|Percy I. Chapman | Ἑρμης (polytropus) wrote in paxletalelogs,|
@ 2017-04-06 17:57:00
|Entry tags:||hermes, pan|
carry on my wayward son
Who: Vinnie and Percy
What: There’s a new kid in town, and he’s having a little trouble with locks...good thing
Dad is Percy is around to help!
Where: Pax Letale, outside of Vinnie’s apartment
When: April 8th, early afternoon
Notes: The bad puns are all Stormie’s fault. (False. I am the epitome of vigorous wit.) (That's what she said.)
It happened when he was nearly finished unloading the back of his truck; literally he was stepping out to get the last bit when he heard the soft clink of metal. Vinnie thought nothing of it, assuming something in one of the totes had settled, until he reached into his pocket to change songs and noticed how roomy it was.
“Shit,” was the first hissed word from his mouth as he pivoted, trying to catch the door before--click. Two seconds before he can reach it the door shut, his keys on the other side. From reflex Vinnie tried the handle, despite knowing he locked it before stepping out (he doesn’t know these people.) “Great. Great!” Punctuated with a frustrated kick to the door, Vinnie leaned his forehead against the door. “That’s just peachy, great job adulting Vinnie. You didn’t last a day.” At least his auntie isn’t here to see this.
The lockpick he'd received on his doorstep (contained within a neatly wrapped gift box) had been...an unusual occurrence. However, there certainly wasn't anything harmful in the box, and so Percy had deemed it safe enough to bring inside his home.
The thought did occur to him that this lockpick was the same tool the thief that had snatched Stella used. Yet even that was far too much of a coincidence, and considering the flurry of Pax resident activity on the community forum, he doubted it could be one and the same. Everyone, it seemed, or nearly everyone, was receiving unusual presents.
These were the thoughts tumbling around in his mind as he went down the stairs, fighting the childish urge to take them two at a time. Mail key in hand (and lockpick in pocket for inexplicable reasons) Percy whistled as he approached the apartment mailboxes, removing a small stack of bills and grocery ads from his personal mailbox. Folding the mail into a paper spyglass, he started for the stairs again when he caught wind of a slamming noise from down the hall.
That was unusual. Curious, Percy veered away from the flight of stairs and walked quietly towards the hallway which housed both the noise and the ground level apartments. He spotted another neighbor he hadn't yet met, who, unfortunately, looked like he'd seen better days.
It probably would have been fine to turn around and go home. But Percy felt as if he couldn't stop his feet, walking pointedly towards the unknown neighbor. Truly, it was as if he was being propelled.
“Are you doing all right there? Do you need a hand with something?” Percy tilted his head, blue eyes concerned.
Was he suddenly becoming the local Good Samaritan? First helping Nishka, then Esther, and now this neighbor.
Well, there were worse things in life he could be.
The sound of a man's voice raised Vinnie's head from the insultingly cool surface of the apartment door, thus so likely by the air conditioning he'd turned on and was not wasting, locked on the other side. The muscles in the middle of his shoulders tensed in anticipation of having to assure some white dude that no, this is really his apartment.
Then he turned to look at the guy, and his ‘'no, everything's fine officer’ smile relaxed into a genuine one. The knot between his shoulders began to ease as well, both prompted by an inexplicable wave of relief at seeing this stranger's face. The closest feeling he could compare it to was seeing a mechanic friend's car pull up in front of him when he was broken down on the side of the road.
What the hell. “Yeah,” he answered automatically. A second later he caught himself and laughed sheepishly, rubbed the back of his neck. “I just.. Locked myself out. Right when I was almost done packing stuff in, because that's my luck. I guess I'm lucky I live on the ground floor, huh?” Because the notion of getting Stephan, or anyone who works for the apartment management, to simply let him in never occurred to Vinnie. His experience with landlords have been largely of the hands-off variety, and even if it hadn't those services usually cost money, don't they?
“What a way to start the day, huh?” Percy offered an understanding smile to the younger man. “I can’t say the same hasn’t happened to me before,” he said with a shrug, although it was easily a simple lie--Percy was ever so certain about ensuring his door was always locked behind him. After the theft of Stella, however temporary it may have been, he was now extra vigilant about keeping his home safe.
He tapped his mail restlessly in the palm of one hand, looking from his new neighbor to the solidly locked door. Given how upset the guy appeared to be, surely it couldn’t hurt to help him. But how casual could he be by pulling out an opportune lockpick? It was almost too easy, and Percy did so dislike making foul impressions on new people.
“This is going to be an odd way to welcome you to Pax Letale, but I might be able to help you.” With a sudden halt, Percy stopped fiddling with his mail to extend a hand in friendship. “My name’s Percy. I live on the third floor, which has its own share of locked doors.”
“I lived in New York with a group of artists and actors for roomies. Weird is my bread and butter.” The sentence is punctuated by Vinnie spreading his hands, palm up, a silent invite for Percy to lay it on him. The gesture is truncated when the other man holds out his hand, the transition from gesture to clasping his hand not quite as smooth as Vinnie would have wanted. He wasn’t expecting it and if the slight fluster over where to put his free hand didn’t make it obvious, the blinking beforehand probably had.
It felt weird, like an impersonal gesture with someone you went drinking with. Despite knowing full well he’d just met the man, the urge to pull him forward and turn the gesture into a hug that Vinnie dropped the other man’s hand after a second, pushed his hair back from his face to settle the restless urge. Weird; in his life Vinnie had met plenty of people who went from strangers to fast friends in the course of a night, but normally the process took longer than two minutes.
“I’m Vinnie. Vinnie Romero, no relation but keep the zombie jokes coming, I love ‘em.” To cover the unsettled feeling he flashed a smile, bright even in the indoor lighting. The expression lasted until he glanced back at the barrier of his locked door, and a slow breath hissed between his teeth. “So, you know the last guy who lived here or something, still have a spare key?”
To be fair, the other man looked a little young for a handshake greeting. His confusion was immediate, the embarrassment soon followed. Percy made a conscious effort to act as if he hadn't noticed, feeling as if his neighbor had gone through enough already today. The urge to be nice to him was stronger than it otherwise might have felt with any other neighbor at the present juncture, but Percy chalked it up to the difference in their ages.
Had Percy a younger brother, he might have been around Vinnie’s age. Enough of an adult, but still decidedly young.
Percy returned Vinnie’s cheerful smile, glad that he was seemingly trying to take this stressful moment in stride. It was, he thought to himself, a good survival tactic.
“Actually, I don't. But like I said, I'm used to this kind of thing.” Ten years ago. Fifteen years ago, even. His escapades--often with a non-approving Lucas in tow--were not yet distant memories. Petty theft felt like a second nature, and it was with an unassuming air of nonchalance that Percy removed the lockpick from his pocket, holding it up for Vinnie to see.
“Would you mind if I picked your lock?” There was a definite gleam to his eye that he couldn't quite hide, a thrill reverberating in the cheekiness of his smile. Here's where he excelled.
At least Percy didn't ask where his mom was; Vinnie's made his peace with having a baby face, but it remained still annoying having to prove he was old enough to smoke/drink/whatever. Perhaps age had finally begun to do what a beard would, if he dared keep one.
Vinnie's eyebrows had drawn together when Percy admitted he had no key. The question of whether he worked for the apartments had time to cross his mind before the other man held up something that Vinnie’s mind tried, at first, to tell him was a screwdriver. Except screwdrivers don't have--
“Woah, seriously,” were the words that slipped out when Percy outright asked permission to break in. The confusion in his expression eased to excitement as Vinnie stepped back to clear a space in front of his door. Belatedly, it occurred to him to add, “Sure thing, have at it.”
“My pleasure.” His smile grew wider at Vinnie’s acceptance. Despite the connotations of the lockpick in Percy’s hand, there was nothing malicious whatsoever about his mannerisms as he obliged his new neighbor. What did exist, however, was a fluidity to his motions, a pattern of adopted stealth that he’d nurtured over the years. The telescope-rolled mail was tucked into the back pocket of his pants, and Percy smoothly stepped around his neighbor.
Eyeing the lock on the door, Percy fiddled with the lockpick in his hands, looking down to double check the settings before trying one after the other on Vinnie’s door; sooner or later, one of these would work. He could feel it--a definite surge of certainty. With a bit of jiggling and one hard click to the right (and two to the left), Vinnie’s lock simply gave. “Looks like you’ll be home soon,” Percy said over his shoulder. He tested the doorknob, and when it easily turned, he laughed with pure delight.
“Go ahead, Vinnie. Home sweet home is sweet again.” The lockpick placed safely back in his pocket, Percy dusted off his hands and stepped away from the door; he’d left it shut to allow Vinnie the distinct, satisfying feeling of opening it himself. “Good thing I came around when I did,” he mused. “Otherwise, you might have had to deal with Stephan. Not to be too discouraging, but he’s likely the most incompetent concierge I’ve ever met.”
Vinnie leaned against the wall, left shoulder flush against the wall and arms crossed over his chest. Someone looking from behind might assume the man to be frowning, or at least have a straight face, for the first minute or so. Nothing could be further from the truth; Vinnie’s eyes alight with hope and fascination. He’d be the worst lookout ever, with his eyes and attention glued to Percy’s fiddling with the lockpick. After the first few seconds Vinnie’s teeth sank into his lower lip, his hips began to shift as he’d begun to wriggle subtly in anticipation.
Percy’s laugh was echoed by a bright smile on Vinnie’s face, followed shortly after with the younger man standing straight. “Dude, you are amazing!” The declaration came before Vinnie had even reached for the door knob, though he turned to grab it directly afterward. His faith was rewarded a few seconds later when, with a twist of his hand, the door swung open enough to let a cool burst of air escape.
Vinnie’s smile widened, and he turned back to aim it at Percy. “Seriously, thank you so much, I owe you. Do you wanna come in--” The words stopped abruptly with a frown as Vinnie remembered how little he’d unpacked, and the grocery shopping he had yet to do. “Crap. I can’t offer you anything but coffee right now.” He could practically hear his ancestors as they shrieked in horror and dismay.
“Don’t worry about it, I’m only thankful I’ve still got it,” Percy said with a short laugh, leaving details to be desired. His brows arched in interest at the mention of coffee. If it were three in the morning, he would have gladly accepted; warnings against caffeine at late hours had never bothered him, since by his very nature Percy had always been a light sleeper. What did it matter if he slept a little less? “I don’t want to put you out, Vinnie, but I’d love a cup of joe.” Percy paused, leaning over to take a peek into Vinnie’s apartment. From what he could see, it was the typical move-in affair inside, between plentiful boxes and a whole lot of space desperately needing to be filled. Percy looked back to the younger man, a note of inexplicable fondness in his smile. Gently, he chided his neighbor. “...However, shouldn’t you finish moving in first before you invite company over? If you need any help, I’m happy to do it. I’ll be here most of the afternoon--not a lot on my plate today.”
“Trust me, it won’t be putting me out,” Vinnie was quick to reassure, while at the same time he shifted, slid one of his feet discretely into the crack between door and frame; no way was he going to let that happen again. The movement also shifted Vinnie himself against the door, and for a moment his thoughts turned to other doors with other people, and a completely different vibe than the situation at hand.
To clear his mind of rabbits best not chased, Vinnie added, “I drove here from New York, the coffee pot was the first thing I unpacked.” Because not being able to sleep for being wired meant nothing if he didn’t have clarity of mind to avoid injury by a piece of furniture. The chuckle his words eased into faded into sheepishness when Percy lightly scolded him, a familiar feeling he didn’t have time to examine before the other man offered to help him finish moving in.
“Oh, no no, esta bi-- I mean, that’s fine,” he corrected, eyebrows raised high enough in worry that they carve faint lines across his forehead. His hands drifted up a moment later, palms toward Percy as though to halt that idea before it took to run. “I was almost done, actually, I’ve only got one or two boxes. I kinda don’t know how to stop once I get started.”
“New York? You're pretty far from home,” Percy mused, studying his younger neighbor. “But that seems to be the case for a lot of the tenants here. I was lucky in that I only moved next door from Oregon.” He smiled, amused at Vinnie’s insistence that he needed absolutely no more help of any kind today. Vinnie’s immediate defensive stance gave a loud and clear message of injured pride were Percy to continue offering.
He supposed he could cut the kid--the other man--a break. Removing his telescope mail from his pocket, Percy straightened out the grocery ads and spam, restless energy finding focus in this simple task. “Let's get started on that coffee, and you can tell me all about your road trip. Then we can consider ourselves even; thankfully for both of us, I love a good story.”
“New York ain’t home. That city’s a mistake,” he corrected with a snort and a pang of guilt for the wonderful friends he’d made and missed already. They’d been the only reason he stuck it out in that city for half a decade; their laughter and wildness a balm against the ache and the cough that settled in his bones and lungs.
The fleeting images of surreal nights under the smoggy sky were chased away by Percy’s suggested. Head tilted, Vinnie considered the proposition; he really did have to grab that last box, and despite his desire to trust this guy, he had just broken into the apartment with ease. Which Vinnie was grateful for! He couldn’t afford an unlocking fee, and the cops here didn’t know him well enough not to stop if they saw a tiny Colombian man forcing the window. Besides, it wasn’t like he had anything worth stealing anyway; while he took good care of his things, what wasn’t from a thrift store was old enough not to be worth the risk.
And he really, really wanted to trust this guy. “Sure,” he chirped as he moved away from the door with a flourish for Percy to go ahead. “I’ve gotta get that last box, so go ahead and make yourself comfortable and I’ll be right back with stories.” With a flash of a bright smile Vinnie darted toward the front door on the balls of his feet, a short laugh left to hang in the air.