"Is something burning?" Naina Malhotra asks herself, getting out of bed. She walks out of her room and goes downstairs. She walks into the kitchen, and sees a sight that she never thought that she'd see.
Her brother, Manik 'I use being a tortured artist as an excuse to be an asshole' Malhotra, cooking. Or at least attempting to.
"Uh, Manik? You're not trying to burn down the house are you?"
Manik turns around, and scratches the back of his head sheepishly. "No, I was actually trying to make you your favorite cheese omelette."
"Aw, that is so sweet!" Naina walks over to her brother and hugs him, craning her neck up, only to be met with her brother's egg yolk covered chin.
"Who are you, and what have you done with my brother Manik?"
Manik slaps her arm, prompting Naina to retract her arms from her brother's waist. "Seriously though! When did you become so thoughtful?" Manik says nothing, continuing to focus on the omelette.
And then it hits her.
"Oh my god, did Nandini Murthy turn my brother into a big old softie?!"
"Shut up Naina."
Naina squeals, choosing to focus on her brother's pink cheeks rather than the homicidal glare he was sending her way. Her eyes then divert to what she assumes is Manik's version of cooking. "Manik, why does your cheese omelet look like something conceived by a chicken and a fish?"
"What are you talking about?"
"So you see, when a chicken and a fish have a baby... chickfish? Yeah, let's go with chickfish. So, if you take that chickfish and try to cook it, that's what this thing here looks like."
"Fine, don't eat it!" snaps Manik, about to throw out all his hard work.
Naina stops him, smiling. "I never said that wouldn't eat it." She takes the 'omelette' and puts it on a plate. Slowly, she starts to eat it, as Manik looks on, mouth hanging open in shock until Naina somehow manages to swallow the very last bite.
"You just ate my cooking... how was it?"
"It didn't make me puke, but how about I teach you how to make an actual cheese omelette?"
Manik shrugs, following his sister's lead. As Naina cracks an egg and starts beating it, Manik asks, "Wait, that's how you crack an egg?"
"Yeah, why? How did you crack the egg?"
"Well, I kind of just smashed it in my hand and put it in the bowl."
Naina sends him a look that says 'are you joking?' before shaking her head and continuing to make the omelette. When she gets out the cheese, that's already opened, she sees that it's moldy, and throws it out.
"Why'd you do that?"
"Because it's moldy." A wave of panic crosses Manik's face, causing Naina to groan. "You used the moldy cheese, didn't you?" Manik says nothing, as Naina furiously opens up a new pack of cheese.
Once the omelet is done, Manik stares at it in awe.
"Now that is how you make a cheese omelette!" Naina exclaims triumphantly. As Manik begins to eat the omelette, Naina slaps his hand away. "You don't get to eat this amazing omelette that I slaved over."
"But I'm hungry!"
"You made me eat toxic poison."
"I thought you said it was a chickfish."
"That was before I found out that there were egg shells and moldy cheese in it! No wonder it was crunchy..."
"Well, I'm sorry, I tried!"
"And it wasn't a bad try. I mean, I'm alive so..."
Manik throws a towel at her.
"Hey!" exclaims Naina, throwing it back at him.
Somewhere along their game of 'hot potato: towel edition,' a frustrated Naina blurts out, "You know, you should be glad that I'm even talking to you right now! All you've done is ignore me for the past three fucking years!"
Manik freezes at mid-throw when he hears this, letting the towel drop to the ground, causing Naina to sigh, cursing her big mouth. "Look, I didn't want to bring this up, but two of your best-friends, never mind your girlfriend who you're supposedly in love with according to Alya, didn't even know that I existed until yesterday! If Cabir and Mukti are as important to you as you say they are, then don't you think that they deserve to know about your one and only twin sister? And we haven't even had a proper conversation in the past three years! Did you ever call to see how I was doing? If I'm okay? Well, I did. I know that Mukti was depressed. I know that Cabir struggled with being gay. I know how messy your breakup with Alya was. I know that Dhruv was being a complete ass towards you and everyone else. I know that Nandini had to deal with that creepy teacher. I know about Soha the psycho stalker... I know everything! And how do I know everything? I asked, and Alya was more than happy to answer because clearly, you wouldn't.
I was worried, I was concerned, I cared about you enough to check up on you. But what about me, Manik? Did you even bother to ask about how I was doing? Did you know that I had to be in the boys' dormitory because of system errors? Did you know that there was a crazy girl out to get me as well? And what about the fact that I've had to spend time with our pathetic excuse for a father and his teenage trophy wife on my own?! We're twins, Manik, always there for each other no matter what. We don't keep secrets from each other, and don't you dare deny that there are things that you're not telling me, big things. A cheese omelet isn't going to make up for three years of ignoring me when I needed you the most. I know that this isn't exactly something you wanted to hear first thing in the morning, but I just... you know what, it doesn't even matter. I'll see you later." With that, Naina walks back up to her room.
Manik runs his fingers through his hair, eyes landing on a perfectly expensive and fragile piece of china to throw across the room.
That was before he heard a voice say, "Smashing things is for the broken-hearted, not the frustrated." He turns around and sees Myra standing near the entrance of the kitchen, leaning against the wall, arms folded across her chest, eyebrows raised to her hairline.
Manik sighs, removing his eyes from the plate. "How long have been here?"
"Um, right where Naina started yelling. I am amazed by Naina's ability to go from laughing to yelling." Manik simply gives her his resting bitch face. "Seriously Manik, not even a half-smile?" Manik lets out a small chuckle, causing Myra to smile brightly. "Now that's what I'm talking about!"
"Huh, I didn't know that the resident bitch of SPACE had a heart."
Myra excitedly moves her body off the wall, practically bouncing, putting Navya in all her bubble of energy glory to shame. "There's the Manik Malhotra I know and love! You feel better now buddy?"
"I will once my sister has the heart to forgive me."
"You know, you could always just tell Naina the truth about Harshad -"
Myra throws her arms up in defense. "I swear to god Manik, you put all hormonal girls of the world to shame."
"Okay, serious mode. Look, I know Naina, she's not going to stay mad at you forever. But if she finds out that you're lying to her, she will make you feel like crap."
"Gee thanks." That earned Manik a smack on the arm.
"I'm serious! Naina hates being lied to."
"Okay, now you're just starting to sound like Dhruv."
"Well, Dhruv is right. Lying to Naina is going to blow up in your face."
"Are you like, on Team Dhruv or something?"
"In this case, I'm totally on Team Dhruv!"
"I really hate you, you know that?"
Myra, who had already turned around to walk away, tried to leave with a muffled, "Yeah, yeah, love you too," until Manik remembers something.
Myra freezes on the spot and hisses, "So close!" She turns around and gives Manik a big smile. "How ya' doin'?"
"Yeah, I'm not buying that."
"Seriously, not even for like half a second?"
"Not even for like a quarter of a nanosecond."
Manik, ignoring Myra's desperate need to not talk about her feelings, walks up to her and demands, "What was that last night?"
"What was what?"
"Don't play dumb with me. I thought we talked about your drinking."
"Why, pray tell father, am I not allowed to have one night entitled to me drowning my sorrows in alcohol?"
"One night, really?!"
"Okay, maybe more than one night."
Manik sighs, frustrated. "Hey, this is just how I deal with my problems. It's not the best way to deal with my problems, but it's still better than keeping it all bottled up inside, or taking it out on other people."
"You should be more worried about Naina, not me. One sister at a time, Manik." With that, Myra pulls a Naina and heads upstairs to the guestroom, which is technically her unofficial room.
"Sisters," Manik grumbles as he watches Myra walk away.
First thing Naina hears when she walks through the doors of SPACE is her brother's girlfriend yelling her name.
Everyone else looked at them strangely. Nandini was this sweet, lovable girl, and Naina literally had 'I am Satan, I will kill you' written on her forehead. They're a strange pair those two... but then again, strange is exactly what SPACE is known for.
"Wow, Naina smiled at you?" asks Alya, walking up to them. "Those are usually reserved for people she actually likes. Oh, and Dhruv."
"Okay, when have I ever smiled at Dhruv?"
"Lots of times."
"How about ten? Oh, and would like them in chronological order, or alphabetical?"
"I only asked for one," grumbles Naina, folding her arms across her chest as Nandini giggles.
Suddenly, there's a loud screeching noise that makes everybody cover their ears.
"What the fuck is that?!" demands Naina.
"Ugh, our PA system," explains Alya.
"Good morning people of SPACE!" a voice declares from the PA system. "Now before I continue with the usual announcements, I'd just like to mention that we are going to fix this ancient machine that's recently been sending people to the hospital with bleeding ears. Now that I've mentioned that, we only have one major announcement today. As you all know, our annual music showcase is coming up. This showcase is an amazing opportunity for everyone to show their talent in front of some of the biggest names in the music business, so sign up to audition now. Also, any questions or concerns you may have should be directed towards Ms. Nyonika Malhotra. This has been Myra Kapoor with your morning announcements, have a nice day."
"At least her voice is more pleasant than that godforsaken PA system," remarks Nandini.
"Well, she is one of the best female singers in this college," Alya points out.
"Huh, never heard of her," says Nandini, as the girls make their way to their classes.
Meanwhile, a sour Manik's mood is slightly brightened when he hears his best-friend exclaim, "Hey buddy!"
"What's wrong buddy?"
"Lies!" Dhruv exclaims dramatically in an accusing manner. "Now tell me the truth."
Manik rolls his eyes, mentally reminding himself to stop any future Bollywood marathons Dhruv plans on having with Navya. "Naina kind of blew up at me this morning. Also, Myra said that she's on Team Dhruv about this whole lying to Naina thing."
"I know, I got her text. We're planning on making t-shirts."
Manik chuckles and shoves Dhruv. "Very funny!"
"I know, I'm hilarious, but we actually are planning on making t-shirts."
"How exactly did you get Myra to agree about the t-shirts?"
"I might've told her that the t-shirts would have 'Team Dhurv and Myra' written on them. But the 'and Myra' part is going to be small. Really small. Like, minuscule, not even there, practically invisible."
"You do know that Myra will kill you if you do that to her, right?"
"Please, I've known Naina all my life and I'm still alive! Myra's like a harmless kitten compared to her, and I've seen the black eye she gave the last jerk she went out with." Manik shakes his head at his best-friend as they make their way to class.
Later that day in the canteen, a helpless Manik was trying to get his sister to accept his apologies as their friends looked on. "Okay, you can't seriously be mad at me forever!"
Naina doesn't respond.
"Naina!" Manik whines, kind of like a five-year-old begging for his mom's attention. Naina continues to eat the delicious chicken sandwich she bought.
"Lieutenant peanut butter?" Naina shoots her brother a death glare for mentioning her childhood nickname, but still continues to shut him out. "Seriously, nothing?"
Meanwhile, Mukti, who was watching this sad, but hilarious, scene unfold with her friends, remarks, "You know, I've never seen Manik so - so -"
"Desperate?" suggests Nandini.
"Eh, I've witnessed this side of him a couple times."
"You guys, he's pouting!" exclaims Navya. "Monster Manik Malhotra is pouting! This is the best day of my life!"
"You're so weird," grumbles Cabir, immediately regretting opening his mouth when Navya shoots her laser eyes at him. Cabir then turns to Harshad, keeping his voice low as he hisses, "You know, you should be the one having to deal with this." Harshad says nothing.
Dhruv, who was itching to pick a fight with Naina, as well as defend his best-friend of course, says to Naina, "Wow, you're being way bitchier than usual."
Naina snaps her head in Dhruv's direction, picking up a spoon and pointing it in his face. "You do know that I have a spoon right?"
"Yeah, I'm just gonna' take that." Dhruv somehow manages to get the weapon - er, spoon out of Naina's death grip.
"What's she gonna' do with a spoon?" asks Cabir.
"Trust me, you really don't want to know," warns Alya.
"Does anyone else notice that Dhruv is actually enjoying the fact that Naina wants to kill him, or is that just me?" asks Mukti.
"Dhruv likes picking fights with Naina," explains Alya, "mainly because he's a suicidal moron."
"But it's Dhruv! Good boy Dhruv!"
While Mukti continues, and fails, to try and understand the effect Naina Malhotra is having on two of her best-friends, Harshad decides to intervene and try and pacify Naina. "Come on Nains! You can't be mad Manik forever. I mean, he is your one and only twin brother."
"You too? Three against one is hardly fair. Alya, back me up here."
"Sorry Naina, but I think you're being just a little too harsh on Manik."
"Oh, so you're on their side now?"
"What if I told you who ate that lifetime supply of chocolate you worked so hard to win in that contest?" Alya's eyes go wide, as the boys curse Naina under their breaths.
"Screw doing the right thing! You will all now face the wrath of a girl deprived of her chocolate!"
Manik then turns to his lovely girlfriend, hoping for some help. "Nandini, please help us out!"
"Sorry guys but... girl code."
"What about the girlfriend code?"
"Yeah... girl code trumps the girlfriend code like every time." Manik, Dhruv, and Harshad all give Nandini looks that make her feel like she just run over a puppy. With a tractor. Nine times.
"But what I want to know, is who this Myra Kapoor is," says Nandini, changing the topic.
"Wait, you don't know who Myra Kapoor is?" asks Mukti.
"Not a clue."
"Nandini, Myra does the announcements every morning," Cabir informs her.
"And she's our college president," adds Dhruv.
"Okay, seriously, how have I never even heard of this girl?"
"Maybe because you were too busy sucking face with my brother." Everyone turns to look at Naina, who simply shrugs. "What? I've heard things. Mainly from Cabir, who, by the way, is the biggest gossip I've ever met." Manik glares at Cabir who smiles cheekily at him, as Nandini buries her tomato red face in her hands.
Before the teasing could begin, Manik and Naina both get texts.
"Thank god," mutters Manik.
"Um, guys, we'll see you later."
"Yeah, bye guys."
Entering the music room, Naina immediately says, "Okay Myra, what's the problem?"
"That is my problem," spits out Myra, pointing at the smirking, abs of steel guy standing beside her. Naina's eyes go wide when she sees him.
"Kunal?!" Unable to contain her excitement, Naina runs up to Kunal and hugs him, a very un-Naina thing to do, and jumps into his arms. Kunal spins her around, then puts her back down on the ground.
"What are you doing here?"
"Ugh, don't ask!"
Naina rolls her eyes. "Myra?"
"Well, according to your dad, Kunal is my new boyfriend." Myra looked like she wanted to strangle someone, although Naina was unsure whether it was her father or Kunal.
"Wait, rewind," says Manik, turning to Kunal, "how do you know my sister?"
"She was my roommate."
"She was your what?!"
"We'll talk more about that later. Now, can you two please explain exactly what's going on?"
"Well, basically, your best-friend is an idiot, so his parents decided to find him a goodie-goodie girlfriend," explains Myra.
"And that's where Miss Goodie-Goodie comes in," continues Kunal. "Her parents are trying to get into my parents' good graces, and she's the poster child for all that is good in the world so... voila! Instant girlfriend."
Myra glares at Kunal, her reputation as the resident bitch of SPACE shining through. "They're not my parents, they're my uncle and aunt."
"Whatever." Kunal was clearly not bothered by the fact that Myra's trying to strangle him from behind.
"See what I mean!"
"Alright, alright, break it up!" says Naina.
"Wish I could," mutters Kunal.
Naina ignores him, focusing her attention on Myra. "But why you? I'm the one who's actually friends with him."
"Exactly! You guys are friends, therefore, no one is going to believe that you guys are a couple!"
"But the whole good girl thing is just an act," Manik points out, finally speaking up.
"Yeah, but it's not like anyone other than you guys knows that!"
"Dhruv and Alya know."
"They're Dhruv and Alya, of course they know."
"Wait a minute, what do you mean it's just an act?" asks Kunal.
Manik smirks. "Myra Kapoor is a good girl by day, and a party girl by night."
"She's also right here."
Manik ignores his cousin. "Oh, and did I also mention that she can put you through hell if you piss her off?"
"Oh, so not only am I forced to go out with someone I don't even like, as well as transfer to her college, she turns out to be a total fake."
"On the bright side, at least I'm here," Naina points out, "and so is Aryman."
"Wait, what does Aryman have to do with any of this?" asks Manik.
"I'll explain it to you later."
"You're right!" exclaims Kunal. "Oh, and Karan's transferring here too, mainly because he's lonely without us."
"Yay, everyone gets a happy ending but Myra."
"Oh boo hoo!" Myra glares at Kunal, causing another argument to break out between the two.
As they argue, Naina whispers to Manik, "You want to get out of here?"
"God, yes! Chinese food?"
"I just want food, period." With that, the twins sneakily run away from the music room.
"So let me get this straight," says Manik, trying to wrap his head around everything his sister was saying, "there was a system error at your school, one which apparently didn't get fixed, and that's how you ended up with Aryman, that Kunal guy, and some dude named Karan as your roommates. You and Aryman were quick to become friends - which is obvious because he's great! Karan was most definitely on the shy side, even though his family is worse than The Kardashians, but you grew on him - because you're totally awesome! And Kunal was, and still is, a total dick, yet somehow the two of you are friends even though you once threatened to shave his head with Sai swords."
Popping a spring roll in her mouth, Naina goes over everything her brother just mentioned.
"Yeah, that about covers it."
Stealing a piece of chicken from his sister, hence the kick rightfully earned, Manik asks, "How come Aryman didn't mention anything?"
Naina tries to remain casual about the topic, trying not to freak and have a meltdown and ruin everything. "He probably didn't think it was necessary because he thought that you were brother of the year and probably knew everything about him."
Manik throws a fortune cookie at his sister, hitting her right between her eyes and above her nose, even though he totally deserved that comment.
"Have you ever date -"
"Hell no!" Naina is quick to protest, knowing where her brother was heading with this. "I love those dunderheads more than anything else, but not in the same way you love Nandini, more like how you love... let's say Mukti!"
Manik gives his sister a slight nod. "Got it. Now about Myra -" Before Manik can finish his sentence, a familiar click-clack of expensive heels upon their even more expensive dining room floor catch Naina's attention. She shoots up like a rocket, beaming as bright as the sun, making her way towards the owner of said heels.
"Mom!" she exclaims at the top of her lungs, hugging her mother as Manik rolls his eyes, already starting to clear his plate.
Nyonika smiles at the sight of tiny little bubble of light that almost knocked her over - girl may be small, but she is freakishly strong. "Hi beta! How was your first day? You haven't killed Dhruv yet, have you?"
"It was okay, and no, you won't be seeing me in handcuffs anytime soon mom."
"Nonsense! You're a Malhotra - if you were to murder someone, you would definitely be smart enough to make it look like an accident and get away with it."
"That's true." Out of the corner of her eye, Naina sees her brother starting to leave. "Manik, where are you going?"
Manik sighs. "I'm done, Nains, I'm heading up to my room."
"But mom just got home!"
"Exactly why I'm leaving. Enjoy mommy dearest while she lasts." With that, Manik sends one last seething glare his mother's way before heading upstairs. Naina on the other hand, simply looked at her mother questioningly, confused by her twin's behavior.
"What's going on? Is there something that I should know?"
Nyonika sighs, mentally reminding herself to have a talk with her son later. "Nothing honey, he's just stressed. Let's eat."
Later that night, Nyonika goes up to her son's room, ready to give him an earful about behaving that way in front of his sister.
"What the hell was that?" Manik stops strumming his guitar at the sound of his mother's voice.
"That was me forgetting that Naina was there, sorry."
"Be more careful next time! The less she knows about what's going on, the better."
"Glad we can agree on something Nyonika. Now would please get the hell out of my room?" Nyonika narrows her eyes at her son, choosing to walk away, knowing that she'd probably dodged a bullet.
What her daughter doesn't know won't hurt her... right?