21. Mic’d Up
After a week that felt like an entire month, after countless sleepless nights crammed into a tiny bunk, and hours of screaming fans and cheek-aching smiles, Beau was relieved to finally be in his place. His true zen: behind a camera.
The focus required to film their show was nothing compared to spontaneous vlogs or cringey interviews. They were alone now, just the four of them including Mark, with an abundance of empty rooms and creaking hallways surrounding them. The sun was setting, the battery powered lamps by their sleeping bags gave off warm yellow halos, and the night vision on his camera made Beau’s monitor glow a familiar, comforting green.
He could finally put his thoughts to rest, leave his frantically swaying emotions behind, as he filmed the world through the monochromatic glow.
Everyone had their own jobs to do, so Beau was mostly left alone as he set up the cameras. They had several professional units mounted on tripods, with a few high-end GoPros littered around the property, all wired up to a central feed. He leant back from the viewfinder of his favourite camera – a hefty TV camcorder they scored cheap at an auction years ago – and double checked the camera angle on a tablet in his hand.
He was tapping through the various camera feeds, checking everything was running smoothly, when he noticed Adelaide in one of the shots. She was leaning into the camera, flashing her torch directly at it. A smile tugged at his lips as he smiled and shook his head, then unclipped his radio from his hip.
He flicked it onto their private channel and asked, “What’s up, Addy?”
He watched as she put her torch away and replied into her radio, still looking at him through the camera feed. “Watch out– Isaac’s on his way, and he’s in a mood.”
Beau took a deep breath and clipped the radio back to his hip, rolling his eyes even though he knew she couldn’t see. As he lowered the tablet from his gaze, the sound of a beeping radio startled him from behind.
“Fuck you, Addy. I’m not in ‘a mood’.”
Beau spun around with a jolt, clutching his chest dramatically when he heard Isaac’s tired, huskier-than-usual voice. His face had an imperceptible hint of rage in the gentle crease of his brow and the slight turn of his lips. He set his expression on Beau, looking tiredly up at him.
“...Why do you have a private channel with Adelaide?” he muttered.
Beau smiled and huffed a short laugh through his nose. “So we can talk shit about you,” he joked, shrugging as he turned and made his way over to a table littered with pieces of equipment.
Isaac scowled more noticeably and followed him, ignoring his jest. “What’s the channel number?”
“Well, that’s no fun,” Beau replied, as he set down his tablet and found his handheld camera amidst the clutter. “Are you feeling left out?”
Isaac began to poke around the table of equipment, his hands searching for something to focus on. When Beau turned and pointed his camera at him, he found his friend with his head down, his brows firmly furrowed.
He figured Isaac wasn’t in the mood for jokes, so he swung a leg out and gave Isaac’s ankle a gentle tap with his toe. Immediately, Isaac’s attention was on him, where he hid safely behind the viewfinder.
“Channel 6 is empty. If you wanna talk, just you and me, flash your torch into a camera and I’ll switch onto it.”
He watched, through the camera, as Isaac’s expression subtly stirred. He was still technically frowning, but the crease between his brows lessened and his eyes softened for a moment, before he averted his gaze back to the equipment in front of him.
“Before Adelaide so rudely interrupted me…” Isaac began poking around the equipment again, eventually finding and picking up a stray mic pack. “Mark’s checking audio, and said you’re not wired up yet. Here.”
Beau froze as Isaac turned back to him and held up the microphone wire and its battery pack. He opened his mouth to speak, but Isaac’s impatience interrupted him.
“Come on, get that thing out of my face already.”
Beau slowly lowered the camera as he was told. Without the barrier between them, Isaac immediately stepped forward and started attaching the battery pack to Beau’s work belt. The roadie froze, looking down at Isaac shyly as his co-star secured it to him.
“My own mic, huh?” Beau mumbled, which caught Isaac’s attention. His frown lessened even more when he saw the nervousness on Beau’s face. “Don’t worry,” Beau quickly added. “It’s more exciting than scary, I just...”
Isaac’s mouth pinched into a smile, only for a second, before he was sternly focusing on his task again. He grabbed the bottom hem of Beau’s shirt, paused, then dropped the fabric and held the microphone wire out for Beau to take.
Beau barely managed to control his shaky exhale as Isaac’s fingers brushed his hip, then swallowed a thick lump in his throat.
Was he about to…?
The thought of Isaac’s hands running up his chest as he threaded the cable through his clothes sent a chill down his spine.
He quickly set the camera down so he could take the tiny microphone clip in one hand, the other grabbing his shirt where Isaac had just pulled it. He tugged it away from himself and reached his hand up underneath it, starting to feed the microphone cable up to his neck.
His eyes remained locked with Isaac’s all the while. His fingers fumbled as he tried to thread the cable up, shaken by his co-star’s unwavering eyes on him. Beau had expected Isaac to leave, or at the very least turn away while Beau set himself up– but Isaac just stood there, waiting, his gaze burning into the roadie’s skin and sending a flush running up his neck.
Even with Isaac watching his hands, the slight lift of his shirt around his hips left him feeling incredibly exposed. He hastened to get the end of the microphone poking out from his collar so he could pull his arm back out of his shirt and cover up properly. What must have been a second and a half of staring felt like minutes with Isaac watching him so closely, his face completely blank with no hint of its prior frustrations.
Beau exhaled slowly as he tugged his arm out and fixed the hem of his shirt. Isaac’s gaze suddenly honed in on the microphone and the task at hand, then he was leaning back in and carefully clipping the device to Beau’s clothing. He rested the heels of his palms against the roadie’s chest as he secured it, and Beau’s heart fluttered from the heat that oozed off his hands.
He blinked slowly. When his eyes opened, Isaac was looking down at the battery pack as he fumbled to switch it on. He left one hand resting against Beau’s chest, his fingers pinched around the microphone that was already secured in place, as the other slid down Beau’s hip to adjust the dials on the battery pack. Beau was sure that Isaac would be able to hear the hammering of his heart as it threw itself against his ribcage, invigorated by both excitement and panic from his co-star offering him such closeness.
His microphone turned on with a single short beep, then Isaac was standing away from him again, poking around the table of equipment like the last twenty seconds had been but a dream. Beau cleared his throat, hoping it would ground them both as he scooped his camera back up and hoisted it onto his shoulder. Isaac paid him no mind, and instead continued arranging their equipment on the table.
Beau turned away without even remembering to say thanks, and lifted his handheld camera to his eye. Back to the job, he told himself. Back to focusing, to setting up for the night, and only thinking about information that mattered and problems he could solve.
But, his chest ached when the camera’s overlay of film settings slowly turned to garbled mush in his mind. He turned back around, scanning the camera around the room until it landed on their base of operations, where Isaac stood quietly organising their gear.
No matter how badly he wanted to throw himself into his work today, no matter how badly he wanted to create space between them and stop thinking so much, Isaac was the only clear thing in his mind.