|Abel Parrish + Fenrir (devourer) wrote in paxletalelogs,|
@ 2017-03-06 17:24:00
|Entry tags:||fenrir, hades|
cheers (drink to that)
Who: Abel & Obed.
What: Abel takes Obed up on drinks at CASKET.
When: March 2
The atmosphere inside the club was decidedly different than its Valentine's Day event; Abel couldn't say that he missed the hearts and streamers, though he was fond of what had happened in the women's bathroom. Instead, he motioned to a table near one back corner of the venue, leading Obed in that direction. The older man had taken him up on his network offer, after Abel had followed up regarding their bookstore run-in. Abel somehow found the man's presence reassuring, perhaps even calming, and he wanted to see exactly why that was.
"What do you think of the place?" he asked as he settled into one chair, grabbing at the small drink special menu hovering in the middle of the table.
Obed's wandering gaze returned to his companion. Too many times in recent days he had caught himself looking for a now-familiar face; he thanked whatever god was listening that Bryan was not among those he saw tonight. He considered the question for a moment, letting it sink in as it had not done at first.
"I like it well enough," he said. "It's not as childishly garish as many clubs in the area. It is nice to see not everyone is pandering to the Instagram crowd. Still, I am glad we passed up the Valentine's Day party. I don't think that would have been to my taste, even here."
A wide smile cut across Abel's face, and he chuckled. "Youth is fleeting, and yet ever desired," he replied, glancing over the small menu card before offering it out to his companion. "There's just not much of a market for the 40 and over crowd. Still, you didn't miss much. It was a fairly typical setting, low attendance. And it's not as though you're single, looking for someone to spend the night with. Speaking of which, how is your lady friend?"
"She's well, thank you." Obed turned the card over in his hands, his downturned gaze hiding the majority of his concern. "A little under the weather, I think, but nothing too serious." Having decided on a cocktail, he set the little card aside, looking up to Abel with a somewhat warmer expression. "Tis the season, I suppose. Flu, I think…" He shrugged. "I hope you enjoyed the event, all the same. Did you have any luck?" A small, knowing smile tugged at one corner of his mouth.
A waitress stopped by their table, taking each man's order. Abel settled on a simple beer, Obed on a gin and tonic, and the woman hurried away almost as quickly as she'd appeared.
"I did," he replied. "At least, for the evening. Results are still up in the air. Things are...complicated," he finished, drawing the last word out like the final touch to a painting, his mouth cradling it in a toothy grin. Nish's own word from that night too well described their own situation. "She works in the court system, actually, so we're seeing each other often enough.
"But enough about my love life," he said, suddenly veering away from the too-sensitive topic. He leaned forward on the table, arms crossing over the surface. "How's your sleep life?"
Obed found himself at once wanting to avoid the topic, and to address it with someone uninvolved, and therefore unconcerned. Abel was a clear choice, being knowledgeable, seemingly level-headed, and quite unlikely to run to Isobel with details of Obed's failings. After what felt a long hesitation, he sighed, his shoulders softening from their tense square.
"Better, recently," he admitted. "I'm still having very odd dreams, but nothing at all like they were before. Instead it's just… very vivid imagery, and seeing myself as an observer and a participant. Which, well, neither of those are especially unique in dreams, I know. But it feels different lately."
Their drinks arrived quickly; Abel remembered to smile and thank the waitress as he slipped his hand around the tall, golden liquid-filled bottle. Then he returned his attention to Obed without missing a beat.
"And what exactly is it that you're dreaming about?" He took a sip of his beer, leaning forward in a show of curiosity that was not entirely unfeigned.
Obed scoffed. He raised his chilly glass, shaking his head as he sipped lightly at its contents. "Death," he said. "Which again, I know is not uncommon. But it isn't my death, or Isobel's, or anyone I know. It's just… connected to me, in a way I don't understand. Like I'm the cause of it, somehow, and I'm comfortable with that. I find myself in wastelands, or snowstorms, or deserts, and none of it makes any kind of sense to me. But it feels like it does at the time, and then I wake up in a fucking cold sweat."
Abel's brows drew together, his expression one of honest concern. In truth, he was curious about Obed's predicament, theories about the building they both resided in and the people therein spinning through his mind. Or maybe it was just him and Nish, or maybe he was just seeing solutions where there were none. Maybe he really was textbook crazy.
"So you mean it's metaphorical. Unicorns riding midgets, representing something odd or stressful that happened that day."
"Not at all." Obed studied the other man's face, grateful there appeared to be no mockery in it. He drew a slow, deep breath. "Whatever represents me, or is me, in these dreams is exactly the same every time, with minor changes, like… a change of clothes, or a slightly different prevailing emotion. The rest is what changes, and it's…" He collected his thoughts with a lengthy pull from his glass. His tongue passed light over his lips, still grasping for the appropriate words.
"It's vivid," he decided. "It feels like a memory. Which is ridiculous. I've traveled, sure, but I've never seen any of these places."
Abel's head canted, fingers lightly twisting the bottle on the table between them.
"Memories. That's an interesting twist. Most dreams are memories, of a sort. Our minds trying to make sense of auditory, visual overstimulation throughout the day. They take many different forms, and most don't make sense. It's my belief that our minds aren't really trying to explain anything to us; it's just an info dump, for lack of a better word. Dragging files from the desktop to the trash can." He took a drink, gaze moving from the tabletop to Obed's face. "Is this a recurrent problem, or has anything in your life changed recently that you could tie to the dreams?"
None of the answers that came readily to mind were any that Obed wanted to address with himself, let alone share with a relative stranger. His hesitation was obvious, dragged out far beyond any polite pause.
"I suppose you could call them recurrent," he said. "But it's been years since I've experienced anything like this. When I was young it was about the death of people I loved. In college the dreams came back, and then I had a bit of a break. Moving here seems to have… exacerbated it. Possibly."
Omitted, of course, were the sizable life changes of an engagement, cohabitation, even the stalker who had recently returned. Obed pushed all these thoughts aside, focusing only on his drink and his makeshift therapist.
"A move is a large undertaking. How long have you been at Pax?" Abel's gaze was removed, but fixed on the other man's expression, reading it for the smallest tweaks. He could already readily tell that there was a wealth of information hiding under the surface; dark waters promising more. But barraging his way in was never a helpful method in achieving his goals; at least, not all the time.
"A month or so," Obed said. "Give or take. We moved in just after it opened." He arched a brow. "Do you really think that's the cause? That seems like such a pathetic reason to lapse into old… habits, problems, whatever you'd like to call them."
Abel shrugged. "One of many potential causes. A home is a person's sanctuary. Maybe you haven't completely adjusted to your new environment. Settling, sort of. Then there's also relationships, the people we have or keep around us. I assume everything is fine between you and Isobel?" He took another drink, leaning back in his chair as he settled comfortably into their conversation.
Obed nodded. "It is," he said. "At least as far as I can tell." A quick downward glance toward his glass was the only indication of his holding something back. Bryan's face came too easily to mind, as did the fact Obed had still said nothing to Isobel of his reappearance. He drowned any mention of these behind another drink. He could get closer to the truth, at least, without baring himself altogether. "But as you said… there's settling in to be done. A number of adjustments in a very short time."
"A number?" The bottle twisted on the tabletop again, leaving behind a wet ring that appeared as Abel slid its bottom to one side, impressing a new one on the surface. "I take it then...moving in together is one of them? Any relationship that's going well is going to have its own hurdles. Getting comfortable with another person in your space, messing up or changing habits, altering things from the familiar way they were before." He swallowed beer, the bottle held diagonally in one hand as he gestured. "Sometimes a listening ear can be a good place to blow off some steam, even if it's all in the name of adjustment."
Again Obed was nodding, understanding all too well. It was foolish to open up this way, and he knew it; between Bryan and the girl who had harried him at the building's party, there were already too many people who knew more about him and his than he liked. He smirked. What was one more, he thought, in light of all that.
"Sometimes," Obed said. "Yes, moving in together was new. The engagement is as well. I know she's sensitive about it, and I know what people say. Have said, or talked around, even in front of us. I have no regrets, but I do wonder if she does."
He rattled the ice in his glass. It was not intended as a signal, but the waitress took it as one, hastening over to take his glass and assure him another was coming. When she was gone, he looked back to Abel, earnest concern on his face. "I suppose it makes sense the dreams might come from that?"
Abel nodded, holding himself back from eagerly sitting forward, elbows on the table. He retained a look of cool detachment. "You talk about your relationship as though there's something unusual about it, which is enough to put stress on anyone. Not to pry, but what have people said?"
Obed waved off the caveat; he had begun the conversation, or at least allowed it to continue, and now he would finish it. It did feel good to get some things off his chest, things he was not entirely sure Isobel would have appreciated or understood.
"There's a bit of an age difference between us," he said. "And we got engaged… quickly. After less than a year. I know it was the right call. I think she's… sensitive about it."
"Were you the one to propose?" All of it sounded fairly run of the mill; if anything, Abel might've said that society would have regarded him being younger and Isobel being older as an oddity, rather than this December-May romance. He wondered just how much younger Obed's fiancee was, but it was an unimportant avenue unless the girl was a teen.
"No." He could not smile at the memory, bittersweet as it was; the proposal he had been more than amenable to, but the circumstances had been rough, at best. It was impossible to recall the proposal without also remembering her wounds. "Things were complicated at the time. Later, when we could, I took a bit more traditional approach. She seemed to appreciate it."
Abel covered his murmur of acknowledgement with a sip. Dealing with public opinion was the root cause of many anxieties, one he himself could not fathom. He dredged up some old textbook philosophy, the same pony he'd trotted out for many patients in the past.
"My advice is to bring the topic up with her, and put it to bed completely. Tell her that you don't care what other people think, but if it really bothers her, there has to be some solution. The circumstances of your engagement don't sound that bizarre, to be honest. I take it her parents were less than pleased with your cradle robbing?" The last bit was meant to be a gentle rib, to remind Obed that he was among friendly parties and not ensconced in a psychiatrist's loveseat, being asked to reveal his feelings.
It seemed to work; Obed actually laughed. The waitress came and went with a fresh gin and tonic for Obed and a second beer for Abel. Obed grasped the glass like a lifeline. His tongue seemed to have loosened in direct proportion to the tightness of his hand on the drink. "She doesn't particularly speak with her parents," he said. "It's more an… ex-boyfriend sort of problem. An abusive, stalking, high school love kind of ex-boyfriend." He shrugged, as though this were a minor obstacle. "You're right, though. It's possible we haven't addressed it as directly as we should."
Abel's brows bobbed in some faint surprise. "That's certainly a wrench in the machine. The police haven't been informed about her ex?" Other ideas flitted through his head; how involved was this 'stalker,' was Isobel still in touch with him, was it something Obed was imagining? The conversation had certainly taken a turn for the interesting, and he switched his empty for the new beer, placing the former near the edge of the table for a waitress to collect.
Obed shook his head. He was treading into dangerous territory here; speaking of his own dreams, his own insecurities, was one thing. This felt far less clear-cut and safe, though he could not seem to stop himself now that he had begun.
"She has a restraining order against him," he said. "But I'm sure you know how it goes. Unless or until he actually does something that overtly violates it, or hurts her again, the police won't do anything. It's just for us to stress over and try to live our lives around."
Abel knew well the inefficiencies of the criminal justice system, especially in scenarios like these.
"Has he been around, lately? It seems like your circumstances must be comfortable enough that she's got distractions to help not think about him." Raised brows with a head shake implied his uncertainty. "Maybe she needs to see a therapist, though I have to say that I'd be a poor choice at this rate, since I'm in your confidence at this point."
"He…" At last he quieted, if only for a time. He drained a quarter of his cocktail in a single go; it was answer enough, though he hedged when he responded aloud. "I don't think she's really thought about him," he said. "And I hesitate to suggest a therapist. I don't want her to feel I think something's wrong with her."
Both hands came to cradle his beer. "Do you, though? It sounds as though her problems are spilling out over onto you. Dealing with an unwanted party certainly adds a great amount of stress. Maybe there's some unconscious resentment that you haven't addressed, either with her or with a third party. There's nothing wrong with being upset at circumstances not under our control, but it's quite another to remain passive about things that bother us. Likewise, it makes me wonder if there are things she hasn't discussed with you."
"Now you do sound like a therapist," Obed said. "And here I'd hoped this would just be idle talk amongst friends." He smiled ruefully. "Maybe talking to someone together would be the better plan. At least I could suggest that and not feel like I'm pushing her away, or asking her to do something I'm not willing to do."
He raised a hand, as though that small gesture might wave off all his own concerns. "I apologize," he said. "I didn't mean to hijack this whole... night out with all this."
Abel shook his head. "Please, I'm the one who pushed you into talking about it. Work habit, it's hard for me to turn it off. Are you...into sports?" He said the words tentatively, like someone wincing away from a blow that hadn't yet landed, though the look quickly melted into a half grin.
Obed chuckled, shaking his head yet again. "Not particularly," he said. "I'll watch hockey or lacrosse if they're on, but I don't exactly take a special interest." He gestured to his companion with the rim of his dwindling drink. "And you? What do you do when you're not picking your neighbors' brains and playing relationship counselor?"
His answering grin was more toothy than amused, a baring of teeth rather than a happy expression. He sucked in a hissing breath. "Clubbing, sometimes. I know I don't seem like the type, but that, or bars. Try to keep my social life alive. Provides a nice contrast to the...dry work I do." He took another drink, taking his bottle to the halfway mark. "Usually places a little noisier than this, though I won't mark CASKET off entirely. What about you? Surely you can't be the all work and no play type."
"I actually am," Obed said, "for the most part. I've been working since I was barely in double-digits. Even the parties I host are usually tied to work in one way or another." He smiled, a small and shadowed thing. "I'm not entirely sure I'd know what to do without my work. But it takes all kinds, doesn't it? I'm told the clubs in the area can actually be quite nice. I hope you enjoy them."
"I do," he replied, his head bowing a little in thanks. "But seriously, you don't have any hobbies, anything you enjoy outside of work? There must be something. Reading? Cooking?" He shrugged, a smile working across his face. "Fingerpainting?"
Obed narrowly avoided choking on a mouthful of gin. Unbidden, images of the oft-moved painting came to mind. His resulting grin was wide and utterly unfeigned. "Not exactly," he said. "I do read, but doesn't everyone? That hardly counts as a hobby. And I walk our cotton ball of a dog, and try to convince Isobel not to torture him with clothes. Also not exactly a hobby, although it takes up more time than you might imagine."
Abel chuckled. "I've never had a pet, so I'll take your word for it. They did always seem like more work than benefit, no offense. It's certainly more than the nothing you implied before.
"So tell me a little about your work, then. I think we've delved far enough into mine for quite awhile."
"Have we?" Obed said. His tone bordered on teasing. "I feel like all we've done is talk about me. My family owns a winery upstate. I manage that property, somewhat through a friend, who complains often about my micromanagement. From that I sort of… just continued on in real estate and property development. I prefer small ventures, boutique hotels and B&Bs, but I've branched out now and then. Really riveting stuff, I know."
"Actually, it is," Abel replied, eager to latch onto anything Obed might offer. If the man was so invested in his company as he said, there could be interesting tidbits for his own use. Empty buildings to dispose of bodies in, not that he'd fallen into old habits once more. "What would you say is your favorite development? After all, our constructs, homes, environments are reflections of ourselves. The things we build are legacies, how people will remember us."
The answer came easily; Obed's smile was open and genuine. "The Secret Garden," he said, "in Hollywood Hills. It's still not earned enough to cover its expense, but it's getting there. And it has… sentimental value to me. I might be proudest of that little place." He arched a brow, an uncharacteristic thought occurring to him. Chuckling quietly, he said, "I should comp a room for you for a weekend sometime. In exchange for all this unpaid therapy."
Abel tipped his bottle in Obed's direction, shrugging. "I wouldn't say no. I could use the vacation, however short the distance. Can I ask why it's so sentimental to you?" His brows rose as he drank his second bottle to another empty, and a waitress stopped by their table to remove the used glasses. At his nod, she said she'd bring a third round.
With the waitress gone and the liquor slowly warming him to complacency, Obed saw no reason not to share further. "Isobel and I met there," he said. "She took care of all the landscaping, and it was easily the best work I've ever had on a property. I invited her to the opening, and even that went better than expected. It actually is one of the best of my properties, though, my sentiment aside."
Abel nodded, impressed, though the expression was one of his least used ones. "I'll take your word for it," he replied, smiling. "It sounds like the two of you work well in tandem. Not many couples can claim that." He wrapped his hand around a fresh beer, holding it up in a mock toast for Obed to clink his glass against. "A last nod to this topic for tonight, but to important connections. May we all find them, and recognize what we need to do to keep them."
Obed returned the toast, earnestly warmed by it. He found himself pleasantly surprised with the way the evening had gone, and more surprising still, looking forward to the next such visit.