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Allies and Alleys

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...

Perhaps, waiting at a coffee shop was the best choice for now.

Girlfriend and Luis went on a shopping trip, and now Boyfriend’s stuck at this damn place.

He doesn’t really mind, despite his annoyance.

 

He was just about to order a caramel macchiato when the door to the establishment opened.

There stood someone with orange hair and a green long-sleeve.

Not exactly familiar, but someone talked about in this part of town.

 

“.. Morning.”

Boyfriend tries to greet him.

 

The orange-haired boy, around his age, only looks at him.

 

The next thing he notices about the new customer is the gun tucked into the side pocket of his pants.

 

He flashes a wide smile at the barista, before walking over to Boyfriend’s table.

 

The orange-haired boy sets his black coffee across from Boyfriend.

 

“So.”

He starts, his voice is hoarse but not too harsh on the ears.

 

“You’re the kid rapping around these streets, eh?”

The boy’s eyebrow raises as he sips from his coffee.

 

Boyfriend struggles.

He stammers, his composure falling apart.

 

“Y..Yes.”

 

“Cool. I’ve seen some of your performances.”

The gun-wielding boy looks out the window.

 

“Do.. you happen to have a name?”

 

...Hello? Boyfriend?

Of course, he has a name!

 

Boyfriend’s eyes become fixated on the way the other’s hair slightly bounces when he chuckles.

 

“Pico.”

He answers, voice still the same.

 

Boyfriend nods.

“You?”

 

And it’s not as if Boyfriend’s brain short-circuits.

He’s said his name thousands of times (an exaggeration);

Why now, must his brain turn to mush?

(Maybe it’s because the guy’s cute?)

 

“.. It’s... Keith.”

 

A smirk on Pico’s face.

 

“Keith. Nice name.”

 

And just like that, Pico leaves the shop, as the barista sighs deeply.

 

Boyfriend decides to ask the barista.

 

No answer.

 

“Get lost!”

He hears Pico yell, and then a shot.

 

Boyfriend runs outside.

 

Pico is gone to the wind, with Girlfriend and her father only in the alley.

 

....

 

Boyfriend notices a disembodied leg near where Luis stands.

When he asks them who shot, they say they couldn’t see him due to the darkness of the alley.

 

 

Two nights pass.

The next time Keith spots Pico is when he’s at the so-called ‘Battle Grounds’.

 

He’s.. behind...

The speakers?!

 

“Pico!”
He waves to the gun-wielding boy, as Girlfriend latches onto his arm.

 

“Boyfriend. Good t’see ya.”

Pico waves, as he takes into account Girlfriend's attractive form.

 

“I guess this is Girlfriend, huh. Good to meet you.”

 

Keith looks at Pico, dumbfounded.

 

“We need an audio technician over here! Court B5!”

Pico looks behind him, and then sprints.

“Um- Bye, Pico!”

 

Pico doesn’t look back at him and Girlfriend.

“Huh. I didn’t know your new friend was the sound tech.”

 

“M-Me neither!”

 

They watch as Pico scolds the rookie sound tech kid for messing up the wires.

The next thing they know?

Pico is triggered and he pulls his gun out, pressing the muzzle against the sound kid’s hand.



“.... What.”

A bead of sweat rolls down Boyfriend’s forehead.

 

“Wait, it’s empty.”

Girlfriend tugs at his sleeve.

 

“...”

 

He’s left speechless, as Pico stands.

 

“Fix those again!”

Pico barks.

 

Boyfriend has no choice but to proceed to Court B4, and battle those two kids he met on the way to the mall.

 

He easily beats them, much to Girlfriend’s relief.



The next time Boyfriend encounters Pico, it’s on the rooftop overlooking the first four courts at 5 pm.

 

“How was the match?”

 

Pico asks, his tone emphasizing the word ‘match’ like it was important.

 

“It went surprisingly well! They posed a slight challenge, but I think it’s because they’re two children.”

 

“You’re a child yourself.”

 

Keith hits Pico’s shoulder.

 

“I heard you mix the vocals for each contestant in real-time, Pico. That’s so cool!”

 

“You’re all buddy-buddy with me. ‘S weird.” He hears Pico mumble.

 

“Is that, like, a bad thing?”

“Not necessarily.”

 

“Anyway, about the mixing thing, yeah. I do most of the audio work ‘round this part. Damn people don’t know how to.”

 

“Go easy on them, Pico.”

 

What Keith doesn’t expect is Pico’s (very much nasal) impression of him.

 

“Go easy on them, Pi-co.”

He replies in that stupidly accurate impression.

 

Keith isn’t sure whether to feel insulted or complimented.

Wait-

Complimented?

 

Pico offers to show his “pro sound mixer” set up the next time they meet.

Keith chuckles, not exactly hanging onto the idea as Girlfriend drags him away.

 

Pro sound mixer, Boyfriend’s ass.

(He wishes it was actually true. He wishes that Pico is a nerd. A nerd who enjoys sounds just as much as Keith loves rapping.)

 

5 pm on the next day. 

Keith’s sitting on a wall, clutching a notebook he only ever really uses for very, very important things (like writing song lyrics and ideas for beats, as exhibit A)

 

Keith swears he smells a hint of gunpowder far, far behind him.

We’ll say he’s stumped for lyrics, yeah?

 

He hears a low and raspy greeting from somewhere below the wall.

He isn’t exactly sure who-

 

Keith feels a hand snaking on to his cap.

Never mind.

 

“Keith.”

 

“P..Pico!”

 

“Keith.”

His voice dropped to an even lower octave.

 

Keith’s face heats up, as his right hand folds the notebook.

‘Just when I thought it couldn’t get any lower.’

 

Keith feels something cold poke against his hand.

When he looks down, he realizes it’s a (glass) bottle of-

 

“Soda?”

Pico offers, holding a bottle opener in his left hand.

 

Keith takes the bottle by the neck and Pico spins the opener, effectively decapitating the poor soda in a record the blue-haired rapper can’t process.

 

“Girlfriend said you made a track for me.”

 

“H-Huh?”

 

“Girlfriend said you made a track for me. What’s the deal?”

 

“... I made a track for you, that’s the deal.”

 

Keith swears he hears Pico’s nails tapping against his gun.

 

“A track?” 

 

A chuckle.

 

“Thanks, sweetheart.”

 

And that leaves Keith reeling, red washing over his cheeks as he drinks the soda just given to him.

 

Pico swipes the mp3 player from Keith, swiftly pulling out the headphone plug.

 

“Pico.mp3,”
The orange-haired boy snorts, then it evolves into a series of giggles filled with momentary happiness that Keith nearly wishes he brought a recording device on his person.

 

“H-Hey,”
Keith gently sets the bottle of soda beside him, looking at Pico and the player.

 

“I didn’t know what to name it!”

 

“Very creative, Keith. Very.”

Pico presses the play button on the mp3 player.

Something inside of Keith grows when he sees Pico’s smile widen.

 

“..I..Is it okay? I mean, decent-”

 

“Decent?”

Pico smiles, and then an even wider one.

 

“Dude-”

The orange-haired boy mumbles, as the beats come from the mp3 player, smooth and rich.

“This shit slaps!”

He remarks as he wraps an arm around Keith’s shoulders, pulling him close to himself.

 

For a second, Keith wishes Pico would hold him just like that.

 

The next time Boyfriend sees Pico is by the start of August, at the local basketball court.

A long 3 months after their conversation on the rooftop.

It’s Boyfriend’s third match, and he’s left in the dark as to who it could be.

 

To his surprise, it’s Pico in all his glory.

.. Glory.

Maybe. 

Looking at Pico’s stupidly cool orange hair gave Boyfriend a sense of relief. 

It’s someone he knows, at the very least.

That sense of relief is diminished by 20 arrows when he notices the Mac-10 in his hand.

 

He prays to whatever deity is up there that it’s full of blanks.

 

Boyfriend feels the summer heat nearly kill him (figuratively).

He can’t figure out why he keeps staring at Pico when he doesn’t look.

 

The beat comes in, and Boyfriend still doesn’t have his head in the game.

 

He hears a faint hype line – “Go Pico, yeah, yeah, go pico, oh-”

The rapper follows suit, and he swears when he repeats the first line, a faint red sits on Pico’s cheeks. 



When Boyfriend beats Pico (by only a slim gap, he thinks to himself), he fears the click of a gun to the right of his head.

Which never actually comes.

 

Boyfriend doesn’t look up, as he looks at the rough hand of (his) sound nerd.

(His…?)

 

A job well executed.

So why is his heart beating so fast?

Nervousness? Fear?

Or is it something else..?

 

Boyfriend takes Pico’s hand and shakes it.

“Good job, Boyfriend.”

Pico flashes him a smile, but the rapper is scared.

He doesn’t know what lies behind the other’s smile.

 

“You too.”

 

6 pm.

Today, on the 16th of September, Keith stood outside Pico’s “studio”, a repurposed (torn-up) garage.

 

He leaned against the steel garage doors when he feels himself fall until he’s caught by two sets of hands.

He hears a female’s voice, as he’s pushed back on his feet.

 

“Piiiico! Is this your boyfriend?!”

The girl asks.

 

“Huh? No, isn’t this that rapper kid?”

Another boy, maybe around his and Pico’s age, asks the girl.

 

Keith pretends not to notice the switchblade in the girl’s hand, and the lighter in the boy’s.

 

“What? No. He’s the sound nerd I told you guys about.”

 

Pico comes out from another room, with a gun.

(Classic. This time, it’s a generic pistol.)

 

“She’s Nene. He’s Darnell. Don’t remember their names, you’ll get sick of it eventually.”

 

As Pico sits down in front of his “pro sound mixer setup”, he gets mocked by Nene and Darnell.

 

-

Keith had fun, watching Pico mix the vocals he recorded for the “badly-named” Pico.mp3 beat the blue-haired rapper (and Lynn) worked on for three days.

 

His voice, Keith still tries to process, is deep and rich and smooth and maybe it’s the brandy talking-

 

The sheer happiness he felt when Pico mixed his own voice so “efficiently” (which meant ‘badly’, Nene adds) to the point it can’t be understood was something Keith wanted to have over and over and over again.

 

Pico.mp3 - Keith felt happy that Pico used it in his tracklist. He was even happier when his suspicions were confirmed – the first line was Pico hyping himself up.

At least his ears didn’t fuck up.

Keith finds himself still hyping Pico up in his head.

 

Philly Nice.mp3 - Fun? Nene and Darnell had no “professional” opinion. They still can’t figure out if he’s saying “shoot the mannequin” or “shake the mannequin”.

 

Blammed.mp3 - This one stirred some familiar (?) feelings inside of Keith. It caused Darnell to grab a jug of water and hand it to Pico, as Nene laughed. “Drink some water, man.” Darnell quips as Pico raises an eyebrow. 

“It’s not that raspy yet.” (“Yet.” Nene remarks, playing with Darnell’s hand.) 

 

When Pico’s voice started in that track, Keith felt a million things rush into his mind, as heat washed over his cheeks.

He never thought it could go lower.

 

 

He got to see a glimpse of Pico’s life outside the court.

He’s happy. He’s enjoying this.

He’s enjoying Pico’s company.



-

 

When Keith bumps into Pico one Saturday morning, memories of his dreams flash in his eyelids.

Dreams of holding Pico’s hands, caressing his fingers, leading his hands into his hair, pulling, gripping-

 

Keith drops the groceries and Pico helps.

Dreams of being with Pico, no matter what.

Keith feels something go through his hand when Pico drops off the groceries with him a full 5 minutes later.

“You okay there? You were kinda flushed by the grocery, so I helped ya.”

 

“T..Thanks..”

 

Dreams of him being pinned, pinning-

Dreams of him confessing to Pico, and then being confessed to.

These were nothing, compared to the (fictional) real deal.

 

When Keith’s exhaling is shaky, he swears he sees an evil glint shine in Pico’s eyes.

 

Minutes later, Pico leaves once he’s certain Keith’s fine.

As fine as a flushing blue-haired teenager can be, anyway.

 

Keith calls Lynn over that very same day, gushing and probably wailing about how much he likes Pico.

(“Pico this, and Pico that. What about your lovely girlfrieeeeend?”
Lynn asks, a pout on her lips. Keith only chuckles in the space of his pillow.)

 

As best friends do, they share their dreams, and what they dreamt of. Things like that.

Lynn’s not really getting tired of Keith talking about how cool and awesome Pico is.

(Keith hopes she isn’t.)

 

She encourages him to confess. 

Nothing too cheesy.

 

The next time Keith sees Pico in person (after hundreds of video and voice calls following the grocery thing) is by the park near his home, smoking in fall.

 

“Hi, Pico.”

“Yo, dude.”

 

“Smoking?”
Keith asks, his hands stuffed into the pockets of his coat.

 

“Mhm. Gotta take a load off sometimes.”

 

Keith sits, and his hands are warm as he snatches the cigarette from Pico’s lips.

 

He watches for Pico’s reaction as he crushes the cigarette under his shoe.

 

Pico sighs.

“Damn.”

 

Pico’s breath smells of rum and smoke, and as bad as that is, it’s a scent Keith fears he associates with Pico and Pico only.

 

“Hey, sweetheart.”

 

“Mh?”

Keith choked for air mid-yawn.

He choked in a way that made him suppress possibly every sign of emotion within himself.

He prays that Pico hadn’t picked it up.



The orange-haired sound nerd’s hand cards through his soft-looking hair, blending in with the fallen and falling leaves.

 

“Do you like someone yet?”

 

‘Yet’ was their inside joke.

Pico hadn’t reloaded yet.

He hadn’t liked anyone yet.

He hadn’t shot someone… yet.

 

Keith hadn’t confessed (yet).

 

It’s an uncertain rope pulling on his leg.

 

“...Yeah. You?”

 

Pico nods, and then he faces the rapper, his legs crossing.

 

“Waiting to confess t’me or somethin’?”

 

“Huh?”

 

“Don’t play dumb, Keith. I know you like me.”

 

Man, was it that obvious..?

Well..



I mean, Keith did let him know via signs.

He prayed to god Pico isn’t emotionally dumb. Or blind.

 

….

 

Before Keith could respond, he feels Pico closing in on him, their legs touching.

He feels Pico leaning against him, chin on his head.

 

He feels Pico’s arm around his shoulders, pulling him close.

 

“Tell me I ain’t wrong, Keith.”

 

 

“Y..You aren’t.”

 

It isn’t cold, yet Keith shivers underneath Pico.

 

Even closer.

Now, Keith’s certain he’ll die here.

He’ll die within Pico’s arms.

 

“I like you so much that-”

Keith’s breaths are shaky, unstable.

It isn’t like him, Pico mumbles to himself.

 

(“..that?” 

Pico whispers.)

 

“That.. I dream of you. I dream of us.”

Keith manages to choke out, biting his lip and cursing himself right after.

 

He fears the gun that rests in Pico’s left pocket.

 

“You dream of us, huh, sweetheart?”

 

“..Yes.”

 

Clothes rustle as Keith’s cheeks are gently pinched.

 

“I dream of you too, Keith.”



And somewhere along the way, they kiss.

Somewhere along the way, Keith flushes and gives in.

 

Somewhere along the way, Keith was grateful..

To the ally in the alley.