“You comin’, bro?”
“Wha--?” Preoccupied with staring over the hazy fresh-mud-grey farmland as they rounded the western edge of the Sacramento River, Russell startled and knocked his head on the ceiling of the well-used pile of garbage that was Jay’s old Dodge Avenger. Well, not completely garbage. It was a pretty long drive here from their basement suite, and the car had only stalled out, erm, two times? Maybe three? “Yeah, coming.”
The evenings were starting to get chilly at this time of year, so he grabbed his jacket on his way out - which would have saved him time from retrieving it later, except the sleeve got caught on the gear stick and he had to then waste precious seconds untangling it. “Classic Russ,” Diego snickered at him from the back seat, and he made a face back, although the expression was probably a bit lost under his usual aviator sunglasses.
It had been almost a year since he moved out of his parents’ basement and into a different basement. Since he stopped spending three-quarters of his year at RMI, he’d managed to reconnect with one of the local crews he had previously drifted in and out of over summer holidays, well enough that they had bafflingly invited him to take over an empty room in their rental house. The whole place could probably fit in his parents’ first floor alone, but he had never needed that much space anyways, and it was under ten minutes by board to the Granite Skatepark, which was one of the best in the city. He still woke up confused and disoriented some days, but it was a good change overall. Really, the worst part was having to share one-and-a-half bathrooms with six other dudes, none of whom knew how to turn the lights off when they were done.
...but that also meant that sometimes he crossed paths with a very shirtless Jay. He wasn’t some kind of perv, he didn’t look intentionally, it just happened, and it made him feel things that he otherwise diligently ignored around the curly-haired man. Any feelings that surfaced were just from old memories, because Jay’d been the first guy to kiss him, years ago. It didn’t mean anything now.
“You alright? You seem kinda…”
Matching pace beside him, Russell glanced over, watching a finger spin aimlessly in front of overripe-plum-grey curls. He shrugged back in response, pulling on his jacket over a never-truly-black tee. “Nah, I’m good. It was just a busy day. Going from the studio to here is always a bit, y’know.”
“I got no clue,” Jay returned with an easy grin, bumping a shoulder against his, “but if you say so.”
He was six out of nine months into an internship at an electronica studio. When Russell had learned about the company that organized these types of music-production internships, he’d jumped at the opportunity. Music wasn’t his life in the same way that some of his friends (how did he have friends?) labelled it for them, but he was curious to learn more about the industry, and if it could get him better work down the road, that was ideal. It was going well so far. He couldn’t say it had sparked any particular passion, but he was enjoying it enough to tolerate commuting downtown during daylight hours, which said something.
On the side, he had a couple part-time gigs. The one his mom called a Real Job, sweeping sidewalks at the zoo, was something he held on to
All in total, he had plenty of hours stacked up to keep him busy either working for money or spending money to work for experience, but he still found time to wind down. For logistical reasons, Russell would always be a night owl. Fortunately, his preferred hobbies, like skating and dancing, were easily undertaken at night.
Rubbing at the scruff along his jaw, Russell sidestepped a couple aggressively drunk-making out in the open doorway - which was easier said than done, as he was trying his best not to accidentally brush against them on his way past while also trying his best to keep whatever they were doing out of even his peripheral vision - and followed the others into the warehouse. The whole crew was here, the others having beat them in Tyler’s girlfriend’s much more reliable Audi, and before he’d realized it he had gone through two Dixie cups of rum-and-coke while swaying along to the beat.
“A’ight NorCal, are ya ready??”
Leaning over his rig into the mic, DJ E-Motion’s deep voice boomed right through the floorboards. There couldn’t have been more than forty people inside tonight (okay yes it was actually forty-seven including the DJ himself, Russell might’ve lost track of time but you bet he’d still been obsessively counting heads). With how the man shouted, though, one would think the place was packed full.
Clubs were generally too crowded and flashing for literally any aspect of Russell’s physical abilities, but as proven again tonight, the large warehouse never came anywhere near its capacity. It also didn’t have any ridiculous strobes, or much lighting at all. Aside from a couple lamps near the main speakers, all other light came from the full moon, visible through a hole in the ceiling that he’d never been sure was intentional or not but was weirdly grateful for nonetheless. In a similarly weird way, he was grateful for this community of people he only ever saw after midnight on the weekend, and the opportunity they provided for him to test new moves without judgement. Or at least, with the only real judgement coming from himself. He was working on that. Very, very slowly. It got easier every time.
“Sterling in da house!”
He’d been twitching on the sidelines, bony fingers freed from his cup and since taken to anxiously running over the fabric of his light-cinnamon-grey sweats, but at the call Russell Sterling Drew spun into the centre. His parents had surely never had this in mind when they gave him such an ostentatious middle name, but now that he was twenty, he was finally making it work for him. The moves he had practiced at the skatepark came out on full display, weaving through his body in the closest thing to coordination he’d ever had. He didn’t seek attention, but the cheers from his audience were swept under a steady bass pulse that filtered out every other sound. He didn’t like being in the spotlight, but the only spotlight here was the moon.
For once, things were almost going his way in life. It was about time.