The crowd went wild and only grew in volume when the co-hosts finally emerged onto the stage. Beau shifted his feet and fiddled with the knobs on his camera for something to do with his hands while he waited for his turn.
Isaac had sat them all down and carefully planned this panel the night before, going over every detail a hundred times to make sure they were all on the same page. Beau would wait backstage, leaving the third seat empty as an alluring hint to the fans who noticed it.
Mark sat to one side of them as their mediator, speaking into a handheld microphone to introduce the stars and lead their questions. Isaac and Adelaide sat next to each other at a long table, leaning forward into small microphones positioned on the table in front of each of their seats. They made quick introductions, only slowed by the interruption of a cheering audience, and got straight to explaining their production deal with Webflix.
“We’re really excited about all the opportunities Webflix is going to give us,” Isaac said with carefully chosen words. “But we want to make it clear that Paranomads is going to be the same show, with the same people.”
A few audience members clapped, and a quiet cheer echoed through the crowd. Adelaide piped up, “Seriously, we promise! And if you don’t believe us, we brought a friend to prove it…”
Beau took a deep breath and hid his face behind the viewfinder. No chance to back out now.
He stepped onto the stage and blinked rapidly into the lights, struggling to adjust to the change as his ears were accosted with the loudest scream of the day.
As planned, he walked across the stage, scanning his camera across the crowd, even kneeling down to get some of the front-row fans directly in the shot. The screaming continued. He then stood and turned the camera to his co-stars, who were watching him with bright, proud smiles. Finally, he approached the table, and sat in the empty seat beside Isaac.
“Come on, mate, put it away for a minute,” Adelaide leant over to him, speaking into Isaac’s microphone.
“Ah… Oh, alright,” Beau agreed with fake reluctance, then turned the camera off and set it on the table.
With his face completely unobstructed, the crowd reared back up into another wave of screams. Mark even made a show of plugging his fingers in his ears, pretending to be deafened by their enthusiasm. The love was so loud that Beau could barely hear the rapid beating of his heart in his ears, but he was rooted back into reality when Isaac’s smile leant into his periphery.
“Told you,” Isaac whispered away from the reach of his microphone.
After a few minutes and some gentle coaxing from Mark, the crowd finally settled and the panel was able to properly begin. Just like their entrance, Isaac planned every beat of their presentation, to make sure they covered all the main points, hinted at everything they wanted to tease about their next season, and gave everyone an equal chance to talk.
Adelaide mostly explained their convention plans, while Isaac covered their filming schedule, and Beau even had a chance to share some stories about the journey and the equipment they’d brought for the ride. The crowd hung off their every word, and clapped in all the right places, as well as a few more.
When Mark gestured for them to wrap it up so they could open the floor for questions, that’s where the plan began to loosen. Isaac still tried his hardest to prepare answers to questions he thought they would receive, but it was true that they’d never done anything like this before. Even their one or two ‘Ask Me Anything’s on Reddit were short lived and usually centred around individual episodes. Now, the floor was open, and their reactions would be live.
The line of fans waiting to ask questions slowly shuffled forward, and the head of the line approached a microphone stand. It was a girl who looked to be in her young twenties, wearing a Doctor Who shirt and had all kinds of handmade ribbons and accessories decorating her hair. She grinned and trembled as she leant into the mic, nervously holding onto the pole to keep herself steady.
“Um, wow, oh my gosh. First off, thank you guys so much for coming all the way out here. This has been an amazing day.”
The crowd cheered and Adelaide beamed, leaning into her mic to thank her back.
“I had a different question I wanted to ask, but, um. I have to know, oh my god. Beau: How tall are you?!”
Beau turned to look at his co-stars, his eyes narrowing with a playful smirk when he saw Isaac was already looking at him. He knew exactly what Isaac’s cocked eyebrow meant: it was a smug I told you so, in reference to their conversation on the bus the night before.
At first they had rolled their eyes and groaned when Isaac pulled out a list of possible fan questions at the dining table. They had been rehearsing for hours, and both Adelaide and Beau wanted to be done with it already. They’re fan questions, how complex could they be, what did they possibly have to rehearse? But Isaac was adamant that they get their heads clear and on the same page, so no one went blank at an inopportune time.
“Uh, fuck. I don’t know,” Beau stammered, when Isaac had suddenly asked him how tall he was. “Are they really going to ask that? Come on.”
“‘I don’t know’? That’s such a tall person answer,” Adelaide said with a roll of her eyes.
“Of course they’re going to ask,” Isaac huffed. “So figure it out.”
Beau had rubbed the back of his neck, screwing up his face in thought. “Who measures that kind of thing? I think the last time I went to the doctor I was like… 190 something? But I might have broken 200 since then.”
Adelaide had let out a weary sigh and stood up from the table. “Jesus christ,” she announced. “I’ll go find a tape measure. Isaac, get a conversion website open. They don’t use centimetres here.”
Isaac simply smiled and shook his head as Adelaide dug through their kitchenette cupboards, leaving Beau to twiddle his thumbs and wonder who really cared about numbers like that.
Apparently, the first question of the day cared. A few people even hollered and clapped when the girl asked it, so Beau quickly turned away from Isaac’s knowing smirk to face his microphone and give his pre-prepared answer: “I’m 6’7”.”
He sneakily covered his face by leaning into his hand when a wolf whistle echoed from the audience. Next question, please.
The next few fans had them clarify about their schedule, to which Isaac explained they would be filming a select few episodes whilst in the states. Adelaide pulled up the meet-and-greet details on her phone to share the time and place of their first meet-up, and then it was time for another personal question that they had prepared the night before.
The microphone stand was adjusted for a young man with dwarfism, who was rocking one of their earliest Paranomads shirt designs and a snapback with matching colours. Adelaide excitedly threw him up some devil horns when she saw the shirt, which he eagerly returned, eliciting another small cheer from the nearby audience members.
“How did you three meet?” He asked, with genuine curiosity in his eyes.
Adelaide and Beau looked to Isaac, who they knew would be the one to answer. He kept his head forward and leant into the mic, but before he answered, Beau couldn’t help remembering their ridiculous argument from the night before.
Leaning back against the kitchen counter, Isaac had said, “You came up to us, and–” but Beau hadn’t let him finish.
“Excuse me,” he’d interrupted. “You approached me.”
Isaac went silent, his face stony. “No I didn’t.”
Beau scoffed and threw a smile at Adelaide, who was looking between them with a squint. Beau continued, “Adelaide asked me if I would film a group project for you guys in university. That ended up being our pilot. Sure, it was Addy, but you two were always glued at the hip – so, same difference.”
Isaac folded his arms over his chest, not breaking eye contact with Beau as he quirked an eyebrow. “No. I mean – sure,” he started. “But you came up to us in the sandpit to play with our spade and stuff, back in kindergarten.”
Beau’s smile fell from his face and he let out a long, exasperated sigh. “That’s what you consider…?” He laughed and covered his face, shaking his head from behind his palms. “Okay… Fine. Whatever.”
Thankfully, Isaac spared their audience the details on the day of the panel. “We went to school together,” he said simply into the microphone, before throwing a cheeky smile at either one of his co-stars.
Their final question of the day was one that Beau thought would have come sooner, but in the end, he was kind of glad Isaac had prepared them for it. It was the kind of question he always faltered on when he had to think on the spot, even though he thought he knew himself well. It had started another small disagreement on the bus, and like usual, they had all caved to Isaac’s whims.
“You don’t seem to scare very easily on the show,” said an older gentleman with an impressive beard and a blue paper crown sat atop his greying hair. “Is there anything you are afraid of?”
As soon as Adelaide had read this question off the list, Isaac had stuck a hand out to cover the paper and punctuate his words. “We cannot answer this honestly.”
Beau immediately laughed, but Isaac remained serious.
“We’re not super villains,” Beau had said with overtired, silly tears prickling the corners of his eyes. “They’re not concocting a secret weapon to destroy us. Why not answer for real?”
Isaac huffed. “Because I refuse to let Adelaide admit in front of hundreds of ghost hunting fanatics that she’s afraid of the dark.”
Beau laughed again, a gentle wheeze that drew more tears in his eyes as he struggled to feel sane after such a long day. When he settled down, Adelaide was nodding seriously, and placed her hand solemnly over Isaac’s.
“Gonna have to agree with Isaac on this one.”
Beau grinned as he wiped the corners of his eyes and leant back in the booth. “Alright. What about you, then? Just for me, come on.”
Isaac grumbled under his breath, then pulled his hand away to cross his arms defensively. “Needles.”
Laughter threatened to bubble up in Beau’s chest again, but he stifled it to frown at his host incredulously. “...You have a tongue piercing.”
“Yep,” Isaac quickly snapped, turning his chin up and away from Beau. “And getting it done was the worst day of my life. So that right there is a perfect example of what I don’t want to argue on stage about…”
Beau shook his head as he fondly remembered his friends’ ridiculousness. They had decided to share things they disliked, but weren’t inherently terrified of, to appease their audience and save their dignity. After sleeping on it, he had decided that maybe Isaac was right; no one wanted to hear rejection when they asked a question like that, and realising it about himself had made him feel a little too raw about sharing something so intimate with so many strangers and their phones.
So instead, Adelaide answered, “Spiders. Ick.”
Then Isaac said, “Drowning. Like, anywhere, but it’s all I can think about when I see big oceans.”
With Beau finishing, “Snakes. They’ll fuck you up in Australia.” And after a moment, when they’d all said their peace, he grinned to himself and chuckled softly. “All things you’ll find around every corner back home. That was the real reason we flew all the way to America.”
The crowd responded to his joke with joyous laughter, which had Isaac and Adelaide turning to give Beau surprised smiles. It was a wonderful note to end the panel, and even softened the disappointment of the whining fans who didn’t get to ask their questions as Mark started to wrap it up for them. Isaac gave him a gentle, affectionate punch under the table, and Adelaide gave him a thumbs up from the end.
When Mark started repeating the details of their meet-and-greet for everyone to record, that was the Paranomads stars’ cue to stand and wave goodbye to everyone. The cheering turned to clapping as they walked off the stage together, disappearing into the wings after what felt like an eternity in the limelight.
Mark’s excited congratulations sounded like blurred babbling as he walked the exhausted trio back to their green room. They collapsed onto a small couch, as Mark went to grab bottles of water from a table on the other side of the room, then finally realised he should stop talking and give them a minute to process the last hour.
After Adelaide had a sip of water and a few minutes in silence, her extroverted energy was replenished and she was ready to dive back in. She bounced around the room, joining Mark in excitedly recounting everything they just did, then announced her plans to explore the convention floor for a few hours. Isaac and Beau exchanged weary looks, then desperately reached for a phone so they could Uber back to the bus for some rest.
They were both silent during the short drive back and as they stepped back onto their tour bus, further exhausted by the warm summer sun beating down on them. They trudged aboard, collapsing into their respective bunks without a word, falling asleep almost instantly. The buzz was gone and the exhaustion had set in, and it was finally time to catch up on some sleep.