Written for #RCReadathon2020 Prompt and Pairing, Please! Challenge. Sort of. Jill is a character from the Playlist series, starting with Songs of Our Breakup. Rhys is a character from Six de los Reyes‘ book Just For the Record and also appears in anthology Summer Crush.
Prompt: No one asked for this but follows this first meeting and we suppose this is now canon.
They handed over the payment at the same time.
To which the lady behind the fresh juice bar looked at them odd as they each tried to one-up each other and pay for the other’s fruit shake. But Ate Fruit Shake was having none of the shenanigans and left them both to deal with whatever this was, momentarily moving on to the next customer and letting them decide instead whose money she should take.
Rhys’s eyes flashed for a second of eye contact.
In response Jill clicked her tongue. “You’re ruining the moment.”
“You,” Rhys muttered under breath, “are ruining the moment.”
“I’m just trying to pay for our drinks.”
Not pancakes tonight because it didn’t have to be pancakes. Instead they met at some street food fair and it was a little bit of kwek-kwek here, some barbecue there, a piece or two or four of fishballs and squidballs and what have you. And then fruit shake after. Mango for Jill. No sugar. No milk. Just mango. Rhys’s avocado shake, with the milk and the sugar and all the good stuff was waiting, and arguing meant more talking and less fruit shake-ing, so Rhys curled her lip and accepted temporary defeat. The war was far from over, and sometimes it was wise to lose a battle. Strategy. It works.
Besides, they’ve been outside long enough, and there were too many people out, and it was time to go find somewhere quiet to sit. Find some calm. Make sure the rest of the band boys—Jill’s Trainboys and her own whatever—wouldn’t find them before it was time. Tonight they were playing at this open air stage thing, one after the other as they usually did. Trainman and then Arabella, and then Rhys. Earlier, Jill had sent her a message, “They have fruit shake here.” Easy.
Now they sat together on the curb some walking distance away from the venue. Walking was nice. The outside air could be nice, too.
“I don’t understand,” Jill said, showing Rhys her screen. “Or maybe I do and maybe that’s worse.”
Rhys seemed to have a bad habit of picking up excess baggage along the way to wherever she was going, and this was nothing new. On Jill’s phone screen was a series of photos, one after the other storyboard style although the narrative remained to be seen.
Baggage A, Michael Brian admiring himself and his muscles in the mirror.
Baggage B, Son admiring Michael Brian admiring himself and his muscles in the mirror.
And Baggage C, Steven admiring his screenshot of Son admiring Michael Brian admiring himself and his muscles in the mirror.
At the very end of it was a link to another single they seemingly dropped out of nowhere. Just because they can. Because Mikhail Learns to Brian has a brand, apparently. That brand is chaos and energy. And dragging unsuspecting band boys to supervise and offer input. At least the new song was good. Not that Rhys was ever worried. It was bright and effervescent, with a backbone of kicks and snares like a moshpit stomping on the sand and a guitar riff like a color wheel against the cloudless sky.
“Adequate,” Rhys said, answering Jill’s silent question. “The song. Traindude helped, didn’t he? I told him not to.”
“Miki had no choice. He said it was, and I quote, not a democracy. Your boy helped, too. Kenny. ”
“That’s because the intern is a fan of Bread Cheeks.”
Jill tilted her head in thought. “Your intern is a fan of Steven?”
Rhys grunted to confirm. “And I don’t have boys.”
“Gotcha.” Jill swiped through the photos and chuckled under her breath. She flipped her phone again to show Rhys her screen. “Of course. Only a matter of time.”
The latest update was a photo of the Shinta standee, beaten and bruised but never defeated, endorsing the latest release. “Your boy is aware of this?” Because that would be a massive headache, more than the usual because Shinta Mori did not come cheap.
Jill shrugged. “He consents to it. You, as the company, do not need to worry about that.”
Rhys grunted and bit into her sugarcane straw. In the distance, she heard Michael Brian and Son calling out for Adrian and Kim. “That can’t be good.”
Jill’s smile burst into a laugh. “But interesting for sure. Here is safe enough distance, I think. We are past the point of intervention.”
Rhys’s teeth clamped harder on her straw. Then after a moment she pulled out her phone and found about a dozen or so messages in various stages of panic and disbelief. “Thanks for the avocado shake.”
“Sure,” Jill answered. “This was nice. You going?”
Rhys tilted her chin up for another flicker of eye contact. “No. I don’t have to go.”
“Cool. And the song is more than adequate.”
Rhys smirked. “Wait ‘til you hear the next one. I will be in touch.”
#RCReadathon2020 Prompt and Pairing, Please! Challenge thread this way for more ficlets of your Romanceclass faves.