“Tonight was mad Chaz. It was heaps fun,” commented Mike.
“I like it when the whole group can make a night of it, ya know? Just us buddies.”
Chester sat quietly in the cab on their way back to the hotel, staring vacantly out the window. A concerned Mike didn’t know wether Chester was just drunk or depressed. But Chester wouldn’t be drunk just after two pints.
“Chaz what’s wrong?”
Nothing was ever wrong with Chester. He never had things to talk about anymore, never chilled with his friends after gigs. Never smiled. Something was bugging him, but Mike couldn’t figure out what.
They pulled up outside the hotel they were staying at. A taxi behind them stopped also and out jumped Dave, Rob, Brad, and Joe.
“C’mon kids. Time for bed now!” Joe laughed, jumping up and down on the towbar of the taxi.
“Let’s get out before he makes me sick,” Mike laughed.
“That’ll be $8.60 thanks mate,” said the driver to Chester.
Mike fumbled around in his wallet for the money. He pulled out a scrunched up blue note for the driver. When he turned back around, Chaz had already left, heading for his room.
“Ta mate. Now get your friend off my car before I run over the drunk,” said the driver, but Mike had already left and was running after Chester.
The rest of the band eventually moved off and headed for their rooms, a bit unsure what happened between Mike and Chaz in the cab.
“It’s sexual tension, that’s what it is,” exclaimed Phoenix, who had too much to drink earlier that night. He was noisy ever since.
“Knock it off!” Brad scolded. “Bennington has been real quiet lately, but I don’t think it has anything to do with Mike.”
“But they’re best friends Brad,” said Rob. “And besides, friends can get urges between each other,” he reached over to grab Brad’s ass, but Brad drunkenly jumped out of the way, almost falling over.
“Don’t start that shi-” started Brad, but it was too late. Joe came up from behind and pinched him on the ass. Rob and Phoenix were laughing so hard they were almost falling over. Brad turned around to see a very innocent-looking Joe standing there, looking at the ceiling.
Brad let the whole thing pass. He couldn’t possibly have an argument about sexuality while the guys were this drunk. Besides he started laughing too, but not quite understanding what was so funny. Shaking his head at how childish Linkin Park could be, he turned away and called it a night.
“Chaz? Chaz man open up!” Called Mike, thumping on the door for Chester’s room.
Mike was up early that morning, had breakfast and done the usual. It was almost 10am now and he wanted to talk with Chester before the other guys were up. Now he was getting worried, as he began to think Chester had already left the hotel.
“It’s open,” came a small voice from inside.
“Try the doorknob next time Mikey,” he whispered to himself. After all that thumping and knocking and calling, the freakin door was open!
Mike burst into the room, looking around for his best friend. He would often work himself up like this over nothing, although lately Mike had been having dreams of Chaz committing suicide, making him wake up in a cold sweat.
He took a deep breath to calm himself down. Chester was here. Alive. He was standing out on the balcony, leaning over the rail looking at the street below. Mike shut the door and walked over to Chester, putting a friendly hand on his shoulder. But Chaz didn’t even move, and kept his eyes fixed on something far below them.
“I’m all alone, Mike.” He whispered.
“No you’re not Bennington. You have us- we’re like a family. The Linkin Park family.”
“You don’t understand. I’m different to you guys. I can’t be just normal for a change. I can’t be like that straight couple down there, holding hands. I can’t be like you and Anna. I just…” his voice trailed off, as his anger turned into depression.
“You just need a boyfriend.” Mike finished off the sentence.
“No. That’s not what it is.”
“I think so Chaz. Look, you dump J two months ago and you guys had been going out for ages.”
“Two years,” he corrected.
“So you leave your boyfriend of two years and then go all quiet and withdrawn. Chaz we worry about you. I worry about you.” Mike knew talking about ex boyfriends was dangerous territory. He wanted to give Chaz as much support as he could possibly give, without causing Chaz any more emotional pain.
“I just want to be by myself,” said Chester, still not making eye contact with Mike. Silence fell between the two.
“Is it about you and me? Are we still friends Chesty?” Asked Mike.
Chester screwed up his face at the notion of him and Mike not being friends. “Of course we’re friends,” he replied. Secretly though, Chester would always go week at the knees when Mike called him ‘Chesty’. It made his heart melt, especially if Mike was smiling at the time too.
“Well then as your friend, I’m going to help you out. Here’s someone you can meet,” he said, slipping a folded note into Chester’s pocket. “That’s Toby, He’s expecting your call sometime today.”
“You’re not listening Mike. I don’t want to meet guys at the moment, especially blind dates.” Chaz said, pulling the paper out of his pocket and waving it at Mike for him to take it back.
“You’ll be thanking me later Chesty,” Mike said turning round and leaving Chester alone on the balcony.
Chester looked down at the note he was still holding. He carefully unfolded it and read the name TOBY in capitals followed by a phone number.
He didn’t want to call this guy. He hated him already. All he had to do was let go of the note, and away it would fly, carried by the morning breeze.
But he never let go of the paper. He just stood there, looking at the writing. He folded it back up and shoved it back in his pocket.
“So this guy, what are his chances?” Brad asked Mike. He went to Brad’s room straight after talking with Chester.
“Well considering this Toby fellow tried to pick me up yesterday, I’d say he has good taste in guys.” Mike said, grinning.
“Or very bad taste,” Brad joked. “But I asked you what his chances were.”
“We’ll just have to wait and see.”
“Once again sorry about yesterday,” said Toby, still feeling bad about making a pass at Mike.
The two guys sat in a large conference room somewhere deep within the Superdome, where Linkin Park were doing a gig that night. The setting was very similar to the day before – the two of them sitting together in front of a group of laptops, with cords and cables running everywhere about the table. Today was different though, with all the other band members joining them soon for a web chat with the fans.
“Don’t worry about it. Look, Chaz will be here soon, and you guys will have a chance to talk,” Mike replied.
He turned back to his laptop, smiling while reading what a fan had posted on the LP Forum:
ChesterBenny wrote: hey mike if ye ever get to read this post I love ya and I think youre the cutiest guy in the whole world.
ChesterBenny wrote: toby that the fucj are you doing to me?? how come you get to meet mikey and I dont??
This thread has been closed by Kermit.
“Mind telling me what this is about?” Mike asked. Toby looked over and saw what page he was talking about.
“Oh that thing. Don’t worry, it’s just Bren being jealous after he found out I was working with you guys. When I said I met Mike last night he was like, no way!”
“And Bren would be…” Asked Mike.
“No, he ain’t my boyfriend. We’re bestest buddies after meeting each other at your first Aussie gig in at the Enmore,” said Toby, recalling how the two of them were pressed up against each other in the mosh pit. “It just happens that we’re both, well, gay.”
“Oh.” Mike raised an eyebrow.
“I just don’t know why people make such a big deal about sexuality,” complained Toby, just as Brad walked in the room.
Brad went to ask what they were talking about, but Mike gave him one of those ‘don’t ask’ looks.
The rest of the band arrived shortly after, and began the chat.
All went well, save for a few teenybopper chicks who got carried away and started begging band members to go out with them or to help them have a baby. They were all kicked out by Toby in no time. He scrunched up his face in disgust at the thought of Chester having sex with a chick.
“Damn straight people,” he grumbled under his breath.
After the chat had finished, Mike, Joe, Phoenix, and Rob left for their dressing rooms to get ready for a sound check shortly. Brad left too, although looking Toby all over before he left the room. He acted almost like an older brother to Chester, giving approval to guys he should go out with, and bashing up guys who started fights with him.
Chester didn’t mind of course. He liked that sense of safety being around Brad.
“C’mon Mr Bennington it’s time to pack up,” said Toby, powering down the other laptops. Silence filled the room for a while.
“Do you mind if we talk first?” Asked Chester.
“I’m sorry I didn’t call you today.”
“That’s ok Chester,” he replied. “I was hoping to see you here for the chat. And well, I did.”
Silence once again came between the two of them. Toby was racking his brains for something cool to say. This would be his once and only opportunity with one of his idols – and he couldn’t even speak. Chester didn’t help the situation, either. He sat there quietly to himself.
What to say? What to say?
“Think, goddammit!” Toby muttered under his breath.
“Ok... Well thanks Toby for helping me with the whole Internet stuff, you’re a lifesaver. Anyhow I best be getting off to this sound check.”
“Umm yeah okay. I’ll cya round,” Toby replied, doubting that he would ever meet the Linkin Park vocalist again. His heart sank.
Chester got up and left the room, leaving Toby all alone.
“Dammit,” he cursed to himself. “There goes my man.”
Chester closed the door behind him. He felt slack leaving that guy there, but he really couldn’t be bothered. He was too depressed at the time, and had to psyche himself up for the sound check in ten minutes.
He turned back to the corridor and noticed Mike sitting there on the floor, his back to the opposite wall and chin resting on his knees.
“Decided to eavesdrop Shinoda?” Chester asked in an angry tone.
“Not really. I was waiting round to see how things went with you and him.”
“We’ll you’re wasting your time, I’m not gunna go out with him,” Chester said flatly.
“What the hell is wrong with you lately Chaz?” Mike asked. He stood up, looking Chester straight in the eyes.
“Nothin,” he said, turning away.
“Yeah, ‘nothin’ is wrong with you Chester. Ever. I’m sick of it. Yeah okay I can understand if you’re down some every now and then because of some problem. But this, it’s like depression 24/7. Your life is going downhill…”
Chaz looked down to the floor. It looked to Mike as though he was holding back tears.
“…Your life might be going downhill, but we’re here to help you.” Said Mike, changing to a more ‘soft’ approach to the issue – whatever it was.
Chester stood there, motionless. He couldn’t describe all feelings of hurt and pain inside of himself to Mike. He just didn’t have the energy.
“Here. Looks like Chesty needs a hug-” began Mike.
“Don’t touch me, okay Mike? Just don’t touch me,” snapped Chaz, defensively taking a step back.
Chaz turned and ran towards his dressing room, leaving a dumbfounded Mike to figure out what went wrong.
|TOP | Last updated 15 February 2002 19:42 (AUS EST / +1000 GMT).|