SECOND TOUGHEST IN THE INFANTS
by Kai Wailbone
Author's note: This section provides a (not-quite-so-brief) summary of chapters one, two, three, and both parts of chapter four. If you have RECENTLY read these chapters and have no need for a refresher, you can either go on to the next part of the summary or the next chapter. This synopsis includes all major events, including character introduction and development. It is not meant to be a substitute for the chapters themselves, and I strongly recommend the original chapters to any summary, no matter how complete.
SECOND TOUGHEST IN THE INFANTS
PART ONE - MIRROR SONGS
CHAPTER ONE - PAPER WINGS
Part of the new all-boy pop band movement "O-Town," JACOB UNDERWOOD struggles with his sexuality. Is gay, which conflicts with the heterosexual image and marketing he is being subjected to, made worse by the virtual 24-hour surveillance of the whole band by television crews. As if this wasn't bad enough, he is also finding himself attracted to his fellow band mate, ASHLEY ANGEL.
His stress starts to effect his work, distracting his normally well-focused mind, and other members of the band start to notice, specifically best friend and roommate, ERIK-MICHAEL ESTRADA. Dubbing himself 'Dr. Erik,' or 'Dr. Love,' he tells Jacob all he needs is to go out, loosen up and get laid. Moreso to keep up appearances than for any real desire to go clubbing, Jacob agrees.
After what is for Jacob a boring and mildly embarrassing evening, he leaves the club early. Is forced, as he has every time he's gone out, to face himself and confront his real reasons for being unhappy. Is unsure what he should do about it, but determines that he needs to talk to someone. Problem being there's no one he can really talk to where it will remain confidential or that he is comfortable enough with for this kind of thing to be discussed. Decides the distance from his family and few friends from home too much for a matter of this magnitude, and fears anyone on the Pearlman payroll. Decides eventually on JEREMY THOMAS, an independent sound engineer who has become good friends with the band. Not only is Jeremy gay himself, but due to vague animosity between him and Lou Pearlman, none of the cameras follow him.
Jacob calls Jeremy and arranges for his visit, which is overheard by Erik. Erik makes almost casual homophobic comments, which Jacob is getting increasingly uncomfortable with.
In planning his trip, Jacob feels mildly resentful at needing to explain himself to DAN MILLER, a member of the band who, in spite of being younger, has taken it upon himself to be the responsible leader of the band, taking charge of nightly check-ins and knowing where everyone is. Dan runs through regular routine of questions, and 'allows' Jacob to go.
Meanwhile, the rest of the band has heard of Jacob's planned trip. Because Jeremy is one of the few people their own age they have worked with and who they've been able to hang out with, everyone wants to go. Jacob brushes them off, saying he needs to go himself. Fellow band-mate, TREVOR PENICK gives Jacob a disk to give to Jeremy, for him to review and possibly re-work and mix. Ashley also asks Jacob to go, and though Jacob is sorely tempted, he refuses. Before the exchange ends, however, Jacob and Ashley share a glance that makes them both uncomfortable. Though Ashley doesn't give it a second thought, Jacob adds it to the growing list of rather confusing events that might suggest Ashley is interested in him.
In Montreal, after a plane ride from Toronto, Jeremy picks Jacob up an drives back to his house, where Jacob has been before, and where Jeremy steals a quick intimate moment with his boyfriend, BEN CORBAN before he needs to leave. Left alone with Jeremy, Jacob hesitates and stalls for a long moment before coming out. Though he does not act surprised, Jeremy expresses approval at Jacob's decision to face and admit something difficult for most people. Confronts Jacob about his feelings towards telling the other guys in the band, from which he divines Jacob's attraction to Ashley. Jeremy is incredibly pessimistic about any possibility of Jacob and Ashley getting together. This being the first time Jacob has ever expressed his feelings, he is very sensitive, and having his dreams shut down with such finality causes him to break down in tears.
Later, Jacob lies down in the guest bedroom, overhears Jeremy and Ben talking about him. Before he drifts off to sleep, hears Ben say there was still a possibility for Jacob and Ashley to get together. They are the words he'd wanted to hear, and cemented the door of possibility opened in his mind, steeling his resolve to keep trying and keep his hope alive.
CHAPTER TWO - SUGAR BOY
Jeremy gets into a phone argument with his boss and producer, TRENT REZNOR, who he was supposed to meet that weekend. Jeremy's concern for Jacob's mental well-being has overridden his other commitments, and Trent is not happy. Jeremy, obviously distressed, is distracted by Ben's childish games, which literally run into Jacob as he wakes up.
Jacob is still in shock, completely unsure of how to handle himself now that he has fully faced himself, and has no idea how he can go back to his old life. Jeremy and Ben, however, are caught up in their game and don't notice, leaving Jacob to fend for himself. Jacob, left alone, ends up answering the phone. Talks briefly to an irate Trent, who reveals Jeremy's alleged treachery. Ben comes in to talk to Jacob. Through the course of the conversation, Ben reveals that he and Jeremy had found Jacob attractive for quite some time. Though this makes Jacob uncomfortable, it titillates some long-dormant part of him, and he suddenly becomes aware of how attractive he finds Ben. Ben looks up in time to recognize this look, and excuses himself to find Jeremy.
Upstairs in the bedroom, and after a bout of childish teasing, Jeremy agrees with Ben that Jacob's situation is quite dire, but there is little anyone can do to help him. They seem to have handled similar situations before, and though they are frustrated, they are also calculating and experienced. Decide Jacob is in for a rough ride, but that they can take him out to have fun before he gets too famous - an idea that Jacob himself doesn't quite agree with, mainly because he is still hung up on Ashley. Jeremy and Ben let it go, though they keep their offer opened.
Later that day, Jeremy drives Jacob back to Toronto to meet up with the group. Dan reprimands Jacob for not calling, but Jacob says he was busy with personal issues. He does not elaborate, to Dan's frustration, but Dan refrains from reminding Jacob how vocal he himself had been about not keeping secrets. Instead he brings Jacob up to date with what's been going on, particularly that Ashley's erstwhile girlfriend, SHELLI, broke up with him yet again. Jacob, though he acts casual and frustratedly empathetic to Dan, is concerned and rushes to Ashley's side to comfort him the moment he gets to the hotel.
Ashley, understandably upset, accepts Jacob's comfort, but gets angry when Jacob suggests this is for the best. Ashley accuses Jacob of having no idea what it's like to love someone he couldn't have, having no idea of the irony behind his statement. Jacob manages to use his own feelings for Ashley to comfort him.
At the same time, outside, Dan and Trevor talk to Jeremy, who is forced to wait outside while the cameras are rolling. Dan apologizes, but Jeremy is good-natured about it. Trevor asks him if he listened to the disc he gave Jacob to give him, and Jeremy, aware that Jacob must have forgotten over the course of the weekend, asks for another copy.
Inside the hotel, they are stopped by the band's PR manager, JAY MAROSE. Though Jay is mildy reluctant, he is very firm about Jeremy not appearing on film. Jeremy smiles and agrees, turning around and inviting Dan and Trevor out to dinner. Dan is a bit surprised that Jeremy would 'let' this be done to him, but Jeremy shrugs it off.
The next morning, the band is at the Much Music studio in Toronto. Jeremy is still with them, since he wasn't allowed into the hotel until late at night. Ashley isn't doing much better, staring at himself in a mirror trying to smile. Jacob still comforts him, and succeeds - unbeknownst to him or Ashley - better than anyone or anything else.
Shortly after, Jeremy decides it's time for him to leave. After insulting their songs and bantering about fashion, he gets Jacob to walk him out to his car. There, Jeremy pleads with Jacob to be careful, and to call him if anything happens. Before leaving, in Montreal-fashion, Jeremy kisses Jacob on both cheeks, generally customary between two males only if they are both gay. From the window of the studio, Jay observes this silently.
CHAPTER THREE - KITELESS
Later that week, the guys are getting ready for a photo shoot, to be used for their first single. Jacob has changed his hair, having put it in dreads, and growing a goatee. Ashley is still hung up on Shelli, and Jacob is still doing his best to cheer him up.
Before their photo shoot, Jay calls a meeting to discuss their Much Music appearance in Toronto. He has brought the tape and they watch their interview with RICK CAMPANELLI, which goes fine until they are interrupted by a Much Music personality, ED THE SOCK, a sarcastic and rather obnoxious sock puppet. Apparently because of the insulting sock, management has irrationally decided to pull the interview. Is suspected there is more to it, but no one's talking. The guys are upset, and protest, but have no choice about it. Before they can go on, Jay gets a call. Security guard-slash-road manager MARC gets up to discuss a few things in the meanwhile, among them a reprimand for Jacob running off to Montreal to visit Jeremy. He also tells them that the upcoming weekend will be one of the few they will enjoy without the camera crews, due to their vacation. Are told to be on their absolute best behaviour.
After the guys leave, Jay confirms to Marc that it was Jeremy who called, but nothing more was revealed about what Jacob told him. After discussing the situation, theorize that Jacob may indeed be gay, and that he has a crush on one of the band members, specifically Erik. Also express fears of higher management finding out.
Meanwhile, at photo shoot, Jacob and Erik pressure Ashley into going out with them that weekend, claiming it's the best way to get over Shelli. Ashley, after some gentle prodding, agrees.
That weekend, Ashley is out with Erik, Jacob and Trevor, while Dan stays at the hotel having a long, private conversation with his girlfriend. Ashley notices with amusement that Jacob is drinking more than he usually does, and that he's acting very concerned about him. Jokingly, Ashley acts overly affectionate to Jacob, which sends him running off to the rest rooms.
Jacob, calming down, gets approached by a young man, DEREK, who casually flirts with Jacob. Jacob resists at first, but Erik has come up to Ashley and convinced him to dance with a girl, and upon seeing this, Jacob gives in to temptation and starts making out with Derek in the back of the club.
Trevor, getting bored with the club, runs into Jacob and catches him with Derek. Shocked, he drags Jacob out and to a coffee shop across the street, where he confronts him. Jacob, afraid of Trevor's rejection, with no room for denial and nothing left to lose, admits he's gay. Trevor assures him that it doesn't change anything for him, and tries to convince him that the rest of the band should know. Jacob is unsure, so Trevor comes up with assurances with each member of the band, including his theory that Erik is bisexual. Surprised, Jacob finds himself considering it, and when he returns to the hotel with Trevor, tells Dan that he's calling a meeting, to take place before the cameras are turned back on.
The next morning at the meeting, Jacob steels himself and comes out to the other guys. Their reaction is somewhere between what Jacob feared and what Trevor believed, with Erik no longer talking to Jacob, Dan in shock, and Ashley nervously supportive.
Trevor tries to talk to Erik, but Erik is not responsive. Insists upon moving out of the room he is sharing with Jacob, and moves in with Trevor. Trevor turns around and calls up Jeremy, feeling guilty, blaming himself. Jeremy tries to comfort him, suggesting Erik should be handled carefully at this point.
Meanwhile, Jacob and Dan fight over who is to room with Ashley now that their arrangements have changed. Jacob, not wanting to room with someone he feels so attracted to, needs to find some reason that sounds reasonable without giving away either his infatuation or his sexuality to the reinstated camera witnesses. Claims Ashley is irritating, and insults Ashley harshly just in time for Ashley to overhear. Ashley storms out, and Jacob tries to placate him, finally alluding to his feelings to Ashley. Ashley, not knowing how to deal with this new information, wanders off into the city.
Jay and Marc are made aware of Ashley and Jacob's fight, and Jay goes to find out what is going on. Finds Ashley in a park, allows him to turn off his microphone and sends the cameraman away. Ashley admits that 'a friend' has come out to him, and not only that, but has admitted attraction to him. Jay, not letting on what he already knows, coaxes Ashley into admitting his openness to the idea, and encourages him to explore his feelings. However, he also warns him that he is never to get caught.
Later that night, Jacob feeling depressed at his now-empty room. Calls Jeremy for comfort, who is sounding distracted and is mildly condescending. Is currently in California scoring a movie, and Jacob has just told him what happened when they are interrupted by a knock on the door. Jacob answers it to find Ashley, who after a stammering, hesitant apology kisses Jacob on the lips.
CHAPTER FOUR - RESONATOR (pt. 1.1)
Several days previous, Jeremy and Ben relax at Jeremy's sister's beach house in Malibu. Jeremy receives a call from Trent, saying he got a call from friend Rick, wants to talk about his interview with 'that boy-group.' Also gets a call from Jay Marose, who wants to talk to him about 'business.' Asks to call him back, talks to Ben, who he's fighting with.
The next morning, Jeremy calls Jay, interrupting him as he's talking to the band about their Much Music interview. Invites Jeremy to help with their first video, and tries to glean information about what Jacob told him when he visited. Jeremy is not compliant, and hangs up quickly, but not before agreeing to see the band in L. A.
Soon after, Jeremy calls Rick at Much Music and finds out for himself that the interview with O-Town is being cancelled. Furious, Jeremy tries to get in touch with people at the record company, finally calling back Jay. Jay suggests that it's one of many things that may lead to the band leaving their record company, a statement that quiets Jeremy somewhat.
Later, Jeremy talks to Trevor, who is irritating him with martyr-like sentiments, feeling guilty over a split in the band. Jeremy, though irritated, tries to comfort him. Also gets a call from Jacob, telling him what happened.
Meanwhile, Jacob feeling confused and overwhelmed as Ashley slowly, shyly seduces him. Jacob's fantasies are coming true, and allows himself to be seduced, bringing Ashley rather clumsily to a climax, at which point Ashley cries out for Shelli, crushing Jacob's rather fragile fantasy.
CHAPTER FOUR-B - RESONATOR (pt. 1.2)
Erik talks to SOMEONE on the phone, someone who is trying to reassure him that everything is okay. Erik reluctantly agrees, but moreso to end the conversation than in any real compliance. Hangs up, unsure of how to go back in and deal with the guys.
Jay and Marc talk - unsure of how to deal with recent developments, among them Jeremy's anger at them and their record company. Are aware of certain necessary steps that need to be taken, and steel themselves for the worst.
Later that night, Ashley clumsily seduces Jacob. From his point of view, it's new and exciting, though a bit frightening as well. Is constantly reminded of his first time, with Shelli, and the parallels become so strong in his mind that, as he climaxes, his last thought is of his ex-girlfriend.
Meanwhile, Erik is plagued by guilt over the calls he has made. Doesn't know if what he did was betrayal or necessary, but he still feels nervous and confused.
Later that night, Jeremy calls Jacob, who hasn't called him back after they were interrupted earlier. Ashley answers Jacob's cell phone, to Jeremy's surprise. Jeremy starts to suspect what is going on, but doesn't let on to Jacob. Lets him go back to sleep, and talks to Ben about it. Ben shrugs it off, and Jeremy lets it go. Back in the hotel, Jacob tries to hold together his delicate illusion of fantasy fulfillment, unwilling to think about the consequences or implication of what has happened just yet. On the other side of the bed, Ashley does the exact same thing.
Okay, that should refresh your memory sufficiently as to the events in the first four chapters. Naturally, I would say you should re-read them, but hey, I know how it is - you probably don't care to. You're probably not even reading this note. Ah, well. The next half of the synopsis will take us to chapter seven, and then I'll submit chapter eight. It's coming soon, I promise! -- Kai Wailbone firstname.lastname@example.org