The lightest touch and I nearly jumped out of my skin. I turned my head and looked up at the man standing beside me, an expression of genuine concern on his youthful face. I gave him a weak smile; it was all I could do.
"Dude, you okay?"
I wiped my hands down my face and sighed. "Yeah. Yeah, I'm fine. Just tired, I guess."
"The other band is finishing. You sure you're up for this?"
I glanced at him from between the fingers spread across my face. "Not like I have much choice." He shrugged and smiled sympathetically. "How much longer?"
"They're on their last song now. Then we'll have a fifteen minute break before we have to go on. You look like shit. Want a drink or something?"
I stood and stretched. "Sure. What's out there?"
He grinned. "Whatever you want. Terri said drinks are on her tonight."
I cocked an eyebrow at him. "Pritchard isn't here, is he?"
"How'd ya guess?"
"All right, gimme a minute and I'll be out there," I said. As he turned and started out the door, I called to him. "Oh, and Mike, tell Terri I want vodka."
Mike grinned and left.
I turned back to the emptiness of the meager dressing room, caught a glimpse of myself in the mirror, and grimaced. "Fuck. Make that a gallon of vodka."
Mike was right; I looked horrible. I didn't sound much better either. I grabbed my hairbrush and worked out the tangles I had managed to incur during our last set. I loved being the main act, but damn, I just wanted to go home tonight.
Go home to what, Jase? An empty bed? To stare up at the ceiling again?
I threw the hairbrush at the mirror. It bounced onto the countertop before landing on the hard tile floor. I didn't want to think about it anymore, not tonight. But I had to. It had become the only thing left in my life that got me so fucking pissed that I could perform like my fans expected. I looked in the mirror again and felt the heat begin to build up. I still had to control it, even when I didn't want to. Mike stuck his head back in the door. From the grin on his face, I figured I finally looked the part.
I nodded. "Let's do this. Last set of the night."
I followed him out into the hallway. Jesse twirled a drumstick while Vic hummed one of his solos with his eyes closed. Marcus stood a little further down the hall, seemingly content to corner one of the prettier groupies, one hand flat against the wall by her head and the other stroking her cheek. As the rest of us walked by, Jesse whacked him on the head with his drumstick.
"God damn it," Marcus grumbled. "I'm fucking coming already." He turned back to the woman and gave her a quick kiss before falling in beside me.
The lights in the club had been turned down and the fog machine was cranked up. It was so smoky I could barely see the crowd at all. By the time we were all in place, it had dissipated as if on cue. With the first chord from Vic's guitar the crowd went wild. I stepped out of the smoke and up to the edge of the stage. It was one of our newer songs, yet there were people in the crowd singing my lyrics back to me. Fuck, that was such a rush.
I never brought out the "big guns," as Mike called it, until our fourth song. "Thy Savior" was a crowd favorite and our fans knew every single word. As I sang and growled and gripped the mic with my left hand, I lifted my right, palm up. With the music pounding in my eardrums, going soul-deep, it didn't take much.
Blue flames flared across my skin, sparking six inches above my palm. The crowd roared, fists pumping into the air. I blew on the flame during the solo and it flickered outward. With a snap of my fingers, it snuffed out and everyone cheered and whistled over the finale.
Times like that, I enjoyed my weird ability.