"It's a painting of someone painting a model," Regan observes, "Kind of breaks the fourth wall, doesn't it?"
"I don't think Matisse would have put it that way, but it's true, though his work predates modernism, the post-impressionists do have a lot in common with the post-modernists in the way they present reality and engage the viewer in critical thought about the nature of art itself," Gavin answers.
Regan shifts her weight from one foot to the other while she tries to find a response.
"I'm sorry," Gavin apologizes with a laugh, "This won't be on the exam, I promise."
Regan giggles. "You used to teach, didn't you?"
"I was a TA as a grad student. And it's apparently done permanent damage to my personality; I can't take a date to a museum without giving an art history lecture. I hope I'm not boring you."
"Not at all," she answers. When he asked to come to a Matisse show at LACMA, she had at first thought is was part of his self-absorbed celebrity thing. He obviously didn't care whether she was interested in art or what she'd like to do. But she went anyway, and is glad now that she did. "I never really thought much about art before. Seeing it with you has actually been enlightening." It wasn't long into their trip through the world of Matisse that she discovered his motives were far less selfish than she thought. Since they met, they've spent all their time together in her world, rehearsing their scenes, attending the actor's workshop, watching her performance in Lysistrata. Bringing her here was an invitation into his world, and she's learning more about him than about the paintings he shows her.
"I wonder where that door leads," she muses, looking down into the bamboo garden in the center of the museum's lobby.
"It goes to a hallway that leads out into the grounds. There's a utility closet and an employee washroom, too," Gavin tells her. "When I interned here, I had to clean out the garbage people would toss down there."
"I've never understood why you got into acting," Regan says, "You can't really have done it because your girlfriend wanted you to do it..."
"No, it wasn't that simple," Gavin says, "Carey seemed really intent on my playing Dream. He had this energy, this intensity. And with Tori pressing me in that direction as well, it just seemed like the call of dharma, you know? That this was meant to be."
Regan tries not to laugh, but she can't suppress it. "I'm sorry," she says, "It's just, you gave up what you wanted to do to become a, well, mediocre, movie actor. And you're talking about it like it was some grand destiny."
"I didn't day it was grand destiny, only that it's mine," Gavin answers, "And being an actor may not be my purpose at all, only the means of achieving it. There is a reason for everything that happens."
A smile plays over her lips. "And what do you think is the great purpose behind your starring in Carey's movie?"
"I don't know that, Regan, and I may never know it. But, I did meet you," Gavin answers, turning her around to face him as he holds her close against the railing, "And you have helped me find who I am, and become my better self. If being here, now, with you is the only purpose behind my becoming an actor, then that is more than enough of a destiny for me."
Regan doesn't believe in dharma or destiny, the universe is chaotic and has no purpose. But it doesn't matter whether it was chance or fate that brought them together, here and now, the only thing that matters is what you do with what life throws at you. He tried to kiss her once before, she remembers, and she pushed him away. Her second chance is mere moments away, his lips move closer to hers as his arms tighten around her waist, and this tim, she's going to go for it.
"Do you have any response to Astrid's latest allegations?" the paparazzi calls out, interrupting the kiss before it happens.
Gavin sighs. "I don't even know what she's alleging now. Whatever it is, I'm not going to discuss my private life with you, except to say that anything that happened between myself and Astrid was consensual."
"What did happen with you and Astrid?" Regan asks as they have drinks at a bar not far from the museum.
"You don't believe any of her stories, do you?" Gavin asks.
"Well, guys like you, the nice, polite ones, usually have some secret kink," she laughs, "But that's not what I'm asking about. Your whole relationship with her...just days before it happened, you seemed to know what she was and you didn't much care for her."
"If I answer your questions now, can we promise to never talk about Astrid again?' Gavin asks.
"Hmm, well, if she gets as famous as she wants to be, I might not be able to stop myself from making fun of her..."
"Making fun of her is fine," Gavin laughs, "I'd prefer not to talk about her, but I don't want to be keeping any secrets from you, so, I'd like to get it over with all at once. I'll tell you anything you want to know, and then we can never bring it up again."
"Deal," Regan agrees, "So, why did you go out with her?"
"She was blackmailing me," Gavin says, "That's really all there was to it. She threatened to tell the press all kinds of sick stories about me. All our dates were for public show; in private, there was no relationship at all."
"So, what happened? You broke the deal obviously."
"I decided I'd rather deal with the scandal than have her in my life," Gavin says. Regan moves in closer to him, inviting him to put his arm around her, "And I knew I had to be rid of her before I could get you to talk to me again."
"I did shut you down pretty hard, didn't?" Regan says, "A real friend would have listened, tried to help..."
"You weren't thinking like a friend," Gavin says, "We weren't lovers, but we were far down the road to being more than friends. I was right, wasn't I, when I said that my being with Astrid broke your heart?"
"I had been secretly plotting to get rid of your girlfriend," Regan says with a sly smile, "And then Astrid swooped in like a harpy, fouling everything up before I even got a chance."
"As much as I loathe Astrid, I have to say, this all probably worked out for the best," Gavin says, "If I had broken up with Tori over you, I'd have that guilt to carry around. But as it is, any guilt I feel over Tori is completely associated with Astrid. I really, really screwed up in the way I handled things with Tori, and I'm glad you weren't part of that."
"That makes Astrid some kind of romantic palate cleanser?" Regan laughs.
"There was nothing remotely cleansing about it," Gavin says seriously, "Just thinking about her makes me feel dirty."
"But it's over now," Gavin continues, brushing his lips lightly over her bare shoulder, "And unless you have more questions, I'd like to put it behind me."
A small sigh escapes her at the touch of his lips to her skin, his hand gently caressing her hip as he holds her. "I think we're done with Astrid," Regan agrees, "Now it's just you and me."
Gavin walks with her to her front door, and kisses her hand.
"That's very sweet," Regan laughs, "But if that's all I'm getting, I might think you don't really like me."
"I think you know my feelings better than that," Gavin answers. Regan leans back against the wall as he takes her face in his hands, leans in and kisses her.
It was a kiss worth waiting for, she thinks, a kiss she'll remember when she's old and gray, reliving the highlights of her youth.
"Good night, Regan" he whispers, pulling away from her before she's ready to let go, leaving her wanting more.