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Drummer's Salute


by laurapet131

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This story is another sequel to "Battle of the Band Geeks". Definitely read that before you read this, to get acquainted with the characters and all. So, yeah. Enjoy seeing things from Yew's side of the stage!

I yawned and threw a cloud-colored arm over the top of my snare, still managing to strike a perfect beat on every half note. “This is so boring,” I muttered sideways to Renki the fire Draik, who was steadily thudding out a beat on the bass drum.

      “Marches always are,” he grumbled back. I half-smiled and looked out over the band in front of me. We, as the drummers, were on the highest tier of the stage’s risers.

      “All right, that’s enough for today,” Miss Elie, a faerie Ruki, called out, bringing us to a thumping halt. I grinned at Renki, who slammed down his mallet and jumped off the stage with a yell.

      “Woo!” screamed Fiere, an electric Kyrii who had been playing tambourine on the other side of the stage. He sprinted down our riser and imitated Renki’s leap.

      We all laughed and trooped out into the auditorium. I took a seat and leaned back, closing my huge blue eyes and putting my feet. “Yikes, we’d better get more exciting songs soon!” said a familiar voice. I opened my eyes and sat up, verbally agreeing with Cindr the brown Hissi’s comment.

      “Seriously, Candia, it’s no big deal to walk past them!” an exasperated tone burst out. I grinned, knowing exactly who it was. I waved to Juneau, the speckled Cybunny who had saved the whole band at the beginning of the year. The sides of her mouth twitched up in a ghost of a smile before she returned to coaxing her Gelert friend past us.

      “Yew, I think you should see this.” Juneau was standing next to me now. I put my feet down and just looked at her. Though we weren’t back to our pre-band-cancellation feud, we were still at odds. Although I was ready to be friends, it just wasn’t normal for her to be talking to me without sarcasm.

      Juneau put a Neomail into my hand. I smoothed it out on my lap, making it perfectly flat before I attempted to read it.

      “Keep in mind this is addressed to me,” Juneau interrupted. I nodded impatiently, brushing her remark aside.

      Juneau:

     I’m coming back to school. I’ve finally found a forever home, and I persuaded my new owner to let me come back to our school. But be warned, though, I’ve changed a bit.

      Wandol

      “Awesome!” I exclaimed, all smiles.

      “What?” Cindr asked, pressing closer to try and see the paper. Renki and Fiere copied his movement, realized what they were doing, and burst out laughing. It amused us how similar we were sometimes.

      Juneau seemed uneasy about my friends’ raucous laughter. “Wandol’s coming back!” I cut them off by saying.

      They all stopped hooting and grinned. “Sweet!” Renki yelled. “I can’t wait!” Fiere and Cindr exchanged high fives. Even though Wandol had pretty much abandoned us for Juneau and her group, we still thought of him as a drummer. As one of us.

      “He’s changed a bit,” Juneau blurted out. I stopped smiling at my friends and raised an eyebrow at her. Her face colored. “He said so. I mean, what did he change?”

      “It’s been almost a whole year,” I reminded her. “People change, and he’s been away from us the whole time...”

      “But is it for the better or worse?” she asked quietly, biting her lip. For that, I had no answer.

     ***

      The tall Werelupe walked into school with a brooding expression on his face. I would have run and high fived him, but his appearance made me stay where I was.

      Wandol was wearing a bomber jacket that accentuated his hulking stature and a series of stud earrings that ran up his right ear. “I thought only Xweetoks could wear those,” Juneau murmured to me, appearing out of nowhere.

      I was still staring. “Apparently not.”

      The gigantic Lupe spotted us among the crowd and smiled. His sharp incisors seemed more threatening than they had before, paired with the imposing jacket and earrings.

      “Hey, guys.” The throng parted easily for him, and he reached us quickly.

      “Hey, buddy!” I put out my hand for a high five. He regarded it silently for a moment, and then slowly pressed his hand to mine. I frowned.

      “Gotta go.” With that, Juneau took off through the mass of students, hurrying to her next class.

      “Me too.” I didn’t want to spend any more time with this new strange Wandol than I had to. “See ya in band, I guess—it’s still fifth period.” I turned to go and felt a forceful hand on my shoulder. “Ow, dude!” I cried out.

      The hand lost its pressure. “Sorry,” Wandol muttered. “But I’m not coming back to band.”

     ***

      “He what?” Aiwa shrieked. Candia scowled and covered her sensitive orange ears.

      “He’s... not... coming... back... to... band.” I drew out each word, trying to make sense of them myself.

      “Why?” Fiere broke in. He looked devastated. Fiere had always been one of the closest ones to Wandol. It only made sense that he would be the most broken up by this betrayal.

      “I don’t know,” I said, looking down at my lap. I struggled for something else to say, something meaningful, that my friends could retell over and over when we remembered how Wandol came back. But nothing came. “I don’t know.”

     ***

      Lunch. I set my tray down next to the Werelupe’s. “You’re not coming back to band?” I asked quietly, knowing band geeks sat at every table around us, straining to hear what was being said. “I thought you loved it. You came to our first concert this year.”

      “I told Juneau I’d changed.” His words were flat and uncaring. “This is me now. I really don’t care about band... drumming... any of that.” Wandol picked up a fork and stabbed it into his steak.

      I tapped on the table, drumming even in my anxiety. “Listen, Wandol, what happened to you? You used to be one of my best friends, and now I can’t even call this a friendship. Who are you?”

      The Werelupe looked around, left, right, left again. “You know what, Yew?” Wandol hissed. “I wanted to rejoin band. I do like my new look. I haven’t lost my love for band and drumming. But you know? It’s different now. It hurts too much. What if I have to move again?”

      “That won’t happen,” I said with more conviction than I felt. “You’re here to stay. Please, rejoin band...”

      Wandol closed his large green eyes. I looked down at the table, gripping the edge so hard it made my cloudy blue knuckles turn white.

     ***

      “Think you’ll actually be able to stay awake today?” Renki teased me as we climbed the risers. I stood behind a snare drum and twirled my sticks between my fingers.

      “You wish. I’ll be out in five minutes! Wake me up when the period’s over.” I grinned and tapped out a hyper beat on the drum. Renki accompanied me, booming out a thump for every four of my raps. I saw Juneau watching us from the trumpet section and gave her a bright smile. She hesitantly smiled back, but I wasn’t worried. I’d triumph eventually.

      Just as Tiran, a yellow Nimmo, raised his saxophone to play along with us, a giant Werelupe strode into the auditorium. The whole band went dead silent. Juneau’s face was frozen, and Miss Elie even stopped where she was, off to the side of the stage.

      “I’m back,” Wandol called out with a huge smile on his face. He pulled a pair of drum sticks out of his backpack and looped them around his fingers.

      I picked up my sticks and began to quickly click them together. Renki took up the fanfare on bass drum, Fiere rattled his tambourine, and Cindr hit that triangle for all it was worth. A drummer’s salute to one of his own.

      “Wandol!” Juneau, Aiwa, and Candia all cried at the same time. Three instruments went down, and three girls enveloped Wandol in a huge hug. Four more instruments went down—drum sticks, mallet, tambourine, and triangle—and four drummers ran to high five him.

      He beamed down at us all. “Let’s go play.”

      “You won’t like it,” I warned. “It’s a march!”

      Wandol smirked. “Try me.”

      Yes, he was back.

The End

 
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