Fan sat on his bed in the hotel, quietly blogging on his laptop. He was having a dreary evening.
His day didn't start off well and it didn't get better. Knife made a snarky comment to him in the kitchen and he was out of his favorite cereal.
The weather outside felt gross and humid, plus there were bugs everywhere. He considered hanging out in the living room, but the loud atmosphere quickly turned him away. The only thing he could do was go back to his room on an empty stomach.
He remained alone in his room, taking an occasional sip of water but mainly focused on typing. His eyes hurt from staring at his screen for so long but that didn't stop him. Rambling to strangers online wasn't the same to talking to someone right in front of you. Few guests at the hotel bothered to listen to him, let alone interact with him.
Paintbrush had been making art for weeks, hiding away in the club room. Fan knew that they cared about him, but their patience was low. Fan felt scared to approach them sometimes.
Test Tube was busy in her lab all the time. Things had been awkward between them ever since the egg hatched. Talking to her didn't feel the same as it used to. Fan used to be able to speak to her carelessly, but now he felt like a burden.
It was easy for Fan to imagine the negative responses she could have.
"Why are you telling me this Fan?"
"I can't relate to what you're saying, so why bother?"
Test Tube never seemed interested in things that weren't "real". She liked facts, and things that made sense to her.
Not things like cartoons, video games, and blogging.
She would listen to Fan talk, occasionally nodding or mumbling an "mhm."
Fan couldn't help but feel guilty talking to her.
So, he stayed by himself in his room.
Another hour passed, and Fan was starting to get a headache from staring at his screen. He slowly shut his laptop, raising a hand to his face and closing his eyes. He scooted over to the side of his bed, hesitating a moment before standing up.
He stiffly wandered through the quiet hallways, eventually ending up in his studio. It seemed like such a long time since he filmed a new episode of his reality show. He lacked motivation to ask someone new to participate.
He leaned over his desk, tracing the grooves of the wood with his finger. The lights overhead buzzed persistently. Fan stood up again, continuing his aimless wandering.
He sat down on the couch, staring at the floor. The moonlight shining through the window made a distorted pattern on the carpet.
He had been doing these midnight wanderings for several weeks. It was starting to feel routine.
His mouth felt dry. Would getting a glass of water wake someone up? He shuffled to the kitchen, tiredly eyeing the refrigerator. He slowly opened a cabinet, struggling to avoid making noise. He filled his cup, turning back towards the living room and being met with a pair of eyes.
Fan squinted ahead, not sure if he was imagining it. He gripped his cup, still trying to make out what he saw.
Trophy took a step forward, looking like he just woke up. His eyes were half lidded and he had a blanket draped over his shoulders.
Fan never really interacted with Trophy, not had he been alone in a room with him. Trophy was known for being rude and careless about what he said to others. He made mean remarks and started fights with people.
Fan took a small step backwards, tightening his grip on the cup.
Trophy eyed him silently, stepping closer to him. Fan didn't know how to react, so he just moved backwards again.
Trophy narrowed his eyes, fiddling with a string on the corner of his blanket.
"Uhm... You're blocking the cabinet."
How could he have been so clueless? He shuffled away to make room for Trophy.
"I'm so sorry," Fan blurted out. He stared at the floor, nervously trying to calm down from the interaction.
Trophy didn't acknowledge him as he picked a mug from the cabinet.
Fan didn't know what kept him from walking away. He just stood there, unsure of what to do. He watched Trophy twist open a container of tea and fish out one of the tea bags.
"Did you want to say something? Or..." Trophy turned around and gave Fan a look.
"No.. um.. I'm just- standing here," He stammered out.
"Mh," Trophy acknowledged.
Trophy continued to wordlessly make his tea, eventually pouring steaming water into his mug. He turned around again, dropping his tea bag in the water and stirring it with a spoon.
Fan took a deep breath in, relaxing at the minty smell that filled the room.
"I couldn't sleep," Trophy stated out of the blue. He continued to stir his tea, eyeing the glossy kitchen tiles.
Fan searched once again for something to say.
"Me neither," He replied, almost sounding like he questioned his own statement.
He hadn't been trying to sleep. He had been awake all day. But Fan told a lie anyway because of his desperate need to relate to someone.
Fan had never seen Trophy act like this before. He hadn't said a single negative comment or complaint. He was soft spoken and peaceful.
It was so uncharacteristic and it made Fan feel wary.
More silence followed, Trophy finally raising his mug and taking a sip of the warm drink. He eyed Fan, watching his eyes worriedly dart around the room. Fan didn't look good. He had dark circles under his eyes and looked melancholy.
Trophy took another sip and cleared his throat.
"Hey.. are you okay?"
There was no way this was Trophy he was talking to. Fan was so focused on trying to process what Trophy said that he forgot to respond. His thoughts were interrupted by Trophy clearing his throat again.
"Oh! Yeah, I'm good! Just kinda tired, haha.." Fan laughed nervously, hoping he sounded genuine.
Fan started to question himself. Was he really okay? Was skipping meals and getting three hours of sleep okay? Was wandering through the hotel at night and regretting every little choice you made okay?
Was lying okay?
"Alright dude. But uh, if you ever wanna... you know, talk to me.. my door's unlocked." Trophy pointed upstairs. "Okay?"
Fan nodded, still not making eye contact.
With that, Trophy left the kitchen, taking the minty aroma of his tea with him.
Now Fan stood alone. He took his first sip of water and tried to grasp what just happened. Did Trophy really just ask if he was okay? It felt unreal. It wasn't familiar at all and it made him feel confused.
He stood by himself in the kitchen for another five minutes.
He refilled his cup and walked to the elevator, pressing the button and stepping inside.
Fan stared at himself in the glossy reflection of the elevator doors. He listened to the creaking as he was lifted up to his floor. The doors opened and he shakily stepped out. He slowly trudged to his room, not thinking of anything but his words with Trophy.
Sighing, he stepped into his room, still as empty as it was when he left earlier. Paintbrush wasn't present, meaning that they probably fell asleep in the club room again.
Fan flicked off the lights and crawled into bed, propping a pillow against his back and hugging a plushie he put in front of himself.
Ten minutes passed, and then a half hour. Fan couldn't sleep. His headache had gotten worse. He stepped out of bed without a thought, heading towards Trophy's room.
Would Trophy still be awake?
Did he change his mind about letting Fan into his room?
Fan knocked on the door two times. By the third knock, he was greeted with an annoyed groan before it stopped abruptly. Trophy dropped his irritated expression for a softer one.
"Oh hey. Uh, come in."
He paused. "Sorry, I thought you were Tissues." Trophy mumbled.
The room was dark, only lit up by the moonlight beaming though the window. It smelled like mint and old paper. Trophy's empty mug sat on his bedside table.
Fan didn't know what he was doing. He didn't know what he was supposed to say or what he was supposed to do.
Fan sat on the edge of what he assumed was Trophy's bed.
There was a corkboard above the bed with photographs and sticky notes. A slim showcase next to the wall housed numerous vintage cameras and photography equipment.
Trophy sat next to Fan on the bed and glanced at him. Fan was wringing his hands and looking out the window into the dark night.
Trophy took a breath and spoke.
"So.. are you actually doing okay? You don't look good."
Trophy's eyes went wide. "Well, I mean you don't look bad, I just mean- I meant like-"
Trophy threw his hands down in defeat, shaking his head.
"It's okay, I know what you mean," Fan tried.
"But um.. yeah. Could I tell you about it?"
Trophy gave a nod of reassurance.
Fan took a breath in, trying to start. "I feel.. unheard. Like nobody here really cares about me. I mean, I have friends, but they're just busy ar- doing their own thing, ya know? So I tell all of my thoughts online- instead of people I kn- in real life. It's not really fulfilling, and I do it at- all the time, and I'm loosing sleep because of it.."
He paused, rubbing his face and starting to nervously rock his leg.
"And I don't feel good. I think it's bad. It's bad."
Was he talking for too long? Trophy still had his gaze fixed on Fan, taking in everything he was telling him.
"So I've just been alone lately. And I have lots of pent-up feelings and words that I want to sa- share.. but nobody seems to care about it. I guess that's what's bothering me."
Fan didn't even know what to think about what he said. He never really tried to understand what was bothering him until he had to put it into words.
What was even harder to believe was that he was sitting next to a notorious bully and discussing his problems.
Trophy waited a moment to make sure that Fan was done talking.
"Thanks for telling me that Fan. I know it's weird since we never really talk.. but thanks for trusting me to listen."
Fan continued to look at Trophy without saying anything. Trophy inhaled and continued.
"That sounds really frustrating. And I know it sucks. I don't really have anyone to talk to either, but I keep to myself and I don't really get pent-up."
Trophy didn't know what the best thing to say was. He had never tried to comfort someone before. He had made fun of Fan in the past for being so quiet, but now he felt a sinking feeling of guilt. He didn't understand what Fan was going through and he teased him for it.
"...I'm sorry for being rude to you about in the past..I feel really bad about that right now. I'm totally willing tj listen to you talk anytime."
"Really?" Fan blinked, surprised by Trophy's apology and his offer to listen.
The night turned into morning as the two continued to talk about any little thing they could think of. Like how Trophy had been saving pieces of glass to make a sun catcher. Or how some barn swallows made a nest on the overhang of Fan's window.
Fan felt so good being able to finally get his feelings out to someone. Although he never expected it to be Trophy. And he never wanted it to end.
"It's getting kinda stuffy in here, do you wanna go outside to get some fresh air?" Trophy gestures to the door.
"Oh, yeah sure."
They silently stepped into the elevator, staring ahead as they were lifted to the top floor. From there, they climbed the stairs up to the roof.
The door squeaked as it was opened. Trophy and Fan walked towards the edge of the roof, hopping up to the ledge. Trophy kicked his legs over the side, followed by a nervous Fan.
Fan braced himself, peering down at the grass below him. He was so high up, it was almost dizzying. Trophy gave him a comforting look. "You okay?"
"Yeah," Fan mumbled.
The spring air was crisp and had cooled down since the morning. Fan squinted ahead, trying to make out anything in the dark morning. The outlines of trees were only lit up by the moon.
"Look up," Trophy whispered.
Fan stared upwards, opening his mouth in awe at the vast collection of stars scattered across the sky.
"Wow..." He trailed off.
In that moment, Fan felt as if he and Trophy were the only people on earth. Floating among the stars, looking down on the world together.
Fan could hear Trophy's quiet breathing next to him. Occasional breezes whispered through the leaves on the trees below.
Fan didn't think he had ever felt so much at peace in his life. He breathed in the fresh air, closing his eyes and trying, just for one second, to savor this moment and never forget it.