A Pair Of Night Owls


devon_icon.gif graeme_icon.gif

Scene Title A Pair Of Night Owls
Synopsis Curfew doesn't mean everyone sleeps at night.
Date February 24, 2011

Dorchester Towers

Not everyone may be asleep at this hour, yet when the hour is well past curfew it leads to quiet streets and desolate common areas, even in apartment complexes. It's no surprise that Dorchester Towers finds itself the same way more often than not. However, the lack of activity may be appealing to some. The teenager who's leaned against a window looking out at the world in silent pondering, is presumably one.

Devon Clendaniel is not quite a stranger to the apartment complex, though still a newcomer to living in the Manhattan style and seen rarely enough that he could be missed. A bruised face looks back at him as he stares at the window, his reflection showing the several inches long knife wound that nearly took his left eye as well as the beating he'd taken nearly a week ago. It's all healing, the physical injuries fading slowly. He's dressed not as one might expect a teenager to be, a white shirt and tie, gray slacks. Though the tie is pulled loose and sleeves rolled up, revealing further evidence of unpleasant experiences. Cuts to his wrists, the kind received from being bound with zip ties.

Despite all his watchings, few come this way. Devon's eyes briefly follow a patrol car that disappears around a corner. Otherwise the street remains quiet. And empty.

For Graeme Cormac, it's the first time he's been back at the apartment complex in several days, but he's not yet ready to go upstairs, to where his roommate is probably waiting with questions Graeme doesn't want to answer, doesn't want to think about. Questions he's spent those past few days throwing himself into physical work rather than think about. Dinner was nice, and he's spent the hour and some since he got back from it sitting in a rarely used stairwell, thinking.

He's dressed plainly, today, a thick sweater and worn blue jeans. One hand is shoved in to his pocket as he walks, quiet footsteps. The other hand grips a tablet, with a rubberized, nearly industrial case protecting it. "Hey." Graeme waits until he's several feet to one side of Devon before greeting him, a soft drawl to his voice. "You're up late."

The voice elicits a jerk of surprise, Devon turning and reaching behind his back as his eyes turn for the source of the greeting. Of course the firearm he usually has with him is safely upstairs, home is supposed to be a haven after all. The reaction and motion alike are visited by a barely suppressed wince, jaw tightening briefly in pain. Taking in Graeme, considering his appearance, the teenager relaxes slightly, tension evaporating though there's a coldness, a hardness still, in his gaze.

"Sorry," Devon offers quietly, though not really ashamed of his actions. "Hey. Um… Yeah. It's… I got home from work late, needed to unwind but… y'know, home wasn't really doing the trick." It's not entirely a lie, nor is it fully the truth.

"No, no, it happens," Graeme's tone is gentle, reassuring, and cautious. The man looks tired, if anything, weary. There're a few shadows on his face, from lack of sleep, lines that aren't often there from worry. His hand comes out of his pocket, to form a careful, upturned gesture, though the effect is slightly ruined by the fact that there's a tablet in one hand. The glance that Graeme gives Devon turns to a frown, but it's a momentary one. "I'm not so good at that myself, really. Not these days."

Arms come forward and across the teen's chest, the right more slowly than the left, favored a little. "Same here," he replies, "these days." Devon's eyes flick past Graeme, toward the stair well and to the doors that inevitably lead outside. "…You live here?" Though he can guess to the answer, either a guest or a resident. It doesn't hurt to know who the comings and goings and livings are. "I… just moved in. A few days ago."

"Yeah, I live here, these days," Graeme says, quiet. Technically, he still lives in New Mexico, hasn't officially 'moved', but that's something else entirely. "But my roommate's a fairly light sleeper. And I don't want to bother her, or anything." His voice betrays the beginning stages of exhaustion as well, and there's a small raise of an eyebrow at the way that Devon's favouring one side. "I end up spending a lot of time down here. And in the gardens, and walking around."

The teenager's gaze returns to Graeme once he begins his reply. His brows knit briefly, not exactly a frown, but maybe keying in on that exhaustive tone. It would be familiar, after three weeks in the dome. Chances are it hints in his tone as well. "I usually… stay in the apartment. Or at work. —I'm sorry." He gives a shake of his head, then cautiously extends a hand out to shake. "I'm Devon."

"Graeme," comes the response, with a handshake, though one that's cautious of Devon's apparent injuries. There's a pause, as he considers the kid, careful, cautious. "Please, don't…" Don't be sorry. Graeme lets the sentence trail off, though. "It's alright, it is. After all, you live here. You've got as much right to wander about as I do."

Withdrawing his hand, Devon's arms fold once more. He shifts backward, just enough to lean against the cold glass of the window. "Yeah. Wandering's a good time-killer." He lifts that hand again, rubbing his face. "So, you a night-owl, too? Kind of late and all, you don't normally see anyone down here." You almost never see anyone down here at this hour.

The man nods, slowly. "I spend some nights out," Graeme says. Despite curfew. "Don't sleep much, so yeah." He pauses, and uncomfortable, awkward silence fills the space where he's no longer saying anything. Then, he shrugs. "I do web stuff, too, on my tablet, but there's only so much of that I can do." Then there's the thinking. Lots of uncomfortable thinking, that Graeme doesn't mention.

"And I don't sleep much." The last is a topic that the tone of voice Graeme uses suggests he has no particular desire to push further.

Uncomfortable silences seem to be the lot of Devon's life, especially of late. Once he was easy going, able to strike up a conversation or sing along with a complete stranger. His experiences in the Dome have changed all that, making him wary and unsure. Even around his employer and mentor, the host of The Advocate, awkward silences tend to find home. So the tone and pause alike aren't unfamiliar to the teenager.

"Sorry." Again with the apologies. Devon offers a single-shoulder shrug. "I'm… being rude. Or something. Just… I guess trying to know who lives here."

"And I'm repeating myself, I think." Graeme nods, with a bit of a frown as he notices just how much Devon's favouring the one side, concern hinted at in his features. "That sounds perfectly fair. You aren't being rude, I don't think."

A grin, small and not quite reaching the boy's eyes, cracks. It's friendly enough, at least, for all the awkward and weirdness of random conversations with strangers. A shadow of his former self. In it, he doesn't seem to notice the look of concern. "Maybe not. — Maybe just out of it a little, rough week." Rough three weeks. His arms lower, pushing his sleeves into place and fixing the buttons. "So… if it's not rude to ask. What kind of work do you do?" Asked oddly casual, as though it's perfectly normal for a teenager to be concerned with those matters.

"Yeah, it's been a hell of a week." Graeme lets out a small sigh, but it's a better line of conversation than there is otherwise, and so, a moment later, he answers, and there's an answering smile for Devon, if a weary one.

"I'm a teacher. Well, substitute teacher," he says. There's a mental grimace, mostly hidden from his face. Another set of people potentially endangered by his sister's affiliations to consider.

"Teacher," that's got Devon's interest, a different expression all together. It lifts the fog a little, shifts wariness again toward something a little more open. "What sort of teacher? — Besides substitute?"

Graeme grins. "Soccer," he admits. "Soccer coach, before I moved here. And English." He looks at Devon. "But I'm substituting for some middle schools, right now. It's good, most of the time. You … are you still in school?" There's a pause, and he hazards a bit of a guess with his next statement. It's all too obvious that the boy he's talking to has been through something, and Graeme's observant. "It's probably going to be hard for you to go back. But … you should."

"Soccer and english." Devon grins just a fraction more, then shakes his head. "No, not in school. I took most of a semester at Columbia after graduation then got a job." Wait, isn't he a little young for a job? "I… am an intern, for Brad Russo. And… his assistant." He pauses over his next statement, expression darkening for a moment, trouble touching then pulling back a little. "…Yeah, it …hasn't been easy… Going back."

To Graeme, Devon looks a little young to even have graduated, but he doesn't say anything. Instead, he nods, understanding, sympathetic. "Sadly, most schools won't let you just coach, these days," he says, choosing to explain rather than push Devon further. "Or at least, they won't pay you very much for that. Teaching made it a full time job. But… that was New Mexico." His voice has a bitter undercurrent to it, one that he's trying to keep back.

A glimmer of relief sparks as the conversation dips away from those darker memories. The Dome haunts Devon enough in his dreams. He indulges with a polite grin and a nod. "That's probably most schools anywhere, unfortunately. There's not enough funding anywhere, so the coach has to play that role, plus three others so the administrators can justify him keeping the job. And that's not including the unpaid overtime." A pause, and that one-shouldered shrug again.

Away from the boy's darker memories, at least. For Graeme, the conversation is edging dangerously close to the very reasons he's not up in his apartment. Close to the train of thought started by events that lead him to punch a hole in a wall. His hand shoves into his pocket, where the fact that it is tightly clenched in a fist is less obvious, if still a bit noticeable. "Yeah. And it's never enough, really." The words are quiet, appropriate to the late hour of the night.

The teenager shifts slightly at Graeme's movements, suddenly on guard once again. He nearly reaches for the firearm that isn't there, but the action is aborted and fingers curl into loose fists instead. Instinctual. The survivalist mentality is still very strong. "Yeah…" Devon takes a step toward the open space, the rest of the common area that grants access to the upper floors. "…Sorry to …it's late I mean. I should…"

"I'll see you around, maybe?" Graeme's posture is still overall at ease, and he turns, looking out the window. Even after Devon leaves, Graeme will be in the lobby of Dorchester a while yet. He won't be getting any sleep tonight, despite that he's tired. It doesn't stop him from offering Devon a bit of a smile, and what is a perhaps slightly hypocritical statement. "Get some sleep, yeah?"

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