I am always gonna be here Who: Bryan [NPC] & Obed. What: Isobel's old "flame" shows up at the most inconvenient times, in the most inconvenient places. Where: Outside Obed's office. When: March 3, late evening.
If anyone had been watching carefully, they might have noticed the bearded figure wearing a baseball cap smoking across the street. Most wrote him off as a vagrant; the fact that he was leaning against a car suggested that he was waiting for someone. The man kept glancing up toward the tall office building, either scowling or making otherwise unreadable expressions, but no one studied him long enough to truly take notice or care. Instead, he was written off and overlooked, especially since his appearance was so unkempt. At least he wasn't asking anyone for change.
As day turned to night, the man took to watching the building's front doors carefully. When one particular person exited them, looking more at his watch or phone instead of the pathway, it was easy enough to follow him toward the parking lot.
Obed was distracted, as he often was upon leaving work. Since moving in with Isobel he made a habit of shedding the events of the day well before returning to Pax Letale. He intended their shared space to be a sanctuary of sorts, a place the sweat and grime of a day's work could not touch; to date, he had done quite well in keeping to this. So he finished one last email as he strode to his car, a matte black Tesla Model 3 he had no right to own. It was one of few obvious concessions he made to his wealth and connections, and he loved it too much to feel any real shame about it.
He ran a hand across the sleek hood upon his approach, and at last saw the man watching him. He kept his hand on his cell phone, but let his arm drift to his side.
"Can I help you?"
The figure shrugged. "I doubt it. I just wanted a closer look at you. See what she finds so goddamn attractive. Must be the car. I definitely couldn't ever afford something like that." He moved, closing the space between them in three quick steps; he still lingered a handful of steps away, but the smell wafting from his clothes was quickly apparent. The man met Obed's gaze, standing a few inches taller than him; clear blue eyes looked out from the mass of hair covering his face. "I'd guess she doesn't talk about me anymore."
Obed's initial uncertainty about his visitor dissipated with the first few, short words. His hand slid into his pocket; his shoulders squared, though it did nothing to lessen the obvious difference in their statures. All pretense of geniality or welcome bled from his face, leaving his gaze something hard and cold.
"She doesn't," he said. "There hasn't been anything to say about you since we filed the police report." He smiled, and it was as dark a thing as his unblinking gaze. "Your nose healed fairly well. You can barely tell."
"And her face? Don't suppose she has any reminders of me." The slimmest of smiles moved across his lips.
Obed's jaw tightened with such intensity and quickness he heard his teeth scraping in his head. "Not a single one." He left his phone in his pocket, and withdrew his keyfob in its place. "Goodbye, Bryan. I'd strongly encourage you to not come back here."
Bryan took another step forward, moving into Obed's path. "You're not the least bit curious how I found you? Or worried that I'll do it again?
"Thing is, I already did find where you guys are now. Some swanky place named Pax Letale? Down in Newport. You pick that, or did she? Expensive taste, either way. Even seen you walking a little dog in the mornings. I guess Izzy does the evenings? Makes it easier to catch her attention."
Dimly Obed realized he tasted blood. His teeth had sunk into the side of his tongue, carving out a ragged line. He swallowed down the coppery taste. "The restraining order hasn't changed," Obed said. "I'm sure the police will be very curious how you found us, and why. But I'll let them deal with that. I don't give a fuck about you, and neither does she." He gave a tip of his head toward the street. "Run along, now. You're on private property, and I've already warned you once about trespassing."
"You might not care, but I do." Bryan remained impassable, leaning even further into Obed's space. "I can't even imagine why you're still with her. Must be things she hasn't told you yet. She likes to do that, keep secrets. That slut lures people in, and then takes things that don't belong to her." He spread his arms, shrugging. "Look, I'm just trying to warn you. She probably thinks she's caught herself a big fish, and she'll run you into the ground for all she can get. Then when you aren't of any more use, the cunt'll gut you."
Too late, Obed felt his hand move. The knuckles of his index and middle finger split open on the line of Bryan's jaw. In the next motion he gathered up a fistful of Bryan's shirt, jerking him forward and away from the car. He kicked out once, a sharp strike with the toe of his boot.
Bryan took the full force of the blows; despite the fact that he'd obviously been trying to goad Obed, he'd still been taken by surprise. The first punch knocked him down on his knees; the kick had him doubled over on the ground, nearly retching on the black, gravelly pavement beneath him.
"Fuck, she's got you twisted good." He put one hand to Obed's Tesla, trying to rise, grinning through bloodstained teeth. "Just like me. I hope that pussy tastes sweet now, because you should take a good look. You're starin' into the face of your fuckin' future."
Again Obed's teeth gritted together. His hand flexed at his side, blood dripping onto the pavement from his broken skin. He leaned forward just enough to push Bryan from the car. Then he backed away, not trusting himself to remain within reach of the man. He had enough of a mess to clean up as it was, enough injuries to find explanations for between here and Pax Letale. He did not need more.
"Stay out of our way, Bryan," Obed said, opening the car door with a deceptively calm, quiet click. "I will not warn you again."
Bryan clumsily rose to his feet, to his credit tripping only once and catching himself with a singular, pavement-skinned hand. Once he was hunched over but standing, he shrugged. "Your fucking funeral." As Obed had directed him several times already, he turned away and started out of the parking lot. What he precisely meant to accomplish was unclear, and he said nothing over his shoulder to provide the slightest bit of illumination for the man he'd so briefly accosted.
Obed waited, his hand resting atop the car door, until Bryan's silhouette had retreated to what he deemed an acceptable distance. Then he slipped into the car, where he sat until he felt he had sufficiently collected himself. He swore at himself under his breath. His hands flexed on the steering wheel; skin split anew, shallow cuts filling with blood. He dug a napkin from the glove box and pressed it to his wounds. A quarter of an hour had passed before he finally set off for home.
And all the while his mind was racing with what he might tell Isobel: How he would explain the marks on his hand, and his ever-darkening mood.