Prompt: Last week's piece entitled "Advice"
Perspective: First Person
Genres: Drama, Secrets
Length: 2346 words
-Distinct inability to people
-(Second) Meet Cute?
Author Notes: I said I might do this, a spin off because I liked the two younger men in the story I wrote previously. Lark retains his name, though you get a little more detail on his appearance. The other man involved, who tells this piece, is Evan. I did go back and add some appearance details for Evan in "Advice" if you want to check that out.
Not sure if this was what anyone wanted from this piece, but it's what sprung from it, from the awkward intervention and the dynamic it created between these two. Hope you like it :)
William and I had met that night, pushed together by the man’s urging, and three months after our relationship ended, I was still hung up on it.
It might have been the words, the warning and commiseration with my plight. It could have been that he told me at all. After all, how fundamentally kind do you have to be to warn someone off that sort of situation?
He was strange, this man who told me his name was Lark and proceeded to tell me how appropriate it was to call the man I had been seeing ‘Mal’. He’d been handsome once I looked past the scruff and his rougher manners, with teal eyes full of kindness and wavy dark hair that looked black in the poorly lit barroom.
“Still looking, huh?” Gabriel asked as I took a seat at the bar.
I smiled lightly. “I’ll have to give up on it sometime, I guess. He just sticks out in my head.”
Gabe snorted, pouring me a cola without even asking what I wanted. “I’d say he was a figment of your imagination, Ev, except I served him that night. I haven’t seen him since. It’s time to give it up.”
“He did what he came to do that night, really. I just… kind of keep looking for him?” I sipped the glass Gabe handed me.
“Well, you’re over Will so go find someone else to play with and forget him.”
“You know it’s not that easy,” I chastised him gently. “At least I’m not getting drunk.”
“Yeah, you’re drinking hideously expensive Coke at a bar instead. I don’t think that’s much better.” Gabe shook his head. “Get him out of your head and get someone else in your bed.”
I shook my head. “That’s a terrible thing to say and you’re speaking in rhyme, Mister Grinch.”
“Finish your drink and go do something else with your evening, Evan. Watch a movie or get some Chinese food or go mingle. Something.”
Lifting my glass, I gave him a jaunty salute. “Want me to order some pizza for when you finally get home?”
“Won’t be home, so don’t bother. I mean, unless you want to flirt with the hot delivery guy.”
“I’m pretty sure you’ve done more than flirt with him, so I’ll pass, thanks. Don’t need your sloppy seconds.”
Gabe laughed. “Your loss. Man could suck the chrome off a tail pipe.”
“And now I have a horrible mental image, thanks. Asshole.” I shoved at his shoulder playfully, then passed him my glass. “I’m leaving. Heard there’s a late showing of that new Marvel movie.”
“Gods, you’re such a geek. Go find a hot nerd to take home and bang while I’m out,” he commanded.
“Gabe, I’m your twin but I’m not you. Enjoy your shift. I’ll find someone to talk to.” I may not have said the words, but Gabe would take that as a promise. So all I had to do was find someone who thought Captain America was sexy and strike up a conversation. That should be simple enough. I hoped.
“No one would ever confuse us, Ev. Even before we spoke, Mom knew which was which.” That was his parting shot, and I wasn’t comfortable with how much truth was in it. It was hardly his fault, either way.
Walking onto the sidewalk, I kept my head down and watch the feet that passed by and did my best to stay out of their way. The sidewalks were busy at this time of night and I wasn’t the most social human being by default. Post break-up it was actually worse –to the point that I rarely spent time with anyone but my brother willingly.
My gaze stayed at street level, acknowledging the presence of people as I counted shoes. It was a game I played by myself: trying to figure people out from the shoes they wore. A pair of red high-heels followed a pair of leather loafers, only to be passed by a pair of canvas athletic shoes and a decaying pair of flip-flops. Distracted by the motion of the sea of people I was submerged in, I bumped into a pair of dusty combat boots and apologized meekly.
“Thant’s alright, kid,” the man replied.
My head jerked upright, meeting the strange teal eyes that had been stuck in my head for months. “Lark?” I asked, mouth opening before my brain caught on.
Wide eyed, that sensual mouth opened immediately only to bite off the expletive. “Holy… Hi, kid. How’s your blond?”
“Never mind Will. Come with me and get Gabe off my back,” I returned.
A thick dark brow arched.
“If you come watch a movie with me, I’ll explain,” I bargained, not willing to let him slip away when he’d haunted my dreams for over a year.
“What movie?” His tone was suspicious, but he was softening toward me, which was probably a good sign.
I smiled, hoping the smile my brother insisted was charming would help me out. “The new Marvel movie. Don’t even need to know the plot; just enjoy the eye candy in spandex with me.” I offered him a hand.
His jacket was the same army ilk as his boots and I wondered if they were the punk knock-offs that had been popular half a decade before or the real thing. His hand looked huge next to mine and it should have worried me: the man was built well, thick muscular limbs and honed torso on a tall body. I’d barely made 5’6” and I’d always been a skinny nerd. Yet there was something about this rough-looking man that put me at ease in a way I hadn’t realized I needed.
When he took my hand, it was dwarfed in his but his hold was gentle. “Alright, kid,” he consented.
“Evan,” I corrected lightly, leading him toward the theater I preferred.
“That’s my name: Evan Jacobi. Nice to meet you.”
“Evan,” he returned finally, as if he were trying hard to commit the name to his memory. “I’m Lark Phelps.”
“I did kind of wonder if that was a first or last name last time.” I offered him a soft smile. “Nice to formally meet you, Lark.”
His hair curled lushly in the que at the base of his neck, baring the cleanshaven jaw for my perusal. I found it charming that he held my hand so gently. My brother would have found it insulting, I’m sure, but the tenderness and caution were almost like a form of respect.
He inclined his head to acknowledge the words, footsteps falling in with mine easily. “Who’s Gabe?” he inquired after a long moment.
“My brother. You met him, that night at the bar. He’s the bartender.” I smiled. “Usually, he thinks he’s our parents instead, always worried about whether I’m eating or socializing or something.”
He nodded slowly. “At least he cares, right?”
“I sort of need the overbearing touch, sometimes. I don’t… people well?”
“Oh, is that why you apologized to my boots?” he teased, giving my hand a squeeze.
“I suppose I should be grateful. If he hadn’t pushed me, I wouldn’t have been heading this way tonight.” Squeezing his hand in return, my gaze met those lovely dark eyes.
The theater was a nice one, well-furbished but hidden enough that people didn’t swarm to it. Lark and I were the only adults in the theater, hidden in the back row away from the two rows of high school kids that were making out instead of watching the film. I’d already seen it: it was just an excuse for the ‘social interaction’ Gabe demanded of me.
It didn’t take Lark long to figure out that the movie didn’t have my attention. The movie hadn’t even started yet, just bare hints of the previews. “You’ve seen it, haven’t you?” he accused lightly.
Laughing, I wondered if I should kiss the pout off his lips. Ultimately, I erred on the side of caution. “I have, actually. Enjoyed it the first time and needed Gabe off my back, so I decided to watch it again. Then I ran into you. Why, do you follow these movies?”
“Religiously. Couldn’t find the time to watch it when it first came out, though.”
“Then I’ll hush and you can enjoy it, Lark,” I returned, realizing my cheeks already hurt from smiling for so damn long. “And I promise, no spoilers.”
He surprised me with a light pressure, his lips against my brow. “Are you sure?” he asked, his lips moving against my skin.
“Of course I am. I was just going to lie to Gabe and told him I talked to a person. Now it won’t be a lie.” My lips trembled at the touch but I was proud I pushed the words out without a tremor.
His hand slid up to gently squeeze my shoulder and I tried not to read too much into the affection he showed. Gods, but I had been burned plenty before he walked into my life: I knew better than to melt into every touch. Seemed that particular piece of head-knowledge wasn’t serving me well at all today.
“Not even a little spoiler?” He inquired.
“Depends on your question,” I returned, feeling a little on the spot, a little uncomfortable, and somehow, better than I had in months.
“Will you let me kiss you tonight?”
Surely I hadn’t head correctly. Swallowing hard, I paused before replying. “Huh?”
He smiled and leaned in, brushing his lips over mine lightly, lingering until I was pretty sure the breath I inhaled was his exhale. My head was spinning; it was all I could think through to tip my head and press in for another kiss.
The fanfare for the film startled us apart, leaving me blushing and fretting in my seat while Lark seemed drawn into the film. It was the gentle way he squeezed my hand that gave him away and left me swimming in an embarrassing heap of warmth. Curling into the shape of the man beside me, I laid my head on his shoulder and tried to pay attention to the film.
Eventually, I grew comfortable enough to fall asleep on his shoulder. I wasn’t convinced he’d noticed, since I woke up before the credits rolled, until he kissed me again and asked how I enjoyed my nap. Sputtering out an answer while my face grew hot, it took a long moment to be delighted by the sound of his laughter rather than embarrassed to be caught.
The silence felt full but not heavy as we left the theater, our hands twining together so we wouldn’t lose each other in the crowd –or so I told myself. It was only a few blocks to my building and I wondered where he lived as we paused at the bench on the walk.
“What is it about you?” he inquired, fingertips reaching out to trace the side of my face. “You keep pulling me back in, like the moon pulling the tides.”
Swallowing hard under the tender touch, I could only shrug. “Why have I looked for you every night since then? I don’t think it will ever make any sort of sense. It’s like the moon and the earth: which one circles which? Which effects the other more?”
Those eyes were wide and rich and bottomless and I knew I could fall right into them. “You know, I swore I wouldn’t be him.”
I laughed at that, unable to help myself. He didn’t even need to clarify who he meant, because it had to be the man who had incidentally brought us together. “I don’t think that’s possible, Lark, because you are nothing like him.”
“How would you know? You barely know me; just tonight and a brief meeting a year and a half ago.” The words almost sounded defensive and yet I could almost feel his need to hear my answer, to be told he wasn’t like Mal.
“You warned me. How genuine and kind does a person have to be to see someone falling into their previous folly and stop them? You were hurt and your first thought was to keep me from being prey, too. That’s not a user’s idea. And you didn’t take advantage after you disrupted it: you left, directing me toward someone else you thought would be a better fit. That’s not what someone who sees an opening would do. You have been nothing but kind to me, ever. Two nights, and I already know you better than I knew my last boyfriend. You’re real and present and you aren’t looking for the free ride. And I would really like to see what becomes of this,” I added, gesturing to the spaces between us.
“This, huh?” he asked after a long time, reaching out for my hand again.
“Yeah. I don’t think I’m wrong in thinking there’s something here.”
He chuckled. “What was your first hint, Evan? When I asked if I could kiss you?”
“When you took my hand like it was something holy, something to marvel over, and I felt it to the soles of my feet,” I returned with a soft smile.
It was the first time I saw the color rush to his cheeks and it warmed me inside and out. “Oh.”
“I think you’re a marvel, yourself, Lark Phelps. I would like to get to know you a little better.” I tugged his hand, pulling him toward to door. It didn’t matter what awaited tonight, whether it turned into something personal and dense or just a movie marathon on the couch. I wanted to see what developed, no matter how it all played out.
Good advice was one thing, but it took wisdom to see beyond that and to learn that the joy is in the journey. So when he followed my leading, I couldn’t wipe the silly smile from my face, and that was okay, too.
Have a merry Christmas, loves. And make those New Years plans and resolutions but don't get mad if you falter along the way. We're all just a little human after all.
Love you, my sweet koi.