Written for my 2014 Cotton Candy Bingo square 'Love at first sight'.
It was the first fine day of spring. Offices, stores and schoolrooms emptied as winter-weary New Yorkers flocked to Central Park like the swallows returning to San Juan Capistrano. Blankets were spread on the grass, arms and limbs bared, and ice cream consumed as skaters, bikers, dog walkers and lovers enjoyed the beneficent warmth of the sun.
Sean Astin was among the celebratory throng, but not of them. In fact, his main emotion was annoyance as he marched briskly along in his pinstriped three-piece suit.
What is with everyone today, anyway? Sean thought. He had an important lunch meeting in, he consulted his gold wristwatch, exactly seventeen and one half minutes, and if these idiots didn't get out of the way, he was going to be late. He hated being late. Time was money, as his father had repeatedly drummed into him.
He increased his pace, brushing impatiently past the lollygagging people blocking his path. "Excuse me. Out of the way. I'm in a hurry," he said over and over. He checked his watch again and ground his teeth. Dammit, he was definitely going to be late, unless a miracle occurred. Or he ran.
It wouldn't be dignified and his black leather loafers weren't meant for running, but Sean decided to cast aside dignity in favor of beating his client to the restaurant. He broke into a jog, dodged around a couple holding hands, and...
Next thing Sean knew he was lying on his back, staring up at some fluffy white clouds. The fuck? he thought dazedly.
"Oh shit. I'm so sorry. Are you all right?"
Suddenly the fluffy white clouds were gone, replaced by a face. No, Sean decided, not a face but an angelic vision.
"Am I dead?" he asked.
"I don't think so. Not unless I am and last I knew I'm still alive."
"Wow. So they really send angels down to earth to mix with mortals. Lucky me."
This particular angel had vivid blue eyes, tufty dark hair, a nose so perfectly straight it probably ought to be illegal, as well as sculpted cheekbones, a rosebud mouth and a faint cleft in his chin. Upon closer examination, Sean noticed that the young man's eyes had intriguing golden rays shooting out from behind the black pupils. The effect was like viewing an eclipse in blue water. Dazzling. Unforgettable.
"Sorry to disillusion you," the vision replied apologetically, "but I'm not an angel."
"If you're not an angel, then what are you?" Sean said.
"I'm a bicycle messenger."
A bicycle messenger? The earthly reality of this reply jolted Sean out of his stupor. He abruptly recalled exactly where he was - on his back in Central Park - and exactly where he should be - Tavern on the Green - and realized that he didn't care. This was where he wanted to be. Screw business lunches, businessmen, and that whole 'time is money' shtick. His dad was the idiot, and by extension he was, too. It wasn't too late to remedy his idiocy, though.
"Will you marry me?" he said.
The corners of that delectable rosebud mouth twitched. "Um, sure," the young man said. "It's a little sudden, but why the hell not?"
"You're humoring me, aren't you?"
"Yeah, kind of. But I'm definitely not averse to getting to know you better and taking it from there."
"Sure. Only before we get started on that, there's the little matter of you being laid out flat by my bicycle."
"Oh, don't worry about me. I am so okay," Sean said. "You have no idea."
The young man smiled, and Sean was nearly laid out flat a second time by the sexy little gap between his two front teeth. What other hidden delights were there to discover? Sean couldn't wait to find out.
"Nevertheless, I hit you pretty hard. Try moving your arms and legs."
Sean obliged, fanning his limbs like he was trying to make a snow angel in the pavement, and while it was true that he felt some twinges of pain, everything appeared to be in working order. Except his watch. The crystal was cracked and the hands weren't moving. It struck him as wonderfully symbolic. He fumbled with the strap, removed the watch and heaved it into some nearby bushes. Good riddance.
"I couldn't be better," Sean stated then frowned. "But what about you? I'm, uh, a pretty solid object to hit."
With a zealous gaze he examined the young man from top to toe, lingering a few seconds in between to admire the tight-fitting black spandex bicycle shorts he wore. Sean would never forgive himself if his impatience to get to a stupid, meaningless business meeting had resulted in his future husband suffering so much as a scrape or bruise. (Objectively, in the back of his mind, he was aware that some might consider his current mental state to be a few bricks shy of a load, but as far as he was concerned, he was totally lucid for the first time in thirty-four years. Bless bicycle messengers, their bikes and especially their shorts.)
"I like solid objects," replied the young man. "And thankfully it was a glancing blow. Me and my bike are cool."
For once, it didn't even occur to Sean to correct a grammatical error. "Praise be to god," he said fervently.
"Is everything all right here?" A voice said.
Sean turned his head. A uniformed NYPD officer was staring suspiciously at them. "Everything is perfectly fine, Officer," he said from his still-recumbent position. "Just enjoying the beautiful spring day with my future husband."
The cop clearly wasn't infected with the same spring fever that everyone else was suffering from. "I suggest you and your future husband find someplace else to enjoy the beautiful spring day, sir," he groused. "You're blocking the path."
"So we are. Fiancé, would you mind helping me up?" Sean asked, and the young man obligingly knelt beside Sean. "Thank you, Fiancé."
"Are you trying to tell me that this guy's first name is Fiancé?" The cop raised a skeptical eyebrow.
"No, Officer, I am not. The truth is that I don't know his first name. Or his last name, for that matter. We only just met. But I am going to marry him."
Sean's "fiancé" was clearly struggling mightily not to laugh as he put an arm around Sean and helped him to his feet.
"Are you drunk, sir?" demanded the cop.
"No, Officer, I am not," Sean repeated with dignity and a sway. He felt light-headed, less from the effects of rising from his prone position than from the nearness of the spandex-clad bicycle messenger, who maintained a supportive hold on him. "I am, however, in love, for the first time in my life. It's an amazing feeling, let me tell you. I highly recommend it if you haven't tried it. You have no idea what you're missing."
A small crowd had gathered by now, and a smattering of applause broke out at the end of Sean's declaration. He bowed. The police officer wasn't impressed, however. "Is this guy annoying you?" he asked the young man.
"No, Officer, he is not," came the unhesitating reply. "Not in the least."
"If you say so." He sounded dubious. "But if you ask me, before tying the knot I'd highly recommend introducing yourselves to each other." Shaking his head, the cop stalked off.
"Wise words from one of New York's finest," Sean observed sagely. "I shall take his advice. Fiancé, allow me to introduce myself: Sean Astin, former - as of today - Wall Street mover and shaker, now freed from the soulless shackles of corporate servitude and entirely at your service." He held out his hand.
The young man took it. "Elijah Wood, current full time bicycle messenger, never encumbered by the soulless shackles of corporate servitude and entirely at your service."
They solemnly shook hands, although the contact set off enough sparks to light up the entire New York City skyline and a goodly section of New Jersey, too.
"So," Elijah went on, "what do you say we get some ice cream and go sit down by the lake. Maybe hit the zoo after?"
"We can start discussing plans for our wedding, and then I'll propose to you at the zoo. Do you want the sea lions or the polar bears to be witnesses?" Sean asked.
"Do you mind if it's the penguins instead? They're my favorites."
"Not in the least," Sean said agreeably. "I discover within myself a sudden passion for penguins, and I don't know how I could have failed to see that they'll make the perfect witnesses to my proposal of marriage."
Elijah lost his ongoing struggle not to laugh, and said, "You are completely, totally batshit crazy, Sean Astin, you know that, don't you?"
"I can't promise it won't continue, Elijah. You seem to have that effect on me."
"I didn't say I minded," Elijah softly replied. He was no longer laughing.
"Then gather up your belongings, oh Bicycle Messenger Mine. The ice cream stand, not to mention the planning and proposing, awaits."
Elijah went to retrieve his bicycle and messenger bag. As he did, Sean noticed with his peripheral vision that an enterprising soul had gone after his gold wristwatch and was now lifting it from the bushes. Their eyes met.
You want it back?
Sean shook his head emphatically. It's all yours, my friend, he thought.