Actions

Work Header

take the risk

Chapter Text

There was two things Archie loved most in this world. Music, and surfing. Music was a regular, if not, standard answer in response to “what’s something you love?” But as for surfing, it was a different feeling. Surfing wasn’t a love, it was a must; something that kept Archie motivated and stress-free and as happy as he could be in this world.

Since he was born Archie has been in the water almost every day of his life. Okay so that’s an exaggeration, but it’s not far from the truth. School all day, beach all evening, music and sleep all night. Competitions started for Archie when he was nine years old, primarily for fun and some bragging rights of being a kid winning bronze in competitions against all of these young adults, but they got more serious and meaningful as he got older.

The air was crisp and cold when he rode and it filled his lungs and hit harshly at his drenched wetsuit to make his whole body feel like it has a layer of ice on the outside. Archie didn’t notice. All he could feel was his feet stuck to his board, the way the water kicked beneath him, the muscles in his legs keeping his balance, and the direction of his board. The only sounds was the waves crashing to the water behind him, waves hitting the shore, cheers of the crowd, and every once in a while, music playing on the beach from his favorite band.

The waves didn’t have to be big to be tough, the ocean was a ruthless being. It was calmer this evening but the ocean still rolled back and forth with its ripples of unrelenting rage. Maybe not quite that bad, yet enough to throw Archie off his board a couple times in just twenty minutes.

Archie lay on his board about fifty yards into the ocean, arms resting in the water beneath him and the side of his face pressed against the board. He was catching his breath after his last throw off and listening to the ocean below. It was like listening through a shell except Archie was actually listening to the real ocean beneath his body. It spoke to him, it sang to him, and most importantly, it told him that it was time to paddle.

There was a ripple forming behind Archie. Not huge but certainly not small, it was his perfect last chance. Archie looked back at the distance he had between him and the wave until it was perfect for him to start paddling forward and meeting up to the ripples climax point. He took one last look back as the wave caught up to him and Archie quickly placed his hands down and steadied himself up on his board, but it still wasn’t good enough. Stance, maybe enough to pass on a smaller wave, but the water was tugging beneath Archie’s feet. He attempted to bend down more and balance it out but the speed increase just made it worse and the wave completely swept the board from underneath Archie’s feet which sent him immediately into the water.

The water was warm, or at least warmer than he was in his wetsuit that was being hit with colder air. It felt like he was in space when he crashed under the water. It was a warm enveloping nothingness. Silent. Barely moving. Warm.

Archie came out of the water and whipped the hair that dripped beads of salt water down his face out of the way. A small annoyed sigh and he pulled his board to him with the string attached between it and his ankle roughly but not enough to damage the thin rope. Once retrieved Archie swiftly hopped on and took one last look back to the infinite look of the ocean. There weren’t any more waves coming worth riding, but the sun was unforgettably beautiful. Just above the horizon in it’s orange and red hues, shining on the water and leading up straight to Archie’s form. It was views like this that washed away the annoyed feelings Archie had directly previous from not getting even one successful ride.

He looked to the other side of him, to the beach that held everything else in the world. There was a chain of shops and restaurants right beside a cement path known as “the strip.” It set a little more secluded from being next to a huge city, very Venice-beach-esque with less hype but the same amount of beauty and tourists. There were plenty of shops, most not even having a fourth wall to keep open for customers.

Suddenly Archie hears a familiar beep; his watch. It was getting to the late hours of the day which meant that Archie had to go into work. Well, he had a half an hour and he was only five hundred feet away from his work so it’s not like he was in any particular time crunch. Archie slowly paddled up to shore and stood in the knee deep section of the ocean with his surfboard under his arm and looked out over the strip. The lights were turning on for the later tourists and customers to enjoy the nightly activities without the darkness. The lights illuminated the beach in front of it, later it would make the beach appear white and the ocean appear black once it transitioned into night time.

Archie moved up towards his work, a restaurant no less, called Seasides. It was a pretty nice place with a decent pay, but Archie didn’t work as much as he could. He probably only worked four or five days a week for five to six hours, and that’s on a long day. The only reason Archie works these weird hours is because he knows the manager personally, an older family friend named Michael that Archie would see walking around his house and working on the strip when he was a younger boy. He doesn’t necessarily need a ton of money, just enough for some food and gas and competition entries.

The restaurant always smelled amazing, too. Of course because it was a restaurant, but it made everybody’s mouths water down the entire strip, meaning they got a lot of customers. Archie entered work that day around seven that night, he was only working a couple hours until close. The perks of working under the table.

He walked in through the back door into the employee locker room, barefoot and drenched with salt water and sand covering his feet. The place smelled like greasy fries and it was more humid in the locker room than usual. Archie perched up his board in the corner of the room next to the coat hangers and started unzipping his wetsuit when his manager approached his locker that he was rushing to open.

“So your band is playing tonight.” Michael says to Archie while folding his arms and leaning against the side of Archie’s locker. Archie pulled the top of his wetsuit off roughly, the wetness making it hard to slip out of, as per usual.

“My band? I don’t gotta band.” Archie laughed back at him. He reached into his locker and pulled out a towel and dried off the water on his chest and hair before pulling down the rest of his suit over his legs.

“I know that, I didn’t mean your band. I meant the band you’ve been gawking over for weeks now.” Michael responded. “Gorillaz. They’re playing tonight.”
Archie stopped his movements and stared at Michael in shock for a moment.

“Gorillaz? Here? Like, in this restaurant?” Archie asked in disbelief. Michael nodded and Archie smiled in excitement. “No way, that’s sick.”

Gorillaz was an indie band that played on the beach sometimes. They transfer from bar to beach to amphitheaters in town, playing amazing music that brought life to any party they were at. They were made up of a drummer named Russ, Murdoc who was the bass player with strangely visible olive skin, a young Japanese woman that went by the nickname Noodle, and the most intriguing one in Archie’s opinion, 2D. Archie didn’t know how they weren’t world famous, they were incredible.

2D had black eyes and blue hair and went by the name “2D,” why wouldn’t Archie be intrigued? The way his deep voice filled his head and his thin form swaying in front of the microphone as he sang caught Archie’s eyes every single time. He was intoxicating.

Archie went to every one of their concerts, at least since he first saw them four months ago for his twenty first birthday at the most hyped pub near him. They were amazing, playing songs that made Archie want to jam along with them and learn every single song that they wrote.

“Thought you’d enjoy that. You wear their shirt nearly every day here.” Michael smiled jovially. Archie laughed in response and continued to dry the rest of his body off with his towel before throwing it back in his locker and hanging up his suit over his board. “Also, please stop coming in hear sopping wet. We’re beachside but we want the water to stay in the ocean.”

“Like that’ll actually happen.” Archie snickers and Michael shakes his head with a grin.

“Get ready, I want you on dishes in five.” Michael walks away with his final statement that made Archie’s stomach sink sadly. Michael knows that Gorillaz is his favorite band and he’s still putting him on dishes. Dick move.

Archie is left to dress in his work attire and mope about how he can’t watch his favorite band. He did wear his Gorillaz shirt a lot and that’d be weird if he wore it while they performed, even if he has to stay back and do dishes, there’s a chance he might get called out to serve and that’d just be weird wearing their shirt. Which means Archie is going to have to wear his back up outfit: his blue hawaiian button up with yellow flowers tucked into his jean shorts that were slightly shorter than necessary but not revealing enough to get him called a girl. Another perk of working on the beach is not having uniforms. They want to be “relatable and trendy” to the customers.

Archie’s relationship with Michael was nice, they both knew that it Michael didn’t actually care if Archie came in soaking wet and covered in sand but Michael pretended like he did, that was just how they worked together. Despite only working a maximum of thirty hours a week, Archie was a damn good worker, and a cheerful one at that. Always good with the kids and striking up quick conversations and cracking stupid jokes to keep the customers entertained, it’s one of the main reasons Archie hasn’t been fired for dragging in sand or water, it was a small price for good quality.

Archie looked in the mirror that was hanging in the back of his locker. He pulled back his hair, debating on keeping it in a bun for tonight or letting it down freely. Archie had pretty long hair, dyed electric green and cut into a mohawk, shaved completely on the sides. At this point Archie’s bright green hair was fading into a light yellow-green and his brown roots were peeking beneath along with his brown hair growing to either side of his mohawk. He really just had the mohawk to spike up for surf shows as sort of an icon for himself but at this point he just doesn’t want to go through that weird growth stage and/or shave his head for the sake of matching. He actually grew to like the mohawk, though, down or up. Gives sort of a Skrillex vibe. Also hair gel is expensive and he can’t spike it up every day.

Archie chose to leave his hair down and damp for work this time. He closed his locker, slipped on his shoes, and checked his watch. He still had two minutes before Michael would get on him to start working so Archie spent it wisely, quickly pacing over to the door that separated the locker room to the kitchen and then the kitchen to the main dining area. Seasides had a light wooden theme to it, minor industrial aspects like lights hanging from chains above booths and a metal bartop on the left side with a brick background, covered in metal shelves holding dozens of bottles of alcohol. Directly in front of him was the wall that separated the restaurant and the beach. The middle of it was wooden slider doors that opened to an outside patio that people could choose to eat on and look over the ocean. Getting a seat out on the patio took a weeks notice of reservation, it was a little crazy. To his direct right was the wall holding the small stage only about a foot off the ground and was directly symmetrically positioned at the center of the wall. There were tables surrounding it and on either side of the stage, but being back towards the left side was the real better view. On top of the stage stoof Archie’s favorite band, Gorillaz.

They were setting up for their show, extending cords and plugging in instruments and testing the sound. Archie was only about fifteen feet away from them which is the closest he’s probably ever been to any of them. It made his stomach churn and his face heat up and he couldn’t take his eyes off of them. Archie’s eyes followed from Russel, grabbing his drumsticks and sitting in his chair, to Noodle who was tuning her guitar, to Murdoc tapping at a mic, and finally to 2D. 2D was talking to Russel behind him for a minute about who knows what, but he turned back before Archie had a chance to avert his eyes and ended up making direct eye contact. Archie expected 2D to look away almost instantly but he didn’t, 2D had his eyes fixed on Archie, or so it felt.

In a way that seemed to be timed perfectly, Archie heard a voice, except it came from behind him and it made him jump.

“S’cuse me Arch, we gotta serve tables.” A short woman, his coworker Lindsay, said to Archie politely and he took one last second of a glance back at 2D before quickly retreating back into the kitchen with an apology. Maybe Archie was crazy, but he swears he saw a smile on 2D’s face before he backed away.

It took weeks between the application process and actually getting to perform at Seasides. They were probably the most popular restaurant on the strip and there were a lot of indie people that wanted to get their name out just like Gorillaz, so it took a minute to get a spot on stage. The performance was also only allowed forty five minutes at most, which seems like a lot but really isn’t. People tried reserving spots for when certain people were playing so when there was performances, it was packed. Meaning that for tonight, Archie was probably stuck on dish duty for the whole Gorillaz concert.

It was a bit of a bummer being so close to his favorite band and not even getting to see them perform. He could hear the music, though. The instruments travelling through the floor and making the tips of his toes vibrate and 2D’s voice filling his ears with bliss. The muffled sound of the beautiful sound made Archie’s heart race and lips curl into a content smile and hum the best he could to the songs he found familiar from the EP he bought from them not long ago. Archie was doing dishes for a long two hours, over an hour past the time limit that Gorillaz had for their show until he was greeted by one of his coworkers, the same short girl from earlier, Lindsay. Cute, about five feet plus a couple inches, long brown hair, green eyes, and a cheerful voice. She was a sweet girl and easy to work with, Archie liked talking to her.

“Hey, I think boss man wants you out there.” Lindsay spoke as she scraped some leftover food from plates into the garbage and set them by the sink. “It’s pretty packed still and there’s even more coming in.”

“Okay, I’ll be out in a minute.” Archie answered and Lindsay went back to serving tables. Internally Archie wished he was told to serve an hour ago, but accepts the disappointment easily with a shrug. It’s not like it was their last show.

Archie tied on his serving apron and grabbed his guest check book and exited the kitchen with a smile. Serving was his favorite part of the job when he did it because he got the chance to talk to people. He visited a few tables and took their orders, bringing and filling drinks here and there. Archie visited every one of his tables except for one and when he finally reached it, his body stopped functioning.

2D was sitting at his table.

2D was sitting at Archie’s table.

The lead singer of his favorite band was going to be served by Archie himself.

Archie blinked a few times to take in the fact that this was real. It was completely reasonable for 2D to be there wanting food or a drink but it was well over an hour past the performance ended, so why was he still here? As Archie looks closer he notices that 2D has an almost empty plate in front of him. He must have been served before Archie started working but now 2D was sitting at Archie’s table, meaning that he had to take over whoever was serving before. The strangest thing about this whole ordeal is that 2D was sitting alone. The rest of the band wasn’t there and 2D was sitting in a booth looking around mindlessly while eating deep fried pickles. He was sitting in Archie’s booth in denim jeans black converse, a white tank top with grey writing that Archie couldn’t exactly make out from where he was standing, and a dark olive jacket that brought the whole outfit together. Blue hair and black eyes sitting there in all of its beauty.

Archie didn’t have time to contemplate all the reasons that 2D was sitting at his table or why he was sitting alone, he had a job to do. Archie exited the room, filled drinks, held back his nervousness, and reapproached his tables until he was back to 2D, except this time he actually went up to the singer.

Calm down, Arch. It’s just your job.

“All alone? That’s not really how rockstars do it.” Archie said with a smile and set down a drink. It wasn’t the question he was supposed to ask the customer, but Archie didn’t like being a robotic waiter. 2D was staring at the stage but turned his attention to Archie when he spoke and laughed.

“Isn’t that how all rockstars end up one way or another?” 2D replied jokingly. His voice was higher when he spoke and that took Archie a bit by surprise, but still just as attractive as his singing. At this point Archie was supposed to ask if the meal was okay and leave the customer in peace to return with the check in a few minutes, but what fun was that when you were talking to 2D?

“Let’s hope you don’t end up that way too. Your music is too good.” Archie complimented and 2D’s lips curled up into a smile.

“So you know our music?” 2D asked. Archie’s face heated slightly.

“Yeah, I know some.” Archie lied. He knew almost all of their music, if not all of it. “I really like your stuff. I tried to watch you today but, y’know.” Archie gestured down his body to his apron. “Work.”

“That’s no fun, sorry you didn’t get to see. But ya didn’t miss much. Audio cut out a couple times and we had to keep real quiet because we were indoors this time. ‘Coulda been more but that wouldn’t be very nice.”

Archie was happy with the communication happening between him and 2D. He kind of expected to be brushed away after the first couple words. 2D was being really friendly, it made Archie’s whole body shiver.

“I gotta get back to tables in a second but I have a question.” Archie said and 2D looked at him curiously. “Do you, by any crazy chance, have VIP tickets? I’d love to see you meet all of you backstage sometime. If that’s not totally creepy.”

2D gave Archie the most excited look. Like the “you’re interested in what I like? What I do?” kind of look, Archie could just tell.

“Er, yeah I think so! Hold on.” 2D started rummaging through his jacket and jeans, patting his pockets and shoving his fingers in to look for something. Archie watched nervously and bit the corner of his lip. “Actually I uh, I don’t think I have ‘em with me. How ‘bout, give me your number and I’ll text next time we ‘ave a show and we’ll bring you back, yeah?”

“Okay, yeah.” Archie smiled and nodded. He pulled a pen out of his waist apron and scribbled a chain of numbers on the ticket book in his other hand. Once Archie finished his phone number, he ripped the slip out of his book and set it in front of 2D. “I’ll uh, see you later then?” Archie asked and grabbed the empty plate in front of 2D, like he just remembered he was actually on a job.

“Yeah. Oh, and one more thing.” 2D spoke and Archie paused. “I di’nt order a drink.”

On the line of things Archie just remembered, he noticed that when greeting 2D he set down a drink. He also remembers how he once saw 2D drinking a tequila sunrise in between songs at a show, and how could Archie forget making the perfect tequila sunrise specifically for 2D right before talking to him?

“It’s on the house.” Archie smiled genuinely and looked into 2D’s dark eyes once more. Then he walked away with that final statement, his phone number in the hands of his favorite singer, and the clock ticking it’s final couple minutes before work was over.

The rest of work was way more bland than the conversation he just had with 2D. Closing doors, cleaning tables, dishes, and sweeping floors, Archie was always the last one to leave for the day when it was his days to work. It was like a stress reliever for him, aside from surfing. He could think about everything while he was alone in the emptiness of Seasides. Only difference is that tonight, Archie couldn’t stop thinking about only one thing.

“See you tomorrow.” Archie spoke while he exited the doors he came in just a few hours ago. There was still sand in the locker room from what he dragged in that crunched under his shoes and would probably find it’s way into his van.

His van. Archie lived in a van.

That kind of sounds like a bad thing, but it’s really not; Archie loves living in his van. It was parked a cozy ten feet away from the back door of Seasides and (thankfully) about thirty feet away from any dumpster. Seasides had three other neighboring stores behind it, one on each side, one of those that sold penny tees and the other selling cheap souvenirs, and another connecting those two that was another restaurant selling exclusively seafood. It was like a sectioned off square of space between all four of the shops that was only accessible via alleyway and only contained three dumpsters and one white van, spray painted with graffiti and holding every single one of Archie’s belongings.

Michael let Archie stay back behind the restaurant given his circumstances as long as he wasn’t leaving things around or doing drugs right next to the place, he was okay to live there. Michael also let him keep his board and suit in the locker room because, all bragging aside, Archie had sort of a fan base. He’d get recognized while working sometimes, get asked for autographs and pictures and questions about his surfing until a mother or friend says “hey, he’s working.” Archie could easily be identified by his surfboard because he got it custom made a few years ago, a beige board with a single vertical maroon stripe down it and a cursive “Sutton” on the bottom written vertically down the stripe. He really didn’t want anyone to know that he was living behind of his work if his board was found on his van, even though the only cars or people that come back to this area is food trucks, it’s better to play it safe, so his suit and board stayed in the locker room and his van stayed behind it.

Archie opened the side door to his van and took in its beauty like he did almost every day. The interior was done all by himself, with electricity and insulation done and every item purchased himself. There was a futon on one side that he left folded down into a bed unless someone else came in to hang out, which wasn’t super often but he wasn’t a total loner. To the right of the futon was a portable record player with a blue exterior that he left closed until he used it, and to the right of that was a crate of old records that he listened to almost every second he was in there. Archie stepped into the van and opened the record box, positioned the needle, and played the vinyl that was left in there from this morning. Who doesn’t love a good old Things We Said Today?

Archie sat down on his futon and crossed his legs. Across from him was a twenty inch television propped up on the shortest stand in the world, only big enough to hold a couple of dvd’s below it and the rest he was forced to pile next to it. To the left of the television was a small storage cabinet that had snacks and a few grams of weed stored next to a weed bowl. Hanging on the back doors of Archie’s van was a rainbow flag and below his feet was an old brown rug that had more than a few stains and burn marks. That was pretty much it besides the multicolored christmas lights along the ceiling and the mini fridge stuck between the two seats at the front. There wasn’t much need for stocks of food or clothes in the van, Archie was rarely out of his work clothes or his wetsuit so he only had a few outfits otherwise. Plus he got free lunches or dinners when he worked and the rest he could buy on the strip.

Archie lived on the beach. It was his real home. His life and his love resided on the beach and held almost all of his memories. Living in a van was nice. It was personal and if he wanted to move he could just drive there because all of his belongings were in one place.The beach, the strip, the ocean. It was all his home.

Archie laid back on his futon and took his phone out of his pocket to look through his texts but as he searched through he realizes that he hasn’t gotten a single text yet. Not even a “is this the right number?” kind of text. Archie furrowed his eyebrows. Why was he so worried about getting a text from 2D? He was just a guy.

A guy with an amazing voice.

A voice that made Archie’s heart speed up. Eyes and hair and a smile that made his limbs weak. A voice that drove him crazy.

Archie should have taken 2D’s number instead.

Chapter Text

"‘Surfs up?’ That’s literally the worst name I’ve ever heard for a competition. Actually, no. Scratch that. That’s the worst thing I’ve heard for any kind of title. It’s like they ripped off seventies hippie slang and was like ‘Perfect. This is what we’re naming our competition. Not cliche at all.’”

“I never thought someone who doesn’t even surf was so passionate about surfing competitions.”

Lindsay rolled her eyes. “I’m not actually worried ‘bout it. I just think it’s a stupid name.” Archie laughed at her comments and mumbled out his agreement.

Surfs Up really was a stupid name for a surfing competition yet it’s the best one to go to if you want to make it as a surfer professionally. It was Archie’s one chance in becoming an actual professional surfer to the point where he could make money and leave the beach he was at to chase his dream. It sounds all very one-pathic and like a sugar coated goal but this was real stuff. Winning Surfs Up immediately gives you a spot in nationals which in itself has a dozen perks. Even if you don’t win you get featured in enough magazines to boost your title. Not to mention that the competition was only a few short months away.

Maybe morally speaking, your title isn’t everything. Surf speaking, your title is your career. It’s a job being an influencer like any other where being higher up in the media scale meant your talent is good enough to be seen by everyone, no matter your interest (or disinterest). Archie didn’t really care whether or not he was social media famous--though that is nice to think about--he just wanted to make it to the big leagues to compete. Competitions are fun for Archie, but he also longs for that sense of work; for that one thing that’ll drive him every day to be better than he is now.

“Stupid name or not, I gotta win.” Archie grinned and bit the inside of his cheek. He was playing with the grooves in between the long, thin pieces of wood that put together the top part of the picnic table he and Lindsay were sitting at. It was hot today. Very hot, and being on the beach today made it way hotter next to the steaming sand, but it was nice in the shade beneath the umbrella that stood up from the middle of the picnic table.

There were lots of people out on the beach this morning, mostly just families of mothers and fathers with their kids enjoying the sun and swimming the afternoon away. Besides that, it was actually pretty quiet. The ocean made sounds against the sand on the shore, waves crashing on top of itself, seagulls doing their usual chirps. It was always quieter on the strip where he and Linsday sat before their afternoon shifts, the strip was busy in the evening where tourists bought their souvenirs and the families from the beach came to grab dinner.

“Think you’ve got it this year?” Lindsay asks and Archie nods.

“Damn sure hope so. Told you, last year was just a test run.” Archie responds, focusing on the grooves in the wood more than he would normally. “I love this beach but...I can’t be here forever.”

The last part of that sentence made Archie’s throat swell up and almost hurt saying it. This beach to Archie was like his backyard, his van his home, and the restaurant his family. The concerts he’d go to at night and the years it took of memorizing the ocean in front of him, he didn’t want to leave it, but Archie was willing to give anything to be a professional.

What would probably suck the most out of that whole transition of switching beaches every week and travelling everywhere for work is that Archie would no longer be able to see the Gorillaz in their amazing beach concerts. It was one of the very few, what you may or may not call “social situations” that Archie would include himself in voluntarily. Not only that but Gorillaz was so fucking amazing. The beach concerts were the best, Gorillaz music echoing against the buildings on the strip and only about a hundred, maybe two, at the beach watching. Not many people advertised when or where their music was playing, the Gorillaz being huge examples of that, so there weren’t too many that showed up because nobody knew what band or at what time. Archie only knew because he worked on the beach and either he heard the music or somebody told him who was playing at the amphitheater down the strip.

“Yeah, I get it.” Lindsay responds with a warm look. “I don’t think you should be here forever either. No offense.” She grins and brushes her dark hair back over her shoulder with her hand.

“None taken.” The side of Archie’s lip curls into a smile but slowly transitions back to a more glum look while he picks up his phone that was faced down on the table and clicks the bottom button to turn on his screen. He bites his lip and stares at the pink and yellow There Is No Future album cover set as his current lockscreen and his face turns into disappointment at the lack of notification. He doesn’t really know exactly what he was expecting but checking his screen became a recent habit of his and it was getting on his nerves.

“Still nothing?” Lindsay asks. She knows about the whole Gorillaz ordeal. Lindsay knew a lot about Archie, actually. They’ve been working together for three years and he lives at the restaurant, how could she not?

“Hm?” Archie turns his attention up and sets his phone down. He didn’t even realize he wasn’t paying attention in the first place.

“That guy you met, he hasn’t answered?”

Archie was actually a little upset at the thought of Gorillaz for the past few days. He hasn’t received a single text since talking to 2D that one night at Seasides and it was beginning to get to him. It was more an anxious feeling than anything, like the silent regret of giving 2D his phone number in the first place. It was probably too forward and 2D was just being nice by taking it. Archie calmed these thoughts by telling himself that 2D was most likely busy, or there just wasn’t a show that they were doing. That last one was a little weird because Gorillaz typically performed once a week or two on the beach or in a local bar, but here Archie is about four weeks later and a little deprived of the great Gorillaz content he craves so much. The Gorillaz didn’t owe Archie anything, to be fair. Still, he wants to support them in any way possible.

Archie shook his head and shrugged one of his shoulders. “Yeah, no text yet.” Lindsay gave a somewhat cryptic look through her green eyes.

“That’s strange. Are you still going to their concert tonight?” She asks, taking Archie a little by surprise, he hasn’t heard a peep from the band in what feels like a decade.

“I didn’t know they were having a concert tonight.” Archie confessed honestly. This is how he found out a lot of the time, though. Mutuals talking upon each other until one brings it up and Archie plans the night around the one event. “But yeah, I wouldn’t miss it. Are you going too?” He asks and Lindsay shakes her head, her straight hair falling back in front of her shoulders and waving and whipping with her movements.

“Got class in the morning and we both work until close.” She speaks effortlessly. Lindsay was the same age as Archie, well, a year younger technically but same graduation class. She attended college while still living with her parents and is really close to graduating with her bachelors in general health and then she’s going into sports medicine. Archie looked up to her in a way, always working and gets things done no matter how hard. Given she still complains all the time but anyone would with her schedule.

Archie nods and observes his phone for a brief second but averts his eyes back up to Lindsay once he realizes. Lindsay notices and laughs at Archie.

“Just ask him out already, geez.” She chirps teasingly.

“I don’t have his number!” He exclaims back and Lindsay covers her mouth to muffle her giggles. “I mean if I did I still wouldn’t. I’m just waiting for a text.”

Just a text.

“Well you have fun with that.” Lindsay continues her childish giggles and stands from the picnic table to stretch. Archie takes this as his signal to also stand and grab his phone to check one last time but a thin dainty hand with short and chipped yellow nail polish covers his screen. “Just go to the concert, Arch. Reunite with your super hot band guy and then when you’re about to kiss, yell at him for not texting you back.” Archie chuckled sheepishly at Lindsay’s comment putting the weirdest image in his brain. Always the most charming speeches from her.

“Okay.” Archie breaths out with a shake of his head and Lindsay laughs again, hitting his arm with her palm lightly.

“Shift starts in an hour and I wanna run home for a few minutes.” She stretches again. Archie nods and gives her another okay and waves to send her off. He lifts his phone to click the button that was probably going to break today from turning his screen on so much.

Nothing. Archie sighs.

He shouldn’t let this one thing get him down, it was only a text message, how petty. Archie could still go to the concert tonight and see them, maybe talk to 2D if he gets the chance but no bets are being taken. Archie looks over away from the strip to the ocean. It was unbelievably blue and perfect out, given the families might leave with a few more sunburns than anyone would ask for, but still the perfect day. Archie breathed in the warm air and slowly exhaled it out. Maybe he’ll go out for a wave or two before his shift.

 

The day is extremely fast paced yet endlessly long and exhausting like all saturday’s at Seasides. Saturday’s were the days off, the weekend away, the day in the sun before going back to work or school the next monday. At least that’s kind of how it goes for most people, everyone that doesn’t work a beachside job like Archie. He can’t really complain with the number of good things he gets out of his job like minimal hours and being thirty feet away from his bed and not needing to work for any particular bills or anything, but working Saturday’s sucked because it was crowded and full of kids and sand and water--not that Archie can defend him complaint with that one either without being a hypocrite.

Point is that it’s been a long day and Archie can’t decide whether or not he wants to get up from his old boxy futon that feels like heaven right now or go to the Gorillaz concert that he only just found out about this morning with Lindsay. He lifts his phone and opens his messages to see a list of people he’s talked to over the past few months, dead end messages and nobody he really keeps up with besides maybe a “can you come into work asap please? Thank you.”

There were no new messages. Irritated at himself, he turned his phone completely off and sat up on the bed quick enough to have his hair fall in front of his face, the yellow-green becoming more apparent so close to his eye that he couldn’t focus on it entirely. He brushed it back with one of his hands and used the other to check the time on his wrist.

It was already almost ten thirty and most beach concerts only ran from ten to eleven, rarely longer because of beach rules to have everyone off by midnight. If Archie wanted to see the Gorillaz he’d have to go now even if he was only five minutes walking distance from the amphitheater, but first he’d have to get out of these greasy smelling clothes.

 

The stage was beautiful, like always. Black flooring on top of grey concrete that made up the entire bottom part of the theater, thick black tent-like fabric on top and directly next to it were all the stage lights that could shine any color on any band. Also along the lights were Archie’s favorite part, the fog machines. For some reason they just made everything so much cooler and exciting. All of this was set in the sand faced away from the ocean.

The Gorillaz set was really good tonight, too. There were a couple of songs that he hadn’t heard before, which he’s assuming is the reason he hasn’t heard of any concerts recently either.

During the concert Archie watches 2D without even really thinking. He’d slowly look away to take in the view of something else like Noodle’s guitar or which part of the drum Russel is hitting, but his eyes would always move back to 2D like a magnet. 2D was in a very casual getup of jean shorts and a very ripped and worn plain grey t-shirt that was lazily tucked into the front of his shorts. Through some of the many rips in the shirt Archie could see 2D’s pale torso and he could only wonder how somebody could manage to stay that pale so close to the equator. On the off chances when 2D lifted his arms to get the crowd to cheer or sing with him, his shirt rode up and Archie could see a little more, but the harsh defined lines of his hip bones were about the tip of what exposed. His hair was sweaty and messy and bounced around his face while he moved about the stage and his black eyes looking around mysteriously. At one point Archie swears 2D is looking in his direction because he doesn’t blink or move for a few seconds and Archie can feel a weird tension crawling up his back, like it was signaling him to look away but he couldn’t.

2D’s singing was all the more exhilarating, stinging every inch of Archie’s skin and making his muscles vibrate with every movement that 2D made. Why Archie was memorizing all of these fine details? He didn’t know. Maybe it was just because he hasn’t seen a performance in a while. On one hand it freaked him out and made him question every thought in his head but on the other hand it was exuberance and he never wanted it to stop.

But what caught Archie’s eye the most was the fact that he’s never seen 2D out of jeans and a jacket. That in itself wasn’t surprising and sounds kind of silly worded like that, but it wasn’t because 2D was wearing shorts that caught him off guard, but everything around it. Archie could see pink and purple bruise-like scars that covered 2D’s shins and forearms. With them there was also divots in his skin here and there, similar to acne scars but instead of a lot of small ones he had a few big ones, the type of scars from chunks of flesh being taken away from the skin but they were very aged. 2D’s marks weren’t new enough to be actual bruises, they were scars for sure, and Archie knew exactly what they were from.

Their set was over before Archie even knew it--probably because he got there later than ever--and he was conflicted. Gorillaz exited the stage and people started shuffling off the beach almost hurriedly, people needing to get home to sleep before work in the morning and some just rushing to get warmer. That was a downside to the beach at night is that it’s like a desert, hotter than hell during light hours and freezing cold during dark hours. Archie internally debates on leaving with the crowd so he doesn’t look like the last one standing on the beach for no reason, but he also feels like he should talk to 2D. What Archie didn’t know for sure is that while he was tossing ideas around in his brain he was standing in that spot for longer than he thought and he didn’t budge until a voice broke him out of his tranced state.

“Are you ‘ere for the after party?” The voice questioned and made Archie nearly physically jump where he was. Archie turned to the voice and met with a face a lot closer to his than he was expecting and he jumped back scaredly. 2D laughed and his black eyes squinted from his raised cheeks. Archie’s face heated, embarrassed.

“A-after party?” Archie asked. He’s never been to an after party for Gorillaz before, how has he been missing out on these?

“It was jus’ a joke.” 2D’s laughter caught the end of his sentence and Archie felt even more embarrassed but before he could answer 2D placed his hand on Archie’s back, making his speech pause. “Come on, we’ve been waitin’ to see ya.”

Archie’s brows furrowed in thought, wondering how they’ve been waiting for him if they didn’t know Archie was going to be there in the first place. Or maybe they did know and he didn’t know, still never receiving any notice by text or anything of the sort. Strangely, that seems like more of the case here.

2D lead Archie to the back of the stage that contained the electric set for lighting and sound on for the stage. Russel was currently playing with it, flipping switches and turning knobs in ways that Archie would never understand or care to learn.

“Good?” Russel asked loudly, like he was shouting to someone else. A smaller voice shouted back from beside Archie.

“Good! Next!” The fainter voice sounded back. Bands were in charge of setting up and taking down their own equipment along with taking care of the sound and lights by themselves and it seems like they were all preparing their leave.

2D and Archie approached Russel and 2D’s hand left Archie’s back and returned to his side, a part of Archie wishing it hadn’t.

“Russ, this is, um…” 2D’s voice stopped midway trying to introduce Archie and comprehended the thought that he never learned Archie’s name.

“Archie.” He helped out and reached to shake Russel’s hand and Russel smiled fondly, holding Archie’s hand and shaking it briefly before returning to his work on the electric box. 2D gave Archie a stare visible enough to receive Archie’s attention but 2D looked away as soon as he made eye contact.

“Thanks for the help.” Grunted someone behind them, breaking the tension. “Don’t worry, we cleaned up ourselves no thanks to you.” Archie noticed this man as Murdoc, the bass for the Gorillaz.

“What, you need a hand carrying amps?” Russel chimed in, closing the electric box and standing up next to 2D. “I thought you were stronger than that, Muds.” He snickered and Murdoc’s face changed from anger and annoyance to a bit more egotistical.

“Yeah right, like I’m that weak.” Murdoc replied and Russel raised an eyebrow. They both knew exactly what Russel was doing and yet Murdoc was falling perfectly into it.

“So what did you need our help for?” He asked back and tied the knot. The insult finally setting into Murdoc’s face and the rest of the band laughed. The teasing was amusing to Archie, he was interested to see the types of relationships they all had with each other. As they were talking, the last band member approached, a young woman only standing to about five feet in skinny jeans and a leather jacket. This was Noodle.

“Murdoc, Noodle. This is Archie.” 2D said proudly now that he knew Archie’s name and Archie exchanged a smile with Noodle and well, he smiled at Murdoc but he didn’t really give anything back but he shook Archie’s hand politely enough to count as something.

“Introductions are nice and all,” Murdoc began. “But we gotta be off this sand in ten minutes and I don’t feel like interacting with beach security so if we could go before then, that’d be great.”

“Yeah me neither, we should go.” 2D answered and they all began shuffling towards a van. At this point Archie didn’t know whether to just go back to his van or not but once again, 2D interrupted his thoughts with, “Are you coming?”

 

“Okay so I’m just going to break the ice here and ask how you two know each other?” Noodle asks with a corona extra in her hand and sits in a folding chair at a small circular wooden dining table. They were hanging out in 2D’s garage, or moreso his parents garage--supposedly they weren't home--but surprisingly cozy with couches with so many signs and tools against the walls that Archie couldn’t exactly tell what color it was. Not high end or decked out with expensive items by any means, but a cool hang out spot.

Archie takes a seat next to Noodle and glances at 2D, wondering if he’s going to answer Noodle or if Archie should do it himself. 2D was preoccupied in the fridge looking at his whole two beer options to notice that Noodle asked a question. Archie chuckled at 2D’s befuddlement but turned his attention to Noodle.

“I work at Seasides.” He answers as Russel and Murdoc take seats on the opposite side of the table.

“The diner we booked last month?” Murdoc asked and popped open his beer. Archie nodded and explained the situation further. He left out most of it and left in just the part of them meeting and Archie being a fan of their music; he thought it might be better to leave out the whole waiting for a text thing.

“Why do you work there?” Russel asks out of curiosity and starts shuffling a deck of cards. 2D sits next to Archie after he finally made his decision on what beer to take.

“Money, why else?” Archie responds with a small laugh. He earns a small “that’s true” and continues. “I just need enough for food and surf competition entries. That’s the-”

“You surf?” 2D and Noodle ask in unison and Archie looks at them a bit confused.

“Yeah. Have been since I was little.” He answers.

“That’s so cool.” Noodle says back and picks up her hand of cards that Russ dealt out. 2D just stared at Archie which was both flattering and amusing.

“Wait...Sutton?” 2D asked and Archie felt a familiar feeling in his nerves. He was asked that exact phrase probably five times a day from little kids at work right before he was asked for an autograph or picture. To adults he was just another kid that liked surfing, but to the kids he was a celebrity. It was cute.

“Yeah, that’s me. Didn’t recognize from the hair?” He joked, his light green locks still flowing down unlike during competitions. It was the biggest reason he wasn’t easily recognizable outside of comps.

“That’s crazy.” 2D says, still baffled. “I’ve seen you at competitions before, you’re amazing.” The gushing by 2D made Archie’s insides twist and his face heat up. Archie smiled with a slightly nervous laugh.

“Ditto.” Archie answered and opened his beer, never looking away from 2D’s eyes. They stayed staring at each other while Archie opened, drank, and set down his beer, never breaking gaze and not stopping until they’re both smiling like complete weirdos.

“Must be why you’re a server, then, yeah?” Murdoc snarks and Noodle flicks the side of his head. Murdoc flinches and puts his hand over the place she flicked.

“Ow--hey! It was a joke, calm down.” He retaliated and Noodle contentedly smiles.

Archie was asked a lot of questions about himself. His job, where he lives, competitions he’s done before, etcetera. It was all just the basics of describing how he lived in a van and never left the beach unless he had to--which was still never. And Archie learned a lot about them, too. Noodle lives at home with her foster parents because she’s only seventeen and can’t really leave yet. Her biological parents are full Japanese but she has no idea who they are, only that she was put in foster care at eight years old and adopted quickly by a nice older couple. Noodle also graduated high school at sixteen and is supposedly the smartest book-wise out of the group.

Russ apparently suffers through living with poltergeists and other spirits that don’t leave him alone, plus he dropped out of school early senior year, but otherwise leads a pretty happy life with friends, music, and his full time job as a cook in a diner downtown. Murdoc graduated with bad grades because he started working at fourteen and never had time for anything else. He grew up with a verbally abusive family and he only dedicated time into guitar and work, moving out at seventeen and finding Russel through a roommate ad until he was eighteen and could sign a lease of his own but only moved a short two floors down in the same apartment building as Russel.

2D worked part time at a gas station and lived with his parents, which is actually their garage that they were seated at now, but he didn’t stay there often. 2D suffered from a list of traumas like a car crash that fractured his eyes and made them go mostly black, given the white or red spot that Archie never noticed from afar, and a shark attack when he was really young that gave him the many scars along his arms and legs.

“You get inna lot of trouble, don’t you?” Archie asked 2D when he heard the story and 2D laughed with a nod. 2D didn’t respond to him, Archie just memorized 2D’s smile. Slightly crooked teeth, one gold tooth on the bottom and a little discoloration on his to front teeth--cigarette marks. Blue hair, black eyes, thin lips. 2D glanced up and Archie looked away.

Russel and Murdoc are the ones that began the band in the year that they lived together. Russ already knew drums and ukulele meanwhile Murdoc knew bass and together they had some form of a band, but they needed another guitarist and a singer. Soon enough, after three weeks and a few different interviews, they had met Noodle. 2D was picked up after Murdoc found online videos of his singing and piano playing, finding out that this blue haired kid lived in the same city only a few miles away from them. Thus, Gorillaz was born and they began making music, only performing at local bars in their downtime until they could make a full career out of it. Yet they haven’t, but Russ said that they now have tickets and merch to some of their concerts so they bring in a little bit of money.

They’ve all been sitting in the garage for an hour now, playing round after round of rummy and telling endless stories to Archie about their jobs and concerts, like when equipment dies during a set or one time where 2D literally forgot the lyrics to a new song and had to stop midway and start a new song. They told Archie a lot of stories and he told a few back about surfing and working, but he didn’t have anything near as interesting as poltergeists or crazy car accidents.

It was the strangest feeling, too. Archie never once felt that night like they were idols or celebrities like a standard band member would, but why should he? They were all just young adults just like him that had jobs but also happened to be in a band--who made super good music, might he add. Archie kind of forgot about how he looked up to them in that one short hour and molded into the conversations like he would with anyone else. It was a rush, in a certain garage-full-of-tipsy-young-adults sense.

Archie took a liking to them all. Murdoc made weird jokes that nobody really laughed at, Noodle played hard and won almost every round, Russ was strategic and laid the most sets, meanwhile 2D stared blankly and confused and always discarded things he could actually play. Archie was convinced that 2D didn’t know how to play and it was amusing to everyone, but they all acted like he just got bad cards and cheered him on. It was baffling that he actually won a couple rounds. 2D still didn’t even notice until he realized he had no cards left and asked who took them.

“Beer run. Who wants another?” Noodle asks and stands. Everyone raises their hands besides Russel.

“I gotta drive you two back, don’t forget.” Russel added giving a look to Murdoc and Noodle. Noodle gave a thumbs up and proceeded her journey to the fridge.

“How you feelin’, Arch?” 2D asks with his face leaned against his hand. 2D stared at Archie lazily and lightly tapped Archie’s knee with his knuckle. Archie laughed at his lightweighted state.

“I’m feeling fine, how are you?” Archie asks back and bumps 2D’s knee like he just did. 2D smiles and giggles but doesn’t answer the question.

“Pet names already?” Murdoc teases. “Doesn’t that usually come after the date?”

“Who’s on a date now?” 2D squints at Murdoc. Archie was a little afraid to think what he thought Murdoc was implying.

Archie was gay, and he wasn’t really the most open about it. He never hid himself but it’s not something he told straight up unless he was asked and only to people he knew. Lindsay didn’t find out for at least a year working together, but she never freaked out or treated it like bigger than it is. Archie was just so used to being treated like he was the abnormal one in the group. It was part of the reason he dropped out of school so young, it was annoying being asked about your sexuality every day. Murdoc didn’t make Archie uncomfortable, only experiencing the weird feeling of treating his sexuality like it’s normal.

“Stop makings weird, Muds.” Noodle criticized and bumped the back of his head with his beer bottle before slamming it down in front of him. Murdoc flinched again and squinted at her while she passed around drinks.

“I’m gonna have a concussion by the end of the night because of you.” Murdoc spoke and Noodle opened her beer with a smirk.

“Good.”

“So,” 2D starts to veer off their topic while he shuffles cards for the next round. “What do your parents do, Archie?” It was almost like the question was on cue, interrupting the thoughts in Archie’s head. All the attention was on him now. He cleared his throat.

“Uhm, well, my father has always been into construction and electric services. Last I knew my mother was a sales rep but she changes jobs a lot, I don’t know what she’s doing now.” Archie explained. It was weird to call his parents by “mom” or “dad” in any context. He hasn’t called them that since he lived there. Long time ago.

“Last you knew?” Russ asks and Archie nods. He’s not sure if he should go in depth on his whole relationship or not. Archie chooses the latter.

“Well I uh, we haven’t talked in a little while. M’not sure what they’re up to.” Archie shrugs and opens his new beer.

“It’s nice to keep in touch while you’re still young.” Noodle answers and lifts the cards being dealt to her. “Not all of us can do that, y’know?” She asks and Archie nods. It’s not her fault that she doesn’t know how Archie falls into that spectrum.

“Yeah, I’ll visit soon.” He lies and lifts his cards and his beer. Archie doesn’t believe it’s time for him to visit home soon in any means, but they don’t really need to know that, so he stays quiet.

 

Another hour of drinks, cards, and dumb drunk jokes passed and it was nearing one in the morning. Their laughs and dizzy brains started to tire out and Russ was the first one to call the shots, throwing his cards down and giving an “okay we should go before I get too tired and can’t drive.” Apparently Murdoc had some hot date to get to (which was a total lie, nobody would be going on a date with Murdoc at one in the morning), and Noodle had to sneak in before getting in trouble for being out too late, though it was late enough for her to get in trouble anyways. That said, Russ, Noodle, and Murdoc said their goodbyes and nice-to-meet-you’s and shuffle into Russel’s car, driving off to their respectful homes. 2D and Archie were left in the garage, Archie helping to dispose of empty bottles and pick up cards despite 2D telling him that he didn’t have to. “It’s just cards, no big deal,” Archie spoke and 2D just shrugged it off.

“I should probably go, too. Are you sober?” Archie asked and 2D gave him a nervous look.

Shit.

“Uhh, no.” 2D says bluntly. “But I have room if you wanna just stay. I kind of don’t want to kill you tonight.” Archie laughs.

“It’s cool. I can call a cab.” Archie says with a stretch. It feels like his brain was swirling around in his head and he only had a couple beers. Archie searches around in his pocket for his phone but quickly noticed that it wasn’t in his usual spot in his back pocket, finally remembering that he left it on his futon when he got fed up with the text messages. Or lack thereof.

“Just save the fifteen bucks and sleep in my bed.” 2D says lazily and Archie smirks at him. 2D’s words set into his eyes and he got flustered. “No wait I didn’t me-”

“Oh, so you do just want me in your bed?” Archie mocked. He wouldn’t make that sexual of a joke if he was sober but neither of them were innocent now. 2D’s expression changed and he stared at Archie skeptically.

“Well obviously.” 2D said back very seriously. Archie was surprised that 2D was playing along now after trying to take back his flirty comment. “Whole plan all along, you couldn’t tell?” Archie blushed subconsciously. Or maybe it was just the alcohol. Either way he was flustered.

“No, sorry. Too focused on your body I just couldn’t look away.” Archie was surprising himself with the amount of gay comments he was springing out, and to 2D of all people, and what was more baffling is that 2D didn’t care. 2D held his arm out and waved it towards Archie.

“Then help this body up. ‘Think I might fall if I tried myself.” 2D commented and Archie gave him a look that said “really?” 2D knew exactly what he was thinking and nodded. With a dramatic sigh, Archie pulled 2D’s arm and lifted the man to his feet but 2D just crashed into Archie with a tired bump and a couple giggles. The closeness Archie had to 2D’s face now was intense and ran the same familiar tension up his spine as they stood with Archie’s hands on 2D’s waist and 2D’s hands on Archie’s biceps. Archie looked from one of 2D’s eyes to the other and 2D just stares back without much expression, or maybe it was just his eyes. It was always his eyes.

This is the part in the story where one person kisses the other, but Archie doesn’t think he has it in him, he's not drunk enough to do that. Archie darts his eyes away quickly and wraps one arm around 2D to sturdy him and keep him from collapsing on the garage floor. 2D holds onto Archie while they walk into the house and they don’t talk along the way besides Archie asking “where do I go?” and hardly getting an answer out of 2D. Archie bumped into a few walls because of 2D's towering height being hard to hold up and 2D only responded with giggles and gripping onto Archie for support.

Eventually Archie finds a bedroom and walks in with the drunk 2D and throws him on the bed almost mercilessly. 2D only grunts in response and Archie laughs. He’s pretty sure 2D was sleeping on the way to his room because as soon as he hit the bed, he was dead. Archie stood at stared at 2D for a moment before laughing again and walking over to attempt to pull 2D’s lazy form up higher on the bed but barely winning. He’ll have to survive completely clothed and half off the bed tonight.

Archie didn’t even bother trying to find a couch or another bedroom to sleep in, he was too tired and the house was almost too dark to see in for that, so he just flopped next to 2D in this decent sized queen bed and let his head spin itself to sleep. But before he fully drifted off, he felt the bed shift and noticed 2D rolling beside him. Archie stayed still, mostly because he couldn’t move if he tried, but also because he assumed 2D was just getting comfortable. He was pretty much right, with the small exception of 2D rolling over almost onto Archie. Okay, he wasn’t on top of Archie but 2D snaked his arms around one of Archie’s and leaned his head against his shoulder and fell right back asleep. Sleep cuddler, he never would have guessed. Archie was too tired and sure his body was already asleep so he couldn’t respond anyways so he just let his brain whirl to sleep along with it.

Man, what an insane day.

Chapter Text

Archie stared at the floor of his van and how clean it was. Well, as clean as he could get a slab of carpet that was mostly taken up by his bed, television, and record player. It’s been so dirty for the past few days, which usually it doesn’t bother him, but it started to because there was chocolate melded to it and it wasn’t easy to walk around every day. He’s been working a little more recently and between that, surf practice, and plans to hang out with 2D, he hasn’t gotten to it in a few days. So he busted out his very few cleaning supplies and fixed it up because tonight he was going to hang out with 2D after a long couple days without.

Sitting on his creaky futon, Archie pulled out his phone and scrolled mindlessly on it, waiting patiently for ten thirty to arrive. 2D got off work late today but finally for once he wasn’t staying at Russ’s to work on new songs or performance prep. Archie set down his phone on the bed and stared at the wall. It’s been a busy week so far, for everyone he knew actually. He didn’t really know why, but Surf’s Up was on its way in two weeks and Archie has been taking up a few more shifts to cover the entrance cost. It wasn’t much, but he also wanted to get his board done and that was a pretty nice cut out of his wallet. As Archie sits and waits for 2D to arrive, he reminisces about the busy week everyone’s had, starting with the first day.

 

The summer sun was nice, warm, brought in lots of customers and increased productivity for everyone. These were the perfect surfing days, great weather to ride the waves and get those little pink sunburns below your eye bags that would turn into a bronze blush in a few days. It was always hot in Florida year round, but now that it was midsummer it was blazing every day. This is a good thing. Sometimes, though, it was irritating as hell. Quite literally. The burning sun turned Archie’s van from a cool hang out spot into a sauna as early as eight in the morning, awakening him from his deep slumber covered in a sweaty shirt from his vehicle that decided to turn into a Jiffy Pop.

Archie opened his eyes and viewed the ceiling of his van with a dizzy glare. Fragments of his vision were still black and hazy but they adjusted to the white ceiling quickly. He can practically see steam coming off of him and he feels like he just got out of a shower with how wet his back and hair was. Tiredly, he leans to his right and focuses on the floor of his van that was currently covered in candy, junk food, and accidentally-spilled weed atop Archie’s already dirty and stained carpet. It was normal for the floor to be a mess the morning after hanging out with someone, especially 2D, who was actually a moderately clean person but with the way him and Archie hang out, it never ended clean.

The relationship between Archie and 2D was quite different since their first hang out over a month ago, yet the same in a lot of ways. They shared laughs and stupid jokes like normal friends would do, adding in the frequent nights either getting high or drinking while hanging out with friends or spending time alone with movies in Archie’s van. The activities that the two partook in together were normal, regular things that best friends would do, but it was different. The familiar smiles and random glances matched with pairs of eyes averting in response was no strange occurrence, along with subtle knee touches, maybe a shoulder brush or a hand casually laying on the other. But it wasn’t strange. To Archie it wasn’t weird or different or out of the ordinary. Every single move and every day him and 2D spent together felt...normal, yet so exhilarating. Adrenaline rushed through Archie’s veins the same way it did the moments leading up to a competition or when he successfully rides a giant wave, even when he was laying down the most relaxed way possible. As long as he was with 2D, that feeling remained with him and frankly, it kind of drove him crazy.

Despite it all, the passed six or seven weeks have been the most fun Archie has probably ever had. He met up with 2D, Russ, Murdoc, and Noodle often after concerts and, if schedules lined up, hung out with everyone for movie night or beer and stories at Russ’s house. Lindsay was invited a couple times too after Archie mentioned his relationship with her and by that time she’d actually already met 2D a few times. If Lindsay ever worked later than Archie she’d stop by his van to hang out for a few minutes before heading home to study or sleep and once 2D began coming around to hang out in Archie’s van, it was inevitable for him and Lindsay to meet. She even joined in on a few beer nights at Russel’s. Noodle took an immediate liking to Lindsay because she’s no longer the only girl of the group and the two girls are pretty good friends at this point, strangely close, like Archie and 2D.

But this hanging out was not often. They all had jobs, Archie included, and that was hard to match up in itself, let alone a band schedule with practices and performances, but it was fun. Four months ago Archie would have brushed off any person that said he could be friends with one of the band members from Gorillaz. Now he was going to party stores at midnight to buy foreign alcohol and junk food with his favorite blue-haired singer that had chocolate cravings like a teenage girl on her period, just like the night before.

The night before. As Archie examined the floor of his van, all he could see was last night with 2D. Candy, melting from the heat and stuck to his floor, his bong, still left in the wide open next to his futon, (not like he’d get caught anyways, being in his van and all), The Evil Dead title screen playing on loop on his television still, and the blanket covering most of his floor that he gave 2D last night to sleep with. There wasn’t a lot of floor room between the futon and the television, Archie invited 2D to just sleep next to him on the futon but he wouldn’t comply, even though it’s not like they haven’t slept in the same bed a few times before. Archie doesn’t even understand how 2D laid comfortably on his floor with that little room, but he did some way or another.

Regardless, 2D wasn’t there anymore. Archie checked his watch and saw that it was only nearing ten in the morning but remembers 2D mentioning previously that he had to work early to take over the third shifters at some crazy hour of the morning.

Archie groaned and sat up to lean across his van and grab the door handle to pull open the slider and let in some air. Immediately the entire van was filled with cooler air, though it was still well over seventy degrees, it cooled the sweat on his back. Archie searched his hips through his pockets for his phone, noticing he must’ve slept in his jeans last night. Archie found his pockets to be empty and began rummaging around his van for his phone, lifting his blankets and looking under, then lifting the blanket he gave 2D and finding something, but not his phone. It was a white tank top that surely wasn’t his and after picking it up and straightening it out, it was evidential to be 2D’s white tank top with grey writing, the same one he wore when Archie first met him.

Squinting in thought, Archie pondered why 2D left his shirt in his van. Yeah, it got hot in the night a lot of the time so he probably just took it off, but how did he leave without it? Did he just leave with only wearing his jacket, not noticing he didn’t have a shirt at all? Archie smiled fondly at the thought and set the shirt down beside him and glanced to where the top was placed previously on the floor, there laying Archie’s cell phone. He quickly scooped it up and turned his screen on and opened his messenger.

Want to hang out later?

The question was repeated exactly from both Archie and 2D maybe thirty times in their earlier messages. It was a pretty frequent one, pretty much daily. Archie lays back on his futon and lets out a sigh. 2D was at work and that meant he’d have to wait forever for a reply. He lifts up 2D’s tank top again and examines it before a vibration averts his attention again. His phone.

Possible, don’t know yet. P.S please come save me. It’s deafeningly quiet in here.

Archie grins at the message and shakes his head, formulating a reply.

A: Maybe. Got any munchos yet?

D: No but if you come here I will literally buy you every bag of chips on these shelves.

A: How about I come on your break and you can drive me somewhere that has munchos?

D: 10:30?

A: I’ll be there.

Archie sat up again and stretched his arms above his head. To catch up with 2D he’d have to leave pretty soon, but first he needed to get out of these sweaty clothes. Archie looked to his side back to the white tank top. It was so thin and light, 2D wouldn’t mind if he wore it, would he? Archie fingered the material smoothly and sighed out his final decision. It wouldn’t harm anything to wear the shirt. Besides, 2D smelled good.

 

“Why Munchos?” 2D asks and takes a drag from his cigarette. Archie is sitting beside him on the cement curb, enjoying his personal size bag of Munchos while 2D eats the lunch he brought from home. Pineapple and cheese on wheat bread. 2D was strange.

“They’re crispy.” Archie replies and eats another chip. “Taste better than potato chips. Why pineapple and cheese?” He asks back. 2D was still in his red and black work tee, the one every employee at 7/11 was forced to wear. Archie wondered if the employees working inside the Fast Stop they were currently residing outside of on their curb were wondering why a 7/11 employee was at a different gas station. Little do they know that the 7/11 that 2D works at doesn’t have Archie’s favorite chips, which was a big turn off.

2D examines his sandwich with a puzzled face and hums.

“I don’t...remember. I just know I’ve eaten it since I was a kid. Only thing I really know how to make.” 2D speaks back and Archie chuckles.

“That why you still like with your parents?” Archie asks. 2D looks at him with a brow raised.

“Hm?”

“So they can make you sandwiches for lunch that actually taste good?” Archie smirks and 2D looks at him half-offendedly, except he wasn’t offended at all.

“I’ll have you know, I make all my food and I like eating my pineapple and cheese, thank you.” He remarks back and Archie rolls his eyes. 2D takes another bite and almost immediately starts talking again with his mouth full of bread, cheese, and pineapple. Archie didn’t care. “Speaking of parents. My mom wants to take me to the dentist tomorrow morning and that will take an hour or so. Then I’ve got work until six and after that Russ wants to go over a different set list and make a new song.”

Archie nodded in confirmation to 2D, knowing that his description of his day tomorrow meant that he was going to be too busy to hang out. It was okay, normal even, but what Archie struggled to admit was that the days he and 2D were too busy to see each other he really missed 2D. It was a weird feeling, missing someone you’re only friends with and only after knowing them for a month, but Archie felt in deep in his chest.

“That’s okay. We can hang in a couple days, yeah?” Archie asked and 2D shrugged.

“I honestly don’t know, my schedule is weird this week, but I’ll text you when I’m free definitely.” 2D said and looked at Archie who smiled and nodded back. 2D grinned and took another bite of his sandwich, the two sitting and staring at the cars filling up their gas tanks in front of them until Archie decides to speak up again.

“Why are your parents taking you to the dentist? Aren’t you like, twenty three?”

“And counting.” 2D sighs. “They want to get some kind of exam done, maybe see about fixing my twisted teeth. They say it looks really bad for work and stuff.”

Archie fixed his gaze on 2D for almost a straight minute until 2D took notice and looked back at him. Archie looked confused.

“I don’t think it looks bad at all.” He confessed. 2D smiles widely, showing his teeth completely like he was showing off. “I like your smile.”

“Thank you, Arch.” 2D says sincerely and Archie gives a smooth “you’re welcome, D.” Archie checks the time on his watch.

“We should get back. You gotta be working in ten minutes and we’re at the wrong gas station.” He mustered and stood to throw the most empty bag of Munchos away, 2D following to throw away his paper bag that had his sandwich. 2D was the one now to nod back and smoothly grip Archie’s hand in his own.

“Right, let’s go.” 2D says and guides Archie back to his car to return to 7/11. This was the little feeling. The little things that he and 2D shared that was different. The different that made his chest numb and the world feel more gloomy when he didn’t have it for a while. But the feeling when it was happening was indescribable to Archie.

“Nice shirt by the way. I think I’ve got the same one.” 2D comments once inside his car. Archie considers for a moment on whether 2D was being serious or not before simply rolling his eyes. How could Archie be so infatuated with a guy so oblivious to everything.

 

Those two occurences, the texting and the lunch break was the last time Archie saw 2D. Until tonight. 2D was coming over after work to hang out in Archie’s van again, but this time would be different than the junk food and chocolate crazed first time they decided to hang out in the van. No, Archie had an idea this time.

2D was lounging across Archie’s couch mattress like a starfish, groaning about work and how this is the first time all week he’s laid down without immediately falling asleep. Archie was listening from his seat next to 2D and they talked back and forth about their schedules and how tired they were. Archie would usually be tired by now, being so late after his long day surfing, doing dishes, and serving plate after plate of greasy beach burgers, but something was keeping him up. More like someone, but it definitely was not the first time 2D has left him sleepless in bed. There was something about 2D that made Archie’s mind crazy. Something that made his nerves spike when he saw him. He really didn’t know if it was good or bad.

“Arch?” 2D asks and Archie’s internal thoughts halt to snap his eyes to 2D’s. He must have been in a subconscious daze, Archie doesn’t remember what they were talking about.

“Yeah?” Archie questions back, hoping 2D will repeat whatever he just said last again.

“What are you thinking about?” 2D speaks sitting up to lean on the back of his hands. Archie watches as 2D’s blue hair goes from draping behind his head to flowing down just above his black eyes. Again with the blue hair, black eyes...thin lips. “Archie?” 2D asks again. Archie shakes his head to try and physically shake the thoughts out of mind.

“Sorry, must be tired.” He lied and looked in 2D’s eyes with an unconvincing look.

“Well wake up.” 2D answers and playfully slaps Archie’s upper arm. Thankfully the lie flies right over 2D’s head, not like it’s that surprising, he was an oblivious man. “I just got here, ‘n I’ve been wantin’ to see ya all week so don’t fall asleep on me just yet.”

2D wanted to see Archie. Those words stung into Archie lightly, like a little bee sting to the center of his chest, but without the pain.

Maybe he was tired.

“Do you want to go out on the water?” Archie asked bluntly but in all seriousness. 2D looked back a bit worriedly and shifted to sit more on his bottom with his legs crossed.

“This late? Are you sure we’d be able to?” 2D replied, as if that was the thing he was really concerned about. Archie knew 2D didn’t care about the time, it was the water that bothered 2D.

“I know it seems scary, but trust me.” Archie begins. “I go on these exact waters every day at the highest tide. At this time of night it’s calm and almost impossible to get dragged out unless I drag you myself. It’s even more safe at this time, rips aren’t even out at night.”

“What’s a rip?” 2D asks and Archie stand up off the futon.

“Well now I can’t tell you or you won’t come with me.”

“But now I don’t want to go even more!” 2D exclaims and begins to pout. Archie looks at him consolingly.

“C’mon, you’re come so far with you fear.” Archie sits next to 2D again and takes one of his hands in his own, giving it a gentle squeeze. 2D fixes his gaze down at their hands. “We’ve been swimming together for weeks now, and I wouldn’t take to out somewhere that I knew wasn’t safe.”

2D looked back up at Archie, his face still unconvinced. Archie musters out a “Please?” and 2D glances down quickly but beams his eyes back up to meet Archie’s. He nods.

“Yes!” Archie cheers and stands back up, pulling 2D with him. “Okay, come on. There’s something I want to show you.”

 

Archie found out the first day he spent with 2D and the rest of the Gorillaz in the garage playing cards that 2D had a bad history of getting hurt. When he was sixteen years old, he got in a car crash that dented one of his eyes and fractured it, filling the iris with blood and putting him in a coma. Two weeks later he woke up and was nursed back to regular health. Four months later and almost the same thing happened with his other eye, except instead from a car crash, he accidentally got jabbed in the eye with a power tool. How that happened is unknown to Archie, but nonetheless is the reason for 2D’s black eyes.

The other major accident that 2D faced was much more traumatic and caused deeper scars both physically and mentally inside of 2D. When 2D was five years old, he was maliciously attacked by a shallow shark. Nobody really knows how or why he was attacked but he was and that’s all that’s needed to scar someone. 2D endured weeks in a hospital until his wounds were healed enough for him to use his limbs again and deep red gashes turned into stitched up flesh, then turned into the purple, pink, and skin colored divots in his skin that he has now. His arms and legs are the ongoing sign telling 2D to not go back into the water. That is, until he met Archie.

Archie would never force 2D to do something he didn’t want to do, or at least not go as far to shove him in the water and tell him to get over it. Archie helped 2D little by little with encouragement and reassurance. They started with getting closer to the water until 2D could touch it with his toes, but the feel of the first wave hitting his ankles sent 2D into a flashback and he stepped out of the water instantly, Archie by his side comforting him the whole time. A week down the line and Archie was able to walk 2D into the water up to his hips. Another week and he could do everything besides swim on his own, and that’s the stage he was basically at now. Though it wasn’t all an easy perfect transition. There were many times where 2D had to be taken out of the water and sat on the beach with Archie until he stopped shaking violently and could speak and breathe normally.

Tonight Archie didn’t plan to go swimming with 2D, but he wanted to take him out deeper than he’s ever been before on his board. There weren’t waves at night like there were during the day, if there’s any at all, but waves or not Archie knew that 2D didn’t like the water. But surprisingly enough 2D agreed to be taken out on the water and Archie was going to do everything in his power to make sure 2D didn’t feel unsafe out there.

So Archie quickly grabbed his board from the employee locker room and dragged 2D out onto the beach by his thin fingers, worn and callused from instruments through the years. Archie dropped his board in the sand near the water and the two undressed, taking off their shoes, then their socks, followed by their shirts but both keeping their casual denim shorts on. Once undressed and ankle hooked up to the cuff connected to his surfboard, Archie paused and looked up over the ocean. It was dark out. The lights on the pier were the only things keeping the ocean visible and not looking like a pitch black abyss, much like the sky in the very moment. The air was crisp and clean, a bit salty smelling but nothing Archie wasn’t used to. The sand was cold beneath his feet, much like a desert changes from burning hot in the day to freezing at night. Music could be heard in the distance, something that was a little softer than Archie’s preferred taste, but it set the mood for a late night surf session.

Archie was about to pick up his board but he heard a barely audible moan from behind him that drove his eyes to 2D, who was looking a little unsettled at the sight of the ocean. He can’t blame 2D for thinking the ocean looked intimidating at night, because it really was a scary look the first time Archie saw it, yet Archie had a strong feeling that he could get 2D to enjoy it.

“Are you okay?” Archie asked 2D and they exchanged glances. 2D looked nervous more than anything and Archie wishes he could take away every shed of a bad feeling 2D was having right now. The image of 2D standing in front of him with his shirt off, lightly shone on from the dim pier lights showed Archie the full extent of 2D’s scars. There were a few more along his torso that weren’t nearly as bad as the ones on his arms and legs but still easily visible.

“Hey.” Archie reached out his hand slowly to gently grab 2D’s again. “It’s okay, I promise.”

2D and Archie shared a look similar to the one they had a few minutes ago in the van, one that Archie always gave 2D when they would work to get 2D over his fear. The look that made 2D feel twice as safe in a short few seconds. 2D squeezed Archie’s hand lightly and gave a small nod to signal that he was ready to go out on the water.

The water felt warm in contrast to the colder air. It warmed Archie’s body from his feet through his body while he kicked through the saltwater beneath him. Archie was sitting knees-to-knees with 2D at his normal forty yards out, deep enough to be well over either of their heads and too deep to bring 2D out just by swimming, but they made it work. The music could still be heard from where they were but it was more faint. They were so far away that they could only hear the echoes of everything in a sort of hypnotic tone, the deep sounds of a guitar and a voice so far away that the words being sung came out like a foreign language. 2D was staring out towards the amphitheater, only visible because of the stage lights shining down on the crowd in front of it. Archie glanced at the amphitheater for a moment, but turned his eyes to look at the boy in front of him.

2D. Scarred from shoulder to toe, thin silhouette sitting only a few inches in front of Archie, toes barely visible through the dark saltwater. Mussed blue hair, beautiful black eyes, thin lips curled into a small subconscious grin. Archie felt his heart beating into his chest, blood pumping through his veins in each limb and making his body almost numb with a kind of comforting feeling. Archie smiled and turned his eyes downwards to the red stripe on his board between his legs.

“You know, I used to come out here sometimes to watch you guys play.” Archie spoke, grabbing 2D’s attention. Archie shifted one of his legs to place both on one side and gaze out over the water back to the amphitheater. “Even though it’s pretty far, it feels really close. Like a private show.”

2D chuckled at him. “Fanboy.” He remarked and Archie laughed back at him. “Kidding. I think that’s really cool.” Archie’s lips remained in a smile that pushed his cheeks up below his eyes. Praise from 2D drove his head half crazy.

“It’s one of my favorite things about surfing. The, well, non-surfing part of it.” Archie continued. “Sitting out here, day or night, alone. I like night better because it’s calm and quiet and I can just lay here and not worry about being home or having a curfew or anything. It’s nice.”

“Did you get back to your family?” 2D asked, suddenly remembering the conversation they’d had in 2D’s garage about how Archie hadn’t seen his family in a while. Archie gave him a puzzled look. “You said a few weeks ago that you’d visit them soon. How’d that go?”

Archie turned his face down to the water below his knees, his feet becoming much more interesting than they were twenty seconds ago. He didn’t want to tell everyone about his family problems back then in the garage, not after knowing them only for a couple hours, but he and 2D were closer now. Maybe it’d be okay to tell him why he can’t--shouldn’t--go back to his family. He took in and exhaled a breath.

“I haven’t seen my family in about five years. I got kicked out when I was sixteen when I dropped out of school, but they didn’t even care about that. They only cared that I was young and gay and apparently that alone meant that I was rebelling against them, like I’m gay just to get back at them for being Christian or something, I don’t know. I just know that I don’t want to go back.” Archie kept his eyes focused down while he explained the situation with his family. He didn’t really care that his parents didn’t want him. Of course, at the time it was different, but because of it he was able to learn how to live from a young age and actually start life the way he wanted to once he quit school. It was a bittersweet transition.

“I’m...I’m sorry that happened, Arch.” 2D said softly and Archie’s eyes snapped up to meet his.

“Oh, no don’t be. I’m kinda glad it happened. I’m not worried about it.” Archie responded and 2D’s face lightened a little, yet the slight pit in his chest remained at the new information he just learned about Archie. “Really, D. I don’t care about it anymore.”

2D was still unconvinced but he let the thought go. “You can call me by my real name, you know. Not that I care if you call me 2D or D or whatever, just saying that you can call me Stuart if you want. Or Stu is the more common one.” 2D mentioned. He brought his name up partially to change the subject, which he doesn’t think Archie took notice of.

“I was wondering who you had sex with to earn the nickname 2D.” Archie smirked.

“Actually it’s because-”

“I know it does, dummy. I was making a joke.” Archie laughed, finally looking back up at 2D after his long session of staring down at his feet and blankly up at the amphitheater. 2D’s face turned from confusion to happiness and he laughed with Archie, the two falling silent only a couple seconds later. 2D lifted one of his legs to move both to one side and sit next to Archie but the weight of the surfboard began wobbling beneath him and 2D started to lose his balance. His heart froze, his body not ready to go into water this deep yet, but before 2D could fall in he felt an arm snake around his waist and hold him firmly up on the surfboard until it stopped moving. Archie instinctively grabbed 2D in fear of letting him go into the water, let alone by himself, and held him until the board was steadied again. 2D’s arms were around Archie’s shoulders in fear and Archie could feel the trembling coming from him and he immediately started rubbing 2D’s back to soothe him.

“It’s okay, I’ve got you.” Archie said as 2D’s shakes and breathing started to slow down. Once he was able to speak again, only a minute later, 2D’s grip loosened from Archie’s shoulders. “Are you okay?”

“Yeah…” 2D nodded and let his arms fall away from Archie. “Sorry.”

“Don’t apologise.” Archie said back, keeping his arm around 2D. He took a few deep breaths to calm himself down until he was back to normal, then Archie releases his grip around him and rest it at his side but immediately bumping it into 2D’s. He started to move away but he felt fingers intertwine with his and instead of pulling away, Archie melted into the touch. His fingers curled around 2D’s without a single look up or thought of hesitation, he just molded into the feeling. 2D scooted closer to Archie and leaned his head on his shoulder. At this point Archie felt like his heart might actually pop out of his chest.

“I don’t think I ever realized you had tattoo’s.” 2D voice spoke after yet another minute of silence that they shared that night. It took Archie out of his previous train of thought and he coughed nervously.

“Oh, yeah.” He responded so un-enthusiastically. “I mean yeah, I’ve gotten a few over the years. Mostly bands I’ve fancied. Sex Pistols, Ramones Eagle, the skull for Misfits, and a couple others.” Archie explained, pointing at the respective tattoo’s along his shoulders and right forearm. “Also got a few on my back. A li’l surfboard on my side. I even got your logo a while back but it’s fading ‘cause I got it in color. Shit never stays.”

2D grazed his hands along the tattoos, stopping at the one on his right shoulder blade of the Gorillaz’ very own logo. 2D could barely see it because of the fade, it just kind of looked like a light watercolor version of a tattoo. Still, 2D was speechless that somebody actually got a tattoo of his band’s name, he thought that came when you were much more famous than they are right now.

“Those are amazing, Archie. Serious, I can’t believe you put our name on your skin. Permanently.” 2D said, still very mesmerized.

“Semi-permanently.” Archie corrected. “It’s nearly gone and it’s been three months. This one here was my first one.” He said, pointing to the surfboard that went down his entire right side. “Same board we’re sitting on. I got it when I was fifteen after I bought the board. Held sort of a sentimental value to me, it’s the only one I own and the one that I’m taking to the competition next week.”

Competition.

“Are you ready for it?” 2D asked. “The competition, I mean.”

“I dunno.” Archie shrugged. “I’ve never felt not ready for a competition before. They’re always just practice runs in my head but this one...I could actually get something this year. This one competition could change my life. If I manage to win, at least, but who knows if that’ll happen.”

2D looks at Archie sorrowfully in his forlorn expression. He would never take Archie, his confident and somewhat cocky friend, to be so unencouraged with his own amazing skill that 2D thought was undeniably incredible.

“I think you’re going to be amazing. I’ve never seen someone surf like you and frankly, it’s the coolest thing I’ve probably ever seen.” 2D confessed to try and lift Archie’s spirits, giving his hand that he was still holding a gentle squeeze. Archie stared up in 2D’s eyes with an almost gazing expression, wondering if 2D knew that Archie felt the same exact way about him. “I’ll be at the competition, too, cheering you on from the sidelines just to let you know that you’re doing great, ‘cause I know you will.”

The words that 2D was saying to Archie felt like a snap to his heart, in a good way. But the snap made his mind go blank for a half a second and he didn’t realize what he was doing until he felt the click of his lips pressing against 2D’s in a firm, but kind of sloppy kiss. 2D kissed back for the brief moment their lips were connected, until Archie realized what he just did and quickly pulled away.

“T- uh, I’m s-” Archie started to muster out but was cut off when 2D swiftly released his hand from Archie’s and held the side of his face to press their lips together again. Archie was surprised at the action but he let his eyes flutter closed and allowed his face melt into 2D’s. 2D didn’t pull away for a while, and when he did, he just came right back to Archie’s lips. Archie’s hand raised to cradle the side of 2D’s face and kiss him even more deeply. It was simple and sweet, Archie never wanted the feeling to go away but after a short minute, 2D pulled his face away.

The two stared at each other, letting their hands fall limp and move away from each other’s faces and fall back down into their laps or onto the board beneath them. Neither knew what to say in this moment. It was quiet, the band no longer playing and the waves hardly audible from where they were. Eventually Archie looked away and they both stayed silent. 2D was the first to speak up.

“Do you, uhm,” 2D began slowly and softly. Archie’s heart started to race again. “Do you want to go back? The waters starting to feel a little cold.”

Archie bit his lip and nodded, and without looking or talking, Archie and 2D made their way back to shore on the board. The feelings Archie was having right now were so conflicting. On one hand he wanted to keep kissing 2D into the next day, and on the other he was feeling regretful, like he shouldn’t have kissed him in the first place. Everything was so confusing now.

They didn’t talk again until they made it back to the van and Archie opened the side door.

“What time is it?” 2D asks and Archie checks his watch.

“About twelve thirty.” Archie answered and turned around to face 2D. “Do you wanna stay tonight? It’s kinda late.”

“I would but I have to be up really early for work. Plus I have to take a shower to get the salt water off me and stuff too.” 2D says back and Archie nods.

“Well I’ll uh, see you soon?” Archie responds, nearly convincing himself already that 2D isn’t going to come around for any reason.

“Yeah, totally.” 2D says back and starts walking back to his car. “Night, Arch.”

“Goodnight.” Archie calls back softer than he meant to. He’s not even sure if 2D heard him, but he also didn’t think he could manage to talk any louder with how loud his thoughts were inside his head.

Fuck. Did he just fuck everything up?

Chapter Text

The day was long and uneventful. Practice, work, sleep, repeat, and that was on a less busy day when work didn’t demand an extra six hours because of the beach crowds and insane reservation lineups. Better stated: the past few days have been long and uneventful and a bit physically draining, though it’s nothing Archie hasn’t dealt with before. It was just...different.

Archie hasn’t talked to or seen anyone besides coworkers and strangers in four days, which was pretty much the normal if you’d asked him how his days went on average about two months ago, or the four years leading up to that, but not so much recently. Archie hasn’t had this much fun with people, maybe ever, in his life until he met his new friends, Noodle, Russel, Murdoc, and...2D. It really was great, and Archie didn’t really realize it until it was gone.

A little dramatically spoken, but that’s kind of how Archie felt in this moment. He hasn’t spoken to 2D since that night on the water four days ago and he can’t bring himself to stop thinking about it. Archie wants to say that they’re all just busy and don’t have time to talk, one of those kinds of busy weeks, or he could at least convince himself that that’s how it really was. Half of him wants to assume everything will be back to normal in a day or two. The other half wants to assume 2D will never talk to him again and he should just move on.

God, it was straining Archie’s mind, he just can’t stop thinking about that damn kiss, how he shouldn’t have done it at all and how weird they all must feel about all of it, let alone how weird 2D feels about it. 2D had to have told the rest of them what happened, right? That’s why they’re all not talking to him.

Whatever. Back to being the beach busboy who lives in his van and can only dream about winning a surf title. Dreams.

Archie was sitting at a booth only occupied by himself during a dull hour of work, the hour between lunch and dinner where people were either out on the beach or have just left after getting lunch. This was the best time, Archie decided, to take his lunch break and seal himself off from the world for his short half an hour to eat a greasy burger and think about everything and nothing at the same time. His head hurt and he was killing for a nap right about now. Archie hasn’t slept much since that night with 2D, too worried about everything, and the lack of sleep was finally catching up to him.

“You look like you need a nap.” Lindsay’s voice spoke up, taking Archie’s attention while she sat across from him in the booth. Archie looked at her and gave himself a second to process his very slow thoughts in order to give a legible reply, but he couldn’t give more than a sheepish smile and a small “yeah, I do.” Lindsay knew about the kiss, Archie told after two days because it was killing him from the inside out and he couldn’t keep it to himself. She was nice about it, didn’t tease like he expected her to and tried her best to assure Archie that 2D didn’t hate him, “and if he does, fuck him” she told Archie.

“It’s been too hot to sleep in my van.” Archie explained, which wasn’t a total lie. It was getting hot being the middle of summer right next to the equator in a van that didn’t run air conditioning long before killing the battery. Archie never complained about his van, he thought it was worth it considering it was basically free rent.

“I think you should get your own place already.” Lindsay mentioned, taking a fry from Archie’s plate. He was too tired to notice, not that he minded. “You’re twenty one and it’s summer in Florida. Pick up a couple more hours and get a shitty apartment. You can sleep in a real bed and have a real shower. I bet it’d get your mind off stuff, too.”

It was a perfectly reasonable suggestion and it’s a nice thought, but Archie doesn’t want to for a number of reasons. If he somehow wins Surf’s Up, he’ll have to move away almost immediately and signing a lease to an apartment just a few days before relocating is a bad idea. If Archie doesn’t win the competition, he’s not entirely sure he’s going to stay another year to hope he might win next time. Moving was a serious life changing decision and Archie is considering more and more as Surf’s Up gets closer.

“Yeah, I might.” Archie mumbles out, still too tired to continue the conversation further. He really needs some air. “I’m gonna go out back for a minute and grab a smoke. Do you want to come with?” He asked, standing up to stretch and rub some of the tired out of his heavy eyelids.

“Nah, you know I don’t smoke, and I’m not even technically on break right now so I need to go and actually do my job.” Linsday stood grabbing his half-empty plate of food and gave him a consoling look. “I know everything is killing you right now, but you need to care for yourself. Get some sleep and finish your food for a start, then talk to your guy. I want you to actually win this thing this year because I know how badly you want it but you need to stop being so tired and stressed first.”

Lindsay’s pep talks were always so comforting to Archie. She was the perfect best friend, mother-like person in his life that told him to get his shit in order when he needed it. Archie gave her a small smile and nodded, appreciating the advice more than she probably knew.

“Okay, I will.” Archie said, which was the first complete truth he’s told so far to Lindsay.

“Good. Tell me how it goes with him, I wanna know all the juice.” Lindsay grinned and Archie chuckled with another nod, watching her walk off back to the kitchen to continue work.

Archie feels like he needs to talk to 2D. It’s been enough time, right? Four days was enough of a break of not saying anything to your really close friend after kissing them in the ocean while watching a beach concert at midnight. Or...maybe he shouldn’t say anything. This whole thing was confusing and tiring, Archie can just think it over during his smoke. Except as soon as Archie opened the door from the employee locker room to the back alley, he was faced with someone he wasn’t expecting.

Russel, Noodle, standing next to Archie’s van bickering about something he couldn’t make out before they stopped talking to look at him. They both stopped their every motion to turn their eyes to Archie, then to each other, then back to Archie.

“We need to talk.” Noodle said seriously. Archie was very confused and had many questions lined up in his brain.

“What are you guys doing here?” Archie asked curiously. He didn’t want to seem like he didn’t want them there, but it was a new concept even on a normal day. They looked at him with slight concerned faces which in turn made Archie’s stomach drop.

“Look, we know what happened with you and 2D. And we know that it’s none of our business what happened between you two but…” Russel trailed off and Noodle picked up his sentence.

“But whatever happened did something to 2D. He’s been dull and tired and not motivated to do any work with us. I’m not even worried about Gorillaz right now, I’m worried about 2D. He hasn’t talked to any of us in a couple days and we haven’t been able to break through to him. So we are here hoping that you could do something. Can you talk to him?”

2D was in the same boat as Archie this week, which isn’t a good thing at all but at the very least he’s not alone in this whole ordeal. The looks that Russ and Noodle were giving him right now was getting to him; Archie’s never seen them look so serious and concerned since they’ve met. The thought of 2D being in any sort of pain because of Archie hurts, well, everything. He can put himself in this mess but he can’t put 2D in the same thing, he’s gotta try to fix it.

“Yeah.” Archie says a little too softly. “Yeah I’ll definitely talk to him.”

“Thanks.” Noodle says with a smile and walks up to Archie to give him a brief hug. Her arms wrap around him loosely and only for a few seconds, the true “thanks” type of hug. Archie could tell by the hug that Noodle was really concerned for 2D, all the more reason he was for sure going to do something about this. “He gets off of work at ten, his parents are gone and he’s staying at their house, can you go there as soon as possible?” She asked and Archie nodded.

“I will, don’t worry.” Archie responded.

“Alright. We’ll see you later then.” Russel spoke and Archie confirmed again. Noodle then walked back to Russel and the two set off to Russel’s car parked at the further side of the alleyway.

But at least now Archie had a plan to hopefully fix all of this mess.

So he finished work, tiredly and without his smoke because he ran out of time after Noodle and Russel left. Michael came out back and told him to get on dishes because the dinner rush was coming up. He was completely and utterly exhausted after work and wanted nothing more than to sleep in his literal sauna of a van, but he knew he wouldn’t be able to anyways with the new information on 2D’s current state. Archie pretty much had to at this point because Noodle would almost definitely kill him if he didn’t with how upset this one thing was making her. This wasn’t just a conflict between him and 2D now, it was with everyone, and Archie has to fix it.

After work he didn’t even bother changing out of his clothes, letting himself smell strongly of greasy foods for his reuniting with 2D. He didn’t care, he was tired and stressed and didn’t have the energy to make an impression for an awkward night time conversation. He would most likely sleep in his work outfit if he wasn’t leaving, but it doesn’t matter anyways.

Archie had internal chats on his way to 2D’s house on how tonight was going to go down. He didn’t know how 2D would react to everything, so he was at a little bit of a loss for a realistic ending to tonight. Would 2D be upset and not want to talk to him anymore? Would he be fine with everything and they just stay friends? Does Archie confess how much he really likes 2D and hope for a good answer? No...that couldn’t happen. Archie just needs to talk to him, tell 2D that it was a mistake and that they should still be friends. Yeah, that was the way to go.

As Archie’s van pulled into the driveway of 2D’s parents home, his stomach sank. He didn’t want to go through with this yet he wanted to fix things so badly. Archie glanced up in the rearview mirror at his tired eyes above his even more tired eye bags. His yellow hair was dry and stale from all the practicing he’s been doing lately and a little insane from his long day of wanting to yank it all out to keep himself sane. Archie wasn’t presentable, but he didn’t care. With a deep breath and an exhausted blink, he opened his door and exited his van. The garage door was open and the door going to the inside was right there, where 2D was probably sitting in his room or on the couch, maybe in the kitchen drinking a beer, or possibly in the shower. What if 2D was in the shower? Would Archie have to come back another time, or wait for him to be done? Or what if he was sleeping, what should Archie do then?

He was overthinking everything, Archie needed to stop. He flushed the immense amount of thoughts running through him and walked up to the door, standing there for a moment and memorizing every detail of its exterior. Plain, white, nothing special about it, but it was interesting enough to hold Archie’s attention and keep it away from why he was standing in front of it right now. Stop thinking, you’ve got some talking to do. Archie knocked on the door, then he waited. A few seconds passed. Seconds of debate and instant regret, the feelings from before of not wanting to go through with the confrontation were creeping up his spine and jumping down to pit his stomach yet again. For a split second Archie thought about going back to his van but as he was turning to step away, the door opened.

He was face to face with 2D, who had a very perplexed look on his face. Archie was more focused on 2D’s figure, a white band tee and grey sweatpants complimented with disheveled blue hair, dark black eyes, and a concerned set of thin lips being bitten away at the skin on the lower half.

“Archie?” 2D asked. Of course he knew it was Archie, the tone he gave was more of a “what are you doing here?” Archie already knew that and he opened his mouth to say something but nothing came out. He cleared his throat and tried again.

“I-I...Can we talk?” Archie asked while fiddling with the hem of his shirt. 2D’s expression changed. Archie knew at that moment they were thinking the same thing: the kiss. 2D was expecting this conversation at one point or another, or maybe he wasn’t, but he knew why Archie was here despite acting like he hasn’t been stressed out of his mind for the past few days. Archie knows this, too. He knows 2D can be oblivious and an airhead but 2D doesn’t just forget things and guessing from the view of him right now, he’s like the embodiment of Archie’s mental state. Completely and utterly mussed.

2D exits his house into the garage and closes the door behind him, afterwards taking a few steps forward to meet Archie, who was standing just a couple feet further than usual for them. They haven’t had this much distance between them since they met, physical and communication wise, it was depressing. 2D stood there with a nervous look on his face, not sure if he should be the first to speak up.

“I just...wanted to say that I’m sorry.” Archie forced out. He felt a lump form in his throat but swallowed it back, his heart feeling like it was going to pound right out of him. This wasn’t supposed to be hard. “I think I acted too soon, or I didn’t think it would be a big deal. To kiss you, is what I mean. I know I messed that whole part up but I’m here because I have to be honest with you and you deserve to know the truth.”

2D stared at Archie with compassion and confusion at the same time. Archie didn’t want to cry. He couldn’t, not right now, but he felt like it. If the kiss didn’t mess things up already, he was going to right now in this garage with 2D as he played with the fabric of his shirt and pants beneath his fingers. Archie avoided 2D’s eyes as much as he could, snapping back to memorize the look of his face periodically. Archie, with a slightly shaken voice, speaks again.

“I hate the fact that you’re hurt over what I did but I can’t sit here and pretend like it was a mistake, because it wasn’t. I wanted to kiss you and I realized recently that I like you more than just a friend, or maybe I had those feelings before we even met, but then I met you and you were amazing, you are amazing but I, really, don’t want to fuck up everything between us so far because of some stupid thing I did. And I know that this is a huge shot in the dark but-”

Everything went silent. Archie couldn’t see or hear, he could barely feel. It was quiet and he couldn’t tell what was going on until he felt his body pulled physically forward and in a very short, incomprehensible instant, he was back against the lips of 2D. It was different than last time, it was close, but not too close, and more comfortable. His mind was still in a state of blank as 2D held his cheeks in his hands, he didn’t have the state of mind to raise his arms in response, the only thought he had was, why?

Short seconds pass and 2D’s lips pull away from Archie’s and he stared into his eyes. Archie wanted to scream. He wanted to ask every question in the universe about if and why and what was going on but he didn’t, couldn’t, he just focused a gaze in 2D’s eyes and waited. Not sure what he was waiting for, but he was waiting for something, which came straight to him right as his mind considered it and in a quarter of a second, his lips were against 2D’s again in a rough, passionate kiss.

2D’s hands traveled up Archie’s spine and pulled him closer to press their chests together while Archie’s hands moved up 2D’s sides until they were resting above his shoulders and pulling 2D closer into his lips. Their lips released and connected as they pulled each other closer and touched every shoulder and waist and cheek that they could. 2D held Archie’s hips firmly and began walking him slowly backwards without breaking their kiss, only a few feet later and Archie’s back is being pressed against a wall with 2D’s torso. They released again for a breath and 2D immediately began pressing kisses along Archie’s cheek, then his jaw, down to his neck and when Archie felt the hot breath on his skin, he shivered. 2D licked his neck and pressed a firm kiss down against it and Archie couldn’t help but whimper out, 2D’s teeth coming into the mixture and lighting biting and sucking at the sensitive spot on Archie’s skin.

“Wait, are you sure you’re okay with this?” 2D stopped and dragged himself away from Archie’s neck. Archie didn’t answer, only grabbed the back of 2D’s neck and pulled him back into a tight kiss. 2D grabbed his hips again and pulled him away from the wall and toward the door going to the inside. Archie knew what this was, he’s done it before with an old hookup; being dragged into a house by his waist while his lips were attacked frantically by another. The only difference with 2D is that...it was with 2D. He was sweet and tender but he was also passionate and firm with his movements. It made Archie’s insides shiver with excitement.

Their feet lead them into a bedroom, completely dark and neither of them had the patience to turn on a light or shut the door behind them, they didn’t need to. 2D helped Archie out of his clothes and replaced them with his own body, warmth radiating from one to the other from chest to mouth. They held each other tightly, making up in closeness from their time that they had apart just like they would every night that they spent together, sitting next to each other and watching movies or sharing a beer and talking about music. 2D was more passionate than Archie thought he could be, and it was incredible. 2D made Archie feel amazing and treated him with the same concern and kindness as he always does but also gave the lust and ardor that he needed.

It was emotional. Archie was emotional. This man that he’d spent the past month not being able to control his feelings over was above him, doing things Archie would have never guessed would happen with him, kissing Archie, moaning into his neck and shoulder. It was intense and exhilarating and Archie loved every second of it. When everything was done, Archie and 2D laid next to each other and didn’t talk. They just lay and stare at the ceiling in silence until 2D finally looks over at Archie with the happiest look on his face.

“What’s that look for?” Archie asked with a smirk. 2D’s smile widened and he rolled on his side to lay his head on Archie’s bare chest. Archie smiled and sighed, lifting a hand to run his fingers through 2D’s hair while 2D lightly traced lines and curves along Archie’s side.

“I’m happy that you kissed me the other day on the water.” 2D finally said back. “I was afraid that...I was the one that made it weird.”

2D shifted to lean his body up on his elbow and look at Archie, then Archie mirrored him.

“But I was the one that kissed you. If anything I should be the one that was afraid. I thought,” He hesitated. “I thought you weren’t going to talk to me again after all of that.”

Archie’s eyes were well adjusted to the dark now, enough to see 2D’s heartsick look into his eyes that made Archie feel the pain that’s been eating at him all week. 2D looked down at the bedsheets for a brief second, then moved his hand to gently hold Archie’s side and glide his thumb across it repeatedly. Archie’s heart pounded again.

“I’m sorry for leaving the way I did. I shouldn’t have just walked away, and I shoulda messaged or something. I’m sorry.” 2D apologised and Archie smiled, lifting his hand up to place a hand on 2D’s cheek and pull him in for a moments kiss.

“It’s okay. I mean, I was a little hurt at the time but we’re good now, yeah?” Archie asked and 2D nodded with a smile. “‘Cause if not then I might have a word to say about the sex we just had.”

“Stoooop.” 2D covered his face in embarrassment and Archie laughed before flopping back down on his back. Despite all the giddy feelings, butterflies, and smiles that he had right now, exhaustion was still very apparent in Archie’s body after days of stress and work, and the activity he and 2D just did together.

“C’mere.” Archie whispered and held his arms out, signalling 2D to come to him, which he did. 2D went back to his original position on Archie’s chest and closed his eyes with a sigh. They were both exhausted, and they felt it as soon as their eyes closed and everything went black.

 

Archie wasn’t conscious of anything when he woke up. He just knew that the sun was too bright shining right on his eyelids and he forced them awake and winced away from the brightness. The room was different than he was used to, well, it was a room and not just a car with a bed in it. Grey walls and brown furniture, white sheets, blue hair, closed eyelids, thin, kissable lips. Archie smiled. He felt like he was living in a dream being here with 2D, in his bed on a Thursday morning, waking up staring almost directly at his closed eyes. Archie couldn’t ask for more.

He checked his watch, reading exactly eight-sixteen, Thursday June twenty-first. Archie needed to get up. Today was his last day to practice and prepare and he had a lot to do. The competition is tomorrow.

Archie leans his head forward slowly and plants the softest kiss possible on 2D’s forehead, careful not to wake him. He stirred but didn’t wake up, Archie released a relieved sigh. He promptly got out of the bed, gathered his clothes that were scattered across the floor and put them back on. Greasy food smelling clothes would have to do for a little while.

The drive back to the alleyway from 2D’s parents house felt short, but brang a comforting feeling to his chest and forced a permanent smile on his lips. He still can’t fathom last night, wrap the idea of being with 2D this way around his fingers even though it’s the one thing his head hasn’t left him alone about. Archie passed buildings and cars, pedestrians and palm trees with a childish grin and a better view on life.

But, that changed when he pulled into the alleyway.

Michael, a woman in a business suit, and two middle aged looking men holding something that Archie could only get a glimpse of before they hauled it into a van, white cargo similar to his. Confused and worried, Archie pulled into the alley and quickly turned off his van, rushing to unbuckle his belt and race to see what in the world was going on.

“Archie, finally you’re here.” Michael spoke first and all the attention was on him. The adult woman with the business suit give him a look and he looked from person to person in pure confusion.

“What’s going on here?” Archie asked nervously. One of the men glanced from Archie to the van behind him, Archie followed his eyes and saw his board. Cream, maroon, his last name. “What the hell is going on, why is my board in that van, Michael?!” Archie nearly yelled out in defense.

“You must be the owner of the surfboard?” The woman in the business suit speaks up and Archie glares at her with furrowed brows.

“Yeah that’s mine.” Was all Archie could spit out.

“There was a surprise inspection, sent from corporate.” Michael explained with a regretful face. Archie knew that Michael had no aware to this, but blood was pumping through his veins and his stress levels were almost at max.

“I can’t allow to let employee’s store their property in the workspace. It’s against the rules for this business.” She elaborated further.

“Okay well then let me take my property and be on my way.” Archie retaliated.

“I’m sorry but I can’t let you do that.” Archie could tell by the tone of her voice that she wasn’t sorry at all. “I have to take anything that isn’t company property or isn’t properly stored in an employee locker and file it into the system as a warning on your record.”

“A warning on my record. For what?”

“Misuse of company property.”

“Misuse of c-”

“Archie.” Michael stops Archie from continuing and Archie replies with a glare angry enough to burn into someone’s soul. Michael looks from Archie to the woman. “Can he pick it up later?”

“I’m afraid not. Items must be held for forty-eight hours before they can be given back.” She responds and Archie groans irritatedly. The woman turns to the men behind her and tells them to start the van. “I’m sorry but it’s company rules. We will call you in forty-eight hours and inform you of the address that you can pick it up from.” She hands Archie a business card and swiftly turns on her heel and walks back to the white cargo truck.

“You have to be fucking kidding me.” Archie watched as each of the men and the woman got into the vehicle, start it, and drive out of the alley without a single glimpse back. This was a nightmare.

“You can get it back, Archie.” Michael spoke, breaking the tense silence. Archie shook his head.

“It doesn’t matter.” Archie said monotonously and began to walk away. He didn’t know where, but he kept on walking out of the alley, and down the sidewalk, it wasn’t until he was at the strip when frantically pulled out his phone and found a number in his contacts. This was Hell. Archie was living in absolute Hell. Competition was tomorrow and he didn’t have a surfboard. He shakily dragged his phone up to his ear and listened to the rings.

Riiing

Riiing

Riiing

“Hello?”

“Stu? Could you come meet me at the strip as soon as you can? Something...happened.” Archie’s voice shook and tears didn’t hesitate to trail down his cheeks freely.

“Archie? What’s wrong are you okay?”

“Just please come.”

”Okay, I’m on my way.”