“Oh, very basically,” Balthasar says; he leans on his arm the better to study Castiel’s face. He decides to take a chance.
“—Of course, there isn’t much time for all of that—quite a lot of painting,” he says, sliding his finger round the rim of his glass. “Pardon me, but I’ve been thinking this since we met, and I have to say that your eyes are the most remarkable shade of blue.”
He swallows, hoping he’s not overreaching.
“I’ve—wanted to paint them since I saw them.”
Castiel’s eye dart to Balthazar’s finger where he’s sliding it around the rim of his glass, and he watches it for a few moments as Balthazar speaks, and then he snaps his attention back to his face. His cheeks flush and he lifts his hand to run it through his hair, nervously.
“O-Oh, uh, thanks.”
Of course he’s gotten compliments on his eyes before, because really, he’s never seen eyes as blue as his, if he does say so himself. He breathes a laugh and places his hand back into his lap.
“Paint them?” He tilts his head and just stares, baffled, because that really is something to ask. “Oh, well, I- Uh..”
“Oh, you know. All the cliche romantic artist’s hobbies.” Balthasar takes a long drink and also tilted forward, just the smallest bit; he can smell hospital sterility on Castiel, but not to the point where it’s unpleasant. Just faintly, like a reminder. “Stand on the balcony looking wistful.” He winks. The truth is he doesn’t have many hobbies besides the art. “I read. Watch mindless television. You know.”
Castiel smiles and reaches to grab his drink off of the bar, downing what’s left in the bottom before setting it back onto the bar. He places his hands in his lap, unsure of really what to do with them. “Hm, sounds boring,” he jokes. It’s basically the same thing that Castiel does when he’s not writing, and he’s glad that they have at least that in common, if not more. “So that’s all you do when you’re not painting?”
“Just ‘stuff’?” Balthasar smirks; people only talk about things like that when they’re hiding something. “Any particular—genre? Poetry, prose?” He’s glad to learn that Castiel has a creative side, as well; he’d assumed as much, given that Castiel seemed to enjoy the gallery, but he was glad to have it confirmed.
Castiel nods quickly, because he really doesn’t want to talk about what he writes, because people really don’t need to know about it. Especially someone that he likes, and he’s on a date with, because then that would be awkward, really awkward. “Oh, poetry’s not my thing,” and he leaves it at that, leaning closer to Balthazar, only a fraction of an inch. “So what else do you like to do besides paint?”
“Writing?” That’s interesting. Balthasar smiled; he knew there was something more to the man in the stool next to him than just hospital work. “What kind of writing? If you don’t mind my asking.”
“It’s not that interesting, really.” He sets his glass back onto the bar, and it’s already more than half empty. He tends to drink when he’s nervous - water, juice, anything, and it doesn’t really help that the only thing he has to drink is alcohol. “Just fiction..stuff. And, uh, yeah.”
“Not much to me either, surprisingly,” Balthasar says, trying not to let himself become too entrances by the movements of Castiel’s long, lithe fingers. God, he wants to paint them. It’s like an itch in his arms. “I paint, I lose myself to nerves trying to find buyers, I go out for drinks with charming young men who think they’re boring.”
He smiles, takes another sip. “But surely you must have some hobbies. Interesting hospital stories. Is that too strong for you?” he adds, seeing Castiel’s reluctance to drink. “I can get you something else.”
Castiel smiles and he can feel his cheeks go hot again, and he swears that his blush must be showing, because there’s no way he can will it away. He picks up the glass again and takes a sip before settling in in the palm of one of his hands, running a finger along the rim of it.
“I write, sometimes, and I read. That’s pretty much it, I guess.” He shrugs and looks down at the glass in his hands before laughing softly, shoulders shaking as he turns his attention back to Balthazar. “I don’t think you want to hear some of the stories I have. Most of them are bizarre, and some are pretty disgusting.” He bites his lip - oh god, should he even have brought something up like that?
“Oh! No, no, that’s fine. This is okay.” He lifts his glass and takes a sip of it, and it doesn’t burn as much as before; he guesses that he’s gotten used to it already, and he ducks his head, a smile still on his face.
Balthasar waits until Castiel is seated on one of the high stools before he sits down himself, and taps two fingers on the bar.
“Two gin and tonics, thanks,” he says to the bartender, a thin young blonde woman. She nods and begins to bustle around behind the bar.
“So,” Balthasar says, turning in his chair and leaning one arm against the bar, “tell me about yourself.” The two gin and tonics clatter onto the bar at their elbows and he picks his up, swirling it round its ice before taking a sip. “I’m sure there’s more to you than late nights.”
Castiel lifts up his glass and stares down at it before taking a sip. He makes a face and sets it back on the bar, turning on his stool to face Balthazar; he’s never had anything stronger than a beer before, maybe some fruity drinks here and there, and the gin and tonic is definitely a lot different than anything else.
He laughs softly and reaches for the glass, holding it between his hands and swirling the liquid around to give him something to do with his hands. He looks down and watches the ice move around in the glass before looking back up at Balthazar. “There’s not much to tell, I’m a pretty boring person. I go to work and come home and sleep, unless Anna’s decides to drag me out.” He shrugs and lifts the glass to take another sip.
“That’s pretty much it.” He sets the glass back onto the bar when it begins to chill his hands, and he wipes his palms on his jeans, wet from the condensation. “Why don’t you tell me about yourself?
It’s not crowded inside, and it’s fairly quiet save for some kind of low music being pumped in over the speaker system. A hazy fug of cigarette smoke floats against the ceiling, but it’s not overpowering.
Castiel looks nervous, so Balthasar gently and casually lets his hand rest in the small of the other man’s back to guide him to the bar—not too firm, just a friendly touch.
“Anything you want in particular to start?” he asks. “Price is no object. Have whatever you like.”
Castiel is relieved when they enter the bar and it’s not very crowded, or loud, because if it had been, he would have been much more nervous. Large crowds of people have never been his thing, and even though he’s beginning to get used to them - what with working at the hospital and what not - he still dislikes them. And he’s glad that it’s not too loud, the music loud enough to be heard but quiet enough to not be oeverbearing.
Balthazar’s hand is warm against the small of his back, and he’s glad for the reassurance, the gentle touch of someone familiar. He stares at the bottles lined against the wall behind the bar, attempting to read the labels in the dim room. He’s not much of a drinker, and he doesn’t really know any sort of drinks aside from beer and whatnot. “Oh, well,” he turns away from the bottles, giving up on trying to read them, and turns to face Balthazar.
“I’ll just have whatever you’re having,” he gives him a smile, all teeth and bright eyes.
Balthasar laughs. “You’re more than welcome. And price is—negotiable.” He chances a wink in the rearview mirror. “Discounts for friends and all that.”
They pull up to Mercy’s and Balthasar parks smoothly, pulls the keys out of the ignition and gets out of the car to open Castiel’s door for him.
Drinks before paintings, of course. And perhaps some other things after paintings, but Balthasar knows he won’t push Castiel into anything, not tonight, not on a first date, that Castiel doesn’t want to do.
Castiel can feel his cheeks go hot when he catches Balthazar’s wink, and he presses back against the seat, pulling his hands into his lap. Dating’s never been a big thing for him, and in most situations, he doesn’t even know how to handle himself. Plus, any sort of flirting just makes him incredibly nervous.
He releases his sleeves when Balthazar parks the car and moves around the car to open his door for him, and when he gets out, he hangs his arms at his sides. The sleeves hang past his fingers, and immediately regrets stretching them out, because now it just looks awkward and unattractive. He mutters a soft ‘thank you’ and follows Balthazar into the small buiding.
Balthasar tries his hardest not to say something outlandishly stupid—he doesn’t want to let on how giddy the idea of Castiel owning one of his paintings makes him. And it’s there, he finds, an opportunity—he doesn’t want to be overbearing, but—
“I’m sure I could arrange that,” he says. “Gallery’s closed now, but I’ve got all the best ones in my flat, if you wanted to drop in sometime.”
He lets the sentence rest on the air for a moment to emphasise the unspoken or tonight, even.
“I’d—very much like for you to own one of them, at that,” he says, taking the last right turn before Mercy’s.
Castiel freezes, shocked, and turns his attention back on Balthazar. He opens his mouth, and then closes, not even sure of what he wants to say, because seriously, did Balthazar just offer one of his paintings up to him? Surely there has to be a catch.
“Oh - uh - you don’t have to do that, really. I don’t have the money for one right now anyway, and I’m sure they’re expensive.” He bites his bottom lip to shut himself up, and he pulls the sleeves of his sweater down over his hands, tugging at the ends. Although he would love to see them again, and he really wouldn’t mind seeing the inside of Balthazar’s place.
But drinks first, definitely. They can deal with other matters later, if it even comes to that. “T-Thank you?” he laughs softly, nervously, and continues to tug at his sleeves.
“Thanks,” Balthasar says, smiling at him in the rearview mirror. He can already feel an ease of conversation settling in the car, and he’s glad of it.
They drive out of the parking lot and onto the main road, and Balthasar reaches out to switch on the radio, but keeps it low: enough for background noise should the conversation lull, but not enough to distract.
He catches sight of Castiel’s eyes in the mirror and is struck again with the blueness of them. God. He just can’t get over it.
“Did you have a good time at the gallery, then?” he asks with a soft smile, casting him a glance out of the corner of his eye.
Castiel taps his fingers against his thigh, still nervous even if the atmosphere of the car is comforting; it puts him at ease a little, but not enough to completely calm his nerves. He’s glad for the music, the soft lull filling the car, but not overbearing, and it’s not something he recognizes. It sounds like jazz, but he isn’t too sure, but it’s pleasant.
He turns to look at Balthazar when he speaks, nodding slightly. “Oh, yes. Your paintings are really wonderful.” He would be lying to himself if he said that he didn’t want to buy one, because he actually really wants to, but money’s tight at the moment, so he’s not even sure if that will be happening any time soon.
“I’d love to own one, one day,” he smiles at Balthazar before turning his attention out of the window, watching the cars parked along the side of the road pass by.