The Warehouse was quiet. Ridiculously quiet. So silent that you could easily hear Warehouse Mouse's chomping as he sank his teeth into a golden hunk of cheese. Well, come to think of it, that might not be a well thought-out example, considering you could make that out from across the room while sawing through a 2x4.
I knew I'd forgotten something that night as I was walking home from the building. There was an insistent poking at the back of my brain, nagging. Rich, you better go back.
I was halfway home when I decided to comply with that slight set of butterflies in my belly I always get when I'm worried. Throwing myself back around in a 180, I took off to the Warehouse once more, hopefully remembering my forgotten item once I walked in.
I clicked open the door, and smiled to myself at the overall strangeness of the dark Think Tank. I looked over to my drumset, checking it over, making sure Mouse didn't mess it up in any way. That little guy just loves to dabble in the art of driving me crazy. I tiptoed my way through the bright-colored room, hoping not to wake him up. I caught the sound of him lightly snoring from his lair, and continued to sneak around to find whatever it was that I left there.
I stood there for just a minute, hoping that if I thought about it long enough, it would just come to me. I bit my lip, concentrating on everything I did during the day. Thought through the morning, the brainstorming, the problem solving, the high-fiving. When stationary wasn't doing it, I started to walk in circles. This being a usual thought routine for me, I knew it would help.
My body jerked abruptly at a huge crash down the third hall. With my heart drumming and my sweat collecting, I made a B-line right for the doors, immediately noticing the Painting room was still lit up. I swallowed thick, eyes wide, and cautiously pushed the door open.
I opened up my eyes to reveal a grinning Smitty sitting on a stool, paintbrush in hand. His expression soon changed as his noticed my look of horror. "Are you okay, Rich? You're pale as a ghost!"
I composed myself, breathing out slowly. "Y-Yeah, Smitty. I just-I came back to work because I felt like I forgot something, and you-I-the big crash, and.."
Smitty pulled down his cowboy hat a little. "Hey, it's okay! I didn't mean to scare you. I was sitting at home and suddenly got a burst of creativity flowin' in my head, so I just had to paint!"
I blew out a sigh of relief, taking a seat on another stool laying against the wall. "Man, was I sweating! Do you come here afterhours often, Smitty?"
He scrunched up face, thinking for a second, then shook his head. "I've done it before, but not very much. But there sure are a lot of rooms to explore, though. Not enough time in the work day to see and enjoy all of them!"
I nodded. He was definitely right. We had so many rooms, I couldn't even count them all. I'm sure there were dozens I didn't even know about. Coming here after work during my downtime to check them all out didn't sound like too bad of a plan.
"Hey, Rich, do you want to paint, too?"
I shrugged, smiling. "Why not?"
He pulled up the stool I was using right up next to him, and brought me some paints, a brush, and a nice, big canvas.
My grin was uncontainable as I grabbed some blues and greens, and shut my eyes, trying to envision something to brush over the white. I felt a quick jab on my shoulder.
Smitty raised a brow at me, knowingly. "Just start, Rich. Don't think. Let it flow." He punctuated with an 'ocean wave'-type motion of his hands.
I inhaled through my nose, put the brush in my hand, dipped in blue, and began. As I painted, I could feel Smitty's eyes on me, warm and settling. His nurturing presence calmed me down, and let me create without any barriers.
The blob on canvas slowly took shape, and my eyes narrowed a bit instinctively. A hand splayed against my shoulder, steady and assuring. I was the calmest I'd been in weeks then, when I felt my body turning by that same familiar hand, softly tugging.
Smitty's eyes were a hazy brown, different than normal, even a little glassy. I was struck with concern, until he took the back of my head and suddenly, we were close. Barely anything separating us. I could see every freckle. There was that sweaty, butterfly feeling again.
Then he kissed me. I couldn't figure it out, but didn't want it to stop. I tried to grasp his hat, but it took to the ground instead. My fingers gripped his hair to make up for it, and it may have been better. He made a little gasping noise, and sat back, looking down to his shoes. My eyebrows furrowed. "Smitty? What's wrong?"
"I shouldn't have-I'm sorry. It was-I'm so sorry."
I got up and shook my head, throwing my arms around his shoulders. "Don't say that. I love you."
His face turned to shock. "You-you do? I-I do, too. I mean, I..I love you."
Then the nervous feeling turned to more butterflies, with better intent. I ran my thumb over his cheek.
"Now I remembered what I forgot."
He grinned. "Oh yeah? What was it?"
I looked down, then back up at him. "I left you here."