Ю ● ＼(^_＼)
Eight hundred and ninety-two words. Kian only needed to write one hundred and… He quickly counted on his fingers. One hundred and eight more words. His name didn’t count. He’d asked.
It was a few minutes past ten in the morning on the thirtieth of August, and they were in St. John’s, Newfoundland. They had played their last Canadian show on Sunday, and Kian wanted to go to Europe with the band, but he still had to finish his last paper. It was due at noon, but the band was supposed to leave for the airport at ten-thirty. Ayla had been pretty damn clear on that. If he wasn’t done, then he’d be catching a flight back to Vancouver instead.
Kian shouldn’t have left his final English paper to the last minute, but they’d checked into a hotel after their show, and it had been the first time he and Tan had been alone since before tour. He’d have to have been a complete idiot not to take full advantage of that with Ayla bunking down the hall with her brother, and he was pretty sure she knew what they were doing if the box of condoms he’d found in his port were anything to go by. That, or Chord had stuck them in there like the overly concerned asshole he was.
A tour bus didn’t allow privacy. A few sneaky handjobs here and there hadn’t cut it. Especially with Chord’s judgy, all-knowing eyes following him around the bus. Like he was any better. Kian had wanted to get laid. Fuck his homework. Except now, he was paying the price for thinking with his dick.
Back against the headboard, Kian hunched over the computer in his lap, fingers drumming anxiously beside the trackpad. The sheets and blanket had been kicked to the bottom by Tan, who was fully dressed, but completely passed out beside Kian on the bed, sprawled on his stomach where he’d landed after coming back from breakfast. His forehead was pressed to Kian’s hip, and he had flung an arm over Kian’s waist. Moral support, maybe.
Tan had been thoughtful enough to bring Kian a toasted bagel and apple juice back from the complimentary continental breakfast, but it sat uneaten on the night table beside the alarm clock. Kian’s stomach couldn’t handle food right now, not with his stomach twisted into knots.
Their bags were packed and sat ready to go on top of the second queen bed. It hadn’t been used. The sheets were still tightly tucked and spotless. The poor maids might be a little grossed out by the sheets on the bed they actually used. Probably wasn’t the worst they’d seen though.
Kian groaned and banged his head against the headboard. He couldn’t focus.
Someone pounded on the door and Kian jumped. His laptop slid off his lap and closed, but Tan barely reacted.
“We’re leaving for the airport in twenty minutes. If you’re not down there, too bad,” Ayla yelled through the door. The sound of her heels disappeared as she walked back down the hall.
“Fucking shit!” Kian scrambled to open his laptop. “I still don’t have my paper done. If I don’t have proof, the she-demon won’t let me on the plane!”
Bleary-eyed, Tan sat up. “When they say a thousand words, it’s a rough idea of length, not an exact measurement.”
“That’s not gonna be good enough for her, and you know it.” Kian began to type. The conclusion to his essay wasn’t going to make sense, but he stopped caring. He only needed a passing grade. “Fuck!”
Tan climbed off the bed. “We need to head down. Can you carry the bags?”
Kian wasn’t really paying attention. But he waved his hand, which Tan must have taken as yes because a few seconds later, the door to the room closed.
When he finally looked up from the screen. He was alone, and the clock clicked over to 10:19. Only forty more words. He closed his eyes and took a deep breath.
The last time he’d been this anxious had been when their middle school team made it into the provincial volleyball finals. Sure, his grades were nothing amazing. He’d only had to retake three classes, and he just needed a passing grade in each.
Kian pumped his fist into the air and yelled. He had done it. It had nearly killed him, but he’d done it. He’d finished. But no one was there to celebrate his victory, and more than anything else, he wanted to tell Tan.
Slamming his laptop closed with enough force to almost crack the screen, Kian jumped off the bed, shoved his computer in his bag, and sprinted to the door, struggling under the weight of their bags Halfway to the door, he stopped, wobbling a bit. His hand went to his head.
“Fuck me,” Kian groaned. The room was a little blurry, and his head felt a little fuzzy. “Stood up too fast.”
It took a second for him to wrestle with the door while holding their luggage, but he flung it open and ran down the hall with a huge grin on his face.
Some of Static Shadow’s gear hadn’t made their flight. For the last few hours, Ayla had been doing whatever it was that she did as a manager, which from what Kian saw, was a lot of yelling on the phone. But somehow, things had worked out. A music store near the venue had come to the rescue with rental equipment.
The crew worked like mad to get everything together, and Kian had decided it would be better for him to stay out of the way, so he hid in the green room. Tan sat next to him on the only couch in the room with his head on Kian’s shoulder, and Chord sat on a folding chair across from them with his guitar.
Most people thought backstage was something glamorous and totally cool, but it wasn’t. TV and movies lied. Most of the time it was narrow hallways and a tiny room where the band sat around super bored out of their minds and stared at each other.
The green room in Munich was a small box with a low counter against one wall, a mirror, and a card table. Chord’s make-up and product were all over the counter, and their clothes were draped over the back of the couch. The room didn’t even have a bathroom.
Ayla knocked on the open door as she walked into the room. She didn’t look as scary as she usually did, but that’s because she was still wearing sweatpants and her hair was in a messy bun from the flight. She still looked smoking hot though.
“Sound tech is here. Soundcheck in five,” Ayla said. And they all nodded, except Tan, who grunted and continued to sleep. “Wake him up.”
Kian nudged Tan in the ribs. “Oi, Tee. Neil deGrasse Tyson died.”
“What?” Tan bolted upright in his seat and looked around.
Chord laughed, but Ayla just rolled her eyes and threw her hands up in the air like she didn’t know how she put up with them. It really was a mystery. They were all idiots. Mostly. In all the ways that counted. No one cared that Tan could recite 200 something digits of pi.
The band gathered their instruments. Kian only had to grab his stick bag, but he was the last one out of the room. When he stood up, he felt light-headed, again. It made him stop for a second, but it passed quickly enough. Only, the further down the hall he walked, the stranger he felt.
Kian jogged up the stairs at the end of the hall and pushed open the door to the stage area. The crew was running around. His drum tech had finished setting up his kit, so he headed in that general direction to check out the setup and make any changes. Usually, Paul was pretty good about getting all Kian’s little nitpicky things right. But sometimes, Kian needed to feel it out.
The stage wasn’t very big. Thick black curtains hid the behind the scenes area of the backstage, and three monitors sat at the edge of the stage. Chord chatted to the sound tech for the venue through his mic to set up his in-ears, and Tan perched on one of the bass cabs tuning his bass guitar. Unsurprisingly, Ayla ordered the crew around like usual. Power suit or no power suit, she was still scary.
The room spun. Not literally. Or maybe. Tan always corrected Kian when he used the word literally. But Kian stopped and shook his head. He staggered a little on his feet when he tried to walk. Kian’s hands were shaking, and his stomach was starting to churn as it had on the bus that one time, and he broke into a cold sweat.
After a sixteen-hour flight, Kian was dead on his feet. He hadn’t slept at all on the plane, and he’d been up most of the night writing his paper. Then it had been a rush to check-in at their hotel and find the venue, so he hadn’t eaten.
Tan had stopped tuning o watch him, so Kian smiled and waved. But everything seemed to slow down for Kian. Sound grew quieter, and he could hear his own heartbeat in his ears. Someone must have been fooling around with the stage lights because they were dimming.
Kian stumbled forward and tripped over a cable running across the stage. He fell, sliding a little on the ground. The last thing he saw was Tan throwing his bass guitar and running towards him, which was weird because Tan loved that bass, and he sure as hell never ran.
“Kian?” Tan’s voice was distant like he was standing at the end of a long hallway. “Yeobo…” And then someone turned off the stage lights.