|Gabriel Bautista (xochipilli) wrote in paxletalelogs,|
@ 2017-10-31 12:07:00
|Entry tags:||freyr, xochipilli|
crush the dust in your hand
Who: Gabe & Rafe
What: An industry party gives the boys more than they bargained for, for better or worse.
Where: Cabaret de L'Enfer at the Edison
When: October 29.
Rafael slid a hand down the front of his wildly-patterned shirt, as though smoothing out its wrinkles would make it look any more impressive. He smiled a little at the thought; the cigarette holder perched at the corner of his mouth twitched in response. As their car pulled away from the curb he looked back to his companion, smiling all the wider at the sight of him. Gabe was in a complimentary color to both Rafe's outfit and his own skin tone, the red Hawaiian shirt and messy curls making him almost look like he'd just rolled out of bed.
"You look great," he said, laughing softly. "That color suits you."
"Yours does, too," Gabe agreed, excited all over again that Rafe had agreed to his Hunter S. Thompson Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas couple's costume idea.
Rafe put his hand in Gabe's and squeezed it tightly, and together they headed inside. Quite a crowd had already gathered; they parted only reluctantly as Rafe led the way through the main floor, back to a smaller room reserved for private parties. They got more than their share of looks as they cut their way through. Nearly everyone there seemed more intent on looking sexy, or whatever passed for it in their minds, than on enjoying the innate silliness of the holiday. Rafe found himself increasingly glad they had taken a different tack. He reached up and adjusted the hat perched on his head, pushing it farther back to better see the other guests.
Someone waved; Rafael waved in return, sidestepping past a table on which a Celtic cross spread was laid out. He nodded to the woman whose hands hovered over the cards, and wondered—only fleetingly—at the lingering look she gave him. Chalking it up to the costume's effect, Rafe merely tightened his grip on Gabe's hand and pulled him deeper into the room.
His date followed without complaint, his eyes wide behind his glasses as he took in not only the costumed people around them, but the building at large. Even having lived in Los Angeles his whole life, he'd never visited the Edison; it was amazing to see in person. Even more so, it was perfect for an event like this, where the atmosphere was already inherently spooky. After his eyes fell on what seemed like the fifth sexy pirate and more than a handful of Harley Quinns, Gabe wondered if he'd talked Rafe into a bad idea (he'd never been one for sexy outfits himself, they being expensive and uncomfortable) but his boyfriend showed no sign that he was anything but pleased.
The room they entered was small but cozy, creating an intimate space for those who already knew each other well. Gabe drew back on Rafe's arm, whispering in his ear. "You're gonna introduce me, right? Don't leave me hanging, anjo," he teased, only half worried that he'd be forced to make his own way. It wouldn't be the first time, and the prospect didn't especially terrify him; moreso, he didn't want to embarass Rafe in front of his coworkers.
Rafe laughed again, withdrawing the cigarette holder from his mouth, the better to lean in and kiss his partner. "I wouldn't dream of it," he said. He spied a small group of performers he sincerely considered friends; biting down on his costume's accessory once again, he squeezed Gabriel's hand again and tugged him over toward the little group.
Robbie was there, his heavily tattooed torso unnecessarily bared. His costume appeared to be loosely based on Little Red Riding Hood, though it lacked everything but the hood and the thinnest scrap of material covering his groin. He grinned as the pair approached, and looked back to motion over a man dressed in an only slightly more modest wolf costume. The entire pack welcomed them with a cacophony of greetings and intoxicated cheers.
"Robbie, you know Gabe," Rafe said, pulling his partner close to his side. He pointed to each of the closest partygoers in turn. "Gabe, this is Dale, Johnny, Luis, and Vic." The wolf reached their group, and grinned at the newcomers, wide enough to suit his costume's theme. "And Matti."
"So you're Gabe," Matti said. He extended a paw toward Gabriel. "We've heard so much about you I feel like we're already friends."
Gabe took the extended handshake, grinning even as his brows rose up his forehead. "I hope it's only good things, though assuming they're coming from Rafael, that's all he ever says about anyone." The comment drew a chorus of laughs and nods, Gabe stepping back to put his arm around Rafe's waist once more. He nodded briefly in Robbie's direction, glad that there were no ill feelings between them.
"So is this a regular event for you all? Not here maybe but..." He shrugged. "Halloween's a pretty big holiday, and getting more adult-themed every year it seems."
Dale nodded. His costume was perhaps the least adult-themed of them all; in a red button-up and and black and white patterned pants, his tribute to his namesake and the Black Lodge was more suit than costume. "We do something every year," he said. "Usually one party for us, and one party for the fans. Are you two going to the one at the Armory?"
"Get sluttier costumes for that one," Luis offered, a pointing index finger gesturing to the happy couple. "That is not going to cut it. I love it, don't get me wrong, but at least open some buttons or something."
Rafael rolled his eyes, laughing as he waved off the comments; Gabe shifted on his feet a little, but masked the discomforted movement by sliding his hand up and down Rafe's side. "No, no, we're not going to that one. We've already got plans…"
"Uh, yeah, our complex is having a little party. So, maybe next year," Gabe countered, immediately regretting his words. His eyes narrowed a little at Dale's costume, trying to place it. "Is that... lemme guess, '70s dancer?"
Dale clicked his tongue, giving a dramatically disappointed shake of his head. "Twin Peaks," he said. He did an awkward, stilted little dance. "Let's rock."
"I told you you should've picked something more recognizable," Vic said. Vic had indeed opted for something a bit more familiar, having chosen what appeared to be a spin on Captain America if Captain America's uniform had featured skin-tight, assless chaps. What had at first looked like a headband was in fact a cowl shoved back over his forehead. "Whatever. I've got to ask—"
Matti, who had drifted off yet again, returned now with two mixed drinks in his hands. "Best Moscow mules you've ever had," he said, thrusting the copper mugs into Rafe and Gabe's hands. Gabe accepted, mouthing a thank you before taking a tentative sip.
"Anyway," Vic said, raising his voice. "What's it like? How does this…" He gestured to the two of them, but his eyes were firmly on Gabriel. "How's this work? Swear to God I only date pros now. Anything else was just one problem after another. The jealousy, the checking my phone, the getting mad when fans tweet at me, the constant demanding to go to cons with me..." He chuckled. Behind him, Robbie was patiently tapping Vic's shoulder, but slutty Captain America was paying no attention. He only laughed, and patted Gabriel's arm. "Or what, have you two not gotten to that point yet? Still in the honeymoon phase?"
Gabe swallowed some of his drink down the wrong pipe; he had an idea that he might encounter these kinds of questions, but perhaps not in such an obvious and aggressive manner. He coughed, as politely as he could, before shaking his head at Robbie.
"I guess you could say that," he replied, shrugging Vic's hand off. "We dated briefly when we were a lot younger, but... I trust Rafe. He knows what he's doing, and I'm busy enough myself, so we're finding time to make things work—"
"Oh yeah, in front of a computer screen all day. You mean you don't get to wondering what he's up to?" Vic slanted a leering smile in Gabe's direction, to which the other man shrugged.
"I mean, if you're saying do I fantasize about my boyfriend while I'm supposed to be working, I'd be lying if I said I didn't; have you seen his ass?" Gabe good-naturedly hip checked Rafael, before giving his waist another squeeze. Rafe blushed behind the rim of his upraised cup, entirely—and pleasantly—taken by surprise. "But no, it... It's a process. It just sounds like you haven't met the right person, but yeah, I'll agree, it's hard and it takes a lot of trust. But the same could be said of any relationship."
At some point during this exchange Robbie and his wolf had drifted closer together; both of them nodded, now, almost in perfect sync. Vic only grunted a non-response and took a long pull from his drink.
"Well we're glad you're here," Dale cut in. "And don't let him get you down. There's good points to dating us, too, it's not all about sharing your time and attention and all that shit. Like OK, has he showed you that thing he taught Levi? The little…" Dale bent his knees, thrust his ass out, and ground his hips in a motion that could only have been more suggestive had he been naked. Rafael pressed a hand to his temple, his blush only deepening; Gabe's face was likewise red, though he seemed a little more interested in the display than his boyfriend. The crowd, though, seemed to love it, applauding and cheering enough to draw marked attention from those outside their small circle.
"Only if he's trying to kill him," Robbie joked. "That's a scene ender right there. Insta-cum."
"I can't say that Rafe's introduced me to that...particular position just yet," Gabe managed to reply, smothering his grin a little. He sipped his mule, in a rare instance where he wasn't entirely sure what to say; it was more than a little comfort though that Rafe found himself similarly in a strained position. "But we've only been back together for a little bit, there's time for all of that. I mean, I won't say the sex isn't amazing, but we try to change it up—I don't know if you all know this, but Rafael is an amazing cook. I kept telling him, he should've been a chef, but he's a man of many, many talents," he finally said, hoping he was steering the conversation into an area more relatable and not necessarily killing the mood.
But the boys seemed pleased with this turn in conversation. Rafael felt somehow more embarrassed by this personal revelation, waving off Gabe's effusive praise. His drink was gone; he raised the cup, silently pleading for anyone to fetch him another. A man dressed as Bucky, the clear match to Vic's Cap, paused in answer, turning on one booted heel to head back to the bar. This move revealed the skimpiness of his own costume, his bare backside and its pawprint tattoos exposed for all to see.
"I'm not that good," Rafe insisted, "and these guys are always on some outrageous diet, anyway…"
"Oh come on," Matti said. "Just admit you've been holding out on us. What's the best thing he makes, Gabe? And don't say love."
Gabe legitimately guffawed. "I would never, though Rafael would definitely say I make too many dad jokes as it is," he laughed, turning to glance at Rafe's red face, squeezing his middle again. Rafael leaned into him, already opening his mouth to disagree. "C'mon, anjo, you know you're a great cook. I think my favorite of what he makes is Vatapá," he decided on. "It's basically kind of a shrimp curry, and it is so good," he finished, hands going wide before finishing off what was left of his drink. He felt loose and comfortable, far more so than he had upon arriving amongst Rafe's coworkers.
"OK, then, tit for tat—you guys must have some hobbies outside of work. Time for everyone else to 'fess up, since Rafe got put on the spot," he added, his eyes jumping from person to person, brows rising in anticipation.
It was the half-naked Bucky who answered, returning with two Long Island iced teas in his hands. He foisted these on the couple at the center of attention, nodding a silent answer to Rafe's hastily whispered thanks.
"Vic'll never admit it," he said, "but he's actually crazy into cosplay." He gestured down at his costume, which did seem surprisingly well made for something so scandalous. "He made this, and his costume." Vic grumbled again, glancing sheepishly down into his drink. But it was obvious he was still listening, keen to hear what others had to say. Bucky continued: "He's been sourcing the material and all these little detail pieces for like a year now."
"Yeah," Luis chimed in, "didn't you make a couple of the costumes for that Spartacus spoof? Like that show really needed more dick in it, but OK…"
Robbie laughed. "He did great," he said. Vic turned away to keep from beaming openly at his friends. "I don't do much. I surf a little, and dance a lot, and Matti here is trying to break into the music scene."
Nodding along with the rest, Rafael gestured to Dale. "Dale does a lot of work sort of behind the scenes," he said. His blush had faded now; he seemed quite keen to keep the conversation focused on others. "Educational stuff about sex work and just sex in general. Videos, blogs, guest speaking… really good stuff."
Gabe's brows shot up in interest, his whole attention turning toward Dale. "Oh, really? That's fascinating. How well is it going over? Are you finding much of an audience?" His hand fell loose from Rafe's side, instead sliding under his shirt to the small of his back, where his palm met warm, bare skin that he gently passed his hand over back and forth.
"God, yes." Dale nodded. "I think people are starved for things like this, and the following I've gotten, and pretty quickly, bears that out. Doesn't hurt that it usually translates to getting more fans and more sales, too." He motioned with his drink, getting increasingly excited about sharing his story. "The tips and how-to videos are pretty popular, but you'd be surprised how many people watch the fully clothed, boringly informative stuff."
"Really," Gabe replied, softly; he spared a glance in Rafe's direction, a thought clearly on his mind. Instead, he sipped the Long Island he'd been handed. Perhaps to Rafael's relief, Gabe did not put him on the spot right then and there. Instead, he moved his hand to thread through Rafe's, leaving their arms hanging between them. "You all mind if I steal him away for a second? I haven't been here before, and I'd like to take a look around, in case this is the first and only time," he said, winking at Robbie.
"It won't be," Robbie said, offering them both a genuine smile. The others nodded, returning to their earlier chatter the moment Rafael pulled Gabe away.
"Thank you," he said, once they had left the small circle of his friends. "I'm really… I'm glad you seem to like them. They're good people." He sipped at his drink, already feeling the liquor going to his head. He walked a bit closer to Gabe, the pad of his thumb passing soft over warm skin.
"I do like them," Gabe quickly reassured Rafe, his hand squeezing his boyfriend's. "They are good people, and I'm glad you've got people looking out for you." They passed through a number of other costumes, and more than a few servers wearing impeccable suits with platters of food on offer. Performers on stilts moved by overhead, jugglers in the corners; those who were putting on this soiree had spared no expense. Gabe eyed a woman reading someone's fortune via tarot cards, but pulled Rafe along through the rest of the rooms, intent on actually doing what he said he would.
"So, what Dale does... Are you interested in that, at all?" He did his best to keep his question nonchalant, but his glances at Rafe as they moved through the crowd showed his true curiosity.
Rafe cast a sidelong glance to his partner, as though weighing the sincerity of the question. He felt guilty for having done so; Gabe's earnest interest showed as much in his expression as his tone. Rafael chewed his lip, and took a moment before he nodded.
"I've thought about it, sure," he said. "I know I'm getting older. I need a retirement plan. Other income now that I'm doing fewer scenes. But Dale, you know, he actually has a degree in some kind public health field. He was going to work for the CDC. But then he did his thesis on poverty and sexual health, and…" He chuckled, cutting off his own descent into rambling. "He's really qualified. I'm just... good at sex."
Gabe snorted, softly, tugging on Rafe's arm to pull him into a quiet area slightly away from the party; he leaned himself against the wall, hands settling on his date's waist.
"I definitely won't disagree with you on that," he started, looking Rafe square in the face, "I'm not saying you need to give medical advice. You have so much experience, anjo, so much you could tell people. Like...I don't know, an advice column? Besides, you could always reach out to people like Dale if you need the information. That's what they're there for!
"And what is this, getting older? I swear, you only get more and more attractive every time I look away and glance back at you." Hands slid up Rafe's body, cupping his face so Gabe could draw him forward and brush his lips over Rafe's nose. Suddenly self conscious, Rafe dropped his gaze, shifting his weight from one foot to the other. "You need to have more faith in yourself, mi anjo. You could do so much. The only person stopping you is you."
Rafael nodded. But his face betrayed him; he could not make himself believe he had so few limitations, could not see a life beyond the skills he already knew he possessed. The rest felt like pipe dreams, nothing more. He brought his cocktail to his lips and downed more of it than he should have in one go. As he lowered his glass he shrugged, hoping that feigning nonchalance might help him feel it.
"I think I'd like that. Maybe I will talk to Dale. It just seems silly to think I could give others advice when I barely have my own life together." Rafe shook his head, smirking down into his glass. "It's an idea, though. And Kayden and I have been talking about me maybe directing something, just a short for her site…"
"Oh yeah?" Gabe did nothing to douse the excitement in his voice; there was the added bonus of removing Rafe from things he was still struggling to be completely comfortable with, but the fact that Rafe seemed enthused about the project made him so in turn. "You know I think you have an excellent eye behind the camera, anjo. You're shortchanging the world, not letting everyone else see it."
He let his voice drop to a whisper, leaning into Rafe's sphere, his eyes peering over his glasses. "Though, you know, I definitely don't mind keeping you to myself, but I want you to do what makes you happy. And I will keep telling you what you're good at until it finally sinks into that thick but gorgeous head of hair you have." The hand that had settled back on Rafe's waist loosed itself to reach forward and run over the top of Rafe's head affectionately. Rafe laughed aloud, tipping his head toward that touch.
"I know, I know. I just…" He chewed his lip, then bought a little time by finishing his drink. A waiter passed by, and Rafael set his glass on the man's upraised serving tray; Gabe's glass joined it. Then Rafe's hands fell to Gabe's waist, pulling him near again. "You make me happy, meu amorzinho. And I like my work, too, but I think I'm ready to start thinking about the next phase of it. Not just because of you, or… or what happened with Abel, although that's probably all part of it. I just… I think it's time." He brought Gabe's hand up to his lips, pressing small kisses first to his fingertips, then his palm.
"I've done some photo shoots for work before, did you know that? Never films, though. I'm not sure I'll actually be any good at that. It is different."
Gabe shook his head, one hand plucking at each button of Rafe's yellow Hawaiian shirt as the other lingered on the man's waist. "That doesn't mean you shouldn't try, anjo. And I'm glad that I make you happy, but I know... Sometimes that's not enough. I want you to have something that you're proud of, something you can point at and tell other people that you made."
Fingers gently tapped knuckles under Rafe's chin. "Of course, if you just wanna be my house hubby, that works too. I think I make enough to keep us both comfortable," he said, half jokingly. Rafael laughed, drifting closer, drawn forward by his soft grip. "Seriously, anjo, I say go for it. If you want to try it, the worst that can happen is that it doesn't work out. Then you can say you've given it a shot, you know? Here, I have an idea..." He pulled Rafe forward, planting a kiss on his forehead before grabbing his hand and pulling him through the crowd, back toward the tarot card reader they'd seen before.
"Let's get your fortune told. A little extra incentive, right?"
"Why not," Rafael said, chuckling as he followed in his partner's wake. As he sat down at the table he made a point of fishing in his pocket for his discarded cigarette holder. He perched it back at the corner of his mouth, doing his best to appear as nonchalant as his character might. Regardless, the woman sitting across from him—dressed in the garb of a Hollywood gypsy— smiled as she shuffled a deck of tarot cards.
"Should I ask you something, or do you just… tell me things?" he asked. His nervous smile made the cigarette holder twitch. "It's been a long time since I had a reading or anything."
"Think of a question," she replied, setting the deck down in front of him. The topmost card was black with gold etchings, showing a leaf pattern interspersed with bones. "Cut the deck as many times as you wish, and then stack them in whatever order you desire."
Gabe took a spot behind Rafe's chair, watching the proceedings with interest. His hands landed lightly on Rafe's shoulders, a quick squeeze, before departing to wind loosely over his chest.
Rafe chewed at the end of the cigarette holder, carefully contemplating the question he would ask. He was not entirely certain he believed in things like this—particularly here, at a party, surrounded by such obvious theatrics—but he saw no reason not to at least give it a chance. Numerous options presented themselves, and he found himself curious about every one: Abel's disappearance, his rekindled relationship with Gabe, his tenuous grasp on his own sobriety and sanity. Suddenly this simple question seemed like a weightier question than he was prepared to deal with.
He landed on a single, nebulous thing—How do I move forward?—and, rather than second guessing himself, cut the deck three times. He did not think overlong on the stack as he made it, letting his hands move of their own accord. Then he looked to the fortune teller and nodded.
"Very good," she said, taking the stack back. "Keep the question in your mind. Do not speak it aloud. I will draw the cards and clarify their meanings. It is for you to draw your answer."
Holding the deck with her left, she drew the topmost card and laid it face up on the table. The hanged man greeted Rafe from an upside down position; emaciated and haggard, he hung by one foot from the bough of a gnarled, leafless tree amid a black landscape. The fortune teller tapped the card with a black, tapered nail.
"You find yourself trapped in one place, unable to move. It is a consequence, either of your own actions or someone else's; that is unimportant now. You must accept this consequence, and let it pass through you, over you, whatever this might mean. It is a lesson, and you should learn it well."
Rafe's lips had thinned to a downturned line; a deep furrow creased his brow. He studied the card with an intensity that did nothing to ease his tension. But the words sank in all the same, and he looked up to the fortune teller's face. She was not taking this so seriously, he told himself. Any meaning he was assigning to this was all his own doing, nothing more. Telling himself so did not, of course, keep him from leaning forward in his seat, brown eyes flickering down to the second card.
Gabe stepped forward, hands brushing Rafe's shoulders again as he saw them tighten in reaction to the cards. The image did little to persuade him that there was a happy meaning to the card, but the fortune teller's words didn't seem all that dire. He squeezed Rafael's shoulders, staying close as the woman revealed the next card.
A man lay face down on the ground, impaled with what seemed like a dozen swords. A yellow sunset in the distance did little to draw attention away from the fact that the man's clothes were red—whether they were before or after the man's impalement was unclear.
The fortune teller sat back, her hands setting the deck down as she idly began to explain the ten of swords. "A limit has been reached, in your life. There is no going back, no escaping from what is to come. Though this will feel like an immeasurable loss, it will also bring a sense of relief, of release and closure.
"The best you can do for now is to protect yourself while the storm rages, and then focus on rebuilding once it has passed."
Unthinking, Rafael lifted his shoulder, seeking the reassurance of Gabe's touch. He could no longer look at her face for fear of seeing the indifference there. There was a pang low in his stomach, a visceral fear of what she said actually coming to pass. He had suffered enough, or so he had thought. He had prayed for his losses to be behind him. He shook his head, and fought hard for even the small, weak smile he managed. He tried to hone in on this last: the storm would pass, and he would remain. His hand rose to cover Gabe's, anchoring himself.
"OK," he said, his voice small. He nodded toward the final card.
She turned it over with the same patience and irreverence as she had with the others. A skull-faced angel stared sightlessly up, its hands raised in a gesture of benediction. Feathered wings stretched from either side of its robed shoulders, helping it hover over a wasted land and dried lakebed.
"But all of this won't be for nothing," the fortune teller said, a note of enthusiasm ticking up in her voice. "All of it will make you stronger, make you something more. It seems you're destined for more heartache yet, but in the end your soul is helping your ego prepare and survive a cleansing and healing experience. All you need do now is decide what to take with you, what will help you the most, and what to leave behind." The fortune reader spread her hands theatrically over the three cards, setting each palm down on the far sides of the spread. Even with his eyes on the table, on the cards in front of him, surely he could feel her gaze resting on his face.
"Does that answer your question?"
Rafe let his hands fall to his lap. He nodded, looking over the simple spread one last time. It was certainly not the worst reading he could have gotten. If nothing else, he knew one thing he would carry with him along the difficult road ahead. He rose from his seat and took Gabriel's hand, squeezing it tightly. When he smiled again, it almost felt real.
"Thank you," he said. "I, uh… enjoy the party." He nodded a little farewell to her, then walked away, Gabriel firmly in tow. They had barely cleared the fortune teller's earshot before Rafael took up his cheerful chatter again, trying to put the cards out of his mind.
"The jugglers are interesting," he said. "I think there are supposed to be fire dancers later, though. Probably somewhere away from all this alcohol, I'd imagine. We should try to find a good spot to watch them…"
Gabe listened, patient, a little worried; guilt sank like a stone in the pit of his stomach for having suggested the tarot reading. He weighed bringing it up, forcing Rafe to confront it instead of pattering it away with inane conversation.
"Sure, that sounds like a great idea, anjo," he said, supportive as ever. He kept his hand firmly in Rafe's, following where the other might lead. They came to a slow stop, watching a pair of jugglers tossing around clubs with knives interspersed throughout; the crowd appropriately and appreciatively ooh'd and aah'd. Gabe let silence reign for a moment before finally dipping back into what his mind was nagging at.
"I'm sorry, Rafe, I didn't think—I know that reading sounded more dire than it probably had any right to be, but... it had some good sides to it, too, didn't it?"
Rafael nodded. His gaze remained on the jugglers, watching their fluid, complicated motions with sincere, if somewhat exaggerated, interest. The pad of his thumb mindlessly stroked Gabriel's skin.
"I'm just… tired," he said, his soft voice nearly lost in the crowd. "I know none of that is probably real. But I just want a break, Gabe. I want… I want things to go right for a while. And it always feels like I'm just… right on the edge, you know? I'm trying. But I'm going to fuck it up. That was obvious without her, but now…" He let slip a joyless laugh. "I'm sorry, Gabe. This has been really fun. Let's just get another drink and I'll introduce you to the girls, OK?"
Gabe fought with himself to insist that there wasn't anything Rafe was on the cusp of 'fucking up,' but he also felt like he'd dragged the issue out longer than needed. That, and he didn't want to ruin what had been a good night otherwise.
"Don't be sorry, anjo," he replied, his one hand squeezing Rafael's while the other stroked up his arm. Rafe drifted closer, his body fitted to his boyfriend's. Gabriel tried with one last question. "If you need to talk, you know you can always talk to me, right?"
"Mmhm." After a beat, Rafe realized his answer lacked the certainty they both seemed to require. He wanted things to be different now, more open and true; if his reading had made anything clear, it was that he had to discard what had not worked in the past. He looked to Gabriel, meeting and holding his gaze.
"I do," he said. "Thank you, gato. This will pass, though. For now I just want to enjoy the night with you."
A wide smile was the reward for his answer, and Gabe nodded. He pulled Rafe into a brief, tight hug, and then loosened his hold only enough so that Rafe could find his own two feet.
"OK, drinks, and then somewhere far enough away from the fire dancers so we don't get set on fire..."