|Gabriel Bautista (xochipilli) wrote in paxletalelogs,
@ 2017-10-09 16:57:00
I am sure of only this
Who: Gabe and Rafe
What: A second date, with some speed bump discussion.
Where: The butterfly house, Environmental Nature Center
When: Early afternoon on Oct. 6.
Their second date had been a trip long in the making. Rafael had first gotten the idea when he had seen advertisements for a temporary butterfly pavilion at the Natural History Museum. He had made a few quiet attempts to arrange a visit for the two of them, but somehow or another work always got in the way. There were interviews and editing sessions, photo shoots and agent meetings; something always came up, at the last minute or otherwise, and the pavilion had closed before he and his partner found the time. When Rafael got word of a second pavilion, open slightly longer than the first, he wasted no time at all.
He had told Gabe nothing more than a date and time, and impressed upon him the importance of scheduling nothing else at this particular time. He made a concerted effort to avoid even the appearance of needling, but he did remind Gabe now and again as the decided-upon date approached. When the day came at last, Rafe was ready and waiting at Gabriel's door, knocking on it at 9 a.m. sharp. Having already surfed, showered, and donned fresh clothing, Rafael looked markedly bright eyed and bushy-tailed. He whisked Gabe away with promises of strong coffee and a fine lunch after their surprise trip.
The open-air ride to the Environmental Nature Center further served to wake them up. They arrived at a parking lot looking thoroughly windblown but happy. As they made their way to a nearby coffee shop Rafael still stalwartly refused to tell Gabe their destination. He waited at the end of the line, his hand wrapped around a double cafe Cubano, grinning almost boyishly as he waited for Gabe to rejoin him.
"Do you have any guesses yet?" he asked, unable to resist a bit of teasing.
"Well, if you gave me a hint," Gabe replied, his own hands holding tight to a coffee cup to match Rafe's. "Animal, vegetable, or mineral?" He grinned in return, not expecting a real answer. He had no issue with Rafe kidnapping him away for an afternoon of fun; he'd been hitting some writer's block, which he had never truly believed in until every word that fell on the page just seemed...off. Whether it was the oddity of the apartment building they lived in (which had, up until then, never been an issue) or the sudden change in their relationship status, Gabe could not fathom the answer, and welcomed a break.
"Did you try your mask on yet?" Both he and the other man had received masks on the first of the month, much like the strange surprises for April Fool's; once again, he'd received a butterfly motif, though the surprise no longer actually surprised him. Gabe took a long sip of his coffee, swirling it in his mouth for a moment.
Rafael nodded. "I actually really like it. I've been poking around online to see if I can find a costume that will go with it." He smiled sheepishly. "The knotwork kind of reminds me of… well, the dreams. So I was thinking if I could find something that looked kind of Viking-ish… but I'm not really sure what that would even be." He shrugged and took another small sip of his still-steaming coffee. He cut a sidelong glance to Gabe, hiding his smile behind the lip of his cup.
"What about you? That blue… it's going to look great on you."
Gabe cut a look in Rafe's direction, but made no effort to hide his own curved mouth.
"When I wrote that screenplay, I had no idea how far someone would take it." Then again, the dreams occurring in Pax implied that he'd been the one to be influenced in such a way. He was impressed with the mask, but he hadn't put much thought into what sort of costume would go with it.
"I might honestly just wear a suit with it; do you think that's too boring? I've never been one much for Halloween." He sipped his coffee, eyes falling on the building in the distance. "Environmental Nature Center? Anjo, I think there's closer places we could have gone on for a hike," he joked, batting Rafe's side with his elbow for a moment before his hand smoothed across the small of the other man's back, pulling him closer for a brief kiss on the cheek.
"Of course," he said, gesturing with his coffee cup toward the building, all warm wood and warmer lighting. Even from a distance it was a markedly pleasing sight. Rafael could hardly resist another beaming smile as he thought of the surprise ahead. "But we're not here to hike. I want to show you something. I meant to do it sooner, but we both got so busy…"
Excited now, he pulled away, his fingers trailing down Gabriel's arm as he withdrew. He strode into the center and up to the front desk (Gabe silent at his heels, distracted easily by the lobby's many tourist-friendly displays), speaking quickly and quietly to the lone attendant there. After a moment the young man waved toward a distant door, and Rafael beckoned for his partner to join him.
Gabe was in mid-sip when Rafe gestured, and he swallowed as he moved. Hands came together to swap the cup from one palm to the other, allowing him to reach out for Rafe's hand.
"The mystery persists?" His curiosity was genuinely piqued, not that it hadn't been before; merely the chance to spend some quiet time with his boyfriend was more than enough to lure Gabe away from any other pressing obligations. He glanced around the center, the hand holding his coffee rising to use a finger to push his glasses back onto the bridge of his nose. Slowly, they moved beyond the desk, toward a large tree that Gabe couldn't decipher if it were man-made or real (something about the whole environment told him that it was real), its branches hovering over numerous plastic cases embedded in the walls. "How'd you find out about this place?"
He drew Rafe toward one such box, which held a lizard happily sunning itself on a stone; its eyes were closed as it sat directly beneath its lamp. Rafael leaned down toward the terrarium, studying the creature that looked nearly as content as he felt.
"Oh, you know," Rafe teased. "I have my ways." He chuckled, leaning over to bump his shoulder into Gabriel's. "The internet and a couple of phone calls. Nothing too difficult." Straightening up, he beckoned Gabe again. His strides were slow but purposeful, carrying them past the bank of cases, past snakes and lizards and small desert mice. Though he called no attention to his doing so, he was plainly guiding Gabe toward some imminent goal. Gabe, an unwary lamb in these circumstances, followed without hesitation; he reached out, threading fingers through Rafe's once more.
The goal, it seemed, was outside the building itself. Sunlight streamed through the glass doors at the rear of the room, and it was here their footsteps carried them. Rafe's grin only grew as they neared this end, and he could not resist continuously glancing back at his partner, gauging his expression and response to these developments.
Gabe made use of a nearby recycling bin to discard his now-empty coffee cup, his eyes following Rafe's direction. The overall layout of the place was amazing; naturally embedded into the landscape to leave as little of a scar as possible. He glanced at Rafe, grinning, only subtly noticing Rafe watching and carefully measuring his reaction.
The doors opened silently, reminding Gabe of when he was a child and he'd pretend-use 'the Force' at the grocery store until it drove his mother mad; the memory was quickly dispelled as they were spat out of the main building toward a wide glass-and-wood greenhouse. What immediately piqued his interest, however, was not the building itself, but its contents—bushes of flowering plants offered landing and launching pads for dozens of butterflies that floated from one glass wall to another. Gabe's brows rose on his forehead, his eyes looking at Rafe in question, before nearly switching the two of them to have him all but drag Rafe toward the butterfly exhibit.
Laughing, Rafael let himself be led. He drained his coffee just as they reached the doors; he tossed it into the bin as they passed, then moved ahead of Gabriel told hold the door open for him. A docent waited just inside. She smiled at the pair and waved them in. No sooner had they entered than she stepped behind them, closing the door and hanging a small sign on one windowpane. Then she returned to her post by the door, nodding to Rafael. Rafe scarcely noticed, too enamored of Gabe's reaction to be attentive to anything else.
"I thought since we missed the one at the museum…" he began, trailing off as a massive monarch alighted on Gabriel's shoulder. He drew his lower lip between his teeth, briefly worrying at its swell. "It's all ours," he said, "until you're ready to go."
Gabe's wide grin was more explanation than any words he could have said. He'd completely missed the docent for his excitement, and in that moment his only focus was Rafe, who stole back the limelight from the tiny, floating bows.
"Oh, anjo." He pulled Rafe closer for a moment, hands on either side of the man's hips. "What did I tell you? I'm supposed to be the one making you happy, remember?" The words were teasing, and Gabe wasted little time in palming either side of Rafe's face to pull him close for a light kiss. He felt positively giddy, though he chalked more of it up to Rafe's presence rather than his simple interest in rhopalocera.
"You are," Rafe said, punctuating the assertion with another small kiss. His smile was as bright and sincere as his lover's; he could not lessen it even when they parted, and he led Gabriel deeper into the sun-filled room. "Very little makes me happier than seeing you like this. And you needed to get out." He squeezed Gabe's hand. "Spend a little time with me."
No sooner had the words crossed his lips than Rafael felt himself concerned he had perhaps overstepped; he was being too needy, and ruining this perfect moment. He cleared his throat and tried again. "The weather couldn't be better for this," he said. "We really got lucky."
"We both did," Gabe replied quietly, keeping his grip tight on the other man. Rafe's earlier words, spoken only moments before, needlessly or not, had still found their mark. " Anjo, I... I'm sorry if you think I'm working too much. There's just a lot to do, I'm under deadline, and—" He stopped, tugging Rafe to a halt simultaneously. Rafe squeezed his hand and turned to better face him.
"I need you to tell me, but I promise I can do better. I'm certainly not as busy as I was. Do you... We could set a night for dinners? Something that works with your schedule. Just do something where we have time for us." His thumb ran over the back of Rafe's hand; even in doing so, a butterfly moved past his direct vision, distracting him with a moment of childish wonder that seemed to underscore the opposite of what he was trying to say. But it only made Rafael smile, his gaze turning to follow Gabe's own.
"I'd like that," he said. "It doesn't even have to be dinner. Just let me come over and cook for you. Or you and Spot can come over and get a change of scenery. Tuesdays are good, or Wednesdays, maybe. I don't need much, I promise. And I didn't mean to… I don't want to ruin today. I just want to be sure we get things right this time." Again he squeezed Gabe's hand, and pulled him back onto the path to follow where the butterfly led.
Instead of pulling Rafe to a stop once more, Gabe worked to fall in step with the other man. He loosed his hand from Rafe's fingers, sliding them instead around the other man's waist.
"You're not ruining anything, anjo," he said as he pulled the other man close. "I want to spend more time with you. And if something makes you unhappy..." He shrugged. "Tell me. I want you to tell me, OK?" Their slow, patient steps took them around a large bush with leaves that seemed nearly blue. Large, decadently yellow flowers blossomed, which had multicolored butterflies at work in their centers like crowning pieces of statuary.
Gabe brought them to a slow stop, leaning in close for a kiss on Rafe's shaven cheek, his eyes on the butterflies that were suddenly swirled into the air by their appearance even as the only thing he felt and smelled was the man standing beside him.
"I love the purple ones the most, I think," he breathed near Rafe's ear, holding tight around his middle as he pointed out just one such airborne creature. "I guess they're probably more blue, but the iridescence makes them purple, to my eyes. They're special; they take specific handling to flourish. But they're beautiful to look at, and they're worth all the effort." He stepped behind Rafe, pulling the man's backside to his front as they watched the butterflies beat their wings through the air. Gabe's smiling face pressed to the side of Rafe's head, his hands tight around Rafe's middle. "Specific handling doesn't mean you're asking for much, Rafe. I want all the same things you do."
Rafe was grinning, though he scarcely felt it. All of his awareness was wrapped up in Gabe and Gabe alone: every place they touched, the warmth of his body, the nearness of his beautifully familiar voice. He leaned back into Gabe's embrace. After a moment he turned his head, brushing a soft, quick kiss against his lips.
"Thank you," he said. He looked out over the flowers, watching the cloud of butterflies as it whirled and spun, returning to them. One darted so near to him its dusty wings fluttered briefly against his cheek. He smiled and reached back to lace his fingers together at Gabriel's nape. There was nothing else that needed to be said; even the silence between them spoke volumes, and Rafael found himself content in that.