it isn’t a secret this mind shatters in mystery Who: Abel & Rafe. What: Rafe's in some discomfort and unfortunately runs into Abel in the lobby. Where: The Pax Letale lobby. When:Following Rafe's shoot.
Late Saturday morning, Abel found himself checking his mail from Friday evening. He was in a reasonably good mood, all things considered, and was headed out -- though to where or why, he hadn't yet decided. Instead, he shuffled through the junk mail littering the small, square space allotted for him, for such things. The concierge was across the way at his desk, eyes flitting up every so often to glance at the casually dressed beanpole, but Abel paid him no mind no matter how hard Stephan tried to draw his interest. What did catch Abel's attention was another man walking through the Pax front doors.
The man looked decidedly disheveled, though clean. His hair was wet, pushed back out of his face in an attractively tousled way. Several of the bottom buttons on his white linen shirt were undone, though whether this was deliberate or simply an oversight was difficult to tell. His eyes were on the floor ahead of him, as though he worked to measure each step before he took it. This slow, careful progress did not appear to help him; he still met each step with a drawn, hollow look, his gait unsteady, his hands shaking as he pushed them down into the pockets of his jeans.
Abel watched as the man made a slow progress across the lobby, his trajectory quite obviously the elevator or other parts deeper inside the apartment complex. And, just as when he'd met Nishka, there was a strange sense of deja vu, one that immediately pulled him away from the mail slots and toward the stranger. He made it look as though he were headed toward the doors, when he 'accidentally' and more than obviously shoulder checked the other man, his few leaflets of mail fluttering to the floor.
"Sorry," he offered, sounding less than sincere, and immediately bent to start picking up what he'd dropped.
Wincing, the other man stepped less than neatly out of his way, muttering something under his breath as he did. He glanced down to the fallen mail. After a brief hesitation, he slowly knelt, gathering up what few stray envelopes remained. He held them out to Abel. "It's fine," he said, and pushed himself to stand. Then he turned back toward the corridor leading to the first floor studios. "Have a good morning."
Abel reached out and lightly grabbed the other man's upper arm. "Are you...alright?" He praised himself internally for the notes of concern threaded through his words, for the furrowing of his brow that showed that stupid thing called caring, for all the subtle ways he was certain were making him seem like a person with true intentions. The man's initial reaction to the dropped papers screamed someone who had difficulty saying no, someone who could not put themselves before others; anyone else would have kept walking, gotten themselves to their destination without worrying about the feelings of others. Especially with the way this man looked -- like a hare ensnared, its leg half ripped off as it attempted to crawl its way slowly back to the safety of its burrow.
He cleared his throat, shrugging to gingerly remove his arm from Abel's grasp. "Yes, thank you." He twitched a small smile. Then, as though belatedly remembering his manners, he nodded faintly. "I'm sorry. I, uh, don't think we've met. I'm Rafael." His hands remained in his pockets, where they had returned the moment the mail had left them. "New to the building?"
Abel managed to stifle his amusement at the man's inability to simply walk away. The achingly familiar sensation did not dissipate; it wasn't as strong as the one he felt with Nish, but it was there all the same. "Yes. Abel, 507. No offense, but you seem...in pain. Do you need help getting to your apartment?" All the better to know where to find him later, but Abel was curious as to where this Rafael would finally draw the line.
"No," Rafael said, too quickly. "Thank you. But really I'm fine." He fought to make his smile seem genuine, and practiced as he was, he was largely successful, even as he took another step back toward the hallway. "It's nice to meet you, Abel. I'm sure I'll see you around. Maybe when we're both not on our way somewhere." He nodded toward the door, desperately trying to remind Abel of whatever errand had been calling him away from Pax Letale upon their unfortunate meeting.
"Of course." Abel nodded softly, not needing to stretch this encounter out further than it already was. There was plenty for him to consider in the meantime, and his awareness of Stephan came back into consciousness. The concierge was raptly watching their interaction with a focus that was odd at best. Abel pushed the thought away, offering Rafael a small smile. "Which apartment, if you don't mind me asking?"
"Oh. Um." He hesitated, but could think of no real reason for doing so. Abel was apparently a neighbor; he would learn Rafael's door at some point or other, and just as he already knew -- in passing, at least -- the one intensely private woman on his own floor. He wanted his privacy, what little he had, but there was only so much one could do when living in a shared building. So he answered, softly, one hand rising to rub at his nape. "One-oh-four."
It was a start; Abel was going to put a pin in this one, a metaphorical note in the back of his mind to visit later, but he had more pressing concerns instead. He nodded again, smiling wide, being personable.
"Good to know. You go take care of yourself, Rafael." Part of him wanted to linger in the lobby, watch Rafael go, then maybe follow. His apartment was close, and in his current state, it would be too easy to slip into the apartment behind him and see this one-oh-four for himself. But there was a time and a place, and keeping this option in mind for when he grew too frustrated over his other project would be a nice escape. "See you later." Shuffling the mail in hand, he started toward the exit -- as he reached the door, he dumped the whole handful in a nearby garbage can.
As soon as he was gone, Stephan turned his attention to the remaining body in the lobby, clucking his tongue.
"Nothing good will come of that. Not. A. Thing." He didn't wait for a response from Rafe, instead turning his attention back to the copy of War and Peace he'd been absently paging through during Abel and Rafael's entire, brief confrontation.
Rafael sighed. He pulled a hand through his hair, leaving it a tangled, damp mess over his eyes. "Good morning, to you too, Stephan," he said, already sounding distracted, a faraway note in his voice. A long, hot bath and a longer nap were soon the only things on his mind. By the time he reached his door he had forgotten Abel almost entirely, too preoccupied with his silent but colorful cursing of the man responsible for all this trouble.