Cesario stared at the ceiling, bored, they only had one text from Feste, saying they were still with Nick and Robin, while Sebastian had stopped answering an hour ago, and just ignored their questions. They stayed in bed, until a low “Hello,” coming from the living room, brought them back to reality.
“Where is everybody?” Orsino asked loudly, clearly addressing everybody, unless he was asking the house. “I have pizza,” he sang.
Cesario didn’t want to look like they were only there for the pizza, which they weren’t, but the truth wasn’t that simple, either, that they could explain why they had to see Orsino. “Curio’s asleep,” they told him, so he would lower his voice, but they didn’t really care about what was best for Curio, they just couldn’t think of anything else to tell him that wasn’t uncomfortable. Even the silence as he stared back was uncomfortable.
“Want some? Pizza,” he added, nodding emphatically.
They did want pizza, but this was just too weird, they had to say something or leave, and they weren’t sure what to say. Orsino and Cesario didn’t move. They stood with the whole room between them, struggling to make any conversation. All they managed was “Hi.”
“I…” Orsino’s voice trailed in doubt. “I messed up.” They just kept staring at Orsino, agreeing with his statement but not convinced it was their job to decide what messing up meant to him. “I’m sorry about saturday. It was wrong to get you involved in my problems. Here, let’s have some pizza.” He sat on the couch, placed the pizza box on the coffee table, and kept looking at Cesario intently.
They sat on the other end of the couch, leaving as much room as possible between them and Orsino, who relaxed a little, and got himself a slice of pizza. Cesario followed his lead, and made small talk by saying they liked it and asking Orsino where he’d got it. The small talk didn’t do more than tell them they could be in the same room and keep things to the minimum amount of awkwardness, but at the moment, that was great news.
Then Orsino said “Hmm…” for a long time, which caught Cesario’s attention. They looked at him, waiting for what he had to say. “Can I tell you something?” They nodded. Orsino looked embarrassed, but everything was going so uncomfortably at the moment, Cesario didn’t think it was directly related to what he was going to say next: “You know how I… acted really weird last saturday?” They nodded, getting anxious at the topic. “I was trying to figure out why, and…” he trailed off again. Cesario stared at him expectantly. “I’m bissexual,” he blurted out, studying their reaction very closely.
“So am I,” they told him, not quite sure if there was anything else they were supposed to say.
“It took me long enough to see it, and I’m sorry I made it your problem. Are you mad at me? Is Feste mad at me?”
They felt slightly guilty at the second question. “I’m not mad at you. I was worried about you, actually. Good thing you’re figuring stuff out.”
“I guess. My head hasn’t stopped spinning since I started thinking about it, but everyone says thinking about it is the right thing to do. I mean, everyone that matters,” he amended quickly, waving his hand at Cesario as an example, although they’d said nothing.
“You’ll get used to it,” Cesario said, wondering when they had gone from trying to figure things out, to making it up as they went along. “So now I can talk about hot guys with you?” they said to lighten the mood.
“It’s not gonna be the first time,” he reminded them, going along with the lighter tone.
When they got home, on Friday evening, Curio was leaving the shower. They were tired and looking down, so the first thing they saw was the lack of a towel around his waist. “Oh!” they shouted, startled, looking up to see who it belonged to. “What the hell!” they complained.
“Don’t be a baby,” Curio said, going to his room.
Cesario took a shower, and in the absence of news from Feste, decided to put on their comfy clothes and stay home. Curio, however, was sitting in the living room, ready to go out. “You’re not going?” he asked, sounding confused. “Where?” “Fabian’s. Feste’s playing tonight.”
“I didn’t know that,” they told Curio, wondering why Feste hadn’t texted them about it. “Go get ready, we have time,” he said, unaware of Cesario’s doubts. They did, all the while thinking it was typical of Feste, which wasn’t reassuring at all.
Curio wasn’t in a hurry to go inside, so Cesario followed his lead, deciding there was no reason they should go running to Feste, and had a pink vodka smoothie. As a warm up exercise, Curio showed some dance steps he’d been practicing with his friends from football. “That’s a lot of twerking,” Cesario observed, laughing. “They won’t be able to resist it,” the dancer said, with smug confidence that was only partially performatic.
Cesario tagged along when Curio found some of his football friends, and joined them. They looked familiar, but no names came to mind. Which didn’t stop one from saying: “I know you, your name’s Sweetie, right?” Curio guffawed uncontrollably when he heard it. “It’s Cesario,” they corrected over his laughter.
“Sweetie?” Curio asked, confused, when he caught his breath. “That’s what I heard,” Curio’s friend shrugged. “Maria calls me that,” they explained.
“Sweetie and his pink drink,” Curio said, before laughing some more. And now his friends were all calling them Sweetie, and having a good laugh at their expense. Cesario had to shrug off the embarrassment, and take another sip of their pink drink through a straw as the tough guys laughed.
Because they were in the spotlight, something had to be said: “So you guys all dance like Curio when you play football?” “Only when we win,” one said. “I dance a lot better than those guys,” another told them, and went on to show off his skills. The others booed him, turning against the show off friend, which brought Cesario out of the spotlight among them.
And when another one defended the air hump as the best victory dance, they all ganged up against him. It was always someone’s turn. That wasn’t the kind of group Cesario wanted to be part of, but they could have some mindless fun with them for now.
They tried dancing like the guys once they were inside the club. The others had a lot more practice, but trying was fun, and kept them from thinking about going upstage to ask Feste why they hadn’t said anything about being there. At some point, Cesario was led by the rest of the group in the approach of some girls nearby. They played the part, and danced with one of them for a little bit.
By the time the song was over, one of the newly made pairings had already left the group, and another was making out right there, in front of them. Cesario was dancing to the first few beats of the next song with the same girl, when she asked: “You’re Feste’s boyfriend, right?” They nodded. She smiled embarrassedly, and said: “I like your friend.” She was looking at one of Curio’s football friends. He wasn’t their friend, but maybe something could be done about it.
“Let’s dance with them,” they decided, guiding the girl closer to the other couple, where she could make eye contact with her intended, and it was easy to switch partners for the next song. The second dance partner, however, was looking at Cesario in a funny way they didn’t like: they could see the signs of that well known question taking form in her head. So they left at the first opportunity.
Cesario went to the bar, and took their sweet time choosing between beer and soda. They went for the latter, and were about to crack it open, when a friendly but heavy hand landed on their shoulder. “Hey, Sweetie, can I have that straw?” It was one of Toby’s soldiers, but his name escaped them completely. “What?” “I need a straw, they won't give me one if I buy a beer.”
“You drink beer with a straw?” they asked, wondering if people did that. “What? No!” the soldier answered, even more confused by the idea. There was a moment of silent exchange of looks between them, when Cesario realized they probably didn’t want to know what he wanted the straw for. “Here,” they handed it over.
“Thanks, man,” the soldier said, finally happy. “Want some weed?” he offered what he was smoking. “Sure.” Cesario shrugged, and took it. “You can keep it, thanks again,” he said, leaving.
They found a spot by the wall where no one was making out, and stood there for a while, smoking, and drinking soda. The moment the weed started working was very obvious, because suddenly Feste’s lack of communication was a lot less annoying, and Cesario just wanted to be with them.
They tried crossing the dance floor to get to Feste, but Curio stopped them midway. “Dude, dude, dude,” he said very urgently, with his hand on their shoulder, “you have to check that out!” He pointed somewhere in the crowd, looking excited about whatever it was, but Cesario couldn’t find it. “What?” they asked. Curio kept pointing, until they saw Orsino dancing with a girl. “Oh!”
“Miracles happen,” he said, laughing. Cesario was about to do the same, when they realized: “That’s Olivia!” “The one he keeps texting?” Curio asked, and laughed even harder when he got a nod confirming it. When he got his breath back, and his laughter under control, he said: “I’m so proud!” and cracked up again, this time, taking with him Cesario, who was high and prone to laugh, anyway.
Once more, they decided to get to Feste, and took a look around to find the best route to the stage. What they saw, however, was a man making a video on his phone. He didn’t look like the kind of guy you’d see in that neighborhood: his clothes were too expensive, his hair was too well kept. He looked at Cesario and smiled a smile Curio would’ve strongly advised against. They smiled back, too high not to.
When he approached, Cesario noticed the man was tall, and broad-shouldered. Probably the most handsome guy they’d ever seen. “Hi, I’m Oberon.” They were too intimidated by his looks to say anything other than their name, but he just went on speaking: “This place is very interesting, don’t you think?” They just nodded. “It’s my first time here. What’s this club’s name?”
“Fabian’s?” Cesario said, not entirely sure. And finally they managed to put their thoughts together. The guy looked really out of place in that club, and he didn’t seem worried about that at all. “Are you Olivia’s friend?” they asked him, because there was no one else around who looked like they could be with Oberon.
The man didn’t answer. He took his phone out of his pocket, and told Cesario to take a selfie with him. They did. “Do you like this kind of music?” the rich guy asked them. “Yeah, you don’t?” they inferred from his question.
“I do, but sometimes I like music no one else does,” he explained. “I think a lot of people like it,” Cesario told him, waving their hand at the crowd of dancing people. “I guess you’re right. Would you like to dance?”
They meant to go to Feste, but of course they wanted a dance with the hottest guy they’d ever seen, especially because the idea came from him, and being wanted by hot people was flattering. So Cesario danced with him for some time.
They still couldn’t get over a guy like that being in Fabian’s club/gym, so they asked: “How did you find this place?" “I came with Feste, the dj,” he told them. Cesario didn’t like the answer, but kept in mind Feste made friends everywhere. “You’re Feste’s friend?” “We only met yesterday, but I really like them.”
The words hit Cesario, who stopped dancing. “You’re Feste’s date?” they asked, foolishly hoping he would clear things up. Without a care in the world, Oberon said: “The inconvenience of dating the dj is that I can’t dance with them.” Cesario pretended to laugh at his wit, and excused themself almost immediately, not at all in a clubbing mood anymore.
At home, they called Sebastian three times before he answered. They had to talk to someone or go mad. There wasn’t much Sebastian could do, but he listened as his twin told him how they’d found out Feste was seeing someone else, and how embarrassed they felt for having trusted them, when every sign said Feste would end up doing just that.
“You have nothing to be embarrassed about,” he said, his voice angry, but they knew him well enough to tell he was angry at the news, “when we like someone, we hope for the best. It’s what you’re supposed to do. You know what you’re not supposed to do? What they did. I wanna punch them so bad!”
His words got a weak, little chuckle from his twin, who then sighed and told him: “I wanna punch them too. I know you can probably do it better, but I’d rather do it myself.” “Go for the soft parts,” Sebastian advised, and that got a slightly less weak chuckle in response.
Talking to him was comforting, but not so much they didn’t cry in bed, or didn’t feel like an idiot for trusting Feste. At that point, all Cesario wanted was to fall asleep, and escape the feeling of complete failure. All they managed, however, was to drift off to a shallow slumber, still too busy with unconscious thinking to be of much rest.
The house was empty when they gave up on sleep early the next morning. There was nothing they wanted to do. Existing was a chore, so were personal care and the need to eat. Playing the guitar was not. It was simply what they did. But it didn’t usually make them feel so miserable. Their mind kept coming back to Feste cheating on them with a guy so hot there was no competition. They hated their next thought so much, they couldn’t stand it, and left the house, trying to get distracted by anything other than the idea that Feste had cheated on them with a real man for obvious reasons.
Fortunately, the street market was chaotic enough to do the trick for some time. Although they had first been there with Feste, the noise, the crowd bumping shoulders with them, not to mention the smell grounded them in the present most efficiently. So Cesario could pass by the many stands, looking idly at the products for sale, able not to think about much. And that’s how they found themself before a stand with all kinds of recreational drugs on display.
Surprised, they looked up to see who was selling it in the main street (that kind of stand was usually found higher up the hill). “Hey, Sweetie,” said the salesman, in an upbeat mood. “Buy some weed?”
Usually, they would’ve said no, but when they thought about what to do for the rest of the day, getting knocked out by weed and sleeping through the weekend sounded like a great idea. “How much for the rolled up ones?” they asked, unable to roll for themself or put Orsino’s hookah to use. The man shrugged. “I’ll put it on Feste’s tab, don’t worry. Where is he, anyway?”
“Probably Waterfront,” they said, thinking their rich, new boyfriend looked like he had come from the wealthiest part of town. “Just let me pay for it, ok?” The man shrugged again. “Three each, four for ten,” he told them. Cesario was surprised, they thought it would be more expensive.
Back home, they smoked and watched videos in the living room tv. Sebastian texted them to see how they were doing, and Cesario texted him back so he could relax and be assured he’d done his brotherly duty. They didn’t tell him their plans of getting high, and sleeping through the weekend, which wouldn’t help convincing him they were actually fine, considering the circumstances.
Curio came out of his bedroom yawning, and stretching. “What a great way to start the day!” he said, with his hand out, so Cesario would pass him the joint. “You disappeared last night,” he said. “Orsino and his girlfriend wanted to hang out. That girl’s the classiest drunk I’ve ever seen.” He laughed at the memory. “She gave me a whole lecture on how Toby’s soldiers like their weapons so much because they secretly want cock, but she said it very classy, like a lady.” He laughed again. “What happened?” he asked before another drag. Cesario was quiet for too long. “What did Feste do?”
The worst part of Curio’s guess being so precise was how much dumber they felt for putting any trust on Feste. Cesario hated having to admit the humiliating truth, but they would have to get used to it. At least Curio sounded like he cared. “Feste had a date, and it wasn’t me. I wasn’t in a fun mood after that.”
“That sucks. Even Feste should know better.” He gave them back the joint, though there wasn’t much left of it by now, and went on to get ready for the day.
Cesario fell asleep on the living room couch, and stayed there all afternoon. By evening, when they woke up, their back and arms aching from the nap on the uneven couch, the plan of remaining unconscious through the weekend didn’t feel like such a great idea anymore. They felt trapped in the house, and wanted to go out and see people. They checked their phone, looking for something to do. Some guys from work were meeting in a bar called Crazy Tombolo, and they decided to join them.
The bar itself was a reformed fisherman’s house through which they had to pass to get access to the long stretch of sand, along which many luau torches were lit. A stage had been set next to the house, where a band played surf music. Cesario spotted their friends sitting around one of the many square tables along the sand stretch, and went to them.
Cesario and their co-workers gossiped, told jokes, and shared a cocktail served in a watermelon with a tap in it. They took selfies and left their shoes by the table to dance on the sand. Everything was working well against thinking about certain people, but Cesario was about to be reminded there were others who could very easily put an end to their peace of mind.
They were dancing with another teacher, when someone else approached, and placed a hand on Cesario’s shoulder. “What you’re doing here, man?” Orsino said, with a big smile on his face. They laughed, surprised to see him. “Me? What are you doing here?” Their co-worker excused himself, saying he was going to get another drink, leaving the two of them to talk.
“I’m here with Olivia and her college friends,” he explained. “Where were you last night? Curio said you guys went to Fabian’s together, but I didn’t see you there.”
“I saw you dancing with Olivia,” they said, instead of answering his question. And to avoid thinking about the reasons they didn’t want to discuss the previous night, Cesario said: “Dance with me.”
Orsino’s dance was just a collection of silly moves, but it was good enough to distract Cesario from their problems for as long as it lasted. When the song was over, Orsino invited them to have a beer, and sit with him for a little bit, with Olivia and her friends. A part of Cesario feared it was going to be unbearable to watch Orsino and Olivia together for any length of time, but still they said yes.
Olivia hugged and kissed them, pleasantly surprised to see them. She introduced Cesario to her friends, who said hello and went on with the discussion they were having. A few seconds trying to pick up on the subject, made clear why Orsino wanted their company: although he looked more than happy with Olivia sitting on his lap, the discussion only made sense for the psychology majors involved in it. Cesario shared a sympathetic look with their friend, who shook his head discreetly.
When Olivia emerged from the discussion with her friends, she told Cesario to pull their chair closer so she wouldn’t have to shout, and proceeded to tell them how much fun she’d had at Fabian’s. “You made a good impression on Curio,” they told her, “he was talking about you this morning.”
“Well, now you have to tell me what he said,” Olivia asked, nudging playfully at Cesario’s leg with her bare toes. The tale gave her the need to clarify she had said weapons were phallic symbols, but the conclusion that it meant the soldiers literally wanted cock was Curio’s, not hers.
Cesario had more than one beer with Orsino, who looked lost when Olivia went back to the heated discussion her friends were having (which Cesario guessed was about sex, but the words they used were too strange to be sure). The more incomprehensible the argument got, the more they shared the feeling of being an outsider with Orsino.
“Cool place, isn’t it?” Cesario had to agree. “Have you seen this?” He picked up a laminated menu from the table and pointed to the bottom of the page, where Cesario read: “Oceans are rising. Crazy Tombolo’s days are numbered. Enjoy while you can.”
“Isn’t that a cheerful message?” they handed the menu back to Orsino, who looked like he actually thought it was funny. “Well, it is true,” he said, shrugging, and setting the menu back on the table.
Somehow, the college kids discussion ended up with everyone losing their patience, and deciding to go dancing. So Olivia jumped up from Orsino’s lap, saying she wanted to dance, and pulling him to his feet. “Who’s gonna dance with Cesario?” he asked her, pointing vaguely at her friends. Olivia, however, quickly pushed his pointing hand down, and answered his question like it should be obvious: “We are.” She grabbed Cesario’s arm, and pulled them along. “Let’s go,” said Orsino, in full agreement, with a guiding hand on Cesario’s shoulder.
“Guys, I don’t like being the third wheel,” they protested, confused by that invitation. “Who said anything about third wheels?” Olivia dismissed their reserve. “We’ll be like Harry, Ron and Hermione.” “Or The Three Stooges,” Orsino offered as an alternative.
“I’ve got it: Luke and Leia and Han.” “Am I Luke?” Cesario asked. “You’re definitely not Han,” Orsino said, straightening his posture and looking smug. The trio laughed. “I’d kick ass if I led a rebellion,” Olivia said, like she loved the idea.
Cesario still felt like a loser for making their friends feel like they had to dance with them and keep them company, but Orsino and Olivia’s company was fun, and neither of them looked inconvenienced at all for having Cesario around. So they figured they could tag along for a little while, before finding something else to do.
They danced for some time, until a breathless Olivia suggested they took a walk to the end of the sand bar. She held hands with Orsino, and had an arm around Cesario’s waist, as though preventing any protests on their part. So they accompanied the couple in their walk, despite feeling a little weird about it.
Olivia kept mentioning how beautiful the place was, and how much of a loser one of her friends had proven to be. Cesario didn’t understand the connection between the two subjects, until she explained everyone in her group had paid said friend to buy them weed, but he never did. “That I can help with,” they told her, pulling part of that morning’s purchase out of a pocket.
“Oh, my god, I love you!” she said, hugging Cesario too tightly for comfort, and kissing them on the cheek. Surprisingly enough, Orsino looked amused by that exchange. “Here, let me light it,” he offered.
So the trio walked to the end of the sand bar, where they sat down and watched the crashing waves. Part of what they talked about was still pop culture trios, and Cesario joined the game offering another for their consideration: “Blossom, Bubbles, and Buttercup.” Orsino didn’t like it, so he suggested: “Grizzly, Panda, and Ice Bear.” “I call Panda,” Olivia said quickly. “I guess that makes me Grizzly,” Cesario said, exchanging a knowing look with Orsino, who started laughing.
Being very susceptible to laughter, Olivia and Cesario joined him, though they weren’t laughing at the same things. At some point they just laughed at each other for not being able to stop, which only made it last longer.
When the laughing stopped, the happy couple started kissing, so Cesario decided it was time to leave quietly. “Hey, where you’re going?” Olivia protested, holding them in place by the arm. “I’m giving you two some privacy,” they said, thinking it should be obvious. They tried prying Olivia’s fingers from them, but she swatted at Cesario’s hand and commanded: “Stay put.” And to Orsino: “We’re making them feel abandoned.” He just laughed. “What should we do?”
There was something weird about her question, but Cesario would’ve easily dismissed it as them being stoned, if Orsino hadn’t looked just as confused. “What do you mean?” “We should ask them to join us,” she explained. Orsino laughed at the absurdity of her suggestion.
“Not funny,” Cesario said, going back to trying to free themself from Olivia. “I wasn’t joking,” she said, leaning towards them to kiss them lightly on the lips. And that was enough to make Cesario’s stomach flutter and their breath catch, erasing any previous thought. “You look so shocked!” she commented, watching their reaction in amusement.
They looked at Orsino in hopes he had a solution for whatever was going on, but all they saw in his face was curiosity. So they looked at Olivia again, trying to prove to themself that was actually not happening (it had to be some kind of big misunderstanding, people didn’t just invite third parties to their make out sessions in real life, did they?) “I think you think you need some persuasion,” Olivia said between giggles, leaning into them again.
There really was persuasion to her kiss. She straddled Cesario’s legs, with her hands on the back of their neck, as she sucked on their bottom lip and ran the tip of her tongue over it. Their lips parted, tongue searching for Olivia’s, and their encounter was all the convincing Cesario needed.
With their eyes closed, they only found out Orsino had come closer, when he said: “I’m getting kind of lonely here.” “Three way kiss?” Olivia suggested, pulling him closer, still on top of Cesario, who hadn’t been consulted about that decision, but was far from saying no to it.
The kiss was nothing Cesario had tried before. They kissed both sets of lips, and their tongue was met by both of theirs. Olivia's hand was splayed against their chest, Orsino’s in their hair, and their own hands found place on Olivia’s thigh, and Orsino’s shoulder. It was the kind of kiss that didn’t end itself naturally, it only got more intense. To them point Cesario was eased to their back, on the sand, on the receiving end of both Orsino and Olivia’s attentions.
There was this small voice on the back of their head, saying they’d get in an awkward situation if things got any hotter, but it was really hard to care about that when there was so much going on. There was Olivia's mouth on their neck, and Orsino’s tongue in a dance with their own. All they wanted was more.
Suddenly, Olivia made a weird sound, and crawled away a few steps, retching on the sand, turning the moment into something else completely. Orsino knelt next to her, holding her hair out of the way. “Was it the tequila?” he asked, sounding worried. “Yeah!” she said miserably, not ready to get up yet.
“Maybe we should get you some soda,” Cesario suggested. Olivia followed their advice as soon as she felt well enough to stand up and wash her hands and face with sea water. “We should probably get you home,” Orsino said, pulling his phone out, after getting Olivia back to her friends’ table. “I don’t want to go home,” she said, sounding tired. “‘I want adventure in the great wide somewhere,’” she added, to everyone’s amusement.
Now they were back to civilization and slightly sobered up by the end of the experience, Cesario realized it was probably for the best that they hadn’t gone ahead with the idea. Feeling as relieved as frustrated, they parted ways with Orsino and Olivia. And spent a long time trying to find their shoes in the sand.