Chris staggered inside, leaning heavily against the door, closing his eyes tightly and reflecting on his day. His day had been a mess. He'd gotten transferred to a new department and had gotten totally lost. Then, when he'd finally managed to find his office, he'd spilled coffee all over himself. To top things off, he'd broken the company printer, on his new first day in the new department, and the print room looked like Pollock had gone nuts on it with a bottle of ink. Chris was sure the repairs would come out of his pay.
He was so busy trying to wish his day away that he didn't notice his boyfriend standing in the kitchen doorway. "Chris?" he questioned. "Why do you look like a Rorschach?"
"Maybe because I LIKE it," Chris replied, haughtily, opening his blue eyes and looking up at his boyfriend. "Don't judge me, Daniel."
Daniel strolled across the living room, his sharp, concise movements contrasting sharply with the apron he wore over his clothes. Powerful and confident, he pinned Chris against the wall, effortlessly. "Chris. Tell me. What happened?" His eyes, striking emerald green, pierced through Chris' annoyed emotions like a diamond.
"Mm. I broke the office copier today. Ink exploded everywhere… spilled coffee on myself, today was just awful!" Chris scowled.
Daniel rubbed at a spot on Chris' forehead. "I'm not sure… this will… well. Go wash up. I'm almost done making dinner. Hopefully you can get all of that off you. You should have went and cleaned up right away."
Chris knocked his hand away. "Yeah yeah. I was too busy apologizing and offering to pay for the repairs and the floor and the cleaning of everything in the copy room."
Daniel grabbed his hand, holding his wrist in a firm grip. "Chris, being angry about today won't make it any better."
Chris pouted a bit. "Yeah, I guess… Be careful not to touch me, you'll get ink all over you too,"
Daniel leaned in close. "I like to live dangerously." He pressed his lips to Chris' and Chris could feel his heart quickening in response to his lover. He always got this warm feeling anytime he was around Daniel, it was like no matter what was happening to him, Daniel knew exactly how to make him feel better.
Daniel pulled away. "See? Look. Ink's dried. I'm safe." He let go of Chris. "Go wash up." He went back into the kitchen to continue cooking.
Chris pouted some more, watching Daniel disappear into the kitchen. He got off the door and went into the bathroom. Ugh I do look like a Rorschach inkblot test. He was covered in inksplatter and blots all over his entire body. I can only imagine what people thought on my way home. He went and got some clothes, bringing them into the bathroom. He peeled off his shirt and pants, studying the damage to his skin. He sighed, hopping into the shower to wash up. I'm so lucky to have Daniel. Chris picked up his body scrubber, putting soap on it. He cooks and cleans, he takes care of me, even holds a steady job as a freelance writer. I just barely make it at my office job. I don't take care of him very often… I can't cook to save a starving person's life, and my idea of cleaning is to move stuff under the bed. I don't know how he does it. Chris sighed a bit. I can't say I deserve him.
When Chris finally got out of the shower, Daniel was waiting for him. He was ushered into the kitchen, to sit down at the table. Daniel set a plate down in front of him. "We can eat now," he seemed cheerful.
All my favorite foods, even? He's too good to me. "Thanks, Daniel. Sorry I snapped earlier," Chris bit his lip. "I had no right to be angry at-"
Daniel put a finger over his lips to silence Chris. Daniel winked at him, before picking up a fork. "Let's eat!"
Chris blinked but started eating. He glanced up at Daniel again. His lover seemed to be in an exceptional mood today. "Something happen? Something good?"
"Maybe," Daniel grinned at Chris. "Chris, I do have a surprise for you though. Your next day off is Wednesday?"
"Yes…" Chris was still confused.
"Okay, then. Well, come Wednesday, we're going to have lots of fun," Daniel winked.
"… Oh," Chris said, embarrassed. "Well, you don't… have to wait. Until Wednesday, I mean. I could…"
"Not EXACTLY what I mean," Daniel teased. "You'll see, Chris. And yes, I do have to wait."
Chris looked down at his plate. "I see. Alright then. I guess I'll have to wait until Wednesday then too… Wait, not even Tuesday night?"
"Nope. Wednesday. You won't be disappointed," Daniel continued sitting straight in his chair, his emerald eyes excited in spite of everything. Whatever Daniel had planned made Chris sort of excited too.
On Wednesday, Chris awoke feeling better. He wondered what Daniel had planned. In the back of his head, he imagined Daniel pampering him all day long and into the night but that didn't appear to be the case. Daniel was nowhere in sight. Instead, on Daniel's pillow was a folded up note. Bleary-eyed, Chris opened the note. "Sometimes the most obvious answer is not the right one, and we're often too close to a situation to see it for what it is. Go to the place we first met. There will be an envelope for you there. Follow the instructions on the card."
Chris frowned a bit. I don't really understand what he's saying. The most obvious answer? Too close? Chris got up and took a shower. He dressed and headed out, the card in his hand.
He drove to the place they first met, a small zoo on the edge of town. He'd caught Daniel's eye and they'd struck up a conversation in front of the zebra pen.
Chris picked up the card off the bench, wondering what Daniel had planned. He sat down and opened up the envelope. "Do you remember the first time we met? Sitting here on this bench, talking about our dreams? I knew then I'd found someone very special. On our first date, you told me what you wanted out of life, and I knew I could fall for someone like you. You know where to go now."
Chris walked back to his car, sliding into the driver's seats. These cards were making him blush and he was embarrassed at his own reaction. What was Daniel doing? He drove to the location of their first date. A nice little park, secluded and quiet. There was a large tree near a pond and Chris remembered sitting with Daniel here. Chris tried to think about what he had told Daniel as he drove. My dream. It was never to work in an office. I wanted to be an artist. I was scared though. If I failed, what would I do with my life? So I gave that up. All I've ever wanted is to be happy. Why did that impress Daniel so much?
The tree was there and the letter was too. Chris sat down at the base of the tree, opening the letter. "Working in an office doesn't suit you. You've always been scared, Chris. And I've always been here. And I always will be. Go to the café we were at on October 14th."
Chris felt sick and embarrassed recalling October 14th. He was even more ashamed that Daniel had taken note completely of the date and remembered it even now, a year later. He got in his car. October 14th. I didn't know what to do. I decided Daniel didn't fit into my life anymore. My own life didn't even fit into my own life anymore, much less someone else. I invited him to the café and we sat down. I told him we were over. He looked at me, those eyes… He didn't move. He didn't even react to what I said. He just smiled at me. "Do you think so?"
"Yes, I'm sorry."
"I think you're wrong."
"I'm not wrong."
"Then how come you won't even look at me?"
"You don't fit into my life anymore!"
"Then I'll make myself fit," That was all he said. Instead of fighting, instead of his getting angry, instead of us breaking up, he told me we would fix it. And that night, instead of us sleeping alone, he stayed over with me and we spent all night together.
I want to forget October 14th, because I was stupid then. I thought I could break up with him, but I didn't realize he's all that's holding me together. He's so important to me. Why is he bringing that up?
He entered the café and a waitress smiled at him. "Are you Chris? This letter was left for you," she handed it over.
"I… um… yes. Thanks." I feel so uncomfortable, standing here in this café. Remembering that day. Being here, thinking about that day, it's tearing me apart. Why did Daniel bring me here? Chris returned to the car, looking down at the envelope. His heart was pounding with fear. He thought about not opening it, just going home and confronting Daniel, but he opened it anyway.
"Chris, that day has been on my mind so often. More often than you know. I've seen you try and try to climb out of this hole you've been in. But you'll never be happy with what you're doing." Chris felt terrified. He didn't understand what Daniel was saying, but he read on. "I love you, and I've known it from that day we sat underneath that tree and you told me all you wanted was to be happy. On August the 21st, I fell in love with you. And I learned quickly after that that I couldn't live without you. And on October the 14th, I thought, for a moment, my life was over. Chris, life is too short to be scared all the time. Or to be unhappy. Your dream is still inside you. And I think you can make it. Why spend all that time at a job you hate, when you could be pursuing your dream? You'll never be happy until you do. Come home, Chris. I've got some news for you."
Chris was shaking a bit. He leaned back in the seat, closing his eyes. He… really does love me. August 21st, I didn't even know that was our first date. He loves me the same way I do. He says that he can't live without me? Tears stung Chris' eyes. Pursue my dream? Give up a job that pays amazingly well for a gamble? He has that much faith in me… I'll never be happy until I do, huh? Chris started the car, driving home. Opening the door, he saw a large blue box on the table, with a note on it.
"Chris, this stuff is for you. Promise me you'll use it."Chris opened the box. Inside the box was an artist's tablet, a scanner, and some paper and drawing pencils. In the box with the drawing pencils was another smaller note. "I love you. Meet me in the kitchen."
Chris walked toward the kitchen, stopping in the doorway. He saw Daniel at the stove, his apron on, as usual. He was in a really good mood. He turned the stove off and turned to see Chris. His smile widened. "You're going to want to sit down."
Chris took a seat at the kitchen table, his eyes on Daniel. He was so overcome with everything Daniel had said to him already, he didn't even resist.
"We don't have to worry anymore, Chris," Daniel told him. "I got the letter. They want it."
Chris leapt to his feet, his eyes excited. "They… your book?"
"Yes!" Daniel was grinning. "You don't have to work at that job you hate anymore, Chris, and… we're…" Chris rushed to him, throwing his arms around his lover in an excited hug.
"Why didn't you tell me right away?" Chris asked, pulling away slightly.
"I wanted to not only let you know about the second best news of my life but I wanted to pamper you while I was at it," Daniel's grin was from ear to ear.
"I'm so happy for you," Chris gushed. "I'm so… I don't…"
"It's because of you." With one finger, Daniel tilted Chris' chin up, leaning forward and capturing Chris' lips in his. "You were my inspiration."