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Municipal Regulations Regarding Sartorial Discretion

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For their second date, Cecil wears his very nicest sundress, the one with the little yellow polka-dots, because Carlos has told him all about how his favorite season is spring and oh, but the pale-blue background is just the color of an April-morning-sky on the days they do not have storms of small, annoyed geckos.

Cecil is dark-skinned today, and medium-tall, so the hem hits just above the knee. He had to go back to the store to try it on several different times, and he believes that this combination of body and clothing is appropriately revealing for a second date.

Night Vale City Council is very clear on what is and is not appropriately revealing in many circumstances (such as romantic excursions, exorcisms, and of course one's daily shower) and Cecil is—as ever—grateful for the guidance. 

(Perhaps the regulations and his height will coincide properly for the fifth date, he thinks as he tugs at the zipper, elbows twisting impossibly to reach behind his back. This particular dress will be satisfying short, once he is tall enough.)

As he slips into a sensible pair of shoes Cecil wonders what Carlos will be wearing. The relevant sub-law calls for at least 12% more skin to be showing. Cecil is revealing significantly more than that, of course, but he suspects no one is likely to make a fuss about it, and regulation enforcement relaxes significantly after the first date anyway. And Carlos has hardly seen any of his tattoos.

Cecil is very proud of his tattoos. 

At the last minute he thinks better of flouting regulations so thoroughly, and plucks a nice white cardigan with three-quarter length sleeves (his tattoos can be overwhelming, and sweet Carlos is so very sensitive) that once belong to Intern Adam, who has no further use for it. It fits Cecil perfectly several days a month, and its previous owner had taken excellent care of his clothing—as per Station rules.

Hopefully—and what a delight if so!—Carlos will find the outfit as aesthetically appealing as Cecil himself does. Not as appealing as Carlos is, even in a rumpled lab coat with his glorious hair tousled with sleep or with Cecil putting his hands through it. (While this is by technical definition their second date, as explained patiently by rules laid down in blood and ichor at the founding of Night Vale, they have several times gone for coffee, which does not strictly count; and Cecil is only human when it comes to Carlos and Carlos's beautiful hair.)

(...well. Mostly human.)

Most of the car ride is spent considering the way Carlos's eyebrows go up when Cecil does something just a little unexpected, and the following twist of his mouth into a smile that is shy and oh, so very white against the sweet soft burnished brown of his skin; and it is a good thing Cecil knows the roads of Night Vale so exceedingly well or the route might have been rather troublesome. 

But his body remembers that today is Tuesday and so Grulla Drive will be guarded by panthers with the faces of men, and his hands turn the wheel down Orcus Boulevard instead and the drive goes without incident.

He parks outside of Carlos's building and nearly skips to his door, precisely on time (although the regulations earlier spoken of do in fact state that being slightly early is allowed, to show eagerness, being fashionably late is strictly prohibited), and knocks the recommended three times. Most doors will not refuse to open these days, what with advances in entrance technologies, but there is no harm, Cecil knows so very very well, in being safe. 

Hardly any time goes past before Carlos pulls the door open, and Cecil is a combination of terribly glad and pathetically relieved, as he has been every time, that Carlos looks as pleased to see Cecil as he is to see Carlos. Carlos. He cannot say or think that name enough, the purr of the R, the sibilant S, the drawn-out O. 

There is something deliciously fulfilling about the way his name has insinuated itself into every corner of Cecil's mind and body, and he wonders if it's obvious, if little eddies of six letters (two vowels four consonants: perfect) swirl around him when he moves, if he breathes out two sweet syllables in his sleep, if the taste of it on his tongue is something Carlos can taste too. If fellow citizens can see the way the knowledge of it radiates from Cecil's skin, how it makes each of his tattoos curl more tightly around his limbs and torso. He hopes so. He hopes so very much. 

It strikes him that Carlos is being very quiet. Carlos is often very quiet unless science comes up, but that is a different sort of silence, one that Cecil likes, a soft warm kind that wraps both of them like the way one wraps the box that contains the things one loves best, before burying it in a safe place, never to be found. 

This is not that kind of quiet, and Cecil notices in an uncomfortable series of moments that Carlos is staring at his dress with an indescribable look on his face. Few things in Cecil's life are indescribable, and although it is true that there are many that he either can not or does not wish to describe, Cecil is a Radio Personality and therefore quite good at putting words to things that were never meant to have been explained. 

He has no words to describe the way beautiful, perfect Carlos's clear green eyes look now. 

After a moment, Cecil tugs self-consciously at the hem of his sweater, rubs one foot against the opposite calf, and clears his throat. Carlos jumps a little, as if pulled from a daze, and looks up at Cecil.

"Do you not like it?" Cecil asks, and twists so that the skirt swings gently against his skin; not the full spin he was planning on earlier in the evening but enough to show the easy way he moves in the dress, enough to draw attention to the tattoos on the wrist of the hand he uses to hold the skirt a little out from his body. The tattoo twists too, just a bit, as if showing off; they always want to show off, around Carlos. He sounds very wistful, even to himself. 

Carlos makes a small noise like Khoshekh when someone dares to stop petting him, and rubs the back of his neck. 

"No—no, Cecil, it's very pretty, you—" He gestures and Cecil wants terribly and totally to catch those slim fingers, kiss the palm crossed with what Carlos tells him is a chemical burn from a careless moment and an overfilled beaker, stroke the back of his wrist. "—you look very pretty. I. I like it on you."

Night Vale City Council does not have any rules governing what to do when your possibly-boyfriend looks at you like this. Cecil is going to see about rectifying the oversight immediately. 

"I just," Carlos says, and takes what Cecil can't help but notice is a very, very deep breath. The kind you take before walking past the Dog Park (which of course no one would ever do because do not approach the Dog Park) or before setting the final stone of a bloodstone circle in place. The kind you take because you are concerned it will be the last time you are permitted to take one.

"I had one just like it," says Carlos, deliberately, and Cecil blinks. He can feel the tattoo of an eye on his sternum blink too, or perhaps open wider; he's never learned to tell the difference. Carlos is looking somewhere just above Cecil's head now, like the sky has grown very interesting. Which is always a possibility, of course, but he doubts it. 

"I'm sure you looked lovely in it," Cecil hazards, and Carlos laughs, and looks back at him, and says conversationally but with the tiniest hint of both challenge and anxiety, "Oh, no. No no no. I made a terrible girl, Cecil." 

"What does that have to do with wearing a dress?" asks Cecil, puzzled, thinking of Bobby Williams and Moritz Two-Step and their prom gowns, which everyone had loved and envied in equal measure. 

Carlos stares at him and then oh, his smile is the most beautiful thing Cecil has ever seen. "Nothing," he says, "nothing at all, but I was terrible at wearing dresses too."

Cecil does reach out for him this time, and twines their fingers together like tentacles or basket-worked straws. "Well," he says, quite reasonably as Carlos finally steps forward, "of course not. You're the handsomest man in town in a lab coat. It would be quite unfair if you were also the handsomest in a dress." 

Carlos smiles again, hugely, and pulls free of him only long enough to slide his arms around Cecil's waist and tuck his chin over Cecil's shoulder. Cecil takes the opportunity to bury his nose in Carlos's hair, which is finally long enough for his tastes. It smells—predictably—amazing.

"You don't mind?" Carlos asks, shyly. 

"My first boyfriend had the head of a hawk," Cecil says, grinning more broadly than his face should allow. "Well, he still has it, I suppose."

And Carlos laughs.