Watching the two of them converse for a bit, Mitch conspired about how he could slip away unnoticed. Were the temperature not sweltering, he may have waited it out in the car until Avi had moved on. What were the fucking chances that he’d show up just after they did!
Mitch slammed the back of his head against the headrest and ran a hand through his hair, which already accumulated beads of sweat. Nearly 30 years on this planet and he still hadn’t mastered the basics of social interaction.
Avi wasn’t intimidating per se, although yes, the list of his accolades were vast and enviable. They just…hadn’t talked much yet, despite living under the same roof for the past few days, which Mitch knew was weird. In the back of his mind, he still operated under the delusion that he’d be going home any day now, to recuperate in peace; under that premise, this wasn’t someone that he needed to get too familiar until much later, possibly never. Or at least, over time, when they’d maybe interact at the school or at shows! Gradually! Not all at once!
Except, for the foreseeable future, Jodie’s house was home. And Avi was certainly affable, leaving Mitch with no sane reason to continue to avoid him other than an unhealthy fear of new people.
Mitch inhaled, then exhaled, reminded himself to not be shitty, and left the safe haven of the car. Since the discussion remained steadfast, Jodie animated as usual and Avi smiling and nodding along (his teeth surprisingly white and even, odd for a wrestler, maybe they were fake?), Mitch held onto the hope that his presence would go unnoticed.
But then a cheerful “Hey man!” from Avi dashed those hopes entirely, and Mitch swallowed hard.
“Oh, hi,” he forced himself to make eye contact and willed the corners of his mouth upwards, anything to appear normal, thoughts screaming the entire time ‘don’t be shitty don’t be shitty don’tbeshitty’. Counting down the seconds, he waited until 7 or 8 had passed before turning to Jodie. “Pop the trunk?”
Her eyebrows knit, replacing the horribly deranged expression brought on by the pleasure she was getting out of Mitch’s discomfort. “Oh, right.” She pressed a button on the key, and the trunk door unlatched. After grabbing a few bags, Mitch instinctively recoiled when a hand gently brushed against his sleeve.
“Want some help with those?” came Avi’s voice from behind him. Before Mitch could decline the offer, -he wasn’t an invalid, after all- Jodie answered on his behalf.
“That’d be great!” She chimed in, and Mitch deflated a little.
“Yeah, thanks,” he mustered as much sincerity as possible, agitated with himself for taking everything so personally. Judging by the elbow pressed to his ribs once Avi’s back was turned, he wasn’t the only one that felt that way.
“You’re being a bitch,” Jodie growled in Mitch’s ear.
“Yeah, I know,” Mitch whispered back. “I’m sorry.”
“OK well…stop it,” she firmly stated, not a request but a demand. Though he was tempted to explain his headspace, it’d only serve as further lamenting. And really, who wanted to participate in that extended pity party?
Not him. He was so sick of his own shit.
Instead, he broke away from Jodie and hurried to catch up to Avi, who held the front door open.
“After you,” Avi gestured.
“Uh, you didn’t have to do that,” Mitch hesitated before stepping through the doorway, catching sight of several tote bags in Avi’s grasp that definitely didn’t belong to Jodie, making the guilt even stronger.
“It’s called manners, Mitch. Get some,” Jodie quipped as she brushed past them both.
“I have some! And look who’s talking, baby girl!” Mitch indignantly snapped back, then looked helplessly at Avi; Avi, meanwhile, stood there with crinkled eyes and puffed cheeks and his mouth formed a tight line, struggling to hold back a laugh. At least someone was amused by this fucking buffoonery. “I promise, I totally have manners. Thank you for getting the door and the groceries. And dealing with…all of this.”
“You’re very welcome,” grinned Avi, and Mitch mirrored the expression back at him; he was oblivious that he’d been so unguarded until well after they went inside, and he could feel that the muscles of his face had stretched.