Hunger, hurt and hope


sebastian_icon.gif ygraine_icon.gif

Scene Title Hunger, hurt and hope
Synopsis A lonely new arrival receives a delivery. Old wounds are touched upon for both people.
Date April 3 2009

Dorchester Towers, Sebastian's apartment

A palpable sense of loss suffuses this sparsely furnished apartment. Nearly barren walls surround each room, and what meager d├ęcor there is does little to brighten this dreary place. Hanging beside the entrance is a single framed picture, the glass of which was once cracked but carefully placed back into its frame: a 5x7 photo of a toddler smiling in his mother's arms and waving at the camera. Further within a nearly barren living room highlights its hardwood floors, given that it holds but a few pieces of furniture and one corner of stacked moving boxes, most of which are still packed and beginning to collect dust. Sitting in the center of that first room is a cheaply made coffee table that already shows multiple 'rings' where the finish has been worn away in coffee-cup sized circles. A beat old recliner sits behind that, and before a pile of boxes, the dingy gray thing having seen better days however comfortable it looks. In lieu of an end table, someone has dragged a couple of still-taped moving boxes over and stacked them atop one another. An outmoded television sits on a footlocker against the opposite wall, the small twenty-inch display emitting a high-pitched hum whenever the color red is on the screen.

The somber look continues throughout the rest of the home, if one could use such a word to describe this place. Moving boxes in various states of unpacking can be found everywhere, and nearly every room holds something of the child in the photo. On the fridge in the kitchen is a crudely drawn picture in crayon, the paper yellowing with age: a heart with a small stick figure by a larger, and the words 'i miss you' written by a tiny hand. Just down the single hallway, across from the empty second bedroom and small bathroom, is the master suite that contains a small chest and a single foldout cot in one corner. Resting on the bed is a much-loved stuffed bear, given the shape it is in, that still has the price tag on it.

It's just around dinner-time for most folks, and many of the apartments around here carry the faint sounds of families gathering together around a table to eat, or ordering a pizza and sitting before the TV. The apartment you approach has none of that though, just the sound of a TV, which seems to echo a bit too loudly, sounding distorted. Within, a knock on Sebastian's door disturbs him, half asleep on his only chair in front of the news - the reporter discussing yet another debate on the Linderman Act and what it means to the general public and evolved alike. he blinks, and waits until he hears the knock again, when he does the TV is silenced, and his muffled voice, a bit groggy, comes through the door, "Who's it?" Footsteps approach, and you know he's looking through the peephole.

"It's a delivery for you", says the lycra-clad brunette outside, her precise accent identifying her as both a foreigner and someone of some education. For her own part, she's feeling rather strange - back in the Towers for the first time since certain bad memories caused her to travel here. But a job's a job…. She hefts her bag. "Mr S. G. Mauer?"

A pause before footsteps move from the door, followed by the requisite sounds of the chain pulling free and the deadbolt sliding back with an audible *click*. The door cracks open, just enough so Sebastian's body is framed in it, the apartment behind him barely visible. There appear to be no lights on in the living room, and what can be seen in the gloom of the flickering television is the chair and the 'end table' with a bowl of what appears to be cereal on it. "Yeah… that's me?" He cocks his head, taking a moment to inspect the young woman at his door before hazel eyes lift to find your own.

Ygraine lets Sebastian's gaze roam over her, expression dryly amused. "Dressed like this, I'm either a strip-a-gram or a cyclist. And I promise I'm not the former." She crouches down, unzipping her camelback pack to withdraw a hefty and somewhat oddly-shaped package, bound up in brown cardboard and lots of tape. A receipt is taken out of a side-pocket of the pack, then she straightens up to present the latter to Sebastian. "Sign here, please, Mr Mauer."

His reply is off-handed, softly spoken before he can stop himself, his own wry smile forming to brighten his otherwise glum disposition, "In that outfit, you don't actually need to strip…" and chuckles softly. He watches as you unpackage the thing, and asks, "What is it?" even as he is reaching to take the paper. Looking around he has no pen, and then is stepping away, presumably to find one as his voice calls over, "Let me just grab a pen…" The door is left open, and as he walks away it opens a bit more, letting you the room far more clearly.

Ygraine does peer at the room rather curiously, having chuckled in response to his comment. "So I'm told, from time to time. But most people seem not to object too much", she says dryly, waiting just outside the door for him to return.

His grunted reply says what he thinks of that, and you can sense the smile on his face in the sound. From within comes the opening and closing of drawers, the shuffle of boxes, "Ahhh, I'm assuming you have no pen on you, since I didn't see an outline… and this might take a sec…" it seems to be an invitation, however warily it is voice. "I think you're the first bike courier I've ever met," he notes, "I mean, I see you all the time, but I've never met one."

Ygraine gathers up her pack, the parcel, and the receipt, moving inside. The door receives a nudge from her foot, settling near-closed, but still ajar. "In New York, it's a rather more important role than in most places. Alley Cat is one of the few companies - one of the few organisations of any kind - to take deliveries through the blast zone. We're one of the very few links to have been re-established between North and South Manhattan. And I do have a pen in my pack, but… I tend not to dig it out. Too many clients "accidentally" pocket them, so I've rather been trained out of the habit of offering it, I'm afraid."

Sebastian is in his kitchen, the room just off of the living space, and currently looking through a box. he glances up, and his cheeks color a little, "Sorry for the mess. I haven't really unpacked much yet, I guess." He looks around, then returns to searching, "I can imagine," he says, trying to keep the small talk going as he looks, "What with the traffic and all, you bikers have it made getting from point A-to-B." He lifts a brow and turns his gaze more fully on you, "Really now? That sounds dangerous, but I guess I can see how Alley Cat can see the benefit in it." He lifts a pen, showing it to you and comments pointlessly, "Found one." He places the paper on his table and scribbles his name on, "Are you expensive?"

"I can sympathise with it taking some time to adjust to a new home. Even to get so far as fully unpacking. Expensive? For someone who can afford a place in the Towers - no. Compared to some other courier companies? Yes. But… with all due modesty, Alley Cat are good." Ygraine shrugs and winks, offering Sebastian the receipt to sign. "Even if you don't get me."

He walks back, the signed slip in hand and holds it out for you to take, "Well…" he says, glancing about, "Affording the apartment, and affording to live here, are too exclusive things," he turns back, "But, that's neither here nor there. So is it possible to set up like… a recurring delivery for the lazy?" He seems to be thinking of an idea, "And, is it possible to only get you, as I'd rather not have a guy like me in that greeting me at the door." He winks, and moves to take the package then, walking back to the kitchen to put it on the table.

Ygraine laughs merrily, swapping her copy of the receipt for the package - which clearly has multiple smaller parcels within it, from the way its weight shifts. "I don't work _every_ day, but recurring deliveries are possible. And most don't dress like this. I'm a former professional cyclist, so… I'm used to this get-up. Alley Cat runs a few extra services on the side, and is generally quite happy to sort out alternative arrangements - not that I expect you to need a mail-drop, or the like. The postal service is back up and running in this part of the city."

He nods, and begins opening the package. He doesn't seem concerned if you watch, indeed, he seems to enjoy having a person in his place, however gloomy it is. At your laugh his eyes lift and scan over you again, more appreciatively this time before he looks down once more, "I can see that," he states and finds a pair of scissors to begin removing tape. "I suppose it'd be just as easy to subscribe to a magazine as have it delivered once a week," he says, thinking aloud, "And I imagine you're quite a bit pricier than the USPS." he shrugs, "Extra Services? So you do strip?" He smiles at his joke and peers over to ensure it is received as such.

Ygraine laughs once more, gently shaking her head. "I never have thus far. Though I suppose that if you're as rich as some of the other residents of this place, you might manage to persuade me to do so. A real strip-a-gram'd be cheaper, though. And a better dancer, most likely. No… extra services are things like that mail drop, I mentioned. Alley Cat's headquarters is South of the blast zone. The mail service will deliver to it, but not reliably to many of the surrounding areas. So… the office acts as a mail drop. For a nominal fee, you can have your mail delivered there. For a bit more, we'll then take it on to you, or you can collect it yourself…"

His grin widens to a more real one - even the laugh lines on his face make a brief appearance, he was a happy man, once. "I would think dinner, movie, popcorn, all that would be involved as well." THen he just shakes his head, an says, "And I'm not, as if you couldn't have guessed that." He doesn't sound embarrassed by the fact, but it may make one wonder why he lives here then. "Ah, gotcha. Well, like you said, I actually get mail delivery, so I suppose it is a moot point. THere's just this great little bookstore in Chinatown that has these awesome puzzle-books - you know, word games? They're a hobby." He nods his head at his lonely chair, and sure enough, sitting in it is one of the books he mentioned, a pencil sitting atop it - the eraser is unblemished.

Ygraine chuckles, shrugs, and nods. "We could certainly set up a standing collection and delivery for you, if you wanted. I can't give you exact prices off the top of my head - we'd need to figure out mileage, timing, and frequency - but it should be quite affordable. And would save you from making the trip." Crouching down, she zips up her pack, and delves into another sidepocket to produce a business card - which she offers to Sebastian as she straightens up. "My name's Ygraine, if you want to request me specifically."

The package you delivered is slowly being broken down as you talk, and small piles of yet more boxes begin to decorate his table - cookies, crackers, cheese, sticks of beef. He looks up, "I'll think about it," he says, and steps over to take the card, as he does fingertips brush your hand, a subtle touch that could just have easily been accidental. "I'm Sebastian," he greets, tucking the card into his back jean pocket, "And I think I may." He offers his hand, and glances aside, "If you don't mind my asking… you don't seem like what I envisioned a bike messenger to be."

Ygraine offers another amiable shrug, apparently unbothered by the momentary contact, and readily enough accepts the offered hand-shakle. "Couriers tend to be a rather eclectic bunch… but no, I'm not exactly "normal" even for the wide-ranging standards of the city's couriers. I've got a couple of degrees, I've represented my country in international competition…." Another shrug, though her expression turns much more serious. "I was here on the day of the Bomb. I… this is part of my own small efforts to help the city recover, and to fight a few of the demons that have been haunting me since then."

His grip is firm though not overly strong, and held for just long enough to be appropriate before taking it away. "That's what I though, I also kinda assumed… not… well. Not you," he winks, "I suppose." As you grow more serious he turns, leaning in the door frame to the kitchen, and listening. "You were here? That must have been…" and his head shakes, "I'm sorry. I was… away at the time, though I'm originally from upstate. You're a good person, Ygraine, I get that."

Ygraine laughs softly, shaking her head. "I try to do something worthwhile, when I can. Whether I'm a good person… that's not for me to judge. But thank you. And… being here was… an experience, I suppose you could say."

He nods some, and suddenly realizes that he's getting a bit too comfortable, and no doubt taking up your time. "Well, good for you," he says, his words sincere, "And you're welcome." He smiles sadly, a look that fits his face far better than a grin, and nods, "I can only imagine. I'm sorry… I don't mean to take up your time - I'm sure you have better things to do…" He pushes off of the door and stands straighter. He looks apprehensive - sorry for taking your time, but again there's that sense of.. appreciated company.

Ygraine permits herself another chuckle. "Thank you again. And… I don't have anything to dash off to, immediately. If you wanted, I could stick around and take some details for your puzzle-deliveries…?"

He glances back at his chair, then at the one in the kitchen. He licks his lip and peers over, "You sure? I mean… this isn't all inappropriate and stuff? I … don't get a lot of visitors." He sounds apologetic, even though he is already moving to grab the kitchen chair, and places it down near the coffee table before settling himself into it. The recliner is apparently left open, for you, and he glances back over his shoulder, "You can sit - no need to stand… and as for the books, well… I finish about one a week, and I think that it's a bi-monthly publication. So I'm starting to run out of back-orders. THough… it would be nice not to have to go to Chinatown…"

"We have connections with longer-distance shipping companies, as you might expect. It might be possible to arrange for delivieries to us, or to place a special order with an appropriate book-merchant", Ygraine says, moving to fold herself onto the edge of the recliner. There, she leans forward to rummage in her pack, coming up with a notebook and pen.

He nods, and considers, "The book is just there," gesturing to the one just beside you on the chair - about the size of magazine though more pages - "I think inside…" he leans over, reaching to grab it; it brings his arm close to your lycra-clad leg, though no contact is made. He leans back, flipping open the cover and says, "Ya… here's the company," and rattles off the name. "I suppose I could always go online. Library still has free internet, doesn't it?"

Ygraine arches a brow at him. "You are living a Spartan lifestyle compared to your neighbours. Yes, it does. Where there's a working library, there should be an open 'net connection. Or a good few cybercafes will give you half an hour with your cup of coffee, if you prefer that option." She jots down the company's name and book title, leaning over to take the volume from him so that she can check the publishing details.

He nods, and grins, "Cyber cafe eh? I think I'd need a computer to use those, right?" He hands you the book, "I'll find a library then, maybe save you the hassle of coming here every week." The book, when you go to flip open the cover, actually opens about half way through, the puzzle there completed - some cryptographic nonsense all neatly written out, with no notes jotted down. As the pages flow back to the first page a quick wit will notice that everything before that page i also complete. "So, where'd you go to school?" The inquirey is a little out of the blue - though you did mention having multiple degrees.

"Most cybercafes have their own computers, in my experience. Wifi hotzones aren't necessarily the same things", Ygraine says with a smile. "Manchester, to read history - well, nominally. Mostly to cycle. And Canterbury for my post-grad work in international relations and conflict theory."

He lifts a brow, leaning back some in his seat, "Impressive," he admits, clearly referring to the schooling. "Good cycling there?" Then he chuckles, "Actually… clearly there is," he says as he answers his own question, a slight compliment sent in your direction. "Interesting topics," he admits, "And I thought a degree in math was complicated." Turning to look in the direction of the fridge he asks, "Drink?"

Ygraine raises a hand. "I'm all right, thanks. I carry fluids with me. And… Manchester's the headquarters for British cycling. The people who won eight cycling golds for Britain in Beijing all trained at the centre. I chose my first university so that I could be close to it, I admit."

Sebastian nods and stands, moving to the refrigerator to get himself a bottled water, closing the door after. He looks at the picture there as he opens the cap the bottle tips just enough to send a small splash that dashes against the crayon drawing, "Fuck!" he exclaims, not quite yelling it, more under his breath - but there's a sad tone to it. He quickly turns and puts the bottle down on the counter, grabbing a towel from the counter and begins dabbing at the drawing. it's nothing more than a few drops, but he seems quite concerned that the picture will somehow get ruined by them. Your words go unheard for the most part as he takes a knee, and continues to press the papers, drying the clearly beloved picture. "Uh huh," he says, and looks over, his eyes seem a bit brighter, maybe even damp, "So you ride alot?" His words are unfocused, his eyes quickly turning back as he removes the precious drawing and looks it over for harm.

Ygraine rather worriedly watches the process, brow furrowing in concern. "Thirty or forty hours a week, generally", she responds somewhat absent-mindedly. "I'm slacking off compared to what I used to do…"

His hands brushes over it before he carefully puts it back on the fridge - but not before using the towel to ensure no drops remain behind. He stands, and looks embarassed as he comments, "I'm sorry…" He blushes and moves back to his chair, the water forgotten, "Picture means alot is all. Thirty hours? Damn." Distracted a bit his eyes are on his hands, which are in his lap, "I barely run for 4 a week, if that. But… it shows," he says, trying to find the earlier happiness he had with your company.

Ygraine offers a gentle shrug. "I'm retired from competition, these days, and I feel dreadfully out of shape. Spending the Winter here was tough - the depth of snow and the cold were far too severe to cycle outdoors, and track-time's not exactly easy to come by. But no longer being _quite_ at Olympic levels of fitness still makes me something of a fitness "nut", I know…. It's been some time since you've seen him, hasn't it?"

He looks up, and this time when he looks at you there's a hunger in his gaze, though it fades quickly, "You're about as far out of shape as I am, hell, you're in better shape, by far." He smiles for your benefit, and then nods a little. At your last he visibly winces but nods slowly, "Uh… yah. His mother has full custody," and now his gaze turns to the photo by the door frame, "I haven't seen him since he was two, and then it was… from a distance."

Ygraine winces softly. "I'm so very sorry to hear that", she says, tone sympathetic. "I… hope that something can be sorted out in time. And I apologise for raising it."

"No need to apologize at all," he looks up, and shrugs a shoulder, those his eyes are dark, "Not like you knew. And… well. No. It's unlikely things will get worked out, I'm afraid." he moves to stand, "Look… I'm the one who should apologize… Ah…" he looks over at you, and comments, "Thank you, for the delivery. Do you.. should I tip" He reaches back to his wallet and draws it out, "I didn't mean to take up your time, or.. break down or whatever."

Ygraine offers another low laugh. "No need to tip. I still feel terribly awkward about accepting them, however… routine it is on this side of the Pond. But I should probably get back home and start work on dinner, admittedly."

He nods, and draws his hand away, rubbing them together a moment, "Sure.." he says, and smiles, now awkward himself, "I'll let you know about the whole… delivery thing," and he gestures at the book on the coffee table. When you mention dinner he looks as if he's about to say something, but stops himself, and begins to move towards the door, "It was good to meet you Ygraine. And thanks again, for the gift. Well… you know what I mean."

Ygraine packs away her notebook and pen, then rises smoothly. Sealing her pack as she moves towards the door, she nods to Sebastian. "You're most welcome. And I'll let them know you're interested. We should be able to sort something out for you quite easily."

The door is opened slowly, and the man smiles, feeling a bit more normal as 'business' mode is settled in to. "Great, and thank you. You know…" he takes a moment, and says, "We have some stationary bikes here I'm sure that I could bring a guest to use- if you wanted?" He says, "I mean, when you can't actually get out and do the real thing." He shrugs, "The gym downstairs is normally dead anyway, so it wouldn't be a problem…"

Ygraine lifts a brow, then chuckles. "I've got one set up in my own apartment. But… thank you for the offer. Free access to a more fully-equipped gymnasium might be worth pursuing, but… we can see if I'm going to be around at all before worrying about that. It's… some time since I was last in the Towers. The friends I used to have here are… gone."

His eyes widen a bit with realization - assuming no doubt that they died in the blast. Slowly he nods, "Of course, I understand." He moves to stand beside the open door, "Well, we'll just see how things turn up. You'll be in touch?"

Ygraine quirks a wry smile. "That's up to you, isn't it? Let Alley Cat know if you want me to turn up on your doorstep again." She swings her pack up onto her shoulders, settling it into place before fastening the waist-strap. Offering her hand once again, she accompanies the gesture with another smile. "It was good to meet you, Mr Mauer."

He takes your hand, his shake more comfortable this time, warmer, "Call me Seb," he states. "And… I'll let Alley Cat I want to see you again. Er. If." He smiles, "Pleasure Ygraine. See you around. And again, thanks…" he gestures towards his kitchen, "For the box." He pauses, and again seems like he's going to ask you something, but instead smiles politely and steps back.

Ygraine offers a polite nod of her head as she says "You're welcome" again, though she looks curious and hestitates momentarily as if to give him a chance to say whatever is on his mind… though she seems about to turn away.

He takes a breath, and then a step forward, "I don't mean to overstep any… boundaries. But… well. it's been awhile - but can I buy you a drink some time?" He glances around, as if expecting to see the whole place standing outside their apartments, and watching as he gets rejected. When he looks back his eyes are hopeful.

Ygraine blinks, pauses, then blushes slightly. "I… certainly, as a friend. I doubt that my fiancee will object…."

The man 'ohs' quietly and chuckles, "Sorry, didn't see a ring." Oddly enough the rejection, well, acceptable rejection, puts him a bit at ease. He shakes his head and nods, "Maybe then. I don't know a lot of people around here, is all." He moves to turn and head back in, then looks back, "I'll call you, then?"

Ygraine raises one gloved hand. "It'd be under here, if I wore it while cycling. And… make arrangements with Alley Cat, and you'll see me again soon enough", she assures him with a smile. "Good evening, Seb." She raises a hand in farewell, turning to stride off down the hallway.

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