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somehow he must know

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By no stretch of the imagination was seeing Porter drunk a new phenomena to Hugo. The way his smile softened, his body curling up next to whatever and whoever was nearest to him something he’d seen many times. He’d laugh for a while and go quiet, listening to what was happening around him, flowing behind the more energetic people with him.

Here though, Hugo was the only person around. Empty beers sat around them in Hugo’s studio, the remnants of a sort of celebration of Porter coming to visit again. He was at the point where he had gone quiet, curled into a ball at Hugo’s side. Hugo had wrapped an arm loosely around him, justified it to himself by saying it was more comfortable for him to sit like that, and they both were staring out into the garden and watching as the sky changed colors.

A small noise came from his side and Hugo glanced down to see Porter’s smile had faded at some point. He looked sad and lost, eyes staring out but not really fixed on anything.

“What’s that? I didn’t quite-”

“Dillon hates me,” came again, a little louder.

Hugo sat in silence for a bit. It was true he hadn’t seen Dillon and Porter together like they had been, practically inseparable and always talking about the other when they were apart. Now, Porter would change the subject every time Dillon was brought up, would avoid him as much as possible if they were in the same place. Hugo had assumed they had had a fight, and hadn’t wanted to bring it up if Porter didn’t want to talk about it.

“Why does he hate you?” Hugo asked.

“Pushed him too far away.”

That didn’t come as a surprise to Hugo. Porter had the tendency to completely reject things that upset him, until they were as far out of mind as possible. Had deleted dozens of half-finished songs one night, unimpressed with them all, even though Hugo kept telling him that some of them were spectacular.

“Why’d you push him away?”

Instead of answering, Porter turned his face more into Hugo’s side, his head digging in a little uncomfortably now.

The moment stretched on long enough that Hugo thought Porter wouldn’t answer, but then words were mumbled into his shirt, too rushed to make out even if they hadn’t been completely muffled.

Hugo sighed, saying, “I can’t help you if I can’t hear what you’re saying.”

Porter shifted his head just enough so his mouth was past the cotton of Hugo’s shirt, repeating, “I love him.”

That… hadn’t been what Hugo was expecting at all.

His mouth hung open slightly as he stared down at where Porter had somehow dug himself even deeper into his side, thinking about it. It made sense, really. Those years ago Dillon was the only person Porter would ever talk about. It would’ve made Hugo jealous if he hadn’t known Dillon himself and known that he and Porter’s friendship would last no matter what happened. He could still remember it vaguely, the spark in Porter’s eyes always there when he mentioned what Dillon had said on one of their calls, talked about how Dillon liked his new tracks, how much he liked Dillon’s. It was obvious looking back on it. He sighed again.

“And you never said anything about it?”

Porter’s mouth was back into Hugo’s shirt, but he spoke loud enough Hugo could make it out this time. “He’d hate me.”

“Isn’t that the exact problem you have now?” At that, Porter made the saddest noise, something that had Hugo immediately feeling bad. He rubbed his hand along Porter’s arm. “Sorry, I shouldn’t have said that.”

Porter uncurled finally, straightening out enough to drop his head heavily on Hugo’s shoulder. Hugo was sure that couldn’t be the most comfortable thing for him, but Porter didn’t make any indication of it.

“It’s true, though,” Porter said finally.

“I’m sure it’s not,” Hugo said. “I’m sure he still wants to be friends with you, he probably just thought you wanted space.”

“Yeah,” Porter said, “okay.”

Hugo made sure they got to bed not too long after that, hoping Porter would feel better come morning. The conversation still lingered in his mind as he fell asleep, knowing that at some level his friend was still upset.

 

 

A couple weeks later, Hugo was again confronted with Porter’s predicament.

He had been playing at a festival the night before, stayed the next day to see some of his friends’ sets. The constant parade of faces on top of the not quite distinguishable beats coming from the stage closest to him had finally worn him down to the point that more of his energy was going towards maintaining his own expression than understanding what words were being said to him. He’d managed to duck away silently, retreating to a quiet place behind one of the temporary buildings. The music was still audible from back there, the bass feeling like it would never leave his bones, but the bright lights and the noise of conversation was considerably less and he could feel the tension drain from his muscles.

It had only been a few minutes when a familiar face rounded the corner.

“Hey!” Dillon said. “Someone said they saw you come over here! What’s up, dude?”

Any annoyance at the interruption dissipated at Dillon’s legitimate excitement at seeing him and the hug he was immediately pulled into.

“Not much,” Hugo said, laughing. “Just, you know, getting away from everything for a bit.”

Dillon nodded. “I feel that. If you want me to leave, let me know.”

Hugo waved his hand. “Nah, it’s good to have a friend out here.”

Dillon grinned at that. Hugo watched his smile falter for a second, replaced by something that seemed somehow faker. “So, Porter was visiting you recently, right? I saw the snaps.”

Hugo blinked, trying to read what had happened with Dillon. There was no way he really hated Porter like Porter had thought, right? “Yeah, he came over and we messed around a bit with some music but it was mostly just to catch up.”

“That’s cool, that’s cool,” Dillon said, but it sounded strained.

Hugo decided to just bite the bullet, at least making Porter’s situation easier if he could give his friend some definitive answers. “Do you dislike Porter?”

Dillon looked legitimately shocked by that, eyes going wide and voice completely without the falsity that had been covering it before. “No, of course not.”

Hugo gave him a half smile. “Okay, good. Sorry about that.”

“No, it’s-,” and Dillon bit his lip. “Does he hate me?”

Hugo felt the urge to just come out and say, ‘No, he loves you,’ but held himself back and said, “Not at all.”

Dillon looked equal parts relieved and cautious, as if he didn’t quite believe Hugo told the truth. He glanced down and away a couple times before he said, “I think he might’ve figured it out.”

His voice was broken in a way Hugo’d never heard it, wondered if anyone had ever heard it, and he wanted it to stop. He wanted that smile from earlier to come back.

Hugo didn’t get a chance to say anything before Dillon let out a sigh and said in that same voice, “I think he knows I love him.”

Hugo had to bite his lip hard to stop the incredulous laugh desperate to come out. The irony of the situation was so much he almost missed the fear that then overcame Dillon’s face.

“Don’t tell him if he doesn’t know, okay? I don’t want him to hate me.”

Hugo wanted to retort with something highlighting the complete ridiculousness of the situation, but seeing Dillon genuinely upset, he just nodded. “I won’t,” he said, “promise.”

He smiled at Dillon then, and Dillon gave a tentative smile back before laughing and clearing the air and immediately moving on to talk about how the festival had been going. Hugo laughed where he’s supposed to and talked with Dillon easily, but he was already trying to figure out how to resolve the problem that his friends had created for themselves.

 

 

The perfect opportunity presented itself soon enough. They’re all in LA at the same time miraculously, Porter and Hugo being called there for different reasons. Hugo silently thanked whoever had aligned their schedules as they had.

Hugo knew Porter and Dillon needed to be the ones to tell each other how they feel, it couldn’t be him, but he also knew both would be too skittish about it to agree to meet up with the other on their own accord.

He decided to just make sure they were all in the same place at the same time. Then, assuming his friends wouldn’t somehow mess this up more for themselves than they already had, he thought it would be nice for them to already have somewhere to go out together.

He spent some time looking around the area, finds a little restaurant that’s nice but not painfully expensive, easily books a reservation for two. There’s a park nearby, and Hugo thinks it best he send them there to meet up first, so Hugo can facilitate the meeting himself and make sure what needs to be said is said.

He texts both Porter and Dillon the information, the park and restaurant location and time, and he waits nervously for the time to arrive. He’s going to make sure this resolves as it should have years ago, hopes he’s not too late in helping his two friends out.

He made sure to arrive early, playing idly on his phone as he wonders who will be the first to show. Wonders who’ll be the most likely to run if they see him with the other. Hugo frowns, knows that’d definitely be Porter, though either would probably understand what it meant that he was there with the person they had told him no more than a month ago that they were in love with. He hoped he was doing the right thing.

Of course this meant Dillon arrived first. He looked nervous, which Hugo didn’t understand. Dillon couldn’t have known Porter was coming too, there would be no other reason for him to be so nervous. As Dillon spots Hugo though, his eyes lit up and he headed over to him.

“It’s good to see you, dude,” Dillon said, smiling but still looking slightly anxious. Hugo grinned at him, taking in how well he looked. Obviously it was a response to the restaurant he had selected, it wasn’t the most casual of places, but Hugo still couldn’t help but be slightly in awe of his nicely done hair and the shirt that looked like it must’ve been tailored for him.

“Good to see you too,” Hugo said, suddenly slightly self-conscious of how he looked. He hadn’t dressed up in the slightest, knowing it would be Porter and Dillon who would be going to the restaurant, but standing next to Dillon he feels like he should’ve tried a little harder.

“We good to go then?” Dillon asked, holding out his arm in a way that was meant for Hugo to take it.

Hugo laughed briefly and said, “Actually, the reservations aren’t for a little bit still, I was wondering if you’d want to hang out here for a while?”

Dillon shoved his hands in his pockets, looking like he didn’t know what to do with them after that. “Alright,” he said, “anything you want to talk about?”

It was at that point that a shadow moved at the corner of Hugo’s vision, and he sees Porter there illuminated in the setting sun and looking like a deer caught in headlights. As Hugo’s eyes met his, he could see a range of emotions flash through them, many more negative than positive. He kept glancing between Hugo and Dillon, trying to figure out what was going on. Instead of addressing any of it, Hugo just raised his hand in a wave.

This caught Dillon’s attention and he turned to look, and suddenly the both of them were frozen, staring at the other, acutely aware of what each had told Hugo. Porter was trapped now though, Hugo knew, he wouldn’t run away at this point. Instead, he slowly walked over to where they were standing, looking anxious and somewhat embarrassed. He, like Dillon, had dressed up, and while Hugo had seen his friend like this many times before, something about the setting sun glinting off his eyes and hair made him seem even more beautiful.

As Porter stopped by them, he still said nothing, so Dillon quirked a half smile that Hugo thought was the fakest thing he’d ever seen from him and said, “Hey, long time no see.”

“Yeah,” Porter said, short and Hugo could tell he was carefully not giving anything else away, hiding as much as he could. He looked away from both Hugo and Dillon, and when Dillon too seemed at a loss for words, Hugo decided to just get this over with. He did have a time limit with the reservations, after all.

“I’m not going to pretend like I didn’t set this up on purpose,” Hugo said, and immediately two sets of eyes were on him, some level of fear in both. “I won’t really say anything, either. What I will say is that either of you can tell him what you told me and everything will be fine.”

Porter’s and Dillon’s eyes met once again, both looking nervous. Finally, Dillon spoke. “I’m sorry I stopped talking to you as much, Porter.”

Porter blinked and he looked almost relieved and said, “Oh, I’m sorry I didn’t respond very often.”

They both smiled at each other, tentative small ones but it was still something.

Hugo wanted to rip his hair out more than ever.

“Oh my god, you guys. That was not what I was talking about and you both know it,” and they both blushed.

There’s only awkward fidgeting for a long enough time after that Hugo almost said screw it with letting them say it themselves when Porter finally spoke up. “I, kind of, love you?”

Dillon looked shocked, though Hugo couldn’t for the life of him figure out why after how obvious both of them were just being, and before Dillon could say anything Porter said, “I’m sorry, I was trying to get over it, I just don’t want you to hate me.”

There was a beat of silence before Dillon started to laugh. Porter shrunk in on himself at the sound, shoulders rising around his head, when Dillon said, “That is the most Porter Robinson solution I have ever heard to something. Dude, it’s been over a year now since you stopped talking to me, I thought you had found out I loved you and you hated me.”

Now Porter looked shocked, months and months of actions being turned over in a new light. He started to laugh too, bubbling up out of him, and Dillon reached forward and pulled him into a tight hug.

“We’re such idiots,” Porter said.

Dillon smiled. “Yeah.”

Hugo’s grinning now too, glad his plan somehow managed to work, but glancing at his phone he realized how late it had gotten.

“Not to cut this moment short, but there’s still the reservations for you two,” Hugo said, and both seemed to remember he’s there and look at him with something akin to... disappointment?

“I mean not that I don’t appreciate this- and I don’t know what you thought?” Dillon said, glancing at Porter, seeming flustered again for some reason, before he looked back at Hugo. “But I guess I thought I would be going on a date with you?”

Porter piped up, “Yeah, I mean, that’s what I thought too.”

Hugo felt his own face heat up, suddenly aware of how his set-up for the night would’ve sounded like that. It wasn’t that he didn’t like his friends, or wouldn’t definitely be into going on a date with either of them, but he had wanted them to get together.

He tried to articulate that, saying, “I did this all for you guys, I knew how much you liked each other.”

“So, you wouldn’t want to go out with us?” Porter said, and he seemed to almost try to be hiding his feelings again, and Hugo’s head was spinning.

His mouth felt dry when he said, “I didn’t say that, but-”

He’s cut off with a grin from Dillon and his arm being offered out towards Hugo again. “Then let’s get going, French boy.”

There was a brief pause as Hugo’s brain tried to catch up with what was happening, his two friends reconciled but somehow both wanted to date him as well, and Dillon kept his arm held up through it all. Hugo glanced at Porter and he was smiling at him too, seeming more genuinely happy than he had seen him in months. Hugo finally took Dillon’s arm and laughed, feeling giddy about the sudden change of events but how it had worked out. “It’s only a reservation for two, you know.”

Dillon shrugged. “They just have to shove another chair on the side, it’ll be fine. Or one of you can totally sit on my lap, that’s another solution.”

Porter lightly punched Dillon’s other arm, laughing. “Shut up.”

Hugo just kept grinning, feeling like he was flying as he was led by the two down the sidewalk.