The balcony was free of drinking crowd. Glass doors closed behind Pi. The banging music and loud party noises, finally left behind, receding to a point where they both could actually hear each other. The guy who dragged him here, leaned on the balcony railing and took out a cigarette and a lighter.
“Couldn’t hear what you were telling there,” the guy proceeded to lighten up his cancer stick in the most sensual way possible. Pi never believed that a disgusting activity like smoking could be sexy. Apparently, it could if you had the right face and approach. To be honest the guy looked like sex on a stick and a wet dream of any thirteen-year-old: face that belonged in some fashion magazine, black ripped jeans, leather jacket and smoldering look that he was currently distributing generously on Pi.
“Well, I was told you are the bassist to “Random Stalker”. I’m Pi by the way,” he tried to look serious and businesslike.
“Mork,” he took a long drag from his cigarette, his eyes never leaving Pi’s face – very intense, “I saw you. You are that new singer with “The Kitty Gang”, he made a very distinctive pause, as if waiting for some revelation from Pi, and exhaled, “Nice voice”.
Pi preened a bit at being recognized. This is good, right?
“Great, you saw our band. Is it true that you quit your old band? I was meant to ask if you are interested in coming to our rehearsal and maybe…”
He was interrupted, “How many band members did you lose to graduation? All 5 are graduated, right? Who is staying?”
Pi knew he was being obvious and they were desperate for new members, “Right now we have me, Duean on drums and he is still finishing his studies. Also Koh might stay, he is our lead guitarist, but he is not sure. We really need bass guitar and a keyboardist at the moment. I played violin in school, so… not really the greatest contribution, you know. Unless you’re into that or something” Pi was blabbering and, to spare himself further embarrassment, had to stop himself.
Mork looked completely indifferent, “I hoped you’ll lose the drummer. He is a mess”.
Pi disagreed, his brother deserved some recognition, “Not true, he is good. It’s just that he gets destructed easily”.
Mork raised his eyebrows at that, “To be honest, kid, your band is a shit. No hard feelings. I left “Random Stalker” because they were shit and didn’t want to improve. Overall, I haven’t seen a band around campus that I would like to perform with since… like ever”.
Pi already tried to convince 6 people to join them when he heard that this super popular bassist from nearby faculty left his band and was actually free. Everyone said that Mork was really good and whole popularity of neogothic rockband “Random Stalker” was due to his bass solos and looks. So Pi decided to give it a shot. He never raised his hopes too high, but to be turned down easily wasn’t an option either.
“Look, we might be not very good… right now. And we have to practice a lot, but we’re open to any suggestions, and we are really, really passionate about music. If you could come and just play with us for a bit… and we’ll see how it’ll go”.
Mork shrugged and put cigarette butt into ashtray, “I had probably 20 offers since I left my band. And many of them were way better than yours,” and then he did the weirdest thing – his eyes run up and down Pi’s body. And the oddest thing was that he smiled this dreamy soft smile at Pi and tilted his head, as if giving a better view of his ridiculously perfect cheekbones and arch of his neck, “Right now I want to focus on my studies, you know? Have a normal University experience,” he was almost purring with his deep velvet voice, “All-nighters in library, study sessions in café,” he took another slow and dragged moment of silence and then said it, staring straight into Pi’s eyes, “Get a cute boyfriend and spoil him”.
Pi swallowed. This Mork guy was getting on his nerves, “No worries, if you are as good as they say, you won’t need to practice as much, I quess. We will find a way to meet your schedule”.
“There are other ways to convince me, you know?” he finally peeled himself off the rails and stood in front of Pi – too close. Is he aware that “personal space” is a thing? His face was literally 2 inches away from Pi’s and he could smell tobacco and alcohol Mork was consuming earlier and see this tiny mole underneath his left eye and the way his lashes flattered in dim lights and dark color of his irises too. The staring of those half-lidded eyes through!
This was too much. Pi knew when someone was making fun of him and whoever this guy thought he was, didn’t matter. Pi will not allow some haughty asshole push him around.
“You know what, forget I said anything. Enjoy your life,” Pi stepped away and turned to leave.
“I guess your passion for music has its limits” Mork’s voice was a bit tense.
It was a set up, but Pi still went after the bait. He turned to face the guy again, “You don’t know me, you don’t know my band and the fact that we didn’t achieved a lot doesn’t mean you can put us down. So, no thanks, I’m not going to crawl at your feet begging to join us. We’ll manage without someone like you. I value our friendship and love for music more than some cheap quick popularity that you can bring”.
Mork somehow got closer again “Who said anything about begging?” he raised an eyebrow in question, being all genuinely perplexed.
And Pi didn’t want to drag this conversation and get more upset, he just wanted to get finally out of here. That’s why in his exasperation he blurted out “Oh, fuck you”.
Mork literally perked up and was immediately in Pi’s face again, all confident and sultry voice, “Yes, please. My apartment just 15 minutes away. Breakfast is on me. I know this amazing place…”
“Whaa..what?! Hey!” this caught Pi completely off guard.
“No take backs, I already agreed” was added astonishingly fast and, upon seeing Pi’s rising panic, Mork took him by his hand.
“Th…That’s not what I meant!” Pi finally managed to find at least something coherent in return. This guy was too quick and how do you even end up with a proposal like this within 5 seconds of otherwise normal conversation?
A hint of disappointment could be seen in the way Mork pressed his lips, still holding Pi in his place, “Well, I mean it when I say that you look utterly delicious, and I can see dating you from here to the Moon… Wait!”
Pi’s flight reflex kicked in and he dashed away from Mork’s arms and stumbled through balcony doors and into the partying crowd.
On his hasty retreat he still was able to hear Mork’s shout, “Pi! We can discuss this later, right?”
And that prick had the nerve to ask?! What a tool!
“What is he doing here?” frankly speaking it took Pi solid ten seconds to identify pristinely looking university student, that was slowly strumming bass guitar next to Koh, as Mork. “You said you are not interested,” yesterday’s humiliation and cruel teasing still burned Pi inside with anger.
Mork nodded in greeting and continued playing along Koh without any further explanation.
Duean jumped on Pi from behind shaking him in excitement, “You did great, bro! You managed to get us the best bassist on campus. Proud of you!” he messed Pi’s hair and danced to his drums. Is there anything that can be done with that?
To Pi’s annoyance Mork deemed them bearable and said he will come to the next rehearsal. They added him to their group chat and he suggested trying to do some simple songs for a starter next time, considering he didn’t want to use their current playlist. Koh and Duean seemed excited. Considering that Mork turned out to be definitely a much better bass than Yok, their former band member and actually could give quite useful insight. Pi decided that he can take one for the team if their new addition won’t irritate him too much.
The Kitty Gang was your typical college indie band. When it was formed by 5 engineering students on their second year, they mostly covered popular songs and performed on students’ gatherings for Uni. By the time they graduated, they did not have much time to develop band into something more professional. But their founder and the only fifth year student among them, Duean, did not feel like letting this go: he really liked to perform and actually wanted to make a career out of it. That’s why he convinced Koh to stay a bit longer, recruited his own brother as a lead singer (after he heard a rather questionable performance in the shower). The hunt for new members started before graduation, so 6 of them managed to perform for about half a year together. And now with the beginning of new study term they were still short on members.
That’s why Pi decided to give it a chance despite catastrophe that was his and Mork’s first encounter. When thigs finally started looking up, Pi was not the type to rock the boat because he has some bizarre random conversation with Mork, while latest was clearly drunk and not taking him seriously. To be honest maybe they should’ve talked at the beginning of the party, not when everyone was already intoxicated. Yeah, Pi believe that timing was wrong. Feeling of hot demanding stare that was drilling at the back of his head during rehearsals was Pi’s wild imagination. Pi was just very impressionable.
Their fourth rehearsal was quite early in the morning. It was obvious to Pi others will skip it. He thought that he can practice his vocals by himself and was preparing for some time alone. That’s the reason why it was so astonishing to see sleepy Duean and Koh, when he arrived at the room. They were slowly roaming around and preparing their equipment, clearly not appreciating their life.
“Morning. Your coffee,” a cup of double espresso was placed in front of him. Mork, collected and stoic as always (and that was a shocking discovery, that he wasn’t always half-drunk and wearing leather), walked away, leaving Pi to gather his thoughts and wander how he knew his drink order.
Duean was yawning his way through all day afterwards and upon meeting Pi during lunch time confessed, “Mork said he will leave if we skip at least one rehearsal. He said he won’t waste his time with people who are not taking this seriously. He will also help with keyboardist if he sees that we are improving”.
So, in a span of 4 weeks Mork was telling them what to play, how to play, when rehearse and organized some vocal training for Pi, pushing on him some friend that apparently had experience with singing professionally. Mork was all-rounded know-it-all and that wasn’t bothering anyone. Weird.
Mueang Nan on the other hand was amazing. He taught Pi about proper breathing and control. Pi was becoming better and he felt very accomplished, being able to make this much of a progress in such short period of time.
Pi also became more comfortable around Mork, he always was there during meetings with Nan and sometimes they even rehearsed at Mork’s place. That’s how Pi met Meen – the promised keyboardist and Mork’s brother. Pi liked him a lot. And the most wonderful thing that happened during rehearsals was that Duean, who couldn’t follow anyone tempo to save his life, actually became more focused and played completely in sync with Mean’s tunes. This was a blast!
“I can’t get it, why are you doing this?” Pi was a bit tipsy. He was generally alcohol intolerant, but beer mixed with some lemonade was doing just fine for him.
They were sitting in Mork’s room after another vocal session with Nan, who excused himself to the bathroom.
“Doing what exactly?” Mork took a sip from his own can of beer, never ceasing to look at Pi with his patent penetrating gaze.
Pi gulped – Mork was always so intense, despite looking completely composed. That probably was the face. The sexy stalker face.
“You know, organizing stuff for our band, inviting your brother to play with us, and these lessons with Nan. We made full 180 these several months and we actually started to sound quite good,” Pi giggled drunkenly and splashed a bit of his drink on himself.
Mork put his can down and took some tissues. Instead of giving them to Pi, he started wiping wet spot off Pi’s shirt and pants himself, “You seemed serious about your band that night. If I’m willing to invest my time into it, at least band members should respect what we are doing,” he threw used tissues into waste bin, but his palm stayed at Pi’s hip.
“Ahh, the professional ethic thing” Pi nodded eagerly and smiled his widest smile, “I will do my best, I promise”.
Mork shrugged, “I’m already satisfied with whatever you are doing”. He never took his hand away for the rest of the evening.
Pi was regretting his life choices. It was all Duean’s fault. He was the one who insisted that they ought to celebrate a successful gig. Thumping head, dry mouth and nausea welcomed him to the bright new day.
Pi groaned and tried to get up. No such luck. Warm body was plastered to his back and strong arms were holding him, hot breath tickled crown of his head. Pi whined, “Mork, you log, let me go”. Cranky groan and sleepy roaming of said arms running up and down his body – this ritual was unavoidable and an expected part of a morning hangover routine. Mork smashed his sleepy face into Pi’s neck and smooched, the asshole. Pi elbowed him in stomach, “Move!”
Somehow, he always ended up with Mork sprawled all over him asleep when their band was drinking. Mork was so clingy when drunk. The weirdo.
On his miserable way to bathroom Pi spotted Meen, who was sleeping on a chair and looking utterly cute while hugging a pillow. His own brother was found under the table, covered in colorful post-it notes with the most random words scrabbled on them. Pi was able to recognize Duean’s messy handwriting, Koh’s round half-finished letters and, clearly affected by alcohol but still neat, Mork’s contributions. Pi took one of the notes and tried to make out what a “UniCorn Hurricane” is supposed to mean.
Koh stumbled out of kitchen with a can of beer. Pi waved the note, “What the hell is that?”
Koh eyed the note, then snoring Duean and shrugged, “We were picking new name for the band”.
“Since when do we need new name?” Pi pouted. He didn’t remember even discussing this.
“You passed out, as always”, Koh rolled his eyes at Pi, “Meen fell asleep too, as always. Then somewhere in the middle of the night Mork received this uber important text about some band dropping out of a summer festival. And if we wanted to participate, we needed to send our application right away. Then we looked up this thing and apparently some big names will be there. Mork called Nan, as always, and the bastard said that we can’t go there being called “The Kitty Gang”. Apparently silly names not a thing since the beginning of 2000th if you are not at least the next Imagine Dragons or something”, Koh gulped his beer and shrugged, “Duean got upset, as he always does when someone criticizes his ideas. He started bickering with Mork, even tried to wake you up. Mork got all worked up, as he always does when someone disturbs you. He pressed the issue and made us brainstorm for a new name”, Koh pointed at all notes on Duean,” The best ideas went on Duean’s face,” he lazily scratched his stomach, “Yeah, we were clearly wa-aaay too drunk for this”.
Pi looked in disbelief at the note in his hand, “UniCorn Hurricane? Really?”
Koh saluted with his can, “We did try to stick to our roots, you know. I did my best and I’m proud. Whatever happened after I passed out is none of my business”.
Pi waived his hands impatiently “So? Do you know if they send the application or not?”
The raised eyebrow! Pi hated it when Koh pushed too hard with his own brand of chill sassiness.
Koh’s index finger pointed to the table, “Isn’t that Mork’s laptop? Just look it up yourself. His password is probably your first name or birthday or some other thing”.
“Ha-ha, very funny,” Pi grabbed laptop and tried Koh’s suggestions anyway. It didn’t work. So he had to kick sleeping Mork, “What is your password?”
Mork growled and rolled on his back. Still half asleep, he looked blearily at Pi and smiled. God, could someone already arrest this man for being utterly perfect even with hangover?! This was so unfair.
“Come here,” Mork made grabby motion and Pi had to sit next to him, allowing this leach to cozy up and half hug him again. “Put in ‘Soft-cheeked cutie’. No dash or spaces”.
Pi huffed, “Unbelievable,” he logged in and an email inbox appeared on a screen.
“WHAT THE FUCK IS A “SKY FISH”!?”
“The crowd is rowdy. They ask us to wait out while they clear exits”, Nan sat at the table where Koh and Pi were playing cards lazily and Mork was watching them. Duean and Meen were on a couch in the corner, discussing something that made Meen giggle and Duean beam in excitement despite the fact that they all were pretty tired after 2-hour long show.
Meung Nan placed his phone on the table, “First reviews are really flattering. Especially you, Mork. Attracting attention as always,” Nan smiled and Mork just hammed in response.
“Do they say anything in particular about the rest of us?” it was obvious for Pi, that despite trying to stay in the back and singing as little as possible, Mork was their main asset. But surely, they have at least something to offer without him?
Nan pressed his lips, “Well, I did speak with several labels. You know, they were trying to get us on contract for several months now, since that festival”.
“No,” Mork straitened in his seat, “Not unless they will give us freedom or at least right for a final say in all decisions considering band”.
Nan crossed arms on his chest, “Yeah, sadly no one will take us if they can’t control us or at least somehow manage our careers or performances. I told you that your conditions are ridiculous”, he shook his head disapprovingly.
Mork shrugged, “Duean was against those contractual obligations with labels too”.
“Hey, they wanted to cut out Meen… and Pi too! That’s unacceptable!” Duean punched couch angrily.
“Yeah, those plans to make some generic average rock band out of us were more ridiculous,” Mork nodded in agreement.
Koh covered his mouth with his cards and snickered, “More like Duean can’t play without Meen and Mork without Pi”.
Nan just exhaled in exasperation, “We discussed it already. No one downplays Pi’s or Meen’s talents, but Pi, for example, is not exactly very suitable for a front man. They offered a separate project where they will be able to fully disclose their potential. They even told that both bands can be part of the same project and make some collaborations time to time. But style and content should be refined for a bigger audience”.
Pi knew what Nan was referring to. It was a no brainer when every third comment was about Pi belonging in some pop boy band and that Mork should represent SKY FISH. Compared to Koh, Duean and Mork, he and Meen seemed a bit out of place. SKY FISH was confusing for audience.
“We won’t compromise on band members. They can take all five or no one”, Duean reached from his place and gave Mork high five for his words.
Nan smiled, “I’m glad to hear that actually. But you asked me to be your manager and I have to give you all a reality check once in a while. Decisions you make should be informed and in consideration with all possibilities”.
“Thank you for honesty,” Pi gave Nan reassuring smile.
Pi himself tried to make it better and easier for their band, but Mork was unmoving – he made it clear that without Pi he is not going to perform. All of them agreed to play together and no one was stepping down for any reason.
“Ok! This is boring,” Koh dropped his cards on the table and winked at Pi, “Fuck, marry, kill! Tell me, little brother. You can choose anyone at the table”, Koh always knew how to defuse the situation.
“Let’s see,” Pi pretended to think hard about it, but couldn’t pull a serious face, “I would fuck Nan, marry Mork and kill you”.
Koh pretended to look wounded, “Why not marry me?”
Pi stuck out his tongue in mock, “He likes me and can take good care of me. And you deserve to die for such crude games,”
“Ha,” Koh smiled slyly,” Your turn, Nan”.
Meung Nan shrugged, “Probably marry Mork and kill you. Or and fuck you”.
Pi clapped, “That was smooth”.
Koh laughed, but continued, “You’re next, Mork”.
Without a second to think, Mork stated, “Fuck and marry Pi, kill you”.
“Why everyone wants me dead?” Koh shook his head in disbelief.
Pi turned to Mork, “You know you have to pick one person for each”.
Mork placed his hand on the back of Pi’s chair and moved closer, “I don’t fuck my friends and there is no one in this room that I would do it with, except you of course”.
Pi felt how his face heat up, “I do remember you offered it when we met”.
Mork got even closer and Pi could feel the warmth of his breath on his cheek, “No take backs. And I agree to anything you wish to do”.
“GET A ROOM YOU TWO!”