Tuning Delicate Strings

Chapter 3

It had been a couple weeks and it seemed no matter how hard Ike tried to talk with Nikai, Nikai just wasn't responding. All he would get was one- word answers. Ike could tell that it was because Nikai was shy and didn't know anyone but it seemed whenever he was playing, it seemed there was no one else near by.
They had reached the venue early that morning and were all ready setting up the equipment from the trucks. Nikai immediately began to help to do some of the unloading and Ike decided to help.
Nikai jumped in the back of the truck and began to hand Ike some of the cymbals and Taylor's bongos. Ike decided to try at a conversation.
"Uh…Nikai…how you doing today?"
"Fine." Nikai answered, not looking Ike in the eye.
"Uh… was wondering, where are you originally from?" Ike asked, reaching for any possible topic.
"New York. My parents are from Russia originally." Nikai answered and grabbed a drum.
"Oh, explains your name I guess." Ike said, hoping for a better reaction.
"Uh huh." Nikai said, jumping out of the truck and grabbed Taylor's bongos from Ike and began to roll them into the stage area.
"You got a girlfriend?" Ike asked, immediately regretting he asked. Nikai stopped suddenly, his body tensing.
"No." He said and turned around, staring right into Ike's eyes. Those amber eyes seemed to bore into Ike and he blinked rapidly. Nikai then turned and began walking again. Ike shook his head and sighed. Ike followed Nikai inside and helped to set up some of the equipment. As soon as that was finished, Nikai found a corner to sit and just strum his guitar, away from everybody else. Ike stood back and watched only to be shocked at a hand on his shoulder.
"Hey Ike, what's up." Taylor asked with a concerned voice.
"Oh…uh…nothing." Ike said with a shocked expression on his face.
"Uh, can I ask you something, in private?" Taylor asked, starting to lead Ike away from everyone.
"What Tay?" Ike asked, narrowing his eyes.
"Uh…don't take offense to this, it's just something that I've noticed…but…you seem to be watching Nikai an awful lot." Taylor said, staring into Ike's face.
"Uh…I…I…" Ike stuttered feeling like a deer caught in headlights. Taylor just watched him, waiting for an answer.
"You were right before, there is something a bit off about him. I…I just was wondering why he's so quiet. It's like he's always scared about something." Ike answered.
"I now what you mean." Taylor said. Taylor then shrugged and walked away, back to his keyboard. Ike glanced around and decided to grab his guitar and begin rehearsal.
It was only an hour before the show and Ike couldn't seem to find Nikai anywhere. It was like he vanished. He found his brothers in the dressing room, just sitting ad talking.
"Hey Ike." Taylor said, looking up at his older brother.
"Yeah…hey." Ike said, looking around.
"Trying to find something?" Zac asked, taking a bite off a carrot stick.
"Uh…no…not really." Ike said, narrowing his eyes.
"Well, Nikai is on stage…" Before Zac could finish his sentence, Ike was out the door.
"Jeez." Zac said.
"There something weird going on." Taylor said, getting up.
"What do you mean?"
"Well…it's like every time Nikai is around, Ike can't be bothered with anyone else." Taylor replied.
"Maybe he's just trying to get to know him." Zac answered.
"I guess but it seems like Nikai wants no part of it. He's so quiet." Taylor said and walked towards the door.
"You don't think Ike likes…" Zac began to say.
"ZAC! No…no…you're right…he just wants to get to know him." Taylor announced.
"Whatever." Zac said, shrugging his shoulder.

Ike walked out onto the stage only to see Nikai by himself, playing around on Taylor's keyboards.
"You play piano?" Ike asked, walking up behind him. Nikai immediately turned around, eyes wide.
"Yeah." Nikai answered and turned off the keyboard and walked towards his guitar case.
"Do you play anything else?" Ike asked, putting his hands in his back pockets awkwardly.
"Drums, saxophone, and I used to play harmonica." Nikai answered, refusing to look at Ike as he got out his guitar. Before Ike could make another attempt to any conversation, Taylor, Zac and the rest of the back up musicians made their way on stage for sound check. Ike looked out, passed the stage to see two girls up on the top row of seats, sitting quietly. Taylor glanced over at Ike and looked at the two girls. He grabbed the microphone.
"Hey, you guys on the top row, why don't you come down here." Taylor announced. Both girls immediately looked at him, then got up, making their way to the front row. The one girl was tall with long brown hair, which was in a braid, glasses framing her blue eyes, a tie-dyed, green and blue tank top and jeans. The other girl was shorter with almost boy short dirty blonde hair in the back and longer, blonder pieced in the front, green eyes with glasses, a black tank top and jeans. Taylor immediately made a seat on the edge of the stage and bent over to shake their hands.
"Hey." He smiled.
"Hi." Both girls replied.
"You two look awfully familiar." Taylor said, cocking his head to the side. Just as he said that, Zac came over.
"Hey, weren't you two at the meet and greet here last tour?" Zac asked. "Yeah." The shorter girl replied.
"We met you backstage and got out pictures taken." She added.
"Oh yeah…I remember." Taylor said.
"This is Amanda…" The shorter girl said, pointing to her friend.
"And I'm Phyllis." She answered.
"Well, it's nice meeting you again." Taylor smiled.
"Sorry for interrupting your sound check." She added.
"Oh…that's all right, sound check isn't all that great anyway. Do you guys have backstage passes?" Taylor asked.
"Uh…no…" The taller girl, Amanda answered.
"Oh…well here, maybe we can hang out." Taylor said, pulling two passes out of his back pocket and handing them to each girl.
"Thanks." Both girls smiled. Taylor got up and resumed sound check. At one point, Ike walked over to him.
"You are the biggest flirt." Ike whispered and began to laugh.
"Me? I don't think so, you're worse than I." Taylor smirked.
"Besides, the one in the black is cute." Taylor grinned.
"Maybe Nikai could try hooking up with her friend." Taylor added. Ike just looked at him funny.
"What?" Taylor laughed.
"Never mind." Ike said, shaking his head as he walked away. At one point while Nikai was tuning his guitar, Taylor walked over to him, putting his hand on his shoulder. Ike watched Taylor suspiciously. Taylor grinned and whispered in Nikai's ear. Nikai jerked back and looked at Taylor, scrunching his eyebrows.
"I don't think so. She's not exactly my type." Nikai answered.
"You don't even know her." Taylor smiled.
"Taylor, leave Nikai alone." Ike said defensively. Taylor looked over at Ike and smiled evilly.

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