|Rafael Atala (freyr) wrote in paxletalelogs,|
@ 2017-10-04 19:42:00
|Entry tags:||freyr, uke mochi|
tomorrow is already upon us
Who: Alice and Rafe
What: Catching up.
Where: Rosemary & Thyme
When: mid-September, early morning
Rafael dusted off his flour-covered hands, holding them neatly over the sink to best avoid causing any unnecessary mess. He looked up to Alice, a smile on his face and a smudge of flour over his left eyebrow. He was sober, had been sober for nearly a week, and things had not looked so bright to him in quite some time. This fact showed in every line of his body, in the warm, open expression on his face. Each time he walked near her he brushed closely past, or playfully hip-checked her before moving away. He kept his hands busy, kept moving precisely where she needed before she had to ask. Long years as a sous chef clearly came back quite easily.
"I mean it," he said again. "I appreciate this, Alice. I haven't really baked since I was small. My mother and I used to make Sonhos, with dulce de leche or coconut cream inside… I should make those for you some time, if I can remember how. It might take a couple of tries, but I don't think either of us will mind that."
“Of course,” Alice replied, passing by Rafael and lightly touching his shoulder. “It’s fun and I’m glad I get to spend some one on one time with you. Everything’s been so busy and with Gabe…” Her sentenced trailed off and she gave a little, shy shrug. She placed a dirty dish on the counter beside the large sink. She still didn’t trust Gabe, but she could see the obvious happiness radiating from her friend since they had gotten back together and it couldn’t be denied that it was good for him...at least for now. But it made it all the harder for Alice to see her friend; she didn’t want to be a third wheel nor pull him away from that happiness to dump her own problems on him. But she kept him up to date all the same, with what happened to BB and Molly’s adoption, even bits and pieces about Lucas.
“You’ll be able to bake a cake in your sleep with enough practice and you’re a super fast learner,” Alice continued with a grin. “And by the time the holidays hit, you’ll be able to make all the baked goods for parties and I won’t have to lift a finger.”
He laughed aloud, shaking his head. "Now I see why you really agreed to this. Free labor." He fell into step beside her, mimicking her motions as they started on another recipe. He cut a sidelong glance to her. He tried to gauge when might be best to bring up the more sensitive topics, how they might broach such things without damaging the wonderfully pleasant mood. At last he simply spoke, and hoped the words would come out right.
"I owe you an apology," he began. "I was upset with you for a while. For, you know, telling Gabe…" He stopped, clearing his throat, and busied himself with prepping ingredients. "I know you were only looking out for me. I should thank you, really."
Alice stilled in her movements and looked at Rafael with large eyes. Her cheeks quickly grew red and it took her a moment to find her voice. “You...you knew? That I told him?” She asked, her voice very quiet. She had wondered if he would know, but hoped that she could trust Gabe to keep her secret. Her stomach seemed to plunge the floor and she frowned as an overwhelming sense of guilt came over her. Alice turned to look back at the bowl she was working on but didn’t continue stirring the contents. “I’m so sorry, I broke your trust.”
Rafe shrugged. "For a good reason. He told me you'd talked to him. And I guess…" He looked back down to the bench, where he went back to folding, over and over again, a large square of what he hoped would successfully become puff pastry. "I guess I'm glad you did. It's nice to know you both care about me that much. And if you hadn't, I probably wouldn't be with him now. So I have a lot to be thankful for."
Still folding, he looked up to her, a smile lighting his eyes. "I should invite you all back over for dinner. One that will be a little less awkward this time."
Alice frowned and kept her eyes on the bowl. “Are you sure?” She asked, her voice still quiet with the embarrassment of her secret being out. Rafael nodded, glancing over to her to make sure she saw. She sighed, placing the spoon she held down and stepping away from the counter. “It’s just... I’m just worried. About Gabe. I… I told him what was going on and we were trying to work together to make sure you were okay but I just… are you sure he has your best interests at heart? I don’t want him to hurt you again. I don’t want you to be heartbroken and feel like you have to do more drugs or whatever.”
Color crept up his neck. He pressed closer to the bench, vigorously working the dough. He opened his mouth, but she spoke before he could.
She let out a huff of air and bit her lip as her arms came around her torso to hug herself. “I feel awful that you know I tattled. I didn’t want to do it to hurt you, just to make sure you were okay. I couldn’t… I didn’t feel I could keep an eye on you after you moved to that floor. I wanted to make sure you were safe and okay and I felt I was failing you because I couldn’t do it all.”
Shaking his head, Rafael at last let the puff pastry dough breathe. He cocked one hip against the counter. "You didn't fail me. You still haven't." He smiled softly, tossing his head to flip a lock of hair from over his eyes. "All that happened a long time ago. I didn't handle it well, either, trust me." He brushed his hands on his apron and closed the distance between them, taking her hand in his own. He brought her hand to his lips, kissing her bent fingers. The tightness in Alice’s shoulders went away and she seemed to relax from the interaction. "You're a good friend, Alice, and I love you for it. But Gabe's a good man, and we've both grown up. Just give him a chance, OK?"
With a tight squeeze to her hand he drifted away, desperately wanting to avoid any negative response. "We always talk about me," he said. "What's going on with you? Anything new on the, uh, boyfriends situation?"
Alice pressed her lips together and glanced around her kitchen area. “I’ll try, Rafe,” Alice replied. “But it’ll take awhile before I trust him. But I promise I’ll try.” She turned back to her bowl but placed her hands beside it on the counter. “And there are no boyfriends. BB still isn’t speaking to me and, honestly, I haven’t reached out to her either. I haven’t spoken to Gus other than forewarning him. And Lucas...well, I see him around and it’s nice and sort of slow. But...I think I need that right now. I’m afraid Brit is going to try and hijack it like she did with all my other boyfriends.”
She crossed her arms and turned to lean her hip against the counter. “I still can’t get over that Brit did that to every guy I’ve dated beside my college boyfriends when, you know, she wasn’t there.”
Rafe frowned. After a moment of contemplation, he slowly nodded his agreement. He did not know BB well, but his few interactions with her had certainly left an impression. She seemed quite capable of the sabotage she claimed to have done, and perhaps more, even now that she had been found out. Rafael did not envy Alice this sticky situation.
"She knows you know," he said. "Maybe she'll try to do better now, if only because of that." His eyes flicked over her face, studying her expression before he added, "You really should talk to her. I could go with you, if you wanted."
That gave Alice a smile and she dropped her hands at her side. “I’d love for you to go with me but when she’s in the wrong, she’s sometimes almost… feral. I wouldn’t want her to be mean to you. I shouldn’t have slept with Gus either, or kept it a secret. I wronged her too.” And that was the problem of it all, Alice kept going in circles in her head. One moment being mad at her friend, the next giving her an excuse for her anger. She looked at Rafael and sighed with a sense of defeat. “I don’t know what to do for us to move forward from all of this.”
"Just give it time, I think," Rafael said. He measured his words carefully, unwilling to hurt his friend further. "I don't think you did anything wrong. But you both have things to work through, and it always helps to calm down and get a little distance from what happened. You've been friends so long… I think you'll both come back around. Sometimes it just takes longer than we want."
Alice sighed and let her head tip back. “You’re right,” she said with a sigh. “You’re always right with this stuff.” Looking back at her friend, a playful smile appeared on her lips. “I mean, I guess it balances out, right? You’re right about stuff going on in my life… I’m right about stuff going on in yours, like you and Gabe having the hots for each other still…” She grinned, the turmoil from earlier passing and her playful mood returning. It was easy to do when she was with Rafael. He tended to her worries and patched them up before adding sunshine to her day.
Color flooded Rafael's face; he turned back to their workbench, but it was too late to hide his happy embarrassment. He grabbed the nearest carefully laid-out set of ingredients and busied himself in further preparation. "Well," he tried, grasping for an answer that wasn't boyish excitement, "we look out for each other. That's all. Right?"
Then, before she could draw out still more sentiment from him—not a difficult task, if he was honest—he set to work asking countless questions about her process and the steps remaining in their day's baking, thoroughly distracting them both as best he could.