The Musician

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Chapter Four

“It’s not like I was trying to get back together with him, you know?”

“Uh-m,” I stuttered, blinking as I tried to get the ringing out of my head. “I completely understand.”

I didn’t.

I never could make sense of half of the bemoaning Advik did when it came to Oliver, but I listened to him anyway because he needed someone to listen to him.

The bar was noisy, and the music coming from the jukebox sucked. I wasn’t a good drinker, and Advik was. Meaning that after he had downed down three bottles and was still perfectly fine. I already had a headache and was feeling sleepy after a few glasses of beer. At least I wasn’t a talkative drunk. I just went quiet. It would be a disaster if I was a talker and somehow ended up confessing my feelings or some nonsense.

“I try to get over him,” Advik said as I tried to keep my eyes open. My eyelids hurt, and my head felt too heavy for my palms to hold up. “I try, I really do,” Advik repeated, turning the glass cup that was half empty now.

“I just thought that a good part of getting over someone would be to still be friends with them, you know? I didn’t want to cut him out of my life completely,” he went on, and I just nodded into my hands. Closing my eyes for a bit before opening them up again. I felt dizzy, and the noise in the bar was only getting worse as the night got darker.

“Are you even listening to me?” Advik asked, laughing and making me open my eyes.

“I am, I am,” I insisted, rubbing my eyes as Advik continued to laugh. I managed to get myself to wake up a bit, and when I looked over at Advik he had a grin on his face. He stared at me, and I stared back until my face started to feel hot. Why did he have to look at me like that?

“Why do you deal with me?” Advik asked, making m blink before looking over at him again. His smile was gone, and there was a slight frown playing on his thick brows. His face was flushed red from drinking and his eyes kept moving from my face to the bottle of beer that was sitting in the middle of the round table. “You seem irritated by me talking to you about Ollie all the time, but you still listen to me,” he continued, hiccupping as he sat up on his chair.

“Why?”

My face got redder as he expanded on his question. I opened my mouth to say something, but nothing came out, so I just sighed, running a hand through my hair.

“You’re my friend?” I said it in such an odd way that it sounded like I was asking in a question.

Advik raised his brow a little higher. “Really? You think so?” he asked, biting his bottom lip before leaning forward. The table was small, so him just leaning a bit was enough to close the gap between us so that our faces were almost touching. “We don’t really do anything but talk about Ollie, don’t you think?”

Where’s he going with this? I wondered, looking down at my hands. Advik leaned away, and soon the sound from the nearby tables filled the void. We didn’t say anything to each other for a while, but then Advik made a sound like he was about to throw up.

“I’m fine,” he said, raising his hand in a halting motion when I moved to stand up. I stared at him, not quite believing him, but I sunk back into my seat when he sat up and took deep breaths.

“Austin?”

“Yeah?”

“Let’s be friends.”

I stared at Advik as he reached out for the glass of beer to drink the rest of its content. “Hmm? What do you say?” he asked, and I felt my face burn from the sight of him. His brown eyes were sad, but wide and playful, and the smile on his face look sincere. I nodded after a while after thinking about it, and Advik’s smile turned into a toothy grin.

“Great!” he said, laughing a bit like he was excited. I knew Advik was drunk, but I couldn’t help feeling touched by the discussion we just had.

My shoulders went stiff in shock when I felt Advik’s hand on my mine. I looked down at our joined hands. Advik was taller than me, so it followed that his palms were longer than mine too. His hand covered my smaller one. He withdrew it, moving to drum a beat on my knuckles with the tip of his fingers.

“Your hands feel nice.” I knew he meant that literally, but my brain processed it as him flirting with me. It felt nice, but it also felt strange, so strange — like my chest would burst if he kept touching me. I pulled my hand away, making Advik frown a bit and a confused look formed on his face. He didn’t stay that way for too long. He winced, and I got up heading over to him. It looked like the alcohol was finally hitting him.

“We should leave, it’s like nine now,” I said, taking a hold of his shoulders and giving him a little shake. Advik was a lot bigger than me. There was no way I could carry him by myself if he passed out. The buses and trains stopped running at eleven, so we had a few hours to get back. I had messaged our roommates when I started getting tipsy to tell them that we won’t be back early.

“Come on,” I said, giving him a shake again. He stood up, holding his head with his hands as he groaned. yeah, Advik was great with alcohol, but the headache spells that followed after he drank a lot were hell for him. I helped him to the counter so that we could get a bottle of water to help with his headache before helping him out of the bar. We both made our way for the closest bus stop and took a seat on the wooden bench. It was late and even though the buses were still running not many people were waiting around. I checked the city transit app to get an idea of when the next bus would be stopping.

“What’s wrong?” Advik asked when I let out a frustrated sigh. I looked over at him. Watching him loosen and tighten the bottle cap of the bottle of water he had in his hands. He seemed to have sobered up a bit. I stared at his hands for a little too long, remembering how he had randomly reached out to hold my hand in the bar.

“Your hands feel nice.”

Remembering Advik’s words from the bar, I swallowed down the ball of saliva that had formed at the back of my throat. I was nervous beyond words, but it didn’t seem like Advik took notice.

“It’s nothing, we’re just going to have to wait for the bus for a while,” I answered, pocketing my phone before playing with the loose baby hairs on my hairline. I avoided looking at him, trying to get the memory of him holding my hand out of my head. I swung my feet to keep myself occupied and dug my hands into the pocket of the jacket I had on to keep them from freezing. It was a chilly spring night. I cussed in my head a bit for wearing ripped jeans, wishing the bus would get here soon.

A gasp left my lip when I felt Advik rest his head on my shoulder. I froze, not looking down at him in fear that my heart would jump out of my chest. It was cold, but I could feel sweat on my four head and my face was hot. What is he up to? I asked myself, wondering why he was so touchy this night.

“It’s pretty cold,” Advik muttered, snuggling closer. His body was pressed by my side, and his hair was tickling the skin of my neck. I didn’t say anything in response to his words, so the area went quiet aside from the sound of cars passing by occasionally. I stole a couple of glances at him from time to time, and whenever his eyes were open and staring right back at me my face would get warmer and I would look away almost immediately. I couldn’t see much in the dark, but Advik seemed sleepy, and there was still a frown on his face that told me his headache hadn’t gone away.

“Remember when I thought we had sex?” Advik asked out of the blue. The memory of the morning after I had gotten Advik from the late-night party flooded my mind and my face turned red

Advik chuckled, but I didn’t laugh along with him. There was nothing funny about it to me.

“You know, I was kind of offended about the way you acted,” Advik said in a sigh, lifting his head from my shoulder to squint at the light coming from the stores that lined the street. “Do you think sex with me would be bad?” Advik asked, and I kept quiet, not knowing what to say or make of the conversation Advik was trying to have.

“Hmm?” he asked, looking straight at me. We stared at each other for a bit. Advik’s dark eyes seemed to have a twinkle in them, and the corner of his lips were arched in a slight smile. The look on Advik’s face was playful — teasing.

I bit my bottom lip, thinking about that.

He was teasing me.

Advik leaned in — pausing to look at me, but I didn’t move, so he closed the distance and pressed his lips on mine. His lips were a little rough, but they were warm. I closed my eyes, getting nervous. He reeked of alcohol and his tongue tasted like it too. I was shaking and couldn’t bring myself to do anything but let him kiss me. He reached out his hand to hold my face, using his fingers to hold my chin before letting go and touching the skin of my collar.

He pulled away, staring at me before looking away. “See, I’m not that bad.”

Oh. I said in my head, blinking before looking away from him. I had forgotten why he had kissed me in the first place. He had kissed me for the heck of it — just to show me that he wasn’t a bad lay.

I had mixed feelings about it. Did it mean that he found me attractive enough to kiss? Or did it mean that he was so comfortable with me as a friend that he would joke around like this? I decided not to think about it too much because it was starting to upset me, and didn’t want to look like I couldn’t take a joke.

After a while of keeping the awkward distance between us after the kiss, Advik returned to resting his head on my shoulder. The bus came soon after, and when Advik got up I felt a wave of relief wash over me. It seems that I had been holding my breath throughout time. Advik didn’t seem to notice that I was a mess, and he did the same thing on the bus — cuddling up to me and resting his head on my shoulder throughout the ride back home.

When we got back to our apartment Advik went to his room and I went to mine. Through the night I couldn’t sleep. I just lay in bed and stared at the wall — my cheeks warm and chest aching from the beating of my heart.

What was that? I kept asking myself, still trying to make sense of Advik’s behavior.

“Whatever,” I said, trying to push it to the back of my mind as I turned to my side and stared out into my dark room. “He’ll be back to sobbing about Ollie tomorrow,” I said to myself in a smug matter of fact tone, but I couldn’t help the small part of myself that was upset with the revelation. As I turned and tossed around in bed the question, I had been asking myself for over a year kept ringing in my head.

Was there a chance that Advik would ever like me the way I liked him?

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