Five

Scott An hour later, squeezed in a taxi with a hyper Clint and Dave and a sleeping Bob, I realized how stir-crazy I had begun to go after being around no one but family for the past few months.

"I will not kill Clint and Dave. I will not kill Clint and Dave," I repeated softly to myself, my hands twitching in the urges my brain was sending them. The homicidal urges to choke the crap out of them. They were singing an off-key rendition of "Ghetto Supastar," in falsetto. I don't know why Dad or the unlingual driver didn't turn around and demand for them to shut up, but they were too busy bonding over directions on the best way to get to the DoubleTree.

"I will not kill Clint and Dave," I reminded myself as Clint began a never-ending drum solo on his knees.

"Just kill them and be done with it," Bob muttered from my shoulder. "I'll help. I'll get a gun, and we'll shoot them both. It will be fun."

"Then who would I beat up when I needed stress-relief?" I asked.

"Dad," Bob said. I laughed. "This is a long-ass day," he added. "It seemed like a year ago we got up and did the show and went to the zoo and went to the airport and . . ."

"Plowed down the Hansons, of all people," I provided.

"You have fine taste in victims, Scott. Just run over . . . damn, I'm too tired to even remember his name."

"Tay."

"Tay? Tay . . . lor . . . that's right, I guess. I don't know. But I know Ike, he's pretty funny. And Zac showed me his electric drumsticks. Those were kick-ass. Scott, I want some electric drumsticks. Get me some, okay?"

"Sure, Bob." I rolled my eyes. Bob was still halfway asleep, and was mumbling almost unintelligibly.

"Okay, we're almost there, guys. I see Bob is still passed out," Dad said, turning around in his seat a little bit.

"Ghetto supastar, that is what you are! Coming from afar! With your-"

"Okay, Clint and Dave, that's really enough of that," he quieted them.

"THANK YOU!" I practically screamed at Dad.

"You guys ready to crash tonight? It's only eight-something here," he told us.

"No!" Clint and Dave chimed.

"Let's order some pizza!" Clint said.

"And a porno," murmured Bob, where no one but me could hear him. I giggled and elbowed him. We shared a laugh. A few minutes later, we pulled up in front of the hotel, and after getting out, the taxi carrying the Hansons pulled up, too.

"Oh my God, they're back again!" Dave said.

"Brothers, sisters, everybody say!" Bob chimed.

"Bob, Bob!! You're a MOFFATT, not a Backstreet Boy!" Clint announced, grabbing Bob's shoulders and shaking them. Bob plastered on a confused look.

"I thought that was 'N Stink."

We all broke down into laughter, mocking the very boy bands that had made Capitol sit up and take interest in us. I remembered making fun of Hanson earlier that evening, only a moment before I'd literally almost killed one. That was some sort of weird destiny thing, I realized, seeing Zac climb out of the taxi, followed by Taylor. Taylor grinned and waved at us.

"We meet again," he called.

I dug my luggage out of the trunk and grinned back.



Taylor "Isn't it weird how they are wherever we go?" Isaac asked, pressing the button for the elevator to go to the seventh floor, where the best pop machine in the building was - the one that had three Dr. Pepper buttons on it, and even the rare Jolt button. "I mean, they're really nice, and cool, and stuff, but doesn't it give you a creepy feeling?"

"Yes, I agree," Zac said, turning around and looking through the glass back of the elevator, which revealed our climbing height, and the lobby beneath us. The lobby was one of the coolest lobbies I'd seen in a hotel - a massive fountain with gold sculptures looking like Greeks bathing in the fountain, kind of like we'd seen in Germany. The tile design on the floor was that of a Greek tiled wall - it was beautiful in detailed greens and grays, just like many we'd seen in Italy. Zac then said what he'd been saying all evening. "Tay, it's really funny how you and Scott look so much alike. Like twins separated at birth or something."

"I noticed that too. They really share the same mouth and eyebrows and chin -"

"Okay, I get it," I said, shifting uncomfortably. "It's sorta Twilight Zone-ish."

"It's really, really weird how wherever we go, they turn up. We're on the same flight, we stay at the same hotel, we're going to the same movie premiere . . ." Isaac trailed. The doors opened.

"Oh, fuck!" Zac screamed, jumping.

"Fork!" chorused four teenaged boys, standing there. What is up with them and the word 'fork'? I wondered, noting that I'd heard them say it three or four times now.

"You scared the crap out of me!" Zac said, grasping at his heart as if it were going to explode or something. Isaac sorta grinned as if to say, What was I just talking about?

"We were just about to come down and ask you guys if you wanted to come hang out and order some pizza with us," said Dave, smiling at us all.

"Our dad said it was okay," added Clint.

"Yeah, your dad is welcome to come, too," Bob said.

Scott just remained silent and smiled.

"Well," Zac said, his eyes sparkling, "there's a pool on the roof that's open till ten. And it's only eight forty-five . . ."

"Yeah!" Bob exclaimed.

"Oh, you'll probably fall asleep while you're floating on your back," teased Clint. "That sounds cool, though. We haven't been swimming since last summer!"

We stepped out of the elevator, and Zac made a bee-line to the pop machine to get a Jolt.

"Wow, a sugar-driven blond . . . oops, that's not good," Bob joked.

"They make a lot of blond jokes because of my bleached hair," Scott suddenly spoke up, as we all began to walk in a mass to the pop machine.

"Yeah, sorry if we inadvertently bring out our arsenal of dumb blond jokes," Dave said. "Which we probably will."

"I think we've already heard just about every blond crack that exists," Isaac remarked.

"So what room are you guys in?" I asked all the Moffatts, but looking at Scott.

"734," they all chorused again, in unison.

"That was quite nice," Isaac said, laughing.

Zac came out from the ice-machine room with two Jolts in hand.

"Oh, God, no, Zac!!" I panicked. "Not two!!"

"Oh, you know my caffeine tolerance level is built way, way up, Tay," Zac chirped, dismissing my concern for other peoples' eardrums.

"I'd rather not have you prove that to me, Zac, man."

"Well then, I must thin my dosages out with some nice greasy pizza, then," Zac said.



Dave "Right this way, gentlemen," Clint said, stepping forward and leading us all down the hallway in the direction of our room.

"You know what, there's seven of us. If we were walking through Times Square like this, the police could stop us for looking like a gang!" Zac Hanson announced, flailing his massive mane of blond around on his shoulders.

We all thought that was pretty cool, and laughed while talking about what the headlines would say about that.

"'Teen Stars Caught In Gang-Related Activity,'" predicted Isaac Hanson, Zac and Taylor's older brother. He was eighteen, but was still hanging around with a bunch of fifteen and sixteen year olds . . . well, I don't know how old Zac and Taylor were, but that's how old me and my brothers were. I thought that was kinda awesome, and was really grateful that he seemed to treat us all like we were equals, both age-wise and intellectually. He didn't tell us to shut up when we got too loud, and joined right in on all the fun. Isaac was cool.

"We could be the Moffatt Mafia," I laughed. The entire group laughed loudly.

"734, 734," repeated Bob, and we came to the door with the gold numbers on it.

"We only got one room," Scott said to Taylor, aiming his speech at him, but intending it to be heard by everyone. "Usually, we get two, but our step-mom's at home with our family and it's just the five of us."

Scott ran a key-card through the electronic slot and opened the door.

"You can use our phone to call your dad," Bob said as we all went inside the spacious hotel room. It had a front room, a kitchen, and a bedroom with two beds. It was reaaaaally expensive, but Capitol was paying for it.

"Cool," said Taylor, taking up the duty of calling his father.

"Well, it's big enough!" Ike said. "We usually also go for the double-room, our family is so incredibly huge. But this time it's just us and Dad."

"There's more of you?" My jaw dropped. Zac giggled and offered me his other Jolt. I shook my head. "No, thanks."

"Take it! I've got loads of change for more!" Zac said, and put the Jolt in my hand. "Yeah, there are four more of us at home!"

"Four?!" Scott asked, flopping down on the couch and taking off his Adidas running shoes.

"Yeah. We have a little brother, Mackenzie, we call him Mackie, or Mac, he's five. We have three little sisters. Jessica, who's eleven, Avery is eight, and Zoë is one."

"That is a LOT of kids!" Clint exclaimed, putting his backpack, duffel bag, and suitcase in the chair next to the couch.

"Hey, put that in the bedroom," Scott said. Clint sighed and did so.

"Dad said it was okay, and he's going to bring up our swimming trunks," reported Taylor as he hung up the phone.

"Cool!" half the people in the room exclaimed. I opened the Jolt Zac had given me.

"I don't think I've had Jolt before," I said.

"A virgin!" Zac squealed. I laughed.

"Sorta, yes."

"What do you mean SORTA, David?" Scott snickered.

"Be quiet, Scott. You've never had a real girlfriend!" I ordered my brother, who glared and said,

"Neither have you!"

"Well, neither have I," Taylor said sheepishly.

"Neither have I!" Zac echoed.



Scott "Well, I have!" Ike announced.

"So have-" Bob began, but Clint interrupted him as he came back from the bedroom.

"Don't start that again, Bob!"

"What?" Zac and Ike laughed.

"Bob thinks he's had a girlfriend, but he hasn't, so don't listen to him," Dave warned the brothers, grinning, making his baby-of-the-family dimples show up.

"But she-"

"Shh!" Clint ordered.

"Clint, I-"

"Not another word!"

"Clint, listen-"

"No use, Bob!! We don't believe you! And we won't!"

"Guys, help me-"

"Robert Franklin Peter Moffatt, shut your foul mouth!"

Clint had us all in hysterics with his sort of Dr. Evil-like shushing of Bob, and by the time we noticed Mr. Hanson pounding on the door, most of us were rolling around on the floor laughing.

"Oops, I'll get it," Dave screeched, still shrieking with laughter. He leaned in and peeked through the peep-hole. "Mmm, yep, it's your Dad, Hanson peoples."

He opened the door and let Walker in.

"I can see you boys have all had some Jolt already," he commented as he came in, some black and green swim-trunks under his arms.

"No, we're high on life," I told him, smiling. Walker laughed. I already liked Tay's dad. He was really, really in touch with his kids, and didn't tell us to calm down, or anything. I could see where Isaac got his fresh attitude from.

Our dad finally came in from the bedroom, where he'd been looking in the phone book for pizza places that would deliver at nine in the evening.

"Come on, let's change or else we won't have any time to swim," Isaac said, plucking some plain black swim trunks from his dad's arms.

"Good idea," Bob agreed, and started digging through his backpack to find his own.

"You boys can change in the bedroom," Dad said to all of us. "There's more room back there."

He shook hands with Mr. Hanson again in greeting. Everyone but me flooded into the bedroom. I was still searching my duffel bag for my suit. I found it folded neatly between my pairs of underwear. Sheila, my step-mom, had packed those. I smiled. Mine were black, too. I took them and joined the other guys in the bedroom.

It was kind of like a locker room. Clothes were flying.

"I can't find mine," Dave reported.

"Have you checked your backpack?"

"Yes."

"Your duffel?"

"Yeah, it's not there."

"Your suitcase?"

"I am telling you, Scott, they're not there."

"All your pockets?" piped Zac.

Dave snickered.

"Check between your underwear," Bob and I said in unison. Dave looked through his duffel.



Taylor "Oh, here they are," Dave exclaimed cheerfully.

Isaac shed his pants and left his boxers on, and put his swim trunks on. That was a good system, and I did the same, and so did Clint. Zac said,

"I hope they have enough towels at the hotel for all of us. I mean, I'm going to want like five, I don't know about all of you."

"We can call and have some brought up," said Scott, unzipping his outer shirt and shedding it. I watched him, forgetting about pulling my swim trunks up all the way, and just stopping. He was wearing a black T-shirt, and he was so square and lean, like me, that I was mystified for a moment. All of a sudden, Scott looked directly at me, and I blushed hard and finished getting my suit on.

Why did I just do that? I asked, suddenly fiercely hating myself, and not even being able to answer myself. I had no idea. I really didn't. Scott probably thought I was some sort of freak. But when I sneaked in another look at him, he didn't look like he'd thought anything of it.

"Come on, let's go and scare off any innocent bystanders," giggled Clint.

"They're going to think we're in a gang!" agreed Dave.

"It's on the roof, did you say?" Bob asked, combing his hair back into a tight, tight ponytail. I thought it was wise to do the same, and re-did mine.

"Yeah," Isaac was answering. "It's got a fantastic view. And at this time of night, it shouldn't be very crowded."

"I like swimming at night," remarked Zac as we opened the door and told our Dads we were leaving. They were sitting across from each other and discussing the Moffatts' scheduling.

"Take your pager, Ike, and I'll page you when the pizzas get here," said Dad. Ike turned his pager on.

"Gotcha."

"I'll just leave the room number to this place. What is it again?"

"734," we all announced, every single one of us.




"Okay . . . ready? CANNONBALL!" screamed Bob as he ran (ignoring the "no running" painted in yellow paint every three feet around the pool) and leapt into the air, curling his body into a little ball and plunging into the water. Everyone covered their face as the monstrous splash doused those already in the pool. Scott lingered back, sitting on one of the chairs surrounding the pool, still with his shirt on. He was the only one who was still in his shirt - the rest of us had tossed them aside, and Zac, Clint, Dave, and now Bob were already in the pool. Isaac was sitting on the side with his feet dangling in the chlorinated water, and I was staring at the scenery from the roof of the DoubleTree. Lights sparkled merrily, replacing the absence of stars in the bleak sky. There were as many lights in Los Angeles as there were stars in the sky anyway - and LA looked like all the stars had fallen from the sky and huddled in a group on the ground.

"Tay, aren't you gonna get in??" Zac demanded from the pool.

"Yeah, I'm just looking at the city!" I replied. Scott got up and walked over the where I was standing, joining me in staring out at LA.

I was suddenly left speechless. I wanted to say something, but remembering about Scott before, seeing him without his jacket, seeing him undressing, made me blush all over again. Why in the hell had I been so stupefied at that?

I'm going insane.

"Pretty," I simply said, like a stupid five-year-old.

"Yeah, it's beautiful," Scott agreed.