energy to pout after draining half the cup of coffee. "I'm insulted now. What's wrong with my fashion sense?"
snorted in Nick's direction. "Don't you mean lack of which?"
Theresa's snort was identical to Aaron's. "Dude, we don't
have time for a list that long. The Slavedriver of all slavedrivers is expecting us in half an hour."
"Still, man, I don't get it..."
Theresa shrugged. "How is this different from any other day?"
Nick glared at
her. "Damn, girl, I like you better when you're hung over..."
Theresa laughed bitterly. "Oh, I'm still hung over. Thanks
to the Advil, however, I no longer feel like the subject of your boxers is battling his archenemy inside my head."
glare became a scowl. "You know, it's funny, but you kinda look like Wylie Coyote. I bet you can't take a hint either."
two continued to bicker back and forth, and Cara and Aaron exchanged knowing smiles before attempting to stifle their giggles.
When a loud creak came from the corner, however, Aaron's expression grew solemn and he turned to Cara with all the seriousness
of a Navy Seal.
"C, watch out, I think it's taking aim."
Cara shook her head at his antics and made a point
to step out of what seemed to be the toaster's line of fire. "Here we go again..."
* * *
The door slammed, and Cara came running through it only seconds later,
reaching a hand out to Aaron to still him. When he whirled around, she fixed him with a smirk and took a deep breath.
every day my friends and I
Has gents like you just dropping by
Before you go, you'll know just why you came here
finished the line with a coy wink, and Aaron had to fight to keep the serious, disturbed look on his face, fixing her with
a small, pitying smile instead.
Of that my dear, I've little doubt
He trailed off with a look of intense
concentration before his eyes strayed to Cara hopefully. She remained coy and interested, however, knowing that any change
in her facial expression would result in another lecture and, in the eternal words of Henry Jekyll, they'd all "had enough
for one day". ** However, the look in Aaron's eyes was enough to inform her that he'd forgotten his lines again, and she fought
the urge to wince as his frown darkened to a look that more closely resembled Hyde than Jekyll.
"Dammit," he cursed.
"Okay, C, I give up. What is it?"
She sighed heavily. "One only has..."
His eyes lit up in recognition, and
he waved his frustration away before resuming the position. "Okay, let's go. I've got it." He took another deep breath and
Of that my dear, I've little doubt
One only has to look about
It isn't hard to figure out the
"The game, however, involves learning your lines, Mr. Carter," Cal snapped impatiently from the front
row, signaling to his assistant to cut the music. With a roll of his eyes, he vaulted up onto the stage and glared at his
little blonde star. "The words, Carter, are 'It's not too hard to figure out the game here'. Perhaps if you studied harder,
you'd remember. It's imperative that you remember, though, because Ms. Lucy is not going to be able to help you with your
lines come opening night when half the critics in this city are watching your every move." He groaned aloud and turned to
Cara in frustration.
"Now, you...you're a whore, Cara. I don't know how many times I've got to tell you this, but
you can't be gentle. When you grab him, really grab him, okay? I don't care if we turn the little freak black and blue, but
this scene has GOT to be believable." He turned back to Aaron, who was mimicking him behind his back. "Carter, you can continue
with the comedy session when you've mastered this scene. Until then, I can assure you that none of your fellow cast
members are going to be laughing, because I am completely capable of making this rehearsal hell. I want you to open your eyes,
and I want you to turn slowly. You do not whirl. You're not fucking Tara Lipinski, and this isn't the Ice-capades, okay? Watch
what you're doing, and stay in character. I saw that smirk before you remembered the pitying smile, and I don't think the
audience is going to be pleased if both Jekyll AND Hyde turn out to be assholes, agreed?"
He didn't even wait for an answer before whirling around and glaring
downstage at the few cast members chatting in the audience. "Theresa!"
Theresa glanced up from her conversation and
grinned sweetly. "Yes, Cal?"
"Go warm up. We're re-marking the scene of the engagement party next, and you'd better
be ready. If we have to run lines until midnight, people, we're going to get this done, understand?"
A chorus of groans
and nods briefly filled the auditorium. Theresa rolled her eyes and jogged towards a private room where she could practice,
and Cal turned back to his victims of the moment, who were giggling over something that the rest of the cast wasn't aware
"Okay, Aaron and Cara, you've had your playtime. You are now Henry Jekyll and Lucy Harris. Act like it, would you?
I'm getting really fucking sick of this scene."
Aaron nodded lightly before moving back to his place behind the door
and turning to Cara. "Damn, he's not the only one. We've been rehearsing the same scene for almost an hour, now."
smiled sweetly at him. "At least you didn't have to whore yourself out to half the cast for the fifty thousandth time during
'Bring On The Men', okay? I'd treat you to an impression since you were out in the lobby, but I don't want my butt kicked."
chuckled lightly. "Save it for later, 'cause I'm dying to see this." He winked at Cara, and the two shared a smile before
Aaron finally turned his attention back to their demanding director. "Okay, Cal, we're ready. You can start the music
The music began, and Aaron walked swiftly out of the door, slamming it behind him. Only seconds later, Cara burst
through it, running up to Aaron and reaching a hand out to still him. When he whirled around, she fixed his with an alluring
cross between a smile and a smirk and took the obligatory deep breath.
Not every day me friends and I
like you just dropping by
Before you go, you'll know just why you came here
Aaron's disturbed, thoughtful look
became a pitying smile slowly as he examined the woman in front of him. She had arched an eyebrow coquettishly, and he knew
that Cal would appreciate the touch. Never one to be outdone, he reached for her hand and brushed her knuckles lightly with
his finger, acting the part of the perfect gentleman as he took his own deep breath.
Of that my dear, I've little
One only has to look about
It's not too hard to figure out the game here
He paused thoughtfully, and
the disturbed look slightly clouded the smile he'd worn moments earlier. His own eyebrow arched slightly, and he cocked his
head to one side, examining her a second time before taking up his cue.
And yet I sense there's more to you
cut him off with a thrilled, girlish giggle/gasp, and brought her hand to her throat in imitation of a woman with more experience
than her age should allow.
You flatter sir, you really do
With half a chance...
"Cut, cut, cut,
cut...just fucking cut." The director, perched onstage with his arms folded across his chest, shook his head in disgust. "With
half a chance, we won't be tomato target practice and the entire audience won't demand a refund after seeing the pathetic
likes of you two gracing the stage in some ridiculous cat-and-mouse game. This is a chase, yes, and they are flirting, but...good
God, Cara, what the fuck was that? He hasn't strangled you yet, my dear. Be calm and stick to giggling, or I might as well
recruit Claire Danes to cough up hairballs in between sobs for me." He shook his head and rolled his eyes. "Can you avoid
Cara bit back a smile at the allusion to Claire Danes's horrible sobbing in Romeo + Juliet and
He sighed and nodded in return. "Good. Now, just because I haven't gotten to torment the engagement
chorus yet, we're going to go ahead and start from where we left off." He looked expectantly at Aaron. "I want that same expression.
You were in character that time, and it worked. Did it kill you?"
Aaron managed a tight-lipped smile. "Nope."
nodded again. "Lovely. Cara, I want a giggle, understood?" As soon as she nodded her understanding, he waved back to the sound
Aaron arched his eyebrow again and cocked his head to one side, studying Cara intensely before
taking a breath.
And yet I sense there's more to you
She interrupted him with a light laugh reminiscent
of any seductress and trailed her finger lightly along his jawline before quirking her own eyebrow.
sir, you really do
With half a chance
Aaron allowed a hint of amusement to creep into his expression as he
watched his shy, quiet best friend personify everything he'd ever known about female sexuality.
What would you
She tossed her head back in a mix of shame and amusement before catching his gaze and giving her head a tiny
shake and belting the next lines.
Don't ask me
That said, she removed her hand from his grasp and walked
around him slowly before pressing herself up against him and beginning a tune of her own.
Here's to the night
To those unafraid
Of taking a chance
Aaron, no longer amused, gave her a tight but courteous
smile and removed her from him gently but forcefully, sending her back a few steps. He shook his head and began turning away
from her, back to his original destination.
I think I've taken enough for one day
And I have learned to my cost
not the fun that it might be once you have lost
Cara, completely swept away in the relentless character of Lucy,
rushed in front of him with the same coy smirk and grabbed his shoulders, pouting lightly before smirking again.
what a shame, if you only knew
The games we could play, the things we could do
Yet I can see you're not up to the chase
if you're ever in need
I am the girl, and this is the place
Come to me
She ended her powerful solo and suggestion
by stepping back slowly and turning to walk back into the nightclub. However, Aaron became relentless in turn, swifty catching
up to her and touching her shoulder in a way that made her saunter around slowly to face him. His frown was still in place,
but there was a hint of compassion in his eyes that seemed to soften the expression as he handed Cara what looked to be a
It's getting late, I have to go
If any time, you never know
You need a friend
trailed off and turned slowly around, leaving Cara with the same thoughtful frown as she stared down at the business card.
In measured steps, Aaron walked quickly offstage, leaving the spotlight on Cara, who cocked her head to one side, all coyness
forgotten in light of her new gift. "Henry Jekyll," she read. "Forty-six Harley Street." Before she could continue her musical
number, she heard the familiar sound of Cal's slow, sarcastic applause.
"Said in a perfect British accent," he called
out with a slight sneer. "Congratulations, Eliza fucking Doolittle. Won't Professor Higgins be proud?"
inwardly, knowing immediately that she'd forgotten the trademark bourgeoisie accent. She looked up meekly to meet Cal's fiery
gaze and swallowed forcefully. Damn. This is never going to be over. He smiled gently at her.
what is Jekyll's name?"
Cara bit back a grimace. "Doctor 'enry Jekyll. Forty-six 'arley Street."
faded. "Can we do it right this time?"
She nodded. "Yeah."
She winced. "Yes."
and jumped down from the stage to cue the music. "Well, go on, we're waiting. Resume."
She rolled her eyes lightly
and assumed the same confused position, staring down at the business card where Aaron had written in his chicken scratch "bourgeois...whatever.
You know what I mean." She bit back a smile and inwardly shook her head. How cute...
She cleared her throat
quietly and began to read, brow furrowed. "Doctor `enry Jekyll. Forty-six 'arley Street." She gazed amusedly in the direction
that Aaron had gone and smirked to herself before turning around to re-enter the club. She took a quiet breath.
any time, you never know
You need a friend... **
She trailed off and began humming accordingly, just as the
script had said to do, and finally escaped the stage before pocketing her only prop. When she descended the stairs, Cal was
waiting for her at the bottom with a genuine smile.
"Nice work, loved the humming. How did it feel to go back to the
Cara did smile at that. "Lovely."
Cal nodded. "Let's not forget for tomorrow, okay? Now, scram.
I've got to torment Aaron a bit more, and Theresa hasn't nearly had enough to do today."
Cara shook her head. "Are
you going to need me for anything else?"
Cal shrugged. "Not sure. I'd stick around."
She nodded and went to
her seat, smiling to herself when she heard Cal begin his descent on the engagement party chorus. The members of the cast
were all looking less than pleased when the music finally cued, and she sat back in one of the chairs to watch. When Cal began
another rant, Aaron winked at her from the stage, and she winked in return. Rehearsal was never pleasant, but she loved performing
with her friends. As the scene progressed and she watched her friends work, she hummed quietly to herself and smiled.
Yeah, this is the life.