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Calum knew he should probably stop after the first two rounds of shots but his thoughts were a little too loud for his liking. Especially with the band due onstage in only minutes. The stage crew was out switching over the equipment from Revelry's set and he should have been much more focused than he was but he couldn't help it.

Fallon was in every shining facet of his mind. The way her skin felt against his. The feel of her mouth burning kisses into his flesh as she moved against him. The floral smell of her perfume like a bouquet of fresh wildflowers was so easy to recall it was almost like she was standing right behind him even though he knew she had gone back to the green room to freshen up. Everything about her clouded his mind until there wasn't room for much else. Well, apart from the guilt he was still harboring.

He hadn't cheated. He repeated that like a mantra in his head. Over and over he reminded himself that they hadn't been together, they definitely hadn't agreed to exclusivity. She had upset him and he had been drunk and he had reverted back to his defense mechanism of filling the Fallon shaped hole in his heart and soul with the first willing woman he could find. If he hadn't done anything wrong though, why was it still hanging over his head and weighing on him so heavily?

"Let's go boys!"

Luke's call startled Calum, he wasn't sure how long he had been staring at the wall clutching the shot glass in his hand but the stage manager was calling for them so he quickly knocked back his shot and joined his band for their pre-show huddle before taking the stage beside them.

His bass felt heavier on his shoulder, his brain unable to shift to autopilot making him overthink and fumble over his chords and words. He fucked up his lyrics more than once and had to rely on the crowd's help to get him through. By the time he came off stage he was pissed off and annoyed at himself. The first thing he saw in the green room was his rolling wardrobe case and he kicked it, sending it spiraling into the wall where the collision resulted in a loud crash.

"What's up with you?"

The sound of Ashton's voice made him whirl around. He had thought he was alone, Michael and Luke had gone off with their significant others and he hadn't been in the habit of keeping tabs on Ash recently so it hadn't occurred to him that he might also be in the room.

Calum didn't reply, instead he just stared at the black-haired man, his chest rising and falling in a pattern that told both of the show adrenaline that still coursed through him and his surprise at being confronted.

"You gonna speak or give me the silent treatment like we're children and not adults."

"This from you who's been nothing but childish lately."
"Oh, you really got me there, mate." Ash said sarcastically with a roll of his eyes.

"Am I wrong?" Calum demanded harshly. The drummer seemed to sober up at that.

Ashton averted his eyes and blew out a deep breath.  "Look, I know things are weird but you're obviously not okay. Do you wanna talk about it?"

"Not particularly. Not with you anyways." He huffed "I'm good as far as lectures on how much you hate my girlfriend from people who assaulted her go."

He could tell his words stung Ashton like a slap in the face but that was fine. Calum wasn't saying anything that wasn't true and they both knew it.

"I—I d—" "You did."

Ashton's lips pursed and their eyes locked a silent battle until the drummer conceded and broke the stare. "I still need to apologize to her for that."

"Damn right you do. If she'll even accept it. Though me protecting her from you is the only reason Erin didn't kill me for making her cry on Halloween. She owed me one."

"Wait, what happened on Halloween?"

Calum huffed and took a step back letting himself fall into the leather cushions of the deep burgundy shaded couch behind him. "It's really annoying that I have to fill you in on what's going on in my life like this."

"Then let's fucking sort this shit out. I miss you."

A long pause passed while Calum picked at the skin on the side of his thumb. Finally, he cleared his throat, "I'm not accepting an apology for shoving Fallon. That's not mine to accept and I will leave how she wants to handle that up to her. I want to make it very clear though, that you might be my brother but I swear to God Ash if you ever lay as much as a finger on her again I will not hesitate to break your fucking face."

"Noted." Ashton replied, his face serious. "I really am sorry, Cal. You know that isn't in my nature. I've just been so...frustrated. Everything with Kaitlin has had me fucked and then I'm trying to stay sober and normally I would have just drowned this all out with a bottle but I can't do that anymore and I haven't been able to fucking talk to you."

"And whose fault is that, huh?"

Ashton groaned and stroked his hands down his face. "I'm not arguing that I'm just trying to explain where I'm coming from."

"And I'm just reminding you of why things are the way they are."

"Just tell me what fucking happened on Halloween."

"I was really confused about things with Fallon. Erin had a talk with me and it just had my head all messed up so when she tried to be flirty with me in public I blew her off and she got all upset with me and stormed out."

"Ouch."

"So, in all my brillant fucking glory, I grabbed the first girl I could find and took her home."

"Oh, geez." Ashton said with a resigned look on his face.

"Fallon and I weren't together then. We definitely weren't exclusive so.."

'Wait—does she know?"

Calum looked at Ashton through his eyelashes, a grimace accompanied by a guilty look plastered across his face.

"Well, clearly you have to tell her. I can't believe you got this far, she's pretty good at sniffing shit like that out."

"She's seemed pretty distracted. Plus we've just started everything back up again so we're, like, reliving the honey-moon period."

"The longer you let that go without telling her the worse the fallout is going to be. She's gonna be hurt no matter how 'not-together' you were."

Calum's heart sank in his chest.

"About all that stuff I said when all this started," Ashton said when the silence continued, Calum unsure what to say. "I didn't mean it. One day I hope I find out what really happened and why you two were both so hurt but you were right, it isn't my business. Maybe I needed to go through it myself to see what it was like for you guys. Fallon's always been special for you, anyone with eyes can see it. The way you two look at each other...I was jealous because things were so shitty for me but I'm sorry. I really hope things turn out differently for you this time."

"You think we'll survive her finding this out?"

"You seem to have survived worse."

An: so I fixed Cashton 👉🏻👈🏻

Falum is still questionable.

What are your thoughts?

Any guesses about when the other shoe will drop?

Let me know!

I love you guys!
Sav 🖤

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