Their second date didn't really go to plan.
It was meant to be dinner at Big Rico's and then a walk through town, deliberately avoiding the Dog Park. What Cecil had forgotten – and Carlos hadn't known in the first place – was that it was Unfortunate, Uncanny and Unexplained Disappearance Week in Night Vale, where anything from a building to a small child could suddenly vanish and either turn up somewhere else in the city or not turn up at all. Thus, 'Dinner at Big Rico's' turned into 'Standing In the Vacant Place Where Big Rico's Used To Be And Watching Big Rico Himself Flash Screaming In And Out Of Existence, Sometimes With Tentacles, Sometimes Not' and 'A Walk Through Town, Deliberately Avoiding the Dog Park' turned into 'An Accidental Walk Through The Dog Park', which involved a lot of screaming, running and attempts to climb up vanishing trees.
Carlos had been envisioning the end of the date as a comfortable car ride up to his lab and some awkward half formed sentences...and maybe a kiss or two. Instead it became the two of them, ragged and exhausted, pushing Cecil's beaten up car – which had vanished and reappeared halfway through an Angel with a migraine - to the scraggy patch of desert where Carlos's lab used to be.
"Never mind," Cecil said cheerfully, watching Carlos kick a stone into a purple, vibrating thorn bush that used to be his kitchen, "It'll turn up. Somewhere."
They sat on Cecil's bonnet – first checking the engine for snakes, as Cecil did ritually every evening – and waited. The sun was setting behind them. In front of them, another one was rising.
"You know," Carlos said, after a considered silence, "I'm not sure that's a sun."
"I think I've been stung," Cecil said, shifting on the bonnet uncomfortably. "Feels like a bee sting. Do you think those fuzzy red things flying at us in the Dog Park were bees?"
"Looks too purple to be a sun," Carlos said. "And I'm pretty sure suns don't pulsate."
"Didn't think bees had fangs though, and those definitely did."
"Also, it has tendrils," said Carlos.
"They did have little pink hats though, and everyone knows bees wear them," said Cecil.
It dawned on Carlos that two conversations were going on at once. He sighed and picked at the remains of his lab coat. It had been his favourite. And someone had stolen his blue pen out of the pocket. No lab coat was complete without a blue pen in the pocket.
Cecil shifted again, though whether this was due to discomfort or a transparent attempt to move closer to Carlos, it was difficult to tell. "Sorry about this," he said miserably, in his kicked puppy voice. "I guess this wasn't what you had in mind for a second date."
Carlos thought about this. "The rabid badgers were a surprise," he concurred.
"Are you going to leave?" asked Cecil.
"I mean, Night Vale. Are you going to leave Night Vale?"
Carlos stared at him.
"Because I know it's not for everyone," Cecil started, kicking his heels against the car. "We have our quaint little customs, like Sponsor A Long Dead Dog Day or Optional - But Let's Face It Compulsory Really - Vomiting Week, and some visitors find them too much, you know, so I wouldn't be – I mean I'd be upset, of course, dear Carlos, I'd be devastated – but I wouldn't be surprised - "
"Cecil," Carlos said, "Will you marry me?"
Cecil fell off the bonnet.
After a long pause, Carlos peeked over the bonnet. Cecil was sitting on the ground, looking like he'd just been punched in the face.
"Sorry," Carlos offered, tentatively.
Cecil stared at him. "Would you please say that again?"
Carlos thought about it. This was his last chance to get out. In front of him, the purple thorn bush looked like it was trying its hardest to become a stove again.
"Will you marry me, Cecil?" he asked.
Cecil started breathing heavily. "You do know what this means, right?" he said.
"Well yeah," Carlos said. "That's sort of why I asked."
Cecil started squealing. After about five minutes, Carlos carefully folded his hands over his ears. Big Rico's next door reappeared with a soft, squelching feel, and, not long after, so did his lab.
Cecil stopped squealing. Carlos dropped his hands from his ears. There was horrified, gurgling screaming come from Big Rico's.
Cecil leapt to his feet. "Oh, this is so exciting," he said. "Oh, Carlos! To think you'd be willing to go on the Five Blood Quests just for me! Oh that is so romantic!"
"Wait, what was that about Blood Quests?" asked Carlos, but then Cecil had his arms around him and was kissing him furiously, and suddenly it didn't really matter anymore.
One sun set. The other 'sun' rose.