|patrick kim. (pygmalion) wrote in armadas,|
@ 2015-05-14 16:00:00
|Entry tags:||!log, ship: pava, universe: canon|
The light was just starting to come in. Because of the angles of the buildings, despite how large the windows were - taking up all that space - light only seemed to come at the high end of the afternoon. But as soon as it was there, it slipped away. And it only happened once a day. Which was why Patrick had been firm about the time. Forty-five minutes past two. Enough time to get her settled and positioned, right before the light slipped over her the way he wanted. He’d already set up his easel. He’d mixed the paints, or as much as he could without seeing her in front of him.
It was thirty-eight minutes past two. He drank a glass of water. Drummed his fingers on the table. For the third time in the past thirty minutes, he pulled at his collar. His roommate, the girl, peeked around the corner and asked if he was okay. Did he feel sick? No, he shook his head. He drank more water. After another five minutes had passed, he took his glasses off and rubbed at the lenses with the edge of his shirt.
Ava double-checked the address on her phone. She passed it once before getting to the end of the block, having to turn around. She didn’t know Brooklyn. The streets had names instead of numbers, but at forty-two past the hour, she hit the buzzer for apartment 3A of a brick-face four-floor walk-up. Her cheeks were flushed from the cold November air, her hair whipped from the breeze. She blew hot breath on her fingers as she waited, pressing them against her face to warm them.
The buzz stunned him out of his thoughts. Patrick almost knocked his chair, one of the barstools lined up at their kitchen island, over. But he managed to catch himself in time. In his eagerness, he didn’t take a look at himself in the mirror - hair flopped over, glasses slightly askew - but walked with purpose. Pressed his thumb flat against the buzzer to let her up. “Door’s open when you get up here,” he said over the intercom, then he retreated back to the kitchen. He needed something to hold. Was there a reason for why he was suddenly anxious? He tried to recall Ava in his mind, but what he could think about only felt like impressions. The movement of a brush, wet with ink, against smooth paper. Lips parting. Dark eyes.
With the sound of the buzzer, she pulled open the door, glad to out of the cold. However, the coat on her back was heavy and stifling by the time she reached stairs between the second and third floor. She tugged at the buttons, pulling it open, dabbing at a sheen of sweat on her forehead. It was an old, vaguely rundown building -- a converted factory loft -- again, not exactly something Ava was used to, who grew up on the Upper East Side. And she hardly knew this guy -- she had met him once after a recital. He was -- different from most of the people she had known. He had a weird intensity in the way that he studied her face, like he was taking in its shapes and lines. He had a crooked smile. He had said that he wanted to paint her. No one had offered to paint her before.
She found 3A to her right. She slid her coat off, draping it over her arm. She felt decidedly uncomfortable -- it may have been the walk up the stairs, the collar of her dress sticking to her neck, or the vague, awkward feeling of being at the apartment of a person she barely knew. She pushed open the door to his apartment, peeking in. “Hello?” her voice was small, tentative.
He was still at the kitchen island. Standing. He couldn’t trust it in himself to not knock over the stool again. He felt uncharacteristically gangly. He imagined those documentaries where baby animals took their first stumbling steps. He was afraid if he took a step suddenly, without careful assessment, he’d tremble and fall to the side.
He was being stupid, actually. He knew it too. He knew he was. He uncurled from himself because he had been slouching. Tall people tended to do. He straightened himself out, standing with the proud, erect carriage of a prince. A funny thing to do, when he was in a shitty apartment. There were dirty dishes in the sink. The only clean thing was the wide, open space where he had set up his easel.
He didn’t look at his watch. “You’re on time,” he commented. “You can come in. Put your things on the couch and take a seat on that stool near the window. Do you want anything to drink? Water? Beer? Juice?”
She did as she was told, removed her coat and laid it on the couch with her bag. “Water,” she answered. In her mind, Pat painting her portrait meant -- well, she wasn’t sure what it meant -- but she wore a soft pink dress. Good shoes. The way she used to dress for Easter Sundays or family parties. She felt stiff and awkward, looking around the worn-down Brooklyn apartment. “I think I wore the wrong thing,” she called quietly.
Patrick had already moved to the fridge, his back towards Ava. He poured a glass of cold water from the Britta and placed it on the kitchen island counter. “You could take it off,” he suggested, his face impassive. It was a joke, of course - he had no interest in painting her like that, not at this moment - but it was also a test. He glanced at the glass of water, which was closer to him that it was to her, then back at her face. “Well?”
She could feel herself flush, heat fanning out across the surface of her skin. She felt a wave of panic. She had brought herself here. Was this the expectation? Had she unwittingly put herself at risk for… whatever the stereotypical risks were of meeting a stranger at his house? “Um, you want me to be--” she stopped, her eyebrows knitting as her eyes scrutinized the impassive look on his face. “--naked?” The red of skin deepened as soon as the word left her lips.
“Obviously,” Patrick said, his tone deadpan. “Why else would I invite you here?” He was being mean, maybe even unforgivably - but he couldn’t help but think it was hilarious, the way she had clearly given into panic. He couldn’t blame her. Didn’t they tell stories like this to girls? Wasn’t it terrible of him to utilize that for his own entertainment? He only waited a few moments, before he turned away, moving to pour another glass of water for himself. “I’m kidding,” he said, his back towards her. “Don’t be ridiculous. Whatever you’re wearing is fine. It’s not about that.”
If anything, Ava burned even redder. Of course it was a joke. She felt even more like a little girl, more hopelessly naive -- pink like a newborn, pink like her dress. “Do you have a shirt that I can borrow,” there was no question inflected in her voice. She was -- irritated. Annoyed at her own stupid fight-or-flight response to an obvious situation. Deeply embarrassed by her own assumptions. “To be honest, I think I’d be more comfortable.”
Patrick wasn’t really asking a question, just repeating her statement to take up time. He sipped from his glass, looking her over. She was the drink here; his eyes just soaked her up. In the dim light coming in through the white linen curtains, she didn’t look anemic as the yellow light might suggest but as if carved from marble or stone.
“No, you don’t need it,” he said, his tone sharp. “This is good. Actually…” He circled around the counter, placing his glass down next to hers. He walked up to her, then past her to the curtains where he pulled one halfway back so that more light fell on her in a gradient, coming in through both the linen and unblocked glass window. “Turn to me for a moment?”
Again, it was not a question.
And there it was again. That same palpable intensity as his eyes took her in, as he looked -- really looked -- the way that she imagined a camera lens captured, or perhaps even something more active than that -- his eyes drew her in, and she stood vaguely transfixed, a tiny ripple of goosebumps rising up on her arms. No one had ever looked at her like this before.
She heard him move the curtain, and then timidly, but not without grace, she turned, her arms loosely, naturally arcing outward. The light was behind him; it shadowed his face, created a halo around his head. One hand came up to shield her eyes against the glare. To catch a glimpse of his eyes looking at her again.
“Like that.” He wasn’t speaking to her, but to himself - like a verbal capture of this moment, turning the switch on to record so that he might revisit it at a later time. Girl caught in light. Girl standing in front of a window, girl looking at him as if he might eat her and he had the ridiculous notion that he wanted to do just that.
What are you doing, Patrick thought to himself. He circled around her, He didn’t think she trusted him; he didn’t blame her for it. After all, they barely knew each other. But he had a sudden inkling - this moment, with her in the light - he thought he could capture it. Capture her. There was something remarkable about her. Behind the pale face. Her understated grace. The long, silky loop of her dark hair. Or maybe it was all because of those things that he thought she could be remarkable.
He didn’t say anything to her, but walked over to the easel. His eyes never left her.
He picked up a pencil.