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Stories posted in this category are works of fiction. Names, places, characters, events, and incidents are created by the authors' imaginations or are used fictitiously. Any resemblances to actual persons (living or dead), organizations, companies, events, or locales are entirely coincidental. Note: While authors are asked to place warnings on their stories for some moderated content, everyone has different thresholds, and it is your responsibility as a reader to avoid stories or stop reading if something bothers you. 

Playlist - 3. Track 3) Come Together - The Internet

March 4th, 9:56 AM

Sebastian’s official job title was just “music producer” but one could easily find his name credited for writing and many other parts of the songs he’d worked on. Today was the start of a new project.

Technically there was no regular schedule Sebastian worked by— no 9-5, no clock-in and clock-out situation, unless he were facing a fast-approaching deadline for a production project. However, he made it a point to have his weekends kept as time to himself. Now, it was Monday.

Sure, going into work was just another part of Sebastian’s routine, but the Sebastian who left to enjoy his weekend was not the same Sebastian now standing outside Hi-Fi Studios, staring up at a clear sky above him.

All through the morning drive in his rust-bucket sedan, Sebastian couldn’t help but feel anxious. Hell, all through the last day-and-a-half he’d been shaken like a chihuahua. The weekend had taken an unexpected turn. Questions batted at his mind tenfold. Was he now sort of close with his roommate? Or was Naveen just pitying him? Should he tell Kate about his sexuality?

He had chosen to do what he does best during these times of worried questioning; the day after his spontaneous night hike and “surprise I’m gay!” moment, he simply avoided everyone. Shutting off and social isolation brought peace… on the occasion..

Sebastian quietly knew that this time, his method somewhat backfired. On top of his anxiety surrounding the growing familiarity he had with Naveen, he was now “different.” He was gay, and now people knew it. Some people. A few people. Okay, two (technically three) people. This just piled on more things to worry about while he detached for the remainder of his weekend.

“You lost?”

Sebastian yelped like a wounded dog.

Standing in front of him was a pale-faced blonde. She had one eyebrow raised, one hand on her hip, and one side of her burgundy-lipsticked-mouth pinched in a confident smirk.

Kate Welch.

“‘Sup,” Sebastian returned.

The first thing that stood out about Kate was her height. At a modest four feet and ten inches, she was short even for most women. Though, perhaps her swaggering attitude made up for what she lacked in stature. The second thing that stood out when looking at her was her extremely long hair; she grew her blonde locks all the way down to her pudgy stomach. It coiled and swam over her shoulders so intentionally, Sebastian had no doubt her hair-care was a lot more than his simple shampoo and condition when had grown his hair past a buzzcut. The young woman also had a pair of piercing blue eyes that said “mind your own business,” so Sebastian never felt it to be his place to actually ask her about what she does to tend her hair.

Kate crossed her arms and said, “Were you planning on meeting me out here first or something?”

“What?” Sebastian asked, then realized he was just standing outside the recording studio’s front doors like a loon. He stammered, “N-No. Just thinking about… something. Waterfowl. Anyways, how are you?”

The pair started their way through the entrance as Kate returned, “Um. Fine. You all good?”

“Never better,” he squeaked in total, believable honesty.

Sebastian tried to remain humble about his work, as in Los Angeles saying you work for a record label often garnered unwanted attention, but he could not deny that he and Kate made themselves a talented, unique pair. Emile thought of their relationship as something substantial but Sebastian would more accurately call her the “person in his life he’s known the longest and enjoys the company of and trusts the most.” If only there were a word for that. They had met on Kate’s twenty-first birthday, five years ago.


February 1st, 9:21 PM (Five years ago)

  • Both Sebastian and Kate were music students at the University of Southern California: a university Sebastian could barely afford by the skin of his teeth, and, even then, a university that also piled a stack of student loans for him so high, they scratched the stratosphere.

  • They were also both college sophomores.

  • Around this time, Kate was dating a guy named Carter, who Sebastian knew decently enough through one of his classes.

That was pretty much all he knew about Kate, which is why Sebastian had found it surprising when a week earlier, Carter had tossed out an invite to a party of hers.

“My girlfriend Kate’s throwing something for her birthday. You gonna come?” he offered Sebastian.

“S-Sure!” Sebastian had managed to stammer out through the red-hot blush steel-trapping his face shut.

Carter also just so happened to be hot. Very hot. In that slightly grungy way where he could wear a beanie indoors and no one would say anything. He made the unstyled hair down to his shoulders look bohemian not bedraggled and made his scraggly facial hair look rugged not rank.

So of course Sebastian planned on attending, if anything to gawk at the man more.

One week passed and a flummoxed Sebastian found his way to a flat, sapphire-painted house around Leimert Park. Music muffled out of its walls. Two relaxed college-age girls sat out on the driveway. Both were dressed in layers and drinking identical cans of beer.

“What’s up?” one remarked.

Shit. Sebastian was just standing there at the end of the driveway. He rubbed the back of his neck. “Ah, you guys are here Kate’s birthday, yeah?” he asked.

“Oh yeah. You’re in the right place,” the other replied snarkily.

The first one pointed at a passing Volkswagen. She then proceeded to punch the other girl in the shoulder and cry, “Punch buggy, yellow!”

Her friend ragdoll-tumbled onto her side and shouted, “Isa, what the fuck!”

Isa cackled back, “What?”

“You only play that game when you’re in the car, and, hey, do you know how old we are?!”

Sebastian slunk his shoulders and decided not to stick around the rest of their sudden bickering. He didn’t know them. Frankly, he only knew one person there in attendance for sure.

Secretly, Sebastian was hoping that as soon as he opened the front door and stepped inside, through the crowd of party-goers, he’d immediately lock eyes with the handsome Carter like in those movies where the main character girl attends prom begrudgingly and once inside, immediately meets eyes with her future husband or whatever.

But no, indoors it was two dozen people kicking back in a blueish-lighted living room area and with a few more mixing drinks on a dirty countertop by the kitchen. A bunch of fellow students around him and Sebastian knew not one. Normally, this would be to Sebastian’s benefit, as he’d be able to fake-charm his way into making out with a sexually-fluid guy in a shadowy spot outside and not actually be remembered by them the next morning-- as he often did to cope through parties. However, on the off-chance Carter should appear, he worried it’d send the wrong message. Multiple wrong messages… with maybe a right one thrown somewhere in there.

Sebastian needed a drink. ASAP.

He scooted between the gaps of the scattered people around the house. Waves of conversations flew by his ears. On a chair in the corner stood the source of the vivid lights: one of those rotating color flashers that, with enough tickets, could be won at a Chuck-E-Cheese.

A very tall man and tight-faced girl were just next to Sebastian and the variegated bottles of alcohol on the granite countertop. He felt it polite to ask them, “It’s cool to have some of this, right?”

Tight Face said, “Uh yeah.”

That was all the permission Sebastian needed to swipe a whole bottle of wine; though it felt half-emptied already. Tall Man looked at him curiously and then returned to his conversation with Tight Face.

Sebastian took a short swig of the wine, and found that, to his surprise, the drink was not just any wine, but bubbly, lukewarm, prosecco. He hated prosecco. Just as if this night couldn’t get any more on his nerves.

From the corner of his eye, just around Tall Man and Tight Face, he caught sight of a half-cracked door. Amber light spilled tentatively into the blue party glow of the main room.

Refuge. Thank god.

He absconded into the room with the bottle of shit wine tucked under his arm.

The room was devoid of people. Thankfully.

However, clearly this was someone’s room. A messy bed tucked itself along the wall opposite from the door. Clothes were thrown about at the foot of the closet. The source of the amber glow, Sebastian could see, was a string of fat-bulbed lights lining each wall. It was a cute and quaint bedroom for someone clearly on a college budget, but this was not what caught his interest.

A whole cube-shelf of records lay before him. He immediately swung the door closed and dropped onto his hands and knees to scour whoever’s collection this was.

Sebastian’s record collection was only growing at the time. Money wasn’t exactly something that came easily to him, but thanks to streaming services, he was able to have a digital “collection” accessible at his fingertips. Still, there was nothing comparable to the sound of vinyl.

He pulled one out randomly. Its murky black and green cover pictured someone standing under a streetlamp on a cloudy night. The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars. Arguably David Bowie’s best album. Sweet.

He took out another. A pure tangerine-painted album. Channel Orange, by Frank Ocean.

And another: Lungs, from Florence and the Machine.

Tusk, from Fleetwood Mac.

The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill, by… did Sebastian need to even say?

“Holy shit,” he reverently whispered.

“Holy shit is right. The fuck are you doing in here?” a voice spat from behind Sebastian. He leapt so fiercely out of his skin, he nearly lost the grip of the record he was holding, The Pointer Sisters’s Contact.

It turned out that the voice came from the girl on the driveway. Not Isa, but the girl who got punch-buggy’d. She looked down at Sebastian with little friendliness in her blue eyes.

“Sorry!” he clamored, “I wasn’t trying to be nosy.”

The girl shrugged, let out a deep sigh, and dropped onto the mattress with a PWOOF. “Ah, it‘s all good,” she said, “Just didn't expect to see anyone in here.”

Sebastian stood up to meet her face. Her body was exhaustedly limp and her eyes were sealed shut; honestly, he’d suspect she were dead if not for her letting out a heavy, exasperated groan. He wanted to figure out what was up with her, but he reasoned he’d been prying in places he might not have belonged in enough for a night.

“This is your room?” he asked coolly.

She pushed herself up into a seated position and huffed, “Sure is.”

He glanced over at the vinyl collection again. “And these your records?”

“Dude,” she scoffed, “This is my party.”

Oh. This was Kate.

Sebastian fumbled out a “Happy Birthday” then sat there in awkward silence. He took another gulp of the prosecco.

And that’s my prosecco,” Kate soured.

“Ugh. Then please take this shit off my hands.” Sebastian graciously handed the bottle to her of which she promptly took a smug sip from.

The beat of the house music from the main room thudded dully into a slower rhythm. Kate chuckled and told Sebastian, “Put on a record.”

Sebastian cracked a childish smile and dropped back down to the floor. “Your music taste is great,” he breathed, scanning the shelf. He pulled out a magenta-colored album, So That Tonight I May See from Mazzy Star.

“You think?” Kate smiled. Her body pinched upwards just a hair.


He set the vinyl on a cheap, mint-colored Crosley record player placed on top of the shelf. The bittersweet guitar of “Fade Into You” warbled out into the room. Sebastian stood once more and leaned against the wall next to the door.

“So you’re Kate?”

“Yeah. What’s your name?”

“Sebastian. Your… um, boyfriend invited me here.”

Kate exhaled and flopped back onto the bed. “That dumbass got sick,” she grunted, “Apparently he got the flu. And Isa threw the party. She seems to be enjoying it, so at least someone’s having fun.”

Sebastian stopped listening after “got the flu.” That meant Carter wasn’t coming at all. Well, it wouldn’t have been right of him to eye-fuck Kate’s boyfriend, especially on her birthday… a birthday that she didn’t seem to be enjoying much of.

They continued to tolerate each other’s company while downing the rest of the prosecco, and then some more mixed drinks Kate seemingly pulled from thin air. “Fade Into You” transitioned into “Bells Ring,” and Sebastian caught a glimpse of something stowed underneath Kate’s bed. He lifted the part of the sheet hanging over the mattress.

A gray guitar case. Well, at least Sebastian believed it was gray; the thing was engulfed in multi-colored stickers, leaving its actual casing hidden.

“Can I check out your guitar?” he asked meekly.

Without moving, Kate ambivalently said, “Go ‘head.”

Sebastian pulled the case out from its hiding and unclasped the cover.

Inside was a beauty. A daphne blue Fender Stratocaster; an iconic electric guitar, and the wet dream of thousands of musicians everywhere (or at least, Sebastian liked to think). Its strings looked a bit worse for wear and its brilliant blue finish had some unsightly scuffs on its bottom, but still beautiful.

“Wow,” Sebastian exhaled.

Kate, now sitting up once more, smirked at Sebastian. She jutted her head off to the general vicinity of the party and said, “I’d play something but…”

“Your equipment’s being used to play that house beat,” he guessed.

“Isa’s the party person like I said. Not me.”

Sebastian fingered one of the strings absentmindedly, which made a gentle twang noise when his finger released. He couldn’t help but wonder who the fuck this girl was. His eyes glanced upwards and met Kate’s.

They stared for a moment longer than they probably should.

Sebastian wasn’t stupid. In his head, he listed the facts of his situation: This girl’s boyfriend flaked on her at the last minute, she and Sebastian had a near identical taste in music, and she clearly knew her way around an instrument. The world was telling him to make a move.

However, again, Sebastian wasn’t stupid. He already knew he was gay. He also already knew that there wasn’t any way to change it; he’d tried and failed to keep girlfriends in high school. It wouldn’t be right to try again, especially for someone so goddamn cool.

However, Kate’s radiant cerulean eyes were clearly daring him to go a step further.

“Do you make music?” he blurted out.

She blinked. “Do I…? Well, yeah. I do. Pretty much hopeless when it comes to the technical stuff, though, so I can’t get very far. I feel like my grandmother when I’m producing on computers.”

“Are you kidding me? That’s like, where I shine,” Sebastian cheered.

They exchanged eye contact once more. And that was when Sebastian and Kate saw each other, for real, for the first time. While meeting up at parties or sharing a class or two wasn’t very regular in the years that would follow, eventually, they did wind up sitting down and making something. Kate needed help for her senior final; Sebastian was more than willing to oblige. Sometime between her junior year and when she requested help from Sebastian, it appeared she was single once more. He was grateful that they remained platonic as by that point he was content to keep his sexuality a secret for the rest of his life.

They wound up producing more, then writing for other people over the pandemic. Soon enough, they wound up being frequently-hired by an up-and-coming Los Angeles-based record label, Mystik Records, and their partnership as song-producers/writers/whatever-else-someone-needed blossomed.


March 4th, 10:05AM (the present)

Kate and Sebastian were but two of a near-dozen others like them who were regular creatives at Hi-Fi Studios, but they were the youngest and most “alternative.” Most of their projects were for young women whose parents paid for Kate and Sebastian to help create them a generic TikTok song in hopes of stoking their daughter’s popularity, but occasionally, they’d actually work with some real talent thanks to their connection with Mystik. Either way, Sebastian got paid and he got decent credibility as a creator from a record label; that was all he could ask for.

Kate approached Studio A and pulled out a key from her jean pocket. She probably had been handed it in an earlier meeting with the record label or something. Kate was normally the one who spoke to Mystik about who they were recording with as Sebastian’s people skills were less than ideal.

She unlocked and pushed the door open. “Did Carter tell you he’s getting married?” she asked nonchalantly.


”Like, Carter from college?” he questioned as he sped behind her.

“Carter from college,” she affirmed.

Inside the studio sat a large table with several modules, computers, mixing boards… you name it. In front of all the technical equipment was the recording booth with a massive wall of soundproof glass separating the two areas. Kate flicked on a switch by a mixing board that allowed for intercom functionality between the booth and control room, then headed for the door that led into the actual recording area.

She started to mess around with the various cables and microphones and continued on, her voice buzzing over the intercom, “Yeah. Carter texted me last night. Not exactly the classiest of invites but seems so. Pretty soon, too, first week of June.”

“Are you going?” Sebastian asked while shaking the computer mouse to wake up the systems.

“Eh, why not? He invited you, too.”

Sebastian blinked and inquired, “Not like me as in your ‘plus one’ but me as in me?”

Kate made a face at him. “Yes, you. Plus, it’s all the way in fucking Monterey and I’m absolutely not doing that drive by myself.”

At this point, Sebastian’s brain was a fondue pot of questions-- overheating and the consistency of sludge. Mostly questions like: Was Carter still as hot as he was in college? Or did he get even hotter? Was he one of those rare ‘aging like a fine wine’ type of guys? Wait, how old was Carter again?

“It might be fun,” Kate admitted and then flippantly acknowledged, “I’ve met his fiance once or twice, actually. Malcolm-- real smart dude.”

If Sebastian had a glass of water, he’d think now would be the perfect time to execute a monsoon of a spit take. Instead, he stumbled forward in shock, inadvertently cranking up a slider to its max and causing a storm of feedback to ring in the studio. He and Kate both instinctively covered their ears. “Sebastian, what the fuck?!” Kate shrieked.

In a frenzy, he reset the board. “Sorry! Sorry! I just… got caught off-guard.”

“What happened?” she cried.

Sebastian gulped. He tried his best to not sound like a total asshole when he sheepishly said, “I didn’t know that Carter was… into men.”

Kate rolled her eyes and scoffed, “You gotta be kidding me.”

No. Sebastian was not kidding her. Had he ever had gotten the slightest inkling of that in college, Kate probably would never want to have touched Sebastian with a ten foot pole; he would have been all over Carter, relationship be damned.

He politely shook his head.

“Well,” Kate explained in an even tone, “I guess that was before we really started working together. But yeah, he told me he was gay around that summer between junior and senior year. I thought I told you.”

“Oh. You might have,” he blankly responded.

Kate seemed relatively chill about Carter being gay, meanwhile Sebastian’s mind was still cranked in overdrive.

First, he was a bit surprised to hear that his collaborative partner just so happened to have actually lived through that timeless story of the “girl who winds up being a gay man’s beard..” He knew it truly did occur outside of TV and movies, but still, actually hearing about a real case of it was mildly amusing to him.

Second, Sebastian wasn’t oblivious to the current story unfolding… if the sheer coincidence of gay-ness coming up the week after he came out of the closet was of any indication. The opportunity was right there! Gay God was practically screaming at him to do it. Plus, it was probably good for him to tell the only person he regularly saw in his life, and rarely did Sebastian ever consciously follow through on good decisions for his own well-being.

Third and lastly, regardless of Sebastian’s sexuality being a secret, he now was a bit miffed Carter never made a move on him.

“Yo, uh, Kate,” Sebastian peeped.

She smirked. “‘Sup?”

A frog started to bounce in Sebastian’s throat. He uneasily croaked, “There’s something I guess you should know.”

Kate took a step back. “There’s actually something I gotta tell you, too,” she relayed, “Something--.”


A gentle rapping against the door to the hallway interrupted them. In entered one of the flashiest men Sebastian had ever seen, and that was saying something since he’d attended USC.

Both the young man’s blazer and pants were a soft pink with sequined lavender detailing styled like flowers climbing over their seams and even around the man’s shoulders. His shoes were pristinely white, like they had just come straight out of the box. On his neck, an eclectic silver chain hung just above his clavicle; each link refracted the studio’s low lighting just enough to give the jewelry a slight holographic effect. An alabaster guitar case slung over his back. All of the bright color of his outfit seemed purposefully chosen to contrast with his dark, almost jet-black skin. Clearly, this man knew fashion, something Sebastian sorely knew little nothing about. Even the young man’s hair looked clean and modern, cropped in a short afro with not a single coil out of place. It was as if he got it cut just before he had walked into the studio.

He gleamed a brilliant, white smile and modestly warbled, “I’m looking for Kate Welch and…” he glanced down at his phone. “...Sebastian Santos?” The stranger uttered Sebastian’s name like it was pleasant just to curl his tongue around, even if he had mispronounced Santos with “z” sound at the end.

Sebastian forced himself to snap out of his daze. “Um, that’s us,” he said.

Kate entered back to the computer area and stuck out her hand. “Kate Welch. We spoke over email--”

“And text,” the stranger charmed back as he shook Kate’s hand.

“And text, right,” Kate acknowledged. She gestured between the fashionable man and Sebastian and curtly introduced each other. “Miles, this is Sebastian. Sebastian, Miles.”

Sebastian gulped. He awkwardly tried to offer a handshake to Miles as well, who instead grabbed Sebastian into a strong hug, which had all the sequins scratch at Sebastian’s skin.

At the end of the previous week, Sebastian could recall Kate mentioning they already had a new client coming up named Miles. The two had just finished their work with a band of thirty-somethings calling themselves “Rangoli.” Sebastian had a lot of fun collaborating with the group as, normally, that many heads in one room never worked out well, but instead, they made an LP he was seriously proud of. Plus, Kate was one of those rare multi-instrumentalists, so she got to show off her skills in the booth with them as they needed.

Going back to just a solo artist wasn’t exactly a follow-up project Sebastian had been looking forward to, as usually people who came in alone either had no creative vision at all or worse, had extremely vague vision that no matter what Sebastian did, never seemed to be what the client desired.

Looking at this guy’s get-up, Sebastian dreaded he was working with someone in the latter camp.

“So I know I’ve come a bit unprepared,” the young man flamboyantly hummed, “because I didn’t have demos ready to send to you, Kate.” He spoke with such breathiness in his voice, it almost distracted Sebastian from the disrespect of his ill-preparedness.

Kate dropped her shoulders. “Right.”

“But!” Miles went on, “I do now.” He pulled out a blue flash drive and extended it out to Sebastian. To Kate, he declared, “I’ll go set up my stuff in the booth.”

As soon as the connecting door between the computers and booth shut behind Miles, Kate switched off the intercom. She and Sebastian exchanged an equally annoyed look, though Kate seemed extra (and uncharacteristically) nervous about this new client.

“I’m sorry,” she said. No producer ever liked working with clients that unprepared. In fact, most people would simply not take them up. Had it been up to Sebastian instead of Kate, Miles would never have gotten a reply back let alone stepped foot in Hi-Fi; however, unfortunately, communications were not his role in their creative partnership.

Sebastian quickly forced himself to simmer and huffed back, “The guy’s all style, no substance. ‘S not like we haven’t worked with these types before.”

She let out a relieved sigh. Lightning fast, she flicked back on the intercom mic and said to Miles, “How’s it looking in there?”

“Good!” Miles called back. From the rectangular guitar case, he then pulled out a beautiful Gibson. The electric guitar’s lustrous amber and black finish looked polished and untouched, which worried Sebastian even more, as a guitar in that good condition usually meant it was a guitar often not played. Then, his worries morphed to irritation that someone so puerile and pompous had a guitar probably costing upwards of three-thousand dollars. Still, the folds of his brain salivated at the marvel in his client’s hands.

“We’re gonna take a listen to the demos for a second and sort out where’s a good place to start, ‘kay?” chimed Kate.

“He doesn’t talk much, does he?” Miles teased. The flicker in his deep brown eyes fixed directly on Sebastian, as if to emphasize that, yes, this dickhead was trying to get his goat.

Flustered, Sebastian chose his words very carefully and settled on an acidic “I can,” before immediately shutting off the intercom. Miles hadn’t seemed to notice as Sebastian could see the young man prattle on through the glass.

Indignantly, Sebastian crammed the flash drive into the computer and opened up its contents. He found six digital folders inside. A cursory glimpse through each of those folders showed more subfolders inside.

“Whoa,” Kate gasped, “Looks messy.”

Sebastian squinted and murmured, “Yeah… you’d think.”

Except, the file organization was not messy at all. Each of the main six folders seemed to be designated to a separate demo song; within the subfolders contained raw files of isolated instrumental tracks. It was actually an extremely thorough set-up.

“Let’s just play the audio and see what sticks out,” he mused.

None of them were named officially, it seemed. No eye-catching titles to be seen. Just “song1” and “song2” and so on, so Sebastian just decided to start at the first and just get it over with.

Roughly twenty minutes later, Sebastian and Kate finished browsing Miles’s collection of demos with mouths agape and minds blown. Once the final song wrapped, the only word Kate breathed was a stunned “Damn”; meanwhile, Sebastian couldn’t muster up enough brainpower to even say that.

Some of the tracks had a bedroom pop vibe, others were clearly aimed more towards surf rock or Canadian alt-rock (yes there’s a stylistic difference between Canadian and generic), and the last track had an almost americana sound to it. Yet, altogether, there was cohesiveness. There were several problems -- several -- but it was like the entire cloud of energy Sebastian saw swathing Miles shifted colors once he’d finished listening; this was shit he could work with.

Sebastian wavered a bit before flipping on the intercom. Tentatively, he said, “Miles…”

Miles, who seemed preoccupied with the system of pedals set on the floor, looked up and hummed, “What’s up?”

“This is some good stuff,” Kate acknowledged.

Miles crossed his arms and flashed a smile. “Why, thank you,” he responded.

Sebastian cycled through the folders as he earnestly outpoured, “This last track probably would benefit with an acoustic guitar instead of the electric sound. ‘Song4’ needs some actual words instead of gibberish, but this recurring use of vocal layering is right up my alley. We could bring it to the whole project, honestly. ‘Course, we’re still going to have to redo the vocals on pretty much all of it anyway but, damn.”

“Yeah,” Miles chuckled back, “Well, I had to record all of this in my bedroom.”

“It sounds like it,” Sebastian grunted, then stammered, “N-Not that it’s a huge problem! That’s where we come in.” Out of the corner of his eye, he saw Kate shift uneasily.

Miles adjusted the guitar hung over his shoulder and said, “Well, I’d love to get to work then.” He added a forthcoming wink at the end of his sentence… which actually made Sebastian a bit flustered again but not in the annoyed sense this time.


March 4th, 4:33PM

While it was now very clear to Sebastian that his first impression of Miles was just not correct, even with the great quality of his demos, they’d not gotten very far into any recording. The songs were lyrically challenged, and that was putting it lightly; this meant that most of their scheduled time wound up being re-writes. When they weren't doing that, they were trying out different ways to distort different guitar melodies or occasionally testing out MIDI drums. This was sort of like finishing the project's "skeleton." Strangely, Sebastian naturally found himself taking the lead on this leg of the project instead of Kate. Miles and him both had bounced ideas off of each other painlessly, with Kate only piping up to note what instruments they’d need to get someone to play when official production on the tracks would start.

“So,” Miles began as he exited the recording booth, “I’ll see you tomorrow?”

“Looking forward to it,” returned Sebastian. And he actually meant it.

Miles patted Sebastian’s shoulder and gave him another cocky wink, which caused Sebastian’s cheeks to go hot.

Kate’s eyes followed Miles as the fashionable artist walked out of the studio. She was noticeably still for far longer than normal. Often, Kate had something on her mind and had a problem not airing her opinions, but now, she was just uncomfortably passive.

Now, it was just the two of them once more.

She cleared her throat, “So, yeah, I need to talk to you about something.”

“So do I,” breathed Sebastian. He hadn’t forgotten that whole “I’m gay, too!” thing racking his brain.

Kate put both of her hands up and insisted, “Please. Me first.”

The young woman leaned against the table and let out a long sigh. “I’m going on tour. Tomorrow,” she admitted, wincing as if she were stabbed in the back.

Sebastian winced, too. “Tour…? What?” he choked. Kate was not a part of official band, last Sebastian checked.

“Rangoli had suggested it while we recorded with them. I needed the money. They’ve been needing another guitarist for a while, anyway,” she explained.

Right. For most of the time working on their previous project, Kate spent her duties as the in-studio second guitar for the band. Officially, Rangoli had no one designated to bass guitar, but Kate could play upwards of a baker’s dozen of instruments so, to record, this wasn’t much of a problem.

“You’re not, like, joining the band are you?” Sebastian implored.

Her shoulders tensed as she cried, “No! Fuck no. I’m just going to be gone for a while.”

“What about Miles?”

“Miles already knows. I asked him not to say anything in our emails. Or texts. I don’t know,” she explained. “And I have all of my contacts ready for you: any bassist, guitarist, drummer, pianist, flutist, whoever and whatever you may need for a project, you can call up.”

Sebastian’s breathing increased at the thought of reaching out to strangers. “When will you be back?” he pressed.

She curled a finger around a lock of her hair. Hesitantly, she squeaked, “Around Memorial day.”

“You’re going to be gone for three months?!” Sebastian shouted. That was not a long time, that was a whole season.

“I’ll see you for the wedding, though! And, fuck! Then we’ll be right back to work,” Kate insisted. She placed the Hi-Fi Studio keys into Sebastian’s hands, who begrudgingly accepted.

Working with this talented, but extremely directionless, “Miles” character was going to be a challenge even with Kate around. A fun challenge with Kate by his side. On his own? Sebastian was sure he’d be annoyed to death and Kate would be visiting his tombstone by the time of her return.

His collaborator pointed a finger up and said, “And, hey, instead of splitting the pay between me and you, you’ll get all your own money!”

Kate was well aware of Sebastian’s frequently-shaky financial situation. After all, she was the one who let him crash on her couch for an eon. However, he still felt a bit betrayed. It was all so sudden. His own life was just on the brink of a new chapter; this was the part of the story where he was supposed to take charge of those changes. He needed his “person in his life he’s known the longest and enjoys the company of and trusts the most” to be there as he actually inched his way out of the closet. Instead, she’d be off playing psych rock with a bunch of strangers! It wasn’t fair.

“Fine,” he exhaled. He didn’t see the point in seething about it, at least, not in front of her face.

Kate sighed back, “Thank you,” and turned to walk out the door. She caught herself before exiting, though, and asked, “Wait, what’d you wanna tell me?”

Sebastian’s phone suddenly buzzed. He glanced at it. Someone with an unmarked number texted him: Hey Sebastian. It’s Audrey. Just wanted to-- Then Sebastian stopped reading and, to Kate, answered, “Eh, it’s nothing. See you in June.”

Kate raised an eyebrow. “Ohhhkay. I’ll text you,” she said, and as she exited, called back, “You got this, Sebastian!”

What Sebastian “got” at the moment was a splitting headache and a panicked heart rate. Once out of earshot, he reopened the text and immediately pressed “dial.”

Hardly one cycle of ringing passed before Audrey’s voice over the phone buzzed, “Oh, hey Sebastian, I didn’t--”

“Do you want to get a drink? Now?” Sebastian curtly interrupted.

“Like now now?” Audrey said back.

“Or smoke. Just… can we do something? Anything. Please.”

Audrey was quiet for a moment, but finally, she yielded, “Alright. But only cause now I’m kinda worried.”

“Thank you,” Sebastian sighed. He didn’t care what he did, he didn’t care what he was doing, he just knew that right now, he’d explode if he was alone for much longer.

Thank you for reading this chapter. I appreciate any and all feedback. I hope I didn't fumble any of the music terminology.

Copyright © 2023 coriander; All Rights Reserved.
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Stories posted in this category are works of fiction. Names, places, characters, events, and incidents are created by the authors' imaginations or are used fictitiously. Any resemblances to actual persons (living or dead), organizations, companies, events, or locales are entirely coincidental. Note: While authors are asked to place warnings on their stories for some moderated content, everyone has different thresholds, and it is your responsibility as a reader to avoid stories or stop reading if something bothers you. 
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Went online, saw a new chapter, and was pleased then not disappointed. I like the way you are slowly developing the story and introducing characters.

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I totally get Sebastian.  Still, I hope as he calms down, he proceeds with his coming out.  I'm not sure what the future holds with Miles if any other than professional, but I do hope he finds someone who values and respects him!!

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