The bakery that Avi picked was in the next town over, a darling little place both rustic and eclectic, the type of venue that Mitch played countless acoustic sets at. “I thought you might like it,” Avi mentioned with the duck of his head once they set foot inside.
“It’s nice,” Mitch nodded, not lying but also not being entirely honest. His preferred scenes had more emphasis on grunge and noise and less on the earthy and/or crunchy vibes, but that was also a part of his life that he couldn’t partake in anymore. So this was acceptable, leagues better than the cafes and breweries that were sterile like Apple stores. It tracked that Avi would associate Mitch with this, since he wasn’t around during the wilder years.
So all things considered, it was very thoughtful.
When Avi breathed a sigh of relief, Mitch unclenched at last. God, he couldn’t continue the pity party, could he? Not when a minor misstep obviously threatened to be the undoing of this poor man. “Are you still upset with yourself?” he asked.
“Yes!” Avi threw his arms up, drawing the attention of the staff behind the register; he shrunk back upon realization of the scene that he inadvertently made. Mitch barked out a laugh, then suppressed his outward amusement upon sensing the outright mortification which Avi radiated. Thankfully they had the entire place to themselves, which was a small mercy for his dignity.
“You shouldn’t.” Mitch spoke in a hushed tone to keep prying ears at bay, otherwise neither of them would come out of this with their egos unscathed. But Avi’s bottom lip stuck out as if remained unconvinced, which meant it had to be addressed soon. Just not right at that exact moment.
To bypass further discussion until they had some privacy, Mitch approached the counter and chose the first thing that he saw on the overhead menu, a breakfast sandwich with arugula and a type of aioli. Whatever, it’d probably be delicious. He gestured for Avi to come over, who then proceeded to order what may as well be half of the menu. Given his mass, no one appeared confused by this. Mitch didn’t say anything, but when he went to pull out his card, Avi stopped him.
“You can foot the bill next time,” said Avi, and Mitch put up no resistance. Grabbing a seat in the far corner of the dining room, Mitch propped his elbows on the table while Avi tore at the corners of a napkin. “I feel awful, though. I didn’t mean-”
“I know, Avi. It’s OK, really. Seriously, that’s not the worst thing that anyone’s said about me. Jodie calls me ‘a fucking whore’, along with several different slurs about a half a dozen times a day. You’re not doing hatecrimes by saying that I’m a slut or that I have bad taste.” Avi’s head shot up and his jaw dropped, his cheeks becoming more ruddy with each word that exited Mitch’s mouth.
“That’s not what I meant,” he hoarsely whispered as he grasped the edges of the table so tightly that his knuckles went white. It beat the hang dog expression that Mitch was the recipient of for the last half hour, so he leaned back and folded his arms across his chest, eying Avi appraisingly. Either he’d gone far enough with this and needed to cut some slack because Avi was too gentle to handle a little friction; alternatively the guy had a praise kink which he needed to sort out on his own.
“Let’s drop it, alright? You’re sorry, I forgive you, we’re cool. The world keeps turning the same as it ever did. There’s no need to martyr yourself here, sweetheart. Not on my behalf.” The term of endearment slipped in there, in the same way it would if he was having this conversation with Jodie or Louis, so he opted to play it cool. Avi said nothing, but nodded and stared off to the side.
Still, even with the expostulation, things remained a bit sideways. Their food came out -Avi’s order taking up the majority of the space on the table and provoking more apologies from him- they didn’t talk, instead strictly focusing on getting through the meal without further incident. Sometimes Mitch reached into his pocket and discreetly fidgeted with the seaglass so that he didn’t snap; the last 24 hours had been rough on both of them, and he didn’t want to shoulder anything heavier while his paper mache heart patched up. Because the more that he faced this, the more he knew that he was being robbed of the option to bury it and move on.
After finishing, Avi ordered a bunch of donuts and pastries to go, which Mitch did pay for despite the resistance. He’d gone so far as to snatch Avi’s credit card right out of his and held it hostage, raising it high above his head and out of reach until Avi begrudgingly yielded.
It earned Mitch a hard laugh, even though he’d made an ass of himself in the process. Still, he was pleased with his efforts.