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Even though he had been doing it for years, Calum had never really gotten used to the feeling of sleeping on a moving bus. More often than not he found himself tossing and turning far more than actually sleeping and the night following his confrontation with Erin was no different. His annoyance with her and his leftover adrenaline from the show made the sleep he did manage fitful. He was almost grateful when he awoke to find the sun slowly rising and the bus parked in the lot of whatever venue it was they were playing that night.

He yawned and stretched as he tiptoed from his bunk, trying his best not to wake anyone else as he slipped down the hallway and out of the bus, startling as he nearly tripped over Ashton who was participating in what appeared to be yoga right outside the door.

"You're up early." Ashton said as he gave Calum a once over.

"Slept like shit." He reached his left hand behind him to scratch at the nape of his neck as he shifted his weight from foot to foot. Ashton, who had previously been laid across a yoga mat stood and assessed his friend, the two of them simply staring at one another for a tense moment before finally the older boy spoke up. "You fancy a coffee?"

Calum pulled his lower lip back with his teeth and contemplated Ash's offer. It had been a while since they had spent any time together, all of Calum's free time had been spent chasing after Fallon.

"Yeah, I could use the caffeine." He answered finally, his tongue brushing across his full pink lips as he nervously rubbed his hands against his black sweatpants before shoving them into the front pocket of his hoodie.

The air outside was warmer than they had experienced over the last few days, and Calum knew they were somewhere in the south, Georgia maybe. He hated the unnatural tension that settled between him and Ashton as they walked, he knew his friend well enough to tell that he was holding something back and Calum doubted his words would be anything that he wanted to hear.

Ashton stopped abruptly and led him into a small café, some local place with good reviews he had found online. The inside was decorated with whites and greens, heavy on the natural wooden accents and the smell of coffee and pastries was potent. The menu board was overwhelming and he quickly rattled off one of the names he saw first when the cashier asked for his order, thankful he wasn't particularly picky with his coffee and hoping whatever it was he had ordered would give him the energy to power through his day.

A few minutes later, coffee that was surprisingly tasty in hand, he slid into a corner booth across from his friend. As soon as his eyes lifted to meet Ashton's he could practically see the words written all over the man's face. Ash's eyes moved to focus on Calum's arm near his shoulder, the spot of his most recent tattoo.

"Do you want me to spell it out for you?" Ashton asked quietly after a moment, mindful of his volume as he didn't want any of the nearby customers to overhear their conversation.

Calum could feel the uptick in his pulse as he tried to think of yet another way he could dance around this topic. "Might need you to do that mate, I don't know what you're talking about."

"That's bullshit bro and you know it." Ashton's eyes hardened as he called his best friend out. "Parts of your new tattoo look awfully familiar, downright identical really."

"I don't know what you want me to say, Ash." Calum was struggling to keep his words even and calm. "I've told you multiple times that this particular topic isn't something I want to discuss."

"What topic? Fallon?" Ash asked, noticing the obvious recoil from Calum as Fallon's name was brought up. "Because I asked about the tattoo."

"And you and I both know the two are related." He seethed, annoyed that once again Ashton was sticking his nose where it didn't belong.

"I j—"

"It's none of your business Ashton. I don't know how many fucking times I have to say that."

"Calum do you even hear yourself?" Ashton was incredulous, his eyes widening as he questioned the bassist. "It's like I don't even know who you are. You've always been like a brother to me and I feel like even though we live on the same damn tour bus I never see you. Have you noticed that Kay hasn't been around? Are you even aware that she and I broke up?"

At that Calum's jaw dropped open, his expression softening as he scrambled for the right words though he doubted they existed. "Ash, I—I'm sorry. I knew you were having a bit of a rough patch but I didn't know it had gotten that serious."

"Yeah, well, I'm just pointing out that you're not the only one going through shit. You keep insinuating that me and the boys haven't been there for you but number one, you haven't allowed us to be, And number two, you haven't exactly been there for us lately either." The drummer reached up and ran his fingers through his dyed black hair. "I'm not faulting you for being interested in her again, I know what it's like to desperately want back what you had.." His words softened as he lifted his hazel eyes and stared back at Calum. "But I don't know how supportive I can be of you and her when she's wrecking your life from the inside out already and you don't even seem to see it."

Calum took a ragged breath as he set his coffee cup down, joining his hands and setting them on the table top in front of him. "Ashton, I really appreciate you trying to look out for me. I know you think you have my best interest at heart but I must reiterate that you don't know what you're talking about. I can see perfectly clearly and I know what's best for me. Fallon is what's best for me."

"So you'd choose her over the band? Over your friends?"

Calum swallowed and averted his gaze for a moment before squaring his chin and narrowing his eyes at Ashton. Anger and annoyance coursing through his veins as he spoke. "A real friend wouldn't put me in a position where I had to choose."

*

The walk back to the arena where the bus was parked was long and lonely. Calum had abandoned the rest of his coffee along with Ashton at the café not wanting to spend another minute with the man he considered to be one of his best friends at that particular moment in time.

Following the previous night's conversation with Erin the last thing Calum had wanted was another confrontation about his feelings for Fallon. The fact that the backlash had this time come from his own best friend bothered him and had him reconsidering everything.

He had downplayed Erin's reaction to whatever was going on with Fallon because she was known to be a protective sister, she had never really liked Calum, and he knew her seeing them together had caught her off guard. Hearing nearly the same conclusion reached from different reasoning by Ashton just fucking sucked. Had everyone forgotten how good they had once been together?

Both arguments had valid points. He and Fallon had hurt each other but it was because they had both been hurting. The simplest solution to getting everyone they loved to understand was to come clean about what had happened in February. Getting Fallon to agree to that though he knew would be a lot easier said than done.

An: oh gosh, Ash went and added his two cents.

Now what?

What should Calum do?

How will Fallon react to all of this?

Let me know!
Ily,
Sav 🖤

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