Overnight bag in hand, Mitch pushed open the lobby door and stopped to fill out the self check-in sheet that was kept behind the reception desk. He then rounded the corner into the hall that led to the training area, and almost collided with Avi.
“Oh shit! Hey there,” Avi jumped back and put his hand to his bare chest. His skin was covered in a sheen of sweat, and a towel was around his shoulders. “You scared me.”
“Yeah, sorry,” Mitch yelped, his heart about to leap from his chest and exit through his throat. They both giggled for a few seconds, and Mitch’s eyes drifted to what Avi was staring at before he interrupted. It was the corkboard with flyers posted to it for various events and news, as well as miscellaneous notifications from Jodie and Victor. There was a new piece of paper that must have been tacked up within the last day, an advertisement for the unplugged show that Mitch was scheduled to perform at. He dug the fluorescent green paper choice and the punk rock DIY Xerox aesthetic that presumably Jodie put together. His name wasn’t on it, and he breathed a sigh of relief.
“Jodie said you’ll be playing at that,” Avi spoke up, and Mitch deflated. Of course she did.
“That’s the rumor,” Mitch chuckled nervously.
“I can’t wait, man.” Avi was so cheerful, and Mitch was terribly envious of this quality. Where did he get a constant supply of energy to be like that?
“Well it’s…I mean, it isn’t a big deal,” shrugged Mitch. “And it’s on a Monday night, I’m sure you’ll be beat from traveling and shows over the weekend, right?”
“Eh, that doesn’t matter,” he grinned, and Mitch wanted to scream. “Gotta support my bro, y’know?”
“Avi, you don’t have to. It’s-” Mitch forgot how to speak when he saw the way that Avi’s entire disposition changed within an instant. He was frowning as if he’d been wounded.
“Did…did I do something wrong? Are you mad at me?” Avi quietly asked, his brow now furrowed.
“No, it’s not you,” Mitch attempted to assure, but could see that the conviction was lacking when Avi stared at him. He took a deep breath. “Avi, I’m dealing with stuff, OK?”
“But I’m here for you,” Avi lightly touched his arm, and Mitch struggled between wrenching away and reaching up to hold the hand in place. Pathetic. So he did nothing, made no moves, and yet his body still acted of its own accord and trembled. Avi continued, this time with urgency, “You know that, right? You’re not alone, Mitch.”
“That isn’t what I need right now,” Mitch said far more bluntly than intended, then scrubbed a hand down his face when Avi went wide eyed in surprise. “I need space. It isn’t just you, it’s. It’s everyone, Avi. I’m sorry, I appreciate you, I just-”
“Sure,” Avi nodded, still appearing unconvinced. He kept his eyes to the floor and murmured, “I’m. I’m sorry you’re going through that.”
“Thanks man,” Mitch slumped his shoulders. He waited until Avi retreated into the training area before bashing his forehead against the concrete wall.
It wasn’t fair, but what was he supposed to do? Confess everything to the very person that was the inadvertent cause of why he didn’t sleep at night anymore? Was he supposed to admit that in the dark, he stared at the adjoining wall between their rooms, silently begging for Avi to be thinking of him? To maybe stare back, to feel his presence? Was he supposed to be open about the madness he’d been inflicted with? Every waking thought, big or small, was consumed by Avi, and he couldn’t even tell him ‘I think about you constantly, even when my not-boyfriend fucks me. I don’t even imagine that he’s you, I just want to know what you’re doing right then, and I have to resist the urge to text you. Or I get your stupid theme song stuck in my head and I have to stop myself from humming it, because how would I explain that when there’s a dick inside of me? Everything revolves around you, you’re the literal sun that I’m helpless to orbit around.’.
He tore the flyer down. If he were able to have a drink he would. For a fleeting moment he entertained the idea of going to a bar, then put the thought far from his head.