Toi Un Plus
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The adventures and relationships centered around an invented visual kei band (Toi Un Plus) starring Rhy as vocals, Callum and Sungam as guitarists, Noku as bass, Alexei as drums, and Ramu as the band manager
Chapter 1, Chapter 1: Introductions
Chapter 1: Introductions
Noku glanced up from his desk as the last bell of the day rang. He was finally finished with his junior year. He rose to his feet and stuffed his notebook and pencils into his bag. He watched his classmates jump out of their desks, bursting out into eager chatter about what they were going to do over the summer.
The seventeen-year-old shouldered his bag and left the room before anyone could speak to him. He wasn’t the type to partake in idle conversation and had no interest in speaking with his classmates.
Noku brushed past a group that had clustered in the hall and headed out to the parking lot. Some students were already outside and he moved past them to get to his bus. He hated public transportation but it was either that or get jumped on the way to school. He lived in a poor neighborhood and didn’t want to risk being attacked.
The bus driver didn’t acknowledge his presence as he climbed onto the bus. Noku liked it that way. People in school had learned not to talk to him since they’d just receive an icy silence in response.
Noku took his seat at the back and sat down, taking a book out of his backpack. He opened it and began to read. He kept himself occupied for the twenty minute ride back home and glanced up when the bus slid to a stop in front of his house. He put his book away and got out of his seat, stalking down the aisle for the last time. The bus drove away and he went to his house, unlocking the front door and stepping inside. He shut the door behind him and surveyed the tiny house. It was quiet – the way he liked it. His parents and brother were still at work so he’d have some time to himself.
The seventeen-year-old put his backpack in his room before stretching out on the couch downstairs. He opened his book to his place and continued from where he’d left off. He lost track of time as he read and was shaken out of his peaceful state when the door burst open. His older brother came stomping into the house, slamming the door shut behind him and kicking off his heavy boots.
Koro grinned as he saw Noku. “Reading already, bookworm?” he teased.
The younger boy ignored him and kept reading. Koro ruffled his hair as he walked by and Noku heard him go crashing up the stairs. He returned a few minutes later dressed in his taekwondo uniform with his gear bag hooked over his shoulder. Koro was a first degree black belt but Noku had never been interested in the sport.
“Hey, Noku… I just had a great idea,” he said, advancing on his brother.
The seventeen-year-old’s grey eyes narrowed. “I don’t want to know.”
“Oh come on, it’ll be fun. You shouldn’t start off your summer by sitting here and rotting so…” he yanked the book out of Noku’s hands, seized him around the waist, and flung him over his shoulder. “You’re coming to taekwondo with me!”
“Put me down!” Noku pounded his skinny fist against Koro’s back and struggled, but his brother was unaffected.
“Stop squirming. I bet you’ll like it.”
“No I won’t! Why don’t you call your friends and have one of them go with you?” Noku snapped.
“They’re all busy. Besides, it’s not like you do anything anyway. So you get to come with me. Aren’t you a lucky brother?” Koro asked as he headed out the door.
“No!” the teenager replied angrily, still fighting to get away.
Koro laughed and carried him out to the car. He put his bag in the trunk before opening the passenger door and dropping the younger boy into the seat. He shut the door and climbed into the driver’s seat, grabbing Noku’s shirt to keep him from bolting. “Give it up, little brother. You’re coming with me.”
“I don’t want to,” Noku growled.
Koro rolled his eyes and started the car. “Too bad. I told Mom I was going to take you with me, and she said it was a great idea.”
Noku scowled and buckled his seatbelt. “I refuse to participate in class.” He lacked physical strength and that was obvious just by looking at his pale, scrawny frame. Especially when he stood next to his burly brother.
“Yes you are. And if you try to stay in the locker room, I’ll just carry you out onto the floor,” Koro threatened, smirking at his brother. They both knew Noku wouldn’t be able to put up much of a fight.
The seventeen-year-old scowled and turned towards the window. The two brothers were quiet until they reached the Lansing ATA. Koro parked in an empty space and took out his gear bag. He then opened the passenger door and dragged Noku out. “Ready?”
Noku scoffed and reluctantly followed his brother into the building. It was packed with an obnoxious mixture of younger kids, teenagers, and adults. He flinched at the noise. It was way too loud in here. He preferred peace and quiet. Stepping into this place was like being in the school cafeteria all over again.
He glared at a particularly noisy child and followed Koro into the locker room. It was quieter inside and Noku kicked off his worn shoes. Three teenagers and an older man with long, silver hair were standing in the corner talking about music. Noku glanced at them. The blue belt with brown hair seemed to be his age but the two black belts looked like they were in college.
“Is this your brother, Koro?” the second degree with dark blue eyes and wavy brown hair asked, turning to look at them.
“Yep, this is little Noku,” Koro replied, ruffling the teenager’s hair.
Noku looked outraged at being called little and turned away, doing a double take as the silver-haired orange belt met his eyes. He’d assumed he was old because of his hair, but he couldn’t have been a day over nineteen.
“Cool,” the black belt said. “I’m Alexei. Welcome to ATA.” He smiled before glancing back at his friends.
“Maybe we should just put up some flyers around campus. I think that’s the only way we’ll get people,” the other black belt said.
“Probably. Who knew it’d be so hard to find a good bassist?” Alexei replied.
“Bassist?” Koro glanced at Noku.
“Yeah, we need one for our band. Rhy’s on vocals,” Alexei indicated the orange belt. “I’m the drummer. Callum and Sungam are guitarists.” He pointed at the Asian-looking black belt and the blue belt.
“Noku plays the bass,” Koro said.
The seventeen-year-old glared at his brother again. Summer was a time to stay home or work at his mom’s bakery, not waste time playing musician with a bunch of wannabe rock stars. “I’m busy this summer.”
Koro burst out laughing. “No you’re not. All you do is read and work with mom. Why don’t you audition for their band? I bet you’d have fun.”
Sungam took a pen and paper out of his gear bag. “Here, I’ll give you my phone number and you can call me if it’s something you’d be interested in.” He wrote down his number and handed him the paper. “Once Toi Un Plus gets a bassist we’ll really be able to start practicing. We might even be able to get a few gigs.”
Noku nodded curtly and tucked it into the pocket of his sweatpants. He wasn’t interested in joining the band at all.
* * *
Noku was exhausted by the time class finally ended at 8:45. His entire body ached and he hated Koro for dragging him out here. He glared at his brother, who gave him a sympathetic pat on the head.
“Cheer up, it wasn’t that bad,” Koro said.
The seventeen-year-old growled in response and stalked into the locker room to get his shoes. He laced them up and left the building to wait by his brother’s car. Koro came out a few minutes later and they both climbed in.
“So… are you going to join the band?” Koro asked.
“I’m not interested.”
“Why not? You’ve never been in a band before. It could be something fun and you’ll be able to play your bass more.”
“I’d rather practice at home than play with other people.”
Koro rolled his eyes. “I can’t believe how antisocial you are.”
“I like being alone. I don’t have to deal with people bothering me every five seconds,” Noku snapped.
His brother shrugged and let the conversation drop. They said nothing more until Koro pulled into their driveway. Noku stalked out of the car and into the house.
Their mother was sitting on the couch and she glanced up as the brothers entered. “Did you two have fun at taekwondo?”
“I did. I had to practically scrape Noku off the floor by the time class was over. Poor little brother’s weak as a daisy,” Koro said, grinning at the seventeen-year-old.
Kalina gave him a sympathetic look. “Well, at least you tried out class. Do you want me to sign you up?”
“No,” Noku replied, shuddering at the thought.
“I don’t think he’s cut out for taekwondo. Sungam, one of the black belts, wanted him to audition for his band though. You should have Noku go. It’d get him out of the house for once.”
Kalina smiled. “That’s a great idea, Koro. I want you to call that boy, Noku, and tell him you’ll audition. If he accepts you then you’ll be able to play your bass more and you can make friends with the other band members. You know how I worry that you don’t have anyone your age to hang out with.”
Noku scowled but took the number out of his pocket. “Fine, I’ll go call him,” he said shortly. He went into the kitchen and dialed the number, hoping Sungam wouldn’t pick up. Luck wasn’t with him since the black belt answered on the third ring.
“Hello?” Sungam asked, sounding out of breath. There were muffled voices in the background, followed by: “Move back, Callum. Trying to talk on the phone.”
“Where should we meet for my audition?”
“Our manager’s store. He owns Ra’s Temple – it’s a black magic shop about ten minutes away from campus. Get some paper and I’ll tell you the address; you can look up directions on MapQuest.”
The seventeen-year-old grabbed a pen and copied down the address as Sungam read it off. “What time should I be there?”
“Does three o’clock work for you?”
“Yes,” Noku replied, wishing it didn’t. Auditioning still sounded like a stupid idea. If only Koro hadn’t opened his big mouth about the band, he wouldn’t have been forced into it by their mother.
“Great, I’ll see you then. I have to go now, bye.” Sungam hung up.
Kalina came into the kitchen. “So when are you going to meet up with the band?”
“Three o’clock tomorrow,” Noku replied grumpily.
His mother nodded. “Good. Do you need any money for the bus ride?” she asked, reaching into her pocket.
The seventeen-year-old shook his head. “No. I have money.”
Kalina smiled and gave him a brief hug. “You’ll have to tell me all about it when I get home from work. I know you’ll do great, and you’ll love being in the band.”
Noku shot her a skeptical look. “Maybe,” he replied. Even if Sungam did accept him he knew he would hate every second of being in the band.
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