Characters: Riley Kip, Dorian Sloan Setting: Marketplace, early afternoon, May 21st, 2019 Summary: The new guy gets a tour and makes a friend Rating: None
A few days to get used to the house, to sleep, shower, and a change of clothes, Dorian had decided to take a walk and explore the community on the island. The young tucked stray strands of hair behind his ear as he walked out of the cookie cutter streets where he lived with Caspian, Laura, and Caitlyn.
Soon he was in the Marketplace where there were a few people and shops. Moving closer, he looked about. A thought of perhaps finding a job or something to keep himself busy. He thrived when he had a purpose.
Riley was not the sort of person who let negativity build upon him. He knew the gravity of standing out but his personality was taller than he was; juggling four oranges at the same time was nothing and he was doing that at present for a child and her mother. A laugh ensued from the young girl, she was clapping with excitement. He laughed too, catching the oranges before they were lobbed back into the air.
As soon as he was done Riley caught all of the oranges save for one which rolled away in a random direction and he took a bow, being a little bit sassy for the pair of mother and child which caused more clapping.
Beaming, he rose back up and smiled, offering a humble wave. “Alright Maeve, I’ll see you tomorrow at school.” Her mother waved and the little girl was taken away with a renewed sense of purpose.
Turning, he made his way after the fourth orange.
Dorian caught sight of Riley juggling, but the new environment had him not looking down at his feet (for once). Maybe there was a quiet shop he could work. The young man was hungry.
And as his back was turned, he felt something bump into his ankle. Dorian looked down and saw and orange resting against his shoe.
Moving toward the taller man Riley paused. A bit of hesitation would come but a glance at the ID card on display of the other told him they were akin in some aspect. He smiled. “Sorry. It’s a run by fruiting.” That was lame but he was trying.
He stood there, juggling the other three oranges again hoping to gain some attention. “I learned to do this when I was ten, with peaches. My mama loved peaches. We had a small tree in our yard.”
“Oh?” Dorian spoke as he reached down, scooped up the orange, stood up and turned to face Riley. A soft smile tugged at the taller man’s lips. Thankfully if seemed this island was not all doom, gloom, and structure. “Peaches? Don’t those have large seed pods in them?”
The other man was much taller. Riley nearly had to crane his neck to see him but he nodded nonetheless, “Yeah, they have the pits,” he murmured, his Southern drawl poking out a bit. The juggling stopped. He grinned, “I wish I had learned that recipe.”
Oranges were offered out to the stranger, “Want some? I can’t eat all of these.”
Any hint of Dorian’s New York accent had died away years ago leaving an even pronunciation. He lifted an eyebrow at Ripley’s wishing.
“Oh, sure.” Dorian nodded as he eased the orange he had into the course of his left arm. “Thanks.” His gaze darted off to take note of any guards watching. That bit of paranoia in the taller man was always there.
He worried about the guards in the same way anyone would, afraid that one wrong move would have him hauled away unceremoniously leaving Finn behind without a good reason. Oranges went into the shoulder bag he carried.
The community was small enough that the residents and guards were familiar with each other. This man seemed new, though Riley could have been wrong.
“I’m Riley,” he said, offering his hand out in a friendly way.
Dorian hadn’t been on the island long and was still uneasy about the whole monitored confinement feel he was getting. The separation from Caspian, Laura, and Caitlyn during the processing and delayed ‘release’ to their living arrangements had rattled him.
His concentration went back to Riley, curious about his southern accent and juggling ability.
“Dorian,” the taller man replied, taking Riley’s hand in his own and giving it a firm but careful shake.
Some people in his experience were wary about physical contact, he was glad this wasn’t the case for his new friend. When the shake was completed Riley pulled his hand back and smiled warmly. “I’m gonna go out on a limb and guess that you’re new around here. I haven’t seen you around before. Going anywhere in particular?”
Eyebrows would arch in curiosity. “Probably should travel with someone else, too, the guards are likely to target you for random stuff if you’re on your own.” That last part was said softly, his eyes glanced around.
Dorian often did better when given a choice in regards to physical contact. Thankfully he was a lot better than immediately after Caspian got him out of a previous situation. Lowering his hand, he smiled softly. “Yeah, I’m new. I got here last week.”
“Oh?” He whispered, a bit surprised and internally alarmed. “Thanks for the tip.” Dorian then brought his voice back to a normal volume. “I’m just getting my bearings and maybe looking for a job or something to keep me busy.”
“Well, welcome! Or, as welcome as you can be.” Smiling regardless, hands went into the pockets of his jeans. He couldn’t help but be a ray of sunshine amidst the shroud of grey morale. “I’ve been here a few years now, came from New York, but I’m from Texas.”
Riley nodded at the mention of a job. “What kind of stuff do you like? There’s plenty of stuff to do - we don’t get paid, most of the work is voluntary, but the government issued a stipend to the residents for purchases at The Marketplace.”
“I teach over at The Facility, mostly just academics.”
“Thanks.” Dorian nodded and began to slowly fidget, moving the one orange from hand to hand slowly. “Oh? Cool. I was born in New York, but moved to Oregon when I was eleven.” A spark of light seemed to come to the taller man’s eyes. Anything from the time before his running away and being kidnapped was a little brighter.
“Books, music,” he nodded. He was a bit of a nerd most days. “Really.” Dorian flinched slightly.
He watched the expression on Dorian’s face change and welcomed the sight of it. “Really? That’s cool! I lived in Brooklyn for a while.” A few years, actually, before relocating here to the West Coast. “Grew to like the snow, and I’m a big fan of the outdoors.”
“What kind of books and music? Can you two step?” He was teasing but he kept it light, playful. A wiggle cake next of the hips, his arms lifted and he danced with himself for a second or two.
“Yeah. Bronx,” Dorian smiled and pointed to himself with the hand he held the orange in. “I haven’t been outdoors as much as I would like the last few years.”
“Fantasy mostly. Classical.” He replied and then he smirked, blushing a little. Dorian was amused - liking how playful Riley was. “I can do a little bit of dancing, but….not that.” The taller man grinned, feeling a bit more at ease and willing to be a bit more open.
A hand was waved at the tall trees, “If you ever fancy a hike or something let me know! I used to camp a lot, fish and stuff. We had a lot of land back home, hunting food and bringing it home. You know, the manly stuff.”
Fantasy was a good genre. “Dragons and magic,” he nodded. “I like that too. I’m really into Biographies,” came the admission, “and joke books.” Maybe it was cheeky but he didn’t care. “Anyone can two step. I can teach you if you want! Some other time, of course.”
“I will do that. A lot of what I haven’t done.” Dorian nodded and smiled.
The taller man chuckled. He was happy to find someone who liked the same genre of books he did. “Maybe some other time.” Dorian had smiled so much in the last few minutes than he had all week.
Having someone else on the island who liked to do outdoor things warmed him. He knew everyone but didn’t quite know them. “I’m glad you’re trying new things. Even here, where trying new things isn’t always welcome.” That was the long and short of it.
The prospect of the future had him elated! Another wiggle was had and then he calmed himself. “Can I at least walk you somewhere? Anywhere.” He said, glancing around again for guards.
Dorian didn’t do too many outdoor things, but he’d like to expand that. “Yeah. This place doesn’t seem quite the open and welcome place,” he whispered.
He blushed a little more, smiling enough to wrinkle his nose and squint his eyes. “Yeah,” Dorian breathed, “I mean ‘yes’. Please.” He looked over his shoulder and then back at Riley. “Bookstore? Do they have ice cream here?”
That comment made his nose crinkle with disdain. He wished he could really go camping, be away from the world for a while in serenity without being toppled over by guards or beaten up. Because he was on the smaller side of humanity he got picked on a lot by the guards.
He caught that blush and found it endearing. A nod and Riley swivelled around dramatically on the balls of his feet, offering an arm, “My good sir,” he accented, trying his best British accent, “Do let me escort you to the nearest bookstore!”
And at mention of ice cream his head shook, and a shoulder shrugged, voice returning to normal. “I mean, the market might have some if you’re lucky.” Or if you knew a guy. But nobody knew a guy.
Even as a taller guy, Dorian had been roughed up by the guards and restrained when he was in the processing stage after being separated from the Finn family. He was wiry and a bit disorganized when it came to his fighting back.
The taller man grinned and took the arm, keeping the orange in that hand. Suppressing a snort, Dorian nodded.
“Wow,” he breathed and then whispered close to Riley, “It’s that bad here.” He shook his head and then replied in a normal tone. “Thank you for being a friendly face.”
Moving with Dorian he turned them toward the destination intended. Nodding, he frowned, “Yeah, it’s that bad.” The murmur of words and a sigh, but then he smiled again so as not to gain any undue attention.
“You’re welcome. Sometimes it’s hard to be the new guy.”
Dorian kept an eye out, using his height as an advantage. He walked with Riley and nodded. He smiled back and sighed.
“Yes, it can be.”
“I like new people, though,” came the comment causally. “New insight, new perspective. This place isn’t so bad if you think about it. We aren’t competing with the rest of the world.” Sure things were a bit outdated but there were limited people.
Across the skyline he saw the facility which housed the library, and also the marketplace.
Riley paused. “Okay. That is the marketplace,” he pointed, showing Dorian the large outdoor area. “But that is the Facility. They have a lot of stuff in that building. Library, classes, a lot. That’s where I work.”
He looked up at his new friend waiting for a direction.
“Good. Yeah, but still a small place?” he asked. But then he shook his head, thinking about an area to go camping.
“Uhm, what is ‘a lot’?” Dorian asked after seeing where Riley was pointing.
He wished there was a place to camp. To put up a tent and curl up in a sleeping bag beneath the stars with your bae. “Small, but the people ain’t bad. Trust me, nobody here that are like us will give you flack.”
Ignoring both of their ID cards Riley looked up at the tall building. “They have a lot of classes: cooking, yoga, there’s a gym, academic classes, a pool.”
“The library, of course.”
Camping sounded like a good way to unwind and continue moving on and recovering. “That’s good,” Dorian breathed as he looked over at Riley.
“That sounds good. I used to swim.” He smiled softly. Maybe it could be good here. But the whole guards and not being able to leave bothered him.
There was something cleansing about camping. Being able to relax and unwind. Especially with someone else who wanted to camp too.
“Used to?” He breathed, looking up at the other man, “You have to visit the beach!”
Another small dance was had while he was arm in arm with Dorian.
“Yeah.” Dorian exhaled and then blinked at the idea of being about to go to a beach.
He shook his head and smiled, liking Riley’s energy.
“You know, the sunshine, the sand, the water,” a dreamy sigh was exhaled. They had a bit of water to swim in which was nice on a hot day. Anywhere other than the island it was probably much more exotic and relaxing but he would take what he could get.
A soft laugh escaped him. Riley turned to look up at Dorian. “Okay, so. Library or bookstore?” Neither of them had made their mind up about a destination and he didn’t want to take Dorian somewhere the other didn’t want to go.
“Sounds good!” Dorian replied. He had gone swimming since before he ran away from home. The idea of swimming again sounded like a dream. And he was surprised the guards would let them swim outside of a man made pool.
“Uhm, library? The bookstore can wait.” He spoke as he looked down at Riley. He hoped there not as many locked doors as he was fearing at the Facility.
Swimming was regulated, of course. How it worked he wasn’t sure but so far nobody had been able to swim away from the island. It was doubtful the water was even deep enough to be submerged in for too long, but then he still couldn’t say one way or the other.
Nodding, Riley grinned and began their journey toward the Facility. Behind the doors there were a lot of places restricted to residents but where those were locked many more were open and accessible.
He showed Dorian to the library, the sweeping expands of shelves. Reading here was also regulated, not a lot of books made it to the shelves.
Keeping his arm looped in Riley’s as long as he could, Dorian walked with him to and inside the Facility. His nerves were still a tiny bit on edge from his processing a week before. The taller man made a mental note of the locked and unlocked doors.
“It’s...nice,” Dorian whispered to Riley. It read a bit on his face that he was apprehensive about the place.
He might not have been the keenest cookie but being so close and still arm in arm he picked up easily on the uneasiness his new friend was feeling. Frowning, Riley tugged on Dorian’s arm. “Yeah, it’s pretty cool. You might like the bookstore more. Lot more open space. Wanna check it out?”
They’d have to walk back to the Marketplace but it was better than standing in the middle of the Facility with a tall, uncomfortable man.
The arm-tugging brought Dorian’s attention back, breaking the anxiety. “Yeah, sorry. I think the bookstore would be better. Yes.”
He felt a little embarrassed that he let his discomfort show.
People suffered. That was the nature of the beast they called life. He felt bad about those feelings creeping up into Dorian’s psyche, whatever it was anyway, and nodded. “Let’s go then. To the bookstore!” Was shouted, a fist raised up as if they would charge off into battle.
He ignored the looks gleaned, dropped his risen hand, and kept his other arm around Dorian’s as he lead the man back the way they had come.
Dorian smiled brightly and shook his head and gently bumped his elbow against Riley in jest. He has grown to warm up to people and for the most part and majority of the time put on a brave, confident, and sometimes mysterious face.
“Thank you for showing me the Library.” The taller man offered as they made their way out of the Facility
That nudge had him laughing warmly. He knew he was silly, he was alright with that. It made life easier to swallow sometimes when you could laugh about things.
“You’re welcome,” he beamed, guiding him along.
It didn’t take long for them to reach the bustling Marketplace. Through the throng Riley kept close to Dorian and finally they made it to the little bookstore.
“Ta da!” His free hand flew out and he proceeded to wiggle his fingers in a jazz hand motion.
Silly was good. Dorian was sure he was feeling much better around Riley.
The taller man looked about - taking note of the people, shops, and the rest of the surroundings. Then the bookstore.
Smiling, he nodded, “Thank you kindly.” Dorian placed his free hand over his heart and bowed his head slightly.
“Oh, so charming,” Riley quipped playfully. He emitted a laugh, the end of his nose wrinkling in amusement. “Do you want me to leave you here? Are you gonna be okay?”
Lowering the hand, Dorian grinned at the nose wrinkling. “I think I’ll be okay. You can leave me here...only if you want to.”
At the invitation to stay Riley wiggled his eyebrows and grinned, “And let you have all of the fun? Nah. I don’t have any place to be right now.” It was true. His day wasn’t quite as full as it used to be - he went to work, came home and graded school work, waited for Finn to get home, the usual stuff. “So, what genre are we cracking open first? Fantasy? Or are we feeling bold?”
Gently he tugged Dorian into the store by the arm, down one aisle and then up the next one. There was nothing particular in mind that he was after, only seeking what might catch his attention.
Dorian shrugged and smiled playfully. “Fantasy...always fantasy. Best to imagine far-off places. Oh, do you have suggestions?”
The taller man let shorter one tug him into the store and down the aisles. Looking over the shelves, Dorian caught sight of some J.R.R. Tolkien titles and some of J.K. Rowling, causing him to slow down.
“Always fantasy,” Riley mimicked, playful were the words coupled with an even more playful roll of the eyes. A shrug of his shoulders would come and he lowered his gaze to the shelves he could see in his sightline, face contorted and brow furrowed with thought.
When the pace slowed his own dwindled in kind, pausing finally to let his new friend browse as needed. “See anything you can’t live without?”
“Doubter.” Dorian smirked and squeezed Riley’s arm with his own as he looked about.
“Some of the books I read...back in high school. I used to have a copy of this one,” he noted as he pointed to The Hobbit.
Nearly giggling at that response he turned to look at the shelves. The contents lined stood out to him and he browsed, but again for nothing in particular.
With interest he glanced up at Dorian and then to the selection pointed at. “Well then you have to get it,” he surmised. Clearly the book meant a great deal to his friend. “So grab that one, and let’s see if we can find any more.”
“Shh! Bookstore!” Dorian whispered and softly snickered. This place felt much more inviting and alive than the library at the Facility.
Then he blinked at Riley’s suggestion. “Really? I don’t have any…”
This time he did giggle. A hand went over his mouth to hide it but it was inevitable, the laughed seeped between parted fingers. Trouble was probably his middle name but he wasn’t admitting to anything.
And then his hand fell. He smiled, “I’ve got you. No worries.”
Dorian smiled, his eyes bright as he playfully elbowed him. The taller man was feeling so much better than he did just before that orange bumped into his shoe.
“Thank you,” he grinned. His expression softened, his he was touched by the gesture. Dorian carefully reached up and pulled one of the hardback copies of the book off the shelf.
It wasn’t unusual for someone new to not yet have the stipend of money given to each person. He had plenty, socking away cash here and there for a rainy day. Spending it on someone in need made him feel good.
A giggle came at the elbow upon his arm. He smiled warm and bright. “Anytime.”
Browsing the shelf again Riley arched his eyebrows. “Anything else?”
Dorian already knew he needed to pay Riley back in the future. And he would. The other man was so kind to pay for the book. Maybe today or tomorrow he’d apply for a job here. Then he could read the all the books he wants.
“Thank you,” he whispered and then looked over at the shelves, turning to face them properly. Eyeing the first Harry Potter book, Dorian reached over and grabbed a copy. “This one. Yeah, light years of writing prowess between the two authors, but...I like them.”
Then an insecure thought struck him. “Do I come off as too immature?”
Glad that his new friend was getting a few books Riley stood there proudly. He didn’t mind doing something kind for someone, it made him feel good. “You’re welcome.”
“They have to be good, I reckon. I haven’t read either of those.” Maybe it was a bad thing to confess to but it was true. No sense in starting off lying to each other.
The question struck him as odd but Riley shook his head, turning to look up at Dorian, “Not at all. Why?”
The taller man nodded in appreciation as he cradled the books in his right arm.
“They are. Maybe if you want to borrow them sometime, you can.” He replied, happy to share and perhaps even spend some time with Riley and read the book out loud.
Dorian flinched a little. “I don’t know. I hoped you didn’t think I was with my reading choices.” He was thankful for his new friend and already valued his opinion.
The idea of borrowing the books made him excited! So thoughtful was the gesture. “I’d love to! Forgive me for being an amateur, I don’t know either of these but I wanna learn.” He leaned up on his toes and looked at the covers, then slowly up at Dorian in a playful way. “Knowledge is power.”
Even fantasy knowledge.
And as he retreated back to his actual height he saw Dorian’s expression change. Offering a friendly smile, Riley shook his head. “If anyone here is immature it’s me, I wiggle in public, who am I to judge anybody? That’s between you and the man upstairs.” A finger would be lifted to point up.
“Good, good. No worries there! Yay for knowledge!” Dorian smiled and tilted the books so Riley could see them better. It was heartwarming to have someone be so open and not be too pushy.
“No judging here. Mmm,” he nodded. He wasn’t one much for religion. But he did trust in one man above all these days - Caspian. He owed him so much. “Nothing wrong with wiggling.” Dorian smirked.
“Oh, I’ve heard of the Hobbit. Haven’t read it, but heard of it.” He wouldn’t even claim to know the first thing about a hobbit or what even that was.
And then he laughed again, “Alright, Alright. Don’t encourage me. Once I get started I’m like a tornado.” His free hand lifted and swiped at the air in a karate chop motion.
“There’s no problem there.” Dorian was just a tall nerd really. But he did have a more smooth side.
The taller man snorted and laughed as he had a mental image of a wiggling tornado.
From side to side Riley shifted, demonstrating what the tornado might look like. And then he laughed. His frame stilled and he turned his gaze up to meet Dorian’s. “The Texas tornado.”
Blushing with her laughter, Dorian shook his head. Riley did have some moves mixed with dorkiness. The taller man liked it. He wiped his face and nodded. “I see.”
“They don’t let me out of my cage until it’s tornado season.” Finger guns would be fired and a soft pew pew was emitted coupled with that motion.
People were looking at them but he didn’t care. The crook of a finger brushed at the corner of his own eye, swiping the inner canthus. “Wow. I’m glad I met you.”
The taller man smiled, amused, and saw the people looking at them.
“Really, wow,” Dorian grinned. “Thanks. Likewise. Maybe I will dance next time.”
“What?” He laughed.
“Dancing is life! How else do you express what you’re feeling inside when you can’t find the words?” A sway of the hips.
“Nothing.” He laughed in return.
Dorian winked and swayed a little. He wasn’t quite at Riley’s level of confidence and abandon to dance in public yet.
They were behind a shelf. At most someone might be able to see the giant that was Dorian - the crown of his head perhaps - but Riley didn’t judge. “Sure about that?” An eyebrow wiggle would come.
And then he clapped, nodding, “Look at you! Feeling the groove!” Something was better than nothing and he swayed too, in kind.
“Maybe, maybe not.” Dorian shrugged as he gently sat the two books and orange on a shelf so his hands were free.
The taller man swayed his hips a little more, not wanting to go full out with a talent he didn’t use in everyday public life.
Nearly roaring with laughter and in good spirits Riley unwound his arm from Dorian’s to better be able to watch his friend. He clapped softly, eyes bright.
“Woohoo!” His own hips started to sway, both of them dancing to music that nobody could hear and that nobody was playing.
Pressing his lips together to suppress his own laughter. His eyes caught Riley’s and he grinned.
Dorian watched Riley’s hops swaying and moved in kind but kept the tiny bit of distance. He was happy on this moment and wondered now how much more could he enjoy being here. Hopefully make more friends like Riley.
He didn’t mind the distance. They weren’t at prom or a nightclub, just two pals grooving in the middle of the bookstore. Dancing like nobody's watching is the cornerstone of his personality, he can’t help himself when the beat takes him.
Hopefully Dorian would make more friends and have exciting adventures to combat the monotony and fear present on the island.
Dorian was this nerdy/dorky a few years ago and he had missed it. But he was okay, having growth from his trauma and become stronger and confident for the most part. He continued to dance with Riley, smiling.