Category Linkin Park

The Arrangement by Penelope_Ink

Dinner With Mike

Happy Mike Shinoda Day!! :) Hope everyone is feeling good and loaded with excitement for Mike’s first show later today. Which brings me to what you’re about to read. And this has NOTHING to do with Mike playing his tour, but it seemed like a nice lead in.

I know I have two other running stories at the moment, but this idea popped into my head the other day, and like all nagging ideas, I couldn’t get rid of it till I wrote it. This is a first person POV chapter story. I’m not very practiced in first person, so this is a challenge for me. I’m hoping this doesn’t come off as absolute insanity that no one can follow. Much like my other story, Nervous Wreck, this is in that same stream of consciousness style.

Let me know what you guys think and please, tell me if it’s too hard to follow or doesn’t make any sense. This will be 100% Chester’s POV.


I’m late. Dammit. Why must I always be late? It’s like a sickness with me. I glare at the clock on the dash of my car. It’s already dark out and the green digital numbers staring back at me are like a cruel joke. According to them, I’m already ten minutes late and I’m not even fuckin’ there yet. I check my watch because it never hurts to get a second opinion. I’m already rolling my eyes though because yeah, it says I’m twelve minutes late.

I can’t win.

Ugh, what was the name of the restaurant Mike told me? It was Bark something. Bark Prime? What a stupid ass name. Oh, wait. And now I see it. I think. Barclay Prime? What the hell kind of name is that? God, Shinoda, what have you gotten me into?

I pull into the parking lot and right away I know that I’m going to stick out like a sore thumb here. My banged up Volkswagen Jetta looks like a heap compared to the BMWs, Lincolns, and Mercedes gracing the other parking spots. Why on earth would Mike want us to eat here? God, it’s going to be like $50 a plate or something. Do I even have that much money on me?

Now I’m sweating. Dammit, Mike. Why? It’s like he tries to torture me on purpose sometimes. I’m already slamming my car door and I don’t bother to lock it, cause who the hell is going to pick my piece of crap to break into among all these snobby rides? No one.

I shove my hands into the pockets of my jeans, my wallet chains clinking together as I walk up a paved pathway. I pass by a couple of fancy looking benches, the kind with designs carved into them and black iron legs and arms. There’s flowers everywhere - yellow, red, purple whatevers. A restaurant that needs a gardener. Exactly what I need on a Saturday night.

I sneeze right as I get to the door. Crap. That’s right. I’m allergic to - and then another sneeze. Now I’m flinging the doors open to get away from all these stupid flowers. I sneeze again as I step in and it echoes. It fuckin’ echoes through the tall ceilings and open space of this hoity-toity place Mike has dragged me to.

“Can I help you?”

I look over; my eyes are watering and I’m gasping to catch my breath as I sneeze again and now I want to die. I’m pretty sure I’ve got something akin to snot running down my nose as I wipe it with the back of my hand and then onto my jeans. “I’m meeting someone here,” I manage to get out as I look at this guy for the first time. He’s tall and grandfather-ish looking with graying hair and a thick nose that half covers his mustache. He’s got on a suit. A suit for crying out loud. And he’s looking at me like I’m a two dollar hooker from the corner, and he probably should be. I glance down at myself; my red and blue flame tattoos and the blue chipped nail polish I haven’t bothered to redo probably aren’t helping my case here. And let’s face it, my baggy jeans and black Stone Temple Pilots t-shirt aren’t cutting it. My fingers latch onto my lip ring and I tug at it with the fervor of a nervous twitch because I’m a fuckin’ psycho.

I glance past him at what looks like the dinning area. I see people at tables, but everything’s kind of blurry. There’s so much sparkle going on, it’s hard to tell if it’s from people’s thousand dollar jewelry or the restaurant’s high-end decor. Either way, I want to barf. I hate places like this. Or, in theory I hate them. I have to admit right about now that I’ve never actually been in a place like this.

I take another couple of steps and now I’m standing at the podium where Mr. Grandfather-ish is. He gives me a curt smile as he asks me whom I’m meeting. He used the word whom and I roll my eyes. “Mike Shinoda,” I tell him, wiping my nose again with my bare arm.

I love the grimace on his face as he pulls a handkerchief (probably embroidered with his fuckin’ initials!) from his breast pocket. He looks down at a list. I lean forward, but the damn thing is in cursive, and I’m not the best at reading upside down.

“Oh, yes,” he finally says and I don’t miss the disappointment in his voice. “Right this way.” He snaps his fingers at me. I’m pretty sure I should be pissed about it, but instead I follow him. I’m shuffling my feet and trying really hard not to bump into anything as we walk through the dinning area - a large open room filled with round tables that have candles and white tablecloths on them. Tablecloths! Despite the uppity feel to this place, it smells amazing. My stomach is now yelling at me to get over myself and play nice with Grandfather-ish because I haven’t eaten today and my stomach is on full protest now. It wants some of the steaming pasta, shrimp, and sizzling steaks that I’m inhaling as we pass each table.

There’s music playing, and I look up before I realize it’s not coming from a sound system, it’s coming from the far side of the room, over by a grand fountain made out of carved angels.

I stop. My mouth is hanging open as I stare at a violinist, a saxophone player, and someone at a piano. Holy crap. Live music. Live fuckin’ music while these people eat. These people. It doesn’t take long for me to really start to feel self-conscious as I half trot to catch up to the man I’m supposed to be following. Everyone I see is in a suit or a fancy dress or outfit of some sort. Their hair is done, their makeup on. People are cutting their meat and dabbing some fancy sauce on it. They’re talking about country clubs and business deals and golf games. The ladies have on jewelry, and so do some of the men - thick gold rings and expensive watches.

I let out a sigh, just as am I’m told, “Here we are.”

I see Mike. He’s dressed almost like me - in a plain old t-shirt, some baggy cargo pants, and his favorite pair of white Adidas tennis shoes. He’s sipping water from a champagne flute, which looks odd. Mike’s dark hair is short on the sides, but up front it’s a little longer. He’s got it gelled and spiked and every other strand is dyed red. He’s had it like that for the last couple of months while we were out playing some of the summer festivals. I think he’s going to keep it that way. It looks good on him, and somehow shows off his partial Japanese features better than when his head is completely shaved.

The moment he sees me, he grins - that big Mike Shinoda grin that I’ve really become fond of. I think he’s the only guy on the planet I would actually say that about. That I like his smile.

“Your waitress will be right with you, gentlemen,” Grandfather-ish says before he turns and heads off.

“Wow, that guy really needs to get off his high horse,” I mutter before I sit down across from my bandmate.

“You’re late,” Mike says, flashing his black and silver watch my way.

Yeah. Like I didn’t already know that. Thanks, Mike. “I know,” I tell him with a shrug as I pick up the champagne flute opposite him and take a sip. Damn. Even the water here is good. I wonder if I have to pay for it. Water is usually free, isn’t it? I’m not sure, so I set it back down. Maybe nobody saw me take a drink.

“Chaz, you okay?”

I look up, not even realizing I had ducked my head. “Yeah,” I say, clearing my throat and lacing my fingers around the side of my neck. “So why did you ask me to come here for dinner?” I glance around. There are a few tables close to us, but we’re also sitting by the back wall, so we do have a slight amount of privacy. “It’s kind of expensive and snobby looking,” I say, dropping my voice and leaning forward.

“Well,” he starts to say, and he’s not looking at me. Mike always looks at me. In fact, it’s one of his most annoying habits. I try to avoid eye contact, and he’s got a hard on for it. But not now. Now he’s looking at the table. He’s studying the wine colored cloth napkins our silverware is hiding in. He’s visually molesting the stem of his champagne flute, where his fingers are rubbing up and down. He’s glancing up, but not at me, his oddly dark eyes catching the flicker of the candle set on our table. “I, uh, well, I wanted to talk to you about something and I thought it would be nice to have this conversation in, uh, you know, a nice place.”

A conversation. He wants to have a conversation with me. He brought me out in public to a fancy place where he knows I’d never dare throw a fit or cause a scene to have a conversation. I feel my empty stomach sink. He wants me out of the band. That must be it. He’s always been the diplomate for Linkin Park. Anything goes wrong, and Mike Shinoda is there, calming nerves, putting out fires, distracting attention. Usually it’s because I’ve done something idiotic and he’s covering for me. Dammit. Guess I played that Get Out Of Jail Free card one too many times.

Wait. Does Mike even have the power to kick me out of the band? Oh, who am I kidding. If Mike wants someone gone, then they’re gone. I let out a sigh and prepare for the worst as I ask him what he wants to talk about. Somewhere in the back of my mind I’m thinking about moving back to Arizona or if I should stay in L.A. I think about my contract with the label and what happens if Mike kicks me out? Am I in violation for anything? And then I tell myself I’m an idiot. What am I thinking? Mike’s my friend. He’s my buddy. We’ve been writing lyrics together and the live shows have been amazing. The album is selling and we’re actually starting to see some money come in for the first time. We’ve talked about stuff. Personal stuff. He knows stuff about me that no one else knows. I know stuff about him. I’ve slept on his couch. I’ve had dinner at his parents’ house. He wouldn’t kick me out of the band. I’m being ridiculous. And now I just want him to say whatever he’s going to say so I can stop torturing myself with speculations.

“Chaz,” he says softly, and now his hands are together, his fingers picking at each other. He always calls me Chaz when we’re alone. If other people around, it’s a toss up. Sometimes it’s Chester. Sometimes it’s Chaz. Sometimes it’s Bennington. “I’ve been doing a lot of thinking,” he states, and I can hear how serious this is to him. I shift in my chair, trying my best to ignore the people around us and their food that smells so good and the soulfully soft jazz music that’s making my foot tap under the table. “A lot of thinking about life and where I’m headed. The direction of things and the future.”

I nod. Mike’s like that. He thinks about the future and he tries to plan for whatever outcome he wants to happen. Me, I don’t plan shit and I think that reflects well in my life. It’s why I’m always late, if I’m honest with myself.

“And it’s become pretty obvious that you’re going to play a big part in my future,” he says with zero humor in his voice. He means that, wholeheartedly.

I lean back a little. I’m thinking that was just some sort of compliment, but I’m not sure. So I smile and say, “Well, I hope so.”

“Everything with the band,” he says, and he’s kind of making eye contact now, but it’s still weird and flippy, “all that stuff is going really well. I never thought we’d ever make it to where we are. You’ve been that key component that’s brought it all together.”

I’m the one looking away now. We’ve been over this. He’s told me this before, and I appreciate every word of it, but I know it’s not true. I know I’m only one sixth of what really makes our band work. And I know he knows that too, so I decide to remind him of that. “Mike,” I say, shifting in my chair again, “it’s not just me. We all work together to make what we’ve become.”

He nods, a partial smile slipping across his lips before he fumbles with one of the earrings dangling form his earlobe. His fingers tug on the silver ball that sits at the bottom of the hoop. “I know,” he says. “But I’m just saying that everything changed when you showed up, and after looking at my life and how I want it to be, I’ve been thinking that maybe you being here is going to be the answer to that, too.”

“What on earth does that mean?”

“Chaz,” he says, and he sits up straight in his seat now. He clears his throat, his fist pressed to his lips before he composes himself and says, “I think we should get married.”

I hear a high pitch gasp that isn’t me. We both look over to see our waitress standing a foot away from our table. She’s middle aged - if I were guessing - with dark hair pulled back in a bun and perfectly painted maroon colored nails. She’s looking at us like we’re aliens. “Should I come back at a better time?” she asks, and I couldn’t care less. She says something else, but I don’t hear it, because Mike’s last words are messing me up.

I see him make some sort of motion, because fuck the waitress. I’m looking at Mike Shinoda now. I’m watching him speak to her in his always-polite tone. I’m watching his hands move around as he expresses whatever it is he’s saying, and then his eyes are back on me. His hands are on his face now - on his cheeks and his mouth before he drops them to the table and says, “So, what do you think?”

“Well,” I say, and even though it’s only one word, it feels like I’ve dragged it out like an old rug. I’m tugging my lip ring before I force myself to put my hands in my lap, hiding them away under the table. “When you say we should get married, you do mean, like, to other people, right?”

Mike shakes his head. “No, Chaz, I mean you and I should get married. To each other.” He’s motioning between us now, killing off any doubt of what he’s saying.

I like Mike. I like Mike quite a bit, actually. He’s one of the few people on earth that I feel really accepts me for me. He gets me. So many times while we’re working on lyrics, we have the same idea. Or we’ll both hate the same line or word. He’s good company. We can talk for hours, usually about nothing at all, but it doesn’t matter. He’s fun to play video games with, and he’s quick to defend me when assholes are on the loose. But marriage? Where the hell is that coming from?

“Mike,” I say, and I’ve decided to be gentle about this. I’ve decided that busting into laughter would be bad, and that getting offended or pissed just isn’t constituted here. Mike’s my friend, and he’s obviously very serious about this. “I don’t think marriage would be right for us,” I say, hoping that my immediate refusal will send the message loud and clear that he’s barking up the wrong tree.

He cocks his head, and I see a look of surprise in his eyes, like he’s caught off guard that I’m not jumping right on board. “Why do you say that?”

“Well, because for one, we’re not dating. Usually you date someone before you get married.” It’s official. This is the weirdest conversation I’ve ever been in. Of course it’s with Mike Shinoda. “And the fact that we’re not gay kinda hurts the marriage idea, too.”

He sits forward and I see it. I see that determined look in his eyes. I see that my words haven’t disheveled his plan. I see him swallow before he says, “None of that matters. Chaz, you and I make a great team, that much we’ve already figured out. And it only makes sense that we should take that partnership into this other aspect of our lives.”

“You do know what marriage is, don’t you?” I ask, because I’m a smart ass on every level. “Mike, marriage isn’t the same thing as playing in a band together. Marriage involves love and living together and wearing each others rings and buying a dog.” Those were all really crappy examples of what makes a marriage, but it’s all I got at the moment.

“A normal marriage, okay, I’ll give that to you,” he says, and now he’s reaching down toward his feet. I see him messing with something, but I can’t see enough to know what it is until he sits back up, an orange folder in his hands. He opens it up and there’s stacks of papers in the double pockets. It’s like the folders I used to have for school to keep homework organized. He pulls one paper out and hands it across the table to me. I look down to see his blocky handwriting.

“The divorce rate is astronomical,” he says while I stare down at the information he’s given me, though I’m not bothering to read it. “But, the success rate of arranged marriages is almost double that of a traditional marriage.”

My head snaps up. “Arranged marriage?” Those are bad words. A name given to people being forced to marry, even when they don’t know each other.

“I know arranged marriages get a bad rap,” he says, like he just read my thoughts. Damn you, Shinoda. “But that’s just stigmatism. The success rates are actually really good. If you’re wanting your marriage to last, then logically - mathematically - an arranged marriage is the way to go. Which brings me to us.”

I’ve let his handwritten notes drop to the table just in time for him to hand me another one. I glance at it - his same block style print and this one has a little doodle in the corner. Mike likes to doodle. It’s one of his biggest nervous habits. He draws these little faces that have big eyes and usually square heads. They look like a cross between a robot and an alien. He never draws their bodies, just their heads. Now and again he’ll add a skull or fish or a rabbit or even an octopus. But mainly it’s just these little head guys. Sometimes he draws them on me. We’ll be sitting next to each other, waiting on whatever is coming, and he’ll take a Sharpie and start doodling on my knee or leg or on my arm around my tattoos. I don’t ever stop him. I look down at my arm and see the fading outline of one from last week. Maybe that’s where I’ve gone wrong. Maybe if I’d set better boundaries and not let him draw on me, he wouldn’t be asking me to marry him.

“Mike,” I say, keeping his informational page in my hand - and that’s all I got from it without actually reading it. It looks like statistics and bullet points about the advantages of arranged marriages. All information I don’t need. “I don’t want to get married. To you or to anyone. At least not right now.” There. That seems like a nice, honest reply that should stop this conversation without hurting his feelings. I hope. He’s clearly put a lot of work and thought into this, and now I’m worried my simple rejection won’t be enough to deter him.

“But this is the best possible time for us to get married,” he states. He takes out another one of his handwritten pages and then he closes the folder. He doesn’t hand this new paper over to me, but he keeps it, like he’s reading from a script. “Think about it,” he says, his intelligent eyes piercing through me. “Right now we’re on the verge of success. Massive success, Chaz. You know that, right? Linkin Park is blowing up and I think you and I should capitalize on that.”

“But how does that have anything to do with marriage?”

“It’s a matter of combining our assets. We’ve had success together professionally and I think we should join together to create that same success in our personal lives. I’ve dated enough people at this point to know that traditional marriage is not for me,” he says, and he’s pointing to his chest and now I think I get what this is about. Mike broke up with his girlfriend, Anna, a few months ago. He’s been a little off ever since. I figured he was getting over it, but now I’m not so sure.

“Is this about Anna?” I ask, and the offended look on his face is immediate. It’s so harsh I actually sit back in my seat.

“This has nothing to do with her,” he hisses at me. “What I’m offering you has nothing to do with me getting over her or anyone else. I’ve been down that road, Chaz, and love doesn’t work. At least not in the way it usually goes. It’s bullshit,” he tells me, his voice floating back to his convincing timbre. “People fall in love, run off and get married after knowing each other only a few months and then BAM!” he says, his fist hitting the table and making things rattle. “Divorce.”

I glance around. That little move has earned us some looks from the snooty couples around us. “So you think,” I say, trying to go with him on this so we can get through this conversation much quicker than the rate we’re going, “that you want us to get married because you think it will last since we’re not in love?”

“Love will come later,” he tells me before he shrugs his shoulders dissmissivly, “or maybe it won’t. Statistically, love happens down the road in arranged marriages. But that’s not the part to focus on. The part that’s important is that we both want to be happily married, right?”

“Well, in theory. . .”

“Right. So our best chance for reaching that goal is to marry each other. Plus, with the band taking off we’ll instantly double our income. You live in a ratty apartment, I live in a ratty apartment,” he says, his hand on his chest, “but together we can afford a nice loft somewhere or maybe even a house. And it’s not just a money thing, it’s about protecting our interests, and since our interests are each other, this makes perfect sense.”

“But couldn’t we just be roommates and accomplish this same stuff?” I ask, even though I already know the answer, and here it comes as he smiles and shakes his head.

“It’s not enough. Marriage will legally bind us together, Chaz, and we’ll have the ultimate safe guard and guarantee of a life of fulfilled happiness. We’ll have it all,” he states as he starts to tick examples off on his fingers. “We’ll have the great place, the marriage, the successful careers, and we already know each other. There’s no secrets here. I’m not going to find out three years into being married to you that you’re actually a serial killer or that I can’t stand your singing in the shower or the way you slurp your cereal milk at breakfast. We get along so well, and marriage is just going to enhance that. It will keep us both safe and it will give us the security we need.”

I hate the fact that this is almost starting to make sense. I hate the way he’s looking at me. I hate the way his Mike Shinoda grin is already forming on his face because he knows he’s got me. I’m trying to come up with an argument, but I really don’t have one. He’s already taken love out of the equation, and when you do that, marriage between us would probably work out rather well. Just like he said. My brain is already starting to form pictures of how it’s going to be - the cool place we could buy with our combined incomes. All the clothes we could share, since Mike and I run roughly the same size. The freeing thought of never having to worry about who I’m going to go out with on a Saturday night ever again. The last few girls I’ve been out with were clearly only into me because I’m the singer in Linkin Park, but with Mike that’s not even a thing. I’m just Chaz to him, and I’ll always be just Chaz, which is exactly what I want to be. We can keep each other grounded. We can write songs at home instead having to meet up somewhere. And more than all of that, I trust him. I think that’s the biggest factor as I look into his excited eyes. He’s Mike Shinoda, and he would never hurt me.

“So?” he asks with a gleeful twitch to his lips. . .his lips. I’ve never really looked at them before until now. His bottom lip especially looks alluring. Moist. Plump. And why the hell am I thinking about that?

I wrap my hand around the side of my neck, massaging the muscle that’s there before I let my fingers drift up to tease a stray blonde spike that’s more of a curl. I really need a haircut. “What about sex?” I ask, because right now that’s really the only thing keeping me from saying yes.

Mike sits back in his chair, his ears turning a light shade of red as he takes a few deep breaths. “I don’t think it will be a problem,” he says. “I mean, yeah, that’s a road to cross later, but right now it has nothing to do with what we’re talking about.”

I roll my lips together, feeling the metal of my lip ring for a moment before I say, “So you’re saying that you think that later on we’re going to fall in love and start having sex?”

“No,” he answers so quickly that I flinch. “I’m not saying that at all.” He slashes his hand through the air, like he’s making sure he’s heard loud and clear. “Love and sex have nothing to do with this. If they happen later on, then they happen, but that’s not the point of what I’m proposing. This is an arrangement for both our benefits.”

Is it just me or did he just say the exact same thing I just said? Of course he made it sound better, but I’m pretty sure we’ve now entered the territory of circular thinking. He’s not going to accept my arguments, and maybe I shouldn’t be arguing. What the hell do I care anyway? He’s asking me to marry him, and he’s asking me because he likes me. He knows me. He sees value in our friendship and he just wants to take that to another level so we can both have a nice future. That’s a better offer than I’ll ever get from anyone else. And maybe he’s right; maybe love doesn’t really matter. Who could love me anyway? No one. That’s been proven over and over again in my life. Which is probably why I find myself nodding as I say, “Okay. I’m in.”


To Be Continued. . .

Thanks for reading everyone! And if anyone needs an account, send me an email at araphaxdeep@yahoo.com and I'll get you all set up.

Go to chapter:

Reviews Add review