The castle was homey, but still dank and musty and that pissed Aaron off even more. He caught them. They were blatant. He couldn’t believe they would have the balls to do it on an investigation right under his nose. He had caught them and it was on his camera. Nick had threatened him and Zak was ashamed. Aaron had Zak on camera down on his knees. He had every right to be ashamed.
The two men walked silently in front of him. The fight had gone out of Zak. His provoking and taunting weren’t nearly as vibrant as they were earlier. Nick kept glancing back at Aaron, anger etched across his face. Aaron figured he was pissed because he didn’t get off. He had interrupted their little party. The smell of sex was still strong on them and he hated them for it. Yeah, he had figured something was going on between them. Aaron wasn’t as stupid or oblivious as everyone suspected. He just knew how to play his part. But he didn’t miss the little touches, little sideways glances and comments. They didn’t know that he heard the hotel room doors open and close in the middle of the night as one went into the other’s room. One night in particular, Nick’s bed butted up against the same wall as Aaron’s and he heard a lot more than he had wanted to.
Now he followed behind them after capturing the best evidence of all. Aaron knew he would never do anything with the videotape that would actually harm either of his friends and he hoped that deep down they knew that too. But just for a moment, it would be nice for them to respect him and treat him as an equal in the investigation. So what if he got scared? Aaron knew that Nick and Zak got scared too.
An hour later they were taking a break and eating. Zak walked away to the bathroom, leaving Aaron and Nick alone by the table. Nick cleared his throat, interrupting the uncomfortable silence. “I’m sorry, Aaron.”
Looking up from his sandwich, he nodded. “S’okay, man.”
Nick shook his head. “No, its not. We know better than to…” He waved his hand in the air. “… on investigations. I’m sorry you walked in; I’m sorry you had to find out this way; and I’m sorry for being so angry.”
Aaron shrugged. “I’ve known you guys had something going on. Zak isn’t the quietest person…” Nick blushed and smiled. “You must have some serious skills man.”
Zak walked in, pulling his tshirt down over his shamrock belt buckle. Aaron grabbed his arm as he brushed past him. “Dude, you know I’d never do anything with that tape. Billy won’t even see it.”
Zak smiled slightly. “Thanks man.”
The awkwardness never left though, effectively ruining the rest of the investigation. Aaron hoped they had enough decent footage from the first four hours to make enough of the episode. Their clean up and packing was completely silent, but he could feel the words being spoken unconsciously between them. He caught the hand squeeze before walking out the door for the last time and getting into the van.
Zak crumbled into the front passenger seat of the van as Nick climbed in the driver’s side. Aaron sat in the back, as always. He watched as Nick smiled over at Zak, making sure he was buckled in as he drifted off to sleep for the short ride back to the hotel.
Nick cleared his throat as they pulled out onto the road. “So, what are you going to do with that video?” he asked.
Aaron shrugged, holding the offending disc in his hands. Essentially, this disc signaled his freedom. This was his way out when he really didn’t want to do something or when he just couldn’t take it anymore. “Keep it.”
“You’re not going to erase it?” he asked, his voicing cracking slightly with surprise.
Aaron shook his head. That would be stupid. That was what they wanted him to do. That was what Zak would want him to do. “No. There might still be evidence on this one. I’ll watch it through and edit out that part, but no I’m not destroying it.”
Heavy silence filled the cab of the van. The air conditioner blowing and Zak’s soft snores provided the only background noise. Aaron knew he should feel bad about keeping the video. He knew that he basically held Nick’s marriage and Zak’s career in the industry in his hands. That was his only leverage. “You’re going to use it for blackmail, aren’t you?” Nick’s voice broke the silence, barely heard even in the quiet van.
Aaron shook his head. “No. Not blackmail. But I would like more of a say, especially in my own fate.”
Rolling into the parking lot of the cheap hotel, Nick parked the van and sat with the engine idling. “I think we could do that.”
Aaron shook his head again. “I’m not worried about you.”
Nick nodded, understanding. “I can get him to agree to it and stick with it.”
Opening up the van door, Aaron snorted. “I bet you can.”
Nick got out of the van and walked around, meeting him at the back doors to haul their equipment inside. “Is this the way it’s going to be now? Aaron, you’re one of my best friends. I can’t have you pissed at me, dude.”
Hauling out cameras and wrestling his room key out of his pocket, Aaron smiled. “I’m not mad at you. I’m just not erasing the video. Don’t worry, it won’t be a vlog.”
Nick watched him walk to the hotel, camera bags hanging off of him as Zak stumbled his way out of the van. “Did you get it?” he asked, yawning.
Nick shook his head. “He’s keeping it. He wants more of a say in what happens, especially what happens involving him.”
Zak scoffed. “That’s blackmail.”
The fiberglass of the van door made a sick crunching sound as Nick’s fist came into contact with it. “We’re giving him say, Zak.”
Zak’s body made heavy contact with the van door as Nick slammed him into it. “We. Are. Giving. Him. Say. I can’t have that video getting out.”
“And you think I want it out?” he screeched. “I’m down on my knees sucking your cock, Nick.”
“How about you don’t have this argument in a public parking lot and no one will know?” Aaron said from behind them.
Nick spun quickly. “Whatever you want, you can have it. Just don’t let that video get out, Aaron, please,” he begged.
Aaron shrugged. “All I want is to be listened to when I say no.”
Nick looked at Zak. “That’s reasonable.”
Zak nodded, looking down at his feet. “Completely reasonable.”
“Ok then. Now can I have the rest of the stuff so I can go inside and sleep?”
Laden with equipment, the three men walked silently into the hotel. Aaron said goodnight before anyone could say anything else, closing his door on the two other men in the hallway.
Zak looked at Nick and nodded at his room door. “Mine or yours?”
“Yours. Mine is right next to Aaron’s…”
Zak nodded, fishing out his keycard and opening up his room. Stripping down, Nick climbed in the bed first, laying on his back against the pillows. Zak followed him, curling himself around Nick’s body. “Think he’ll really keep it?”
Nick smiled in the darkness, fingers subconsciously tracing the tattoo on Zak’s back. “No.”
Nodding against his chest, that was all the confirmation he needed. Slowly, the body against his chest grew heavier as Zak feel into a deep slumber, exhaustion overtaking him. Nick sighed into the darkness. Did he think Aaron would keep that video? Yes. Did he think he’d use it against them? That he wasn’t sure of….