They met at the Bloc Party. Up to fifty percent discount on shoes and apparel, free flow of drinks and food, the latter only so if you’re early. Lots of pretty girls and jaded boyfriends. He was a friend of the band, Ant Nation. The vocalist was the ever charming Gus, and wherever Gus showed up Kai would, too.
Best friends for a reason.
Ant Nation was a covers band. Not the sort from the talent competitions in school, but a real covers band. They took requests from the crowd, slips of paper requesting “Lady GaGa in drag” or “anything from Coldplay but Viva la Vida”. Gus knew these songs like the back of his hand. His band worked like a well-oiled machine, music and banter so rehearsed that it felt real to the smitten audience. P-p-p-p-poker face fuck her face, a one, a two, a one two three. Ant Nation did whatever they could to stay alive, usually through lives at parties or sessions at Timbre. Kai watched them from the wings in every one of these.
This Bloc Party was where they met. Not Kai and Gus – Kai met Gus all the way back in secondary school, where they bonded over sepak takraw during recess and random guitar spells after school. Kai never was the musical sort, but Shahtik was – a maniac at guitar, he really was - so Shahtik and Gus formed the band with Fir, Jax and Dickson Walter and never looked back since. Kai followed, because he loved Gus.
The boy that Kai met at this Bloc Party – or at least, Kai thought he was a boy – stood still in the adoring crowd as Ant Nation proceeded with the song Amber. Whoah, amber is the colour of your energy. Gus’s favourite song to perform. Kai watched him watch Gus with a sort of intensity that Kai recognized, and it disturbed him in the gut a little bit. Who the fuck do you think you are, to look at him like that?
The boy’s eyes met Kai’s just then. God, he was beautiful. Kai felt like he was hit by an oncoming train. Gus’s voice faded for an instant in his mind. Whoa, shades of gold displayed naturally…
Kai fell out of his reverie to meet the oval, lovely face of Liyana. Liyana, whose prettiness could match that boy’s, and yet the effect her presence had was completely something else in Kai’s insides, butterflies shifting into angry, snarling snakes. Liyana smiled, sparkling eye glitter and lashes. “He’s good, isn’t he?” she gushed, the way a good girlfriend should. Kai managed a smile and glanced over at Gus, who was watching them – Liyana – with crinkling, fond eyes.
“Yeah,” Kai said. “He’s fucking good.”
Gus and Liyana. Usually Kai sat in the middle of parties and dwelled. Tonight there was another thought, another person. The beautiful boy played at the fringes of his mind, clad in an Agnes B shirt and skinny blue jeans. He wasn’t exactly tall, probably Kai’s own height. Pretty average for a boy.
“You look really pretty tonight,” Liyana told him a moment later, indulgent little grin on her face. Kai was used to these compliments – Dickson Walter thought Kai had been a girl, at first. “Why the fuck are you so skinny,” he’d said, after flirting with Kai for half an hour before Gus smacked him over the head. “Have a hamburger, god.”
But Kai had always been this way, hamburgers or not. Skinny and awkward with a face too sharp to be masculine. Liyana waxed poetic about Kai’s skin, a creamy tan and flawless even without makeup. Gus thought Kai was a dandy boy. “You know,” he once said in half seriousness, back when they were young and homophobic still, “if you ever decide you’re like, into boys – I’m OK with that.”
And Gus really was okay with that. Shahtik not so, because he was conservative and whatever, but he liked Kai enough to not show him the door. Kai supposed he could deal. They never were close, but then Shahtik didn’t let much of anything close to him. Unless you had a guitar’s body.
“Fuck,” said the beautiful boy, with half the cocktail all over Kai’s shirt. “I wish I could say I’m sorry, but at least now you can introduce yourself.”
He was even more interesting upclose, Kai thought – expressive eyes and rosebud lips, an angular jaw but pretty cheekbones. The androgyny was breathtaking. Kai said, “It’s only polite to introduce yourself first.”
The beautiful boy’s eyes widened, highlighting a faded scar above his eyebrow. “You’re a boy?” he – she – asked. A hint of surprise, a barrel of disappointment.
Kai felt his heart sink.
“And you’re a girl.”
Olivia, her name was. An oddly feminine name for a butch, but there it was. They stood side by side as Gus led the band into Easy. Another crowd favourite. Know it sounds funny but I just can't stand the pain, Kai hummed. Olivia didn’t know the lyrics, but she stared at Gus, her eyes flickering under the dull lighting of the store.
“You know Liyana?” she asked.
“Yeah.” He bobbed his head to the music, Gus’s vocals like honey on his heart. “Do you?”
“Briefly.” Olivia smiled, teeth showing. She had bunny front teeth, which added to her charm. Fuck, he thought, how does one get to be so good-looking and have a smile like a kid? “Actually. No. I’m in love with her.”
Kai’s hand flew to his mouth, a gesture Fir thought was fucking girly lah, dey. “I thought you were into Gus,” he said.
Olivia looked at Kai, lips parted slightly in shock before she burst out laughing. Why in the world would anybody put chains on me, Gus sang, but Kai wasn’t listening anymore. Olivia smacked his arm, Kai doubled over, and Olivia’s fingers found the lighter in his pocket.
“Who the hell has a lighter but not the sticks,” Olivia said.
“Who the hell has the sticks but not the lighter?” Kai watched her inhale, exhale, the cigarette trapped between her fingertips. Olivia threw him a careless grin, tapping the ashes into the pavement as they squatted (well, she squatted – Kai sat down) along the side of Haji Lane and listened the party go on in muffled tones behind them.
“How long has it been, anyway?” she asked. Kai considered this.
“Probably since sec two,” he said. “Gus has been my friend for a long time.”
Olivia watched him, leaning against the pillar beside her that said monkey, crap, shit in curly graffiti. “You should tell him.”
Kai shrugged. “He’s not like that.”
“Like what?” the words were sharp, maybe even a little accusing. Kai raised an eyebrow.
“Like us,” he said.
“Like you, you mean.” Olivia’s chuckle bubbled in her chest as the stick fell to the gravel, expired and fuming. Kai turned his head, and Olivia’s gaze was arresting, alluring, both at once. If Kai looked hard enough, he’d see a boy within her candid smile, a girl in the challenge of her eyes.
“I don’t really understand,” he said.
“Yes,” she replied, fingers reaching for the lighter sticking out in his pocket once more, “I don’t really think you do.”
Gus called Kai, shouting above the background music. “Where the fuck are you?” he yelled. Kai held the phone away from his ear.
“I’m with a friend,” he said.
“Well – you plan on joining this group of friends? We’re going to hang for a bit and – “
“Liyana’s going to be there, isn’t she?” Kai cut in. Gus paused. They didn’t say anything for a second, two. Kai smiled, and wondered why he felt a little bit like crying.
Olivia threw down her last cigarette and watched the fire burn out.
“You are such a fucking sad drunk,” she said. “I can’t even.”
Kai clung onto her back, chin on her shoulder. Olivia was panting hard, but Kai liked to think it was more because of her smoking habits than his own weight on her back. He burped, alcohol curling into his stomach as nausea screamed in his chest. Olivia dropped him in time, and Kai puked onto the pavement, sweat and tears and nothing.
“You’re crying, pretty boy,” she said, trying to help Kai up. Kai ignored her effort and curled onto the gravel. Olivia sighed and squatted down beside him, cursing under her breath at her lack of cigarettes. Kai stumbled slightly in his position and rested his head into her side as they watched the cars go by. Kai closed his eyes, half unconscious until Olivia pinched his side. Kai squirmed, and she huffed, indignantly.
“Did you really love her, Olivia?” he mumbled.
Olivia shrugged. “Guess so.” She ruffled his hair, almost gentle in her gruffness. “She’s goddamn pretty, you know?”
Kai cracked a smile. “So am I.”
Olivia let out a bark of laughter. “You’re disgusting. Vomit everywhere.”
Like you. Olivia’s words echoed in the part of his brain that was still functioning, its meaning still lost on him. “Love is love, right?” he said then, the black sky blurring before his eyes. “Do you think we’re wrong?”
Olivia kept quiet for some time, and Kai thought maybe she was ignoring him. But then she sighed, her body deflating under his head.
“No,” she said. “Why do you carry a lighter without cigarettes?”
Kai’s chest thrummed, bitter but amused. “I don’t smoke. And you. Sticks and no light?”
“Best way to talk to someone you’re attracted to.”
“I see,” Kai said.
Olivia patted his front pocket. “Keep it with you,” she said. “I might talk to you again.”
Dickson Walter was an oddball, but he was probably the one Kai stayed over the most with after a night partying, simply because Dickson Walter’s curiosity about everything led him to retain nothing in his fast track mind. When Olivia passed Kai over to Dickson Walter, the guitarist clucked his tongue and raked his gaze over Olivia.
“Fuck no,” Olivia said.
“I have a right to appreciate beauty,” Dickson Walter said. Olivia pulled a middle finger out of her pocket.
“So what’s a gay boy doing with a lesbian chick,” Dickson Walter asked Kai, as they stumbled into the lift. The doors closed, and Kai watched himself in the reflection of the doors.
“She had cigarettes,” Kai said. So did Gus.
“I don’t understand you fuckers,” Dickson Walter said.
Kai shrugged and rubbed his eyes, a slow smile pulling at his lips as his cellphone beeped.
fuck you for puking on my fred perrys. better shop for new ones with me asshole
“Yeah,” he said. “I don’t really think you do.”
(1) inspired by the songs Amber and Easy.
(2) the first of a possible series revolving around this universe.
Current Music: Delta Goodrem - So Predictable