"What even is it?" Cecil asks.
"What is what?" Carlos asks, confused. They're lying side by side on the lounge chairs on the roof; Carlos has no idea why there are lounge chairs on the roof, but they're pretty nice, even if they're the kind that will tip you out easily if you lay them all the way flat, so Carlos has left them there. It's nice to come up here at night and look at the lights, especially now that he has Cecil to come up here and look at the lights with.
"The moon," Cecil says. "Has anybody ever really studied it? Do we even know what it is?"
Carlos hopes that Cecil can't see his face in the semi-darkness of the rooftop. The lab has a neon sign that says G ASSES HUT and turns on and off randomly, despite the fact that it's not hooked up to anything. It's on now, and Carlos can see Cecil's face in the cool blue glow; but no, he's looking up at the sky, not noticing the "are you fucking shitting me" look on Carlos's face.
"I thought Night Vale schools offered astronomy," Carlos says, which is the nicest possible way he can think of saying that Cecil has lost his mind.
Cecil shakes his head. "When I was supposed to take it, the sky was briefly banned," he says, which somehow doesn't surprise Carlos at all. "We had the option of Astronomical Re-Education or Beginning Imaginary Spanish." He turns, looking at Carlos. "On the bright side, I still remember how to not-say a lot of helpful phrases."
"Uh huh," Carlos says, though somehow he's not surprised. Cecil is waiting for an answer, and Carlos realizes that in that moment, he can say anything. He could tell Cecil that the moon is made of green cheese, and Cecil will not question it for an instant. He say that the moon is papier-mâché, and Cecil will take it as gospel. He can say nothing, and Cecil will have an existential crisis and eventually decide that the moon does not exist at all, merely a figment of his imagination.
Carlos has thought about it before, the impact he has on this town, but he's never really thought about his impact on Cecil. He knows Cecil adores him, because that's hard to miss. But he's never really thought about how much of Cecil he holds in his hands- not just his heart, but his thoughts, his beliefs. At first, Carlos is pretty sure, it was because he wore a white lab coat and walked around with unfamiliar instruments, the ultimate outsider, completely separated from Night Vale and its world. He was used to being seen as a scientist, a teacher, someone in a position of authority, but it turned out to be very different in Night Vale, with its citizens who were so primed to be unquestioning- not slow or stupid, just willing to believe what they were told, because things were better that way.
And Cecil is maybe the greatest example of a Night Vale citizen, cheerful and friendly and so incredibly receptive. He believes Carlos, would believe him no matter what; it's sweet, but something about it is also terrifying. He loves Cecil, loves him deeply, and if he did something wrong, he could devastate him, make Cecil lose his faith, take away someone that wants to guide him without- Carlos likes to think- doing him any harm or leading him in the wrong direction. Carlos isn't a hooded figure, he isn't the City Council, he doesn't wear a cape and a balaclava, but he's maybe more important to Cecil than any of them, and Carlos doesn't even know what to do with all that responsibility. All he can do is try like hell not to fuck it up, because nothing would hurt him like letting Cecil down.
It's awkward, but Carlos scoots his lounger over, close enough that he can lay his head right next to Cecil's. He puts his hand over Cecil's, lifting them both and pointing at the moon, hanging low and full in the sky. Carlos shuts one eye, trying to see from Cecil's vantage point.
"This is called the Mare Tranquillitatis," Carlos tells him. "The Sea of Tranquility. I mean, it's not a sea in the sense of being a large body of water. It's just a name that they give to certain basaltic plains on the moon. They were made by volcanic eruptions."
"Tell me more," Cecil says, enchanted, and Carlos can't help but turn his head, kissing Cecil's cheek.
"Okay, you see the dark spot right above it? That's the Mare Serenitatis. If you look at the Mare Serenitatis and think of it as an eye, you can see the man in the moon."
"Fascinating. It does look like a man, doesn't it?"
"Yep. And all this that you can see is called the light side."
"I take it there's a dark side?"
"Of course, but we don't see it, because the moon's orbit-"
"Before I get too distracted- thank you."
"Just doing my job."