sixteenth | trouble

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Thea sat in the front row of the expansive room, listening as fans cheered and shouted questions at the cast sitting upon the stage in front of them. She and Bex found themselves squealing and shouting along with everyone else, the emotion palpable in the large room. Bex squeezed her arm, excitedly as they watched the exclusive sneak peek of Infinity War Tom had said was the main reason they were even there.

"All right, everyone!" the interviewer/host yelled as everyone roared with cheers and applause. "That's all the time we have for today! Thank you for coming and enjoy the rest of the convention!" The cheers were deafening as everyone stood up and the cast did the same, exiting the stage towards the back. She watched Tom stand up slowly, following his relaxed movements as he walked behind Elizabeth. Just before he turned to go behind the stage, he directed his attention to the audience, giving them a wave—inviting more screams, especially from the girls in the crowd—and catching her eye at the front, giving her a wink. Her heart skipped a beat, and it was her turn to grab onto Bex's arm.

"Did you see that?" she whispered in her best friend's ear.

Bex turned to her with a wicked smile. "When you two get married, I better be the godmother of your first child." Thea slapped her arm playfully, letting out a loud laugh that was drowned out in the sound of hundreds of other voices. "C'mon. Tom said to meet him over by stage left afterwards."

"I know, let's go!" Thea excitedly started to drag Bex to their right, the opposite direction that everyone was moving to leave the room, making it more difficult for the two girls to get through the flow. When they finally broke out of the current of moving bodies, they stood by the stage, waiting. "When do you think he'll get here?"

"Probably as soon as everyone else is gone," Bex guessed, shrugging one shoulder.

They waited a few minutes until the only people left were them and a few other random stragglers, probably waiting to see if they could catch a glimpse of one of the cast.

"Psst," a noise caused her to break her wandering gaze and look towards where the sound came. "Thea, Bex!" Tom stood on the stage, holding the curtain back with one hand and beckoning them with the other. Both girls looked at each other with crazy smiles before climbing up the steps to meet him. "Let's go before anyone realizes I'm here." Her pulled them back behind the stage and out into a long hallway.

"Where are we going?" Thea asked, looking down at the hand still wrapped around her wrist.

They stopped in front of a door that said 'Break Room' on it and he turned to look at them. "I have about four hours before I need to be back here to do that again, so I thought we could hang out and explore more of the convention together?" His face looked hopeful, his eyes wide as he pulled his lips into his mouth.

"Of course, Tom. We'd love to." Thea glanced at Bex who had a small smirk on her face, waggling her eyebrows at her friend, to which Thea returned with a gesture of which her mother would not have been proud.

"Brilliant! Okay, I just need to grab my costume and then we can go." He jumped up in excitement and opened the door. "C'mon, it'll take me no more than five minutes.

"Okay," Thea mumbled, following him into the room and closing the door behind him. They both stood their awkwardly, not sure if they should sit or stand or whatever, when they heard raucous voices from behind the door. It swung open and revealed the rest of the cast, all joking and laughing together. Thea and Bex scooted farther towards the wall and watched them all take seats on the couches and chairs.

After about a minute of them chatting, Elizabeth Olsen looked up and noticed the girls, who at that point were basically petrified. "Oh, hey, guys! It's Tom's friends!" She stood up and ran over to the girls giving them quick hugs and pulling them back with her towards the group. All their eyes were now trained on them, and Thea squirmed under their gazes. "What are you guys doing in here?" she asked, still smiling widely at them.

"Um, well, we're waiting for Tom. He's putting on his costume," Thea answered, looking at the floor.

"Putting on his costume?" Thea's head snapped toward the voice, seeing as Robert Downey Jr. was attacking sleeve of crackers. "What for?"

"He said he's going to wander around the convention with us." She heard a snort and looked behind her where Chris Evans was covering his mouth with one hand. "What?" she wondered aloud.

He let out a laugh, shaking his head. "Nothing, it's just that this morning he literally spent almost three hours trying to find you so he could hang out with you."

Thea's face turned red as she thought about Tom spending all that free time trying to find her. "He did?" she breathed.

"Yeah, he's pretty enamored by you," Benedict Cumberbatch enlightened her as he took a seat beside Chris.

"Ha, I told you," Bex teased, leaning against the arm of the chair in which Elizabeth had sat.

"But—We don't even know each other," she protested weakly.

"You don't have to know someone to be infatuated. It's like people who have crushes on celebrities. They don't really know them, but they like the idea of them or they like the little that they do know about them." Robert swallowed another cracker, shrugging. "I mean, it's not love, just a crush. That's why you get to know him." Thea covered her face with her hands to prevent them from seeing the rush of heat on her face.

"Aw, hey guys! I didn't expect you guys in here so quickly." She brought her hands down to take a look at Tom who had just exited the bathroom, wearing the Spiderman costume, sans mask, as he had when they met this morning.

"Obviously," Chris snorted again, causing Benedict to guffaw. Tom gave them both confused looks and then just shrugged.

"Alright, so are you ladies ready to go?" he asked them.

"We were waiting on you, bud," Bex replied, standing up and heading toward Thea.

"Then let's go!" Tom exclaimed.

"It was nice seeing you two again. Have fun!" Elizabeth yelled after them as the three left, waving at her through the opening.

"Alright, my new friend, let's go cause some trouble!" Bex announced, running down the hallway, hooting and cheering. Tom glanced at Thea with an amused look on his face and she just lifted a shoulder in response.

"I don't know what to tell you. I've had to deal with this for twenty years," Thea joked, bursting into giggles. Tom smiled and let out a small laugh with her.

"I heard that!" Bex called from down the hallway, making the two laugh even harder.
——
April 6, 2018

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