|Cristobal Rodriguez ♦ Coyote (coyoti) wrote in paxletalelogs,|
@ 2017-10-04 13:29:00
|Entry tags:||ares, coyote|
would I lie to you, baby, would I lie to you?
Who: Daniel & Chris.
What: A date that's not quite a date, which ends up peeling back more of Chris' facade and showing that he's still not done spilling secrets.
Where: L.A.'s Museum of Ice Cream.
When: Backdated to Sept. 29.
Tickets had not been easy to come by, and Chris was less than forthcoming about how he'd acquired a pair, but it hadn't taken much persuasion to get Daniel to go. It was, after all, an outing that Chris had suggested, had planned, had framed as a date. And now here they were, approaching the red-bricked building as the sun started to set into an orangey-red sky.
The front was a pastel pink, something Chris raised a brow at, but he offered a thin smile to the person who held the door open in front of them, doing the same for Daniel as they entered.
"Maybe we should've gotten dinner before coming here," he quietly mused as they entered the lobby area, which continued the pink theme with a generous helping of sprinkles, frozen treats, and matching, explosive colors. Chris reached a hand out to pull Daniel gently behind the last of the group, his hand lightly moving to rest on the small of the other man's back. "You gotta promise me you won't fill up on ice cream, OK?" The words held a teasing lilt, clearly pleased to just be there and present with the other man.
Grinning, Daniel leaned back into Chris' hand. He tipped his head toward Chris, his lips just barely skimming over the tender skin of his earlobe. In his sultriest whisper, he answered, "No." Then he nipped at Chris' skin and pulled away, boyishly happy with every aspect of the day. Chris groaned mockingly, rolling his eyes, but he followed after his date as quickly as he could.
Daniel could have done with a great deal less of that pink throughout the rooms, but even the entryways provided multiple opportunities for him to take pictures of his partner. They were barely inside the museum before he began snapping endless photos with his phone. "One of these is gonna be my new profile picture," he threatened, one dark brow sharply arched. "Consider yourself warned."
Chris shook his head, just barely keeping himself from rolling his eyes again. They were in a lobby area, in front of what looked like a banker's vault door; two hallways extended in either direction. A tour guide was ushering people down the hallway toward the left, where more pink was vomited all over the walls.
"Can I at least ask to be faceless?" Even as the question fell out of his mouth, he reached out and snagged one of Daniel's hands, pulling him along with the group like an overeager child who might wander off. They were in close quarters, with people he didn't recognize and people they'd more than unlikely ever see again—he could manage a little minimal PDA.
They were pulled into a room with a shallow pit, filled with plush iced donuts complete with sprinkles and frozen pops on sticks. The majority of the pit, however, was just sprinkles; not the real kind, but fabricated specifically for this purpose. Chris eyed the side of the pit, unsure how he was going to step down with minimal fuss. Daniel watched him for a moment, his gaze flicking up and down Chris' body. Even without words, it was obvious he was considering picking him up (and very likely tossing him in). In the end Daniel merely waved him over, letting Chris join him in his own due time. He walked off the edge of the pit as though stepping off a plank, and sank up to his waist in plastic sprinkles.
"This feels weird as hell," Daniel declared, wriggling his hips to settle still deeper into the sprinkles. Tall as he was, there was little further to go. He flashed a toothy grin. "Kinda kinky, if you think about it. Maybe add some whipped cream..." He picked up a little plush donut and winged it at Chris; it thudded in the center of his chest, then plunked back down into the pit.
Grimacing a little, Chris rolled his eyes and motioned for Daniel to come closer.
"Be nice to your date, dickhead," he muttered to where he hoped only Daniel could hear him, carefully putting one leg out into the ball pit so he could sink down into a sitting position. One hand was lightly outheld, trying to look as though he were merely shrugging or about to reach for the donut to throw back at Daniel; in truth, he was waiting for the other man to drift close enough to use as a crutch, as much as he was unhappy to do so.
Daniel did not keep him waiting. He hastened over as best the plush confectionaries and plastic sprinkles would allow, still grinning at the ridiculous shushing sounds his progress made. "I am bein' nice," he insisted, reaching up to take Chris' hand. "You're gonna love this. And gettin' all the sprinkles out of our pants later will be even more fun."
He helped Chris out into the pit, entirely too pleased with himself as they headed out toward the center of it. The few other attendees present drifted away to give them space, glancing back with small smiles before giving them their privacy. "See?" Daniel said, oblivious to their looks. "Weird, right? But kinda nice?"
Chris did his best to not glance at them, instead focusing on his unsteady steps through the plastic sprinkles.
"Very weird," he replied, letting Daniel lead him forward. He dipped one hand into the sprinkles, letting it run down over his palm. Then another idea took hold, and a handful came up. "Hey, can you hand me that donut?" He pointed, and as soon as Daniel looked away, the sprinkles came down over his head as best as Chris was able to manage. He started to move off and away, grabbing a frozen pop like it would act as a shield for him once Daniel inevitably and quickly closed the space between them.
Laughing, Daniel pounced him without hesitation, sending them both tumbling down into plush toys and a cascade of sprinkles. He felt them tickling their way down his spine, settling in under his clothes. He picked up another plush toy—a milk bottle, as best he could tell—and rubbed it into Chris' face. "Now who's not bein' nice." He tossed the little bottle, watching as it bounced off Chris' mussed hair. Then he grabbed for his partner, lifting him up from the sprinkles and pulling him into a careless, easy kiss.
He realized too late what he had done, but he seemed utterly unabashed even when he did. He let Chris go, shuffling past him toward the edge of the pit and the little ladder leading up from it.
Chris blinked, a little bewildered from Daniel's mock attack. He felt a little hurt by it, abandoned almost, until he realized they were in a public space. With that realization, he hurried to his feet, following in Daniel's wake. He stood at the bottom of the ladder, a hand held up and hoping that Daniel wasn't going to make him attempt to get out on his own.
Their tour guide had started ushering them from the room, others climbing out of their own volition over the sides and walls of the sprinkle pit; all other eyes were removed from them, lessening Chris's worry about looking the invalid he felt at times like this.
Daniel took his hand without hesitation, pulling him up as he might have anyone else trapped in a landslide of sprinkles. His thumb passed lightly over Chris' wrist, a gentle caress over that warm pulse point; it seemed almost an apology for his hasty retreat, or perhaps for the public display of affection that had preceded it. All their fellow tourists were quite distracted; only a few of them remained in the room at all. Daniel and Chris took up their place as stragglers, and Daniel allowed himself one cheeky grope of Chris' backside as they exited the room.
"Swear to God," he said, as they caught up with the crowd, "I've got candy bits in places I've not had 'em since I was eatin' Pop Rocks in a car seat."
A shit-eating grin covered Chris' face, Daniel's remark washing away the embarrassment he'd felt not more than a few minutes before.
"I'll help you get 'em out—later," he replied, jumping a little as a hand snaked around to his back to attempt a grab at Daniel's hand. Then they were distracted with the next attraction; a taste test of a few different flavors of ice cream, handed out in bowls with wooden tabs instead of spoons. Their options were limited; vanilla, chocolate, or strawberry, or a combination of all three.
Chris opted for chocolate, glad to grab one of only a handful of seats at a bright pink bar where the dessert was being offered. A hand gently massaged his thigh, the other resting fingers against the paper cup.
"You're having a good time, though, right? I swear..." He remarked, looking over the fluorescently bright pink walls, the bar and stools made to match. "I think I should've done a little more homework before deciding on this..."
"It's great," Daniel insisted. Unable to decide on a single flavor, Daniel now cradled a small cup laden with swirls of brown, white, and pink. He swept the little stick over his tongue, humming his satisfaction with the flavors. He stood close behind Chris, ostensibly to leave enough room for their fellow guests; he kept drifting ever closer, bumping up against Chris' back. He scooped up another bite of ice cream.
Leaning forward, Daniel lowered his voice. "It's sweet stuff and photo ops and occasional light petting in public. How could I not love this?"
Chris's eyes went a little wide at the l-word, and he did his best to disguise the reaction with another bite of ice cream. Chocolate swirled in his mouth, and he nodded as he regained his bearings.
"Good," he said, nodding again. "I just..." Want you to have a good time? Prove that I'm not a complete douche? Numerous endings to that particular sentence wafted through his brain, but none seemed appropriate in that context. He fell silent, instead focusing on his food, moving his foot a little closer to Daniel's. His heel gently bumped against Daniel's toe. He glanced up, frowning.
"C'mere," he said, "you have something on your face."
"Mm?" Daniel leaned down, his tongue swiping over his lips. They were sticky-sweet with ice cream, faintly shining under the overhead lights. One brow arched, he glanced down to meet Chris' eyes. He wanted to ask what Chris had thought but not said, wanted to pry from him every hidden thing, however unimportant. Instead he settled for something simpler. Grinning, he touched the corner of his mouth with the tip of his tongue. "Did I get it?"
Chris shook his head, grabbing Daniel by the chin to pull his face down enough to where his tongue could reach the tip of Daniel's nose. There was, of course, nothing actually on it, not until after Chris had left a smear of saliva.
"There we go," he teased, his voice a whisper, his hand still holding Daniel's chin with enough of a grip to keep the other man bent over. Before either of them could continue whatever this little interlude was, the guide was ushering them through another doorway, to continue the tour. Chris glanced away, then back at his date, smirking as he released him and rose from his seat.
"Should've concentrated on eating our ice cream, I guess, and not goofing off." His own had a quarter portion leftover, but he'd had his fill of the sweet treat. Once he'd regained his legs, he took a step forward, waiting for Daniel with a curious look back. Daniel was unceremoniously shoveling what remained of his ice cream into his mouth. A faintly chocolate-scented smudge still adorned the tip of his nose; he liked it, for what it was and what it meant, and let it remain there.
He caught up to his partner soon enough, tossing the empty cup into a trash bin on their way out of the room. Daniel slipped his arm into the crook of Chris', in his uncomplicated happiness taking liberties he otherwise might not have. As they fell into step at the rear of the crowd, he tipped his head close toward Chris once more.
"I like this side of you," he said. "Playful. I knew you had it in you." Daniel chuckled. "So to speak."
Chris scoffed, but the smirk on his face gave truth to Daniel's words. "Are you saying I need to lighten up more, papi?" The last word was kept small and close, uttered almost directly into Daniel's ear. "Because I think I'm plenty playful...when it matters."
Any further discussion of Chris' 'playfulness' was cut off as the next room presented to them had some sideshow games; a ring toss onto the narrow necks of milk jugs, popping balloons with darts, and a third showing candy-colored clowns ready to be knocked over. All had the various ice cream themes that ran through the rest of the exhibit, though Chris felt that they were hardpressed to find ways to entertain their guests.
"There should be prizes for what I'm paying for this," he muttered under his breath as he slowly started to drag Daniel toward the ring toss. Daniel gladly let himself be led, pressing close to Chris as they reached the carnival game.
"Oh there will be," Daniel said; Chris had to swallow a snigger that nearly unconsciously erupted from those words. Daniel drew away from Chris with obvious reluctance. Taking up the nearest ring, he narrowed his eyes as he observed the playing field. At carnivals these games were thoroughly rigged; Daniel wondered if a tourist-friendly place like this would do the same. He threw the ring toward the grouping of bottles, and missed entirely. His second attempt was equally unsuccessful, but the third was the charm. He celebrated as though he had accomplished something truly extraordinary, raising one fist in the air. He held a ring out for Chris to try, and tipped his chin toward the clowns as he did.
"Definitely punching one of those to the ground before we leave, though," he said.
"I think the point is to hit one with a ball, not physically punch it," Chris teased as he came back alongside Daniel. "I don't think they'll let you get that close." He grabbed three rings of his own, the first handily making it over a milk jug with the first throw. With that, he allowed himself a small backhanded slap to Daniel's belly, then went to toss the other two alongside the first.
"All in the wrist," he commented, letting the second fly. It bounced off the mouth of a jug, making Chris's smarmy expression falter. The third followed the second to the same effect, and he shrugged, sliding an arm around Daniel's to hide what little disappointment he felt. Daniel, on the other hand, only smirked all the more. "Probably rigged. You said you wanted to punch clowns?"
"Mmhm. That's probably rigged too, though, right?" He poked at Chris' ribs, tickling him as he settled close beside him again; Chris gasped a little, quietly, his feet nearly tripping over themselves as he leaned on Daniel for support. The walk to the clowns' lane was a short one, but Daniel took advantage of the opportunity to stay so near. "I'm tellin' you, if I don't knock one of these bastards down, I will run up there and punch it. Right in its smug fuckin' mouth..." Chris laughed, softly, moving off to the side to watch Daniel work.
With his right hand Daniel reached for a ball, bouncing it up and down off the tips of his fingers. His left stayed intertwined with Chris' even as he let the ball fly. It struck the brightly-colored clown square in the nose. The inflatable creature bounced backward, leaning precariously, then finally fell to the floor. Daniel puffed out his chest, massively pleased with himself. "Well I'm satisfied," he said, nodding.
The laughter was louder now, Chris shaking his head. "I'm good, too," he agreed, moving closer to Daniel with one step to loop his arm through his boyfriend's. They were the first to start meandering toward the exit, where a photo op was placed. The logo for the museum was printed in large, blocky type on a pink background, a shade-wearing unicorn placed nearby. Chris hesitated for a moment, but then led Daniel to stand next to it.
"You wanna do stupid faces or a smile?" He asked as the photographer waited for them to get into position.
"Well we can't smile," Daniel said, pulling Chris into place beside him. "That unicorn's already too rakishly handsome, it's upstaging us. So I guess stupid faces it is." Chris's face folded into a smile, but he made no move to disagree.
Daniel laced the fingers of his right hand with Chris', pulling him nearer; his left slipped around his shoulders as he leaned his head toward Chris'. At the last second, just as the photographer snapped the picture, Daniel turned his head and pressed a kiss to Chris' cheek; Chris's surprise was surely caught on film. For all its relative chastity that kiss said much Daniel had never put to words. Joy and warmth positively radiated through him, affecting every place they touched in this rare, public display. The photographer called to them but Daniel heard nothing. He only shifted, tightly squeezing Chris' hand, before leading him up to the photographer with a smile gleaming brightly in his eyes.
Daniel loosed Chris' hand only to take the photograph from the attendant, once they reached the booth at the other end of the room. A boyish grin split his face as he looked down at it. He asked for a second copy and the attendant readily provided one, Daniel's contagious smile goading him on. "We should send one to kuku," he said, only half teasing.
"You're hilarious," Chris replied, feeling his heart palpitate at the sight of physical evidence of what he'd tried for so long to hide. Worry and some slight embarrassment washed over him, which he worked hard to tamp down, the happiness on Daniel's face instantly making him feel guilty for feeling as such. "I'm sure she has an altar to us already, and this would be the perfect centerpiece. But... I think we can hold off." He accepted a bright pink envelope from the attendant, holding it open for Daniel to slide the photos into. His heart was still racing, even just from that small moment; all the same, his eyes glittered and he certainly couldn't stop smiling as his gaze fell on Daniel's face.
"So how about we get something to eat, and maybe some drinks, to cap this off before we head home?"
"Sounds good." Daniel pulled the envelope from Chris' hands, holding onto it as though he was secretly worried Chris might toss the photographs into the trash on the way out. (The thought did occur to him, though only briefly.) He held it close by his side as they made their way back to the lobby and through the gift shop. He paid no mind to the tchotchkes meant to tempt them; his eyes were only on Chris, glad of his lingering smile even after the frisky photograph.
"I'm thinkin' a nice craft beer and a burger," Daniel mused. "Unless you've got somethin' else in mind…"
"Mmm, I was thinking tacos," Chris responded, his own arms hanging loosely by his sides as they exited the bright pink building into the softly falling twilight. They turned right, walking aimlessly up the sidewalk. "We can just see what's around here... How about that?" He pointed to what looked like a glitzy dive bar across the street, already loud and bright even at this early nighttime hour. Chris angled his steps toward a crosswalk, hitting the button that he hoped would bring traffic to a stop sooner than later. "You had a good time?" Thoughtlessly, a hand reached out, tracing down Daniel's side with familiarity. Daniel leaned into it without a moment's hesitation.
"Hell yeah. Did you?" Daniel stuck close to Chris even as the signal changed and they began to cross. He looked to his partner from beneath an upraised brow. "I know the sprinkles pit was a little much, but I couldn't resist." He slipped an arm around Chris, hooking his thumb in Chris' belt loop. "I could get used to dates like this. I mean, dates in general, but this… this was nice." He pulled Chris closer to him as they reached the curb, and leaned over to peck his stubbled cheek once again. "So thank you."
For once in their short dating history, Chris did not shrink back from the PDA. He found himself grinning too readily as they made their way closer to the dive bar.
"You're welcome—this was fun," he agreed. He wasn't sure if Daniel meant dates in general or dates with him, but he overlooked that small detail in favor of preserving the good mood between them. Holding the door for him, a quick glance down to Daniel's backside was not amiss, along with a furtive pinch that he deeply hoped went unseen by anyone within. He looked away, looking over the interior of the bar, and rather than give Daniel any attention for his response, motioned the two of them toward an empty booth near the back for what little privacy it might offer.
Daniel followed, grinning all the broader after Chris' unexpected taunt. He slid into the booth's seat nearest him, his back to the door and his eyes still on Chris. Carefully he propped the bright pink envelope up against the wall to his left. Then he reached for a drink menu, flipping through until he found the craft beers on tap.
"Good choice," he said, nodding appreciatively as he passed the menu over to Chris. "You're really battin' a thousand today. I don't mean to show my hand too soon but I am definitely puttin' out tonight."
"I always aim to win," Chris replied, grinning. He took the menu in hand, glancing over it; his distracted gaze allowed another man to enter the bar unnoticed. That same man paused, door held open for a moment, before making his way to the bar. His gaze flicked between the two, the source of libations in that establishment and the two men seated in the far corner. After another moment's hesitation, he seemed to come to some decision and made his way over to the table.
"Cristobal Rodriguez, as I live and breathe," he drawled out, coming to the edge of Daniel and Chris's booth. Chris's eyes went wide, a deer caught in headlights as he looked up to the man who'd fingered him. Then it was like a switch clicked; a professional smile fitted to his face, looking so natural that it made the whole shift in his expression unnatural.
"James O'Toole," he said in reply, his fingers tightening imperceptibly on the menu. "What brings you here?" Of all places, he finished in his head.
"Oh, this is one'a the regulars; you'd know that if you were still around," James returned, his gaze moving to Daniel before settling back on Chris. "Who's your friend?" He jerked his head in Daniel's direction.
One brow sharply arched, he answered for himself. "Daniel." Chris' tension at this man's unexpected arrival was evident; Daniel suspected its cause, and felt at war with himself over whether that was a question he really wanted answered. He glanced around the other man, trying and failing to find a waitress to end this interaction before it could further aggravate his partner. But James seemed unwilling to take a hint, and Daniel felt himself getting pricklier by the minute.
"So y'all worked together, I guess?"
"Sort of," Chris quickly interjected, causing James to arch a brow.
"Yeah, it's been awhile. At least ever since you got that new gig." Chris's smile faltered, his skin going visibly pale. James either didn't notice or didn't care. "How is that, by the way? If you're coming up short, you know we could always make use of you."
Chris shook his head. "No, I'm doing just fine. And if you don't mind—"
James laughed, easily settling his arms across his chest. "What, you two on a date?"
"We're just looking for some privacy, you ass," Chris mocked back, trying to calm himself before his worry completely overwhelmed him. "Private transaction, which I know you know what that's like."
The crease in Daniel's brow might have been discontent with Chris' answer; it might just as easily have been distaste for James' continued presence. He kept his silence on this point, letting both of them interpret as they liked. There was a hard edge to his voice when he spoke again, sharp enough to conceal his self-admittedly foolish hurt.
"Y'all can catch up some other time. Go enjoy your beer, James. Your next round can even be on me, as long as it's over there." Daniel tipped his head toward the bar, several comfortable paces away.
James' gaze flicked between the two men, measuring. A bemused smile covered his face, but he finally nodded; the reaction would have drawn a sigh of relief from Chris, were he not doing everything in his power to act as though nothing was amiss.
"Aight," he said, tipping his head forward in his best estimation of a farewell wave. "See you around, Chris. I know you haven't lost my number." He lingered for a few moments more, before finally turning on his heel and walking back toward the bar. Chris seemed to sink further and further into his seat with each step, deflating from the ridiculous posturing he had to maintain. He glanced around, shoulders still rife with tension, but he moved a hand beneath the table to gently brush Daniel's thigh.
"Do you... maybe we should go somewhere else?"
Daniel rose from his seat as the waitress at last came to their table. The look on his face was enough to convince her to go; she did so without a backward glance. He scooped the glaringly pink envelope up from the booth and held it with no apparent shame, carrying it past their acquaintance at the bar. He did not look back to Chris and did not remove his teeth from where they had pressed into his tongue until they were safely outside.
"Your new gig, huh?" Daniel asked, trying and failing to sound nonchalant. "What's that about?"
"It's nothing," Chris quickly supplied; the instant, reactionary response was immediately recognized for what it was, and he moved to give more information that he hoped would smooth over the unforeseen incident. "He's mistaken, is all. The only thing I've been doing is the real estate work you know I'm doing. Maybe he thinks..." Chris floundered for a moment, edging closer to the other man in the failing evening light as they made their way back toward where his car was parked. "I've been moving away from all of that, doing more...legitimate work. He probably thinks I'm using it as a cover for something else."
His hand reached out, brushing the back of Daniel's where it held fast to the envelope. Daniel did not move away from that touch, but made no effort to reciprocate it, either. Even in the dim glow of the streetlights and waning sun it was obvious he did not fully believe this explanation. But he only shrugged, and tried to smile, and gripped the envelope all the tighter.
"Private transaction," Daniel repeated. He shook his head. "Strong play."
Chris shrugged, his shoulders attempting to relieve themselves of their earlier burden. His mouth was set in a thin line, hoping against hope that Daniel would buy what he'd put out there and hating himself for the fact that he still felt like he needed to lie at all. A moment's sober pause had him grab Daniel's wrist, push-pulling him into an alley between two buildings; a dumpster sat in the far corner next to a fence, and they were just in front of a white van that proclaimed 'the best buns in LA' along with swirling pictures of cinnamon rolls and other bakery items.
"Look, I know that's not how you want that to go, and... it's not how I wanted it to, either, OK? I'm just..." Here he was at a loss for words, the situation too tenuous for his comfort. "I just want you to know I'm not ashamed of you, or this, OK? I... I just need to take this a step at a time." His gaze studied Daniel's face, looking for some node of approval, acceptance. "I'm sorry, OK?"
"I know. That'd just be more convincing if you weren't sayin' it in a dark alley by a dumpster. But hey. Baby steps, right?" Daniel shook his head, truly more angry at himself and his childish response than at anything else. Still he could not keep the curtness from his voice, or ease the hard line of his shoulders. "I just… I dunno what I expected. I figured I'd be used to it by now. I'm just not. So I guess that's my problem, not yours." He shrugged, and turned back toward the alley's entrance. "Let's just go get hammered and I'll forget all about it."
Chris almost reached out to pull Daniel back, but he could not find fault in the other man's words; everything about him screamed 'do not trust,' despite what he'd tried to do to dispel the image. After a beat, he nodded, unsure of how else to regain control of a date that was quickly spiraling out of control.
"Let's go get hammered at home," he suggested, coming up alongside Daniel before taking a first step out into the street. At least in the comfortable confines of either his or Daniel's apartment, he could be completely himself, and hopefully undo some of the damage he'd unwittingly wrought in their relationship.