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It had been four days since Mylene’s departure from the Bronx, and two since Zeke’s sudden disappearance, when Shao finally broke down.

Dizzee was sure his brothers noticed how deeply it affected him too; Zeke abandoning all of their hopes, dreams, and goals for a girl who would never love him like he loved her, all for a girl who left him the first chance she got.

Shao was not one to show emotion, at least in the presence of others, Dizzee had gathered, so it was understandable that he told everyone to get out once he reached his breaking point.

It wasn’t in Dizzee’s best interest to stick around, because the last thing he wanted to do was burden Shao, but to his surprise, Shao asked him to stay.

He smiled politely, unsure of the motivation behind the request — it was flattering, but he hadn’t intended to stay for longer than a few minutes, and he had no idea how he could possibly help Shao with his feelings. He watched helplessly as Boo and Ra exchanged a puzzled glance.

“I said get the fuck out. Don’t know why y’all are still here.” Shao muttered into his hands. When nobody moved, he spoke again, and this time he looked right at Ra and Boo. “Yo, get the fuck out of here!”

Boo and Ra practically tripped over each other on their way to the door — objectively, one might’ve assumed they were being held at gunpoint — with Ra stuttering out a quick “We’ll see you at home!” and Boo pushing him out the door, leaving Dizzee to stare at Shao in silence.

Despite asking Dizzee to stay, Shao was unwilling to return his gaze, and he had probably stared a hole into the floor and the ground by now.

Not knowing Shao on a personal level was the most frustrating part of this ordeal, since he didn’t know how to react; growing up he had always been left to deal with his siblings when they had tantrums, but where they were predictable and easy to understand, Shao was not.

Dizzee exhaled deeply as he slid into the seat beside Shao, far enough away to be safe, but close enough to offer support. “Hey.”

Shao rubbed at his temples and sighed before turning to look at Dizzee. The intensity of Shao’s cold — almost dead — stare shocked him, and he was unsettled by just how stoic he really looked, even in the best light. “What the fuck are we gonna do?”

The question confused Dizzee at first, because really, what the fuck were they going to do? As humans, as people, as tiny specks of dust in this vast galaxy — in the grand scheme of things, what were they really going to do?

But then he realized Shao was referring to something else. Something less fantastical.

“About Zeke.”

Shao nodded curtly, like he wasn’t willing to admit it just yet.

Dizzee paused. “Well, I think we’ll be fine without him. You’re a DJ and you got three rappers. We don’t need him.

“How the fuck you gonna say we don’t need him when he’s our fucking wordsmith?” Shao, the same guy who suggested they replace Zeke on multiple occasions, said, sounding oddly defensive.

“You never seemed to have a problem with it before.”

Shao’s voice sounded desperate, like he was grasping at straws he knew didn’t exist. “Yeah well that was before he-” He stopped himself, again, not saying it. He pursed his lips and allowed his gaze to fall to the floor once more.

With the lack of apparent options and a severe lack of communication skills — a result of being called weird for so long — Dizzee was at a loss. He wanted to help Shao, since he provided him with the support he needed back at Chelsea Pier, but he didn’t know how.

And then it hit him.

Dizzee’s smile grew as he spoke. “I think I know a place that can help take this off your mind.”

When Shao looked up this time, his expression was hopeful, and Dizzee knew he had to do this for him, for Shao, and for the integrity of The Get Down Brothers.

 


 

Dizzee anticipated Shao’s response would be one of three things, based almost entirely on conjecture and not at all on facts, because it was easier to rely on opinion than facts, especially in the case of Shaolin Fantastic: 1) curious, 2) happy, or 3) miserable.

What Dizzee didn’t consider though, was Shao unwillingness to even enter the gallery.

“Dizz, what the fuck is this shit?” Shao’s voice was muffled by the plastic motorcycle helmet visor, but Dizzee could make out enough to know he was mad.

“It’s a party. Don’t you like parties?” Dizzee furrowed his brow as he climbed off of the motorcycle, glancing back at Shao as he removed his helmet.

“This shit don’t look like a party to me, and even if it did, this fucking area is sketchy as hell.” Shao seemed skeptical, for lack of a better word, but Dizzee understood.

He glanced at the door, taking a moment to consider the party beyond; the music, the lights, the dancing, the people — they were what Shao needed right now more than ever, and it was Dizzee’s duty as his friend to get him into the club, whether he liked it or not.

“Look,” Dizzee stepped toward Shao, “I know it’s scary, alright, and I know it’s a little weird, but I guarantee you’ll feel a lot better once you get inside.” He smiled, hoping to reassure Shao, but he just looked more suspicious than before.

Shao’s eyes wandered, eventually landing on the door as he sighed and nodded. “Okay. I’ll give you the benefit of the doubt, but if it ends up being whack, I’m leaving.”

“Okay, cool, I’m up for a challenge.” Dizzee started toward the door while Shao parked his motorcycle.

Dizzee didn’t wait for Shao to catch up, and he was already inside by the time he got back.

At the entrance was a plastic strip curtain that brought back memories of Dizzee’s first time there — the day he had been set free, much like a bird that had been flying in the wrong direction all its life. He would never forget.

Dizzee greeted the bouncer and introduced him to Shao, but he was having none of it, and simply ignored the bouncer’s attempt to talk to him. Deciding that it wasn’t worth ruining their night over, Dizzee lead Shao toward the lift. Dizzee was now a member of the club, according to Thor and Carmen, and he was given access to the private rooms, one of which was “their room,” where they spent all of their time together, laughing and talking about things people like Ed Koch would probably throw a fit over.

“Yo, where’s that white motherfucker from before?” Shao asked, raising his voice to be heard over the music. Dizzee pushed through the crowd, trying to spot the staircase that lead to the private rooms amidst the smoke and bodies.

Dizzee only heard “white motherfucker,” but he could guess who Shao was referring to. “He said he was busy!” He yelled back, hoping Shao had heard.

Once Dizzee noticed the stairs, he made an ecstatic “ah-ha!” sound and wrapped a hand around Shao’s wrist, pulling him through the bodies of dancers and partygoers alike, all the way to a clearing.

“It’s this way.” Dizzee said, pointing to a staircase, which lead to a smoke-filled hall with doors that were decorated with streamers and a floor littered with deflated balloons.

Shao looked from the stairs to Dizzee then back again before shaking his head. “Nah, I think I’m good.” He backed away, but Dizzee grabbed his arm. Shao looked like he was about to argue, but Dizzee put a finger to his lips.

“We just got here. Give it a chance.” Dizzee said as he retracted his arm and began to walk up the stairs. When they reached the top, Shao shot him an incredulous look. Dizzee sighed. “At least open yourself up to the idea of having fun. Besides, if we weren’t here, you’d probably be sitting on the couch crying over Zeke.” He gave Shao a moment to retaliate, but he knew he couldn’t, so he continued on. “Now c’mon, I wanna introduce you to someone.”

Dizzee strolled down the hall, eyes scanning the lengths of the doors, searching for the room he shared with Thor and Carmen — the room was scarcely occupied, since the three of them rarely had time to meet up.

On the second to last door — on the right, just for clarification — there were three painted letters: D, C, and T. “This is it.” Dizzee reached for the handle and turned it, but it didn’t open, so he knocked instead. The door flew open in a matter of seconds, and Dizzee was greeted with Carmen’s smiling face.

“Dizz, hey!” Carmen held the door open with her hand, sticking her head out to have a look at Dizzee’s companion. “Who’s this?”

“He’s a friend of mine. I was wondering if I could borrow the room for a few minutes?”

“Uh, yeah, sure.” Carmen stepped aside to reveal two girls lying on the bed, blowing smoke out of their mouths like cigarette models. “We’ll leave you two alone.” She inclined her head toward the door and the girls sighed.

“Cool, also sorry about this.” Dizzee said awkwardly, watching as the girls blew kisses at him as they passed.

“No worries. It’s your room too. Have fun!” Carmen winked playfully, closing the door behind her and her friends.

Shao examined the bed, eventually stepping around it to sit down in an armchair beside the window. “That was fucking weird.”

“She’s really cool once you get to know her.” Dizzee sat down on the bed across from Shao, who looked about ready to jump out the window — he had probably planned out the various ways he could escape if necessary.

Shao rubbed his hands together idly. “So where’s the fucking party?”

“Downstairs, but I wanted to talk to you first, because I’ve noticed how different you’ve been acting since Zeke left.” Dizzee watched as Shao shifted uncomfortably in his seat.

“What’s your point? I don’t think any of us is the same since Zeke left.”

“True, true, but I can tell you’re hurting more than you let on. And it’s cool if you don’t wanna talk about it, I just want you to know that I’m here for you.

Shao nodded slowly. “Are you just saying this ‘cause I found you with that pasty ass white dude and you don’t want me to tell nobody about it? Because I’m not gonna tell anyone. It’s not my business.”

“That’s not the only reason.”

All Dizzee received in response was a noncommittal hum.

“Shao, I care about you. We’re friends. I got your back and you got mine. Forget Zeke, we can make it together; you, me, Ra, and Boo. We’re the ultimate team, with or without him. I believe in us.”

Shao scoffed. “You really think that.” It was more of a statement than a question, and Dizzee didn’t doubt Shao was in disbelief. He had probably lived his whole life without a real support system, always on his own, never having anyone to confide in, but Dizzee didn’t want him to feel alone anymore.

“I do.” Dizzee stood up, and in a few strides he was standing in front of Shao. “You’re not alone. We’re all here for you and I mean that.” He extended his hand and smiled, watching as Shao looked up at him. “Now let’s go enjoy that party.”

Shao smiled as he placed his hand in Dizzee’s. “Alright, I get you.” He rose, but didn’t let go of Dizzee’s hand. “We’ll kill it together, the four of us. Fuck Zeke. Fuck Mylene. Fuck all of ‘em.”

It was silent for a moment, but then they started to laugh.

And they laughed all the way to the door because fuck Zeke, and fuck Mylene too, fuck everyone because no one mattered except them. The Get Down Brothers. The Fantastic Five minus One.

They would take over the world, one show at a time.