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18. Three Shots

No matter what kind of issue arose in Beau’s life; if he could jog, he was happy. Jogging put distance between himself and his thoughts, and often detangled the messes he made in his mind. So when he woke up the morning before the convention, nauseous and dry-mouthed and regretful, he jumped straight out of bed and dug out his workout gear. He threw a single glance back at his roommates before leaving the motel room, then made his escape.

After three brisk kilometres, he’d started to feel better. He was just breaking out a sweat as his head started to feel a little clearer, and once he hit 5k, Beau felt he had a decision to make.

He either had to tell Isaac what was going on in his mind – even if he had no expectation of reciprocation – or he had to leave this in the past. He never wanted to feel as vulnerable or desperate as he had that night in the pub, and he never wanted one of his friends to see him like that again.

He didn’t force himself to decide immediately. Whether or not he told Isaac what he was going through was a big decision to make; so he let himself sit back and observe the day, observe his own feelings, and observe his relationship with Isaac. He was okay with taking his time to figure this out, and he assumed it would take a little while.

Isaac had been perfectly pleasant during the day and throughout their panel, and Adelaide showed no signs of awkwardness or tension after he confessed to her. It was like any other day. But then Isaac had missed his meds, fell victim to the overstimulation in his brain after their autograph booth, and Beau just did whatever he could to help.

He tried to keep his mind quiet, tried to keep observing from a distance even while Isaac’s hand clutched at his shirt and pressed into his side on their walk home. He tried not to take advantage of Isaac’s vulnerable state to satisfy his own desperation for contact. But Isaac had been the one to lean closer, talk quieter, and Beau just wanted to help.

He considered, only for a moment, that maybe he could keep living like this. Keep living for the scraps of affection Isaac gave to him, not only through his body, but with his words. It was enough, he told himself. It would be enough. He could be happy like this.

But then Isaac answered the question that had been on his mind since their contract with Webflix was first signed. Why Beau had been chosen over an entire professional team that would surely only improve the quality of the show.

Chemistry. Integrity. Friendship.

Their friendship.

Beau had stared ahead, letting those words sink in. That their friendship was the most important part. Deep down, Beau agreed. It was the answer he’d been looking for all day; the decision he knew he had to make.

Nothing was worth the risk of destroying the friendship he had with either of them. Nothing was worth losing their show over. Not his stupid feelings, nor the way his heart hammered when Isaac’s hand slipped and ran down his cheek.

He sat up, smiled, and went to make coffee. Because it was time he left this all behind him, and created some much needed distance between Isaac and his weak, vulnerable heart. It was time to put the friendship first, and finally get over him.

~~~

Mark narrowed his eyes when Adelaide presented her offer, her hands raised over her head and a devilish smile on her face.

“Is this going to become a routine?” he questioned, then threw a suspicious look at Beau.

They’d moved on to their next location already, nailed their panel, and had a peaceful, uneventful evening. The day felt nothing like when they’d pulled up in their last city, but Mark was hesitant for a replay of previous events.

“It’s an official after party,” Adelaide explained, lowering her hands to rest on her hips. “I promise I’ll chill out with the bars and late nights, but I do really want to go to this one.”

“I also have no plans of drinking that much ever again,” Beau piped up from the other side of the table. That seemed to immediately release some of the tension in Mark’s shoulders.

“Where is it? What time? Anything we need to know?” he asked then, easing into a bit of a smile, which was enough to have Adelaide grinning and bouncing on her feet again.

“Everyone’s heading over to a nearby club called Karma in about an hour or so. Entry is like, ten bucks? And it’s not exclusive to panellists from the convention, so there might be some fans and vendors there – but it’s on the down-low.” She pressed her palms together and looked at each of them eagerly, her gaze coming to rest on Isaac. “What do you say?”

“No,” Isaac mumbled without looking up from his laptop. She immediately groaned and threw her head back.

“You told me you wanted to go out while we’re in the states!” She whined. Isaac whipped his head up and shot her a glare, like she’d just spilled a secret in front of the others.

“This isn’t what I meant when I said… that,” he muttered. Beau frowned at him gently, curious about the implication of their conversation. “Anyway, I don’t want to go because I’m tired. We drove all morning then hit the panel as soon as we arrived, and I want to decompress a little bit.”

“Well, I want to enjoy some international nightlife with my best mate after he promised me he would,” she sneered playfully, hands back on her hips. “What can I do to convince you to come?”

Isaac paused and narrowed his eyes in thought. He then lifted his gaze, raising his eyebrow at her. She immediately understood.

“No spirit box at the next investigation, if you stay for three shots,” she announced, reaching a hand across the table.

Isaac looked at her face, then down at her hand.

“Deal,” he said, shaking it.

So, the four of them dressed up together and made for the nearby club. There was a decent line leading from the entrance, but Adelaide approached the doorman with the confidence of a woman three times her size. When she showed him their convention passes, he eased into a smile and cut them to the front of the line.

As soon as they entered, Mark went to find them a table while the trio made for the bar. Isaac cut through the crowd to find space at the counter, then waved a hand out to catch one of the bartender’s attention.

“Three fireballs,” he shouted over the music. Adelaide clapped excitedly as he pulled out his travellers card.

“Hey, hey,” she interrupted. “Don’t forget one for Mark!”

“Oh, no–” Isaac shook his head as the bartender topped up the three shot glasses in front of him. “These are for me.”

Beau burst out laughing as Adelaide’s jaw dropped. “That’s not fair!” She shouted, smacking the side of his arm as he downed the first one and squeezed his eyes shut.

“You didn’t say how long I had to stay,” he quipped, then threw back the second.

“You’re such a cunt!” she shouted, but a grin was already pulling at her mouth as Isaac finished the last shot and slammed the glass back down on the counter. “I hope you get mugged on the way home.”

“Me too,” he gasped, then patted his chest as the shots settled. “Maybe they’ll knock me out and I can finally get some sleep.”

He turned to walk from the bar, still ignoring Adelaide’s attempts at prodding and smacking him. He stopped and turned to them one last time, adding, “Get home safe,” before he grinned and made for the door.

Adelaide crossed her arms and watched him leave. She was frowning, but her stifled grin was still evident; she clearly wanted to be mad, but was too amused by Isaac’s gall to be too bothered.

“We don’t need him,” Beau finally interjected. “He just paid ten bucks to walk home alone. Come on, let’s get three more, and actually enjoy them!”

Adelaide laughed as Beau led her up to the edge of the bar, where they hailed the bartender back for another order.


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