Mitch’s mood brightened when Basil’s firey hair came into view, and behind him trailed Darius with an armload of drumming equipment.
“Hey there, champ,” Basil greeted, and Mitch leapt onto his feet. Finally, people that weren’t potential witnesses to his shame. He went to offer a hug, but was admonished before he could get so far. “Nuh-uh, surgery.”
“Right.” Mitch backed off.
“Y’all really going full slasher film, huh?” Darius commented as he looked around at the decor. Mitch relieved him of his burden and placed the equipment down on the stage, then proceeded to give them both a tour of the campground. Introductions were exchanged every few steps taken when they bumped into someone new. Jodie spotted them and squealed in delight.
For Mitch, this reunion was two years in the making, but for Jodie it was much longer. She asked Darius for updates on his family and gushed over Basil’s transition; unbeknownst to Mitch, Jodie actually had some knowledge of it beforehand.
“I reached out to her a while ago for advice,” Basil explained once she left. “It wasn’t something I could go to you about.”
He maintained that he wasn’t upset over it, but the wording nagged at him. At the time, he was in the thick of his own awful life decisions, and more often than not people kept things from him. But the reminders stung a little.
When Jodie transitioned, she informed Mitch of every step, every tiny detail. And Basil didn’t owe him any information, he wasn’t Jodie, but the rift that formed between them over the last few years rivaled the Grand Canyon. At one point they’d been inseparable: former co-workers and roommates, bandmates and friends. Practically family. So in the time between setting up and rehearsal, Mitch found the courage to push forward with bridging this gap. He asked questions -nothing too intrusive- but things like how Basil settled on that name and how he felt now versus a few years back. Basil enthusiastically answered each one, rambling as he did when a topic struck his fancy. He and Mitch shared that trait, and reliving it now was like being transported back in time to a late night conversation at a greasy diner, or sharing a cigarette on the fire escape before sunrise.
“Y’know,” Basil plucked at a bass string, sending low vibrations throughout the building as they echoed through the amplifiers. “You don’t have to feign interest for my sake.”
“I’m not,” Mitch swore up and down, and swallowed his pride a little more. “I missed you. Missed this. Honest. Wish I was there to support you when you were first going through it.”
“Well, you’re here now. And maybe that matters more,” Basil sighed fondly. “We both killed the part of ourselves that was killing us. That ain’t nothing.”
“Yeah,” Mitch nodded, not quite getting it, but understood the general vibe of the words. He had a few seconds to mull it over before his thoughts were interrupted by a heavy hand on his shoulder; between the both of them crouched Darius.
“How long you been there?” asked Basil, eying him with suspicion.
“Long enough to hear you get emotional,” Darius teased, earning him a few guitar picks to the face.