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The New Guy

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Sebastian should’ve known he was going to get in trouble showing up to Viola’s place to surprise them. But he was bored. And he also didn’t like the way Antonio implied he wouldn’t know how to behave in a place like Illyria, so he had to prove him wrong. But it was weird that Antonio couldn’t go with him. That's what he usually did when he thought Sebastian was doing something he shouldn't. This time, however, he said he’d got in a fight once with some guys there a few years ago, and didn't think showing up in Illyria was a good idea.

“I’m sure they forgot about it by now,” he tried.

“I’d rather not risk it. Just call Viola, and tell them to meet us somewhere else. We’ll go to the beach, it’s a nicer view, anyway,” Antonio insisted, in the other direction.

“But I wanna see Viola’s face when I just show up at their place.”

Antonio still looked at him like it was a terrible idea, but just said: “Be careful.”

“I will be,” he promised.

Seward had texted him a map, explaining how to get to Viola’s, and reminded him the houses had no numbers. Sebastian was confident he could make it. But he didn’t expect so many alleys would go up from the main street, so he had to make sure he got the right one, and kept checking on his phone.

“Hey, Sweetie,” a voice called from above Sebastian’s head. He looked up to find a guy sitting on a rooftop, and smiling at him with heavy lidded, red eyes.

“How you’re doing?” Sebastian replied, trying to pretend he wasn’t wondering where the guy had come from.

“Aren’t you going to party tonight?” Sebastian shrugged. “Want some hash?” The guy offered him the huge joint he was blazing. He saw no harm in that, and accepted it.

Sebastian had miscalculated how strong the stuff was, used to the shitty kind he had to go through so much trouble to get back in his hometown. He was very high when two loud guys, wearing matching, sparkling white sneakers came down from an alley towards what looked like his direction. “Hey, Sweetie,” they both said, nodding to him. “Hey, Monkey,” one of them spoke to the guy who had offered Sebastian a smoke, “things are getting crazy up there, we’re just gonna chill out here for a little bit, ok?”

“Sure. Pass on the hash, Sweetie,” he told Sebastian. And to his friends: “What’s going on up there?” One of the guys snorted. “Feste’s going insane.” The other one just nodded along. “It’s all 'the flowers' this, and 'don’t touch it' that, and now he’s just threatening to kill everybody.”

Monkey laughed, and Sebastian was really confused. “I should go,” he said. “See you at the party,” the guy named Monkey told him.

He didn’t know what party the guy was talking about, but he was pretty sure that was the right alley to get to Viola’s. So he looked at his phone again, and was checking the map, just to be sure before he went any further. He had only taken two steps, when he heard the guys calling him back. “Hey, Sweetie, hold on.”

Sebastian thought it weird that those guys would call him that and not ask his name, but he was too high to manage a complaint. The two guys wearing matching sneakers ran to him. “Feste needs you up there.”

“What?” Sebastian just stared at him in confusion.

“He says he’ll make it worth your time,” the guy went on, as the other stopped a biker who was coming downhill. “Take Sweetie to Feste,” he told the biker, who wore a t-shirt with a tuxedo motif on it.

“No, wait, I have to see Viola, I can’t just--” Sebastian’s protests were interrupted by the guy telling him: “Yeah, yeah, tell that to Feste.” He gave Sebastian’s shoulder a push, directing him towards the bike.

He hopped on, mostly to get rid of the guy. “What’s going on?” Sebastian asked the man on the bike. “Someone bailed on him, I guess.” The answer explained nothing, and he was so high that even though he wanted to focus, the wind in his ears during the bike ride was too distracting. By the time the guy stopped the bike, Sebastian couldn’t remember why they were there in the first place. “There you are,” the guy said, and as soon as Sebastian hopped off, he left.

There was a mansion in front of him, taller than the walls around it. Before those walls, some guys were having tequila shots, and making toasts. One of them locked eyes with Sebastian, and beckoned him over. “Come do a shot with us.”

Once he was there, Sebastian noticed they all had automatic weapons, and that was enough to make him terrified. Antonio was right. He’d been in that place for only a few minutes, and already things didn’t look good. But he tried to act cool, so when the guys handed him a drink, he drank it.

“You should go inside. Feste’s about to have a fit,” one of the guys advised him.

“You’re not exactly making me crazy about going in.” The others laughed, to Sebastian’s delight. “Seriously, I have no idea what’s going on.”

“It looks like everything is going on,” one said. “And not very well, by the sound of it,” another one completed. Sebastian remained confused, but the guys insisted: “You better go.” And Sebastian wasn’t about to argue with armed people.

He crossed the gate and climbed up some stone steps that took him to the front door of the mansion, which was open, so he went inside. There was no one in the room, but he could hear people somewhere further in, so he crossed the hallway, and found a staircase that let him see the room it led down to. That was where all the voices were coming from.

The room was full of well dressed people preparing for something. Sebastian had no idea what he was doing there. He just wanted to leave, but there were those armed guys outside, so he stood there, wondering if he would be noticed. The answer was yes.

A skinny woman wearing a purple dress that matched her hair and nails, walked up to him. She grabbed him by the hand, and started steering him away. “Finally!” she said, in a baritone voice that threw him off-balance. “Look, we don’t have much time. I know you didn’t get to rehearse or anything, but this is an emergency. My guitar guy bailed on me at the last minute. I can’t play and make sure things run smoothly at the same time. So I need you to do me a solid here. I know you don’t have any reason to do me favors, but I’ll pay whatever. Just go there, and play with the guys, all right?”

Sebastian had no time to speak. She had dragged him though a backyard full of chairs wearing white coverings, all facing a flower arch that screamed "wedding". At least now he knew one thing that was going on. The woman shoved him on a chair, and handed him a guitar.

“Thank you,” she said, before he could say anything.

“No, wait, I can’t play the guitar,” he explained.

“Don’t fuck with me, Cesario!” she roared at him. “I’m this close to losing my cool!”

Sebastian was scared by the fury in her eyes, and went quiet. He exchanged a look with the guy who had a flute, and the one with an ukulele. “I haven’t played in ages,” he confessed. “I only know, like, five songs.” They made a face.

“Feste must be really desperate,” the flute guy muttered. Sebastian had to agree.

He tried to read the music sheet, but if he hadn’t played in over a year, he hadn’t studied music since he was fourteen. It was a real struggle.

“You’re here,” said a man standing before him. Sebastian looked up to find a guy smiling a lot at him. “Yeah?” he said, wondering at the over friendly smile. “Where’s Olivia?” the man asked.

“I don’t even know why I’m here.”

The guy looked worried. “Then who’s going to get Olivia here?”

“Why you're asking me?”

“For god’s sake!” the man complained, turning around and leaving.

*

Antonio couldn’t stay behind. He tried, but he couldn’t shake off the feeling that Sebastian might get himself in trouble and need help.

He went to Illyria, and found the place a lot quieter than he remembered it. Antonio hoped Sebastian was right, maybe no one in Illyria remembered his face. After all, he had a beard now. He took a leisure stroll along the main street, trying to see who was on lookout, but he didn’t see any familiar faces. It was a relief in the sense that no one around knew who he was, either, but it also meant he was going to have to look more closely to find Sebastian.

Texting him was proving useless, the same for calls, so he tried a more traditional method. The sign outside the bar said Snout’s, but there was no proof the man behind the counter went by that name. He ordered a beer, and asked the man for his name. “The name’s Tom. Anything else I can get you?”

“Actually, maybe you can help me. Do you know Cesario?” He had a picture on his phone. The man nodded. “Do you know where he lives?” Tom made a face like he had sucked on lime, and shook his head. Antonio wasn’t entirely convinced. Someone who worked in such a privileged spot, probably knew everything that went on in Illyria. “I’m not really looking for Cesario, you see. My friend Sebastian is their twin brother, and he came here to see them, but now he’s not answering his phone, and I need to talk to him.”

Tom nodded again. “I think I know someone who can help.” He went to the door, and shouted to the street: “Yo, Big Hair!” A tall kid with bleached hair in cornrows, and amber eyes came to the bartender. “Antonio here is looking for Cesario’s twin brother.”

“Sweetie has a brother?” the kid said, surprised. He eyed Antonio up and down. “What do you want from him?”

Antonio had to concentrate hard in order not to lose his patience. “I work with him, and need to ask him to help me with something.”

“Fine, I’ll walk you there,” Big Hair said, sounding mildly inconvenienced by it. Antonio paid for the beer and followed the boy. “It’s right around the corner,” he said, as they left the bar.

“Why do they call you Big Hair?” Antonio asked, to fill the silence.

The kid huffed. “It’s Feste’s fault. When the fucker gives you a nickname, it sticks.” Antonio nodded. “Sure.” He had no idea who the guy was talking about in particular, but everyone knew someone like that.

“That one, with the thorny bush, over there,” Big Hair pointed out.

“Thanks, man.”

Antonio made the last few steps to the house, and knocked on the door. A skinny fellow with big eyes answered it. “Is Cesario home?”

“You just missed him. He went to the wedding,” he said, pointing uphill.

He didn’t know about any wedding, but it shouldn’t be difficult to find it. “How do I get there?”

“Just get a bike. They’re wearing tuxedo t-shirts today,” the man added, like it was the height of humor. Antonio thanked him, and left.

A few steps uphill, and a fat guy wearing a gold chain around his neck, came to him. “Coke?” he offered. “No, thanks.” “Weed? Hash?” Antonio kept walking, but the guy just followed him, insisting. “I got poppers, I got E, just tell me what you like.”

“I'm just trying to get to the wedding.”

“Running a little late. You're the bride?” the guy teased. "I don't know if I should tell you that on your wedding day, but you're the uggliest woman I've ever seen."

Antonio had to laugh. He hadn't set foot in Illyria in over two years, but it sounded like that kind of joke was still trending around there. He kept going, and the guy went after him.

“If you're looking for Midnight, you're not going to find him.” When he heard those words, he turned around, worried, to make sure he hadn’t imagined it. The fat man was smiling. The alley was so narrow where they stood, the guy’s frame blocked the way.

Nowhere to run, he realized. That’s when Antonio felt the cold, blood curdling sensation of a gun touching the back of his head.

*

Orsino was more than a little annoyed that Cesario didn’t bother with thinking how Olivia would get to the hilltop. He understood that Feste had yanked them there before they were ready, which was enerving, he knew from experience, but it was no excuse to leave Olivia alone, waiting on the main street. When he got there, however, he saw Olivia across the street, accompanied by Cesario, who was ready for the party.

His head hurt for a second. It made no sense. He had just seen them at Toby’s. How come they got there first? “I thought we were meeting up there,” Cesario said, after the two of them had crossed the street.

“What’s going on?” Olivia asked him, noticing his confusion.

“Didn’t I just see you there? How did you get here so fast?”

“What are you talking about?” Cesario looked confused.

“I asked you ‘where’s Olivia?’ you said ‘why you're asking me?’ Didn’t Feste make you play at the ceremony?”

“Are you high?”

Orsino crossed his arms, angry at the accusation. “I know I saw you at Toby’s. I spoke to you. How did you get here so fast?”

“I wasn’t at Toby’s,” Cesario denied, their confusion also turning into anger. Until, that is, a thought whose shadow could be seen in their eyes, crossed their mind. “Is Sebastian here?”

“Why would your brother be at Toby’s?” Olivia asked.

“Because he’s an idiot!” they shouted, while waving a bike over. They hopped on it in a hurry, leaving them behind.

“Didn't they say we were meeting Sebastian tomorrow?” Olivia asked him. Orsino shrugged. “I’m just relieved it wasn’t a glitch in the Matrix.”

They each got on a bike, and were taken to the hilltop, where they arrived in time to see Cesario loudly excusing themself and pushing their way through the narrow gate, which was easy to defend for the same reason it was inconvenient in a party: it only fit one at a time.

It took them a few minutes to get inside with the rest of the crowd, but Orsino could hear very clearly Cesario shouting for their brother. They were in time to see Feste yell at both twins: “No more drama!” They guided Sebastian away, with a hand on his shoulder.

“We should keep him company,” Olivia decided, pulling him along by the hand. “Sebastian will sit with us,” she told Feste.

“Yeah, I’ll sit with them,” he said, taking the opportunity to escape Feste's grip. "Do I know you?" he asked the two of them, once Feste was out of earshot.

They introduced themselves. “I’m sorry about the mix-up earlier, I didn’t even think you might be here, I thought you were Cesario,” Orsino added.

“I am a Cesario, just not the one you thought.” Orsino, who believed “Cesario” was a first name, didn’t understand what he meant, but Olivia nodded.

They took their seats while they could, as the place got even more full. Cesario played with the other musicians, and Orsino would never have guessed they hadn’t rehearsed.

Big Titania took her place under the flower arch. Toby was next. There was even a cute, little kid in a tux, spreading petals along the aisle. There was a lot of whistling, and laughing, when Feste and Andrew walked the aisle together, but that was the reaction they were going for. Soon after, a new song began, and Maria made her entrance.

*

Cold sweat formed on his brow. He stopped his hands in the air. "I'm not going to try anything," he promised.

"You better not," said the man behind him.

"You thought we wouldn't know your face?" said the one in front of him.

"I don't want any trouble," he said, but what really went through his mind was that he couldn't believe that's how he was going to die.

Both men laughed at him. "You're trying to crash Toby's wedding, but you don't want trouble?" the guy behind him said, his tone making clear he thought it was a terrible lie.

"Look," Antonio resumed, concentrating on keeping his voice under control, "I'm not here to crash his wedding. I just need to find my friends and then I'll leave. I really don't want any trouble."

"Then you should've stayed away."

Antonio couldn't run, and in that terrain, he couldn't fight, either. But he wasn't going to just let it happen. So he had to bullshit his way out of that.

"Come on, today is not about old grudges. Just let me go, I'll be out of here in no time."

His hopes jumped up when the guy in front of him looked at the one behind him, and said: "Maria is not going to thank us, if we cause trouble today."

But Antonio's hopes only lasted until the guy behind him argued: "So? Let's just take him to the woods. No one needs to know."

When he heard that, he knew he was going to die either way. He had to think of something fast. If they were taking him to the woods, there would be a chance to escape.

"Take him to the woods? You think I'm going through all this trouble?" the guy in front of him argued. There was hope again.

"What? It's going to be fun," the one behind Antonio insisted, and It sounded like he meant it.

"Stop talking shit. You sound crazy!" the one in front of him said. "I'm getting Beast here." He pulled out his radio, and called.

"Hey! Put that down!" the creep behind him protested. "We're doing this my way!"

"Your way is crazy! Hey, Beast," he spoke to his radio.

That's when the angry guy behind him lost it, and pushed Antonio out of the way to attack his own friend. He ran.

He ran uphill, through a labyrinth of narrow alleys. He kept going up even after losing them. He wasn't sure they had actually chased him, or stayed behind fighting each other, but he knew no one was following him at that point. He had to keep going, that was all.

His head was dizzy, so he rested his back against the wall, and brushed the sweat off his forehead. He had to leave that place. But not without Sebastian. So started moving uphill again, sure that Sebastian would be wherever his twin was. Who else he might find there, it didn't matter.

*

They left the guitar on the chair, and ran to Olivia and Orsino, and to Sebastian, as soon as the last song was over. Feste had already started with their music by the time they managed to navigate through the crowd and get to them. It was like people had multiplied suddenly when the waiters showed up, serving champagne.

Now they knew Sebastian wasn’t going to ruin Maria’s wedding, Cesario hugged their twin instead of pushing him out of the way. “I thought you said you’d arrive tomorrow.”

“I wanted to surprise you, things just got a little out of hand,” Sebastian explained, still in their arms.

Orsino got them four glasses from a waiter, and handed them over. “We should make a toast,” Olivia suggested. “To Toby and Maria,” Orsino said, automatically. “And to meeting Sebastian,” she added.

“And to Viola, who rescued me,” Sebastian reminded them.

They were about to drink, when Orsino asked: “Who’s Viola?” The question surprised them so much, that they had to laugh, and then raise their hand, as in a roll call. “But I like being called Cesario,” they told him, so Orsino wouldn’t start calling them that.

Their little private toast was nothing compared to the many speeches made in honor of the bride and groom. Feste was the first, talking about how they wanted to officiate the wedding but Maria wouldn’t let them. Cesario chuckled, reminded of that occasion.

That's when a stranger with a very worried face placed a hand on their shoulder. "There you are." He sighed, as if relieved, but Cesario just backed off in confusion.

Sebastian cleared things up by saying "Antonio, you're here!" and rushing to his side. "This is Antonio," he told his twin.

"We have to go," he told Sebastian, his tone urgent.

"Don't go yet," Cesario asked, "I know this place is a little weird, but the party has just started."

"No, I really have to go," Antonio insisted, without ever relaxing.

"Why? What's going on?" Sebastian asked him.

"No time to explain. We have to go."

"But where are you two going?" Cesario asked, disappointed their time together was being cut short.

"Anywhere else. You guys want to come?"

Cesario looked at Olivia and Orsino, hoping they would be ok with leaving the party to follow Sebastian and Antonio anywhere other than Illyria, for some reason. Orsino shrugged, Olivia looked a little disappointed for a second, but then followed Orsino in his shrug, suggesting: "How about Bohemian Alley?"

They navigated the crowd to get to the gate. "Leaving already?" one of the soldiers commented. Cesario just smiled in response.

"That's him!" Tie-dye said, coming towards the group.

"Fuck!" Antonio cursed.

"What's going on?" Orsino asked him.

But Antonio didn't have the time to say anything. Tie-dye walked up to him, and pointed his gun at him.

The group went silent with shock, but the soldiers were immune to it. "What the fuck are you doing, Tie-dye?"

Cesario knew they had no way to stop Tie-dye, but they hoped there was someone else with enough persuasion to do so. They took a few steps backwards, and when no one noticed it, they kept going, until they were back in the party.

It wasn't hard to spot Feste, so Cesario ran to them and dragged them out, explaining only that they needed help with Tie-dye. As soon as they were both outside, Feste saw what the problem was, and ran to the center of it.

"What the fuck do you think you're doing?" they shouted at the guy. Tie-dye had no time to answer. "Do you want to ruin everyone's night? Maria's going to kill you herself."

His confidence faltered for a second, but he recomposed his face, holding onto anger. "This is the guy who broke Midnight's nose!" he accused.

The soldiers laughed. "Was that you?" one asked directly to Antonio, who nodded, confirming it.

"So what?" Feste shouted some more, unconvinced by his argument. "You want to take revenge for him? That's not how this works."

"Lady Feste has a point there," one of the soldiers commented, looking directly at Tie-dye.

"Shut up!" he yelled at the man, who didn't have any patience for that.

"Who you're telling to shut up?" He pointed his automatic rifle to Tie-dye, whose pistol looked like a toy next to that.

"Not you, too!" Feste yelled. "Put those guns down!" But they didn't listen, and kept staring at each other.

"Are you two out of your minds?" a deep voice boomed from the gate. Everyone turned to find Beast looking beyond pissed. "Put those down now!"

Cesario was scared, and Beast wasn't even talking to him. The guys put their weapons down, looking guilty, but not sorry.

"What's going on here?"

"That's a very good question," Toby said, loudly, coming out of the house.

"What's happening out here that's more interesting than my wedding?" Maria asked, coming right behind Toby, looking furious.

Tie-dye went to them, and accused Antonio once more. They looked at him, and Cesario, who stood close by, took the opportunity to plead: “Please don’t hurt him, he’s our friend.”

“There’s two of you?” asked Andrew, who had come outside after them, like most of the party. That prompted the others to look their way again, finally noticing it.

“Yeah, yeah, they’re twins!” Feste said impatiently. “Can we put an end to this hostage situation? We have a wedding reception to get on with.”

“I don’t know why it started in the first place,” Toby said.

“This guy broke Midnight’s nose at Fabian’s,” Tie-dye repeated the accusation.

“What’s your deal with Midnight, anyway?” Toby addressed Antonio, walking up to him.

“The guy sold me a fucked up gun. It didn’t fire. I could have died.” Toby’s nod suggested he saw Antonio’s point. “He said he wouldn’t give me my money back, I just did what anyone would do.”

“Oh! I remember that. It was the gun that didn't fire at you,” Andrew reminded Toby, like he thought it was hilarious.

Maria wasn’t in such a good mood. “How is that our problem?” she yelled at the Tie-dye, who was quickly growing less confident.

“We take our people’s side, don’t we?” he tried to argue.

“Not when they screw people over!” Maria yelled at him, in exasperation.

“And Midnight isn’t one of us anymore,” Toby reminded him.

“You know what? You’re on lookout duty for the rest of the night. Get out!” Maria told him. “I’m so sorry about this,” she told Antonio.

“Here, have some champagne,” Toby added, handing him two glasses he took from a waiter that stood by, watching the scene like everyone else. "Now let's go back to the party!" he addressed the crowd, who cheered.

The guests followed Toby back inside, except for the five of them. They were all more than ready to leave Illyria.