Cuba Libre
By MissNhaca

Those who dream by day are cognizant of many things which escape those who dream only by night.

Edgar Allan Poe

On the fifth day, he finds you lounging outside on the old maple porch, smelling of sea and shells. With the sweep of a lazy eye, you see a bright teal suitcase lying heavily next to his small, sandaled feet.

The words: "Let's talk," spill from his lips, and you know that winter has come.

On the first day of October, he arrives on your doorstep, the sun reflecting heat onto the vast ocean blue behind him.

You open the creaking front door with half-lidded eyes (having just woken up from a mid-day nap; you've been taking those more often lately), fully dressed in a day-old wife beater and dark blue boxers. He's still the same as you remember him, but it feels as if someone had taken a paint brush and smoothed it over his frame; his hair is a little longer, his skin a tad brighter, muscles still the same characteristic spindles underneath his light blue t-shirt.

"Kels," you find yourself breathing.

He offers a tired smile. "Long time no see, Davey."

Without words, you lead him into your rented cottage-on-the-beach (Mary, Mother of Jesus, the old couple who rented it to you had said. Take good care of her; she saved the world.). Ignoring the living room and kitchen, something in his eyes tells you to lead him into the tiny guest room, furnished a spring color of chartreuse.

There you leave him, sprawled on top of the covers (it's too hot out for them up, anyway) and falling asleep almost instantly. Among the green, he looks almost as if he belongs there.

You retreat into the living room, propping your legs up onto the red, velvet ottoman. Staring out into the sinking sun, the non-existent clouds paint you a picture of home.

On the second day, you find that long walks are his forte. After a late dinner, the two of you leave the nook smelling of kimchi, pulgogi, and raspberry cheesecake (at his raised eyebrow, you pout and say flippantly, I had a lot of time, out here alone). Then you lead him down the lighted Santa Maria route to the ocean front, where waves lap at the darkened sand. The sun has already set by the time the two of you completely descend the rocky slope (he trips a few times on the way down, not used to the unsteady terrain; you're there to stable him with a firm arm around his tiny waist); nevertheless, the sand is still warm between your toes.

After childish moments of splashing in the warm Atlantic water, he rests his tired limbs, closing his eyes and laying down on the soft, white-grain sand. You take the chance to openly inspect his change; he's gotten skinner, there are light dark spots under his eyes, he looks small enough to break. A surge of protection wells up in your chest as you remember his last day in the business; the angry hurt that pooled in his eyes; the way he quietly left, making you know that he would never return to the setting of an entrepreneur.

You bite the inside of your lip before taking the sand next to him, cautiously threading your fingers through his jet black hair. His eyes snap open at the intimate gesture; his dark, round eyes boring into your own.

"I'm glad you came," you say quietly, not breaking eye-contact.

He stares at your eyes for a moment and more, eyes guarded yet questioning. Finally, after an eternity, his posture relaxes and he unconsciously leans his frame into yours.

His eyelashes dust his cheeks as he lets his eyelids fall to a close. "I am too," he whispers.

The day he left the company, people were sure nothing bad could happen. It was a day of celebration and relived sighs, of pats on the back and congratulations, of amity hugs and bittersweet tears.

The party, hosted in celebration of the completion of a month long marketing project, is in full swing by the time you find Kelsey sitting in a darkened corner, chewing his lip without companions.

"Hey," you say teasingly, sitting down on the loveseat beside him, "What's a super star like you doing in a sad, lonely corner like this?"

"I –" he says, voice thick, eyes overly bright. "I have to go."

Later, you're milling among fellow co-workers when you hear hostile whispers on the other side of the wall. Quickly opening the sturdy oak wood door of the pub, you step outside into the biting air.

"Knew you were a fucking homo, Paige." The words stop your feet mid-motion.

Kelsey's voice, quivering, says, "I don't know what you're talking about."

"Don't deny it." You can pick out the three voices now; Kelsey, Mark, and James. "The two of us saw you at the bar a few times, decked out like a little slut. Just because your face looks like a fucking girl, doesn't mean you have to dress like one."

"I didn't –" Kelsey is cut off by the sound of rustling material. The heavy tell-tale thump against a brick wall makes you take an automatic step towards the scene; you stop when Mark speaks up.

"Don't hurt him, James; he got the message. Let's go." The two men scurry by, and you have to quickly press yourself up against the cold wall in order for them not to see you. Before they open the door to the pub, they hiss into the silent night, "There's no place for the likes of you here, Paige."

On the second day, you prepare lunch while Kelsey entertains himself with the antiques on the wall, ghosting his fingers over the delicate porcelain surfaces. You tell him jokingly that if he breaks one, not only is he paying for the damage costs but also for your funeral. "The old couple on the hill would crucify me," you say with a chuckle. "Like the people did Jesus."

He loses interests after a few moments; instead, coming by to inspect your handiwork. He leans over your shoulder to ask you what you're setting up for lunch.

"Arroz con pollo," you say with dramatic flourish. "And frutabomba for dessert."

He raises an eye at your broken Spanish. "It just looks like yellow rice with chicken and papaya," he says flatly, but not without a hint of amusement.

"I think the Cubans would appreciate my efforts," you say with a lovable pout.

He rewards you with a light blow to the arm.

On the third day, you take him up the Santa Claire route at high noon, the both of you breathing heavily and wet with perspiration by the time you reach the lookout. Settling down on the wooden planks, you spread out a checkered cloth and set down the straw lunch basket. You sit down heavily on the picnic blanket, having seen the view a hundred times this past year. Kelsey, however, doesn't take your lead; he makes his way to the look-out and stares at the view; down at the beach, where large rocks seem like tiny specks to you, up so high, where the noon tide strokes the soft whiteness of the sand, where, in the far distance, you can see a few sailboats, resting on top of the ocean peacefully.

Grunting, you get up, ignoring your protesting joints, and move to stand beside him. Unconsciously, he leans into your side, even though the sweltering heat around you doesn't advise close contact. Your arm finds its way around his waist to rest on his jutting hipbone.

On the forth day, after the sun sets, you take him down the Santa Monica route to a secluded part of the beach. The two of you try (unsuccessfully) to build a bonfire, laughing quietly.

During the night, his eyes slowly fade darker and darker. On the way back up to the cottage, he doesn't trip; yet the lighted path just plays to further enhance the shadows.

That night, you pour him a glass of Cuba Libre, a famous Cuban drink consisting of rum, Coca-cola, and lime. He takes one tiny sip and scrunches his nose cutely in disgust. You feel a swell of unhindered warmth in your chest as you take his glass and pour it down the sink, fetching a bottle of red wine instead.

It's midnight before the second bottle is emptied. When he stands to go to bed, you catch his wayward wrist in one of your strong, slightly intoxicated hands. The night smells of lust and you're not about to let it run away (not again, your mind tells you. Never again). You stand up, seeming to tower above his only two inch shorter frame. You don't see fear in his eyes; it's dark, too dark for you to understand any sort of emotion so, on impulse, you lean down to capture his red, red lips but he turns his head quickly and your lips brush against his velvet cheek.

You're stunned into speechlessness; in that moment, he disappears into the next room.

You took an extended vacation three months after he left. Your manager told you it wasn't a good idea, especially since your career was at such a peak. You told him that you would call him when you were ready to come back. He lowered his head in resignation.

"Let's talk," on the fifth day.

Slowly, you rise yourself to alertness. A nod from you tells him to go on.

"There are some things I should have told you when we were working together, Dave," he says quietly, staring defiantly into your eyes.

"You're leaving," you say flatly; there's no room for emotion now.

He swallows roughly, and says almost desperately, "Yes, because I'm not here for the right reasons."

"Kelsey," you're standing now, hands balled to the sides, "If this is because of last night I can explain –"

His small hand covering your mouth stops you mid-rant. He quickly pulls it away, and you can see how both of his hands are quivering. "It's not because of last night," he pauses, "Actually, it is. But that's not the whole story."

"You regret coming here," you say point-blank, blinking down at him.

"No!" he reaches out and grabs both of your hands, holding them between the two of you. "I don't regret a single moment I spent here with you." Here, he takes a deep breath, "David, I'm –"

You stop him from telling you what you already know; you don't know if you can bear to hear him say it, in a tone that is so ashamed and sad. Instead, you release his hands and engulf his tiny frame against your much larger one, bringing up a hand to press his head against your neck. "I know, Kelsey, I know," you breathe into his hair. "I heard, the day of the celebration."

He freezes, then –

He pulls away so quickly that you don't have time to tighten your hold, "I have to go," he says, "Don't you see? I'm not here for any of the right reasons."

"Yes you are," you say. Usually, people call you shy about things such as feelings and the heart; right now, you don't care if you're going to embarrass yourself; you're thousands of miles away from people who see you as anything other then a traveling white man with a lot of money.

Taking his hand with your left one, you use your other hand and gently turn his face so he's looking at you. "Te amo," you breathe.

Later, suitcase left forgotten on the old maple porch, the two of you lay pressed tightly together on the hammock overlooking the beach. The ocean winds send the hammock slightly swaying; Kelsey presses his face against your chest in fear of falling off.

You smile. Sometimes, you don't need clouds to paint you a home.

A/N: I'm not schooled in the idea of Cuban etiquette nor of its geography. If something of what I wrote isn't correct, I aplogise. Thank you for reading!