Typically, the human had no trouble silencing his cellphone and surrounding himself by the brightly colored palettes, stark white canvas, and large windows that formed his studio. Today was a different matter entirely. Caleb was distracted. He lay back on the wooden floor, staring up at the roof, and balancing a paintbrush between his thumb and forefingers. It was his favorite paintbrush. One could even say it was lucky. It had belonged to his mother and painted many a great piece before he’d taken it into his own hands. He swept the brush across his wrist, trying to stir some image to his mind. Normally, the cherry wood and soft horse hair bristles would ground him. Right now, they only seemed to tickle. Focus. Where was his focus? 

He sat halfway up, gazing at the fan which spun above him. The past few days were playing again in his brain. He’d pinched himself six times in the last few minutes. It was definitely real. He closed his eyes, letting the air blow over his face. Perhaps if he just let his mind wander. Images danced back into his mind. The dock. The flowers. Her blonde hair falling across her eyes. His hands everywhere. Her fingers in his hair.

Play it cool. Already, the confusion that had reigned in his mind was fading into the background, replaced by a steady, but shy satisfaction. Play it cool.

The Frenchman banished the images from his mind, covering his eyes. What was happening? What was wrong with him? Art was the one thing that he’d always been able to connect with no matter what. Even in past relationships, his time with his ideas and sketchbooks had sometimes dominated his presence in the moment. Now? Now it was the total opposite. Caleb groaned and carefully stashed the brush away. He needed a cold shower. An ice bucket would be helpful, really. As he resigned himself to the fact that there would be no painting done today, there was a soft knock at the door. He peered through the window and it only took a moment for his blue eyes to focus on Tavia. 

He grinned sheepishly, and opened the door, and stuffing his hands in his pockets. She was his confidant, his bias. Why, on today of all days, did he have to forget almost every English word he knew? In that silence, his could not avoid her beautiful green eyes. Something inside him melted with relief. However, he continued to stand in the doorway, slightly mesmerized by her sudden appearance. Ai. Oh mon dieu. Say something! Something English.

“Hi.” He scratched the back of his neck, turning quite pink. What was the word? “It’s....” He wanted to lift her close and inhale her flowery shampoo. Terribly distracted by the fuzzy feelings inching around his body, Caleb chuckled. “Je suis desole, Octavia.”

Frenchglish. Of course. He might have been losing his bilingual brain, but artists weren’t naturally good speakers. He could communicate everything he needed without words. The stupid grin refused to leave his face, but Caleb’s gaze was soft as he reached for her hand. His grasp was gentle, but firm. It took a bit of effort, but he managed to translate before speaking this time. “What a...nice surprise. Good morning, Tay.”

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After contacting Mal to let her know of the new arrival to her greenhouse, Octavia had picked up Caleb’s sleeping frame and carried him to a clearing nearby, they hadn’t brought all of the supplies needed to camp out properly but she managed with a tarp to shield them from the inclement weather and a few branches to prop everything in the right places. She lit a fire not too far from them. The whole time she was watching over Caleb to make sure he was okay, she knew there was little she could do to meddle with a magic-induced rest but there is one thing she could do, protect him.

Eventually, all of the work of setting up camp had taken its toll on her and she had sidled up next to him, lifting the soft woolen blanket she had placed over him to join him. Laying her head against his shoulder and allowing the exhaustion to take over for just a while. It had been a long day but a very successful one in the grand scheme of everything and thankfully it seemed the world was kind enough to give her peaceful dreams for once. Usually, whenever Octavia dreamed it was some bizarre mix of confusing visions that made no rational sense when collated but occasionally on the good days she could relive some of her happiest memories.

There was a smile on her lips as her mind allowed itself to wander through all of those countless nights out at the gazebo, never really talking about anything which would change the world but never realizing that it was slowly changing her world. She hadn’t been looking to start over again, she certainly hadn’t been looking for a relationship but somehow, those were the two things she had come to find. It wasn’t intended or forced, it had been slow and natural and it had brought her more happiness than she could have ever hoped to have find. Even today he had been willing to risk himself just to see a part of her world and the life she chose and that meant everything to her.

It was almost like she could sense when he returned to bed with her because her body naturally curled itself against his, her arms reaching for him like it had become a natural reaction for her. And when he spoke those soft words, she wasn’t sure whether she was dreaming or awake, but either way, they made her smile.

The fire was mostly smoldered by the time they awoke in the morning, her eyes fluttering open before she crept from where he was sleeping to allow him to rest. She headed out to grab some more logs that had fallen from the trees and placed them on the fire before settling herself down to enjoy the warmth of the morning. A large contrast to the storm that had poured yesterday. She smiled when she heard him coming up behind her and brought her hands to touch gently against his where he held her from behind “Better than I thought I would” she answered with an easygoing smile and turned to face him for a moment “You made quite the first impression on that flower...it’s safe now” she smiled softly, proud of what they had achieved.

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