A/N1: Uh, so, this probably won’t make any sense if you haven’t read the brainstorm of Underneath the Red Lights. I highly suggest you read that first.
It doesn’t mean anything, Carlos thinks, as he sits at the same table he sat at last year and the year before that. Normally this restaurant would be out of his price range–too expensive for a factory worker, never mind that he has steadily been moved more and more towards the R&D division and with it a higher salary–but not today. Because he’s not the one paying for it today.
The waiter is different, he can’t really expect to be served by the same person, but the maitre d’ is the same. She recognized him–perhaps from that brief splash of time when his face was everywhere in the media, but his fifteen minutes of fame is years past. Perhaps from his previous outings to this restaurant, but she must have seen hundreds if not thousands of other customers, more frequent patrons–likely, she was shown a photo of him. To let him in, to seat him at a specific table and let him order whatever he wanted, despite his casual and shabby outfit.
And Carlos knows he could’ve worn that particular outfit–even two years out of style it is still the fanciest thing in his wardrobe–but it just doesn’t seem right. Not that sitting here, eating a dinner worth probably a month’s worth of his wages, in his oil-stained, rumpled work uniform feels right either but. He thinks he is owed this, at the very least.
It could be argued that him not being in prison is above what he deserves, but who are they to judge? He just wanted his friends, wanted to take back what the government had stolen from him, wanted to carve out a little happiness for himself.
When he is finished with his entree–a different one every year–dessert is brought out and this is one of the things that does not change. It’s their molten chocolate cake, and maybe these dinners are not apologies but punishments, because for all that he loves chocolate, for all that the cake is perfectly baked and so divinely delicious, he can’t help but feel that this whole situation is bittersweet.
Because it is the taste of their first and only kiss, before the truth came out and Carlos was left with all that he had before–no family, no friends, no boyfriend–with the glimpse of another life that slipped through his fingers.
A life that he would have never had, anyway, like this dinner at this restaurant–because factory workers can’t afford thousand dollar meals, and they don’t date princes either.
A/N2: I just read the most strangely heart-rending DCU fic and for some reason it gave me Underneath the Red Lights feels. But… angsty feels? Basically, the “bad ending” in which Ben not only finds out about the whole magical possession thing BEFORE Carlos gets to the castle, but also doesn’t forgive Carlos (and further does not think that magicians should be free). But at least he doesn’t put Carlos in prison? Because technically, Mal was the one who did the possessing and it could be argued that Carlos had no role in Mal’s crime.
I DUNNO, I’M SORRY. I JUST HAD TO SPREAD THE MELANCHOLY. Still pretty sure I’m not going to do UtRL but if I am, please rest assured, that this is not how it will end.
Okay, this isn’t my post for today, but I need to type this out now before I fall asleep and forget it but basically two things related to the above drabble:
- WHAT IF THE REASON THE MAITRE D’ RECOGNIZES CARLOS IS BECAUSE THE ONLY DAY THE CROWN PRINCE EATS AT THE RESTAURANT IS THE SAME DAY. Like, after closing hours, Ben just rents the entire restaurant (and of course they’re going to keep it open just for the crown prince) and he sits at the same table as Carlos and basically acts like he is on a date with Carlos just several hours displaced. AND THIS IS THE KIND OF THING THAT PEOPLE REMEMBER, SO OF COURSE THE MAITRE D’IS GOING TO RECOGNIZE THE PERSON WHO CAN INSPIRE THAT KIND OF HEARTBREAKING DEVOTION FROM THE FREAKING CROWN PRINCE.
- WHAT IF I DO ACTUALLY WRITE UNDERNEATH THE RED LIGHTS STARTING WITH THE ABOVE DRABBLE. As a sort of… reconciliation love story, in which the boys are both a little bit older and a little more broken but all the wiser for it and Ben isn’t so reactionary and hurt by the lies and Carlos realizes that he did actually like Ben for himself and not just a means to an end and they “fall back in love” (and then eventually Ben does realize that magicians are treated unjustly).
Just, ugh, stab myself in the heart. (Literally kept shrieking NOOOOOOO MIMI NOOOOOOO to myself as I was typing this, though).