Musical Nerds - Chapter 31 - R0b0t (2024)

Chapter Text

This is where we’re performing?” Sweet said in disbelief.

In front of the trio lay an incredibly run-down building. A neon sign flickered above the door, spelling out BLOOKY’s PLACE. A few letters in the name refused to light up. The building itself was located on an alley corner. Turned over trash cans and dumpsters lined the street beside it. To Sweet, it seemed too close to the shady part of the inner city. The others didn’t seem to take too much notice.

Cap’n crossed his arms and then rubbed his chin. He hummed and nodded to himself, “I think it looks rad.”

Cakes ducked out of the back of the van just as the two began to quarrel. He stood behind them, silently taking in the view.

It didn’t last long.

Mettaton clapped his hands repeatedly. “Alright, darlings! I hope everyone brought their bad attitudes! Unload everything and get set up. Only two hours until showtime! Time is money!”

Sweet narrowed their eye, “We aren’t getting paid for this event.”

In response, Mettaton waved a dismissive hand in their face. “Technicalities, dear. Now, hurry, can’t keep your adoring fans waiting.”

What fans?” Sweet mumbled.

Mettaton crossed his arms and shook his head at the speaker. They had grown more temperamental recently, and the change did not go unnoticed. Perhaps the most alarming of their changes was their pessimism. The presence of Cap’n and Cakes offered some reprieve, thankfully. However, if left alone, they were cold and distant. Not at all the look the band's keytar player should have.

However, Mettaton didn’t have the time to worry right now. Not when the band was finally performing! Goodness, it was a rush to his sensors to finally be back in the saddle. A decade of being a high school teacher had sapped nearly every ounce of genuine excitement from him. However, this event would skyrocket those long-dormant feelings. Especially with what he had planned...

“I’ll go talk to our host. One of you come get me when you’re done unloading.” With that, he left and disappeared into the gloomy-looking building.

Sweet huffed, “I thought the manager would help with stuff like this.” They would've stayed with their parents tonight if they had wanted another adult to boss them around.

Cap’n nudged his side. “Dude, lighten up. We’re here! We’re performing! Aren’t you happy?”

“I am,” Sweet emphasized. “I’m just… nervous, I guess.” He hugged the box of equipment to his chest. “I just want us to do well.” They placed the box on the ground and wiped the condensation from their rim. “(And for my parents to not find out),” they thought. But, of course, he understood they had eyes and metaphorical ears everywhere. Somehow, they would find out about tonight. Sweet just hoped he could hold on to the feeling of freedom a little longer.

Cakes leaned an elbow on Sweet’s head. “We’re going to sound so good! Just you see, Sweetie! We’re going to make the most terrific sound!”

Its enthusiasm makes Sweet chuff. “Whatever you say, K_K.”

They positioned their headphones more firmly on their head. Music played through one side, while the other was left silent so he could hear those around him. The cassette that played was the same one Cakes had gifted them months prior. He pressed the play button on the Walkman attached to his side.

Attitude
You got some f*cking attitude
I can’t believe what you say to me
You got some attitude

“(So, what)?” Sweet thought. “(Maybe I deserve to have an attitude)!”

Inside your feeble brain
There’s probably a whor*
If you don’t shut your mouth
You’re gonna feel the floor

Sweet felt the need to dance, tap his foot, jump, yell, scream, and move. Music always did this to him. It took over his servos, controlling nearly every wire and gear in his body. The bubbling frustration began to release the more they imagined themself on the stage.

When the three walked in, they found Mettaton standing by the front desk with a sad-looking ghost. The ghost looked up, tears dripping down their face. At first, Sweet worried about if something had happened between their new manager and the host. But when the ghost smiled softly, the worry melted away.

The ghost drifted toward them, each movement slow and low-spirited. “Ooh… the band… Thanks for coming… so soon.” Their tone of voice betrayed the genuine appreciation they felt.

“This is my cousin, Blooky!” Mettaton beamed. “They own this fine establishment.” His chest puffed with pride.

“You can call me Napstablook…” they added timidly. “And it’s not much. Just a small DJ club…”

They looked around the nearly barren dance floor. Only two people stood in the corner chatting. The rest of the establishment was relatively the same. Only two tables had customers sitting and awaiting their orders.

The interior was covered in neon, a synthwave theme. The stage had a backdrop of a city landscape with green lights stretching across its sky. The dance floor slowly pulsed with different colors. Most of the tables were tall and had three bar stools to it. Despite how much space was in the building, without any patrons inside it seemed as dull as the host.

Napstablook’s eyes looked like ghostly tears were beginning to form again. “The audience will start to fill in soon.” A look of sorrow swept across their features, “I hope.”

“Oh, Blooky…” Mettaton wrapped an arm around his cousin. “People will come, trust me! You did what I said, right?”

Napstablook nodded, “I hung flyers… Though, I don’t know how effective the emails are going to be… Especially since I spammed random accounts…”

“Pssh,” Mettaton waved off the notion. “Ignore that, Blooky! Be more confident in the band and their talent!” He gestured to the three, “Go on, introduce yourselves!”

Sweet stepped forward, offering their hand. “My name is Sweet Heart. I’m the keytar player and second lead vocalist.”

Cap’n leaned against Sweet’s side, making them lose balance momentarily. “Name’s Cap’n. I’m the lead vocalist,” he ran a hand through his nonexistent hair.

“And I’m Cakes!” two hands landed on the duo’s shoulders. “I play drums!”

Napstablook floated aimlessly between the three. “It’s nice to meet you… I wish we could talk more, but… Ooh noo… you should start getting ready… I’ll help get you set up, I guess.”

The three followed their host to the stage. Multi-colored lights were already on and pulsing to the beat of the current recorded song playing.

“While you guys play, I’ll be in the DJ booth,” Napstablook explained. “Mettaton gave me some pre-recorded backing tracks to play… but I’ll improvise, too…”

It didn’t take long for the trio to get their instruments on stage. With Napstablook’s help, it went by quicker than expected.

The tapping of a pen against a clipboard signaled Mettaton’s presence. “Let’s go through the checklist, darlings. Has the microphone been tested?”

“Check!” Cap’n tapped the two mics.
“Speaker cable?”
Sweet held up the cable, “Check.”
“Songlist?”
Cakes held up a stack of papers, “Check!”

“Flanger? Phase? Pedals and effects?”

The trio replied, “Uhm…”
“I think?” Cakes scratched its head.

Mettaton clicked the pen closed, “Good enough! You two,” he pointed at Sweet and Cap’n. “Keep your voices rested and warm up before you go on stage.”

So far, everything was looking up for the band. The stage was set and they could finally see some of the audience start to crowd in.

Kris, Susie, Noelle, and Berdly arrived. Even Jockington, the most popular freshman came in with his best friend Catti. After a few more minutes, Asriel arrived with new faces from the junior and sophom*ore classes.

Cap’n grimaced, “Why’s everyone from school here?”

“Oh…” Napstablook floated beside him. “My cousin and I don’t know many people… we only sent invites to all the school email accounts… Well, anyway, good luck on stage… I’ll give you guys a few more minutes…”

Mettaton quickly added, “Don’t forget the stage makeup! And look more rebellious on stage!”

After the trio quickly added a few glow-in-the-dark designs to their casing, they began the final check. The final check was going well and only stopped when Cakes caught sight of someone they didn’t expect to see.

“Miss Alphys!”

The teacher jumped at her name being shouted. The three jumped down from the stage, immediately crowding her.

“Oh! M- My goodness!” Alphys blushed. “I- I had no idea y-you three were performing.”

Sweet tilted their head, “What are you doing here?”

They didn’t intend for it to sound rude, though it came out that way. Seeing the school’s most reclusive teacher out and about was shocking. Especially at a place like this!

“W- Well…” Alphys shuffled her feet nervously. “I- I was in the area…” Her eyes shifted between the trio’s faces and the floor.

Cap’n’s eyebrows pinched together, something was up. Judging by his band partner’s expressions, they picked up on the uneasiness, too. Thankfully, they didn’t have to wait long to find out why their teacher was so perturbed.

A familiar shout was heard from across the dance floor. “Hey, Alphys! I got us some drinks, hope you like what I picked.” Undyne appeared at Alphys’ side, wearing a stylish leather jacket, her red hair pulled back in a ponytail, and bright red lipstick. “I got the drinks with the most badass names! The Trash Compactor and the Wrecked Blue Motorcycle!”

The three shared a knowing glance at each other as Alphys shrunk into herself.

“Oh, hey!” Undyne finally noticed the trio. “What are you three doing? Did you get that email from Mettaton, too?”

Cap’n repositioned his glasses, “We’re actually performing, Coach Undyne.”

Undyne’s mouth dropped. “Woah! You three are performing? Cool!” She draped an arm around Alphys’ shoulder, making her associate flush. “I guess that’s why you had to cut back on sports, huh, Star Player?”

Cakes nodded proudly.

As the conversation quickly turned into the topic of sports and what Cakes’ plans were, Sweet’s attention shifted. The dance floor began to light up, pulsing various colored lights beneath their feet. Sweet stared at the LEDs, barely blinking.

Red
Orange
Yellow
Green
Blue
Purple

Six colors, the rainbow colors. Repeating over and over, flashing across their face. They looked across at their partners as the colors lit up under them. They looked dazzling. The way Cap’n stood with arms crossed, relaxed confidence radiating off him. Cakes smiled and laughed at something, Sweet wasn’t listening.

They both were so gorgeous.
Why did they have to be so pretty?

Then a horribly, drab tainted splotch tore Sweet’s eye from them. The door opened and into the dining part of the restaurant stepped Spamton. All the feelings of adoration were immediately squashed. His mere presence was a stain on the otherwise perfect scene Sweet had just witnessed.

Their feet moved before their brain could turn back on. They took large steps, cutting through dancers and other customers to reach him.

“You’ve got a lot of nerve coming here!” Sweet poked his chest. “After the stuff you pulled on us- on Cakes!”

“I got an invite, thank you.” Spamton guffawed, “And I can go wherever I want! Besides,” he straightened the red jacket’s collar. “I’m here for the journalism club. Queen wanted some pictures of tonight.”

Sweet narrowed their eye, “Well then, why doesn’t she come get them herself?”

“She has better things to do than spend all her time around you three wannabes!” He sniffed and raised his nose.

“What’s that make you then?”

Spamton stammered, his face colored in embarrassment. “I- I’ll have you know- !”

Sweet stepped forward, “I don’t care what you have to say. You don’t mess with Cakes ever again.” They jabbed a finger in his chest. Spamton took a step back, but Sweet kept closing the distance. “Ever again, you understand?”

“Geez! Yes, fine! Lay off!”

Sweet’s shoulders tensed before relaxing. The hate in his eye melted into merely anger and frustration. With that, they turned away without another word and headed back to the stage. Their chest beat loudly, releasing so much pent-up emotion all at once was exhilarating. It felt amazing. It felt like a weight had been taken off not just their shoulders, but their entire body.

Their partners arrived at their side; heads tilted quizzically at the same angle. Cakes said their name, voice full of concern.

“You just ran off; what’s wrong?” Cap’n reached for their hand.

The speaker ignored the gesture, entirely. “It’s nothing,” they said dismissively. “C’mon, let’s get this thing started already. It’s time to play.”

Sweet took their place at the front left side of the stage while Cap’n took position on the right, directly across from them. The intensity in Sweet’s eye gave off the perfect vibe for the show. No one in the crowd knew just how real the emotion was. Cakes’ drums were on a platform in the center-back of the stage.

They had three songs to play before Napstablook would take over for two hours. Then the trio would do a final song before the place closed.

“(Three songs),” Sweet thought. “(We can do this; we can do this…)”

From the DJ booth, Napstablook tapped the mic. “Hello, everyone… Oh, there’s so many new faces…” They sounded a bit nervous. “Thanks for coming. Tonight, we have a new band on stage… Sweet Cap’n Cakes… Oh, excuse me,” they cleared their throat. “THE Sweet Cap’n Cakes,” they corrected.

“Vocals… Sweet Heart and Cap’n Strait.”
The two stepped forward and waved to the crowd, a few hands waved back as others cheered. One face in the shadows, closest to the exit scowled.

“On the keytar, we have Sweet Heart.”
Sweet played a short, simple riff. The sound sent waves of energy through the crowd.

“And on drums, we have… Cakes Baker.”
Cakes played a classic rock fill as his introduction.

“Everyone… give it up for The Sweet Cap’n Cakes…”

The first song that played was an instrumental piece led by Sweet and Cakes. While they played, Cap’n moved to the side with Mettaton. He watched intently as his bandmates played, chest swelling with pride, unaware of the smile that grew across his face.

Sweet looked so comfortable in the center of the stage. They moved freely, dancing and bobbing their head to the noise. At one point during the song, Sweet made it to the platform Cakes was on and played beside it. The two leaned into each other, each wrapped in the chest-thumping, mind-rapturing experience.

Condensation was already building up along their faces.

Cakes beat the drums with such joy on his face. It was just pure fun to perform alongside his partners. It had never thought that it could do something like this. For so long, its life had been dedicated to sports, something it could never find this joy in. Even its victories left nothing but a faint sense of accomplishment. But this, oh this, was magic.

It was certainly different from the feeling of performing at school musicals.

A different type of fun.
A better type of fun.

As the first song ended, Sweet jumped off the platform, elongating the last notes as they landed.

The speaker’s eye remained closed as they heard cheering overwhelm the music. This stage was nothing like the ones he had performed on before. To compare this feeling to the one when he played the violin at his parent's parties was laughable.

There were no rules here, no stress as they stood center stage. The crowd was boisterous and they moved to the music with him.

He could never return to performing in front of a quiet, polite crowd who only snapped their fingers to cheer. Not after this. This feeling was overwhelming; it was addicting, it was something they never wanted to let go of.

Mettaton ushered Cap’n on stage and the boombox scrambled to his place. He shakily took the microphone in his hands- only fumbling it once before catching it.

“(Be confident, be confident, be confident),” he told himself. He cleared his throat and looked out at the crowd. A singular ‘whoop’ of encouragement came out of the mass of figures on the dance floor.

He could feel his gears turning faster and faster. His mouth felt dry as he licked his lips.

This was different than the talent show.

This felt bigger.

This was a gig, the start of what he hoped would be something that carried the band forward. This wasn’t just fun, this was supposed to be him making a stance, showing others how cool he is. Above all, showing himself how cool he is.

He took in a deep breath and exhaled. He plastered a smirk on his lips and brought the mic to his mouth. “Hey, hey, everybody!” he announced. “I hope you guys liked that first song, we’ve got two more songs for you guys and then we’ll leave it to the DJ up there,” he waved to Napstablook. “Just wanted to say thanks for comin’ out and we hope you enjoy the show!” From the corner of his eye, he saw Mettaton waving something. A small, circular pin and a t-shirt with a flimsy design ironed on it. “Oh, and uh… We got some merch, so stop by the table after the show!”

He thumbed up at the DJ and the next song began.

The backing track for Yoko Oginome’s “Dance Hero (Eat You Up)” began to play.

While Cap’n’s French was absolutely atrocious, though getting marginally better, the weeks spent learning this one singular song had him singing the language beautifully. His time reading manga and watching anime had paid off slightly. He felt oddly proud of all the times he sat in front of the television and tried to self-teach himself the language.

Perhaps he should try that with French.

Do you wanna dance tonight
ロマンティックを さらって (Rehearse your romantic gestures)
Do you wanna hold me tight
ちょっときどった シンデレラ・ボーイ (You’re trying a little too hard to be cool, Cinderella Boy)
Do you wanna dance tonight
銀のシューズで 踊って (Dance with silver shoes on,)
Do you wanna hold me tight

The crowd loved it. They loved it far more than he had thought they would. To know others appreciated the language and song made his SOUL feel like it was soaring. And that feeling continued well past the time the song had finished.

The third song started immediately after, “Together in Electric Dreams” by Phil Oakey and Giorgio Moroder.

Cap’n and Sweet sang together, their voices harmonizing as they leaned against each other and briefly met each other’s gazes.

They had done it. They were standing above a small, but albeit enthused crowd, and for the first time, the two truly felt a sense of peace and pride.

All the years of torture and ridicule, and they were the ones standing on a stage. They were the ones smiling and dancing. They were the ones who were the happiest.

Neither were sure if they could say they had ‘won’ the battlefield that was High School. But tonight, they were winners.

As the song faded out, the crowd gave a final applause for the trio.

Overcome with adrenaline, Cakes banged out an outro as Napstablook floated to center stage. The trio waved and smiled at the adoring crowd.

“Stay around for closing if you want to hear their last song…” Napstablook added before they left.

“OH YES!” Mettaton screamed as he wrapped the trio in a big embrace. “You darlings did wonderfully, wonderfully! Dazzling, just as I knew you would be!” He dropped them from the hug. Sweet and Cap’n fell back into Cakes’ legs for stability.

Napstablook appeared next, phasing through the wall beside them. “Good job… Your music wasn’t what I thought… I expected a sound like ‘angry garage band’, but this was fun, too…”

“That felt amazing!” Sweet could hardly contain their energy. “I’m so pumped!” If anyone needed convincing, they merely needed to look at the speaker. They jumped in place and pumped their fists in the air energetically.

Suddenly, they stilled completely. Their pupil all but a tiny dot in their eye. “I need to hit something.”

Mettaton grimaced, “How about an age-appropriate beverage instead?” he offered. “You three go schmooze with the crowd and build up your reputation! Maybe get a groupie or two! Go, go! Enjoy your night, darlings!”

The trio were promptly shoved away as Mettaton joined his cousin’s side on stage. Their manager took the mic and ripped his outer layer of clothing off to reveal the dazzling, glittering piece beneath.

He began to dance.

Sweet narrowed their eye. “Are we getting shown up by our own manager?” They didn’t notice the smiles their partners shared before giggling to themselves.

Cap’n grabbed their elbow, “C’mon, dude. It’s our night! Let’s go dance!”

Sweet was spun around to the dance floor and led by their partners to the center. As the music played it reverberated through their chassis. The floor lights reacted to their steps, timing perfectly with the song’s beat. At times, Cakes would swing the shorter pair around, their feet leaving the ground before landing with a brilliant display beneath them.

At one point during the night, when the trio were getting drinks, they were stopped by a small attendee.

“Uhm, excuse me… Excuse me!”

The three swiveled on their stools toward the voice. A small, young-looking plugboy stood timidly below them.

“Uhm… I- I’m a huge fan!” the plugboy screamed. “When you guys went on stage even after Queen banned you… Oh, man! That was so cool!” He jumped excitedly. “You guys are so, so… so cool and awesome! I want to be like you guys when I’m a senior!”

Cap’n blinked, “Like… us?”

“Yes!” the plugboy exclaimed. “I just wanted to say… Your music makes us little guys feel so much bigger! Next time you guys have a rebellion, count me in!”

Awestruck, Cap’n and Sweet couldn’t do much more than stare. Luckily, Cakes smiled big and shook the fan’s hand. “Thank you~ Have a button~” He placed a button with the letters SCC in the center surrounded by musical notes in the plugboy’s hand.

The look of unbridled awe washed over the fan’s face as their mouth hung open and a squeal escaped. “I’ll wear this forever and ever! Thank you! Oh, man, my friends are going to be so jealous!”

Then, the plugboy ran off, waving the button in the air as they disappeared into the crowd.

Cap’n shook himself free of his stupor. “K_K! We’re supposed to be selling those pins. We can’t just give ‘em out for free!”

Cakes blinked before an innocent smile played its way onto their face. “Oops~”

As Cap’n groaned and began lecturing his bandmate, Cakes’ eyes fell upon the distant wall near the entrance. A few loner party-goers stuck to the wall, sipping their drinks, and watching the crowd around them. One particular character caught its eye, a fish-like being with an orange beanie. It was barely seen in the corner, nearly blending in with the shadows aside from the long, bright orangey-red hair draping over its shoulders. The prosthetic arms it sported glistened in the lights.

It seemed completely at ease being in the corner, away from most of the noise. It sipped on a drink, gently nodding its head along to the music.

Sadly, it didn’t see the incoming collision.

Two familiar silhouettes bumped into the fish-being just as it had raised its cup. The contents spilled all over its shirt and pants.

The being stared silently at the duo; an aura of intensity penetrated the air. The surrounding onlookers watched with bated breath, waiting to see what its response would be.

From Cakes’ position, it couldn’t hear the dialogue the three party-goers shared, but thankfully it seemed nothing violent would follow. The two silhouettes hurriedly walked away just as two other fish-beings appeared at the other’s side.

As the duo left, the outside lights caught their faces.

Cakes knew them. He practically fell out of his chair in his hurried attempt to stand up. He blinked wildly before beginning to follow them.

“K_K?” Sweet grabbed his wrist. “Where are you going?”

Cakes stared out the door then back at Sweet. For the first time that night, Sweet seemed at ease and happy. The music, drinks, and friends had finally calmed down whatever anger they had. Cakes couldn’t ruin their fun with the truth.

He clasped their hands together and offered a reassuring smile. “I’ll be right back, just need a break from the noise, okay?”

“We can go with you,” Cap’n offered. He was already sliding out of his seat.

“No, no~ It’s okay,” Cakes shook its head. “I’ll be right back, I promise.”

Before its partners could say more, it started for the door. It slunk past the wallflowers, excusing itself when it had to step over some of the much smaller attendees.

It pushed open the door and was promptly met with the night air. The nearby dumpsters and trash cans ruined what would have been a good moment to take a deep breath. Especially seeing as Cakes’ optics landed on the duo from inside.

“Gadget, Gizmo!”

The streetlamp trapped the two just before they could turn the distant corner. With stiffened shoulders the two turned, guilt thoroughly enmired on their faces. Gadget straightened her posture as Gizmo hid behind her.

The three stared and could only take in the sight of the other. The light above Cakes trapped him where he stood, a river of shadow separated him from the streetlamp’s light held his ex-friends.

Cakes finally found its voice. “What… What are you doing here?”

Gadget shifted uncomfortably, “We saw… a flyer.”
“Trink’s not coming,” Gizmo added quickly. “It… uhm, it…”
“It took things too far,” Gadget finished.

Silence filled the street.

Gadget sighed and hung her head. She took a step forward, “Look-” Cakes straightened, standing at his full height, but his face remained unreadable. She retreated, “We’re sorry for everything. Trink just… you know how it can be, right?”

Something about what she was saying felt wrong. It felt twisted and perverse.

“We were just following what it told us to do. You know better than anyone what that’s like.” Gadget tilted her head, “What’s with that look on your face?”

Cakes blinked rapidly before raising a hand to feel its face. A horrified frown tugged at its lips and wide, wet eyes blurred its vision. In a swift movement, it wiped the tears away and put on as straight a face as it could.

“Sorry, it’s just a lot to hear,” they admitted. “I get what you mean…”

Gizmo peeked out from behind Gadget’s shoulder. “But…?” he asked.

“But if you knew it was wrong why’d you continue? You guys followed me to the championship, you guys threatened me.” He raised a hand to his throat, the phantom feeling of a chain hung where his fingertips touched. The scar on his cheek was now a permanent mark from that day.

“And we’re sorry,” Gadget defended.
“Trink made us,” Gizmo added.

Cakes’ expression hardened, “No one can make you be mean. Especially after you find out what you’re doing is bad and you keep doing it.”

“We were just as scared of Trink as you were!” Gadget huffed. “You don’t know what it was like after you left…” She curled her arms around herself in a comforting fashion. “Trink was really hurt when you left. You were all it ever talked about, thought about… It didn’t care about us at all. Just you. Finding you and making you feel as bad as it did. It was scary.”

Gizmo hugged his friend from behind, “Seeing that sorta obsession was like… I didn’t even recognize it sometimes. It would yell at its grandma; kick and punch walls. It picked fights with anyone who it thought looked at it wrong. It had detention like-”

Every week,” Gadget finished.

“Yeah! You leaving really set it off on like, a downward spiral. But look at you! You’re doing great now.”

Cakes’ optics flashed between the two, hardly believing the words they were saying. At one time, he wouldn’t have picked up the subtle deflection they were spouting. To say that his leaving was the cause of Trink’s behavior was simply wrong. Trink had been upset all its life and maybe his transfer was what caused it to snap, but he was not the cause.

“So…” Gadget stepped to the edge of the light, “friends?” She offered her hand in the shadow.

Cakes looked at her hand for a long moment before it smiled and took her hands in theirs. They clasped her hand tightly.

“No~ ”

“H- Huh?! But…”
“Nope~ ”
“But what about- ?”
“Nah.”

Gadget and Gizmo stared into Cakes’ upward-curved pixelated eyes.

“You… really mean it?”
“Yep~”

The two Werewires shared a concerned and confused look.

“Well… okay, Cakes. I guess… we’ll see you when we see you, then.”
“Yep! Buh-bye~ !” it waved cheerfully as they disappeared.

It placed its hands on its hips. “(That was a good conversation),” Cakes smiled to itself proudly. Closure had never felt so refreshing!

It took in a deep breath before being met with the most bitterly disgusting taste in its mouth. “BLegh! Forgot about the trash…” As it tried to spit the taste out of its mouth, a new sound caught its attention.

A sad, quiet whimper escaped from inside a dumpster.

Cautiously, Cakes approached and lifted the top. His head tilted, “Spamton?”

The puppet’s head jerked upward; lips turned back into a sneer. “Oh, great. It’s you.” His head dropped back to his knees. “Just leave me here to rot.”

The CD player inched forward before hesitating. It looked back at the door leading toward the music and back at its peer.

A moment later, its hand was waving in Spamton’s face. “You should get out of there. You’ll stink.”

With a grumble, Spamton took his hand and was yanked out.

“HEY, HEY! Drop me, you green bafoon!”
“Okay~”

Spamton landed on the ground with a thud. “Ow! I meant gently, gently!” He stood quickly and shoved a finger at Cakes’ chest. “You’re just… You’re so… so… AUGH!” He turned and hit the dumpster, only to crumble at the impact.

Cakes stared quizzically.

“Do you… need help?”

“Help?” Spamton scoffed. “Geez, I get it, okay?! You’re so, so, so likable! Even I’m falling for it now!” He slid down the side of the dumpster in a huff.

Cakes joined his side. “Why’d you come? You’re not exactly… our biggest fan.”

“I came because… because I don’t know! Maybe because… I wanted to see you guys fail. To fall and crumble in front of everyone, the look of utter humiliation on your faces as your dreams shatter before your very eyes-” A maniacal laugh followed that made a mad look in his eyes before he abruptly stopped.

“Sorry.”

He sniffled and wiped his nose with his sleeve.

Cakes rolled the drumsticks in their hand as they listened to Spamton’s admission. “You really hated me, huh?”

Spamton nodded, “You got everything I ever wanted. Popularity, fame, recognition… I did all I could to just have a sliver of that. And for what? Now no one will even look at me. No one knows who I am, no one cares…”

Perhaps it was Cakes’ newfound freedom, or maybe it was the pathetic state his peer was in. Regardless, he offered a symbolism of mercy. “I’ll talk to Queen. But I can’t make any promises, okay? You… used her, you used King, too. And just because you regret it doesn’t mean you didn’t hurt them.”

Spamton hung his head and rested his head in his hands. “Why are you so… forgiving? I tried to ruin you. Those rumors… even now, they’ll never go away forever.”

Cakes hummed and tapped an innocent finger against his cheek. “Well… I never said I forgive you. I just don’t hate you.” He squatted beside Spamton and touched his shoulder as a faux smile appeared. “Besides, it’s okay to be a nobody, ya know?”

A shadow crossed over his face as his smile stretched thin. It brought a small chill down Spamton’s spine.

“Okay, good talk~ !” He patted the lil’ guy’s hair. “You should come back in for the last song, by the way,” he suggested. “We really worked hard on this one.”

Sweet tapped their fingers against the table impatiently. The merch table was nowhere near the front door and the party-goers blocked their view of the entrance. The anxiety in their chest made focusing on sales impossible. Luckily, Cap’n seemed more than capable of manning the merch table essentially solo.

“Dude, chill out,” Cap’n yawned. “Cakes is fine, he just needed to take a step outside.”

“He’s been gone forever,” Sweet retorted.

Cap’n leaned back in his chair and glanced at the giant neon sign on the wall. “Twenty minutes?”

Sweet crossed their arms. “I just don’t want them to miss the last song,” they half-lied. Truthfully, the speaker was more concerned because the shady figure of Spamton was missing. They still didn’t trust that guy, and probably never would.

The distrust sewed into Sweet’s SOUL by years of bullying and repression was tight. It provided the perfect space for all new emotions to fester and bubble until eventually, it would snap. It was inevitable.

“Sweet-Pea-”
“Don’t call me that.”
“Sweetness?”
“Absolutely not.”

Cap’n tapped his chin in thought then snapped his fingers. “Babe!”

“No!” Sweet flushed.

Cap’n groaned and rolled his eyes as he kicked his feet up on the table. “K_K lets me call’em Hot Cakes, but you gotta be all picky.”

“I am not picky! I’m just…”

Cap’n raised an eyebrow and smirked when they didn’t continue. “It’s alright, Sweet. I know it’s a lot datin’ a guy like me.”

The speaker rolled their eye. “When did you become so confident?”

Cap’n blushed, “Ah, I don’t know! Guess I always had it in me… heh. Why? Do you… like it?”

Sweet smiled as he saw the way Cap’n lit up. It seemed that he truly had grown. He and Cakes both had changed over the school year. Cap’n’s confidence was only continuing to grow, his faith and love for himself were blossoming in ways that inspired the speaker. Cakes had finally come face-to-face with its past and found closure. They were growing and changing for the better…

And yet, all Sweet could feel was burning resentment.

“(I’m changing… but not like them, am I)?” they asked themselves.

The dull look in their eye faded quickly as they recalled Cap’n had asked them a question. “What’s it matter if I like it?” Sweet narrowed their eye. “I thought you were finished worrying about stuff like that.”

Cap’n merely smiled and waved at the girls who passed by. “I am,” he retorted. “It’s just a good tactic to use for sales.” He winked and finger-gunned at more passersby.

Sweet rolled his eye and rested his head in his hand. His eye unconsciously scanned the crowd until they finally landed on a tall, green robot. He waved an arm until their eyes finally met and it began to make its way over to them.

He exhaled.

“K_K! What took so long?”
“I just needed to settle some things, no worries~”

Before the conversation could continue, they were caught in the center of a spotlight.

“Everyone,” Napstablook announced. “Thank you for coming tonight… Our final performance tonight is coming up… Give it up one more time for… The Sweet Cap’n Cakes.”

The crowd dispersed to form a line leading to the stage. As claps and cheers walked them down the aisle, the stage became like an altar.

They quickly found their positions, and began to play…

Musical Nerds - Chapter 31 - R0b0t (2024)

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