Ю ● ＼(^_＼)
Static Shadow had kicked ass at their second show in Winnipeg. The first Winnipeg show the night before had been a little wonky. Chord hadn’t seemed all there. Glued to his cellphone during soundcheck until they hit the stage. It hadn’t helped that Tan had been distant too. Kian was starting to lose his mind. They were only a quarter of the way into the tour, and they were all starting to crack.
Around seven the next morning, the tour bus pulled into a truck stop off the highway around Thunder Bay or something. Kian really needed to start paying attention when their manager started rambling on about their schedule, but to be fair, he was way too serious and angry all the time.
Parking his butt on the floor in the middle of the main room of the bus, Kian laced his runners. The only time he ever laced any shoe. They were falling apart, but he didn’t really care. Tan had bought them for him last year when he first started running with Chord, but today, Chord was still snoring in his bunk after having his ass handed to him in Call of Duty last night. Or this morning, technically. They’d crashed only a few hours ago.
Kian had only slept about four hours himself, but he needed to finish writing an essay on Hamlet’s melancholy before soundcheck at three, and he had a supervised math exam at one. So either he ran now, or he missed out, and his killer abs were one of the few things he had going for him. Running totally helped with that…
On his way to the door, Kian patted down his pockets, running through the quick mental checklist his mum had taught him after being locked out of the house too many times. He wore a loose pair of basketball shorts and a red singlet.
“Wallet… keys… phone-” He patted himself down again, but the familiar shape of his phone was missing from his shorts, and he stopped. “Uh…phone.” He spun around and searched the front room as if expecting his phone to jump out at him. “Under my pillow,” he said aloud to no one.
The door to the bunks creaked a little. Kian snuck into the room and crouched down beside his bunk, where Tan was currently sprawled on his stomach. Wrinkling his nose, he concentrated on slipping his hand under the pillow where his phone was hiding without waking Tan up.
Tan looked so cute. He had super messy bed head, and he was wearing Kian’s shirt. Kian loved it when Tan wore his clothes because they were always way too big.
Tour was tough on everyone, and Tan seemed to have the most difficulty sleeping out of them. Which was weird because Kian almost had scientific proof that Tan was part sloth and cat. After he graduated, he’d make sure Tan fell asleep every night.
Kian found his phone and pulled it out, silently celebrating. Feeling a little rebellious, Kian kissed Tan’s cheek and brushed the messy bangs out of his eyes. “Be back soon, Tee,” he whispered.
Tan whined, and Kian slowly backed away before he woke him up, closing the door as quietly as he could behind him because if he woke Chord up, his best mate would slaughter him. He’d had an ugly bruise the shape of Chord’s size 11 Converse on his back for over a week after waking him up once last summer. Taking his shirt off had attracted too many questions. The beach had sucked.
Stretching his arms over his head, he bounced down the steps of the bus to the sidewalk. When he finished school, maybe he’d finally be a step closer to being good enough for Tan. Maybe, he could finally ask him out. Go on a date? That was still a thing, right?
By the time Kian jogged back, everyone except Tan was awake. No real shock there. Their manager was eating a gross bowl of lumpy oatmeal at the table while he glared at his blackberry, and Chord was surrounded by piles of super complicated sheet music covered in squiggles while he tuned his viola. Kian couldn’t read music, but he could keep a beat, and that’s all he needed to do, but he still envied Chord’s talent, and he was definitely talented.
Tan had the brains, Chord had the musical talent, and then there was Kian. His galah arse added nothing but a distraction.
As Kian walked through the narrow hallway between bunks, he found Tan still sprawled exactly where he had left him an hour earlier. Except now, there was a puddle of drool soaking into the pillow, which made Kian snicker.
Crouching down, Kian poked Tan in the cheek. “Sleep in your own bunk.”
Tan batted Kian off with a tired wave of his hand and glared at him with bleary eyes. “Unngh.”
“Rude,” Kian said but grinned. He didn’t bother wasting time it would take to argue. “Can you proofread my essay later?” he asked instead. Again, Kian only got a groan in response, but thankfully he was fluent in Tan-enese, and took that to mean yes.
Kian stripped-down, changing into a clean pair of cargo shorts and a t-shirt, and traded his smelly socks, that he hid under Chord’s pillow, for a pair of thongs. It’s not like Tan had never seen him naked and sweaty before. When he looked down, he could see Tan’s eyes wandering up his body. Maybe if he finished his essay, he could reward himself with a little fun.
The smile fell off Kian’s face. Tan hadn’t been in the mood lately. Running his hand through his hair, he sighed. “Come find me later, ‘kay?” he called as he headed to the back of the bus, and Tan grunted a yes.
Alone in the quiet room, Kian moved Chord’s guitar case to the floor and stretched out on the bench seat with his laptop and an old copy of Hamlet. It belonged to Tan, and the margins were filled with little scribbles. Mostly notes, but a few comments that Kian found funnier than the play.
Next to line 180 in the second scene of the first act, Kian found that Tan had written ‘sarcastic much??’ But Kian’s favourite was the doodle of a cat he found halfway through act three with Tan’s messy scribbles underneath.
Kian squinted at the page, trying to read Tan’s writing. It was worse than a doctor’s note. “Someone needs a spanking… naughty, naughty boy,” he read aloud and promptly laughed.
Kian didn’t understand the joke, or why the word ‘nothing’ was circled, but the image of Tan holding a riding crop popped into his head. His laptop nearly slid off his lap when he doubled over with laughter.
“Fuck, I need to get laid,” Kian said, wiping the tears from his eyes. “I’d even let him spank me.”
Three hours and a headache later, the cursor on Kian’s screen hadn’t moved. He slammed the laptop closed and leaned back against the wall.
“How the fuck is anyone supposed to know what they’re saying. Oft, thou, doth, thine,” Kian said, flipping through the book. It was like the play wasn’t even written in English, which wasn’t helping Kian feel like any less of an idiot. “What the fuck does canst even mean?”
Kian yawned and dropped his book onto his chest. The last few weeks had been tough, and he was tired. His eyes were begging to close against his will. He stretched his arms over his head, and his back cracked pleasantly.
The door slammed open. That woke Kian up in a hurry.
Heart pounding uncomfortably against his ribs, Kian stared at Chord with wide eyes. The singer was carrying a steaming cup of coffee in one hand and a sandwich on a paper plate in the other. There was a bag of Hawkins cheezies tucked under one arm too.
“Here,” Chord grunted. He shoved the plate into Kian’s hands and dropped the bag of cheezies on his lap. “Eat.”
“Uh, thanks?” Kian lifted the corner of a slice of bread. Peanut butter and jelly with slices of banana. He loved bananas, but set the plate down on the counter over the mini-fridge and re-opened his laptop. “I’ll eat in a bit,” he said, picking up his fallen book. “I just need to write… ya know, shit and stuff.”
Chord sighed and set the coffee down beside the sandwich. “Whatever,” he said, and walked out of the room. “Just eat. Tan said you probably haven’t yet.”
Kian sighed and opened Tan’s copy of Hamlet again. He’d eat after he wrote an introduction, and shoved the thought of food aside to refocus on the blinking cursor.