20. Brand New Man
Isaac was jostled awake by the tour bus chugging along the highway, swaying and groaning as they switched lanes and exited the city. He scowled as he sat up and found his glasses case, feeling rough and clammy like his bad mood had clung to him from the night before.
He crept out of his bunk then quietly rummaged through his bag for some fresh clothes, hoping to slip into the bathroom for a shower before anyone else awoke. Once he was locked inside, he stood aimlessly under the shower spray for a few minutes, hoping it would wash away the guilt he felt from jerking off to a friend the night before.
Tragically, it did not.
The bus’s air conditioning was on while they drove, so he pulled a thin sweater over his t-shirt and made his way to the kitchen. He paused as soon as he stepped out from the hall, startled by Beau’s presence on the other side of the kitchen.
Well, the kitchen floor to be exact. He was facing Isaac but his head was down, his breathing sharp and heavy as he worked through a set of push ups. Isaac watched him for a moment, following the rise and fall of his shoulders, counting in his head as he watched. He lost track somewhere around twelve or thirteen, so he rolled his eyes and went to find his medication for the morning. Show off.
When he wandered back to find a drink, he thanked the stars that someone had stocked the fridge up with bottles of pre-made cold brew coffee. Even after he’d grabbed one and cracked the seal, Beau was still working on his push ups.
Isaac took a deep breath in and sneered at him. He should have had the wherewithal to know that he was simply tipsy and tired last night, and that he didn’t have any real reason to be mad at Beau. But even after a long sleep and a refreshing shower, he was still tired and just a little hungover, so he carried his petty grievances all the way over to where Beau did his workout.
“Good morning,” Isaac sat flatly as he set one foot between Beau’s shoulder blades. The man startled underneath him and looked up at his host. “Need some help?”
Beau laughed awkwardly under his breath and shifted his weight under Isaac’s presence. “Go on, then.”
Isaac’s face fell and he put his foot back on the ground. “I was only joking.”
Beau fell close to the floor, then rose again easily. “It’s alright, go on. I could do with a little extra work.”
Isaac scowled as he took a sip of his coffee, then set his foot back on top of him. He leaned onto it, and Beau let out a surprised laugh when he felt the newly added weight. That made Isaac madder.
He watched as Beau lowered himself to the ground again, and when he started to rise, he forced as much weight down through his leg as possible. He felt Beau tremble as he tried to straighten his arms, and for one victorious second he thought the man was going to collapse– but eventually he heaved himself up and locked his elbows into place.
“Bit of a show off, don’t you think?” Isaac muttered, earning him another glance from over Beau’s shoulder.
“I mean… I was alone when I started. Is that showing off?”
He lowered himself again, and Isaac didn’t have the energy to fight against it, so he simply leaned over him as he sipped his coffee. He opened his mouth to quip back, but nothing fair or true came to mind. He simply shut it again and watched Beau lift his weight back up.
“What are you doing?” he asked instead, the next time Beau dropped to the ground. Beau was busy focusing on his breathing, but after a moment he exhaled slowly and let his head hang heavy between his shoulders.
“I desperately needed a jog this morning,” he explained. “But the bus was already moving. I wasn’t about to start running laps up and down this tiny hallway, so…”
Isaac was getting bored of leaning on him, and it seemed like Beau was already used to his weight. Feeling petulant, he removed his foot, then dropped down so he was sitting on Beau’s back instead. Beau fumbled and landed flat on the ground with an oof, then let out a strained laugh when he realised what Isaac had done.
“Wh-what about you?” He struggled under Isaac’s weight as he tried to readjust his palms on the ground.
Isaac took a sip from his coffee and crossed his legs delicately. “Just woke up, I dunno what to tell you.”
“Did you have a good night?”
Isaac’s brow furrowed as he remembered their club outing, remembered his petty escape and his even pettier tantrum in his bunk much later. He sighed when he looked at himself now, and realised he wasn’t being much better.
“Yeah… It was fine. Thanks for being okay with me ditching,” he muttered into his coffee.
“We didn’t have much of a choice– you destroyed those fireballs,” Beau chuckled as he found his grip and strained his arms against the ground.
Isaac raised his eyebrows and looked down when he felt Beau tensing beneath him. He opened his mouth to reply, but Beau suddenly found his strength and pushed himself back up, sending Isaac flying off him and toppling to the ground beside him.
Beau held himself up, panting heavily as he grinned at Isaac’s tired, crumpled form on the ground. “Thanks,” he exhaled, then finally sat up on his knees to wipe his forearm across his sweaty brow.
Isaac collected himself slowly, making a show of rubbing his elbows where they’d collided with the ground, then dusting off his front and checking for coffee spills. He was completely unscathed, but he frowned at his companion anyway.
“I was going to ask if you needed any more help with your workout,” he pretended to sneer, “But I want nothing to do with it if you’re going to toss me around like that.”
Beau laughed again, then shifted to sit with his back against the wall. “That’s a shame,” he sighed, a mischievous glint in his eye. “I was just thinking that an Isaac-sized dumbbell was the exact thing missing from my routine.”
Isaac rolled his eyes, but his attention was caught when Beau grabbed the bottom of his tank top and pulled it up to wipe the sweat from his face.
The low-burning fire from the night before crackled to life in Isaac’s stomach when his eyes fell on Beau’s exposed chest. The sheen of sweat covering his body only defined the hint of a six pack that was starting to carve its way into his thick, soft stomach.
Isaac quickly tore his eyes away and distracted himself with a longer gulp of coffee. When he looked up, Beau’s shirt was back down and his eyes were on his host.
“Uh… Do you wanna help me with some reps?” He asked, his smile gone and replaced with a shier, questioning look.
Isaac did. He very much wanted to see that stomach again. His body tensed at the mere thought of it. But he forced himself to blink slowly before screwing the lid back on his drink.
“Of course, it’s not like I have anything important to do,” he answered, trying to hide his enthusiasm behind sarcasm. “...What do I do, then?”
“Um… Okay, gimme a sec.” Beau rose to his feet, suddenly averting his gaze.
Isaac stayed sitting on the ground until he did what he was told (he refused to get up unnecessarily when it was still so early in the day), and silently watched Beau fetch himself a glass of water from the sink. He watched him gulp it down, then stand over the counter in silence for a minute, hanging his head low like he was having a silent conversation with himself.
Isaac squinted at the slight shift in mood, but before he could say anything – or rescind his offer – Beau had turned back around and joined him on the floor again.
“Sit on my feet, would you?” He requested. Isaac didn’t move, and simply raised a brow at him.
Beau positioned himself with his knees bent up and his feet out in front of him. When he was settled, he looked at Isaac expectantly. “You wanted to help, didn’t you?” he teased. “I’m gonna try and do some sit ups. You don’t have to actually sit on me, just hold my feet so I don’t go flying.”
Isaac moved towards him now that he understood the assignment. He tentatively took his place at Beau’s feet, deciding to kneel with Beau’s sneakers between his thighs and his hands firmly placed around the roadie’s ankles. Beau leaned back and laid his shoulders on the ground, tucking his hands behind his head.
He sat there for a moment, closing his eyes and taking a deep breath, before he furrowed his brow and heaved himself forwards.
Isaac’s breath caught in his throat when Beau lunged upwards, their faces much closer than he was expecting. Beau’s eyes had opened and he laughed sheepishly when he saw Isaac’s startled expression, but rather than addressing it he simply dropped back down to the ground.
Isaac clenched his jaw as he watched Beau’s shoulders tense and flex with each sit up. He leaned back to try and create more distance between them, and focused his attention on keeping Beau’s feet steady.
As Beau fell into a repetitious rhythm, the space between them started to close again. Whenever he fell back to the ground, his shirt bunched up around his stomach, revealing a flash of skin at his hips. Isaac found himself subconsciously leaning closer as he peered down at it, secretly hoping more would reveal itself.
Beau’s eyes had slipped shut as he focused on his breathing, his counting lowered to a hushed whisper.
“Wait,” Isaac suddenly blurted out. “What was that one?”
Beau opened his eyes and sat up again, this time pausing with his chest flush to his knees. “Fifty-two,” he repeated, more clearly.
Something new stirred in Isaac’s chest. Beau was breathing sharply, but his body moved just as smoothly and easily as when he started, showing no signs of exhaustion just yet. When he realised Isaac had nothing else to add, he lowered himself back down to continue.
Isaac had to suck his lip into his mouth to stop himself from gawking. When the fuck had Beau gotten so fit? When had he gotten so…?
He frowned, trying to place what felt different about his friend when he watched him working out. It hadn’t really hit Isaac before, not when he was working nor filming, nor interacting with their fans or other professionals. His stomach only really fluttered when he saw Beau aching and sweaty, but still smiling all the while.
It was just… different. He looked more capable, somehow, even when he was hungover and tired after coming back to their motel room after a morning jog. It was very–
Isaac’s breath caught in his throat as the word hit him.
It made Beau feel very adult.
It was the side of Beau that Isaac saw the least when they were back home, and was still very new for both of them. Waking up early, eating right, running for fun for god’s sake. It made him feel incredibly mature, how different it was from Isaac and the way he spent all his time staying up late making videos for the internet.
So it wasn’t until Beau finally collapsed on his back, panting and smiling with his hands on his stomach and his eyes fallen shut, that Isaac realised he was looking at Beau in a new way. In a you’re not the same little boy I grew up with kind of way.
Learning about his confession had done nothing. Feeling Beau’s arms around him as he saved Isaac from their crowds of fans had done nothing – Not until Isaac had had the chance to sit there and stare at his roadie like he was a brand new man.
But unlike new people, they already knew each other intimately. They already had twenty years of experiences, of memories, of inside jokes and affections to work with. And all too suddenly, Isaac’s mind was rushing through all of those memories with a very new perspective.
“Reckon Adelaide will want breakfast yet?” Beau interrupted his thoughts as he slipped out of Isaac’s hold and rose to his feet. Isaac whipped his head up and watched as Beau crept around him to get to the kitchen. “Looks like Mark bought some frozen hash browns; I can chuck those on the stove for everyone.”
Isaac closed his eyes and exhaled slowly as he tried to grapple with this influx of thoughts. He didn’t have time for this, nor did either of them have the space or privacy to hash out Beau’s confession and see if that’s something either of them wanted to progress. And– Isaac’s heart panged when he remembered it – Beau’s confession might not have been that serious after all.
He remembered his angry mantra the night before – I was right, I was right – as he watched Beau kiss and grind on someone other than himself. There was no way Isaac could risk coming out if his confession had truly been fleeting and depthless, if he had really moved on that quickly.
He refused to risk it all until he knew exactly what Beau wanted, and how badly he wanted it.
“Sure,” he finally responded as he stood. “I’ll go wake her and let her know…”
Isaac sidled past Beau, who was already focused on preparing their food. His gaze lingered on him before he turned to escape down the hallway and knock on the wall beside Adelaide’s booth, sighing deeply to himself as he waited for her to stir.