The ratt-tatt-tatt of a machine gun was loud in the small apartment. Blood and guts splattered across the television screen. Mike swore, ducking to the side in his favorite chair narrowly dodging another zombie. One that looked surprisingly like Dragon. With the twist of his wrist and a twitch of his finger, he drew a pistol and blew Dragon-zombie’s head clean off its shoulders.
“Call him.” Crandall paced through Mike’s peripheral vision. Mike ignored him, tapping the game controller to reload as the next wave of zombies appeared from down the block.
“I’m not calling. Give him time to work.”
“We left there two hours ago.”
“In the middle of the night.”
Mike sighed. He did not want to argue. It wouldn’t get either one of them anywhere but annoyed. Instead, he said nothing, opening fire on the next wave of zombies closing in on his position.
He heard Crandall snort, a too familiar sound that told Mike he wouldn’t be giving in so easily. When Crandall stepped back into his peripheral view – this time close enough to the television screen to interfere with Mike’s game with no warning – Mike decided it would be best to postpone his own distraction until Crank settled down. He hit pause, set the controller on the arm of the chair, and frowned up at his lover. He loved Crandall with every bit of his being, but sometimes – like tonight – he could be a huge pain in the ass. They both knew it, and they both knew that wasn’t going to change anytime soon. Still, the love was there, for both of them. It gave Mike patience.
“How about some music?” Mike sat still. If he couldn’t divert Crandall, he’d play on and do his best to ignore the man’s demands. “We could work on that new song.”
“You trying to get us kicked out of this shit hole?”
Mike closed his eyes and resisted another sigh of frustration. When he opened them he said, “Acoustic.”
Crandall crossed his arms tighter over his chest. He looked like he was trying to break his own ribs in a bear hug. Before he could object, Mike tried again. “Chris will do what he said he would do. So we can either pass the time with something enjoyable or we can argue about it. Do you really want to fight, Crank? Because it’s not going to get you an answer any sooner.”
Crandall’s scowl drifted into confusion momentarily, and then shifted into resignation. He dropped his arms to his sides and rolled his head around, loosening tense muscles. “It’s not a new song,” he said. “LP recorded it years ago, and we can’t do it acoustic tonight. I want the piano version. Just you on the piano, and me singing. You’ll sing Shinoda’s part.”
“I…” Mike tried to remember the song. My December. He couldn’t recall the lyrics, and while Crandall might’ve played the piano arrangement for him as some point, Mike was blanking on the tune. “I don’t sing.”
“Bullshit. I’ve heard you.”
“Not on stage.” He wasn’t sure why he was objecting. Mike liked to sing, but he liked creating music much more. He loved the power behind his drum set, and he enjoyed writing the rest of the music with Crandall. Crandall had always been the singer and had always written their lyrics – when they bothered to use their own songs. Just as often, Crandall picked out songs to cover. This was a first – asking Mike to not only play something besides his drums on stage, but to also lend his voice to the performance. He wished he could remember how much Linkin Park’s co-lead contributed to that particular song.
“Shit, Mike, you won’t have a lot of lines. Try it before you tell me off.”
Mike did sigh this time. “I’m not telling you off. I’m telling you—”
“That you’re chicken shit?”
With a laugh, Mike shook his head. “Alright. If it gets your mind off being a pain in the ass, I’ll work on this song tonight. We can decide whether it’s worthy of performance later.”
“I’m sure it is. I’m just not so certain that it will be after changing my role in all of this.”
He wasn’t sure Crandall heard his last objection. Crank had already walked out of the room, probably to grab his keyboard and sheet music. Just another one of his lovable quirks – when most people would’ve said “I’ll just grab my gear” before leaving, Crandall simply walked out of the room, knowing damn well if Mike thought about it, he’d know exactly where Crandall was going and why. So why announce it?
Yep, lovable. Or at least quirky.
Mike chuckled, smiling fondly as he got up to shut off his game. He’d sing tonight. For Crandall. But singing and playing the piano on stage? Well, maybe after Crandall pried bloody drumsticks out of Mike’s cold, dead hands.