#4 Evian, confetti, denim, woolite - clumsygyrl

 

 

            The night of possible seduction had started out so right… and ended up so wrong.  The music, the food, the drink, the ambiance, the attire, the company, the truth.  It was all the way it was supposed to be.  Perfect.  Lance could settle for nothing less.  Not when everything was at stake.

            He paced nervously in the hour before Chris was supposed to arrive.  His dining room looked like a New Year's Eve party gone horribly out of control.  Steamers cascaded from the crystal chandelier.  Confetti littered the table top and fell scattered on the Persian rug beneath it.  Champagne bottles sat unopened in front of each of the place settings, balloons clung to the ceiling and Prince's "1999" played on a continuous loop in the background.  That was the song Chris always associated with New Years, so that's what Lance played.  It had to be perfect.

            When Lance sent out the invite he stated on there that it was a surprise party, so Chris wasn't allowed to tell anyone.  He was led to believe that other's had even been invited, when in fact he was the sole recipient of the silver and blue invitation.  But it wasn't entirely false.  There would be a surprise, just one Chris wasn't expecting.  He'd be on the receiving end for the first time.

            Lance sipped at his bottle of Evian as he turned to leave the room, afraid to move anything else or to change his mind about using the clear green square shaped plates he'd already set out.  He had an hour until Chris showed up, and he still needed to change.  The attire was party casual, but that didn't mean that the board shorts and tank top he had on would be acceptable.  It wouldn't be perfect.

            He changed his clothes, grabbed another bottle of water and sat nervously on the counter in the kitchen, waiting for the telltale chime of his doorbell.

            When Chris arrived Lance's heart leapt into his throat.  There was no turning back.  And when he opened the front door and saw Chris standing there clad entirely in brushed denim, a wide smile showing his teeth and a gift bag in his hand, Lance's hands began to sweat.  "Hey."  Chris stepped into the house and looked around, completely missing the fact that Lance's hands were shaking.

            "Hey."  Lance sputtered as Chris headed for the hall.

            "Am I the first one here?"  Chris craned his neck to look around, straining to hear someone else's voice.

            "Uh.  Yeah."  Lance followed quickly behind him.  "Um hey.  About that."

            "Dude no way.  I'm never the first person to anything.  Where's JC?"

            "He's – "

            "Shit man, Justin's not even here?  The guy lives like, two blocks away and he's not here yet?"  Chris laughed as he set the bag on the kitchen counter and looked around.  "Do I have the right day?"

            "Y-yeah.  Yeah it's today."  Lance put his hands in his pockets and licked his lips.  He could ask Chris to leave.  Tell him there'd been a mistake.  That the fake surprise party had been cancelled and he just forgot to pass the word along.  Something.  Anything.

            "Did I get the time wrong?  Because seriously man, I'm never the first one here."  Chris shook his head and ran his hand through his newly cropped hair.

            "No, I – "  Lance stopped and took a deep breath.  His mouth turned dry and he wished he had another bottle of water to help him out.  "It's just you."

            "I know it's just me.  That's what's freaking me out."  Chris smiled and took two steps toward the closed off dining room.

            "No, I mean… it's just you."  Lance closed his eyes instead of watching Chris reach for the handle of the door.  "It's just… um… you."

            "No comprendo dude."  Chris laughed and pulled the door open.  "Sweet! Check it out, it's like New Years!  What kind of party is this anyway?  It just said a surprise party on the thingy."

            "No, yeah it's a surprise."

            "For who?"  Chris looked over his shoulder just as Lance opened his eyes.

            Lance sighed, Chris hadn't noticed the two lonely place settings, or heard the music yet.  He hadn't remembered the conversation they'd had months ago about how Chris' favorite holiday was New Years and how he'd always wanted a New Years party just for him, where he was the guest of honor.

            "And check it out!  You've got Prince playing.  Man, this is awesome.  Small, but awesome."

            "It's um."  Lance's face burned bright pink.  "It's for you."  He said quickly.

            "Hmm?"  Chris held onto his smile, but just barely.  "For…?"

            "You."  Lance nodded.   He forced a smile as his heart threatened to pound out of his chest.  "Surprise!"  He raised his hands and shrugged.

            "For me?  What… what for?"

            "Because New Years is your favorite holiday.  And… and because it makes you happy and because when I think of New Years I think of you.  I… I wanted you to be happy when I said this."

            "When you… what?"  Chris looked completely confused as he placed his hands on the edge of the table, running his fingers over the expensive linen table cloth.

            "I love you."  The words rushed from Lance's lips with a speed that astounded even him.  He hoped that it was fast enough that the words blurred and Chris missed it.  But from the look on his face he could tell that he hadn't.  Chris had heard each of the three words.  In order even.

            Chris' breath caught in his throat and he held it for a minute.  When he finally released it, his breaths came in short spurts.  From behind, Lance could see Chris' neck tense up with every inhalation.  "Chris… I just – "

            "No."  Chris shook his head.  "It's okay."

            "I should – "

            "It's okay."  Chris said again, not wanting to hear any more of Lance's words.

            Lance's hands wanted to reach out and rest on Chris' shoulders.  To massage the tension away, not caring that Lance's words were what put it there in the first place.  He wanted to feel the warmth of Chris' body under his fingers, against his chest.  If not romantically, then friendly.  The way they'd always touched before.  But a new rigidness in Chris' back kept Lance from approaching.

            "You have… there's – "  Chris stopped and took a deep breath.  "There's a stain here on your tablecloth."

            "Chris…?"

            "You'll need to wash it in woolite."  Chris said softly as he traced is finger around the barely noticeable stain.  "But it… it won't be the same.  After you wash it."

            "Chris, I – "

            "It's okay Lance."  He shook his head, but wouldn't turn to look at the man who'd put it all together for him.  "I… should uh… I should go."

            "You don't have to."  Lance said quickly, moving forward before he could stop himself.  "We can just pretend I didn't say anything.  I've got dinner and everything."

            "No, I don't want to do that."  Chris pursed his lips and turned around.  "I… appreciate this.  I mean.  I do." He nodded but kept his eyes downcast.  "It's just – "

            "You don't have to say anything."

            "You're my best friend, Lance."

            "I know."

            "But…"

            "I know."

            "I should go."  Chris sighed and stepped around Lance, careful to keep his arm from brushing the other mans.  Lance didn't move as Chris made his way back to the front door and let himself out.  It wasn't perfect.

            Like the tablecloth sitting beneath all the decorations and disguises, their relationship was now flawed.  And no amount of woolite or washing would ever take the stain away.