Photo of what I imagine him looking like in this one: (x)
I groaned as my alarm blared, telling me to get my ass up and ready for one of the biggest art shows I’ve ever done. It wasn’t big in terms of the quantity of work I was presenting, but big in the sense that this was a more ‘esteemed’ show. Not to mention, the other artists showing their work had been established longer than I have. I befriended one of the artists, Becca, while setting up for this show. She took me under her wing and helped me get over my fears of today, as she had done this show a few times before.
“Y/N, you can’t freak out too much. You deserve to be in this show. Some of the people attending this are just rich assholes who’ll be drunk and staring at pieces, so don’t be intimidated by them. You’ll know when a fellow creative mind shows up, I promise, some will show up.”
You can say I was overjoyed when I found out her exhibition would be next to mine but separated by dividers like everyone was. Something about having someone familiar around eased my nerves slightly.
I reluctantly got out of bed, showered, changed, and readied myself face today. I ate something small to hold me over until I could find food at the show, knowing my stomach wouldn’t enjoy being full while nervous. I leant down in front of my cat’s food bowl, shaking it so it filled up. The noise summoned him, the cat rubbing up against my pant leg and leaving a trail of gray fur. I brushed it off as best as I could before scratching his head.
“I’ll be back later, Sage,” I cooed at him, my nerves easing slightly as I watched him push his face into my hand.
I reluctantly got up, straightening the pantsuit I decided to wear. I was nervous enough about the show, I wasn’t going to make it worse by wearing a dress and fighting with it all day. I got an Uber to the show, slightly bummed that I couldn’t ride my motorcycle to the show because of my attire but I didn’t want to look like a hot mess when I got there.
I arrived extra early, like all the artists were supposed to so that we could make sure everything was in order. I killed time by sitting at the small table in my exhibit, where we had business cards and other takeaways set up. As I scrolled through my phone, I heard the soft click of heels as Becca rounded the divider and entered my exhibit. I stood up to greet her, smiling at her bubbly, excited expression.
“Very professional,” she greeted, admiring the pantsuit.
“I didn’t want to sweat through a dress and risk being uncomfortable,” I sighed.
“It wasn’t a knock, Y/N, you wear it well,” she smiled comfortingly. “Is there anyone you know coming to the show?”
“I invited a few family members, but I won’t hold my breath,” I shrugged.
“Well, I have a friend coming that I have to introduce you to. I think your work and his tastes align perfectly,” she stressed with a flash of her hands.
“He, huh?” I questioned, raising an eyebrow.
“Hey, he’s a great guy but I’m taken,” she brought her left hand up to point at her wedding ring. “You could definitely give it a shot, though,” she winked.
“I think I’ll pass,” I blushed.
“You won’t be thinking that when you see him, promise,” Becca laughed behind her hand.
“I’m already not looking forward to it,” I shook my head at her.
“Trust me, I know he’ll love your work. He’s coming by around one I think. If you need food or something, I’ll send my assistant out to get you whatever you need,” she offered, knowing we couldn’t really leave our exhibits and that I didn’t have an assistant.
An hour later, the event opened, and people poured in. I watched these well-dressed people as they passed me, some bouncing aimlessly between exhibits and some following a strict order. I placed myself near the entrance of my exhibit, greeting people as they entered and viewed my work, but the exchange never lasted for more than that. Becca was right, either a lot of these people stared and pretended to enjoy themselves or they simply came for the works more than the artists. I didn’t mind, since I didn’t have to talk much, and the show would still look good for my experience.
Two hours later, I was growing increasingly bored as I had only found one person interested enough in my work to strike up a conversation. While it only lasted about five minutes, it still gave me a bit of confidence that someone had enjoyed themselves. I checked my phone, sighing when I realized I still had six hours left here. I secretly hoped Becca’s friend would be as interested as she said he’d be. I heard low volume screeching from Becca's exhibit, before realizing it was Becca, herself, making the noise.
“I’m so glad you could make it!” I heard Becca shout excitedly.
“Of course, how could I miss it?” a deep voice responded, which I assumed belonged to her friend.
I tuned out the rest of the conversation to ease my nervousness about meeting this mysterious friend of hers. Her voice pulled me back out of my head again as she increased volume.
“Dude, I have to introduce you to Y/N! You’re gonna love her work!” she told him.
“So, you keep saying, but I haven’t even seen yours yet, Becca,” the voice chuckled.
“Please, Charlie, you know what my art looks like,” she huffed, grabbing his arm and tugging him out of the exhibit.
“I honestly regret telling you that I had a friend who called me Charles,” he sighed.
I had turned around as I heard their footsteps rounding the divider, making myself look busy.
My head shot up as Becca shouted my name. My eyes flicked over her excited face before landing on the tall man next to her. I recognized him immediately. He was dressed simply unlike many people here, donning a well-worn leather jacket, a V-neck t-shirt, jeans, and brown boots. His dark hair was on the short side, but long enough to tell he hadn’t done anything to tame it after taking his helmet off, the one he currently held in his hand. His facial hair was grown enough to look as equally as scruffy as the hair on his head after a run in with the helmet. This was one of the biggest names in Hollywood showing up to a prestigious art show in plain clothes, and he couldn’t look any more endearing. I blushed as I realized I had been silently staring at the pair.
“Keanu,” his face broke out into a shy smile and stuck his hand out, “it’s nice to finally meet you. Becca has been talking about you non-stop for weeks.”
“Y/N,” I responded, shaking his hand. My blush deepened at his words, “It’s uh, it’s an honor to meet you Mr. Reeves.”
“Please, Keanu is perfectly fine,” he corrected.
Yes, he is.
“I’ve gotta get back to my side, so have fun you two,” Becca announced her exit and left.
I cleared my throat as she disappeared, “Um, so, Becca didn’t tell me her friend was famous.”
“Sometimes it’s better that way,” he smiled almost sadly. “Tell me about yourself,” he requested and stepped closer to the hung artwork.
“I think I can tell you that through the art, might make it more interesting,” I answered, motioning him over to the first artwork on the wall.
Keanu squinted as he took the painting in, his eyes flicking over the title, Freedom, and back to the painting. A smile formed on his face, as he deciphered the swift strokes and textured landscape. I nervously wrung my fingers together before speaking.
“The landscape is actually—” I started.
“PCH,” he finished, finally looking back at me. “You ride, don’t you?”
I nodded, “I do. It’s just so freeing and liberating, hence the title.”
“I completely agree,” he agreed, his eyes lighting up as he held his helmet up. “I ride on PCH often when I’m home.”
From there, conversation flowed easily as we made our way through the rest of the works. Keanu insisted on going through every work I displayed, the delight evident on his face. I knew, then, what Becca had meant about knowing when someone genuinely loved your work. After what felt like no time at all, but what was actually almost two hours, we approached the last work I had displayed.
“Ah, yes,” he sighed happily as he took the painting in. “This captures the true essence of our modern society. We are always so concerned with watching the bustling of others from behind all types of barriers. Meanwhile, we sit alone and in silence as our existence becomes meaningless,” he blurted out with his voice filled with mock amazement. A grin appearing on his face and his hand, naturally, came up to hide it from view.
I laughed along with him, “Oh, yea, totally. Exactly what I was going for, Keanu.”
“Or, you know, it’s just a cat staring out of a window,” he chuckled and brought his hands up to gesture to the painting.
“Your interpretation was way better than my intention,” I was smiling so widely that my cheeks burned in embarrassment.
“Nah, I was just joking,” he waved his hand, his smile never fading.
“Art is meant to be interpreted by the viewer, no?” I asked, raising my eyebrows.
“I can’t argue with that,” he nodded, “So, what’s its name? I assume the cat is yours?”
I nodded, “His name is Sage, I rescued him from a kill shelter a few years ago.”
“It broke my heart to see that he was scheduled to be put down. I had to take him, and he’s been a blessing in my life,” I continued, staring fondly at the painting.
“Do you prefer cats?” he asked curiously.
“I love both cats and dogs, cats just happened to fit my lifestyle better,” I clarified. “You?”
“I think I’m more partial to dogs, but I love both, too,” he answered, his voice cracking slightly as we’d talked for so long.
“Would you like a water?” I offered and pointed to the small table I had been at earlier. I walked slowly over to it as I continued talking, seeing him follow me.
“I can grab us a couple drinks from…” he trailed off as he pointed into the walkways, where every other aisle of exhibits had its own bartender. Unlike a lot of characters he played, his voice and eyes contained hints of emotion.
I understood what he meant but declined anyway, “These are free,” I nodded my head towards the water, biting back a smile. “Plus, I don’t think the artists are allowed to drink.”
“Right, of course,” he mumbled, his eyes dropping slightly out of embarrassment as I grabbed two water bottles. He didn’t let his body language show it, but his slightly crestfallen expression said enough.
“I’ll let you buy me one later, though,” I spoke cautiously as I handed a bottle to him, hoping I had read the situation correctly. His eyes snapped back up, meeting mine while taking the bottle from me. His fingers brushed mine, sending tingles up my hand and causing me to retract my hand quickly.
“I’d like that,” he answered softly, a blush creeping up to his cheeks but hidden partially by his beard. The corners of his mouth lifted as he brought the bottle to his lips, forcing me to tear my eyes away from the way his lips wrapped around the plastic. “We should ride some time,” he spoke again after pulling the bottle away from his mouth.
My throat hitched at his choice of words, making me cough as I drank my water. Luckily, I didn’t make a fool of myself and spray it everywhere, solving the problem with a simple clearing of my throat.
“Motorcycles. We should ride our motorcycles together, some time,” he clarified, the hint of a smirk from before more prominent now.
“Yea, yea that’d be awesome,” I nodded, flustered that he caught on to the reason I choked.
“Maybe after this?” he gestured to the art around him.
“Uh, it ends at seven, but I’d have to go home and change,” I waved my hand down across the pant suit and heels.
“That’s not a problem, I’ve got time,” he shrugged. “You don’t have to take your stuff down?”
“Nah, the show is on for the whole weekend,” I flapped my hand dismissively at the hung art.
“Well, I’d be happy to take you home afterwards,” he offered.
“No, no I can’t ask you to do that! I can take an Uber home,” I held my hands up, trying to quell any urge he had to help me.
“I mean, you’re not asking; I’m offering. Plus, unlike the Uber…I’m free,” he placed his hand on his chest, looking at me with raised eyebrows. His eyes were playful as he used my earlier excuse against me.
I took a deep breath through my nose, my mouth betraying me and curling into a smile as I released my breath, “Okay.” My voice was softer than intended, but I continued anyway, “I appreciate it, Keanu.”
He laughed, waving his hand at me, “I’m being selfish, honestly.”
“Yea, okay,” I snorted. “You should definitely check out the rest of the show, though. They have Rembrandts over there,” I directed, pointing to the other side of the building.
He feigned hurt, gasping dramatically, “Are you getting rid of me?”
“Yes, actually. There are a lot of great works here, too many to waste all of your time in my little exhibit,” I waved my hand out to the rest of the building.
“Oh, please,” he huffed, now understanding how other people feel when he deflects compliments onto other people. “The art isn’t what’s keeping me here, now.”
My face heated up fast under his gaze, but the blush quickly turned into a deep red out of embarrassment as my stomach growled loudly in the mild silence. My lips retracted into my mouth, hoping that he hadn’t heard it, or that he didn’t think it was something else.
“Hungry?” he questioned, trying to hold back a chuckle but failing.
“I’m fine, really.”
Keanu gave me the sassiest, most done look I’ve ever seen. He snatched my phone off the table, handing it to me, “Unlock it.” I hesitated. “Please,” he urged.
I did as he asked, then felt him slide the phone out of my fingers. I watched him type briefly, then bring the phone to his face and stick his tongue flat out of his mouth. He tapped on the phone again a few times before handing it back to me.
“I’ll go look at everything else, only if you promise to text me whatever you want me to pick up for you,” he stated smugly.
“Fine,” I half-groaned. This man and his kindness were going to be the death of me.
“Excellent,” he laughed, his adorable grin plastering his face again. This time, he didn’t hide his smile behind his hand and I was able to admire it, before he caught on and closed his lips while blushing at the appreciation. “Keep an eye on this for me, yea?” he asked, setting his helmet on the small table.
“Sure,” I nodded, placing my hand on top of the helmet in confirmation.
“Thanks,” he expressed as he moved to place his hand on the helmet, too, but stopped as he felt my hand under his. His hand lingered for a second, but it was withdrawn as he began stepping away, out of the exhibit. “You better text me,” he pointed my way, “or no drinks for you!”
Keanu disappeared around the divider and I heard him speak briefly to Becca. He must have told her about the potential drinks later because she gasped loudly and squealed at whatever he said. I bit my lip, smiling at the thought of what was to come. I hadn’t been out in a while, let alone on a date—if that’s what this even was. I just hoped that I wouldn’t do anything dumb or anything that would be unpleasant to him. I glanced down at my phone, unlocking it and seeing his contact as simply, Keanu, with the ridiculous picture he had taken. My fingers hovered over the screen before finally typing and sending an order.
“You got it,” was his only response before I made myself busy with the people around me.
I slid my phone in my pocket and waited patiently for him to come back, whenever he was done. These next four hours couldn’t go fast enough.