“Dammit, he’s cute,” Mike Joyce muttered under his breath, staring intently at a group of his friends across the hallway who were talking to one of their teachers.
“Who, Morrissey?” Andy Rourke asked, alarmed.
“What? No, gross! I meant Mr. Costello,” Mike told him, frowning.
“Mr. Costello? That’s gross, Mike.” Mike ignored him, going back to gazing adoringly at the teacher. “No. Mike. Stop looking at your teacher’s butt. You’re gross, Mike. Gross.”
“Shut up,” Mike tossed the back of his hand against Andy’s arm, “I always have to sit there while you’re staring at Lorna.”
“What do you mean?” Andy sputtered, ears reddening, “I don’t- I mean...”
“Come on, everyone knows you’ve got a crush on her. You want to have her weird little bleach-blond bass babies.”
The bell rang, signaling the end of passing period, and both boys grabbed their bags, heading to class. Mike walked into his drumming class with Professor Moon, and sat down. Around him his classmates sat tapping their fingers on the edges of their desks, which were all built to create an echoing drum beat when hit. Across the room, Don was passing a note to Belinda along with a wink, both of which she pretended not to notice.
After a lecture on rhythm, shouted over the sound of a loud metronome, class was dismissed. Because it was his last class of the day, Mike was free to do as he pleased until dinner time. He wandered through the packed halls, stopping to talk to Johnny Marr beside the boy’s locker.
“So you know that new kid, Darby?” Johnny practically spat the name, his face souring.
“Yeah?” Mike asked, not paying attention as he noticed Mr. Costello coming around the corner at the end of the hall.
“Well, apparently he’s in my Arts and Crafts class and he’s so annoying! The whole time he kept saying all of these awful-”
“Sorry, got to go, Johnny, but I’ll see you later and we can talk about your crush or whatever you were talking about!” Mike said quickly, half-jogging away to meet the teacher.
“I wasn’t- I don’t have a crush!” Johnny shouted indignantly after him, muttering when he saw that Mike wasn’t listening.
“Mr. Costello!” Mike greeted, slowing to walk beside him.
“Hello, Mike,” he replied, smiling warmly. He readjusted the thick, black framed glasses on his nose, “Can I help you with anything?”
“Oh, uh, no- er, yes, but- I was just wondering, um, if you were going to be, uh, chaperoning the dance at the end of the month?”
“I didn’t know they needed chaperones,” he told him, “If they do I would be happy to-”
“Oh, I don’t know, I was just wondering,” Mike said, blushing.
“Well, I’ll drop by the party planning classroom later just to check,” Mr. Costello smiled, “Isn’t Captain Sensible the head of planning this year?”
“Yeah, I think so,” Mike agreed. He was already worried that Sensible would decorate the dance with giant rabbits or toy trains or something, ruining the romantic atmosphere he would need to woo Mr. Costello.
“Well, either way I’m sure they’d be happy for another chaperone. Most of the teachers are tired of going to the dances, but I’ve only been here a couple of years, you know, and before that I was at the dances as a student.”
Mike nodded, remembering when he was a freshman, sneaking behind the band practice room to listen to Elvis Costello and his friends. They were getting ready to play at their own dance, which freshmen weren’t allowed at.
The night of the last dance of the year, he had opened the window in his dorm, straining to hear the beat of the music. Morrissey, who had been his roommate before Andy and Johnny got to the school and they had all switched, kept growling at him to go to bed, but he refused, leaning out the window and cursing that their room was on the opposite side from the gym.
“If you really want to hear it so badly just go over there,” Morrissey had grumbled into his pillow.
“But we’re not allowed to go,” Mike told him.
“So? Haven’t you noticed that there are essentially no rules at this school? As long as you don’t do heroin on a school night and go to a couple of classes, you’re good.”
“Fine,” Mike muttered, pulling on his shoes and his leather jacket. There was a very latter-like trellis that climbed up the outer walls of each dorm that would be very useful for sneaking out and, Mike realized, was likely constructed for that very purpose.
He scaled down the wall, looking nervously around for any teachers once he was on the ground. Mike followed the sound of Elvis’ music until he was standing just to the side of the gym, standing in the shadows in case someone walked out.
When the song ended, he heard Elvis’ voice over the speaker, announcing that the next song would be their last for the night. Mike had gotten there just in time. He closed his eyes, swaying to the music and tapping his fingers against his leg. Chancing being seen to hear better, he edged closer to the doors of the gym, bobbing his head to the beat. Soon he was hopping from foot to foot and kicking about to the music. Mike usually never danced, but alone in the dark he let the sound wash over him as he twirled under the moonlight.
As their set came to a close, Mike glanced at his watch, seeing that it was nearly midnight. He slid to the ground tiredly, leaning against the wall of the gym, his cheeks flushed. He closed his eyes, listening to the sounds of the next band setting up.
“How were we?” came a voice from above him.
Mike’s eyes shot open, his body tensing as he looked up at Elvis Costello, leaning against the doorway to the gym.
“W-what?” he stuttered, sitting up straighter as Elvis sat beside him.
“You were listening, right?” Mike nodded slowly. “What did you think?”
“You were amazing!” Mike told him, “Uh, you were all amazing.”
“Did you come to hear all of the bands or where we the main attraction?”
“Um, I-” Mike began, his ears reddening.
“Come on, the next band is supposed to be good. My friend Pete is in it.” Elvis stood, offering his hand to the younger boy.
“I’m a freshman- I’m not supposed to go to the dance,” Mike said, frowning.
“You’re allowed to go if you’re going with an upperclassman. If anyone asks I’ll just say you’re my date,” Elvis grinned, pulling Mike up to stand. Mike smiled, bemused, and followed the other boy into the gym.
After that night Mike saw Elvis in the halls from time-to-time, and the other boy always sent him a smile, but he never got a chance to talk to him again before graduation. Elvis returned to the school, but as Mr. Costello, and Mike was always nervous talking to him.
“Who are you taking to the dance?” Mr. Costello asked him lightly, jarring him back to the present.
“Oh, uh, I don’t have a date,” Mike told him, “I was planning to just go alone.”
“I had planned to go alone to my dance, too,” Elvis told him, grinning.
“Mike!” Andy called, running past and tugging on the strap of Mike’s backpack. “C’mon, everyone’s meeting in Moz and Johnny’s room.”
“Okay, just a second,” Mike turned back to the teacher, “Bye, Mr. Costello.”
“See you later, Mike,” he smiled, raising his hand as he walked around the corner.
“Stop looking at his butt, Mike!” Andy berated, smacking his arm and starting towards the dorms.
“I wasn’t!” Mike insisted, blushing.
“You’re gross, Mike. Gross.”
-Mike Joyce (The Smiths)
-Andy Rourke (The Smiths)
-Elvis Costello (Elvis Costello and the Attractions)
-Morrissey (The Smiths)
-Lorna Doom (The Germs)
-Keith Moon (The Who)
-Don Bolles (The Germs)
-Belinda Carlisle (The Go-Go's)
-Johnny Marr (The Smiths)
-Darby Crash (The Germs)
-Captain Sensible (The Damned)
-Pete Shelley (The Buzzcocks)
“Are you two almost ready?” Andy shouted through the door of Morrissey and Johnny’s room, banging on the door. He and Mike had been waiting outside for what felt like forever.
Johnny pulled the door open, sticking his head out into the hallway.
“You two go ahead, we’ll meet you there. Mozzer is still trying to fix his hair,” Johnny told them before pulling the door closed again.
“I bet they’re making out in there,” Andy grumbled, starting down the stairs.
“One can only hope,” Mike agreed, “It’s not like they haven’t been staring at each other since the first day of school.”
When they got to the bottom of the steps they saw a blond head walking just ahead of them. When it turned, they saw Ian McCulloch standing in a wig and lipstick, clad in trousers and a button-down.
“What’s with the wig, Mac?” Andy asked.
“Dunno, got bored,” he replied, smoothing a hand over the blond strands.
“Good a reason as any,” Andy told him as they walked together towards the gym. They stepped through the doors and saw brightly colored lights and streamers, balloons covering the floor and ceiling. The Ramone brothers stood back on the stage as Captain Sensible walked up to the mic, his bright pink furry pants glinting under the lights.
“Alright lads and ladies, ready for a hip tune?” he grinned, “Up next we have the Ramones!”
Everyone clapped as Joey, the singer, took the mic. Once they started playing the students started to sway, a few grabbing their dates to dance. Andy immediately made for the corner where Lorna was standing, waiting. Mike trailed behind and leaned against the wall a few yards away. Lorna held up a double necked bass that had been leaning beside her and Andy grinned. They started playing it together and soon they were kissing, still playing with the same skill as before. Mike wasn’t sure whether to be grossed out or impressed.
“I’m not sure if I should kick them out of the dance or applaud their playing,” came a voice next to him. Mike turned to see Mr. Costello standing beside him, grinning.
“I was just wondering the same thing,” Mike agreed.
“Were you planning to kick them out as well?” Elvis teased.
“No, I just meant...” Mike trailed off, his cheeks hot.
“How are you liking the dance?” Elvis asked, looking around.
“It’s okay. Sensible didn’t put too many weird things and it’s almost like a birthday party to me,” Mr. Costello gave him a questioning look. “I just turned eighteen. You know... Legal.”
Shit, did I really just say that?? Mike chided in his head, Oh god, he must think I’m an idiot! I am an idiot!
“It’s almost as good as mine was,” Elvis told him. When Mike looked at him in confusion, he gestured out to their surroundings.
“Oh,” Mike said, understanding.
“It just might end up being better,” Elvis grinned at him, flashing the gap in his front teeth.
“The music’ll never be as good,” Mike mumbled under his breath.
“The Ramone kids seem to be doing all right,” Elvis replied.
“I, uh, yeah they’re okay,” Mike was blushing furiously. He hadn’t meant for his comment to be heard.
Looking out towards the dance floor, he spotted Morrissey and Johnny, whirling around like idiots. Mike snorted, shaking his head.
“What?” Elvis asked, leaning towards him.
“Just my friends. See?” He pointed to the pair.
“Looks like they’re having fun. Don’t you like to dance?”
“I dunno, I usually just don’t.”
“Why don’t you?” Rather than reply, Mike pointed to the two flailing about on the dance floor, nearly hitting everyone around them as they threw their arms around.
“You wouldn’t even dance with me at my own dance,” Elvis remembered.
“Sorry,” Mike said quietly. He had thought that Elvis had forgotten about that night by now. Once they had gotten inside Elvis had asked him if he wanted to dance and when he declined the boy had shrugged and gone to dance with his own friends. Afraid that he’d be caught without Elvis to vouch for him and not brave enough to claim himself his date, Mike had slipped outside and gone back to his dorm.
“Why didn’t you stay?” Elvis asked suddenly. “You left without saying goodbye, remember?”
“Yeah, I just… You were with your friends and I didn’t want to get in the way and I was afraid I was about to be kicked out anyway, so...” Mike trailed off.
“No one would have cared, really,” Elvis told him, adding softly, “I looked for you.”
“Why did you invite me in?” Mike asked, “I mean thank you and everything, it was nice of you, but it’s not like we ever talked before that- or after for that matter.”
“Because I wanted to,” Elvis told him, “Because every time we were rehearsing there was this little tuft of black hair sticking up from under the band room window, and every time I went to look it was gone. Because when I went outside there was that same black-haired kid who looked like he’d just danced his heart out and I wanted to see if he could dance any more.”
“Oh,” Mike said quietly.
“So, would you like to dance?” Elvis asked him, holding out his hand.
“Um, okay,” Mike agreed cautiously, taking his hand.
Elvis swung him around as the song started. Mike shuffled awkwardly at first but gradually they began to dance more enthusiastically. For Mike this meant sort of skipping in place and making odd hand gestures that embodied the dancing of stereotypical middle aged dad; for Elvis this meant weird jerky leg movement and not really moving his arms at all for some reason. All in all they looked like a couple of weird nerds, but they were into it.
Soon, the music changed, going from fast and heart-racing to slower and sweeter, like honey.
“They're telling us they're gonna make a fuss about the two of us, I want you around,” Joey Ramone sang on the stage. Elvis slid his arms around Mike’s shoulders, pulling him closer. Mike flushed bright red, placing his hands clumsily at his waist. They swayed from side to side, slowly relaxing into each other.
Mike, still beet red, was tripping over his own feet despite his best efforts to do exactly not that. Elvis caught him and pulled him closer. Their slow dance slowed to the point where they were basically just standing on the dance floor hugging and occasionally shuffling slightly. Mike rested his head on Elvis’s shoulder, grinning like an idiot. Mr. Costello gave nice hugs.
He looked up to see John Richman wearing his painfully yellow hall monitor sash and a silly hat breaking up Andy and Lorna who had literally been sitting in the corner enthusiastically making out for the past quarter of an hour. Mike chuckled at his friend.
“What’s so funny?” Elvis asked.
Mike opened his mouth to answer but was interrupted by John Richman and his silly hat.
“Alright you two, there needs to be at least six inches of space between dance partner’s pelvises.” He did a double take when he saw it was a teacher, “Oh, Mr. Costello. Um…as you were? I guess? Uh, bye...” He then walked off looking confused and conflicted, pulling out an acoustic guitar as he went and singing to himself.
“I’m going to get some punch,” Mike told Elvis, blushing and shuffling his feet as he inched away. “Do you want any?”
“I’m fine,” Elvis told him, “Meet you back by the wall?” Mike nodded, staring at his shoes before turning away. Elvis sighed, back where they’d started, leaning against the wall.
In the corner, Lorna had broken away from Andy to go say hello to a friend across the room, so Andy slid to stand beside the teacher.
“Hey, Mr. Costello. What’s up?”
“Not much, Andy. How are you? Having fun?” Elvis replied.
“Yeah,” Andy said, wistfully staring after Lorna. “You?”
“It’s been great,” Elvis smiled, watching as Mike clumsily poured punch into a plastic cup against the opposite wall.
“Mike looks like he’s having fun. He usually never dances- At least not that any of us have seen. Was he this awkward even as a freshman? You knew him, right?”
“Yeah, sort of. He hasn’t changed much, just grew into his ears a bit.”
“Not much,” Andy snorted, “That’d take a lot of growing.”
Mike was breaking through the wall of students nearest to them and Elvis went to meet him, nodding to Andy as he went. Andy crossed his arms, watching the pair with a smirk. As Elvis brushed against him, Mike immediately spilled punch down his own front, blushing bright red and nearly tripping.
“You’re gross, Mike. Gross,” Andy muttered to no one in particular.
Jonathan Richman (The Modern Lovers)
“Mr. Costello?” Mike asked, hesitantly peeking through the open door into the teacher’s classroom.
“Come in,” Elvis called, smiling as Mike came to stand in front of his desk, looking flustered. “What can I help you with?”
“I was wondering if you- I mean, if you could, uh- I think I need tutoring.” Mike stuttered.
“In which class?”
“Uh, yours, I guess?” Mike said. He hadn’t though his plan through very far.
“Sure, you can come in any day after school.” Elvis knew perfectly well that his own class gave no grades and even if he did Mike would have had an A, but he wasn’t one to turn someone away, especially not Mike.
“O-okay,” Mike said, startled. He said yes! That’s almost a date! He totally wants me! Mike thought gleefully. “Mr. Costello-”
“Mike, I’ve told you; You can call me Elvis.”
“But you’re a teacher- at least kind of. It’d be weird.”
“Half of the teachers in this school use their first names, and I’m not even really a teacher.”
“But you kind of are,” Mike insisted, “You teach classes, that counts.”
“I’m not paid, it’s not really my job. I just like it.”
“What do you mean?” Mike asked. He’d always sort of wondered what exactly it was that Mr. Costello did at the school, but he had become a common fixture, wandering the halls and offering advice to angst-ridden students.
“When I graduated, Mr. Reed asked me to stay at the school. He never really gave me a job description- and I’ve never gotten a pay check- but I didn’t have much better to do so I stayed.”
Elvis remembered when Lou had offered him the position, giving only the vaguest details and the insistence that he’d just “hang out” and “do whatever.” Elvis hadn’t had much of a plan for after he graduated, and figured it was worth a try. He’d get free board and food at the school and he liked the students. He had especially been hesitant to leave a certain freshman whom he hadn’t spoken to in weeks. He’d always hated leaving things and just wondering what could have been.
“Oh,” Mike said.
“Plus, I-uh, thought some of the students were pretty cool. Didn’t want to leave them all here, um, you know...”
“Of course,” Mike agreed, a small smile playing at the corners of his mouth, “The, uh, the students would have been heart broken, I’m sure.”
“Couldn’t let that happen,” Elvis told him solemnly, resting his elbows on his desk and resting his chin on his hands.
“It’d be tragic,” Mike said, doubling over to cross his arms on the opposite side of the desk.
“Awful.” As they exchanged synonyms, the two were subconsciously moving closer until the tips of their noses were nearly touching.
“Mike! Johnny’s getting back today!” Andy was shouting from the hallway. “Mike!! Where are you?”
“Just a second, Andy!” Mike called back, scowling.
“So, tutoring?” Elvis asked, grinning.
“I’ll be back this afternoon?” Mike asked hopefully.
“Any time.” Mike glanced back at the door, biting his lip as he calculated how long he had before Andy would come barging in. Before he could think better of it, he turned back to Elvis, leaning in quickly to place a soft peck on his lips. He immediately stood, blushing furiously and staring at the ground as he fled the room.
Just as he stepped into the hallway he ran directly into Andy, who was heading in to get him.
“What took you so long?” Andy grumbled, staggering from the impact.
“Nothing.” Andy narrowed his eyes at Mike, taking in the dark red flush that spread from his neck to the tips of his ears. He would have questioned it, but that was how Mike always looked after he’d talked to Mr. Costello.
“Whatever,” Andy shrugged.
As Mike left the room full of his best friends, he nervously pushed his fingers through his hair, ruffling it and making it stick up more. He arrived at Elvis’ door just as the last straggling students left the hall. Mike raised his hand to knock.
Oh god do people knock on doors of offices? Should I just go in? Should I just run away and pretend this never happened? He shook himself mentally and opened the door.
“Elvis? I’m here for tutoring.” Elvis was sitting behind his desk looking flustered, just as he had that morning.
“Oh good, you’re here,” Elvis smiled, standing up. Mike crossed the room, leaving only the desk between them.
“I don’t really need tutoring,” he confessed.
“I know,” Elvis grinned.
“I only need you.”
There was a brief pause in which Mike’s words caught up with him, leaving him regretting his own existence.
“Oh my god. Shit. Oh my god, I can’t believe I just said that out loud.” Mike covered his heated face in his hands, hating everything.
“I can believe it,” Elvis smiled.
Fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck. Shit, I fucked it up , Mike thought, groaning.
“Mike.” He looked up to see that Elvis had leaned across the desk and their noses were practically touching. Then he couldn’t see much of anything because his eyes were closed and they were kissing and Oh, this is nice .
Elvis wrapped his fingers in Mike’s hair and pulled him closer and that was also very nice. Then he did this thing with his tongue and Mike could no longer put his thoughts in order to describe just how nice it felt.
Outside in the hall, Andy Rourke was making his way to Mr. Costello’s room to ask for help on one of his homework assignments. He knew that Mike had been going in for tutoring but figured they wouldn’t mind another- if Mike was even still there. Mike had been gone for almost an hour.
Imagine Andy’s surprise to open Mr. Costello’s door to see his best friend and his favorite teacher passionately kissing across the room. Andy stood, stunned for a moment, torn between thoughts of “No, no, ew, no!” and “Wow, I didn’t know Mike had enough game to land Mr. Costello.” In the end, he just cringed and fled the room, trying not to think about it at all.
“You’re gross, Mike. Gross!” he muttered.