Dropping In
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Dropping In

"So it looks like they are all playing in the competition,” Alanna finished telling the latest bit of most unwelcome news from where she sat on the practice room's floor. It was a shame Franz was involved too, he seemed like a very sweet and truthful person. Alanna bet he didn't even know Evelyn Jane was trying to rig the Battle of the Bands in her favor.

Alarie made a face of disgust for good measure, just to show how much she appreciated this piece of information. She still couldn’t believe Evelyn Jane was competing in the Battle of the Bands. It just wasn’t her style.

Alarie knew then, that Evelyn Jane certainly tricked Leona into dropping from the competition, although where and when exactly was still up for debate. Evelyn Jane was a bonafide manipulator, and knowing her character, Leona probably didn’t even have an actual spot to sing and would show up to the Mayor's Ball just to be mortified and turned away. Alarie had to warn her friend and make her see–to have her rejoin the band because now all the cards were stacked against them.

Orion's band had all the raw talent and Evelyn Jane's band had all the edge due to her sneaky saboteur ways.

Illyana was uncharacteristically quiet. Alarie thought for sure Illyana would make some grumbles of discontent at the news. However, Illyana was just sitting there on the speaker plugged into the microphone and looked deep in thought.

Alarie turned her attention toward her sister. She still thought Alanna was too sweet and lacked the rock-chic style their band required. She felt that winning was out of the question with Alanna as their singer. Alanna was pretty good and all, but couldn't hold a candle to Leona's range.

“Since you are singing for our band, is this a conflict of interest for you and all your lover boys?” Alarie teased and looked down to where her younger sister sat on the floor.

Alanna got huffy as expected and crossed her arms, “Cypress was hardly interested, Franz is just a new friend, and if Reggie can’t be bothered to contact me then I guess that’s his problem. They certainly are not ‘lover boys.’ Grow up.”

Alarie backed off since she apparently hit a nerve, but was glad the mayor's son had seemed to give up chasing Alanna. Alarie considered Reginald Orbinson a pretentious tool and it was probably best if he stayed away from her sister. She couldn’t judge Franz Schoulsburg, as she could only remember him saying his name for attendance at school. It was a shame Cypress Wellington wasn’t more interested. Then again, she could understand the lack of interest; Alanna was kind of a nerd.

“We’ll just have to be better than all of them,” Illyana finally said seriously, seeming to come out of a very long stretch of contemplation.

They had practiced all morning and Alarie noticed how much better Illyana sounded while playing. “Speaking of being better, how did you manage to have this crisp new sound?”

Illyana blinked rapidly a few times and gritted her teeth as if she was admitting something she’d rather not, “Nick came over last night and helped me with my amp settings.”

“Nick? As in Nicholas Hart, the boy you swore you’d hate forever?”

“Yeah. That Nick,” she seemed a tiny bit embarrassed but to cover it, scratched her nose nonchalantly, “and I don’t hate him anymore.”

So Illyana could forgive? If Illyana could forgive then there was still a chance for them to win.

It was imperative Alarie go to Leona at once and convince her to come back to sing for them.

“Hey, they said you were practicing up here but I hear no music,” they all heard a deep baritone from the doorway and all stood at once, noticing an intruder peeking inside the room.

“Antoine!” both Alarie and Alanna exclaimed at seeing it was their elder brother.

He was a College freshman at the Academie LeTour University and he must have had gotten some free time to finally come and visit. They hadn’t seen him since last Christmas.

Alarie pulled him into a hug and Alanna joined them. They chattered about missing each other and made Antoine promise to tell any funny college stories. He agreed if he thought of any. They asked him about what robotic projects he was working on and made him promise to come see them that weekend at the Battle of the Bands. When they were done chattering and laughing, he straightened up to search the room, "Where’s Leona?”

Alarie snapped a glare at Illyana, non-verbally shushing her before she could say anything bad about Leona in front of Antoine.

Antoine wouldn’t have known about the falling out. The last he knew, Alarie, Illyana, and Leona were the best of friends. Alarie ushered him out of the practice room and into the hallway.

“Leona and Illyana aren’t talking anymore,” Alarie pulled Antoine to the side and explained quietly.

“What? Why?” his face fell.

“It’s just one of Illyana’s dumb grudges,” she crossed her arms and shook her head. Alarie knew her brother really liked Leona. The only chance he would ever get to see her was if she happened to be hanging out with the Thackery sisters. Alarie had just the news to brighten his day, though.

“I actually need to go see her today. You wanna come with?”

“Of course!…but….her father,” he said with concern creasing his face.

“I’ll take care of it–” Alarie promised and Antoine’s face lit up.

“LUNCH TIME!” they heard their father’s booming voice rush up the stairwell.

“–after we eat.”

Everyone sat down to a grilled cheese sandwich that Mr. Thackery had made for lunch. It was his day off from the IDKPD where he was a detective.

Illyana was always a welcome guest in the Thackery house and it was a rare day when she wasn’t hanging around. Illyana lived with her mother, who always seemed to be working. Her older brother was currently away at college, like Antoine, and seldom visited home. Her father had passed away shortly after she was born. So Illyana's home was very isolated and lonely most days, especially in the summer when there was no school. Alarie knew that when Illyana was a little girl, she spent most of her time at Nick Hart's place and bonded with his grandmother–always seeking a family she didn't have herself.

Pity for Illyana struck Alarie as she watched Illyana and her father crack jokes back and forth. She felt thankful she had a full, functional family and didn’t mind one bit sharing her family if Illyana could get some happiness and stability in her life.

When everyone was done eating and the plates were cleared, Antoine eagerly grabbed Alarie by the arm and nearly pulled her out the front door, calling back to the other bemused teen girls, “We’ll be back later!”

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