Chapter 3: Never The Same

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"I just can't with him!" The guys sat in Kostya's bedroom after their first rehearsal, evaluating the very near brawl that occurred between Robin and him.
"We should really just try to ignore him. He's just mad that Benji doesn't hang out with his gang anymore." Ari tried to suggest, attempting to commit to his optimistic outlooks.
"How could we ignore him? He treats us like shit, Miki especially." Benji argued. He still felt like he could respect Robin deep down. Sure, he despised him on the outside, but their history would never be forgotten.  Best friends for 10 whole years, Robin's feelings were struck with pain when Benji started hanging out with Ari over him. Then The Slavic Boys united with them and became the infamous Five Guys. He was popular, but not popular with him. They sat in silence, Nikita petting Citrus- Kostya's cat- for comfort. They all recalled the day they truly separated from deep friendship...

Benji's 15th birthday: his house was lit up with disco lights and he'd decided to have a small party with his newly found friends. He was especially ecstatic to be having the time of his life with Ari, who'd invited Mikolas and a couple of his friends- Kostya and Niki. Their music-driven shenanigans were abruptly interrupted by a knock at the door, Benji put down his cherry soda, shrugged and went to answer it.
He froze, his heart beginning to race and his forehead sweating. It was Robin. He'd told him that he wasn't doing anything for his birthday, which is what seemed like a good idea at the time since Robin didn't really get along with his new friends. Now it was coming back to haunt him.

"What's going on? You said-"
"I know what I said! I'm sorry but this was very last minute." His mind raced, excuses shooting through his head like gunshots as he tried to fathom new excuses. He felt awful immediately, praying from the deep depths of his innocent heart that he'd let it slide.
"Who is it?" Mikolas called from the kitchen, accidentally rubbing in the awkward situation.
"But you invited HIM?" Robin raised his voice slightly.
"I swear down it was only uh organised today. I'm sorry I just kinda..."
"Kinda what? Forgot about me? Benjamin, you're my best friend. I don't know who these new little friends are, but they've- they've- they've taken you from me."

Benji could feel his heart crush inside his chest, because he really wasn't wrong. Since befriending them, he seemed to drift from someone he thought he'd need for the rest of his life- roles switching in the blink of an eye as all admiration was being given to the new boys.
"I don't need you, Benjamin. Why? Because I'm not going to sit around and care about someone who's going to ditch me in a heartbeat." Benji stared at the floor, regretfull tears beginning to well up in his eyes. "You do realised that you haven't hung out with me after school for almost a month now. You couldn't care to be around me anymore, you don't give a SHIT ABOUT ME! HOW ABOUT YOU GO AND HAVE FUN WITH YOUR FAKE ASS FRIENDS AND GO FUCK YOURSELF WHILE YOUR AT IT?!" With that, he ran off, slamming his garden gate shut as he fled down the street.

Benji sat in utter silence, staring at the rest of the boys. Since then, they had apologised to each other but things had never been the same. Robin despised them, he despised them because he wasn't the one Benji chose.
"And now he hates us and it's all my fault!"
"No it isn't!" Kostya said, digging deeper into the conversation. "It's his fault for not at least trying to be friends with us. Instead, he went off to go find some popular assholes. Why? Because that's all he cared about in the end. Being popular."
"Actually I think Donny and Måns are nice..." Miki added, on an endeavour to make his friends lighten up.
"Yeah but do you really think that's why he hangs out with them?" Ari asked.
"No, I guess not..."
"But I still feel like we could be as close as we used to, I mean he's told me things that no one else knows about him." Benji noted.
The guys sat up, smiling at him in hopes of getting in on these juicy secrets.
"And no, I can't tell you." They all groaned and went back to laying down. " He might actually kill us if he found I told you."

Nikita stood outside an English class, waiting for Benji to finish his work, Ari and Mikolas went to get something to eat and Kostya didn't seem to be around. It was the day after the discussion over at Kostya's house and he still had the 'Robin' situation on his mind. He thought about him, hating him for the way he treat people but still had some kind of empathy for him wether he deserved it or not.
"Hey Niki!" Kostya ran up the hallway to him, greeting him with a sweet smile.
"Hi Kostya."
"So what class have you got after lunch?" He was obviously trying to start a conversation with him, sneaking it in with average small talk.
"Uh, Spanish. You?"
"Geography, but never mind that." Kostya suddenly broke off the small talk and began getting to what he actually wanted to say. "Hey, isn't it weird to just be talking to each other?" Niki was confused by this, he raised an eyebrow.

"I mean like... just us. Y'know? Like we're always with the group and we really haven't talked like this in a while."
"Haha y-yeah." Nikita let out an anxious laugh, he knew Kostya was up to something but he was admittedly quite scared to find out.
"So... I was wondering..." He began to play with his sleeves, gathering up the courage to ask a question that didn't need to be that complicated. "Do you want to come to my house after rehearsal?"
"Wait, like just us?" Nikita began to smile, not exactly knowing why.
"Y-yeah. But like I'm not saying I don't want the others round or anything! Hehe I just know Ari and Miki are out to dinner and Benji's playing video games at his friend Felix's house and I just thought--" He began to trail off, nervously smiling at Niki. He was being goofy and awkwardly funny around him- it was something he'd not seen much in him.

"Yeah man, don't sweat it!" He said, which was quite ironic since he was trying his best to ignore the anxious sweats appearing on his forehead.
"I guess we could like- uh- practice our songs for the show. I-if you wanted. I mean it's no big deal." Kostya replied, slowly regaining his laid-back reputation he wanted Niki to see in him.
"Yeah yeah sure!" The door swung open, Benji emerging from it, their lonesome chat was over.
"You guys want something to eat?" He said, fixing his hair- dishevled from his hard work.
"Uh huh!" Kostya spoke, clicking his fingers. As they walked towards the bustling canteen, Matthias stuck his head back around the corner of the lockers- his hiding spot- to face Einar and Klemens; smiling to them as he did.
"This? This is very interesting."

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