“Look at that,” came Avi’s voice from the doorway, not a whisper but quiet enough to not disturb the scene. Mitch stirred from his nap and his eyes fluttered open. Rolling the back of his head against the arm of the couch, he faced Avi, whose eyes crinkled at the corners and lips curved upwards ever so slightly. Caught entirely off guard by the attention, Mitch’s chest clenched, an unfathomable pressure forming cracks of concern like fissures in the earth.
“Ready to see the family?” Mitch asked. Avi ran a hand down his beard, as he always did when he needed to buy time.
“Yeah,” he nodded at last, his voice gruff.
“Don’t sound too convincing,” Mitch stated. At some point they’d reached a level of candidness with one another, and this nature of observation no longer felt intrusive.
Avi shrugged. “Traveling across the country this time of year is stressful, y’know?”
“You could always ditch them and hang out with me.” It was a joke, a mere joke. Mitch laughed to drive home the nature of this, nothing more than a joke.
“God, maybe,” Avi closed his eyes and broke into a smile, the response doing something rancid to Mitch’s guts. Countering this treachery, he reminded himself that Nate would be by in a few days. Without another soul around to worry about, they could get loud, and the very idea got him half-hard.
But the thought dispelled when Avi asked, “What about you? Are you gonna be alone?”
“My uncle and aunt are visiting family in Valence, and after all this time I still haven’t built up the fortitude to see my mother. So, yes.” Mitch snorted when this answer earned him a frown. “I’ll manage, I promise.”
“Don’t be. I get a few days to myself, blazed out of my skull. Now that’s a real holiday.”
“Fuck, maybe I actually should stay. That sounds much better than flying across the country.” Though Avi kept his tone light, his furrowed brow and the way that he rubbed one of his elbows read as if he actually considered the non-option. Mitch’s mouth went dry, unsure how to respond. Of course he wanted Avi to stay, and of course Avi staying would fuck up his original plans. Or maybe not, maybe he and Nate could just be really quiet.
He could be selfish and want to have a little bit of everything, right?
What he needed to do was ask if everything was OK. Instead, he changed the subject. “Oh. By the way, I got the job.”
“You did?” Avi lit up. “Well shit, we gotta celebrate.”
“It’s really not that big of a deal.” So much for the original plan, his brain supplied while dealing a healthy dose of self-flagellation. “Can you not tell anyone, though? I still gotta actually do a show. After that…” he trailed off.
“Celebration?” Avi’s eyebrows waggled.
“For a part time job?” Mitch’s voice elevated, startling Estrella. Her claws sunk into his skin as she launched off and skittered away, and he rubbed his chest. “Maybe. I dunno. Hey, don’t you have a plane to catch?”
“Yeah, yeah,” Avi dismissed, but turned on his heel and slowly ascended the staircase. “Still considering staying”. The words echoed in the stairwell.
“Maybe you should,” Mitch muttered under his breath.