It was after three in the morning when they arrived at Cate’s apartment. The car ride there had
been silent, as was the short walk up a staircase to Cate’s floor. Gen raised an eyebrow but kept her
comments to herself when Abs opened the door with a key from his own keyring, and they went inside.
“So, spill it,” Gen demanded just as she had stepped over the threshold.
Cate frowned at her. “Coffee first,” she replied.
“I don’t drink coffee,” Gen countered, following as Cate hurried towards the kitchen.
“Well I do, so you can just wait,” Cate told her, gathering filters and grounds together on the
counter while she filled the pot with water. Gen sighed heavily and sat down at the wrought iron kitchen
table, waiting while Cate fiddled around with the coffee maker.
Abs stepped into the room, half dressed and half asleep. Gen was a little surprised at the sudden
change; he had been wide awake the entire way back and even driven, but now he seemed as though
he’d be fast asleep before his head even hit the pillow.
“Cate, I have that stupid Sarah Whatmore release in the morning,” he said apologetically. “I need
to be up in three hours or so. I’m going to bed, all right?”
“Who’s Sarah Whatmore?” Gen asked curiously.
Cate pursed her lips, taking a seat across from Gen at the table. “This ditzy blonde from Pop Idol
that all the tabloid rags say he’s dating.”
Abs sighed. “Well we know that’s rubbish, don’t we?” he responded.
“Yeah, whatever,” Cate replied. “Go to bed. Just go and grab me a couple of the photo albums
first, ok? Your birthday and the Stop Sign release party.”
“Ok,” Abs agreed, and padded off towards the living room, returning moments later with two
small, decorative photo albums. “‘Night. I’ll wake you before I leave,” he added, giving Cate a peck on
the cheek before moving on to the bedroom. “Goodnight, Gen!” he called over his shoulder. She nodded
in response, then quickly turned back to Cate.
“Well?” she pressed.
Cate sighed. “All right, all right, I’ll tell you. You’re very pushy, you know?”
“Yes. I know. Now tell,” Gen replied, not giving up.
Cate sighed again. “Well this all started a few years back, in Auckland...” Gen leaned back in her
seat, and listened to the story.
During a break in filming, Orlando and one of his co-stars, Elijah Wood, had went out for a
leisurely afternoon, just exploring the city. Somewhere along the line they had ended up at a small, out of
way restaurant. Elijah was already very recognizable in those days, and the two attracted some attention
from a few teenage girls who had happened in. Orlando, though not all together well known just then, still
got a little attention from them, based solely on his handsome face and cheerful personality. Neither man
had yet had time to get tired of their fame and were enjoying the recognition, until it was taken from them
-- stolen, in their own opinions.
Just about then, three much more recognizable faces popped into the restaurant. Elijah
recognized only one, Lance Bass, member of a prolific boy band from the States. Orlando placed the
other two, members of an Irish boy band that, though not at all know in the US, had a rather large fan
base in New Zealand. Their names were Shane Filan and Kian Egan, components of Westlife, a group
that was traveling with the Australian RUMBA tour. They had struck up a friendship with Bass during the
tour, and the three had cut away from the rest of their groups during an infrequent break in the tour.
The girls immediately abandoned their actor darlings and moved on to the boy banders, leaving
both Elijah and Orlando feeling very miffed. Unable to keep his mouth shut, Elijah started making a few
loud, impolite comments about the others, questioning their sexuality and the like. Eventually Orlando
joined in, and they were already receiving glares from the three pop stars when chance struck again, and
two more men stepped into their midst.
The RUMBA tour had booked many of their acts into the same Auckland hotel, which was not too
far from the restaurant that Elijah and Orlando had arrived at. So it wasn’t entirely unpredictable that two
more musicians would happen by.
It was obvious from the looks on Shane and Kian’s faces that they were surprised and not at all
pleased at the arrival of two members of a rival boy band, Five. Lance didn’t look entirely happy with the
new presence either; Five had dropped off a tour headlined by Lance’s own band, Nsync, and caused a
great commotion before leaving.
Abs and Rich, the two Five members who had arrived, immediately picked up on the others’
presence and made a few loose comments of their own. To make matters worse, the small gaggle of
teenagers who had formed upon the boy banders’ arrival switched their affections to the two newest pop
stars to enter the place, heating up the already present animosity between the five of them.
Elijah, of course, had to speak up. He noted that the newest entries into the restaurant, sitting at
a table just across from him, were in a boy band as well and continued his taunting banter with Orlando,
who had picked up his end of the conversation, due to the fact that he had built up a certain degree of
resentment for the blonde Fiver after an ex-girlfriend had become enamored with the Live and Kicking
Heated repartee between seven ballooning male egos can only go on for so long before it falls to
blows, and it was Rich who was first on his feet when he couldn’t stand it any longer. Shane and Kian
should have known better than to taunt him; they knew well of his recent arrest in Dublin for a pub brawl.
Before long, all seven were involved and a table was knocked over before the police arrived, dragging
them all off to be locked up for the night.
So there they were, seven young men in a foreign country, locked up all together in a very small
jail cell, and as Orlando himself had put it best, “You can’t spend eleven hours locked up with a bunch of
lads without becoming friends.
When they had been released the next morning, they were laughing and talking, making plans to
meet up in London the following month, because there was a huge party planned for the opening of a
Sintillate club and they had all been invited.
“Ok, so they’re all friends,” Gen said after Cate had begun her explanation. “So what’s the big
Cate frowned for a moment, thinking of how to explain. “Well you know how you have friends,
and then you have ‘friends’?” she asked.
Gen laughed. “Now you’re starting to sound like the wasted birthday boy!” she said.
Cate sighed. “You know what I mean,” she replied. “You know... like, we’re friends. And we’re
both ‘friends’ with Carson Daly, but we don’t hang out with him. And Abs is ‘friends’ with that airhead
Sarah, but doesn’t spend time with her. You get it?”
“Sort of,” Gen replied. “So Orlando and Elijah and Abs and all these people are best buds?”
“Yeah, exactly!” Cate said, nodding.
“So what’s the deal with Sofia, then?” Gen pressed on.
“Ok, well there’s more to the story,” Cate went on. “See, the guys all wanted to hang out together
but they had a little problem. Because for the most part, their girlfriends hated each other.”
Gen laughed. “And why’s that?”
Cate shrugged. “Ya got me,” she replied. “I guess some of them were professional competition -
actresses and Britney-wannabes and all that shit. And the other ones, just personality clash. But
eventually, these girls didn’t last -- well Kendra did, but that’s a whole other story. Anyway, the guys were
bonding over a pool table one night or whatever and decided that they would hang out as usual but they
wouldn’t include their girlfriends in unless they were really serious. And introducing the girlfriend to the
other guys is like a big thing for them now.”
“Ok...” Gen said slowly. “And you didn’t want to tell me this because...?”
“Gen,” Cate said softly, “Orlando introduced you to the other girls. Don’t you remember?”
Gen frowned. “Yeah, have a little more of that crack you’ve been smoking, Cate.”
“Gen, he did.”
“I think I’d remember that, Cate,” Gen replied coldly, voice rising an octave, getting a little
defensive. It was easier for her to believe that Orlando had just been screwing around with her, never
planning anything serious and always knowing he’d go back to Delilah eventually. Hearing this made it a
little harder to live in the explanation she had created for herself.
“I knew you’d get like this,” Cate replied, flipping open one of the photo albums and thumbing
through the pages. “Here. Here’s you and Orlando and K and Lance.” Gen looked down at the photo, and
sure enough, there they were. “And here’s you and Rich and Abs. And you and Orlando and Sofia and
Jack, Orlando and Kian and Elijah, you and Elijah, you and Elijah and Bonnie and Abs, you and Abs and
Kian, you and Shane and Abs, you and Shane and Bonnie... you see, you were all there.” Gen just stared
at the photos.
“How do you know all this?” Gen asked quietly.
“Because Abs brought me to meet everyone at his birthday party,” Cate explained, opening the
other photo album. It was filled with pictures of everyone from the first album, save Gen herself, and the
addition of Cate.
“Why wasn’t I here if Orlando was? When was this?” she asked. If what Cate had said was true,
surely she would have been invited. “And what are YOU doing there? Where is this?”
“This was the end of June, at the same club we were at tonight,” Cate replied. “Remember, you
had to go and do a special at the Mtv beach house. Orlando had asked you to come with but you couldn’t
get the time off work. So he went, and I came because Abs had asked me. That’s when I met everyone.”
Gen’s eyes narrowed. “How long have you two...?” she asked, gesturing towards the bedroom
where Abs was presently sleeping.
Cate flushed. “A while... I told you. Since you came to find a place to live, and I came along.
When was that? May?”
“April,” Gen replied.
“And Orlando brought you to see Abs first, because he wasn’t entirely sure if you’d get along with
Sofia. She’s a bit... picky... about people,” Cate explained. “But Abs figured you’d get on well, sort of
green-lighted you coming to the next party, which you did a few days later.”
“God...” Gen sighed, leaning forward on the table. “This changes a lot. I thought...”
“I know,” Cate told her sadly. “Look, it’s almost five. Why don’t you just crash in the den for
tonight, the sofa there pulls out, and come out with me and Sofie in the morning. We’re going to meet
Kendra for lunch and maybe even Jack, ok?”
Someone was buzzing the doorbell very early that morning. Gen could here Cate stumbling
around and complaining as she went for the door, and yawned as she sat up. The convertible sofa had
been surprisingly comfortable and she had slept well, once she had been able to fall asleep, that is.
There had been a good hour of pondering over the Orlando situation before she had, and there were
some interesting dreams following that, but for the most part, she slept well.
“Oh good lord Cate, you’re still in your pajamas!” she heard Sofia’s voice filter in from the living
room. “Well, Abs’ pajamas anyway. You really need to stop wearing his clothes all the time.”
“They’re more comfortable than mine,” Cate’s voice replied, laughingly. “You want coffee?”
“Yeah. Heavy on the sugar, ok?” Sofia said.
Then Gen heard the kitchen door swing open and shut, and decided to venture out. She stepped
out into the living room, suddenly feeling very self-conscious. She had slept in her close and her short
black dress was terribly wrinkled. Her make-up, she knew, had to be smudged down her face from a few
tears shed the night before and her hair... she didn’t even want to think about. Sofia looked adorable,
dressed very casually in jeans and a t-shirt bearing a teddy bear logo, with perfect hair and make-up,
which was a surprise at quarter to eight in the morning.
“Hi Gen!” she said brightly, holding out a brown paper shopping bag. “Abs called me at around
five-thirty, and said you were already here and to bring you some clothes because we’re about the same
size, so I have a pair of jeans, some trainers and a few t-shirts for you to pick through so we can start out
early. We’re meeting Kendra and Jack for breakfast, so do hurry it along, would you?”
Gen blinked. “Um...” she started.
“Oh, just take the clothes and go!” Cate scolded, hurrying out of the kitchen with a steaming mug
of heavily sugared coffee for Sofia. “I’ve already showered so all I need to do is put on clothes,” she went
on, gesturing towards the flannel pajama top and boxer shorts she wore. “Now hurry. Sofie gets cranky if
Not knowing quite what else to do, Gen complied to her friend’s wishes and quickly got dressed
and ready to leave. When she returned to the living room, Cate was dressed and she and Sofia were
standing there, waiting.
“Great!” Sofia said, smiling. “I’ve stolen Ritchie’s Thunderbird for the day, so I’m driving.”
The car ride was uncomfortable, at least for Gen. She felt as though there were things going on
around her that she knew nothing about, and the fact was, there were. Sofia seemed to know her, Cate
seemed to know Sofia, and Gen didn’t know anything. She was sitting in the backseat of a sports car
belonging to a man she had met the night before, but apparently once months before that, wearing jeans
and a tank top belonging to the girl driving, whom she also apparently had met but had no memory of,
going to have breakfast with two more people she didn’t know, but somehow did.
Cate and Sofia were chatting about things that Gen didn’t get at all, even though they made an
effort to include her in the conversation. By the time they arrived at a little sidewalk café, Gen had
worked herself into a lovely ornery mood and was determined not to have fun.
The others were waiting for them.
“Sofie! Cate! Hey!” a blonde sitting at one of the sidewalk tables called, standing up to greet
them. Sofia had parked right in front of the place, and she had seen them drive up.
“Hey K!” Sofia called back, smiling. “We brought Gen with.”
‘K’ smiled. “Hey Gen, it’s been a while,” she called.
“And you are...?” Gen replied crabbily. The girl laughed.
“I’m Kendra,” she responded, laughing. “I’m sorry, this must be so weird for you. Orlando had just
talked so much about you that we all feel like we know you, even though we all only met the once.” She
immediately went red in the face, realizing what she had said. Gen’s sour mood dissipated a bit.
“It’s all right,” she said. “You can speak his name around me, I’m not about to be bursting into
tears over it.”
Kendra laughed uneasily as she sat down. “Sorry,” she said.
“Hi!” the girl sitting next to Kendra called, smiling and waving. “I’m Jack. I’d get up to say hello
but my feet are killing me today, and the brats are being a bit jumpy,” she said, gesturing towards her
mid-section, which Gen realized distended out in front of her.
“Brats?” she asked, raising her eyebrows.
“Lovely thing to be calling her unborn children, isn’t it?” Sofia said, laughing as she took a seat
next to Kendra, and gestured towards an empty chair for Gen to do the same. Cate had already plopped
down beside Jack.
“Jack is having twins,” she explained. “She’s seven months along and not at all happy about it.”
“I think pregnancy should be a part-time gig and the guy should take on some of the
responsibility,” Jack told Gen. “So I think after I’m all finished, I’m going to make Kian strap the two of
them to his back for nine moths!” A murmur of laughter went around the table.
“I’m really sorry,” Gen said suddenly. “I just... I honestly don’t remember any of you.” They
“Well, that was the plan, you know,” Kendra explained. “We were checking you out to see if
you’d fit in. The guys are really weird about all this, you know. Having us all get along.”
“And we hated Cate to begin with,” Sofia added, earning another murmur of laughter.
“Why’s that?” Gen asked.
“She’s loud,” Kendra said.
“She’s rude,” Jack added.
“She’s American,” Sofia put in.
Gen laughed. “And what changed?”
“Well, we’re loud and rude too,” Kendra told her, laughing.
“And she’s damn funny,” Jack put in.
“Plus, as these two are both American as well,” Sofia said, gesturing towards Jack and Kendra, “I
couldn’t hold it against her much longer.” Sofia was the only one at the table who was native to London.
Gen sighed and leaned back in her seat. “So you all know all about me, and the only one I know
here is Cate. Who apparently I don’t know as well as I thought I did, since she’s in on all of this.”
Cate laughed. “I just didn’t want to upset you, you know that.”
“Yeah, I know,” Gen said, sighing again. “So why am I here with all of you, anyway? I thought
this was a members-only gig.”
“Well we had a vote and decided to induct you anyway,” Kendra replied, earning a smile from
“We hate Delilah,” Sofia said.
“She did this on purpose anyway,” Jack added. “She’d gotten knocked up once before and it kept
her and Orlando together for a while longer, but she miscarried. He stayed with her a bit after that,
making sure she was dealing with it well and all, but he wanted to leave and we all knew it.”
“It was only a matter of time,” Sofia went on. “It really bothers me that such a nice lad got mixed
up with a bitch like that, but she wasn’t always that way. We actually liked her once upon a time, but she
changed. And she knew he wanted to leave, and she let herself get pregnant.”
“He didn’t believe her at first,” Kendra said. “He didn’t want to, none of us did. He was with you
and so happy. But we saw her now and again, and we knew it was true. Delilah isn’t a very nice person
but she wouldn’t have cheated on him, so it had to be his. It’s all such a mess.”
“And we refuse to let her back in!” Jack added. “We like you better. Now, let’s not talk about all
this depressing stuff and order some breakfast already! I’m eating for THREE here!”
“Right,” Sofia agreed. “Plus, we have to tell Gen all about the wedding.”
“Wedding?” Gen asked, arching an eyebrow.
“Oh, that’s right!” Cate said. “Gen, you’re going to be a bridesmaid!”
On a completely related topic... anyone know any Orlando fic sites that host?
Feedback is always nice.