|June Opekokew Hart ♑ Raven (principalis) wrote in paxletalelogs,|
@ 2017-10-29 17:32:00
|Entry tags:||coyote, raven|
smiling sideways to my friends
Who: Chris & June.
What: June hunts down her friend after the moving party.
When: A few hours after this.
June almost regretted not demanding Chris make the trek from the third floor up to the ninth. She had no reason to require such tribute, and there was no real malice in the thought, but it occurred to her again as she stood in front of his door, a 12-pack of Negra Modelo balanced on both hands. She could hardly resist a little smirk at the mental image of Chris showing up at her door, decidedly put out at having to come to her after her unannounced arrival. She was still wearing the expression when she balanced the beer on one hand and knocked with the other, standing up on her toes to peer directly into the door's peephole.
"Cristobal," she sang, drumming her sharp little nails on the door. "Open up. I come bearing gifts."
Chris was in the kitchen, putting together the ingredients for enchiladas when the tap, tap, tap appeared on his door. That sort of knock was neither Kal nor Daniel's style, making the source only one person. Tromping as quietly as he could across the dining area to the front door, he opened the entry wide.
His mouth echoed her smirk, more pleased than shocked at her sudden appearance. He'd grown too used to people showing up unannounced, and there was nothing for it now, was there? Still, he shook his head, pausing in the doorway, before stepping back to allow her entry into his unit.
"So what made you decide to jump ship and move in here, of all places?"
"I'm stalking you," she said. Chris snorted a laugh. The beer was heavy, but she continued to neatly balance it for the time it took to pull her friend into an unasked-for hug which he returned without complaint, knowing to do so was fruitless. She squeezed his ribs, perhaps a bit too tightly, then grabbed for the case of beer just before it slipped free of her grasp. "Are you cooking? Were you planning on inviting me?" She cut him a look over one shoulder, playfully glaring even as she set the beer on an open rack in his fridge. "Seriously though, I'm staying for dinner, so I hope you have enough for two."
She moved back to his side, pressing a kiss to his stubbly cheek. "Seriously though, stalking you is only half of why I'm here. A friend of mine lives here. Brittany Bernard, do you know her? From everything she's said this sounds like the place to be. Judging by the crazy decor change between my tour and move-in date, I think it's going to be as exciting as she led me to believe."
Chris brushed a hand back through his hair, having arrived back at his mid-formed mix of enchiladas as he let June talk herself out. Knowing that there was another would-be June in the building was almost too much to handle, but he made no comment.
"No, I don't know any... Brittany?" The name did ring a bell, but he opted to play dumb for the time being. He started scooping insides into tortillas. "And that's...one way of putting it." He wrapped a third enchilada, laying it in the pan next to its siblings.
"What, exactly, did she tell you about this place?" He cast a glance in June's direction, spoon in his hand dribbling meat and salsa onto his otherwise clean counter.
"A lot," she admitted. She ducked back into the fridge, impatiently grabbing two barely-cold beers. She rummaged through drawers until she found a bottle opener. "None of it made any sense at the time. Stuff about keys, and weird animals, and, I don't know, something about a swamp one time, with alligators? But there are altars on my floor. Altars. As in for offerings." She handed him a bottle. "BB has a tendency to exaggerate, but this time? Honestly she kind of undersold how fucking weird this is. Does this kind of thing happen a lot?"
Chris rolled his eyes upward, the spoon nearly rising to the heavens. He used his free hand to accept the beer and set it next to the half-filled pan.
"You have no idea," he drawled, before scooping innards into a fourth burrito. "But, yeah, this... it's definitely not just for Halloween, but I guess people could pass it off like that." He glanced at June again, his eyes narrowed. "Seriously, though, you hear weird things about a place and..." He wondered if this Brittany had told June about the disappearances, the things people had left behind. The strange gifts. Everything he'd tried to hide from Kal and Daniel, to dissuade their interest, was laid bare here. It was an obvious opportunity to come clean, but Chris found the truth too easily stuck in his throat.
So he did what he always did. He changed topics, picking up his beer and taking a long sip.
"Nevermind, I mean, you're already here, right? So how's the photography going?"
"God, does that ever work on anyone?" June asked. "The photography is… going. And I'll tell you all about it after we get through Door Number One. You asked why I came here, so I have to ask… what makes you stay? It's the same reason, isn't it. This is how you get your kicks now, living in a place run by some eccentric billionaire, never knowing what the next remodel is going to involve..."
Chris sighed, rolling his eyes again as he added the last burrito to the pan and started to drape the rest of the sauce over the top.
"You nailed it," he said, casting a grin over one shoulder before finishing up his prep. Then the pan went into the oven, and Chris set a tomato timer that sat just to the right of the stove. Turning about, he leaned against the counter, folding his arms over his chest. "No, I stay because Kal's here, and now you're here, and Daniel's here..." He flinched only slight at the last name, but continued on. "Seems kinda shitty to leave your friends hanging in the lurch, don't you think? Besides, getting out of a lease is trickier than it looks..." The last was said with only a touch of bitterness that slanted Chris's mouth in a downward line.
June's jaw dropped; she barked a laugh. "Oh, cabrón, have they tamed you? Trickier than it… I really cannot believe you right now." She shook her head and sipped at her beer. She moved beside him, propping herself up against the counter beside the stove. Her piercing gaze fixed him and would not let him squirm away. "Also, who's Daniel?"
Chris gave himself more time by turning around, picking up his beer, and moving to his kitchen table. He sipped.
"You know who Daniel is," he said, as though it were the most obvious thing in the world. Chris shrugged. "He's... the guy I've been dating."
"Cristobal Juan Francisco Rodriguez," June gasped. "Did you just say dating?" She clutched her beer close to her chest, holding it like a living thing; clearly it was the only thing keeping her from grasping at her friend, who already looked as though he wanted to be rid of this conversation. "Is it that serious? Really?"
Chris made a disgusted noise, wetting his throat again before replying. "Why do you say it like it has to be a big deal?! You and Kal, jesu christo." His shoulders rolled, and he settled back into his chair. "Yeah, he's my boyfriend. He lives in the building, and no, I'm not telling you where, and we should talk about something else. You got any galleries coming up?" He settled a hard glare on June's face, hoping she'd take the opportunity and change topics, even as he knew she very well wouldn't.
"I'm just excited for you, guapo. Don't be mad." She took a seat beside him, her feet sliding beneath the table to toy with his own. "I've never heard you use the B word before. It makes me happy." She pressed her toes to his foot again. "You deserve to be happy. I'm going to keep telling you that until you fucking believe it." She tapped the bottom of her half-empty bottle on the tabletop. An impish grin crept over her lips. "And I'll find where he lives. In case you haven't noticed, there's not a ton of people living here right now. I bet I could find your Daniel in no time… if I wanted. But I'll leave you both in peace as long as you keep telling me about him. And you. Deal?"
Chris made a noise that was half assent, half groan. He pointed his beer in her direction. "Fine, but that means not grilling Kal either." She opened her mouth, obviously intending to complain. "And if you do find Daniel's apartment, you don't go there. You gotta behave yourself if you wanna meet him, but just when I think it's a good time, all right?" He drained the rest of his bottle, the anxiety on clear display showing how much he was trying to be careful with this relationship. He tried to play it off, though. "I really like him, June, so don't go scaring him off, OK?"
Her expression softened. She brought her elbows to rest atop the table, her dwindling beer dangling from clawed fingers. "OK. I promise. I've just never heard you talk like this. It's hard not to get all…" She raised and waved her hands, making a noise that, while wordless, was clearly meant to convey overwhelming excitement. Then she reached over and grabbed Chris' wrist, her thumb brushing over his pulse. "I'll be good. No interrogating Kal or BB or anybody about him, I promise.
"So, yes, I have a very small show starting in November, over at Drkrm. It's just a couple of pieces, nothing fancy, but…" But it's not the tabloids, she almost said. Her smile faltered, but only for an instant. "I'd really love it if you came. Maybe bring Daniel? Or Kal. Or both."
Chris's hand wound in hers, giving it a brief squeeze before drawing away. He pushed the empty beer bottle between his hands, nodding.
"Yeah, of course. I know Kal'd be down for it, he always is. And I can run the idea past Daniel. What's the theme?"
"Limina." She rose from the table, returning to the fridge for another round of beer. "It's… I wanted to show these liminal spaces, you know? Not just gentrifying neighborhoods and displaced communities, but individuals, too." She popped both bottlecaps and sat back down in her chair, pushing one bottle toward her friend. "I guess you'd call them portraits, but they felt like more than that to me."
Chris tugged one toward himself. "Don't they always, to the artist? The whole eye for seeing something that's not there. Or, like... I phrased that poorly," he offered, tilting the beer in her direction like a weapon with which to defend himself. "I mean things other people can't see. Where'd you take the pictures?" He tilted the bottle back, letting some of the sweet liquor slide down his throat.
She nodded as she swallowed a too-large sip of beer. "Boyle Heights, Leimert Park, Koreatown, a few in Persian Square. I'm proud of it. I mean I already saw some shitheads online talking about, you know, I'm just a ripoff of People of New York or whatever, but fuck that, it's totally different." She waved a hand, cutting herself off before she could go off on what was obviously a well-worn rabbit trail.
"Whatever. Anyway. I was wondering what my next project would be, and with everything going on here, I feel like I'll land on a good idea sooner rather than later."
Chris nodded, sighing as he drew the bottle away from his mouth once more and swallowed.
"You wouldn't be wrong there," he agreed, feeling exhausted at the prospect. "Just, one more favor. Leave me out of it? I'm... I've just been trying to keep a low profile." He didn't offer context or reasoning to bookend the request. June should've known very well why Chris was doing what he could to be left alone. He had no doubt she'd ask questions, questions he had no answers to—if he couldn't give them to Kal or Daniel, she would be no different.
But June only pursed her lips, a shadow of disappointment flickering over her face. "All right, tramposo," she said, her reluctance plain in her voice. "You're so damn handsome, though, it's really a shame. I think that face could make me rich. So let me know if you change your mind." She smiled softly against her bottle, taking another long pull from its contents. "It kind of worries me when you talk like that, though. Are you still in all that shit? What's Kal got to say about all that?"
A long breath expelled through his nose was the immediate answer. Chris's next move was to take a long pull from his drink, the bottle dangling from his fingers as his arm moved back to comfortably position his elbow.
"I only just told him, not that he was surprised," he confessed, the admission not sliding him one way or the other in terms of comfort or discomfort. "Just... Things have been happening, out of my control, and it happened. Me telling him, I mean. He's not happy, of course, but I mean..." Chris shrugged, his eyes rising up to meet June's hesitantly. "What's he gonna do? What are any of you gonna do? I just... Let me handle it, OK?" As well as he was with any of it, though he wasn't going to tell June the unsavory details he was still struggling to keep behind a curtain.
"All right, all right. Don't get your panties in a bunch. Just know I'm here when you need me. Don't forget that." Her lower lip stuck out, a little duck-lipped pout of an expression. But she backed off as he clearly wanted, well aware that she was still a new quantity here; once she was once again firmly entrenched in his daily life, more opportunities to drag information out of him would surely arise.
She tapped the bottom of the bottle on the table, announcing a change in subject. "So I don't usually shit where I eat," she said, "but I can't help myself. What's the talent like here? Any single ladies I should keep an eye out for?"
Chris barked a laugh, shaking his head.
"Not that I'm aware of," he replied. "Uhh... I mean, I guess your Britt, I think there's another chick on the first floor with..." His hand hovered around his face. "Something going on with her skin. Not sure what. Then there's Max, on the third floor; Alice, a redhead on the fourth floor, but she might be a little too shy for you," he mock-glared at June with the comment. She wasted no time flipping him off. "Uh...Nish lives on the fifth, but she's got a girlfriend, sorry to tell you... I think there're two others near the top, but I think one's in and out with her fiance or something, and the other keeps mostly to herself.
"Not the best intel, but I'm sure you'll figure things out for yourself soon enough," Chris added, tipping the bottle into his mouth. The timer near the oven finally went off, and he shoved his chair back. "You ready for those enchiladas? If you wanna help out, and I know you do, grab the sour cream outta the fridge." He made his way toward the oven, grabbing a pair of oven mitts out of a drawer on the way.
"'Course I do," she said, hurriedly pushing her chair back. She followed him into the kitchen, then past, procuring sour cream and another beer from the refrigerator. Once those were set out, she poked about in cabinets and drawers until she found two place settings. As she put napkins and utensils on the dining room table, she watched her friend at his work.
"It's good to have you back," June said, her voice softer than was her wont. Then she fell at once into familiar chatter, punctuating endless questions and talk with the clatter of serving their plates, happy to simply be in that moment with her friend.