Christian tells himself it isn't that big of a deal. He'd seen it coming -- they all had. They'd had a good, long run and were going out on a high note, instead of after a season full of crap episodes that might have made jumping over a shark look like brilliance.
He's drunk enough that his next thought is that he's really, really glad no one ever thought about making Eliot fight a shark. While the theory sounds pretty awesome, in reality Christian is terrified of sharks and he doesn't think he'd have escaped with his sanity intact once Aldis and Beth spent months playing pranks on him with all manner of shark toys.
He grins just a little at the thought of them planning pranks, remembering how they'd managed to fill Tim's trailer with ping pong balls while Tim was grabbing some lunch. Half an hour, tops, and they'd been ducting taping the windows closed even as Tim had been leaving his trailer then hiding across the way seconds before Tim had returned. Christian has video of the entire thing and he's pretty sure it'll be one of his most treasured artifacts from this show.
He inhales deeply as the realisation hits him all over again. It's over. They said all the usual things -- see you around, we'll work together again, keep in touch. He doesn't know if they will or they won't, though he'd work with any of them again in a heartbeat.
And he's set up just fine; he'd long since learned the wisdom of stashing your earnings away for the dry spells in-between. Besides which his music career is still there, still keeping him busy and there are always clubs and gigs he can take because he's never been too proud to play in a ten-person joint that stinks of beer and sweat and pays in bottles of Bud Light. Even when he couldn't pay rent, he could always count on getting a free drink.
None of that changes the feeling in his chest, that awful ache that started when he got the phone call, heard the words confirming the rumours that had been spreading like wildfire. He knows the fan boards are up in arms, clamoring for a renewal which won't be coming. And even then it won't be completely gone: there will be conventions for years to come, fans still eager to relive every moment of the show, and it would be easy to let himself be a part of it whenever he wants.
It isn't the same, of course. Nothing is ever the same as creating something new each week, working with people you respect and care about, putting all of yourself into something that just keeps on making people happy. He's been telling himself over and over that it's all right, that shows don't last forever and that the best you can hope for is something solid that lasts long enough you can put something in the bank. He's had all that, and been triply blessed as well to have friends and family come out of it.
He leans back against the headboard, feet on the bed while still wearing his boots despite the scowl he knows his momma is giving him from hundreds of miles away. She might not know what he's doing, but he wouldn't be surprised if her mother-radar is telling her he's doing something he shouldn't.
He ought to call her, give her the news, let her offer her condolences and good wishes, maybe even wrangle an offer to visit for awhile. He misses her cooking, and he'd love to go out to the lake and just sit awhile, let the rest of the world go away. But that isn't really what he wants, but what he wants is even farther away, all the way across an ocean.
Steve's playing a few gigs in Europe and Christian has already texted him, the second he'd gotten the word. He hasn't heard back yet, but he knows the time difference means Steve might actually be on stage right that moment. He closes his eyes and thinks about hearing Steve play, and he thinks about getting on a plane and joining him tomorrow. He doesn't know exactly where Steve is, but it wouldn't be hard to track him down, maybe even surprise him.
He's got plenty of time to do that sort of thing, now, and Christian feels that stab, again, bittersweet and aching, and he tells himself everything will work out the way it should. For now, he's letting himself grieve, a bottle of Jack on the nightstand and phone in his hand in case Steve calls. He considers getting up and putting on a CD so he can hear Steve sing, but the effort of moving is more than he wants to bother with right then. So instead he sits, drinking from the bottle and talking himself out of making morose and drunken tweets that will live in infamy and haunt him tomorrow when he's sober.
He falls asleep sitting up, not really aware of it until he's opening his eyes and it's daylight and his eyes are dry and his back is reminding him that he isn't 21 anymore. Stiffly, he shifts and thinks about standing up despite the aches in his joints and the creaks that he swears weren't there last year. He catches sight of his phone, lying on the bed beside his hand, and sees a message waiting for him. He clicks on it, and sees it's from Steve.
All it says is, I love you.
Christian smiles, texts back his reply. He pries himself off the bed, glad he's not hungover and heads off to take a shower. Maybe he'll get Aldis to tell him how they filled Tim's trailer so fast, and he can fly over and booby-trap Steve's dressing room.