I doodled this on the bus with my bloody middle finger, squashed between two people with barely any space to move my arms –but,,,,, have my rainbow boy that’s too precious for this world and deserves to live a happy life with his good boyfriend juudai
California wasn’t like New York. It was far hotter. The only time Usnavi remembered when his feet burnt this much on the sand was when he vacationed back to the Dominican Republic with Johan for his birthday seven months ago. California wasn’t as hot as Dominican soil, but it was pretty dang close. Another thing that was different about California was all the hipster tourists who either sunbathed on the beaches or walked around the boardwalk with a sparkle in their eye and some kind of iced drink in their hand. Sure, there were hipsters in New York, but they were easy enough to avoid. All you had to do was stay away from places like Times Square or Broadway. In California, the pest problem wasn’t mice or roaches, but rather tourists. But, the biggest difference between California and New York was Usnavi didn’t have the support of his family. California felt like a foreign land with strange people that Usnavi didn’t really know very well, Johan’s family. Now, this wasn’t the first time that Usnavi had come to California. He had been there twice before. During these visits, he met Johan’s sister, Rainbow, and her beautiful family. Jack was adorable, Diane made him laugh. He had helped Junior with his Spanish homework (apparently his spanish teacher didn’t appreciate the swear words Usnavi had taught Junior), and Zoey was more than eager to hear about eccentric New York fashion. Little did he know, Dre’s family had also moved in with the Johnson family. Dre was nice and the two had a few things in common, however, Usnavi didn’t trust Dre’s parents at all, especially Ruby.
The reason why Usnavi felt he couldn’t trust her was because Ruby turned down coffee. But, it wasn’t just any coffee. It was the coffee that Usnavi had brought from home and made himself… No good person would turn down Abuela’s recipe. It was at this moment that Usnavi knew that he had to keep an eye on this woman. The next thing, and arguably the most infuriating thing, was that Ruby couldn’t seem to keep her eyes off of Johan. On their first morning there, Usnavi woke up to the sound of Ruby’s voice radiating down the halls, finding Usnavi’s room, and promptly waking him up. She was making less than appropriate comments about Johan while he was doing his morning yoga. In New York, Johan would do yoga naked in their living room leaving nothing to the imagination. Usnavi’s eyes snapped open and he bolted down the stairs only to find Johan doing yoga in a tank top and sweats. Every day after, Usnavi would force himself awake at ungodly hours to make sure nothing funny happened between Johan and Ruby.
Ruby’s closeness to Johan didn’t stop there. The two acted like close friends. Over the course of the week, Ruby had tagged along on dates that were supposed to be exclusively for Johan and Usnavi. When they got coffee one morning, she had said nothing about Johan’s long, overly complicated coffee order, but she did say Usnavi’s order was too bland. At a poetry slam, she had cheered for Johan, her voice drowned out Usnavi’s own. Usnavi had tried to write a poem for Johan that he was going to say at the slam. But by the end of a night filled with Ruby shamelessly flirting with Johan, he tucked the poem away in his pocket in a crumpled ball. Ruby’s overly loud personality and his own lack of sleep put Usnavi in a sour mood for the rest of the week, and Johan started to notice. Johan would try to give Usnavi affection, but he had shrugged off every hug, nuzzle, and kiss Johan gave him. Johan was getting desperate, not getting the attention he was used to, and planned on asking Usnavi to join him and Ruby for a wine tasting. He had turned Johan away exclaiming he had a headache. Johan didn’t know what to do. He was too scared of Ruby to turn her down, but he felt his Usnavi drifting away from him. Rainbow suggested that the whole family could go to the beach. Johan could talk to Usnavi in private there. After all, Usnavi loved spending time near the water and Usnavi was more than happy to get out of the house.
However, Usnavi was far from stress free. He was sitting on a beach towel watching Johan play chicken with his nephews and Diane. Diane and Jack were on top laughing and trying to push each other off of Johan and Junior’s shoulders. The scene would have been endearing, if it wasn’t for a certain woman’s voice breaking the serenity of the beach.
“Mm-mm, that Johan is looking fine over there without a shirt confining him like a prison.” She said fanning herself with a magazine. “Lord knows a body like that is sinful. Show me what you got, baby!”
Usnavi turned deep red and pursed his lips in anger. Johan was his! Nobody else was allowed to look at Johan the same way Usnavi did! His fingers curled around Johan’s shirt and the towel that was sitting next to him and clutched it so hard that his knuckles turned white. He cursed in spanish under his breath as he marched from his spot in the sand to the water glaring at the woman commenting on his man’s body. A father covered his daughter’s ears with a gasp after hearing Usnavi call Ruby a “fucking puta”.
When Usnavi reached the water, Diane had finally managed to knock Jack off of Junior’s shoulders causing both of them to hit the water. Johan and Diane cheered for their victory. But when Johan saw Usnavi waiting for him where the water met the land, he playfully tossed Diane into the water and waded back to where his boyfriend was waiting.
“Navi, do you finally want to go swimming? I love swimming in the ocean. You know, the salt is a good natural exfoliator for your skin. Plus, sea salt is a better alternative to corporate salt mines and-”
Usnavi stopped him by holding the shirt in his face. “Jo, put on a shirt. You’re going to get sunburned.” He muttered taking advantage of the fact that they forgot sunscreen.
Johan took the shirt and put it on after toweling himself off. He knew that Usnavi was upset. Usnavi didn’t realize it, but he really did wear his emotions on his sleeves. After a year, Johan knew exactly what to look for. Puffed out cheeks? Check. Not looking Johan’s eyes? Double check. Playing with his hands? Yup. Johan took Usnavi’s hands into his own and kissed his tense knuckles.
“Let’s get some coffee up at the boardwalk.”
Usnavi was about to protest. He was going to say something about how maybe Johan should ask Ruby instead! But, Johan knew Usnavi better than anyone and turned up the charm. He cupped Usnavi’s cheek and leaned down to kiss him on top of his head.
“Para mi, Navi? Por favor?” Damnit. Johan had been trying to learn Spanish recently when he had decided that he was staying in New York for good after a bitter fight between him and Usnavi. Hearing Johan speak his language, the language of everything he found special in his life, made Usnavi weak and found himself agreeing with Johan.
The two of them walked up to the nearest coffee shop on the boardwalk, a place called Coffee on the Boardwalk, despite Usnavi’s protests of there being too many tourists. After ten minutes, the two of them ordered. Johan got a organic, dark chocolate latte in a porcelain cup with a splash of almond milk, raw honey, shaken after being filtered four times, alkaline water ice cubes, and fat free soy whip . Usnavi got a black dark roast. Johan gave him a sad smile. His Navi only got dark roast when he was in a sour mood. The two of them walked outside and sat on the patio furniture, so that they could listen to the sounds of the ocean. After a couple of minutes, Johan saw Usnavi start to relax and he reached across the table to hold Usnavi’s hand. He smiled softly and rubbed soft circles into Usnavi’s palm.
“What’s wrong?” he muttered. It was a conversation between the two of them. Private. Secure. Usnavi relaxed.
“Nothing.” Johan gave Usnavi a look. Usnavi sighed. “Alright, I guess I’m just upset with the way Ruby is looking at you. She’s stealing you away from me.” He stopped for a moment trying to keep it together. All of his troubles and worries he had been bottling up inside were overflowing and rushing out at once. A couple of tears escaped his eyes and slid down his cheeks. He closed his eyes and pulled his hand away from Johan’s and pulled them into his lap. “This week was supposed to be special, Jo. I had a lot planned that didn’t work out. I was going to… Carajo. . I wrote a poem and everything, and she just-”
Usnavi stopped when he felt a pair of strong arms wrap around him. He put his head on Johan’s shoulder and wept into it. All of the stresses of the week slowly rolled off his shoulders as Johan whispered to him in soft French that Usnavi couldn’t understand. The moment felt so intimate… Usnavi felt protected, secure, endeared… Usnavi felt loved. Once he had stopped crying, Johan wiped the lingering tears away with a calloused thumb.
“Usnavi, mon amour, I love you more than life itself and nothing is going to change that.” Johan rested his forehead on Usnavi’s. “You’re my Navi, and I’m yours. I would never let anyone take that from us. Je T'aime, so much.”
Usnavi wrapped his arms around Johans neck and pulled him in for a long, innocent kiss. “Te amo.” he whispered back afterwards. Ruby wouldn’t be the first woman to hit on Johan, and she wouldn’t be the last. But, no matter what happened, Usnavi knew that he was the home Johan would return to, and that would never change.