Bea had gotten about negative a million hours of sleep last night. Needless to say, she was exhausted. You'd think with her frequent 2 a.m. adventures, she'd be used to operating on minimum sleep, but apparently not so.
But she'd promised Balthazar that she'd be at his gig, and Beatrice Duke was not one to break promises.
Which explained why she was now in a coffee shop next to Ben when she should've been in bed, stirring her drink with a straw and willing the caffeine to kick in very soon.
She tried starting a conversation with Ben, but soon found that he was even worse at functioning properly when tired, at least, that's all she could tell from his position (slumped over on the table and making various complaining noises). Phrases Bea heard included "never again" and "why?". Bea just hoped his weight wouldn't tip the table over and land both her flat white and his cup of English Breakfast on the ground. How he'd managed to drive them without killing any birds was a mystery to all. Bea made a note to drive on the way back.
Talking to her other friends and some of the kids from school there (Balthazar had become somewhat famous after "SONG" and "Way to Tell You", so quite a few people had turned up) proved too difficult a chore for Bea's limited energy supply. Bea took another sip and sighed. Stupid caffeine wasn't stupid working.
Most of the others looked perfectly fresh, the lucky bastards. They weren't up all night cleaning up with Hero. But then, Hero hadn't had much more sleep than Bea, and she looked perfectly fine. Practically perfect in every way. Of course.
Why couldn't Balthazar have chosen a better time for this thing? Speaking of Balthazar, where the hell was he? Wasn't this supposed to be his gig? Never mind that she was almost half an hour early, she hadn't seen him since that... incident with Pedro (who also wasn't here) yesterday...
"John!" she called across the room and immediately regretted it. Ben shot up at the sound with a shout of "Expelliarmus!" and somehow managed the impressive feat of knocking over two cups and one table with just his elbow.
A lot of swearing and half a roll of paper towels later, the area around them was restored to its former glory, though missing two drinks. On the bright side, Ben was fully awake now, and Pedro and Balthazar had finally come in, sporting scarves that must've been stiflingly hot in this weather but were rather necessary to hide the not-so-inconspicuous marks on their necks.
Ursula rushed over to help them with the multiple instruments each were carrying, and the others soon followed suit.
"Careful with the keyboard- oh! Fuck, fuck, I think there's still a few things in the car- could you- thanks- don't mess up the sheet music! Thanks-"
Bea shook her head. You'd think an entire band was going to be here judging by all the things Balthazar had brought.
"Is all this really necessary?"
Balthazar blushed and laughed a little. "Nah, but I guess... I just don't get many gigs and I want to do as well as I can."
Pedro appeared from out of nowhere and put his arm around Balthazar's shoulder. "I'm sure you'll do great."
This resulted in a lot of them smiling sappily at each other and gazing into each other's eyes, that resulted in Bea having to mime barfing at how sickeningly sweet they were being, which then resulted in Pedro reminding her that she was the one who'd wanted to set them up in the first place, and somehow ended up being another loud I-don't-like-Benedick denial session whilst the many people in the cafe either looked bewildered (hello baristas), laughed (shut up Ben!), or began pulling up that video from YouTube (damn you Hero!). Bea stomped back to her seat (next to Ben, which didn't really help matters much) in a rather foul mood, but it's hard to stay mad at someone who's helped you write a song for your boyfriend and accompanied you on the ukelele. Bea still reserved the right to be mad at Pedro though.
Balthazar finished setting up. Bea checked her phone. Exactly one minute until showtime.
The minute passed, and Balthazar went up to the stage. He paused at the microphone. "Um… thanks to everyone for coming here… I- I really appreciate it. This first song is dedicated to my boyfriend. Pedro Donaldson."
His friends cheered. Pedro blushed.
The familiar chords of "An Ode" played out through the cafe. Bea leaned back and listened. The subject matter was a little old ("no wrong"? I don't think so…), but it was still sweet. He was very good, and the audience seemed to think so too. Even considering that Bea was pretty sure half the applause and cheering was coming from Pedro- who was staring at his boyfriend with a look of such awe that Bea wondered if he'd lost his mind or something- they were loud.
The rest of the performance was just as good. Balthazar did a few covers of "Mumford and Sons" songs, then moved on to a few of his own compositions: some that Bea had heard already and some she figured he'd just written, perhaps especially for this gig. She also figured almost all of them were about a certain Messina trash king.
Balthazar moved from piece to piece with ease, though he did stumble a few times. Up on the stage, he utterly transformed, immersing himself entirely in the music. It took a few shy smiles at the end of each song to remind Bea that this was Balthazar Jones playing.
On second thought, maybe Pedro's awe wasn't all that crazy.
The last chord echoed through the cafe, and then Balthazar took an awkward bow to cheers.
"Thanks," he mumbled at the audience.
The music plus the coffee seemed to finally get Bea's energy up (Ben's too, apparently), so she found it no great difficulty to rush over to the stage to Balthazar and congratulate him on his performance. Ben was there before her, jumping and squealing like an overexcited fangirl and repeatedly asking for Balthazar's autograph while trying not to laugh. Apparently lack of sleep did not have an impact on his terrible sense of humor.
Balthazar took the praise rather well (for him): a lot less looking at the ground and stuttering than Bea had expected.
Afterwards, everyone helped Balthazar cart everything back to Pedro's car and they all went their separate ways. Bea with Ben and Hero, Meg with Ursula, Dogberry with Verges, John and Claudio by themselves but still a part of their group. Pedro with Balthazar.
It wasn't perfect, but who needs perfect when you have happy?