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Go Where I Go, Do What I Must

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           So maybe Pedro was sulking in a corner and maybe he was wearing only dark clothes and maybe he was being generally depressing and maybe he wanted his entire existence to match his mood, but so what if he did? So what if he was a total caricature of sadness and looked like a damn cartoon character or the emo kid in whatever high school television series? At this point, he could totally believe that he was living in a television drama or some trash sitcom. This was prime time soap opera worthy stuff here because here he was, Pedro Donaldson, most popular kid in school, taken down by his own rash actions that were all actually caused by the treachery of his evil villain brother. So now he was humiliated in front of everyone, proven to be a real asshole, and on top of that he had successfully gotten his two best friends together on accident while trying to play some kind of sick joke. And he also happened to find himself in love with both of those aforementioned friends.

            Okay that last part of it still didn’t make sense. If this was a tv show, it was probably the fourth season or something, the part where the writing goes to shit and nothing really makes sense, because why on earth would Pedro Donaldson be in love with both Beatrice Duke and Benedick Hobbes.

            Pedro slumped down onto the top step of the Duke’s staircase and dragged his hands down his face. Nope, this was not happening, no, absolutely not. He couldn’t just be bisexual, he had to be in love with multiple people simultaneously who were in a relationship with each other like he was some damn stereotype. Oh this was just great this was perfect, hilarious even. Maybe this season wouldn’t be such a mess if his terrible matchmaking antics and suffering were amusing to the audience. Pedro thought about Ben and Beatrice kissing in front of everyone at the Ursula’s picnic. Yeah, his conflicted and simultaneously horrified and delighted face was definitely going to be hit with the hypothetical audience.

            “Hey Pedro,” came a voice from behind him and Pedro almost willfully threw himself down the stairs. “Pedroooo it’s time to stop sulking and be social,” Ben continued, sitting down on the staircase next to Pedro and throwing a brotherly arm around him. “What do you say? At least just come hang out with me for a bit, pleeeaaaase?”

            Pedro sighed and weighed his options. Brush Ben off like a sulking child? Immature. Also Ben wasn’t going to let up any time soon. And though Pedro was loathe to admit it, he needed Ben’s presence. He sighed again, “Fine.”
            “All right!” Ben said bouncing up, grabbing Pedro’s arm and pulling him up with him, “Let’s go.”

            “Where are we going?”

            “Just to Hero’s room you know somewhere comfortable but also private for friends working things out.” Ben pulled Pedro into the room.

            “What? No, NO! There’s a camera in there I don’t want to-”

            “Just sit down okay.” Ben shoved Pedro onto the bed in a seated position.

            “No! Why? Come on. Not on camera!”

            “Look we just need to talk, okay?”

            “We’ve talked already, there’s only so much you can do. Plus, the camera really doesn’t have to be involved in my private life anymore.”

            “Come on Pedro we could just explain things again? For them?” he gestured at the audience, “Help them feel better about you? And maybe help you feel… better about yourself?”

            Because explaining to the camera that not only was he an imperfect and hateful human being but also probably in love with his two best friends who were also dating was sure to help others feel better about him and would definitely help him feel better about himself. Definitely going to work. Absolutely. Pedro glared at Ben and then frowned, rubbed his temples, and stared willfully at the floor.

            “Okay I was hoping I wouldn’t have to do this but you leave me no choice,” Ben said. “You know how I was saying that the camera takes all your feelings away and makes them go poof? Well I have recently discovered that people are even better. Seriously, they just take all your feelings and make them go poof!” Pedro thought about Ben and Beatrice cuddling in that bathtub talking about their feelings and smiling at each other with goofy faces and he cringes. “That’s why you, my friend, need to get a girlfriend.”

            Pedro sighed.

            “Or a boyfriend! Obviously. Or, you know, a friend of nonbinary gender also to date. Could be any of the above really, right?”

            Pedro shrugged. “I mean… well yes but…”

            “Great! Let’s get started oh man I am going to set you up with somebody buddy, somebody great how about-”

            “Look, Ben I- I just- I don’t know if I could really get a date if I wanted one.”

            “What? You, Pedro? But you’re an all-around gr-”

            “Don’t call me that.”

            “Fine, I won’t but you’re excellent, you really are. You’re funny and attractive and smart and caring and a good listener and usually an excellent mediator and one of the best friends I have ever had okay? Like if I wasn’t dating Bea right now, I’d date you goddamnit!”

            At that, Pedro couldn’t help but look up at Ben with dark eyes and a lump in his throat. He hoped Ben wouldn’t notice.

            “Shit I’m sorry man, I guess that was weird to say,” Ben said turning away, starting to fold his arms.

            “No!” Pedro reached out without meaning to, touching Ben’s arm before he could catch himself. Ben stopped folding his arms and came back to neutral position, looking surprisingly gently at Pedro, surprised but in a soft way. “No, I mean… no it was fine, thanks for the sentiment.”

            “Anytime man,” Ben said. “I’m here for you.”

            Pedro smiled at him but his eyes were still sad.

            “Okay but back to the topic at hand, it is high time you found someone to date.” Ben watched Pedro’s eyes shift back to the floor. Somehow, Ben couldn’t bring himself to continue with his list of potential candidates. It was something about the way Pedro had looked at him…

            “Look, it’s nice of you to try I guess but I’m… I’m in a bit of an awkward position right now umm emotionally or… whatever.” Pedro rubbed the back of his neck then brought his hands forward through his hair, messing it up then fixing it back into its neat state on his head.

            “Yeah?” Ben leaned back, propping himself up on his hands. “Do you wanna talk about it?”

            Pedro stared at the floor. “Well ummm… I may be struggling with umm… feelings for ummm some… well… for more than one person.” Pedro looked up at Ben briefly to gage his reaction but Ben just nodded. So Pedro continued, “And um… well, look it’s just not going to happen with either of them okay? Because they’re committed you know, to each other and I guess that’s my fault as well so honestly it doesn’t matter and I just need to get over myself and it’ll go away eventually but I really shouldn’t be dating anyone until it does.”

            Pedro hazarded a glance up at Ben again. He expected Ben to have an eyebrow raised or something, about to make a quip about a threesome maybe or some kind of “cheer up mate, we’ve all been there” statement in which he’d vehemently ignore the fact that Pedro had just confessed to having feelings for him and his girlfriend and try to make it go away with a joke. It was okay, Pedro expected it and he was used to it. This was Ben we were talking about.

           In fact, Pedro could have done with some kind of joke to diffuse the tension right about then because all Ben was doing was looking at him with his mouth slightly open and maybe Pedro glanced at his mouth a few too many times but he really needed Ben to say something now to make this all go away. But when he locked eyes with Ben again, the chance of this going away was entirely gone.

           In one movement, Ben leaned forward, put one hand on Pedro’s cheek, and kissed him soundly on the mouth. Pedro’s eyes stayed open in shock for a moment and he wasn’t moving but then his brain screamed “Reciprocate you dummy!” and he was grabbing Ben’s shirt, bringing his other arm around Ben’s back to pull him in closer and make sure this kiss never stopped because as soon as it stopped it would get complicated and he would have to think about how he was kissing his best friend and also his other best friend’s boyfriend. But right now Ben’s thumb was on his cheek and Pedro only wanted to hold him closer to his chest and pull Ben so far into his arms that they never had to separate.

           But they did have to separate eventually and when they did Pedro, still clutching the front of Ben’s shirt dropped his head to Ben’s chest to hide his face. “Oh god,” Pedro whispered.

           “What? What are you okay?” Ben asked, moving to see Pedro’s face.

           Pedro lifted his head slightly and said, “What on earth are we going to tell Beatrice?”

           “Well I had rather hoped you could tell her something along the same lines of what you told me. But maybe with a few more specifics involved like you know… people’s names would be helpful? A simple ‘Beatrice, I want to kiss you and your boyfriend’ would do better this time around.”

           “But Ben,” Pedro said, finally moving away from him, “She hates me.”

           Ben took Pedro’s hand that was resting on the bed in his. “She wouldn’t be so determined to stay angry with you if she didn’t still care about you. You matter to her. A lot. That’s why she’s still pissed.”

           “But that’s exactly the point! She is still pissed and now I kissed her boyfriend without her permission!”

           “Hey now, I think it was I who kissed you.”

           But Pedro was barely listening. “She’s going to be even more pissed off! God, I am so screwed. I used to manage my friendships with the both of you so well where did it all go wrong?”

           “Maybe some place along the line where you set us up with each other and then decided that actually you wanted us both to be getting with you?”

           “Ben, I’m serious.”

           “So am I! Look, you’re right she’s mad at you but have you been watching my videos at all? Communication, Pedro. We talk to her, you deliver that heartwarming declaration of love full of “umm”s and “well”s again and she won’t be able to help but fall into your arms and also mine. She’s very dedicated to falling into my arms.”

           “You make it sound so easy. It’s not going to be. I’m proposing that we all date two people at once that’s… that’s ridiculous.”

           “And yet not so ridiculous because I also want to do that. Although perhaps I’m not the best example of not ridiculous.”

           Pedro frowned at Ben. “You do know that she has rejected me before? Like actually rejected me. Romantically. She laughed, Ben. And that was before I was an ass to her cousin and before she got a boyfriend. Do you see what I’m getting at with this?”

           Ben sighed. “Okay in all seriousness, I don’t know if this will work out okay but I liked kissing you and I want to do it again and I would love for Beatrice to be okay with that happening and to… I don’t know join in or whatever . But I don’t know if she’ll want to and I don’t know if she’ll want us to have an open relationship or… something but I do know that we have to talk to her about this.”

           Pedro sighed and rubbed his temples. “Do we have to talk about it now?”

           “What do you propose as an alternative? Going out to join the rest of the party and pretending we didn’t just kiss in front of a camera?”

           “Fuck! Fuck I totally forgot about the camera fuck you are such an ass why do you have to film everything?” Pedro moved to the camera, grabbed it from its stand and turned it off immediately.

           “I’m a vlogger it’s my job it’s what I do!”

           “A job is something you get paid for. I’m deleting this.”

                      “No!” Ben snatched the camera away from Pedro and clutched it to his chest.

           “What the fuck man, I’m not comfortable with you posting a video of me making out with you!”

           “Look I won’t post it just… can we wait to delete it until we talk to Beatrice?”

           Pedro was about to answer angrily that it didn’t matter what Beatrice said, there were some things you just didn’t put on Youtube for christsakes when there was a knock on the door.

           “Ben?” It was Beatrice. “Pedro? Are you in there?” She opened the door slowly and found both Ben and Pedro kneeling on the bed after their altercation with the camera.

           “Shit,” Pedro muttered, turning away from her.

           “Yes, love! We were just about to go get you!”

           “Me? Why?”

           “First, I think Pedro has something to tell you.”

           Pedro wanted to strangle Ben. He wanted to strangle Ben right here, right now, or at least tape his mouth shut retroactively so he wouldn’t have just said that. His guts crawled.

           “Well, Pedro? Is this yet another apology?”

           “No. No it’s not an apology because your boyfriend is an ass and instead wants me to tell you that I still have romantic feelings for you but also for Ben at the same time and you know what I’m sorry, that is the most embarrassing thing I’ve ever said in my life I can leave now if you’re as ready as I think you are to slap me.”

           Pedro stood up and was going to try and brush past Beatrice when she said, “Don’t you dare leave after saying that. Sit back down.”

           Pedro did. Ben scooted over to sit on Pedro’s left. Beatrice followed, sitting on the other side of Ben so that now all three of them were lined up on the bed.

           “Okay,” Beatrice put her fingers on her temples and dragged them down the side of her face before putting her hands on her knees and saying, “Why are you telling me this?”

           “Now that is my fault I believe,” Ben chimed in. “I was trying to suggest Pedro get a significant other of some kind to help with how badly he’s been dealing with his feelings lately and that… didn’t work out for ummm obvious reasons.”

           “Obvious reasons?” Beatrice asked.

           “Well you can’t set someone up on a date if the date they’re actually interested in is with you.”

           “And your girlfriend,” Pedro mumbled.

           “Understood,” said Beatrice, still frowning. “So Pedro ended up explaining why the dating set up wasn’t going to go as you planned I take it?”

           “He may have dropped some contextual clues about what he was thinking about when I started talking about romance.”

           Pedro snorted at this. He was refusing to look in Beatrice’s direction but Ben’s presence next to him was actually somewhat comforting.

           “And um…” Ben said, “I may have kissed him… a little bit.”

           “Oh.”

           Pedro wanted to die. He wanted to disappear right then and there because anything would be better than this. Anything at all. Hell sounded like a picnic compared to this situation. Then Ben grabbed hold of Pedro’s hand and Pedro found that he could breathe again.

           “Thanks for telling me right away,” Bea said. “I appreciate it. So that was where you were at when I came in?”

           “I mean we weren’t kissing anymore, just debating on how to talk to you about it but… yeah,” Ben said.

           “Okay…” Bea looked away from both of them, furrowing her brows. You could see her thoughts flying past her eyes. “Okay. I guess I have to take back what I said about Pedro not being your type then,” she concluded.

           “Is that… it?” Pedro asked.

           “Yes. I mean… no… look… Relationships are weird right? The whole contract you’re entering into with another person like what does it even mean anyway? I don’t know and I know Ben likes me but also clearly he likes you for reasons I can’t imagine so if you want to kiss that’s fine by me as long as Ben is still coming over to my house tomorrow to watch Scott Pilgrim.”

           Ben grinned at her and then at Pedro, squeezing his hand.

           “You’re… you’re really okay with this?” Pedro asked, gesturing to himself and Ben. “You’re okay with… us?”

            “I’m still mad at you all right?” Beatrice said, “And I’m not going to be reciprocating your apparent affection for me any time soon but if Ben is and if he can support you while you’re still doing the whole emotional crisis thing that’s good I mean it’s helpful I guess you know? And I can trust Ben, I know that. You, however, I’m not entirely sure about but I trust Ben enough to keep your misogyny in check. So, can I angrily storm out of this room now?”

            “I want a kiss first,” Ben said, looking smug.

            “Wait, Ben, what about the video?” Pedro said.

            “Oh right…”

            “What video?” Beatrice asked, putting her hands on her hips.

            “Ben here, like the ass that he is, put the camera on while trying to get me out of my funk and then didn’t turn it off until after he’d put his lips on me.”

           “Ben, you idiot.”

           “I’m not posting it!” he said, raising his arms in mock surrender. “I’m not posting it, I swear! I need consent from all those involved and also you and I clearly don’t have it so that’s all!”

           “Fine, I trust you,” Bea said, “but I am going to need a copy of that video.”

           Ben raised an eyebrow at Pedro. Pedro shrugged and nodded. “Have it your way,
 Ben said. “Expect a movie file of one intimate conversation arriving in your inbox imminently.”

           “Thank you.” She kissed Ben briefly and then bounced onto her feet. “Please feel free to continue your disgusting mating patterns away from my presence.” And with that, she left the room.

           “That went… surprisingly well,” Pedro said.

           “I told you, bro. She doesn’t hate you. She’s just mad at you cause she cares.”

           “Enough to let me kiss her boyfriend…”

           “She is quite the open minded lady,” Ben said with pride.

           “Okay then… Does this make us umm… dating then?” Pedro asked.

           Ben shrugged. “If you want it to. I’m fine with that.”

           Pedro made a bit of a face. “I don’t think I’m really interested in trying to explain this set up to anyone just yet.”

           “That’s fine by me then. Dating but secretly? Like we’re spies or something, super undercover.” Ben made a spy pose, flailing his arms about like he was karate chopping the air.

           Pedro laughed, softening at Ben’s habitual shenanigans. “You’re ridiculous,” Pedro said.

           “You love it,” Ben replied.

           “God help me, I do,” Pedro said as he leaned in to kiss Ben for the second, but definitely not the last time.