Josh sat on stage with Robin wondering why he had let Megan, The Dark Angels' manager, talk them into doing this damned interview. Any interview with Wendy "Troublemaker" Myers usually ended in disaster. It was in front of a live studio audience, to boot.
This was certainly not part of the rock-n-roll dream he cultivated. Hell no! Give him an instrument, Robin's lyrics, and he could give you a song. But this...this was the bullshit one endured. The price that one paid to have everything you ever wanted. Looking over at the beautiful shy man sitting next to him, he corrected himself, almost everything.
Robin was so painfully shy; it hurt Josh physically to watch it. So Josh knew this freak circus was hell for him. He had his usual case of nerves and then some. Josh found he tried to compensate by doing most of the talking.
He was thankful their time under the magnifying glass was almost up. It was stressful, trying to convey what the fans wanted to see, yet still being true to themselves while presenting a positive vibe for The Dark Angels.
The leggy blonde leaned forward to ask yet another dumb question coming off the live Internet feed. "Pauline from Albany New York asks, are you two really brothers?"
Robin and Josh both answered at the same time. Robin answered with a definitive "Yes" and Josh said "No" with a clarity that seemed to echo off the walls.
Wendy clapped her hands. "Well, boys which is it? Yes or no?"
Robin's wide eyes looked at Josh's then fell to the floor in front of him. Josh tried to touch a sneaker to his Robin's boot but he couldn't reach. Since Robin had clammed up, Josh decided to try to do some damage control.
"Wendy, we share the same last name and were raised together but we are not related by blood." Josh tried to smile but he was sure it was much more of a grimace.
She waved her finger between them before she asked, "Oh, so there isn't any twincest?" Clearly, that was a major disappointment for her. She looked back and forth at them when neither responded then leaned forward to ask, "So Josh and Robin Strider? How do you have the same last name?"
Josh gave the answer he must have repeated a thousand times, "Robin's mother married my father when Robin was three years old."
"So you are brothers?" she asked excitedly.
"No," Josh fairly growled at her. He didn't look at Robin knowing he was dying at the denial. "His name was changed to reflect his mom's married name but she suddenly passed before any adoption could happen."
Clearly not ready to let go of the titillating subject, she asked with a perfectly arched brow, "But, oh wait, don't you share the same birthday?"
He looked at Robin for a second before answering. "Yup. One year apart." Smiling at Wendy, "Which is why our fans jokingly refer to us as twins."
Sighing with irritation at having not broken big news on her show, Wendy went on to the next question with a smirk that was creepy nonetheless. "Carra from Virginia Beach asks if you boys were stuck on a desert island what are the three things you would want with you?" Wendy giggled. "Good one, Carra." She acted impressed as if only a genius could come up with that drunk-at-the-bar question.
Josh looked at Robin who bit his lower lip, which was one of the only outward manifestations of his discomfort. He knew Robby was barely tolerating sitting through this interview. Josh wished he could make it better for Robin, but he tried to take comfort in the fact they were almost done.
Like a shark smelling blood, Wendy circled a bit. "Well, Robin? What three things?" Wendy pushed in her sugary voice that seemed ready to twist their words into a noose at any given moment.
Robin gave a true smile for the first time during the interview, without thinking he said, "Josh." Then he paused as if he realized what he said and how it could be warped into being misinterpreted.
"Anything else?" Wendy smiled her big toothy grin, before she took her bite. "Or is just your brother all you need?" She fairly purred like a cat given a bowl of delicious cream.
Robin's eyes darted to Josh looking for help. He opened his mouth to say something, but Josh chimed in. "Our laptops and our instruments." Stupid answers without solar power charging devices, but Wendy wasn't clever enough to catch that.
Batting her long false caterpillar-like eyelashes, she asked, "What about girls, Josh?" Wendy continually tried to flirt with them then eventually just with Josh. It was mildly disturbing. Granted she had been a popular model but that was before either of them had even been born.
Realizing she was getting nowhere with Josh, Wendy turned towards her audience for support. "We know all about you! Don't we audience?" The crowd clapped and laughed. "Your brother can't be enough for you," she stated coyly. The audience laughed loudly on cue. Her shrill voice rang out, "Josh, honey, we heard all the rumors about you. I thought your response would be a blonde, brunette, and a red head."
In the last few months, the tabloids had cast Josh in the role of the band playboy. He didn't even know half the girls he was supposedly having affairs with, and the other half were simply girls he met at a party for five minutes who'd snapped a picture of them together. But since their lead singer had happily hooked up with their guitar player, Angel Luv was no longer providing entertaining fodder to excite the masses. Josh was thrust into that role.
Josh gave Robin a quick look of apology and sighed. What could he say? "Oh, yeah right. Can't be on an island without the ladies in bikinis." He tried to laugh but it came out a bit choked. He sounded like a freaking pervert! But the audience laughed. Now Robin in a thong? Yes. But some random chick? Not so much!
Giggling as if she wasn't a forty-eight year old, Wendy said, "Well, folks you heard it here first. Robin needs his brother and his brother needs the ladies." She clapped her hands like a demented four-year-old. "I volunteer for the blonde position."
Josh frowned as he saw Robin's blue-painted fingernails dig into the arm of the chair; he seemed to be holding on for dear life. His face remained frozen in his public look. Josh knew Robin had perfected that look while they lived with their crazy, abusive alcoholic parental unit.
Wendy tittered as the theme music cued her that the show was at its conclusion. "Well, boys, that's all the time we have. Thanks so much for joining us."
Robin was up and heading to the parking lot before he even said good-bye. They had driven separately since they were coming from different locations, but Josh wanted to make sure he was okay. That last question had upset him more than usual. He bid the staff and crew of the show good-bye then took off after Robin.
"Hey. Hey! Robby." Josh called out as he caught up with the fast-paced man at his new blue Corvette. His own shiny black 'vette was parked on the other side of the lot.
When they were little, Robin and Josh had always dreamed about getting matching Corvettes. With their first really big royalty check they had bought each other their dream car. Josh was in charge of their financial planning so he put the rest of the money into a good long-term investment. They didn't want to be one of those has-been rock stars on the reality TV shows just for the cash.
Josh tried one more time, "Hey!"
Robin turned his head quickly to look at Josh. "What?" he snapped, which was very unlike him. He was more upset than Josh anticipated.
Josh reached out to place his hand on his arm. "You okay?" Josh hurried along with his words. "I mean, that Wendy, boy, she loves to try to turn things around."
"No, I think it is crystal clear. You would definitely need more than your fake brother on a desert island. I believe it was a blonde, red head, and brunette," Robin's own peacock colored hair floated around his face like a lion's mane.
"Robby..." Josh didn't know what to say. They weren't related and Josh was eternally grateful because the things he wanted from Robin were far from brotherly! However, Robin always fixated on their brotherly bond as if that was what held them together. The idea of not having that tie freaked Robin out.
Josh understood the origin of Robin's feelings, even though he didn't like it. When Robin lost his mom, his whole world imploded. Robin craved a family connection because he worried that without that bond, Josh would desert him. Abandon him the same way his real father had and the way his stepfather had cast them out. Robin's fear of abandonment created a need for Josh to be tied to him by a familial bond, fearing that anything else was transitory and unstable.
Robin refused to acknowledge the very real part of their relationship. The one that erupted into passionate episodes of explosive sex followed by a quiet re-establishment of the roles Robin wanted them in. They would go back to 'normal' until their chemistry would build up again to the point of combustion.
It was hard for Josh not to resent the distance that came in the aftermath of one of their out of control moments. It hurt. He wanted so much more but he couldn't make Robin acknowledge what they could have together. So he settled, knowing at some point a dramatic change would have to take place. The end result could be devastating, or liberating.
Robin was in his pretty blue Corvette pulling out of the parking lot before Josh could stop him. He just stood there watching him slip away. Standing there he started to feel like devastation was more likely.