Carlos has chosen very wisely in selecting his lab coat for this particular task. He's wearing one of the collared, double-breasted ones that cover him neck to knees, the ones that make him look vaguely like the kind of less than reputable scientist that Night Vale gets from time to time, the ones that set up shop on the fringes of town and do things that are more unspeakable than usual, until the Hooded Figures gently but firmly disappear them, their equipment, and all traces of them from the town's memory.
Cecil thinks. He can't exactly remember it ever happening, but he has recordings to that effect, anyway.
The lab coat is attractive, though Cecil can always stand to see more of Carlos, but more importantly, it's very functional. Carlos is presently frying chicken, and since the coat is the only clothing Cecil has allowed him, it's currently saving Carlos's perfect skin, literally.
Carlos wouldn't have to cook dinner mostly naked if Carlos hadn't failed to remember dinner the last two times he was supposed to cook for Cecil. He would still have had to cook dinner, because there are certain expectations, but Cecil would have at least let him have some pants. There are probably other ways to get through to Carlos, give him the kind of structure and accountability he wants and needs, but this one ends in fried chicken, so honestly, Cecil prefers it.
Carlos pulls out the rest of the chicken a piece at a time, arraying it on the cooling rack. "The q’utu’m isn't quite ready yet," he says, stirring the tomato and chili around with his spatula. "It still needs to boil some more."
"Good," Cecil says, taking Carlos by the hips. He walks him over the the counter, away from the food, lifting Carlos up and setting him on the edge. He stands between Carlos's legs, kissing him, and Carlos kisses him back eagerly. Cecil likes Carlos when he's eager, happy to please. The spatula that Carlos is somehow still holding is poking Cecil's thigh, but it's less important than this, than rewarding Carlos for taking his punishment so well.
The only thing making this less than ideal is the light coming in through the window, the red flash that's glinting off Carlos's glasses. Cecil glances briefly at the window for a moment before looking back to find Carlos staring out.
”Oh, that?” he says, frowning. He waves the spatula in the vague direction of the window. ”That’s a mirage. I’ve seen that one before. When you get the clouds in a certain way and the temperature is where it’s at, you can sometimes get this blinking light-mountain-floodplain-masked army mirage." He squints at it. "Wow, this is a pretty strong one. It should disappear in an hour or two.”
"Huh," Cecil says, looking out at the apparent mirage. "Well, that's a load off." He puts his hand on Carlos's chin, turning Carlos to face him. "But you need to learn how to stay focused on what's important."
"Yes, Cecil," Carlos says.
Cecil kisses him, a short peck on the cheek. "Finish dinner," he says. "If you're good, you might get dessert."
Carlos shifts uncomfortably. "Does that mean I get to take this cage off?"
"We'll certainly discuss it," Cecil says, smiling.