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it’s been three weeks since a name that is not his own stole the magic in his eyes.

they don’t sparkle now. his eyes are dull now.

the strength it took to lift his tongue to utter a name he thought he had long forgotten, drained the life from them.

and the words his wordsmith said, and the way he threw his trust back in his face stole the little hope he had left.

but each time he’s with dizzee and thor—which has been a lot ever since he discovered why dizz always had galaxies in his eyes—they give him something that begins to make him whole again, clears the blurred line between curtis and shaolin fantastic.

he tells them this last week when the three of them were splayed out across the mattress on the floor of the building thor calls home. the two graffiti boyfriends were supposed to be getting dressed for the club, a Process that happened every saturday night where the two would dance, laugh, make out while doing makeup, do each other’s hair, and nails, and try on a dozen different outfits. shao would sometimes join the two in their Process (painting thor’s nails a bold orange or letting dizzee paint his a simple black, helping dizz braid his hair, or asking thor to sprinkle him in glitter, too, because he envied the way they glow with it, and he wanted to glow, too), but for the most part, he just enjoyed watching his friends be free. however, on this particular night, the blunt shao rolled looked too good to not appreciate it’s elegance and the three of them found themselves passing the blunt as sylvester’s 1978 album played through the speakers, and sylvester singing something about feeling real makes shao speak on the feeling.

“y’all hear what he’s saying?” he had abruptly asked. “‘you make me feel mighty real.’”

“yeah, what about it?” thor asked with a raised eyebrow.

he hesitated before replying, “that’s how y’all make me feel.” he looked between the two, and smiles came to their faces.

“how so?”

shao looked to dizzee and gnawed on his bottom lip as he decided if he wanted to drudge up those feelings. “books…he,” he paused again then sighed. “he altered my reality. he made me question everything i thought i knew, and since then, i sorta didn’t have an identity, but every time i’m with y’all, i get a piece of myself back again. dizzee, thor, you make me feel real.”

with a smile from ear to ear, dizz pulled his alien brother into a hug. “you’re making your way to the opera with rumi,” he whispered into his ear. “you’re almost at the end of your tunnel.”

then dizz rushed to the dresser, threw glitter over shao, and their Process continues, then ends when dizzee and thor asked shao if he wanted to come to the club, too (like they always do every saturday night). as expected, he turned down their invite, much to dizzee’s dismay, but the alien understood that shao wasn’t quite Ready yet.

that’s until a week later when shao bravely asks “hey thor, you think you have anything for me to wear tonight?”

thor stops his movements, looking at dizzee through the mirror who has a ghost of a smile on his face as he cornrows a section of his hair for the braided afro puff he’s going for. trying to dial back his own excitement, thor attempts to relax the wide grin from his face; he knows his friend and he doesn’t want to scare off shao by making a big deal about this. putting down the eyeliner, he turns to shao who’s “causally” looking through thor’s record collection.

“yeah, i should have something for you in my closet.” he walks towards the closet, carefully stepping over spray paint cans, but shao’s words stop him in his tracks.

“you know what? never mind.” he shoves his hands into his pockets, looking down at his feet. “y’all are almost ready and i’d just be holding you up.” when he looks up at him, thor can see a glint in his eyes that makes his heart heavy. “maybe next time.”

“um, well,” he stammers at a lost for words then turns to his boyfriend for some kind of guidance.

dizzee answers the cry for help. “trust me, shao, you won’t be holding us up. you already know i gotta go through 12 more outfit changes before i’m satisfied.”

they all share a soft laugh before it abruptly ends when shao says “okay.”

dizzee beams, seconds away from bursting with excitement. “okay as in yes you’re going?!”

shao can’t help but to exude the same excitement that dizzee radiates, cheeks hurting from a wide-toothed smile and his whole face aglow. “okay as in yes i wanna go.”

dizzee squeals then covers his mouth as he looks at their surprised faces. “sorry, i’m just really excited. c’mon, shao, let's get you dolled up!”