The Most Colourful Time

Quentin © Cara Cioffari
Daniel © RyuichiFoxe

It wasn’t as though Quentin had any voice in the matter. When you chatter your way into your office, shedding winter weather accoutrements as you go, only to have your secretary step into your path, place her hands on your shoulders, gaze intently and solemnly into your eyes, and firmly state, “This is an intervention, Boss-- Oi’m buyin’ you a new tie for Christmas”, and then watch as she calmly returns to her desk and busies herself with paperwork...

Well, you have to buy her a present, now, don’t you?

Never mind arguing that there’s nothing wrong with your tie.

So, it was not by choice that Quentin was navigating the treacherous parking lot at the nearest mall, dodging vehicles as poorly manoeuvred as a one-oared rowboat manned by a drunken blind man, slamming into nerve-wracking halts scant inches from lolloping pedestrians with positively no regard for their surroundings, and doing his best not to back his Audi into a snow bank instead of a parking space. At least the station he’d settled on wasn’t blaring the most obnoxious music available at this time of the year-- Vince Guaraldi tearing up the keyboard (as smoothly as a jazz pianist can, of course) was surely far more relaxing in this stressful situation than yet another poppy rendition of one of the classics would have been.

He stepped out of his car and directly into a calf-deep pile of snow that had accumulated along the curb (he always preferred parking with one side next to one of the little islands that littered mall parking lots). Wonderful. Shaking and stamping the foot in question, he hobbled his way onto the slick blacktop, keeping a wary eye out for rogue drivers.

One hand was plunged in his coat pocket, curled around his sunglasses in preparation for the inevitable. A high-stress environment and a surplus of stressed individuals: key ingredients for an outstanding migraine. He already planned to enter through a side door and stick to the stores that didn’t run through the “main corridor”, one could call it. He just hoped that the shops off the beaten path would consist of something, anything suitable (and reasonably priced) that he could pick up for Issie.


Quentin whirled and his foot (that same foot) slipped on a patch of ice. He threw out both arms to windmill for balance, cursing softly as he simultaneously saw the source of the admonishing shout: a young mother, aura burning a frightened black with flashes of painful yellow, was chasing a gleeful little boy and snatching at his hand to yank him out of the path of a slow-driving vehicle still several yards away.

Although the knifing wind that stabbed at his cheeks probably had something to do with it, he was sure he was feeling the heat of embarrassment. What had he expected to see? What had he honestly expected to see? Daniel, his Daniel, skipping impishly across the parking lot with some saucy tart straggling along behind, wagging her finger at him?

It seemed utterly ludicrous-- and all too plausible. Right. Comforting, that.

Either way, as he shoved his hands back into his pockets and continued to thread his way over to one of the outlying doorways, his thoughts were, unsurprisingly, straying.

Would he see Daniel before Christmas? He should have said something last time. It hadn’t even been that long ago, but apparently...well, his mind hadn’t exactly been on holiday plans. But now that the notion had been introduced, he couldn’t stop dwelling on it. Christmas. Happiest time of the year, as the seasonal maxim went, jolly good, that was wonderful and is meant to spend that time with loved ones. Exchange gifts. Curl up by the fire.

Could Daniel really fit into all that?

The instant he thought it, the flush he’d felt earlier returned with a vengeance. He covered his mouth with one hand to hide a hopeless smirk as he finally arrived at the door and pushed it open. Of course I had to go and make that dirty...

It was unbelievably crowded in the mall, even off to the side where he had entered. Quentin wasted no time in donning his, as Issie had once called them, “birth-control sunglasses”. He didn’t care how droll they might have looked to some, they got the job done (and besides, as he often thought wryly, he was birth-control all in himself, with or without the wonky shades). As he quickly strolled through the hall and sought out a less-crowded area, he was able to catch a glimpse of the “main corridor”, and instantly winced. With the sunglasses, at least it wasn’t blinding...but damn. It was like a rainbow and a hurricane had a love child and it was on crack.

He tried not to look for long at any one large group of people, but he couldn’t help occasionally determining the character of many of the persons he passed. He had long since learned how to decipher the qualities of the various shades of an aura’s colour-- this man hurrying past had a “hungry orange” cast to his aura (it looked like he was heading for the food court, as well), but this woman had the sharper, bolder orange of stress chasing her around as she blew by with shopping bags weighing down both arms.

Yes, lots of reds and oranges around this time of the year. It was a little disappointing to encounter this each and every year, all the stress and ill-will that ought not accompany such an allegedly joyous season...even he tried to enjoy himself around Christmas, whether or not he had someone to share it with or...

He did a double-take.

It couldn’t possibly...but...yes. There was no mistaking that almost sentient aura pacing restlessly about the bench over there. But no wonder he’d had to look twice: the colours were somewhat alarming, reds and sickening yellow-greens darting through mottled dark purple and a dull, dull yellow.

Nevertheless...Quentin was aware of his own aura’s shift, feeling as much as seeing the welcome and familiar light reds and warm pinks surround him. To think that he would encounter Daniel here, of all places, of all times! He had just been thinking about him...hoping to see him again...

Strange aura colours be damned. Warmer than ever and happier than he had felt in days, he approached the bench from behind, and then, gingerly, placed his hand on Dannie’s shoulder.

The other man’s aura went haywire as he jumped a whirled (startling Quentin as much as it apparently startled Daniel), but settled, like a fox lolling over on its side, relaxed. Reds a bit bolder than his own sweet pinks marched onto the scene— but the colours from before, those disturbed, dark, unsettled, bitter colours, remained underneath.

“Why, hello, pet...fancy meeting you here.”

His grin matched the red. It didn’t fit at all with the underlying colours.

Quentin smiled back, comforted that these newest emotions, as least, were genuine. For now, at least, he would not address what other emotions he had detected. He didn’t want to spoil the moment.

“You’re surprised? Everyone’s here at this time of the year.”

Finally the colours were reflecting the season.

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Cara Cioffari