The photoshoot kept Beau on his toes for the entirety of the evening. At its core, it went well; the photographer was incredibly professional and had a huge space set up for them, with decorations and props already laid out. And even though they were sure to eat beforehand, the production team had prepared enough snacks and drinks to keep them satiated throughout the shoot.
But no matter how encouraging everyone was, no matter how much Adelaide hyped him up and made him feel like it was just the three of them goofing off together, he couldn’t get out of his head. He couldn’t help but fret over what the pictures would be like, how the show would be received, how he would be received by their fans. He tried to relax and go with the flow, but it was much easier said than done.
Especially when he’d had the weirdest evening with Isaac. He couldn’t stop replaying his haircut over in his mind, even as they settled down for dinner, even as they shook hands with their photographer. He tried to make small talk with the photographer’s crew, but his thoughts kept drifting back to how his host’s hands had touched and held him so gently on the floor of the motel bathroom. He had just sat there, shoulders stiff, trying to make the most of his caring touches while wondering why Isaac had offered in the first place.
Even the thought of it made his skin feel hot, made his thighs tingle, as he remembered the way Isaac’s thumb had delicately stroked the nape of his neck, and how his fingers stroked his dreadlocks into place. It was more physical contact than he’d had from Isaac in years of shooting together.
Then when the photoshoot got underway and the primary shots were finished, Isaac had to go and be his usual charming self, and Beau couldn’t tear his eyes away. Well– it was probably only charming to Beau, but there was something in his cool professionalism that always impressed the socially awkward cameraman, and made him admire Isaac like he could do anything.
They’d taken a break to sit and eat, and Mark sat with them to find out if they had any fun ideas for photos while they were there. He’d really only been speaking to Adelaide when he said it, assuming that as the lively socials manager, she would be the one with the weird memes and creative ideas constantly bouncing around her head.
And to give Mark credit, she often did. But Beau knew Isaac was not to be underestimated.
When Adelaide started browsing through the dormant props and costumes, skipping past a selection of ghostbuster-styled outfits set aside in the corner, Isaac had been the one to pick them up and suggest they wear them. He held the jumpsuit up to their producer, blank-faced as usual, but with a glint of determination in his eye that surely only Beau and Adelaide would have recognised.
“Yes,” he had simply announced, looking at Mark over the top of the outfit. “Absolutely.”
He leant into his cynical on-screen persona when the photos were being taken, acting like this was the last place he wanted to be– but he was the first to come up with goofy ideas for poses and set layouts, practically running the shoot for them. Beau could see the surprise on Mark’s face when he witnessed this, when he learned that Isaac’s monotoned scepticism was played up for the show, and he wasn’t anywhere near as cold or rude in real life.
The evening felt like it dragged on forever, while at the same time feeling like it ended far too quickly. Beau mustered up as much polite enthusiasm as he could whilst thanking the photographer and the crew, then spent the rest of the drive back worrying about how he’d presented himself.
Suffice to say, when Beau collapsed on his bed in their motel room, he was emotionally wrecked.
He laid on his back with arms outstretched and his legs dangling off the edge, his feet still planted to the ground. Isaac shuffled into the room after him and crawled up the length of his and Adelaide’s shared queen, kicking his shoes off as he nestled against the pillows. They laid alone in the room together, while Adelaide chatted with Mark outside their door.
Beau was about to steal a glance at Isaac when suddenly the mattress dipped beside him. His muscles stiffened and slowly turned his head to find his host sitting beside him, one leg tucked underneath him so he could face Beau on the bed. He looked exhausted.
“Hi,” he said curtly. “Feel good about tonight?”
With Isaac’s gaze wandering the room, Beau let himself stare. He sank tiredly into the mattress as he drank in the curve of his jaw and the shadow of his cheekbones. Until Isaac suddenly looked at him, curiosity piqued by his silence.
“Ah. Yeah,” Beau weakly replied.
Isaac frowned and tilted his head over him. “You killed it,” he said, still frowning in confusion at Beau’s lack of enthusiasm. “You did your first photo thing.”
Beau shifted under his gaze, having to tear his eyes away to escape the weight of it. His body felt hot again— not just his cheeks or his chest, but all the way down to the tips of his fingers and the heels of his feet as well.
“It was your first one too. First professional one, at least,” he pointed out.
“Yeah,” Isaac nodded. “First professional one. Not the first time we’ve put hi-res pictures of ourselves on the inter… Oh.”
Beau dared to look at him again, but Isaac had curled his knees up to his chest and was busy staring at where his hands wrapped around his ankles.
“Is that what you’re…?” Isaac started to ask, like it was the first time it occurred to him. “I just guessed you were nervous about people liking you, but I didn’t even think, like…” Beau felt a pang in his chest when Isaac’s brow furrowed, more sadly this time, like he was cursing himself in his mind.
“Jesus, and we didn’t even ask if this was something you wanted to…” Isaac continued, frown deepening as he shut his eyes and dropped his chin onto his knees.
“Hey,” Beau interrupted. “It’s okay. I’m just nervous, I promise. And Adelaide did speak to me, before we even flew out here. She told me about the panels and how Mark wanted me in more episodes, and checked that showing my face as a team member was something that I wanted to do. I agreed to this.”
Isaac glanced at him, but quickly nestled his chin back to his knees. “Okay…” he said quietly. “I’m glad. Because you did great, really.”
Beau frowned, still hating to see Isaac so bothered. “You did too,” he replied, as he lifted his hand. In a daring attempt to recreate their soft touches from earlier in the bathroom, to see if this was something they could continue face to face, he reached out and affectionately bumped his hand against the side of Isaac’s arm.
Immediately, Isaac jolted like he’d been burned. He jumped upright and pulled back from his touch, his eyes widening as his balance swayed, then fell backwards on the floor with a heavy thud. Beau winced and quickly withdrew his hand.
‘Isaac still does not like to be touched. Noted.’
He couldn’t even bring himself to lean over the edge of the mattress and check on him; he just laid there with his hands drawn up to his chest, jaw clenched and brow furrowed as he waited for Isaac to pick himself up off the ground.
As Isaac carefully perched himself on the edge of the bed again, Adelaide finally entered the room. The door shut with a click behind her, and she paused in the doorway when she saw Isaac and Beau sitting together.
A grin spread across her face before she ran over and dove onto the bed, making herself comfortable on Beau’s other side. “So,” she announced, a glint in her eye, oblivious to the awkward rejection that occurred only seconds earlier. “Who’s coming out with me tonight?”
It was near 11pm, and it was still their first day in the city. While they had a quiet morning of napping then meeting for a relaxed lunch, the later half of the evening had been quite an emotional drag. Beau felt dizzy off his wandering thoughts, and Isaac was certainly still hungover.
“Not a chance,” Isaac responded.
“Absolutely,” Beau said at the same time.
The two men exchanged a look while Adelaide dove forward and wrapped her arms around Beau in a hug. Isaac raised his eyebrows and shrugged, then gestured a hand to the door as if to say be my guest.
“I’m so happy,” Adelaide cooed as Beau pried her off him. “We don’t need him, anyway! Let’s go see what this city has to offer!”
Beau nodded eagerly and stood up from the bed, ready to drown this weird, exhausting day with delightfully cheap liquor. They both changed into something more casual, then gave Isaac a shy little wave as they left the room.
Beau patted his pockets outside, checking he had his phone, passport and room key on him, while Adelaide wandered over to the door beside theirs. She gave it a quick knock and it swung open almost immediately. Mark stepped out, grinning at her.
“Beau’s coming!” Adelaide announced excitedly, drawing Mark’s gaze to him. Their manager beamed and held a fist out, inviting Beau to bump it.
“You better show us a good time,” Beau threatened playfully, earning him a grin from the other.
“Oh, not to worry. I’ve already found a place, in walking distance too!. We’ll be off our rocks in no time.”