|Abel Parrish + Fenrir (devourer) wrote in paxletalelogs,|
@ 2017-05-07 10:09:00
|Entry tags:||fenrir, hades|
whiskey, gin and brandy
Who: Abel & Obed.
What: Two skip the spa invite and go out to get sloshed instead.
When: Late evening, Saturday, May 6.
The two older residents of Pax Letale had opted to meet separately at their agreed-upon location; Abel strolled into the elegantly named and decorated bar, it seemed, only moments before Obed's own arrival. They were greeted, seated, and a waiter took their respective orders amid the tight congregation of CASKET's Saturday night patrons.
Abel sank into his cowhide leather chair, a tongue moving over the front of his teeth as he gazed out over the other occupants around them. A pleasant buzzing noise of a million pieces of conversation cloaked them, and he turned a grin back to Obed, who seemed especially somber. He pushed ahead with their own conversation regardless.
"You think management has some kind of agreement with WiLoft, to offer us that instead of some more serious form of compensation for the last few weeks?"
"They must," Obed agreed. "I don't see any other explanation. It's ludicrous, really. 'Outside our control'? They can't be serious." He shook his head, settling deeply into his own high-backed chair. The faint hint of cigarette smoke rose from him as he moved: an unusual addition to his more characteristic scents of soap and sandalwood. "They're fortunate it's all too absurd to even attempt to file a police report. I think they know that."
Abel's gaze moved over Obed's form, noting more peculiarities. Fortunately, the drink service was speedy; his right hand was soon wrapped around a beer bottle. He took a sip, alcohol sliding merrily down his throat.
"More than likely," he agreed. He wasn't about to go telling anyone about how he'd come to in the lobby stairwell landing, the door in front of him half-smashed for want of escape. Or how he believed he'd changed into something, less than and yet more than human. "I'm hesitant to say this, but perhaps that's all for the best. Put this behind everyone, move on as if... Well, as if nothing had happened."
The words were spoken with the hope that he wasn't condemning them to a repeat performance.
Immediately Obed shook his head. "I don't see how that's possible." Ice softly rattled in his glass, further stirring his already frigid Negroni. "Entirely too much happened, regardless of whether or not those outside this building seem to realize that." He sipped his drink, his brow furrowing as he watched the man seated across from him.
"You're a psychologist, aren't you? I'd have thought you'd advise against denial."
"I said nothing about denial," Abel interjected, pointing a finger at Obed. "There's no guarantee of closure in life, unfortunately. And this very much seems like something we aren't about to get answers for. Sometimes it's better to put things behind you and carry on." He paused, his next question lingering on the tip of his tongue for a moment. He knew such a thing could easily be turned around on him, but his curiosity outweighed the warning.
"Why, did something particularly strange happen to you?"
"Stranger than finding a crocodile when trying to walk my dog? You could say that." Obed shook his head, nursing his drink for a long while. Simone was gone; Isobel, too. He had no desire to hear Carver's inevitable "I told you so" speech. Obed's only outlet, his only sounding board, sat across from him now. The hard line of his shoulders eased as something akin to loneliness coursed through him. He crushed a piece of ice between his teeth, carefully considering how much he wanted to share.
"Something happened on the tenth floor. Isobel was there with Hanni. I joined them for a while, and then… she saw something. Something in me that made her literally run. Nothing's been the same since. The night terrors are back, I'm not sleeping…" A sneer curled his lips. "Tell me I'm going crazy. At least crazy can be solved with institutionalization or meds."
The line of Abel's shoulders rose and fell, rolling hills. "If that were so, the whole building would be diagnosable." He wasn't about to tell some doctor that he'd sprouted fur and fangs and completely forgotten himself. A long drink settled his thoughts, put some distance between the fear that crept up over the thing that had taken control and his more human, logical side.
"And from your telling, it seems as though your fiancée is the one who's, ah, maladjusted. What exactly did she see?"
Obed was shaking his head, a far more vehement motion than was typical of him. "Ex-fiancée. And I'm not sure, but I do have an idea." He shifted in his seat, leaning forward. His voice lowered to a volume barely enough to be heard even across the little table between them. "We had a dream together. It was uncomfortable to say the least. I felt like someone else… I looked like someone else. And that same… thing has been in all my dreams since. Given everything else that's happened… I don't think it's so far-fetched to think that's what she saw."
Abel's brows scaled his forehead, surprise written visibly across his face; it was true surprise, not quite edging on shock, but there was some comfort in knowing he was not alone in these strange perceptions.
"That is disturbing," he replied just as quietly as Obed had confessed, bringing his beer to his lips again. Then he cleared his throat, leaning toward Obed to keep their conversation private despite the fact that they were one of many amid the general roar of noise within the club.
"There is something, a condition, called folie à deux," he began, hands outstretched as if helping to form his words. "A shared psychosis, the symptoms being delusions and hallucinations. Now... I'm not saying that's what's happening in our building, because I won't be the first to commit myself. The issue is that it's rare to have a case beyond two people sharing the psychosis, and we have... what, at least five or six times that, within the building itself?"
Abel thought of all the dreams he'd had since arriving at Pax. Thoughts of a giant, bound wolf, kept close and guarded, for fear of what he might do. It balanced too closely to his own desires, his own needs that he was perhaps indulging in too much as of late.
"Besides that—these dreams, this," he waved his hand, moving smoke and thoughts aside, "alteration, the floor changes—was there anything else strange? Your night terrors, you think that's connected to all of this? You told me before that they come and go, but have they increased since moving into Pax?"
"Significantly," Obed said. "I'd gotten them mostly under control before moving here. Granted, there have been other pressures, besides, but Pax has certainly not helped matters. The gifts, for one thing. Who did that? And why those items? I won't say I recognized what I received, but it almost felt like I did. Isobel obviously felt the same." He tipped his chin toward Abel, curious about what thoughts the other man held back.
"And you? What else have you experienced?"
"Nothing to your extent," Abel carefully lied. His doorway had borne the scars of his transformation, though those too had faded along with the changes in the various floors. There was nothing save his memory, and perhaps Nish and Rafael's, to mark the event. "Dreams, some strange feelings with the other tenants. The gifts were strange, I'll give you, but no more so than receiving an unsolicited package in the mail.
"Did you receive something untoward?" His eyes glittered with the question, mirth curving his mouth as if he expected Obed to admit to some indecency; perhaps not admit so much as hint at it, but that too would be enough.
"Not in my opinion. Only a sketch, one I liked enough to have framed." It hung on the wall beside his bonsai, both of which he had paid careful attention in the days since Isobel's departure. The picture was dusted each day, after his ritual of watering and delicately trimming the little tree. Neither occupation gave him any sort of peace, but both were better than sitting silent and sullen in his lonely palace. "Still. It suits me, which I found strange in itself. I haven't exactly laid bare my tastes in art, that anyone in the building would know what they are." He frowned into his drink, sipping generously at its contents. "If I didn't know any better I'd say you were enjoying this."
"Just a little." Abel could not deny that he took some small amount of pleasure in Obed's discomfort; the idea that he was not alone in all of this was reassuring on its own, but factoring in the simple taste of fear in whichever form added a certain spice.
"I received a painting as well; a fellow dweller on my floor received a cookie jar, which she accused me of giving to her. Unfortunately, I don't have the means to gift everyone in the building with something, no matter how affluent I might seem." He could almost feel the strange image roiling in his belly, despite the fact that he'd long-since consumed it, leaving no trail. The only evidence of its existence at all was the box remaining in its wake.
"So tell me, if you're willing," he added, changing tack and bringing the subject back around to his companion. "What do you dream about? In these terrors. Maybe there's a kernel of truth that would help you to undo them."
Obed hummed, his disbelief evident in both his posture and tone. "If there is, my therapists and I have yet to find it, and not for lack of trying. I was pleased enough to learn how to control them for a time." He finished his drink and motioned for another. The waitress quickly moved to comply, and Obed did not speak again until she had come and gone.
"Death," he said. "When I was very young I dreamed I watched my uncle die. I know it lasted only a moment, but it felt so long. This entire process of aging and deteriorating and rotting to nothing. I've seen a great deal of death. I didn't know them all, but even the faces I did not recognize… I felt a kind of guilt…" He shook his head. "No, that's not entirely right. Guilt at times. But always responsibility."
He smirked down into his glass, promptly filling the silence with the rattle of ice and a quiet sip of liquor. "Go on, tell me everything I've heard before. It's separation anxiety. The loneliness of an only child. An ordinary, middle-aged fear of my own death."
Abel shrugged. "I don't see a need to repeat what you've already heard. And with the strange happenings at the apartment complex, who's to say it's not something else?" All of his dreams held a single, similar thread running through them -- that he, or whatever was in him, was destined to destroy. Perhaps Obed was of the same nature, though Abel knew he needed to be cautious in admitting anything. At the very least, there was a possibility of a connection here, maybe something more.
"Responsibility is a heavy term; you're not...ending them, are you?"
Obed started to say no, but the word would not cross his lips. It felt wrong somehow. So he toyed with his glass, turning it around and around between his cold fingertips. "Possibly," he said. His lips thinned to a fine line. "I don't feel entirely myself. And the deaths don't feel… unwarranted. A terrible word to use, I know, but it's the only one that fits." He shrugged, failing utterly in expressing his typical nonchalance. "In these dreams, they feel right, for the most part. It's only this small part of me that, when I'm finally awake, is as unsettled by my own apathy as by what I saw in the dream."
Abel nodded along through Obed's descriptions, though he felt a slight pang in his chest as the other man's thoughts veered away from his own. Certainly, the lives he took felt right; not only that, they felt deserved, like some form of divine retribution that only he could deliver down onto the chosen. This sounded more as though Obed were someone checking off a list and collecting what was already due to die. Which was intriguing in its own right, but not to the extent that Abel had hoped.
"Do you think it's affecting your conscious choices?" He finished his beer, but did not call for another; instead he cradled the empty bottle between his hands, resting between his legs.
"I don't…" Obed's brow furrowed. "How do you mean?" He looked down into his glass, as though the ice might shape itself into some readable sign. He thought back over his dreams, and the interactions he had had following them. "I'm probably not myself when I wake, at least for a while. They take some time to shake off, as I'm sure you understand. I've gotten better with that over time. But I wouldn't say I... I don't know, look at people differently, or feel differently about them. It's possible that's just luck, though, since I haven't known most of the people I've dreamed about."
Abel bit his lip, shrugging as he attempted to explain himself. "Not so much after you wake, but... Maybe this version of you informs the things you do, especially unconsciously. You may feel one way, but act another, entirely without meaning to, or thinking that the degree you've applied to the situation is more than it truly is." He let his hands go wide, raising the empty bottle and disposing of it on a nearby table. It was soon collected by a passing club employee. "Not something you need to answer now, but food for thought. It might not occur to you right away."
The discomfort on Obed's face was answer enough. The creature in his dreams echoed in his waking moments all too often; it had always been so, since his earliest memories. He had frightened his parents with his night terrors, with his vivid descriptions of things a child had no business knowing. All that had spared them greater upset was his ability, quickly and thoroughly nurtured, to tamp down the strangest of his thoughts and give no sign of them to others.
"And what," Obed asked, more curious than he wanted to be, "would you know about that?" He leaned forward, bringing his elbows to rest on the little table between them. "You understand better than you're telling, don't you."
As if to directly counter Obed's movements, Abel moved back into his chair, arms spreading to situate themselves comfortably on the chair's armrests. He smiled, trying to look more at ease than he felt.
"I'm a psychologist, remember? For the criminal justice system. I've treated my fair share of 5150s, though you're not a danger to yourself, I hope." Fingernails scratched along the armrest, doing minimal damage to the cowhide. His nails were nothing like the claws he remembered sprouting, and how they'd demolished everything but the metal of the lobby stairwell doorway. He tried to put his mind at ease, separating himself from the memories. "I've experienced strange events in the apartment complex, the same as you. If you're looking for a source to blame, I think you should start there."
Obed shook his head. "I don't want someone to blame," he said. "And if I did, I'd blame myself. Some of this has been going on since I was a child, after all." He finished his drink and set it aside, pushing it across the little table and toward its edge. He did not want another; his tongue had already been loosened enough. "The complex it is, then. I have no idea how a building could have effects like these, but stranger things have happened, I suppose."
Abel nodded, not disagreeing. Much stranger things were possible, and something along the curve of his spine implied the worst was not over yet.
"Maybe we should talk about something else then. Work, or...?" He waved a hand, leaving the empty slot open for Obed to fill. He might have brought up the other man's desiccated love life, or asked after hobbies, but he knew such things would likely go nowhere. Better to let Obed choose what he wanted to speak on; allowing others some measure of control often reassured them, and lessened any suspicion toward him.
The other man shrugged. Thoughts he dared not share consumed him; he could not turn his focus toward anything else. But he had to, needed to, and here was a perfect opportunity to do so. But he struggled for anything to say, and felt foolish for doing so. He sighed.
"I'm not sure my work is particularly interesting," he said, "though it's a comfortable change of topic. Things are progressing relatively well, aside from that one small hiccup with our neighbor trying to get a good scoop. Just broke ground on a site for a new B&B."
"Oh?" Scritch scritch. It almost felt like Abel's hand had a mind of its own, worrying its way into the cowhide. He skipped over the so-called 'hiccup,' filing it away for later examination. "Where at, for the new hotel?"
"Franklin Village. It took a series of minor miracles to get the permits and approvals I needed. Last year there was a little dustup about an historic building being converted from apartments to a hotel, so the community is still a little touchy about it." Obed shrugged. "But I like a challenge. Once my building is finished, they'll come around."
Abel's mouth turned down in an impressed expression, though he quite realized that Obed was being soft in his description. Few had not heard of the Franklin Village disagreement, and even though he didn't run in those sorts of circles -- Hollywood, real estate, or otherwise -- he knew the barest details of the incident. Still, that did not interest him so much as how he might be able to make Obed squirm with the information instead.
"Would certainly be distracting from your current predicament," he offered, one hand rising a little into the air to imply a question mark. "Though it sounds like you might be giving our neighbor the scoop they're looking for."
"She's easily dealt with." The certainty in Obed's tone belied his very real concerns. To the keen eye there was a subtle tightening of his jaw and a sharp gleam in his gaze that betrayed him. "You'd think this close to LA she would have enough celebrities and wannabes to keep her busy. Even what's happened in this building seems vastly more interesting than anything I'm involved in. I didn't realize real estate was the hot ticket in the tabloid world these days."
Another shrug, though whether of ignorance or uncaring was unclear. "Maybe that's just the avenue she's found to pry further into your affairs. Is that all she's written about, thus far?" Abel had no idea which tenant Obed was speaking of -- there was one exuberant young woman that he'd seen posting on the network, but his comings and goings kept him away from the majority of his neighbors. "Maybe she's just waiting for the bigger scoop." Maybe she feels a draw to you like I do with Nish, or Rafe. Something recognizable. Those weren't thoughts he was going to say aloud.
"That's possible." Obed nodded, frowning softly. "For her sake I hope she waits quite a while. Lately I'm in a much less charitable mood than I was before." He rapped his knuckles on the table, looking up the waitress as she drew near again. He asked for the check and she was quickly on her way.
"Thank you for this," he said, his gaze returning to his neighbor's. "I didn't realize how much I needed it. We'll have to do it again soon."
Abel nodded, leaning forward with a smile to thank Obed for his charity. "I agree. It's nice... to get out." Abel hadn't realized how oppressive he found the apartment in the wake of the floor transformations. And now he had new information to mull over regarding his 'friend'; information that he would have to dissect very carefully.