Ю ● ＼(^_＼)
If Kian’s phone could be trusted, and it probably could with all that satellite syncing and other whatnot he didn’t understand, it was just past two in the morning. Kian hunched over a notebook filled with scratched out basic math formulas that looked like gibberish to him.
Who needed math in real life? Algebra wasn’t going to save his life in some future dramatic moment. Right now, his dull pencil and the solar-powered scientific calculator that kept turning off were the much bigger problem. It meant the potential for immediate failure, which meant his murder when his mum got her hands on him. It was probably the swaying light over the table that wasn’t all that bright, but it made life a living hell. How was he supposed to work in these conditions?
The bus rocked and bounced along the highway somewhere in Ontario. Kian hadn’t been paying attention when their schedule had been explained yesterday. Someone would yell at him when he needed to be somewhere.
All he had heard was that they had a three-day break in Toronto, and he wanted to finish a buttload of work so he could spend some time with Tan. Chord too. Maybe he could fit in a visit to his sister in Guelph, where she studied to be a vet like their mom.
When he was younger, Kian had wanted to be a vet too. Now he knew that would never happen. He didn’t have the smarts. But that was okay because he loved music and playing the drums. And he was good at it.
The door to the bunks opened, and Tan fell into the main room. Literally. It was cute. He was wearing his usual pyjama pants and one of Kian’s t-shirts that were way too big for him.
“You’re still up?” Tan mumbled, rubbing his eyes. God, he was cute.
A little wobbly on his feet with the rocking of the bus, Tan wandered over to the table, but instead of taking the seat across from Kian, he plopped down in Kian’s lap.
Instinctively, probably, Kian dropped his pencil and wrapped his arms around Tan’s waist to rest his chin on Tan’s shoulder. The muscles in Kian’s forehead scrunched up. Tan felt thinner under the baggy t-shirt. He’d always been thin. Those “superior genes” or whatever he rambled on about, but this was more extreme.
Tan played with Kian’s hair, dragging his nails against his scalp and bruising the mop backwards off his face. He kissed Kian’s cheek. “Come to bed, yeobo,” he said.
“I’m almost done,” Kian promised. He left one arm wound around Tan’s waist, but picked up the pencil again. “Why are you up?”
Tan yawned. “Couldn’t sleep. Was gonna brew a pot of tea. Read a little.”
Kian hummed and shifted Tan’s weight in his lap. Not that he weighed a lot.
The bus was quiet. Every once in a while, the sound of a car passing could be heard. Suddenly, Tan sat up straight, startling Kian so much that he almost dropped the bassist.
Tan picked up the closest notebook and flipped through pages, then leafed through the printed test results on the table nearby. “Are you… Kian, you’re over three weeks ahead of the planned curriculum.”
Kian said nothing. He had no response to the accusation in Tan’s voice because it was true. He’d been pushing himself hard, but couldn’t risk being sent home at the end of the summer. The deadline was coming up soon. He couldn’t go home. He just couldn’t.
Kian punched in a few numbers into the calculator and scribbled down his best guess at the next question’s answer, completely ignoring Tan. Or, he tried to, but Tan slid off his lap with an unintentional wiggle of his hips that did a little more for Kian than it should have and grabbed him by the arm.
“Come to bed,” Tan repeated. He tugged Kian’s arm. “I’ll help you in the morning. Your mind requires proper rest to function.”
“I’m almost done,” Kian said, and gently tried to shake off Tan’s grip.
Tan tried to pull Kian to his feet. “Please… we’ll squeeze into your bunk. Just come to bed,” he said. Kian could hear the pleading in his voice.
“Just let me finish!” Kian jerked his arm out of Tan’s hands.
The rough motion sent Tan stumbling back so wildly that he lost his balance and fell on his butt. He didn’t move. He didn’t say anything. He did nothing.
Kian gave him a casual glance, but when Tan finally looked up, Kian thought a semi-truck had smashed into the side of the bus. After a few long, painful seconds, he realized it was his chest tightening like the cliche heartbreak from the yaoi manga Tan thought he’d hidden so well. He couldn’t breathe.
There were tears welling in the corner of Tan’s eyes. Tan did not cry. Tan never cried. But that wasn’t what hit Kian the hardest. It was the look of absolute hurt and betrayal.
Kian slid out of his seat, tentatively reaching for his best friend. When Tan didn’t brush him off, he crushed Tan to his chest. “Fuck me dead, Tee. I’m a right fuck muppet,” he said. He buried his face in Tan’s shoulder. His own eyes stung. “I’m sorry. Shit, I’m sorry.”
And then Kian heard it. A soft sob.
At first, he thought it was him. That maybe he’d finally cracked, but then he realized that the small body crushed to his chest was shaking, trembling violently.
Kian pulled Tan up off the floor and into his lap. He wasn’t the brightest twinkle light on the string, but he knew this wasn’t about him yelling. He said stupid shit all the time, and Tan took it in stride. Bloody genius knew he didn’t mean it.
“I’m gonna fix it,” Kian promised. He hugged Tan tighter. “You’re right. I’m a fucknut. Let’s go to bed.”
He’d fix this.