Author Topic: An Optimistic Joy  (Read 982 times)

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Offline The Cedar Witch

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Re: An Optimistic Joy
« Reply #15 on: August 24, 2019, 06:15:16 AM »
Noticing the squirming indecision on how to best navigate the cramped seating, Mal too attempted to make himself smaller to give the human room.  Part of him wanted to put an arm around Quinn - they were used to hugging, after all, so it shouldn't be that awkward.  But that would undoubtedly mark them as an "item" to the average onlooker, and he wasn't entirely sure how Quinn would feel about that sort of thing.  Above all, he wanted to make sure Quinn was comfortable and enjoying himself. 

He wrestled with the thought as the show began and deafening cheers filled the tent at the appearance of a handful of clowns.  Mal's attention was mostly on examining the small details of their costumes.  Unexpectedly he fell into reminiscing about one instance when he was commissioned by a group that wanted costumes for a satirical set of skits involving unionizing in the fashion industry.  It was a fascinating project to say the least, though he still wasn't entirely sure how they'd pulled it off.  He made a move to share his little memory with Quinn, but found it too complicated to explain quickly, nevermind the fact that the human wouldn't be able to hear him well.  They made eye contact anyway and Mal warded off the questioning look with a smile before turning back to the show.

Next, the clowns brought out a bear on a leash.  Looking more humiliated than sad with a crooked hat perched atop its head and a frilly collar around its neck.  It looked like they were going to make it jump through hoops, much to the delight of the children in the front row.  Catching a whiff of something else that he couldn't quite put his finger on, Mal could've sworn the bear wasn't actually a bear.  There were too many other smells around to say for sure.  He hoped that it wasn't actually a shifter in costume--that would be cruel. 

Mal glanced at Quinn and leaned in to speak closer to his ear, "That bear look sad to you?"
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Old things have strange hungers. - Catherynne M. Valente

Offline Saiketsu

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Re: An Optimistic Joy
« Reply #16 on: August 24, 2019, 09:08:47 AM »
As soon as the bear had come out, Quinn whipped his head to the side to give Mal a look. When the vampire leaned in to speak, chills ran down his neck and spine, a fast and invasive image of meeting him halfway in a kiss making his cheeks flush. Trying to ignore his own reaction, he turned to talk in Mal's ear and that same impulse pushed forward again. What would it feel like to place a kiss on Mal's cheek? He looked at his companion, the blush not fading just yet, their shoulders and knees pressed together in the tight seats of the tent.

With a hesitation that was just a moment too long, Quinn answered him incredulously. "Uh, yeah, actually. That bear looks miserable! You're in trouble." He gave the vampire a playful scowl and turned his attention back to the affair on the floor. The thought that the bear could have been something other than just a bear never occurred to him, forgetting briefly the intensity of the supernatural presence in the city.

The rest of the circus featured a dazzling display of acts, introduced and narrated by the traditional ring leader in a shimmering top heat. Clowns in face paint, jugglers, trapeze artists. His favorite part was the team of acrobats who put on such a stunning show of human strength and flexibility that had Quinn twitching compulsory as he imagined the workout it would take to practice such feats. He was so enrapt with watching the twelve men stack themselves and bend themselves that he almost didn't notice Malakai watching him with a widening smirk. If it hadn't been for the slight turn of his head, he may not have even noticed at all. He flushed when he noticed, muttering a defensive "what?" which only made the vampire's grin widen, his eyes land back on the act on the floor. He inched closer to the vampire, casually re-adjusting himself and making no effort to play coy as he pressed just a little more weight against his partner.

He wanted to slip his arm around the back of Mal's seat, the idea of rubbing small casual circles into his back with his thumb tempting and simple enough to do. With all the eyes around him, however, and a history of hiding himself among people who hated his open displays of affection, Quinn didn't dare. The city had always been friendly to him and his lovers, but old habits die hard. He didn't do public displays of affection, no matter how small. They made him a target and Quinn had had enough of that to last him a lifetime. So the opportunity was left alone and the human contented himself with the extra, reasonable closeness to his date instead.

After a couple hours the crew bowed and stepped away and the lights rose on a packed house that appeared much fuller than Quinn had realized. He stood and clapped with the rest of the audience, thoroughly entertained, despite the presence of sad bears. He stretched stiff muscles and waited for his date to decide whether he wanted to sit and wait for the crowd to dissipate or to join them in the slow, smooshed migration towards the exits. Quinn was content with anything, feeding off the excitement of the show, but excited at the possibility of feeding Mal more human food.

Offline The Cedar Witch

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Re: An Optimistic Joy
« Reply #17 on: September 07, 2019, 08:39:24 AM »
Mal didn't attempt to follow the majority of the crowd out of the tent, choosing to wait out the majority of the flow standing in place at his seat.  With an easy smile on his face, his gaze moved over the crowd as it drained through the front flap of the tent, watching as children tugged parents along by the hand wailing about sugary snacks and stuffed animals.  He glanced at his date for the evening, wondering if he'd make a move to join the crowd or if he was content with waiting for the majority to leave.

"What do you want to do next?"  He asked as the first rush exited.  With the intention of leading them to the exit, Mal reached a hand out for Quinn to take.  It was an impulsive gesture that he couldn't take back once initiated, though he immediately felt the itching need to blush.
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Old things have strange hungers. - Catherynne M. Valente

Offline Saiketsu

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Re: An Optimistic Joy
« Reply #18 on: September 12, 2019, 07:59:42 AM »
"I told you; you have to eat more carnival food." It was non-negotiable and his expression made sure that Mal had no way out of it. He stood, feeling the social expectations from those around him - especially from skater boy, who was also standing and waiting in a way that signalled he was trying to join the crowd - and followed Mal's lead.

Quinn was halfway through the motion of taking his date's hand when he realized what the hell he was doing. He rationed the motion as maintaining connection in the crowd - and it was true! But, fuck, did it make his face blush when Mal took his hand. Mal's skin was cool and firm, but not unpleasantly so. Like he had spent too much time outside in a Massachusetts autumn. The desire to warm Mal's fingers with his own stuck playfully in his mind as he weaved through the crowd, refusing to leave him. Stupid, he admonished himself for letting himself feel so swept away with such simple gestures, settling his grip in his date's until they had navigated their way through the crowd.

When at last they had emerged into the crisp night air, they moved off to the side to allow the rest of the audience to exit and collect themselves. Only Quinn hadn't dropped Mal's hand yet. The thought tugged at him, decorum and expectations and fear of what Mal might think if he didn't all mingling together in a large mess that made him avoid the vampire's eyes, but he kept his fingers laced between Mal's as long as Mal wanted it. At any sign of tension or resistance, he would release him immediately, though he hoped that wouldn't be the case. His face flushed and that unconscious fear of being seen lingered beneath the surface, threatening the giddiness and excitement that was keeping his face warm.

His throat felt dry all of a sudden. "Is... Is this okay?" Quinn made a gesture towards their interlocked hands and risked a glance up at his partner.

Offline The Cedar Witch

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Re: An Optimistic Joy
« Reply #19 on: September 13, 2019, 04:17:17 AM »
The bloodless-blushing feeling in his face didn't leave, intensifying as their fingers wove together.  Quinn's warmth and heartbeat were the only things on Mal's mind as they wove through the crowd together.  By the time they exited the tent, he'd gotten used to the feeling and hoped they could continue.  Truthfully, he thought they fit together perfectly - in every corny way. 

Malakai was lost in the feeling of how natural it felt to hold Quinn's hand - as if they'd always been doing that.  There was a smile lingering on his lips when Quinn spoke, and as Mal glanced down at him it faltered.  He'd completely forgotten that the human might've been uncomfortable with the gesture.

His grip tightened slightly as if to answer the question.

"I'm... enjoying it," he admitted perhaps a little too quietly.  "I mean, unless you're not, then we don't have to.  I mean, I wasn't trying to- I just wanted to uh."  He licked his lips and glanced away, swamped with awkwardness.  He didn't let go of Quinn's hand, though, unless the human started to. 
Anna/Odessa/Sonya || Astrid || Chtahzus'aak/Zeus || Extasis || Fler || Jeremiah || Laurent/Va'tamal || Malakai || Rachel || Vai
Old things have strange hungers. - Catherynne M. Valente

Offline Saiketsu

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Re: An Optimistic Joy
« Reply #20 on: September 13, 2019, 09:04:12 AM »
He didn't hear Mal's response and leaned his attention in to try to recover the words retroactively, almost asking "what?", but Mal kept talking. Before he realized what he was saying, still trying to chase his response cognitively, Quinn's thoughts ran into themselves and he understood what was happening.

Mal was being awkward again.

The juxtaposition of this gorgeous man, who seemed to have everything else so well planned and put together and settled upon, fumbling with words because he felt the same kind of bashful want that Quinn did... It made him seem less divine and more approachable, more real to him. The giddiness in his chest won over and he gave Mal an amused smirk, reaching for more real estate with his fingers woven between the others. "Okay," Quinn flushed, the feeling of being seen and the enjoyment of the moment standing linked with Mal mingling into something that made his ears very red. "Soooo..." he leaned on the word quietly, trying not to be shy about it himself. "Let's go get some food, then." He grinned at his date and began his trek towards the food stalls.

They moved at a leisurely pace, his thoughts still focused heavily on the sensation of holding hands, the occasional bump of their arms together, the natural movement of their hands and fingers against each other. The color in his face was resisting all attempts to relax about it and he scolded himself for it.

"So... uhm, what were you trying to tell me in the tent?" He asked with tension in his voice, pretending it wasn't there and hoping that Mal would follow his lead, or that it at least wasn't that obvious. He looked over at Mal's face and tried to keep a relatively neutral expression, though that smirk lingered.

Offline The Cedar Witch

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Re: An Optimistic Joy
« Reply #21 on: September 14, 2019, 08:25:38 AM »
It was impossible to deny how cute Quinn was, and it sent Mal's chest aflutter.  He did his best not to stare or make things more awkward between them, enjoying the notably more enthusiastic hand-holding as much as the human was. 

Mal smiled to himself, glancing away and out and around the carnival as they walked.  When was the last time that he existed truly in-the-moment like this? 

"Huh?  Oh, uh,"  his face contorted slightly, trying to remember what moment Quinn was referencing.  There were a couple of times he wanted to say something to him but didn't.  Sad bears?  No, he said something about that.  Something about the elephant?  Or was it the lion tamer?  Maybe the acrobatics?  "I don't remember, honestly."  He admitted with a breathy, nervous chuckle. 

They came to a stop in front of a red tent with KETTLE CORN printed in gold lettering.  Two people were busy stirring a vat of salty sugary corn while another bagged the freshly popped kernels.  Mal's gaze lingered on the large wooden paddle as he watched, nose flaring as he took in the sweet smokey scent. 

"Oh-" he exclaimed, suddenly remembering, "The clowns in the beginning, their costumes - well it wasn't about their costumes exactly..."  The person bagging popcorn looked up at the pair and smiled.  Mal looked down at his date,  "Uh, do you want to get some of that?"  He nodded at the red tent, fingers wiggling lightly between Quinn's. 
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Old things have strange hungers. - Catherynne M. Valente

Offline Saiketsu

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Re: An Optimistic Joy
« Reply #22 on: September 18, 2019, 05:56:56 AM »
Quinn hung on his words, trying not to obsessively think (like a freakin' lunatic!) about how they were actually holding hands, fingers laced and strolling together for anyone to see. There was a lingering skittishness in his body, humming just beneath his skin, pulsing in his muscles and ready to recoil from the vampire should they receive the wrong look from one of the people minding their own business. He fought with his own self-consciousness, knowing it was simply a result of living in fear of discovery, needing to look over his shoulder to watch out for those who would never understand. Even after all his years of being out and open, of living in beautiful cities where gay was finally acceptable, there was still that little annoying bit of leftover trauma. He tried his best not to let it filter through his muscles into his fingers. He was really enjoying the connection with his date. Mal's words distracted him from his own anxious fog, his self-conscious excitement of being on a date (and the things that went along with it), and brought him back to the present. 

He looked at the tent full of popcorn and grinned at his companion. "That depends,'' the human answered playfully, his eyebrows rising. "Are you gonna actually have some this time or make me eat it all?" Nonetheless, Quinn's feet turned in that direction, his thoughts turning to how he was going to get some kettle corn without Mal butting in and paying for it.

Offline The Cedar Witch

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Re: An Optimistic Joy
« Reply #23 on: September 19, 2019, 09:28:56 AM »
Mal felt no such level of self-consciousness but wondered at the tension he detected from his date.  They had mutually agreed to hand-holding, more or less, so the feeling he picked up on was confusing.  Maybe it was just nerves?  Mal was still feeling a healthy dose of that himself, so it would've been understandable.  Drawing attention to it by asking would probably make things more awkward, and that was the last thing he wanted.

"Of course I'll have some."  Malakai flashed a devilish smile and pulled the human along to the front of the tent.  The massive silvery vat bubbled and popped in earnest as the two looked over their options for sizes. 

"What do you think - should we go for the big one?"  He gave Quinn's hand a gentle squeeze. 
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Old things have strange hungers. - Catherynne M. Valente

Offline Saiketsu

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Re: An Optimistic Joy
« Reply #24 on: September 19, 2019, 11:11:50 AM »
"Always go for the big one." Quinn waggled his eyebrows at the vampire, unable to let the opportunity go without making a show of it. Malakai would have done the same in a heartbeat. "Oh come on," he whined at Mal's unimpressed reaction. "You walked right into that one and you know it."

He decided to let Mal think he won this round and followed him as he approached the tent and paid for a bag of freshly popped kettle corn the size of his arm. There was no reasonable explanation why two people would ever need that much popcorn in one sitting, but such things were decidedly part of the carnival experience. He released Mal's hand in order to take the popcorn and allow him to pay for the popcorn, missing the simplicity of the connection immediately - the warmth from the popcorn was a pleasant but shitty substitute.

But the disconnection did allow Quinn the opportunity to plot against the vampire's quick skills. While Malakai waited for change, Quinn let his eyes casually wander the stands and trucks around to find which ones sold what. From what he could see three different booths and a truck sold cotton candy, the bags of blue and pink fluff hanging bulkily in windows for all to see. The closest booth was the one directly next to the popcorn tent, which made his heart quicken with excitement of his slyness. He rocked back on his heels while his date checked back in with him, putting his plans temporarily onto a back burner. There was face to save for the time being, and a plan to be formulated fully.

Without prompting, Quinn let the bottom of the bag rest against the ground and opened the mouth of it. A warm burst of salty-sweet air hit him and he wasted no time getting his hand into the bag with a triumphant chuckle. The corn was still a touch sticky and firm, tepid from its time in the kettle. He took a small handful to his mouth and crunched away. There was nothing like fresh kettle corn. He held the bag towards Mal, offering the opportunity for a handful.

After a few moments of munching, he turned to his companion. "So the corn dog was a miss and you have to have at least two more things before we even think about leaving." He held an inflammatory finger up at the vampire before shoving more popcorn into his mouth and chewed. "So now that you've seen some things, what are you most interested in trying?"

Offline The Cedar Witch

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Re: An Optimistic Joy
« Reply #25 on: September 20, 2019, 02:47:05 AM »
Without hesitation, Mal scooped up a handful of the popcorn and placed one delicately on his tongue.  The kernel rolled indelicately around in his open mouth before he moved it to the back of his teeth to crunch down.  Salty he liked, sweet was okay.  There was a hint of smokiness to it too, a flavor that tended to overwhelm everything in his senses but this was extremely subtle even for him.  The outer crust of caramelized sugar and salt gave way to a softer inner styrofoam-like bit that would've been gross and soggy on its own.  He decided the texture was satisfying enough to continue and he popped a few more into his mouth with a pleased expression on his face.

Mal waited until they were out of earshot before replying.  "That's fine.  Easier to throw up when there's more there."  He patted his stomach affectionately and gave the human a silly grin.  He'd be drinking some water later to help it along.  It didn't occur to him how strange of a concept this was for him to be eating, given the unpleasantness he'd have to deal with afterward.

"I want to try all of your favorite things,"  he said sheepishly between mouthfuls of kettle corn.  That was all he was really interested in.  That and figuring out how to get ahold of the human's hand again.  Stupid popcorn.
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Old things have strange hungers. - Catherynne M. Valente

Offline Saiketsu

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Re: An Optimistic Joy
« Reply #26 on: September 22, 2019, 03:27:11 AM »
For some dumb reason Mal's response made his cheeks tingle. "Alright," he tried to pass off casually, looking around to ward off the feeling. He couldn't remember the last time he spent this much time smiling and flushing. Maybe when he had first admitted his feelings for Jarrod Levant when he was seventeen? Christ, it couldn't have been that long ago.

"So we got dough boys next," he counted on his finger, thinking and tonguing a kernel of popcorn stuck in his gums. "Then there's candy apples and then fried pickles - but not together, 'cause that sounds fucking gross." He looked around at the tents, still trying to figure out how he was going to get that damn cotton candy without the vampire butting his way into the process. About four carts down was one of those carts that sold the fried vegetables, oreos, twinkies, and pickles, and sold cotton candy by the bag. Shit, he had already said fried pickles and there was no other cart in the area. He twisted his mouth into a pursed frown quickly before turning back to the vampire.

"Let's get rid of some of this popcorn first," he suggested, eyeing a nearby picnic table. "C'mon." Quinn headed towards the picnic table, about twenty feet away in a grouping of six. Three of the other tables had people sitting and enjoying food, an elderly couple who were enjoying simple vanilla soft serve, a fluff of napkins pinched in wrinkly hands. There was a group of four or five teenage girls giggling with cellphones and enormous soft pretzels in hand - that was one thing he forgot, Quinn thought jealously. But he was pushing the limits of his stomach as it was with everything he had already told Mal. The last table was occupied by a young straight couple with infants strapped to each of their chests - clearly desperate for a date night. It made Quinn smirk as he hefted the bag onto the table and sat, watching the vampire do the same.

"There's no way we're finishing this tonight, you know that, right?" He smirked and took a big handful, popping into his mouth a couple pieces at a time.

Offline The Cedar Witch

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Re: An Optimistic Joy
« Reply #27 on: September 22, 2019, 05:13:45 AM »
Malakai watched the human intently as he listed the food options, committing them to memory and attempting to picture them in his mind.  He didn't have the slightest idea of what a doughboy was, but the others seemed self-explanatory nevermind familiar.  An interested hum sounded in his throat as reply to the plan, and he followed Quinn to find a table.

Without sparing so much as a glance at any of the other people, Mal sat and folded his hands a bit awkwardly in front of him on the picnic table in front of them.  He couldn't stop thinking about the way their fingers felt linked together, and whether or not it would be too weird to try again the first chance he got. 

To Quinn's comment about not finishing all of the kettle corn, Mal shrugged and took another handful, crunching enthusiastically away.  Why would they sell you a quantity of something not meant to finish in one sitting at a place like this? 

"Anything exciting planned this week?"  he asked conversationally, retroactively feeling self-conscious about his choice in small talk and hoping Quinn wouldn't find him terribly dull.



Anna/Odessa/Sonya || Astrid || Chtahzus'aak/Zeus || Extasis || Fler || Jeremiah || Laurent/Va'tamal || Malakai || Rachel || Vai
Old things have strange hungers. - Catherynne M. Valente

Offline Saiketsu

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Re: An Optimistic Joy
« Reply #28 on: September 22, 2019, 05:51:08 AM »
Quinn thought quickly and came up with nothing. "Not really, no," he admitted sheepishly with a chuckle. "This was the highlight of my week, actually." He smirked at the vampire and fished out more popcorn.

"Actually, I have brunch with an old friend on Thursday," Quinn retracted casually. "I recently found out that my best friend from when I lived in Boston is now living in the city - long story," he waved off before Mal had the opportunity to ask any details about Rachel's living situation. "But, yeah, we just reconnected after five or so years. We used to live together and we'd get breakfast every Thursday out at this little cafe around the corner from our shitty apartment. When I found out she was living in the city, we just decided to start doing that again."

He smiled at the thought of how easy it had become to slip into each other's lives again, even after all this time. There were the occasional awkward misunderstanding about history or stumbling over what had happened to Rachel - mostly on Quinn's part - but when they came together they were otherwise seamless.

"What about you? Any fun projects you're working on this week?" He was referring to his dress work, though he was unsure if that was how Mal made his money or if it was just a hobby. With these rich vampires, he could never really tell.

Offline The Cedar Witch

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Re: An Optimistic Joy
« Reply #29 on: September 22, 2019, 06:02:16 AM »
Mal propped his head up by his elbow, leaning slightly in as he listened.  Quinn's dismissal of any budding questions Mal had about this old friend drew a small frown, but it quickly dissolved as he continued to speak.  There was time enough to learn more - it wasn't as if this would be the only time they spent together.  Hopefully, anyway.  Mal thought he was doing alright at least.  Nothing had gone catastrophically wrong yet.

"I've got a client with a steampunk-themed wedding coming up in a few months," Mal smiled and shook his head, sighing quietly through his nose.  "She had me doing five bridesmaid dresses on top of her dress and the groom's outfit."  There was some debate back and forth with the husband-to-be about additional pieces for the groomsmen, which the lovebirds thankfully decided could be toned down to interesting hats and theme-appropriate vests. 

"It's a fun project.  Long and involved, but fun."  And profitable.  The total price for the entire order was nothing to scoff at.
Anna/Odessa/Sonya || Astrid || Chtahzus'aak/Zeus || Extasis || Fler || Jeremiah || Laurent/Va'tamal || Malakai || Rachel || Vai
Old things have strange hungers. - Catherynne M. Valente