Arlo is trying to murder me.
We sit together on a bench, Kitt sits beside me and Quentin is on the other side of Arlo. The massive picnic table is blanketed in red and white plaid, fully crowded as Caspian and Tobias bring over the last of the food from the grill.
Our thighs are touching.
He’s one of those people who tells stories with their hands, which frequently brush against my back as he waves in the chilled air behind me, or alongside my forearm when his fingers settle on the miniscule bit of plaid between us.
He’s smiling, and his eyes shine in this light like I’ve never seen before, gold and emerald specks quite literally dance in irises and he catches me staring for a few seconds too long multiple times.
To be fair, I’ve caught him staring at me, too.
His leather jacket is gone, resting on the bench between his hip and mine, revealing thick arms adorned with ink here and there. I’ve noticed when someone asks him a question, his fingers tend to find the dragon along his forearm. He’ll briefly sweep over it in one direction, then the other, and that’s all, but he doesn’t ever look at it as he does. Maybe he doesn’t realize he’s doing it at all.
The stars are a gorgeous backdrop for the strands of warm lights criss-crossing through Caspian and Tobias’ yard, the night perfectly illuminated for the group of friends I’ve come to know as the ‘Misfits.’ Caspian’s scowl has lessened, but he doesn’t make it a point to talk to me. Quentin is quiet as well, but he doesn’t seem to outright dislike me.
Although, his face brightens like the first spring day after a treacherous winter when Arlo asks him how his day was.
I listen to those around me chat with content, answering when I’m spoken to but otherwise watch the dynamics unfold with curiosity. Arlo makes sure to give each of his friends attention, but Kitt, Caspian and Quentin especially thrive under it. Lindsey and Kitt have no problem flaunting their relationship, while Caspian and Tobias keep close to each other and hold hands, but not much else.
Their children often find their way into Arlo’s lap, and Caspian looks upon Arlo with such fondness I find myself more … jealous, (yes alright I’ll admit it) of him than Quentin. Those looks from Caspian cause Arlo to flush or distract himself with conversation, whereas the plain adoration from Quentin is lost upon Arlo, or it seems that way. He talks to Quentin like he does to every one of his friends.
“So, Thatch, have you ever visited during the festival before?” Kitt asks, distracting me from watching Arlo wrestle Marlena off his shoulders.
I turn, facing her and Lindsey. “Regrettably, no. But from what I’ve seen thus far, it seems like a grand time, although I’m not sure what all the fuss is about.”
Gowan giggles from her seat across from us, as does the gladiola fae she brought with her tonight. Both fae are in full bloom, which I find fascinating. Deep yellow dandelions decorate Gowan’s grassy skin, while soft white gladiolas drift past Iris’ mossy shoulders, her long blue hair curling between the flower heads, leaves and stems with hidden roots.
“All the fuss?” Arlo starts, to which Caspian and Kitt simultaneously groan.
“Now you’ve done it.” Lindsey agrees, leaning on Kitt’s shoulder and watching me with a conspiratol grin that matches Gowan’s.
“Alright, alright. Let’s eat before Lolo pitches a fit.” Caspian says, passing around the platter closest to him.
I raise a brow at Arlo. “Lolo?”
Arlo glares at me after he passes Marlena off to Tobias. “Don’t even. I’m mad at you.”
He nods solemnly. “This is unacceptable.”
I look to Kitt and she puts up her hands. “Arlo is very passionate about the Scarlet Illusionist.”
“You’re the one who runs a museum with not one, but two exhibits dedicated to them.”
She rolls her eyes. “Whatever.”
I chuckle. “Is that the fellow I saw on the banners last night? I must say, whoever designed their outfit is quite … decadent.”
“See!” Quentin cries, pointing a potato covered serving spoon at Lindsey, much to Arlo’s approval.
The elf scoffs, flipping blonde over her shoulder. “Well I think it’s just right.”
I put my hands up. “I didn’t mean any offense! I mean, it’s just–”
Lindsey laughs. “It’s alright, we live to pick on each other. If you’re going to be around that one, you better get used to it.” She gestures to Arlo and the autumn breeze nips at my overheated neck.
“Yes, well, thank you for the advice.”
While I’m more active on Tumblr with my excerpts, I’m going to start posting some work in progress shorts over here. For today, we have pining, and lots of it.A
Also, sneek peek of a piece I commissioned from the lovely Henni Eklund, one of the artists who worked on the Iverbourne tarot cards.