what you see

He couldn’t really remember the exact moment he had started working on this portrait. For its size alone, he figured the term ‘mural’ was best fitting but that wasn’t right either. It was on a large canvas, thus not a mural and it wasn’t simply a painting of one person from the shoulders up so a portrait wasn’t right either. He had no terms for it and it didn’t really matter. What mattered was that he was done.

He looked at it from all possible angles and he couldn’t find anything that might have seemed wrong or missing with it. The more he had worked on it, the more he was afraid he was doing too much but now that he looked at it, now that he saw it in the clear light of day as it poured into his studio, it was perfect.

Yael looked down to his paint covered arms and laughed. This wasn’t new. This was as far from new as it could ever had been possible. Working on this particular painting had left him with paint everywhere on his person, from his arms, to his face and up in his hair. He shook his head and wiped his hands clean on his pants, those were as stained as the rest. He opened the door to his studio and looked briefly out to see if he could spot his companion.

“Quentin?” He called out, voice thoughtfully quiet, almost afraid the other demon might have been busy in his own work room.

From the kitchen, the blond head peeked out, curiosity settled clearly into that face. Yael’s own brightened and he grinned. He almost waved his arms but managed to keep himself standing as still as he could manage. It wasn’t much, he was nearly bouncing on his toes. “Come see!”

Quentin, curiosity piqued even more, wiped his hands on his apron, having been in the middle of preparing some broth, and stepped out of the kitchen, to Yael’s studio and stepped inside once the other moved to the side. He didn’t have to wonder long about what he was supposed to look at, the painting was right there, almost life-size, almost. He stared at it for a long while, his mouth hanging slightly open at the sight.

“Yael that is so beautiful.” It was. As far as he was concerned, it was the most beautiful thing he had ever seen. “Want me to see if we can gather everyone in for a while after supper? I bet I can tempt most of them with the offer of hot tea, coffee or hot cocoa with some of those too delicious cookies you’ve made lately. I know we still have plenty of them.”

Quentin was rather pleased with himself, he’d managed to not eat his way through all of said cookies though it had been so very, absolutely tempting.

“Would you do that? I really want all of them to see it. I could show it to them Friday when we all get together but I don’t really want to bring it outside and to Eoghan’s place just for that.”

“I’ll call them, don’t worry. I’ll call Eoghan and he can see about everyone else. Why don’t you have a shower, you’re colourful again today. I’ll call while you shower and we can set it out in the family room once we’re both done with our current tasks and set it on the couch. It’ll be just perfect there. After that we’ll have to figure out where we’re putting it.”

“I’m almost done with the smaller one too, the one with the older type of clothes. I tried to stick with the clothes I imagine everyone wearing when they were younger and preferably from where they were born. It’s not as clashing as I thought it would be.” He laughed again, looking down to his arms. He really was covered, this time.

“I can’t wait to see it. Go on, get washed up, if I finish with the broth and the call before you’re done, I’ll head in to help you scrub yourself clean.”

The painting looked beautiful in their family room, sitting, for the time being, on the couch. There was a wide open space above it, right on that wall though it would have taken a bit more time than they could have spared right then to set it up. Later, they could hang it up and be reminded of the beauty that was their family, though only two of them blood-related, every time they stepped into that room.

Yael fidgeted, wringing his hands together as he waited and paced. Quentin had left him be for the time being, knowing that nervousness was more than likely to abound and there wasn’t much he could do about it. Yael needed the approval of their friends as far as this painting was concerned and it was out of his hands and into theirs.

Not long after they had set the painting up on its temporary resting spot, they came, all together, at once. Wearing light coats and not even the hint of a scarf. The weather had warmed significantly in the past few weeks and just two days away from the solstice, it was easy to see that spring was in the air.

“I’m grateful that you’ve all come here. When I called Eoghan, I didn’t really tell him why I wanted all of you here, why we, both of us,” he motioned to Yael who was joining them, still looking absolutely nervous, “wanted you here. I did bribe him with some of those delicious cookies Yael has made recently and I imagine it might be how he persuaded you all to come this way. So I’ll go and Yael can lead you to where you’ll be at least for the new few minutes. We’re not asking you to spend the night, but this is an important event in our lives, especially in Yael’s.”

With that said, Quentin disappeared back to the kitchen and all eyes turned to Yael. His eyes grew two sizes, the jitters of his first time ever in front of an audience robbing him of most of his thoughts. He stared blankly, his eyes unfocussed and Eoghan was the one to step forward, settle a gentle arm over Yael’s shoulders with a chuckle. “Just tell me where we’re going and we’ll go there, yes?”

Yael licked his lips to moisten them. When he managed words, they were so soft he barely heard them slip from his own mouth. “Family room, if you’d all please.”

Eoghan nodded, turning the wide-eyed demon around and he led him, and the rest of their group into the family room. Once there, his eyes fell on the painting and he released Yael who stepped to the side and went right back on to wringing his hands together. He watched as eyes widened and mouths opened slightly to gaping position. This was a good start, he didn’t see anything negative in anyone’s reaction, he felt already somewhat better, he felt less completely stressed out.

“Ah, I see you’ve all discovered why we asked you to come about.” Quentin’s voice broke through the silence as he weaved his way into the room itself, a tray of cookies in hand that he set down on the table in the middle of the room. He moved to settle at Yael’s side, slipping his arm along that slender waist.

“Yael, this is beautiful, I have no words.” Eoghan was the first to find his voice. He stepped closer, studying the details put into the painting itself. It was amazing. It was almost as though he was looking in a mirror.

The twins finally stepped closer themselves but Yael caught Cyrille’s gaze more than he did the twins’s own. He was confused, as if he didn’t understand how he’d made it into that painting himself. He looked to Yael a moment, his eyes wide, confusion absolutely clear as day before he looked back to the painting.

“I’ve been working on this painting since I’ve met Quentin, just about. On and off, I’d paint it, change it, modify it. Then, Eoghan came into our lives, I sketched him into it. Alexis was added, then the twins and Zora, though when she left I didn’t feel comfortable leaving her in the painting. Armin and finally though certainly not the least of addition, I’ve added you, Cyrille. You’re as much part of this family as everyone else. You’ve done so much for everyone in your own way, I don’t think we’d quite by the same without you. You deserve to be in this painting as much as everyone else.”

He paused, finding smiles all around as they looked at him. Courage settled into his bones then and he smiled, looking to his completed painting. “I was terrified some of you might not like it. This is the first time I’ve had so many people looking at my art and it is such a personal piece that I was terrified of what might come of it. Now I know that it was worth every second I’ve poured into it. Every shower I’ve had to take because somehow with this painting more than any others I ended up covered in paint from head to toe. It was worth everything.”

A group hug would have been symbolic then but perhaps it was asking for too much. Yael did find himself on the receiving end of several hugs by his friends, it was all he needed, they appreciated the work he had put in the painting and that was that.

“Before anyone goes anywhere, I’d like to offer that we do our shared meal this week here. There’s something special I’d like to do myself and I’d feel better if it was done here, if that’s all right with everyone.” Quentin looked around at the group, little nods coming from all parties though there was curiosity in their gazes one more. A curiosity he found in Yael’s gaze as well and that was the plan.