The Pinnacle 

Mathis arrived at Frank's home some fifteen minutes before he had said he would. He felt slightly out of place, dressed so well just to be walking up to a house he knew well by now. He did like to dress well, but it wasn't often that he went this far with it. Waiting in the car for Frank to come out wasn't going to cut it, so march he would up to Frank's door. The cat riled at the presence that was familiar enough for him not to bristle at the idea of another cat that was not a cheetah. Still, there was a sense of alert. A mix of caution and excitement. He did not forget the time they had wrestled. Mathis straightened his jacket as he made it to the doorstep, where he would raise a hand to knock. It felt odd to arrive empty handed, but he hoped his company and the night that lay ahead would do.

@"Frank Beringer"


There was some understandable nervousness, but it was mightily outweighed with excitement at getting to spend an evening with Mathis. He’d been ready minus the shoes currently being tied by the time the cat let him know someone was here. And then a knock to the door had him smiling. Finishing the last loop, he stood up and made his way to the door, grabbing his jacket and keys on the way.

Opening the door as he pulled on the jacket revealed a handsomely dressed Mathis.

“Hey there, you look sharp,” Frank smiled, looking him over before beaming back up at his face. Stepping out, he enveloped him in a quick hug before turning around to close the door. ”Ready?”

The door opened, and a smile spread across Mathis' cheeks. Frank looked stunning, and it seemed they unknowingly matched. There was at least some variation, and the self-deprecating corner of his brain insisted that Frank pulled it off better. But perhaps that was just the fact that he wore a suit well. Mathis accepted the hug, and moved to place a kiss against his cheek. "If I'm sharp, then you could cut a diamond." He countered, and would step back to let Frank close up. "Yes," He nodded, and would offer an arm to be taken as they made their way back down.

"So, I googled what to expect. There will thankfully be some sort of screen for translations." He said with a hint of genuine relief. The idea of having to summarize it all sounded exhausting. The story was likely to be easy to follow without understanding the words, if the performers did a good job, but he had never been sure why people went if they did not speak whatever language the songs were in. Google had helped him there, and he'd been left feeling stupid to assume otherwise. "I don't know why that didn't occur to me until I read it, that of course that would be a thing." He added with a chuckle.

The kiss to his cheek warmed him while the comment had Frank shaking his head with a laugh, locking the door, before turning back around to take the offered arm overdramatically. Keeping it close, he listened to Mathis as they made the way down to the car.

Translations made sense to be honest, and yet, for some reason he’d thought people just went to operas and functioned on best guesses for dialogue after memorizing things online. He let out a laugh with Mathis. ”Are you serious? I thought it was like that too. I guess we just wanted it to be harder than it actually is.” He looked at the way his breath played on the air before sliding his gaze over. ”I think I’ll be set for trivia at least, I’ve got a good chunk of the Wikipedia article memorized,” he said amusingly.

Well! At least he hadn't been alone. "I was worried I'd have to whisper what's happening the whole time." It would have been disruptive, and did not sound entirely fun. He chuckled at how dumb it sounded in retrospect. At Frank's honesty about looking up the plot, Mathis gave a feigned gasp as they reached the car, and tugged the arm that was being grasped. "You spoiled it all?" He asked with raised brows. He guessed if Frank hadn't known it would have english subtitles, it was smart to do so. But he wouldn't miss the chance to tease.

As they reached the car his arm was tugged and Frank took in the raised brows and the over the top gasp with the accusation. He let out a huff of a laugh at the beginning of a response back.

“Yes, all of it,” Frank responded dramatically, waving his free hand in a wide arc to emphasize. ”I had to know some things so I could whisper in your ear too.” His eyes crinkled in mirth, squeezing Mathis' arm as he quickly pecked the cheek closest to him. In reality, he only really knew the synopsis, enough to not be confused, but he was thankful for the translations being a thing and making it a non-issue.

Mathis snorted with a roll of his eyes. How dare he. At the explanation, he would click his tongue and side eye at the peck of his cheek. "We'll you'll have to find something else to whisper." He said as he moved to open the door for Frank. He was nothing if not a gentlemen. Or he was shooting for that, given he felt the need to carry himself properly dressed like this. He'd wait until Frank was in to move to the driver's side.

”I’m sure I will,” he said through a wide smile.

Mathis opening the door for him was unexpected. ”Thank you.” Unwrapping his arm, Frank made to get inside and as the door shut, he leaned over and opened the door for Mathis as best as possible from the angle.

With a small chuckle at that answer, he would climb in.

The drive to The Pinnacle was longer than anticipated, and Mathis found himself thankful for arriving early. Traffic into the parking lot was a headache, but they managed a spot in a lot that was a good few minute's walk from the preforming arts center. Not that they would have any trouble with that. Mathis would seek to hold Frank's hand as they walked, idly swinging their arms between them as they roamed through the cars. "Where would you like to eat after?" He questioned.

Finally, having arrived and parked, they were walking towards the theater. The lights from the windows of the complex could be seen in the direction they were heading towards. As Mathis’ hand bumped his, he eagerly took it in a sure hold, finding the swinging cute. His chest was thrumming with a happy contentedness with the occasional squeeze pop of excitement.

At the question, his face drew into one of thought, but he soon lifted brows up at him. ”What are your top three options? We’ll narrow it down from there.”

Top three was hard, when there was a number of different types of cuisines he enjoyed. Mathis pursed his lips in thought, humming at he thought it over. Choosing where to eat was one of life's great dilemmas. "We could do Palomino's, that Italian restaurant... we met at!" He suddenly recalled with a raise of his brows. "Or, if you're wanting Mexican, we can go to La Mesa or..." He chuckled as his mind drew blank.

Frank listened contently to their steps on the pavement, the humming from Mathis accenting it. Palomino’s? He looked towards him as it was explained that had been the place they’d met at. That particular day rushed back and drew a smile to his face. And that reminded him, Mathis was the first were he’d ever met after moving here, the first to offer help and, yeah, there were a lot of warm emotions attached to that.

The addition of mexican had him letting out an amused breath, looking forward again. ”I think you already settled it. We should go to Palomino’s and keep up the theme.” Italian food after seeing an italian opera, worked just fine. ”I haven’t been there since then I don’t think.”

He could have expected as much. A smile cracked across his features as he laughed through his nose. "I go there too often, but it'll be nice to go back with you." He mused warmly. "We might as well be in Italy, with all of what we're doing tonight." It would, of course, be incredibly different. Nostalgic in a way Mathis did not know if he would be prepared for. He hadn't been back to Italy since bringing Allegra home, and before that he had only been once in the last decade. If he ever returned, it would be far from San Casciano.

If Mathis went so much they didn’t have to go, but the addition quieted him down before he could really say much. It was touching and he didn’t know what to do with that comment other than squeezing the hand in his hold as they continued on the sidewalk.

The idea that they were in Italy had his smile grow some. ”Might as well ask the pope to attend and we’d be set.”

Mathis snorted at that, cracking into an actual laugh as he side stepped to glance at Frank. "Oh yes! Papa would be good company." It still made him laugh to hear the term 'pope', when he had grown up with 'Papa.' It sounded so... well, American. "You know he basically said 'fuck' once during a Sunday blessing at the Vatican?" It wasn't likely, considering it happened... years ago. Five? But, this reminded him of it.

That earned him a laugh and he took in Mathis as he jokingly agreed to the choice in company, albeit with a different labeling of said figurehead.

At the random fact, Frank’s face went to one of disbelief. ”Wait, really,” he asked with a laugh. That sounded like a pretty crazy story, addressing the world and you just misstep badly like that. ”It must’ve been some blessing.”

Mathis grinned stupidly at that. "Yes, something like 'fucking bless you'." He offered with a chuckle. As if the pope would ever. Well, considering how things were becoming more accepted every year, he wouldn't be surprised if the next Pope did slip that in on purpose. His mother would have a heart attack. "But really, he said 'cazzo' instead of 'caso', which means case. 'Cazzo' is like..." He pursed his lips. It was sort of like fuck, but really, it was used in a lot of difference contexts. Sort of how shit was used here. "Fuck, or dick or..." Mathis stopped there, both at a loss for other equivalent words and the fact that he was spewing a bunch of vulgar words in front of Frank, on the way into an opera, dressed in a suit. Probably not a good look. His cheeks flushed some, and he shrugged sheepishly.

‘Fucking, bless you’ had a nice ring to it. Cazzo and caso were so close, he could understand how that could’ve been missaid.

The definition didn’t disappoint. He tried his best to keep a laugh from coming out as Mathis seemed to be listing out cuss words to draw an equivalency. At the tell of red on his cheeks growing with an end to what was hinting to be quite a list, Frank let out a laugh that came out in a rush of air a few times. That was probably the most he’d ever heard the man cuss before and it was jarring in a humorous way. ”I think I get the picture. What a mess up,” Frank assured him. But then, also. ”I should wish our usher a cazzo good night.”

It had been quite the controversy. Talked about all over the news, blown out of proportion. But that was what the media did best. He might have said as much, if Frank didn't come in with a right hook of a sentence that had him pausing for moment. His jaw dropped in a stunned smile before a breathy chuckle found its way out. He moved his hand to poke at Frank's ribs, "I would have to leave from embarrassment, if you said it like that." It didn't make sense with those words, but Frank's attempt to pronounce it right hadn't been half bad. "Please stick with 'Buonasera'." He added with a pleading lift of his brows.

It was worth it immediately for the face made and at the poke he half-assed tried to lean away from without much luck. Frank kind of wanted to see if it really would embarrass him to hell, but with a plead like that he’d leave it between them.

”Well when you put it like that, sure thing,” he smiled politely and then looked forward, giving it a nice wholesome quiet pause. ”Cazzo buonasera, usher.” Frank stayed looking up innocently, side-eyeing him just in case.

He was content with that, although there was some anxiety that Frank would actually do it. Mathis had little faith that the ushers even spoke Italian. Frank would come off as one of Those Guys at an Opera, and Mathis wasn't even entirely sure what he meant by that. Just, please do not, Frank. The pause allowed him enough time to eye the side of Frank's face, before looking ahead. They were nearing the front thoroughfare of the complex, which was crawling with people that were dressed similarly to them. He did not feel so out of place now.

Frank's words had him taking in a deep breath as he let go of his hand completely in favor of burying his face in his palms. "I shouldn't have taught you that. I've created a monster." He lamented, but he could not help but grin beneath flushed cheeks.

There was a busying of excitement as they continued forward, almost to the doors, but all his attention was on Mathis, as the hand was taken unexpectedly. Turning to look at him properly, there was a flash of wondering if he’d gone to far on a joke again, but that was cleared right up as the hand was used to cover Mathis’ face along with his other. What Frank heard had him laughing. Taking an arm in hand, he pulled lightly in hopes to unveil his face somewhat. ”Don’t worry, I’ll use my power for good, I promise.”

There was a tug against his arm, and Mathis let both hands drop with a sigh as he tried to bite down his smile some. His cheeks hurt from grinning, but it was an ache he didn’t mind. His eyes narrowed some at the comment. “For what good could that word be put to use?” He could think of... one. But it was not appropriate to state when they were surrounded by a bunch of people that looked awfully similar to most of his customers and the variety of people that came into Work Release. That, and they had not quite gotten to that particular topic in their relationship.

Both arms came down and he was greeted by a very smiley Mathis. The response had him letting out an amused breath. ”Hmm, let’s see… Anytime I want to both confuse and surprise someone by using it as an intensifier they haven’t heard before,” like he would with english cuss words, except people knew straight away what he was saying. But to be fair it was really the next part. ”Anndddd, anytime I wanna get under your skin,” Frank added, shaking the arm in his hand lightly, before letting it go

They were approaching the door and he pulled it open for him.

Frank's response was logical, as could be expected of him. "I'm sure you'll love doing that." He said with a playful frown at the idea of Frank getting under his skin. The door was opened, and Mathis stepped in as his frown bloomed back into a smile. The crowd was thicker here, all gathered together to wait for the theatre doors to be open. Mathis lead the way through to find a place where they could stand without feeling so claustrophobic, but they still did have to stand pretty near one another. He wasn't complaining.

Cut to a few minutes later, after the doors were opened and their tickets were taken. Ushered into a row of red crushed velvet seats, Mathis braced for Frank to say anything to the usher. Once they were settled in, it became apparent where the translations would be provided; small screens built into the backs of the chairs in front of them. Convenient. All they had to do was select the show and what act/scene they wished to see translated. Mathis went about pulling Act I Scene I up, but did not anticipate really looking at it the words. Not unless he was terrible at making out what words they were singing. There were a few more minutes of quiet chattering before the orchestra down below began their warming up. The lights dimmed, and the orchestra began on the opening song whilst the curtains floated to either side to reveal the first scene.

The show was more enrapturing than Mathis could have expected. After even just the first few scenes, he was invested in the story of an impractical romance between a poor man and a dying woman, the unconditional love, the sacrifice, the tragedy of a father trying to do what was best for his son, and in turn destroying a relationship. The fact that Violetta would leave in hopes of her lover having a better life... It was emotional, and he did find himself damp-eyed at the climax of Alfredo discovering Violetta and believing she had betrayed him. And again at the end. When all the truth is revealed. The reunion. The joy. Her death.

It's wasn't all that heartwarming. But it was done well, and Mathis supposed there could be something to learn from it. Cherish those you love, or something along those lines. His chest still felt a bit heavy as they made their way to the lobby, the bright light a bit abrasive. Moving around allowed the cat to stir, and remind him with a growl in his stomach that they should go eat, please. There was the same old idea of finding some quick little rabbit to chase down, but that wasn't what he was going to do in this suit, cat. They had plans for an actual dinner. "That was sad. But carbs will fix it." He said with a nod of certainty as he looked toward Frank once they reached the front steps of the auditorium.

Yep, he would! Frank just beamed back innocently at the comment. As he walked in behind him, they were soon enveloped in a bigger crowd and it was a lot louder in here than outside. There was anticipation easily felt through it as people looked forward to when the doors would be opened. It was enough for him to feel uncomfortable as the cat made its presence known as it fidgeted around, not liking the set up at all. Focusing just on Mathis though helped, and he found himself holding his hand again, seeking comfort there and in their closeness.

Eventually, the doors opened and soon enough they were seated with air to breathe again. True to his word, Frank didn’t say anything to the usher, just a simple thanks before turning to look at Mathis with lifted brows. Getting everything ready translation wise, they were good to go for when the Opera started.


Once he got used to the flow of things, Frank quiet enjoyed the performance. An occasional look over and it seemed so did Mathis. And while he did have a few comments, they all but went away by the second act. A synopsis did very little to explain everything that was unfolding on stage and he was glad the experience had not been spoiled. There were some moments that pulled at him as the story telling continued on and eventually came to an end.

The curtain closed after a grandiose bowing of the cast and crew to a round of standing applause. Eventually, they had made their way out of the building and the crowd. Out in the crisp night air again after a warm auditorium, the breeze was quick to push the stuffiness away, but there was some heaviness still seated from such a heavy topic performance. It hadn’t been bad, far from it, but it wasn’t the most happy of stories to end on.

As they reached the steps, Mathis spoke up. The mention of food riled up his own cat that was being all sorts of loud out of nowhere to remind everyone, just him really, it was time to eat, it had been well behaved, please eat. ”Carbs solve everything, for sure,”

”Even though it was sad, I did really enjoy it though.” Not all stories could be happy endings after all, even though he did like those unashamedly. ”I didn’t realize how much emotion you could get with just singing like that.”

Carbs were a way of life, really.

"It's a unique way of storytelling." He agreed with a nod and a lift of his brows. "I'm going to have some songs stuck in my head for weeks." He added with a smirk. As if he could ever attempt to sing them properly. Opera was an intensely difficult form of singing. Mathis could hardly carry a tune normally.

”Same as well,” he hummed in agreement. The tunes were going to come up out of nowhere, he just knew.

”Thank you for the invite.”

Mathis slowed to eye the side of Frank’s face with a soft smile that crept onto his lips the longer he looked. “Wouldn’t have wanted to go with anyone else.” Which was a given.

He moved then to pull Frank a bit closer so he could plant a kiss into the corner of his lips. They were still a ways from the car, so he didn’t want to stop in the middle of the parking lot. But there was the temptation for more that he would have to act on later.

That was nice to hear, something still not used to. He was suddenly pulled closer and a kiss was unexpectedly placed on the side of his lips. Heart picking up a tad, Frank turned to look at Mathis, with a wide smile, a light chuckle escaping, feeling a bit flustered to be honest. Frank was sure he’d never get used to the way his heart squeezed at displays of affection like that. Now though, he wanted a proper kiss, but he’d have to wait considering all the cars now moving trying to get out.

”Well, I’m glad to hear it. I’d be concerned about who I had to compete with if not.” Said light heartedly, messing with him.

His arm went around Mathis’ waist as they walked.

Mathis blew out something between a snort and a laugh through his lips at that. "Well, there was this one guy..." He began, but trailed off on account of not having a good story to follow it up with. The dramatic affect would work, too. The car was in sight now, and he picked up the pace as casually as he could. Food, food, food.

When they reached it, he would do as he did at Frank's house, and lead him around to open the door for him.

”Oh, some guy, huh?” He side-eyed him at that, breathing out an amused breath. There was an uptick in their pace and he had no qualms with that, matching it just fine as they neared.

There Mathis went again with opening the door for him and really, Frank wasn’t used to that. Usually, it was the other way around for him on dates. It was a kind, well-mannered gesture and he smiled with a thanks before getting in.

There had been half a thought to stop Frank and steal a kiss, but the moment came and went too quickly. He moved to shut the door, and would be in the driver's seat in less than a few seconds. He settled in, and would start the car. But before he pulled out, he would move to place a hand at the back of Frank's neck to coax him closer. "Before we both get garlic breath." He said with a smirk, and would lean in to press his lips to his.

It was as the door shut he realized just how much of an opportunity had been lost there. Frank wasn’t happy with the choice, but hadn’t been sure if that would’ve been too much. God damnit. He was trying here. New relationships were something he hadn’t felt out in years. The cat wasn’t helping either, selfishly rooing in complaint of hunger.

The car started and he sighed, rubbing at his face. Next time, he’d just let Mathis say something if it wasn’t wanted, they were adults for pete’s sake. A sudden shifting next to him and then a hand was placed on his neck, causing goosebumps as some of the residual cold from outside lingered to fingers. Looking towards him, he knew and sorry, sorry. An apologetic face was given at the remark and Frank leaned in after moving the seat belt behind him, meeting lips softly, melting into it, a hand holding Mathis’ jaw and cheek. Warmth enveloped him and he felt nervous excitement buzz through. The other hand came up to hold his side, slipping between the suit jacket, feeling the fabric and vaguely the ribs there with strokes of his fingers as he held and sought to deepen the kiss if allowed. Breathing in, Frank lightly grazed the edge Mathis’ lips with his tongue. Ultimately, it was up to Mathis on what he wanted to allow there, more than okay with pulling back and them heading to the restaurant, continuing, or going slower, merely a question on boundaries at the moment.

What had been intended for something brief very quickly deepened into something he hadn't expected. Mathis took in a breath through his nose as a hand found his jaw, and another found its way between his jacket and his vest. He'd be stupid not to let the kiss deepen, and when he did, he would move the hand that was not pressed against Frank's neck to reach and lay against the nearest thigh. He found himself wishing that there was not a console separating them, and that they were in a more convenient place. Thoughts became a bit harder to focus on at the swipe at his lip, and he managed a shakier breath as his lips pulled into a brief smile. He would press a few more kisses into Frank's lips, pulling in the smell and the warmth and it was a lot. The cat paced somewhere between confused and agitated that this was not food, but he was able to ignore that. For now, at least.

Kissing like this in a car wasn’t very comfortable or the best, but sometimes you just had to roll with it and that’s what he was doing. At the action, Mathis let loose a shaky breath and a smile was felt against Frank’s lips which had his blood rushing, feeling a thrill of success causing his own grin. It died off by the next ones, too preoccupied as everything became hyper focused on what they were doing. The cat was beginning to be really grumbly in discontent as this wasn’t what it wanted at the moment. Sure it liked closeness, but it was hungry and that always won out. Between that frustrating internal noise, his own loud heartbeat, and each point of contact, everything besides the two of them had effectively zeroed out.

Eventually, the console digging into his side sharply after shifting his weight caused him to wince, reality slamming back. It was enough of a signifier to stop. Reluctantly, his hand fell away from the jaw first, but he kept hold of Mathis’ side. Giving him a light squeeze before drawing his hand out in favor of taking the edge of the jacket. Tugging that to rearrange back into place as he kissed him lightly once more. Leaning back with contentment in his gaze, face hot, heart beating fast, he spoke up. ”I think I’d definitely still do that regardless of what your breath smelled like,” he laughed out amusingly.

Like all good things, it had to come to an end. Neither wanted to be the first to pull away, but Frank ultimately did. Mathis hummed as his jacket was tugged and the hands fell away. When he pulled back, Mathis dropped his hand from Frank's neck, but kept his hand resting where it was. Small circles were made with his thumb atop Frank's knee, and he grinned sheepishly at the comment. "I'll be sure to have extra garlic tonight, then." He joked. But really, he would attempt the least amount.

Eventually, his stomach and the cat won out, and Mathis pulled his hand away so that he could back the car out. Thankfully, the restaurant wasn't far, so the cat only had to wait some ten or so more minutes. Good thing the place had bread baskets.

The hand on his thigh wasn’t forgotten, especially as a thumb moved on a knee. It made it really hard to focus on not going back to lips and he rested a hand on the wrist, taking in the joking reply, breathing out a laugh.

Frank let go when Mathis pulled away and soon they were on the way to the restaurant, the cat more than on top of the world at the idea food would be soon finally. The dinner was familiar in some ways and new in others, something he would soak up happily. All in all, it would be an end to a night that was a rare occurrence of being both comforting and pleasant, drawing a sort of contentedness not normally felt as of late.

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