Leon gets up and takes his plate to the kitchen. When he returns, Ruben and Ike have departed, and Rain has taken their place, along with his brother Skye, the band’s frontman and lead singer. Skye is now in Leon’s former seat, so he goes around the table and sits down next to Rain.
Rain doesn’t nod so much as give a barely-perceptible incline of his head. “Leon.”
They’re not quite frosty, but not quite friendly either.
“Have you met my brother? Skye.” His mouth twists wryly. “Our parents were hippies.”
Skye offers his hand across the table, an effeminate caress of fingertips rather than an actual handshake. It seems appropriate considering his appearance: slim, almost waifish, with golden-brown hair brushed up into waves that curl and crash over his head, high sharp cheekbones made even sharper with bold crimson streaks, and eyes outlined with thick lines of silver and black. His voice and smile are warm as he briefly squeezes Leon’s fingers.
“I’ve seen you at Studio 54,” he says. “You’re the disco king.”
For some reason Leon doesn’t feel like repeating his mantra again in front of Rain. “Yeah.”
“Oh, you have to come to our after party, backstage.” Skye shoots his brother a look with raised eyebrows and pursed, pouty lips.
“Oh my god.” Rain closes his eyes and pinches the bridge of his nose. “Can’t you just let Nate throw the goddamn after party?” His voice is flat and measured, with none of the bubbling energy that had him tripping over his words earlier in the evening. “How do you expect us to pay for it?”
“You’ll figure it out,” Skye says brightly. “We need to keep our publicity going!” He suddenly twists his head, birdlike, to catch someone’s eye at the end of the table. “T!” he calls, then briefly turns back to his brother. “Sorry, I have to run.” No sooner are the words out than he’s jumped up to embrace Mr. T. The two walk off, Skye snaking his hand around Mr. T’s elbow, their heads bending together conspiratorially.
“Jesus Christ.” Rain buries his face in his hands.
Sorrento slides over to put his arm around Rain’s shoulders. “Listen,” he says, “we can help with the after party. Enrique’s got the hookup.”
Rain raises his head fractionally. “We’re not doing an after party,” he says. His tone is soft, but forceful. “Skye doesn’t just get to have whatever he wants. Besides, it’s Club Diamond’s backstage. Nate should be hosting it, not us.”
“No, hey,” Leon says. “You want an after party, you should do an after party. I can help you out too.” Personally he doesn’t especially care who the party is credited to; any space where the drugs flow even more freely than they already are will make picking up men even easier.
“I don’t want an after party.” Rain’s head snaps the rest of the way up. “I’m not doing this for parties, or, or, or – publicity, I’m, I’m – I’m trying to, to, to – to make art.” His stammer re-emerges as his energy rises. “I’m not, I’m not – I’m not like you,” he says, abruptly turning to look at Leon. “I want to, to, to – to do something authentic.”
Leon feels his temper flare; he smirks. “Sure,” he says, giving his tone a cutting edge. “You go on and do art. I’ll be over here sobbing on my pile of money.”
“Does, does that – does that feed your, your – your soul?” Rain’s upper lip curls.
“Fuck no.” He doesn’t even pretend to think about the answer. “I don’t need it to. I give people what they want, I give them dancing music and a good time, and the shit I can buy with the money it makes me? That feeds my soul.”
Silence stretches between the two for a seemingly endless moment.
Rain finally breaks it. His voice, when he speaks, is strange: soft, low, wistful, frustrated, yet at the same time, teasing. “I guess that’s what happens when you get old.”
“Well.” He leans in, suddenly companionable. “You, you – you are still pretty cute, Leon. Even if you are old.”
Out of a galaxy of things Leon might have expected Rain to say, this would never have been among them. He takes his sunglasses between his fingertips and slowly lowers them, showing his eyes to someone for the first time that night. The two lock gaze, and it occurs to Leon that it’s been a long time since he really looked into someone’s eyes. Abruptly, he wonders who the last person might have been to see that his are green.
“Hell,” he says. “You’re pretty cute too. Maybe we don’t need to see eye-to-eye to see eye-to-eye.”