x-o-x-o

Two

x-o-x-o

thoughts on: perfection.

"You're fucking pathetic."

"Shut the fuck up Sam."

"Don't tell me to shut up, you pathetic fucker."

Jai thinks it is just like Sam to turn up when he is not wanted, and tell him he is a fucker. Jai doesn't want Sam's opinion. Sam has had his chance to help Jai, and he blew his friend off, so Jai has crashed at Krish's room- Krish, who doesn't bitch at Jai like Sam does, and Krish, who always has decent food. Jai doesn't need Sam. He reminds Sam of this.

"Don't lie," Sam advises him sanctimoniously.

After raiding Krish's fridge for chocolate milk, Sam sits down on the only armchair in Krish's room, with all the appearance of someone who is willing to make a night of it. Jai has alternately been reading Krish's New Scientist and complaining about the string of unsuitable girls running through his life. His sneakers still on, he is sprawled across Krish's bed, and he mumbles a complaint from time to time. Krish, surely the most hospitable of hosts, is cooking his uninvited guests sausages on an electric frying pan he has smuggled into his room. Krish's room at college is a shoebox and is crammed with so many appliances Krish deems necessities (television, microwave, computer, mini fridge, X-box, floor lamp) that there is not much space for one person, let alone three. Jai has selective claustrophobia and usually avoids staying at Krish's for long. Tonight however, Krish is cooking, so Jai stays. Krish has even cleared his desk of medical books for a make-shift kitchen bench and wears a flowery apron Sam gave him last year. It says 'Kiss the Chef', and only Sam, who is always affectionate when drunk, has ever taken the apron up on its command.

"Krish, back me up here," Sam says, chugging down half a litre of milk. He wipes the back of his hand on his lips. "Jai's a tool." Krish is flipping his sausages and isn't responsive, so Sam continues his diagnosis alone. "Seriously man. You get four hot chicks to date you, fuck if I know how, and then within a week, they drop you like it's hot."

Sam is so pleased with his witty summation that he falls into tears of laughter and is unable to contribute to the conversation for several minutes. Krish cocks an eyebrow and puts the sausages and tomato sauce onto three plastic plates. Jai determinedly reads an article on the effectiveness of vaccines.

Krish hands the others their dinner, and after shovelling the hot food into his mouth, he remarks thoughtfully, "The man's got a point."

Sam is so surprised by this concession that he stops sniggering over his slightly burnt sausage. "You think so?"

Though Jai and Sam will never admit it, Krish's is the only opinion that either of them truly value. If Krish gives his advice, they both argue with him, yell at him for being a cocky know-it all, and within a short space of time, put his advice into practice. For this reason, Jai places the magazine on the floor, swings himself up, and starts to eat the food Krish has left for him at the foot of the bed.

Krish leans against his wardrobe and looks at Jai thoughtfully. "Yes, I do think so. Ashleigh, Sophia, Madison, Callie," he says, crossing the names off with his fingers. "I don't know how you manage to get rid of them so fast, but it's quite a talent."

Jai gawps, slack-jawed at his friend. "How the fuck do you remember all that?"

Krish shrugs.

-x-o-x-o-x-o

Phoebe comes out of the shower to find that a whirlwind of tidiness has blown through her living room. The old shoes, wool and magazines on her coffee table have been replaced with a spread of food that would satisfy the most exacting of nutritionists. Phoebe looks from the carrot sticks, to the rye bread, to the cranberry juice, and realises that she's looking at hell.

"No," she says and the towel in her hand drops. "No."

"What?" Max asks. She is busy wiring up her own DVD player to Phoebe's television, which is so archaic that it belongs in a museum. Phoebe's apartment is furnished with everything her parents wanted to boot out of their house, and the few furnishings that Phoebe can afford. Therefore, Phoebe doesn't have much in the way of electrical appliances and she has to rely on Max's benevolence whenever she wants to watch a DVD. But as thankful as she is for Max's help, Phoebe has to draw the line somewhere.

"I refuse to sit in front of the TV all night if all we have to eat are celery sticks."

"Plastic bag on the floor," Max says, putting Pride and Prejudice into the DVD player. "Contains all your artery-clogging needs."

On inspection, Phoebe finds creaming soda, Tim Tams, cookies and cream ice cream, sour straps and corn chips. Thankfully, this will be enough food to sustain her through seven hours of Colin Firth and Jennifer Ehle. She sits down on the sofa, which seems so much bigger without anything else on it, and cracks open the ice cream. "Let the pig out begin. Not that you can pig out on celery sticks," she adds, but her pity is quite wasted on Max. Max is shaking her head at Phoebe, and wondering whether it is a crime that she is helping her best friend along the path to diabetes. "So how was the funeral today?"

Max sits down beside Phoebe, and tucks her legs beneath her. "Bad. Laughed. Wrote nothing. I'm going to fail," Max says matter-of-factly. On screen, Bingley is asking Darcy what he thinks of the house which is nothing on Pemberly, of course. "What did you think of Sam?"

"Yeah he seems nice, doesn't he? And he's clean, and he cooks, which is all I really wanted. And he doesn't seem like the type to argue so no history repeating… I rang him up this arvo, he's moving in on the weekend. I hope he's ok and if not… I guess it's only one semester right? I'm moving out of this dump next year."

"To?"

"Somewhere with heating."

"Phoebs, you just need to buy a heater."

But Phoebe's concentration is on Bingley and Darcy galloping into the distance, looking so handsome and majestic on horseback. It is really too cruel that she has been born in the unromantic age of the noisy, pollution-farting car.

"Phoebe?" Max says, prodding her with a carrot stick. "I'm sure I have a spare heater at home-"

"Where's my Bingley?" Phoebe asks, with a supreme disregard for relevance. "Where's my rich and sweet and sensitive and hot guy?"

Max, recognising the side effects of fictional romance, abandons any attempt at rational conversation, and watches the teleseries.

-x-o-x-o-x-o

"What you need," Krish says, when the last of the sausages have disappeared into their respective stomachs, "is help."

Jai jerks upright and his plate falls off the bed with a clatter. "Ok, I do not need help. I date, right? You know why? Cos chicks dig me. Chicks dig me don't they? I mean, if you were a chick you'd totally be into me, right?"

Sam licks his fingers and burps in a way that is a tribute to the chef. "Krish means mental help, psycho," Sam clarifies for Jai. Jai glares at Sam, which is a waste of time, because Sam is impervious to any kind of insult.

"It's easy to get a girl to date you," Krish says patiently. "Getting her to be your girlfriend is a whole different ball game."

"Right," Jai says, nodding but doubtful. "And you know this because you date so many girls."

Krish smiles. Jai is a not a boy concerned with religious thought (some would say any kind of thought), but he is, obscurely, reminded of Buddha. It's as if Krish is sitting on top of the secret of ultimate enlightenment, and he alone can demystify the crazed workings of the giggling sex.

"It just so happens that I could have gotten a girl's number today."

"Get out," Sam says, throwing the cushion he is sitting on at Krish's head. Krish takes instant exception to this- firstly because he cooked Sam dinner, and secondly, because he is morally opposed to being told to leave his own room. When he tells Sam this, Sam says in what he believes to be a more considerate tone, "What girl?"

"Girl at my godfather's sister's funeral."

"Dude," Sam says, wide-eyed in shock, "you cannot pick up at a funeral."

Krish shrugs indifferently. "You can't pick up, end of story."

"Uh, yeah, I can," Sam mumbles.

"Name the last girl you dated," says Krish smugly.

Sam flounders in the cluttered seas of his memory. "St-Sally. Took her to drinks, remember?"

"Girl with the mole?" Jai asks, suddenly interested in the conversation.

"Yeah," says Sam and his triumphant smile collapses on itself.

"The girl you said you couldn't hook up with because you could see the hairs sticking out of her mole?" Jai demands to know.

Krish rolls his eyes and wonders, not for the first time, why he hangs out with the pair of them. He thinks that perhaps it is an ego thing- to have demonstrative proof that compared to some, he is incredibly intelligent.

"Hey, why you gotta remember that shit man?" Sam's cheeks are stained with colour.

"Dunno."

"I tell you one thing and you have to bring it up over and over again-"

"I do not bring it up over and over again, I've said it like twice tops and besides this isn't about you, this is about me and my broken heart." Jai sniffs and collapses back onto the pillows.

"Say that again and I'll find something of yours to break," Sam promises him.

At this, Krish gets off the floor and marches out of the room, clicking the door shut behind him. A sinister suspicion enters Jai's brain.

"Did he just lock us in here?" Jai asks. Suddenly, every possible fire hazard in the room leaps out at him- the frying pan, the heater, the candles (why the fuck does Krish have candles?)- not to mention the sheer number of connection points- it's a only a matter of time before the electric fuse overcharges and blows. Great, just what he needs to finish off the day- death via explosion. Jai's forehead stings and he thinks that he's burning already, before he realises that Sam has whacked him.

"You shouldn't have said he doesn't date girls man," Sam says, in another sudden burst of self-righteousness.

Jai shakes an accusatory finger at Sam. "You're the one who said 'get out' to him! Now look what you've done!"

"I can't believe I'm locked in a room with you."

"Wanna make out?" Jai suggests, wiggling his eyebrows.

"Piss off," says Sam.

-x-o-x-o-x-o

As Sam rejects Jai's advances, Max is making a futile attempt to cure Phoebe of her Bingley obsession. "The problem with Mr. Bingley is that he's a push over. He does what people tell him to. I mean, he only leaves Jane because he believes his sister and his best friend when they tell him she's not in love with him."

Phoebe's indignant answer comes through a mouthful of biscuit and ice-cream. Max feels a little nauseated. "That's because he's too modest to think she's into him!" Phoebe says. "Oops, sorry Max." She whips a tissue off the table and dabs the glob of ice cream off Max's clean black tee. Max takes the tissue from Phoebe's hands with a grimace.

"Ok that is not modesty, that's called not trusting your own judgment. And being enough of a twat to think that a girl won't be into you."

"Yeah, he's just not up himself, and that's what makes him Mr. Bingley!" Phoebe says, and seeing her expression, Max half expects a symphony to start playing at the sound of Bingley's name.

"Come on, any girl in those days would kill for a guy who earns five thousand a year, is good looking and decent. He must have known Jane would never refuse him."

Phoebe scowls and Max is amused. The only time she has known her even-tempered friend to be upset is when she attempts to shake up Phoebe's romantic delusions. "Well," Phoebe answers, "maybe he didn't want a gold-digging wife."

"Come on, if he couldn't see for himself that Jane wasn't a gold digger, with all that time they spent talking and dancing, he doesn't deserve her."

"Ah but love is blind," Phoebe says wisely. She turns to the screen, where Mr. Collins is now blundering through his proposal to Lizzie. The pompous clergyman assures Lizzie that she is only refusing him to increase his love by suspense, and both Phoebe and Max giggle.

"Yeah, self-love maybe," Max agrees.

"So out of every guy in Pride and Prejudice, you'd choose-?"

"Darcy," Max answers without hesitation. "But he needs to smile more. And not be so ready to put me on a pedestal. But he's the guy who'll fight for you. Although if he loves you, he shouldn't give up- I don't like how he says at the end-"

"Ssh!" Phoebe says sharply. She hates discussing the end of the film before they watch it- and even though Max knows this defies all logic when they both know the script verbatim, she likes Phoebe enough to indulge her peculiarities. "So Darcy isn't your dream guy?"

"Is Bingley yours?" Max retorts.

"Ok, maybe not dream guy, but close to…"

-x-o-x-o-x-o

The Perfect Guy, according to Max and Phoebe

Confident, but not arrogant.

Intelligent, but not obnoxious. Informed.

Good looking and sexy, but not sleazy.

Funny, but not immature.

Sensitive, but not sappy.

Talks easily, listens to you.

Stands up for you.

Won't pressure you.

Has his passions but still has room for you in his life.

Likes spending time with you, but not clingy.

Cares about you, without being jealous.

Will help you, but won't make you feel incompetent.

Has nice (compatible) friends, and gets on with your friends, so he is self-sufficient- you don't have to babysit him.

Surprising, but not in a bad way.

Thoughtful.

No messy histories with the ex.

Has his own opinions, but is not overbearing.

An individual, but not weird.

-x-o-x-o-x-o

"Piss off, I am not watching that shit."

"Jai," Krish says cajolingly, as if he is already a doctor convincing a patient to submit to an uncomfortable treatment. "How many break ups have you had in the past month?"

"Ok, technically they weren't my actual girlfriends, so-"

Krish is relentless. He is a man on a mission. "How many Jai?"

"Three?"

Sam shrugs. "Don't look at me mate."

"Four," Krish says grimly. He holds up the DVDs, and brandishes them in Jai's face, who winces. "If you want to know the answer to something, you need to research."

"That isn't research, that's torture."

"Same thing," Krish retorts and Jai purposefully avoids eye contact with him. He knows that in a battle over wills, Krish will win, which depresses him even more than the feeling that he has been dumped, again. Wow, he is so fucking sad.

"The doc has a point," says Sam. He looks at Krish as if he has never quite appreciated him before. "Girls love those movies. Why? There's something about those guys. If you can tap into that, then…"

Krish beams at Sam. At last Sam is quick on the uptake. Jai meanwhile, looks like he has been asked to amputate his leg. He gulps, his Adam's apple bopping up and down, and his eyes travel over the titles- She's the Man, Pride and Prejudice, Cinderella, Anastasia, Sleeping Beauty, Gone with the Wind, Four Weddings and a Funeral, Atonement, 10 Things I Hate About You, Notting Hill, The Prince and Me, Love Actually… he has spent his life avoiding watching movies like this with his little sister, and now karma, in the form of Krish, is coming to bite him in the ass.

"Jai, I did not endure borrowing all these from Blockbuster for you to back out now. You are watching them right now, or you are paying me the cost of hire."

Sam knows how cheap Jai is, so in a helpful spirit, he pries Pride and Prejudice from Krish's hand. He bounces over to the DVD player while Krish finds them all some paper and pens. Since Jai decides wisely not to argue, Krish decides to reward him with a compliment. He pushes his glasses up his nose, and looks appraisingly at Jai- he has chocolate hair and eyes, and Krish thinks it is Jai's misleadingly puppy-like appearance that pulls girls in.

"You're a good looking guy Jai," Krish says, looking to Sam for back up.

"Yeah…" Sam says, rising nobly to the occasion. "I mean, if I squint at you, you definitely look like Brad Pitt. But with a different face."

Falling victim to his own hilarity, Sam laughs so hard that he is completely oblivious to the disappointed look Krish is giving him. Krish gives up a lost cause, and orders Jai to make notes on the paper he has given him. Suddenly, Sam decides to be of real assistance.

"Besides," Sam says, "guess who I'm rooming with?"

"You found a place to live?" Krish says, impressed.

"Yep. And guess who lives there?"

"Your mum," Jai answers, snorting with laughter.

"No," Sam says and he adds with the air of revealing a juicy secret, "English Girl."

Krish stares at Sam blankly, but the name has more meaning for Jai. All the colour drains from his face, and he looks both petrified and excited. "English Girl? English Girl? The English Girl? Are you sure?"

"Oh, is it EnglishGirl you're always staring at in English?" Sam says, with an air of surprise. "I thought it was English Girl you were staring at. Which is totally pathetic seeing as you've never said anything, even in English to her."

"Shut up," Jai snaps.

"Drooled on her more like, by the look of the puddle on the floor right now," Sam says in disgust.

"Who is English Girl?" Krish asks, not appreciating being so out of the loop. In a few pithy words, Sam explains the whole history of English Girl and a smile arrives on Krish's face that Jai likes even less than the one like Buddha. "Right, you're finally going to get a girl to like you. And keep her."

"But as if a movie-"

"Look, Sam and I will do it too, ok?" Krish waits for Jai's agreement, but all he does is look miserably from the screen, to the pen in his hand, and he stares at it as if he has never seen one before. "You can write, can't you?" Krish asks worriedly.

-x-o-x-o-x-o

Jai's Notes on How to Be the Perfect Guy

Save her sister from a kidnapper/crib-snatcher/rapist. (Pride and Prejudice)

Embarrass yourself in public places by singing incredibly cheesy songs (Grease, 10 Things…)

Spill juice on her t-shirt so that she has to come back to your room (Notting Hill).

Grow a six-pack and teach her soccer (She's the Man).

Put on an accent and act like a prince who has a shady manslut to cook eggs on demand (The Prince and Me).

Wear glasses, have three friends who get married, and one who dies. (Four Weddings and a Funeral).

-x-o-x-o-x-o

"Jai, you're not even trying!" Krish says at length.

Jai scrunches his list up and throws it against the wall. "This is fucking stupid. Who am I kidding? I'm never going to get a six pack." He looks morosely at his stomach.

"How do you expect to get English Girl to take you seriously if you won't even take yourself seriously?"

Jai regrets ever befriending Krish, even though he has kick ass cooking skills and he owes several meals in the past week to his friend. "Fine," Jai says, crossing his arms, "let's see yours Mr. Wonderful."

-x-o-x-o-x-o

Krish's Notes on How to Be the Perfect Guy

Prove that you're willing to change for her. (Pride and Prejudice)

Show her your sense of humour, and persistence- through song if possible. (Grease, 10 Things…)

Don't be another one of the arrogant dickheads. Show her you're different and that you won't take advantage of her, even if you spill crap on her shirt. (Notting Hill).

Talk to her. She doesn't have to be a girl for you to develop a bond. (She's the Man).

She can help you mature. Let her. You can help her unwind and grow too. (The Prince and Me).

Don't go for Andy McDowel. She's a man and it's only emasculating for you. (Four Weddings and a Funeral).

-x-o-x-o-x-o

"What's with the last one?" Sam has been reading over Jai's shoulder and he looks at Krish, frankly perplexed.

Krish doesn't feel like answering, so he grabs the paper Sam has been avidly scribbling on for the last few hours.

-x-o-x-o-x-o

Sam's Notes on How to Be the Perfect Guy

If you love me, won't you let me know?

She's got me loved stoned and I think that she knows, she knows, knows.

Without love, life is like my mother on a diet.

Don't go away, say that you'll stay, forever and a day in the time of my life.

21st century life, I've got 21 thousand things that I've gotta do.

Do you love me? Do you love me? Do you love me, now that I can dance?

Just dance, it's gonna be okay. Just dance, let the record play.

-x-o-x-o-x-o

Jai is furious that he sat through films he wouldn't have spent five cents on, that he has found himself laughing and getting sad and a little happy watching them, and that Sam hasn't paid attention at all. The song lyrics Sam has scrawled extend across the entire page, on its other side and along the margins. "What the hell man?" Jai says, in an eloquent expression of all these thoughts.

Sam's smile could rival Krish's in its quiet content. "Dude, I don't need all this. I am the perfect guy. I just haven't found a girl who thinks so yet."


A/N Hopefully this chapter starts to bring things together. Hehe it makes me laugh, because I'm the kind of sad person who laughs at their own jokes before I've even said them, but yeah- would love to hear what you think :D