I'll burn this place to the ground Who: Chris & Daniel What: A slightly intoxicated quasi-confrontation. Where: CASKET When: 8:55 p.m.
Daniel had arrived early, though not so early as to appear desperate or even overly enthusiastic about this long put-off meeting. A quick glance around the club confirmed he was still first to arrive. He found a small, out of the way table with a clear view of both the bar and the front door. He settled in, facing outward, and waited for his prey. He would have been lying had he said the idea of going back to Pax and pounding on Chris's own door didn't have its appeal. But this, he hoped, would at least be seen as a peace offering of a sort, a chance to clear the air between them on neutral ground and out of the earshot of any eavesdroppers.
The waitress arrived in short order, and as he had promised, Daniel did not speak on his neighbor's behalf. He ordered scotch for himself, and set to work on it the moment it was set down before him. He dismissed the black-clad waitress with a wink and a smile, and settled in to wait the few minutes that remained.
Chris made a point of arriving at 9:05; he wasn't late, per se, but still enough to shove the idea of this meeting back in Daniel's face. He was here, wasn't he? Though he knew the man would have some smart aleck remark in the face of his lack of punctuality, Chris still slowly walked into CASKET, stopped to look around the room, taking his sweet time to both find the man who had all but summoned him here and get to the table Daniel had saved for them.
He looked to Daniel's drink as he slid into a chair, carefully bending his leg so he could sit properly. He waved to the waitress, then turned his attention to Daniel with an arched brow. For all of his apparent calm, there was a strange adrenaline suddenly running through him, making his chest palpitate. "I guess you're looking for an apology?"
"I deserve one," Daniel said, "but no. I told you, I just wanna talk. I'll even wait til you have some booze in your hand if that'll settle your nerves." He looked down to the cell phone neatly placed before him, tapping one button to bring its clock up on the screen. "Look at that. I was even gonna give you five more minutes before I tracked you down. This is already off to a great start."
The waitress returned, brow arched, face expectant. Chris controlled himself enough to keep from rolling his eyes, and ordered a straight whiskey. He did not return the waitress's friendly smile, but she seemed to take it in stride before turning away from their table to ready his order.
"If I'd known you'd be so magnanimous, I might've asked for a different location. Not that I don't like this place, but I think too many of our fellow apartment tenants frequent it as well."
"You can pick the spot for our next date," Daniel quipped. "If you're so worried, just scooch over in the corner. But believe me, and I mean this as kindly as possible... nobody cares."
He leaned forward, resting the blades of his arms atop the table, his half-gone scotch held between his fingertips. "So. Are you actively avoiding me, or am I just imagining things?"
This time, Chris could not stop the expression of his eyes rising and falling in annoyance. "We live in a huge apartment complex, and we're not even on the same floor. I don't have to even try to avoid you. Our schedules obviously don't mesh." He was saved from further explanation for a moment as the waitress returned with his drink, which he at least acknowledged with a tip of his head. He waited until she left to continue. "Why, you been sliding notes under my door?"
"Don't give me ideas," Daniel said. "And c'mon. Are you really gonna act like you didn't bolt for the door at the thing on Friday? You looked like you wanted the floor to open up and swallow you whole. You darted outta the elevator the same way, and you know Stephan saw that. He knows what's up." He sat further forward, and at last had the decency to lower his voice. "You can't seriously look me in the eye and tell me you don't want another go. Somewhere better than an elevator, too."
Chris stared at Daniel, realization hitting him hard. "You think I was avoiding you at the party?" He bit back a derisive laugh that half escaped. "Wow, you have a very fucking high opinion of yourself. And desperate, to boot." He shook his head, bringing his glass to his mouth. Before Daniel could reply, another figure's shadow fell over their table.
"Gentlemen," the goateed man greeted them. "Julian, I'm the owner of this fine establishment. How's everything?"
"Just great," Daniel snapped. "Thank you so much. Do you have, like, a comment card or something you can leave? Cos we're kinda busy right now."
"My apologies--" Julian started, his folded hands in front of him spreading wide to underscore the words, but Chris shook his head.
"You're fine, don't worry about the sour puss. He's had a long day, a long life even," he replied, a smile settling over his features for the first time that evening. Holding his drink aloft, his eyes drifted back to Daniel for a moment to meet the other man's gaze and enjoy the uncomfortable position he was putting him into. He glanced back to Julian. "What do you guys have on offer?"
"Oh, a wide selection, that I can definitely promise. Beer, the harder stuff like the whiskey you're enjoying, a small but growing wine menu, and of course some options for the non-drinkers. Would you like to see our food menu?"
"Oh my God." Daniel downed the rest of his whisky in a single go. He set the glass down with a hard clink at the edge of the table. "Another Laphroaig, then, while you get the menu and God knows what else for the suddenly social debutante over here." He waved a hand at Chris, wishing he had started drinking significantly earlier than he had.
Chris couldn't have wiped the grin off of his face if he wanted to; Julian glanced between the two men, at a loss for specifics but well versed enough to know when he was overextending his stay. He nodded, picking up Daniel's glass and excusing himself, disappearing back toward the bar. Chris sipped his whiskey, eyes smiling in Daniel's direction.
"Well that was definitely in line with your lack of manners."
"Jesus you are gonna make me work for every inch of this, aren't you," Daniel said. He hunkered down against the table, his dark gaze cutting sidelong to where Julian was slowly sorting out menus and drink. "I'm so glad I could entertain you. Now let's talk about 'desperate,' huh?" He arched a brow. "Who were you runnin' from Friday, then? Somebody else you got stuck in an elevator with?"
Chris waved a hand, speaking with more nonchalance than he felt. "Why do you care? Are you upset someone got there before you?" He took a sip of his whiskey, hoping his hand was holding steady despite the loathing and fear this line of conversation brought out in him. "I had another appointment, I realized I was late, I was leaving and you so rudely prevented me from doing so. Do you take everything as a personal offense?"
"Only when it is," he said. "And that's the weakest excuse I've heard in a long, long time. I don't buy it for a minute. But let's pretend like I do, and get back to why you ran out of the elevator without so much as a wave. What was that about? You worried about what Stephan is gonna think? Recognize one of those firemen?" Daniel quirked a brow. His smirking smile began to return. "Did you not want 'em to think you were already spoken for, Chris? C'mon, be honest for once."
One dark brow arched over Chris's eyes, his mouth returning to its usual frown. "Why does it matter? It was one chance encounter. You're acting like I set fire to a five year relationship without notice. If I didn't know better, I'd think I'd earned myself a stalker."
"You know better than that," Daniel said. "You're just tryna piss me off now. You wanna call me rude? You had your tongue down my throat and couldn't even nod goodbye. Who taught you manners, hookers?"
He straightened up, sitting back in his seat, his arms folded once more. "It doesn't have to be a one-time thing. I don't think you want it to be."
"Now this is the only psychological term I know, but it fits too well here, and that sounds like projecting," Chris replied, taking another sip of his drink. They were momentarily interrupted by Julian, returning with Daniel's requested whiskey and a food menu. Neither man touched it, and the bar's owner did not linger overly long due to the palpable tension he could feel from five feet away as he approached the table. Once Julian was gone, Chris took a deeper sip of his drink, enjoying the way the alcohol burned into his stomach and seemed to mingle with his rising annoyance. If he were honest, though, there was a hint of amused curiosity, wondering where Daniel was going with all of this. He'd already dragged Chris out to this location, demanding to talk about their encounter. He dropped his volume, less out of a need for privacy and more in an unconscious attempt at Daniel's much-sought-after honesty.
"Did you think for a moment that perhaps I was uncomfortable with what happened? Or that I was unhappy with how it came to be, or how it ended? There are many different ways to look at...whatever there is between us." The last words were hesitant, a touch too raw for his own comfort. But the liquor was loosening his tongue, or so he told himself.
Perhaps surprisingly, this approach seemed to get through to Daniel. He drew his new glass to him, but did not drink, merely nibbling at his lower lip as he carefully considered. "Fine," he said. "But that's exactly why I wanted to talk to you. I know what I want. But I don't know anything about you except one minute you're more than receptive and the next minute you look like you'd shove me in traffic if you got half a chance. I'm kinda curious what all that's about, and I don't think it's asking too much for you to look me in the face and tell me instead of makin' me guess."
Daniel's soft response did not persuade Chris to lower his guard further.
"I know, I can't imagine why I wasn't receptive to being ambushed in the middle of a room of strangers. I really can't think of why that could have gone wrong." He drained the rest of his glass, setting it gently on the table between them.
Daniel exhaled on a long, slow sigh. He steeled himself with a substantial draught of liquor. Apologizing was, quite plainly, not an act to which he was well accustomed. "Look, I'm sorry. I know I'm… combative, or whatever, but you didn't give me a lot of options." He waved a hand, as though it might help him start over. "Nevermind. I'm sorry. I shouldn't have cornered you there. Tell me how to fix it."
Chris fingered his glass; the lack of contents showed his fingerprints all too clearly for his liking, marring the transparent surface. He met Daniel's gaze, uncertainty threaded throughout.
"I couldn't, really." He set the glass down, putting both hands on the table's surface. "I haven't done anything like this, let alone that, in a long time. I hesitate to ask your opinion, but I'm not sure what other options there are. What would you do to make it up to me?"
His hands spread atop the table, brows raising in disbelief. "You really want me to answer that?" He shook his head. "I dunno, man. An actual date. Or dinner at your place; I'm actually not a bad cook. Or Netflix and chill. Whatever. You tell me what'd work."
Chris did his best to suppress the smile that was growing out of Daniel's frustration, but it surfaced all the same.
"Sure, I'd be happy to be the judge of whether or not you can handle yourself in a kitchen." His fingers danced along the rim of his empty glass, clearly for want of something to do, maybe also because it was moving his hand further in Daniel's direction. "If you can make tamales as half as good as my abuelo did, I think I could spare you some more attention."
"I can handle myself anywhere," Daniel said, "but I'm not gonna even try to match family's recipes. Believe it or not I'm actually not that stupid." He narrowed his eyes at that sharp little smile, though he found it more difficult than he liked to keep from mirroring the expression. "All right, cool. You just tell me when and where, since I actually have not stalked you and found out your apartment number, and we'll do this."
"Afraid of disappointing?" The smile grew a little bigger. Chris shifted back in his seat. "Since that's sorted, was there anything else on your agenda? Becaused I was kind of looking forward to just sitting around in my pajamas and catching up on some reading."
Daniel grumbled something unintelligible, then downed the rest of his drink, already motioning to Julian -- or the bartender behind the meddlesome owner, Daniel cared very little which -- for another round for both of them. "You are just determined to get under my skin," he said. "I'm startin' to think that's what really gets you off." Then he actually laughed, shaking his head once more. "Fine. Tamales it is, motherfucker."
"It's just too easy to manipulate your competitive streak, Daniel." Chris looked beyond the man seated across from him, noting a waitress bringing their refreshed drinks. He didn't see where Julian had disappeared to. "You should really make it a little harder, give me more of a challenge before I lose my interest. That's what keeps you coming back, isn't it? There's plenty of other guys, or girls, or whatever you're into, that would give you far less of a difficult time." He wrapped his hand around his new glass of whiskey, taking a sip without breaking his eye contact with Daniel. "Or am I reading you wrong?"
His answer was a shrug, too nonchalant to be believable, but he did not look away. "Kinda hard to challenge you when I don't see you," he said. His smirk deepened. "But now we're finally gettin' that straightened out. I promise I'm more than a handful. You'll see."
"Promises, promises," Chris replied, but he looked perfectly content with the outcome they'd reached. He changed the conversation, unwilling to continue speaking in innuendo for the rest of the evening. "How was that thing, the neighbor event at the apartment complex? I wasn't there for very long."
Another smart remark danced at the tip of Daniel's tongue, but this time, he managed to let it go. "People seemed to have a good time," he said. "Good food, decent music. It was fine, really, even if all our neighbors aren't. I think we all could've used some booze in that punch to smooth things out. Maybe that'll be my first suggestion to management."
"You have a problem with someone else in the building? Color me shocked." Chris shook his head. "Do I dare ask who it is?"
"Hm. I'll tell you mine if you tell me yours." Daniel smiled against the edge of his rapidly emptying glass. Chris's mouth thinned to a line, and he lengthened the pause with another drink.
"Fairly sure management kept liquor out of it so that people like you don't start fights," he finally replied, changing tack entirely. "Of course, you still found a way. That's a very marketable skill. I think there's some other event going on around Valentine's Day, some...singles party or something. It's at a local club, so then you'll be able to get plenty inebriated."
"We'll see," Daniel said, shrugging. The arch to his brow did not lessen in the wake of Chris's obvious avoidance. He let it slide all the same, taking the offered bait instead. "Valentine's Day is always a good day to start some shit. Or at least watch shit get started. That definitely doesn't seem like your kind of thing, though. You're not actually going, are you."
"No," Chris confirmed. "Unfortunately, you're going to have to woo me in a less stereotypical fashion. Are you attending?"
"Probably. What could it hurt? Maybe while I'm there I'll figure out who had you so shook at the last get-together." He laughed and finished off his drink in one small, single motion. He glanced over to the waitress, an off-kilter smile playing over his lips. "BB's got a good eye and very loose lips. Maybe I'll see what she knows."
Chris shook his head, refusing to take Daniel's bait. "Knock yourself out. I don't know this 'BB,' so I doubt she'd be able to tell you very much." He finished off the rest of his whiskey, and then started to slide to the end of the booth. "If I hear any stories about you accosting other people, I'll know I'm not as special as you keep asserting." He stopped just before he went to standing, favoring Daniel with a curious look.
"How'd you get here? You drive?"
"Mmhm." He stood up from the booth, blinking a little, though he stayed on steady footing. He grinned, and circled the booth to stand perhaps a bit too close to his grudging acquaintance. "Why, you need a ride?"
Chris warded him off with a hand, rising to his feet under his own power. He wasn't going to allow Daniel the pleasure of ridiculing him again by helping him up as he had in the elevator.
"No," he replied, dryly. "But I think you might. If you get arrested for a DUI, how are you going to cook me dinner?" Standing smoothly, he patted his pockets for his keys. "Did you need to close out your tab? Or do you spend more time here than I'd realized?"
Daniel rolled his eyes. "Not yet, but keep on…" He wandered off toward the bar, settling his tab with the waitress who had patiently attended to them. Julian was nowhere to be seen, but Daniel would have no half-hearted apology for him until some later, more sober visit. The bill and a generous tip attended to, Daniel returned to the table. Chris was still waiting patiently beside it, checking his phone.
"I honestly expected you to disappear while I was doin' that," Daniel admitted. Chris's brows shot up as he locked his phone, sliding it back into his pocket.
"Wow, abandonment issues much? I abandon you once in an elevator and now you're never going to let me forget it." He pushed off of the table and headed for the club's exit, his pace more than slow enough to allow Daniel to keep up. "I suppose you're also wondering if I'll even let you in my car; maybe pull that high school prank where I slow down enough to let you reach for the handle, and then pull away? Some of us did outgrow being 15."
Daniel followed at a leisurely pace, chuckling to himself. "Not sure I believe that. I just call it like I see it, man." Grinning, he shrugged again. "Sorry if I struck a nerve."
The outside air was bracing; Daniel felt quite well enough to drive home on his own, but the prospect of having Chris cornered for that much longer was one he could scarcely bring himself to pass up. All things considered, the meeting had gone far better than he had expected. It was difficult even for him to say or do anything that might run the risk of ruining it now. He stuffed his hands into his pockets, as though that might also quiet his tongue. For a moment it worked, and in that silence, other thoughts, almost like memory, began to bleed through. He chewed the inside of his lip, looking to his companion with renewed curiosity.
Chris gave no sign of knowing Daniel was watching him, though such things were always at the back of his mind; people were always watching him. Instead, he continued out of CASKET, making sure he was the first to the door and helping himself out of it, keeping his limp to a minimum. Once they were in the parking lot, he headed left and then diagonally, bee-lining straight for a 2005 Toyota Matrix in a dark navy. It looked cared for but used, in decent enough shape. Chris hit the unlock button on his keybob, the car chirping back cheerfully in response.
He parted from Daniel's side, taking the driver's seat and sinking into it carefully as he adjusted his brace. Driving wasn't difficult, necessarily, but he did have to take it -- as he did many other things -- slowly. Once he was in, and buckled, he waited for Daniel to do the same before even turning the car on. As he did, duranguense started to pour out of the speakers, but Chris hit the off button to kill it almost immediately. Putting the car into reverse, Chris backed out in a painfully cautious manner, and then started through the parking lot and into the street.
Chris had counted the table between them in the club to be something of a blessing; there was a strange pull to Daniel that he could not name, nor even really describe. He clenched his teeth as he focused on the road, all too aware of the other man's suddenly close proximity. Part of him hated his slow approach to everything with a renewed passion, while another, larger than he would have liked to admit part was secretly gloating over the fact that they were now boxed into such a tiny environment. Somehow, it felt almost familiar.
The familiarity was not lessened, perhaps, by Daniel's quickly and easily settling deeply into his seat, snuggling down into it as though glad to make himself comfortable. Warm and buzzed and more pleased than he wanted to consider overlong, he looked over to Chris, his head lolling against the seat's head rest. It seemed he considered saying one thing after another, only to think better of each one before they crossed his lips. He smirked at his own hesitation, then barrelled through it, as he so often did.
"You ever get the feeling you sort of… I dunno. Know these people we're just now meeting? At least in passing, like you've seen 'em around and can't remember where." He picked a minuscule bit of lint from his jeans. "And yeah, I'm including myself in that. So please, feel free to tell me I'm crazy or drunk or whatever."
Chris chewed the corner of his lip, avoiding an immediate reply with the excuse that he needed his full attention on the road. That explanation, however, spent itself when they came to a red traffic light. His brow furrowed, he rubbed at his forehead as he turned Daniel's question over in his head.
"You're definitely at least buzzed, there's no denying that," he finally said, glancing sidelong in Daniel's direction. "But you're not wrong. At least, not where you're concerned. But I've lived in this city my whole life, so it's not unheard of that I might've seen or heard of you somewhere before." Those words failed to do justice to what he knew Daniel was talking about. There was something more, something that he felt he had just relived not too long before. A particular thought popped into his head, but he shoved it away, allowing the car to lurch forward once the light turned green.
"Why, who else in the building's seemed familiar to you? They all seem like normal people, so far."
"Well that's an overstatement," Daniel muttered. "But that BB chick. Definitely her. That rich, quiet couple, too, a little bit. And…" He stopped himself just before saying Aurora's name. It was the height of foolishness to say his ex girlfriend had felt particularly familiar, even though it was true, and in none of the expected ways. Beyond her, there was Chris himself, but even intoxicated, Daniel knew better than to mention that. He waved, dismissive, and pointedly ignored the way the motion allowed his fingers to brush soft against Chris's arm. "I dunno. At least a couple others."
Chris nodded, his eyes still on the road even as his palms slid over the stretched leather of the steering wheel. "Like...how do they feel familiar? People you've seen on the street, or somewhere else? Or maybe, I don't know, they've done TV commercials, or billboards." Or porn, he did not add, thinking of Rafe. He wanted to keep that particular connection as far from himself as possible, for as long as possible, especially where Daniel was concerned. That would only introduce a ticking time bomb into what he wasn't even sure exactly what was developing.
His passenger was shaking his head. "Nah, not that. It's like deja vu," he said. "Dumb as that sounds. But then they say something or do something that kinda shakes me out of it. I'm probably just mistakin' them for someone else. They say we've all got a doppelganger or two, right?"
That was not right, and Daniel felt it to his very core. But there was nothing for it now. How did one begin to explain flashes of dreams, remembered smells, familiar touches? It was like muscle memory, but with someone else's body. He shrugged and did his level best to appear unflustered by this line of thought.
"Maybe that's all it is. You said you've felt it, too. With who? What's it like for you?"
Once again, Chris did not answer immediately, but his cheeks did darken. Thankfully, it was already dark in the car, so he hoped he would be spared Daniel's notice. Instead, he focused on turning into the Pax Letale apartment complex parking lot, maneuvering toward his paid-for spot that was close to the building. He probably could have applied for and gotten a disability parking spot, but there was no need to add insult to injury. Parked, he turned the car off but sat back in the driver's seat, making no move to immediately exit the vehicle.
"Just you," he replied, eyes suddenly very focused on the dashboard in front of him. His hands were still hooked into the five and seven placements on the steering wheel, all the better to give them something to do. "Less, ah, deja vu and more... It's not important."
Daniel unfastened his seat belt, shifting until he was resting almost entirely on his left shoulder. He could not see Chris's face well, but he stared openly at it all the same, studying his silhouette in the dim light of the streetlamps outside. "Maybe it's not," he said, "but I'm curious. Aren't you? Isn't it… I dunno, weird, to you? I mean, I know I haven't met you before, but you… you do feel familiar." He rubbed his right temple, his eyes drifting nearly shut. "Just tell me. Maybe we can figure it out."
Chris rolled his eyes to the ceiling, face burning. "It was a wet dream," he finally managed, then immediately tried to eat the words back. "Not, not like that, but just. It wasn't even you, not specifically, but it felt like...you, and...jesús cristo follando," he muttered, pulling the keys from the ignition. "Like I said, nothing important."
"Maybe not…" Daniel shrugged. The motion jostled him slightly against the seat, but he lolled back into place in short order. "But maybe it is. I had a dream like that, too. Just the other night, actually. You, uh… I had a beard? Which is weird, cos I haven't really kept one since like high school, when I first could actually grow one, and it was so great gettin' to show that off." His hand raised, one finger prodding lightly at Chris's arm. "Dream-you gives great head. In case you were wondering."
The crimson in his cheeks darkened further, as though that were possible, but the edges of his mouth told a different story as they curled upward.
"Yeah, beard. And a sword and a shield. And I was..." A goddamn coyote? He couldn't remember if Daniel should know that or not, if he had seen him. He chose to keep that information to himself. "We were, it was some pool and a waterfall. I said you were trespassing, which is completely in character for you. So, more proof, I guess." It felt surreal to be talking about the dream as though it were a casual occurrence, something that had just simply come to pass. Chris turned his head, gaze meeting Daniel's with a furrowed brow. "Are we seriously saying that we shared a sex dream?"
Daniel was nodding before he'd finished the question. "Yep. I guess that's what we're saying." He laughed, unsteady, and genuinely pleased. He patted Chris's leg with his hand, and when he was done, it did not move away. "There's worse things to share," he said. "And better ones." His thumb slid over the seam of Chris's trousers, his smile widening in the same motion. Chris' eyes went down to Daniel's hand, but did not immediately remove it. The slight tang of alcohol still ran in his blood, still clouded his thoughts, or so he liked to think. He put his own hand over Daniel's, pulling it a little further down his leg and toward his crotch.
"How am I not surprised," he started, his face already leaning toward the other man's in expectation.
"Don't act like you're disappointed." Daniel wrote every word on his lips with the soft brush of his own. He was smiling, impossibly pleased, and then he was parting Chris's lips with his tongue. His hand curved around Chris's length, the pad of his thumb outlining his shape beneath thin cloth. He pushed his tongue over Chris's. A low purr of a sound rumbled in his throat, and he shifted to accommodate his own burgeoning arousal. Chris did his best to stifle a groan, his hips already rising up toward Daniel's touch as he thrust his own tongue into Daniel's mouth. All at once it was new and it was familiar, more familiar than the brief act they'd committed in the elevator. The feel of him, the taste was so similar to that dream; the coppery blood, the iron, the warm sun of his skin.
Chris lifted a hand, pressing it to the side of Daniel's face as he pressed harder, his mouth working over Daniel's in a bite. The separator between the seats dug into his hip, making his leg ache from the pinching brace, but he shoved that realization away for the moment. Daniel distracted him as best he could. His hand tightened on Chris's length, making the man cry out again. As their tongues slid together he stroked Chris's length with that same slow, languid pace. Heat pooled in his belly; he shifted until he was flush against the center console, as close to Chris as he could get in this tight space.
He sighed as he moved into Chris's touch, then breathed deeply of the scent he knew as well in his dreams as he did in the waking world. His free hand fitted to Chris's jaw, his thumb stroking over the stubbled line of his close-cropped beard. Chris's thumb smoothed over the line of Daniel's cheekbone, his mouth working away on the other man's. He wanted more; felt like he had had more, both recently and for years. Even still, a voice in his head cautioned him, worries crowding to the front. Getting involved never came without strings, never came without a price.
He pulled away from Daniel's touch, his hand slipping off his jaw to instead come back to the steering wheel. He could feel his heart pounding, his breath quickened, and he forcibly slowed one to calm the other. He did fix Daniel with a half grin, glancing at the man. "Are you going to ambush me in the middle of a room full of strangers again if I cut this off here?"
"Jesus." Daniel exhaled an unsteady breath. He pulled away, his tongue tracing over his lips, sweeping up the last lingering taste of the man beside him. "Are you kidding me, dude. Why?" He raised his hands to his temples, further tousling his already mussed hair. "Okay. Fine. But I'm still comin' to your place for tamales and you're not backing out of that, or I will ambush you, and I'll make that dream look like an after school special. Deal?"
Chris nodded. "I'm not reneging on that. I'm just thinking...all you really like about this is the chase, so if I give in now, I'll never get the chance to have you cook for me." Before Daniel could interrupt or offer a rebuttal, Chris popped the driver's side door open and stepped out into the cool night air.
Alone in the passenger's seat, Daniel swore, but he collected himself before stepping outside. The cooler air helped, as did a press of his palm over his troublesome, untended erection. "You're wrong," he called out. He shut the car door far more gently than he wanted. "You're wrong about me. Just so you know." He moved alongside Chris, slowing to accommodate his steps as they walked inside. "You'll see. You'll see a lot of things about me."
"Don't make promises you don't intend to keep," Chris replied, a touch of bitterness invading his words. Thankfully, they were soon at the apartment complex doors, and he hurried to let himself in before Daniel took it upon himself to hold the entrance open. "Have fun at the Valentine's Day thing, I guess. Maybe we'll pick up after that if you don't find something or someone else more interesting." They crossed the lobby, the concierge desk uncharacteristically absent of its usually flamboyant employee. For the moment, Chris did not bemoan the absence, instead focused on making it to the elevators.
Daniel did not let him get too much distance between them. He pressed the elevator door before Chris could, at least, congratulating himself on getting that much. "Valentine's Day it is," he said. "I'm goin', but I just want to check stuff out. See who's there, what's goin' on… that kinda thing. And then…" He pointed at Chris, winking playfully. "Tamales."
Chris met the other man's eyes plainly, the smile on his mouth untainted. He nodded.
"I'm holding you to that."
The elevator doors dinged, then opened wide, admitting the two men. Chris hit the second and third floor buttons, no longer feeling as awkward inside the tight space as he would have thought.