It’s warm and cozy in the little café they found, and the Barrista made them a flat white, even though it's not on the menu. Filming’s over for the day, their collab videos are trending, and their subscription numbers are rising faster every day.
Life should be good, Eddy thinks, but it isn’t. At least not for Brett, who is hiding behind his deadpan face.
“Everything ok, bro?” Eddy asks.
It’s not. He knows it's not. But Brett is not willing to talk.
“Everything is fine,” he says instead. “Really.”
They sip their coffee in silence, looking out onto the street, watching the people braving the cold wind outside.
As the evening continues, Brett’s mood is not improving. They grab some dinner and eat it quietly in their hotel room, pretending to be glued to their phones. At nine, Brett is getting ready for bed, and Eddy is worrying.
“You would tell me, right?” he says. “If you were feeling ill, or something was wrong, or whatever?”
Brett stares at him.
“Everything is fine.” He throws Eddy a deathly glare. “Really.”
And that’s clearly the end of the conversation.
Brett turns off the lights, and Eddy turns around to stare at his phone. He’s trying to read, but everything is blurry. Then the sniffling starts, and in no time at all he is hiding his crying under the pillow.
Until a soft hand on his shoulder drags him out of his misery.
“Please Eddy” Brett says hoarsely. “Please, Eddy, don’t cry.”
Eddy emerges from the pillow, but just to bury his face again against Brett’s chest. That makes it better. A bit. It still takes him quite some time to calm down, for the soothing noises and the smell of their shower gel and Brett’s skin to do their work.
Finally, it’s time to speak.
“So it was the visit, right? Curtis?”
“Was the lesson that bad?”
Brett shakes his head.
“Nah, that’s not it.”
“The rejection bit? Too many bad memories?”
“We are so sorry, the level was very high, thanks for playing but please leave quickly now and make space for people with talent? Yeah, like, a bit.”
Brett starts petting Eddy’s hair.
“Today at Curtis… It just got me thinking. What if I had done things differently. What if I had tried to get into Curtis, or another of the big schools. Gone to the US early, like Ray, you know.”
Eddy snorts and lifts his head.
“Yeah. I’m sure that’d helped. Like going and taking all those lessons from fancy, useless European teachers. It’s all just dumb, Brett.”
Brett’s face hardens.
“What? I’m so dumb, it dosen’t matter what I did or didn’t do, I’m not talented enough anyway?”
“That’s not what I meant, and you know it.”
Eddy is moving away from Brett, until he’s sitting at the edge of the bed. But now that Brett’s started to talk, it seems that he just can’t get his mouth to shut up.
“Look, it just was a pretty bad day. A shitty day, to be honest. It’s like I got my dreams crushed all over again. I know it was all fake and all, but still. It reminded me of having dreams. Of the life I wanted to live, and couldn’t.”
“And so you had to settle for this. Us.” Eddy draws a grimace. “So that’s why you didn’t want to talk to me. Didn’t want to say that to my face.”
“Because I knew you would misunderstand it, and because it’s not true. We’ve had this discussion, like, a million times. That’s not how it is. Not like that.”
Brett follows Eddy to the edge of the bed, careful to keep a small amount of space between them.
“Don’t you wonder, sometimes, about what could have been? Don’t you ever regret not being a doctor?
“I do,” Eddy says quietly. “Sometimes it just happens, I guess.”
Does it mean you’ve settled for this, for us?” Brett continues.
“No.” Eddy's voice is quiet.
“I mean yes. No. Yes, I have wondered. But for sure it does not mean I’ve settled for anything.”
He closes the space between them.
“I’m sorry Brett. I wanted to help, and now I made it worse.”
“Well, you’re just dumb. We’ve both been kind of dumb. To idiots.
He puts his arm around Eddy.
“Stay in bed with me, even if you don’t sleep?”
Eddy does, and in the end, he does get a decent night of sleep.
He gets to sleep until 10 am. Brett has deleted his alarm and cancelled their morning meeting. So Eddy wakes up fresh and relaxed, and is provided with a flat white. And a cronut. He’s not sure how Brett managed to source one of these, but he’s too busy eating to wonder.
They hold hands in the Uber to the auction house. They meet Carlos, and a cupboard full of Strads. They play a Strad. A golden age Strad. That never gets old. Because hey, they have played quite a few by now. That’s their life, people being so happy for them to come by and play on their Strads. Afterwards, they are on the lookout for a bubble tea place. Everything is fine. Really.