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Paper Nest

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 Since the coffee shop was in close proximity to the apartments, it had become a favored location for Ronan whenever he needed a break from the apartment itself. Or Rion, who was a nice enough roommate but there was only so much of the guy that even Ronan could take.

Yawning, he placed the back of his hand against his mouth to try and stifle it. He was sitting at a table near the middle of the shop, annoyingly enough, his favorite spot had been taken by a giggling couple. So he took what he could, not wanting to head back to the apartment.

Some of his work had gone with him and he had a laptop on the table, along with a handful of rumbled papers with random thoughts and scribbles covering them.

As he went to pick one up, however, the rest of the precarious pages went fluttering around him and right in the oncoming path of a passerby.

"Shit," Ronan muttered before looking up. "Sorry! Could you hand those to me? Without looking at them?"
Was this the right place?

Gun glanced up at the tower with a slight frown. The novice runner who offered him a place to stay said the apartments, and this was the only place that Gun knew of. He had been told in orientation that most people lived here—those who weren’t founding families, who lived in the much more affluent neighborhood.

He didn’t approach the building right away, instead remaining on the other side of the street. Normally Gun didn’t impose on others—he could make do with a bit of hard concrete to lay his head on—but lately he had been feeling unwell. Sick. Maybe a flu or a cold, which had him shivering and feeling too hot alternately.

He just needed a place to stay for the night, to get some warmth into his tired bones. So he came here in the hopes that the young man had been serious about his offer. Slowly, he paced towards the stoplight which would take him across the street. But in passing, a wind blew some papers off the table of a young man and helpfully Gun stooped to grab them before they all flew away.

“Oh...” He half-smiled and then closed his eyes as he handed some of them over. Gun couldn’t tell what was on them anyway; it looked like an essay. “Like this?” He asked, speaking softly, laughing softly under his breath. Not looking at the papers was kind of impossible unless one closed their eyes...
 Somebody caught the pages! At least they weren't lost forever, in the hands of the wrong people. (Not that they could read his chicken scratch, shorthand, and homemade codes but... really, he never knew.) The man who handed them over took his words literally-- closing his eyes as he handed over the papers he'd managed to catch. Ronan furrowed his brow slightly in confusion, then reached out to take the pages.

"Uh, yeah," he said, not sure if he was being played with or if the guy was sincerely doing his best not to look at the scribbles all over the papers. Before the wind could pick up and steal more of his work, Ronan stuffed them into his old olive green satchel, which was propped at his feet.

"Thanks." He still wasn't sure what to make of this guy. If there was anybody he could call scruffy, it was this guy. "You're a lifesaver."
“They’re that important?” Gun opened his eyes again once he was reasonably sure that it was safe to do so—safe for the other man, not for him. It was no trouble to bend down and pick up a few papers. “It’s nothing,” he smiled, waving off the other man’s thanks.

Time to move on, though. Strangers typically didn’t want to converse at length with people like him. He was dressed in a coat that was too short at the sleeves, exposing a chunk of thin, bony wrist. Underneath, he wore stained trousers and a shirt with more than a few holes in it—thankfully obscured by the coat. Gun knew he looked unkempt and unshaven, so not wanting to discomfort anyone, he nodded and turned away.

But then he paused and turned back, clearing his throat softly to get the other man’s attention again. “Excuse me. I’m sorry to bother you but—“ Not an appeal for money, this time. “Do you live there?” He pointed to the apartment across the street. “Is it... okay for strangers to enter?” There might be a lock on the door or something and he didn’t want to be mistaken for a burglar trying to break his way in.
 Oh, yes. They were that important but he supposed a random deadbeat off the street wouldn't understand. Ronan wasn't going to tell him, either. It wasn't any of his business. Going back to stuffing papers into his bag, Ronan looked up when the man spoke again. Was he still here? Ronan thought he left. Straightening up, Ronan looked over at the apartment building that the man was pointing at.

"...Yeah," he said, somewhat warily. He lived there. Not that it was any big secret; half the place lived there if they weren't in the dorms or rich off their ass. Ronan didn't look like a rich person and he wasn't a student so... Yeah, it wasn't like it was super telling to say as much.

But why was he asking about strangers entering? Where did this guy even come from? Did he live there? No... he said as much just now. Stranger. Well, he wasn't young enough to be a student. Not rich looking. Who the hell was he? Where did he even come from?

"What's your business there?' he asked instead of answering the question.
He wasn’t surprised at the air of instant suspicion cast his way. There was no reason for the other man to trust him, so Gun didn’t take it to heart. But nonetheless, it was unpleasant—unpleasant to be thought badly of by anyone.

“I’m looking for a friend. He said that I could come find him if I needed help, and he told me that he lives here.”

Gun wasn’t trying to go around begging for pennies; he wasn’t going to panhandle in front of the doors. Straightening, he wrapped the coat tighter about him as another cold gust of wind blew on through.

“Sorry to bother you. I’ll find him on my own.”

“RONAN!” Someone shouted behind him suddenly, and he flinched, whirling around to see a familiar face running up, bag bumping by his side.
 Everybody lives here, he was going to say but the man was already leaving again. Okay... He seemed really off. Something was off about him, and it wasn't just the way he looked. Ronan half frowned, not sure if he should call the guy back and help him or just let him go off on his own. It wasn't as if Ronan wanted to be an asshole to a stranger who needed help. But before he could make up his mind, a familiar voice called out his name and Ronan looked past the strange man to see Rion coming up behind him.

So he was really coming to get his legs broken, was he? Ronan's frown twisted into a grin. Well, he was willing to oblige him.

"So you're really here," Ronan said, cracking his gloved knuckles. "Well, let's get it over with, then."
Yes, break his legs! Break them so he wouldn’t have to go to work and—hooooold on! Rion skidded to a halt in front of Ronan but held out a hand to stop him from the leg-breaking.

“Yo! Hey! Dude! Uh—What’s your face!” He hollered as he grabbed onto the wrist of the hobo-looking... uh... hobo who was standing off to one side with a pained look on his face. Mistaking it for pain from his sudden grab—hey, maybe he was stronger than he looked!—Rion let go.

“It’s you! Sorry I forget your name! Remember me?”

The man’s smile was a little sharp twist of the lips. He seemed to be... It looked like he was swallowing real hard, before he spoke, so softly that Rion had to lean in to hear him. “Gun. I remember you, Serion.”

“Oh yeah! Gun! Uh—“ Rion turned back to his flatmate with an apologetic grin. “This guy is the guy! Remember the one I told you about, the guy we found outside? I told him he could crash on the couch if he needed it.”

Without Ronan’s input, true, but he didn’t think Ronan would object to helping a poor guy out who was down on his luck.
 Wait--what?! Ronan blinked. Rion knew this guy? Of course he did. Rion was a weirdo magnet. First that weird boyfriend of his, then that guy that apparently turned out to be his worst enemy, and now this guy. Ronan turned his head away to hide a growing grin, using his shoulder to disguise a sound suspiciously like a laugh. Of all the people to attract the weird ones, it was definitely Rion.

It had to be his line of work. Being out there--Outside--had to change a man. It had to give him a different perspective and therefore, a different... overall everything. Chemistry or something.

Never mind that all this meant Ronan was also one of those weirdos attracted to him. Not like that, tyvm. After a moment, Ronan cleared his throat and straightened back up, setting his elbows on the table and resting his chin in his hand, fingers threaded together.

"Yeah, you told me about him," Ronan said, amusement still in his eyes. "Never told me you were bringing him home."

Oh, he was judging a little. A lot. He was judging a lot. He mouthed the word desperate at Rion, grinning.
He was kind of a softy, Rion. Despite his loudness and his brashness and his inability to plan ahead, he wasn’t a bad guy! Sure he had his faults, but didn’t they all? Nobody was perfect!

Least of all Ronan, who was smirking and looking at him with amusement in his eyes. Well, eye. The one good eye. Rion glowered at him and made to kick him in the leg when he mouthed a disgusting word.

He was NOT desperate!

“I said I’d help out if he needed it. I wasn’t bringing him home,” he replied through gritted teeth, disliking the implications. Rion wasn’t sleeping with guys off the street! He’d—

He’d sleep with RONAN before he did that! (...ew...)

“Well. I’m off to work.” He smiled, a smarmy kind of “good luck, bastard” smile down at Ronan. Rion was getting his own back! “So yeah. You don’t mind taking Gun up to the apartment right? Get him all settled? Keep him company for a bit?”

Rion turned to Gun with a more genuine smile. “Don’t worry. He’s not a jerk all the time—just to me. I’ll be back in a couple hours, so you guys hang out and get to know each other better!” Then, without giving either of them a chance to object, Rion ran off to catch his bus, which would take him down to the opera theater.
Because Ronan totally bought that story. It looked a lot like Rion was getting so desperate that he was going around picking up hobos from off the street. Or... from Outside. Which was a little intimidating, Ronan wasn't going to lie (to himself, anyway). He was still wary of anybody that looked like he slept in a garbage dumpster last night.

"Hey-what?" Ronan stood up as Rion merrily announced he was off to work. "I thought you wanted to ditch work! I was going to break your legs! Isn't that why you're here?"

Or was this all an elaborate setup? Fuck. He was really leaving him all alone with a vagrant? From Outside? With who knew what kind of bad habits? Ronan side-eyed the guy. As soft spoken as he was, he did seem kind of harmless. He was probably just down on his luck. No need to be so wary.

Still! What the hell, Rion?!

"I'm not a jerk!" Ronan protested as Rion reassured the hobo. And he wasn't! He was thinking of helping him before Rion came along!

"Rion! RION! You asshole!" Ronan shouted at Rion's disappearing back.

Turning back to the guy... Gun, was it? Gun. Even the name was something to be worried about. Was it a nickname? Ronan closed his laptop and stuffed it into his satchel and then hefted it over his shoulder.

"I guess this means you're coming with me, then." As he stood and moved toward Gun, he extended his hand in greeting.

"Ronan. Although I guess you figured that out by now."
It... happened so quickly. Rion was here, bantering with his friend, and then he was gone, putting up a middle finger back at his shouting, obviously unamused friend. Gun looked away a little uncomfortably, disliking the noise. The level of it wasn’t problematic—yet—but nevertheless, he wondered if coming here was a mistake...

After Rion left, it was just them. He shook Ronan’s hand with a half-smile. “Listen... if you’re uncomfortable with this, I can leave.”
 "It's fine," he lied. Maybe it would be fine though. Once they got this guy to the apartment and cleaned him up and he didn't end up robbing him at gun point. (Har har.) He wisely didn't crack these jokes in Gun's presence. Somehow, he got the feeling by how Serious he was earlier that he maybe didn't understand how things worked here.

Probably from being Outside.

"Hey," Ronan said in a softer tone as he gently touched the man's arm briefly, his own version of trying to reassure him. Should he be? Yeah. It was hardly fair to look at this guy like he was a killer just because he came from Outside. Ronan didn't know much about it out there, just that his dad came from there and his brother was fucked up by it. Outside... didn't seem like a good place to be.

"Sorry about that, earlier. I swear I was just... you know, surprised." He gestured for Gun to follow him to the apartment building.

"That guy's always bringing people home but they're usually of the fun variety, if you get my drift."
“I’ll only be here for tonight,” Gun said quietly in the hopes of reassuring Ronan. He knew that it had to be jarring to gain a sudden roommate, much less someone who looked like him. When Rion extended the offer, Gun thought that he might have lived alone—not with an unsuspecting roommate. It didn’t seem fair.

It surprised him to feel Ronan’s hand on his arm, however. Gun looked down, then up, unexpectedly touched by such a simple gesture of good will. There wasn’t much of that here, so he, too, was wary of a stranger’s touch but this one seemed genuine. Ronan seemed... nice.

Gun nodded and followed him, keeping the coat wrapped tight about his thin body. “Thank you,” he murmured in quiet gratitude. “I’ll try not to bother you. If there’s anything I can do while I’m here? Maybe... clean or...?” He trailed off, leaving it to Ronan to decide if he needed chores done. Gun didn’t want to take advantage of anyone, but had no money, so a service would have to suffice.
 Ronan shrugged. Or however long it took. If he was from the Outside and he looked like this, then he probably wouldn't have anywhere else to go. Judging by the short exchange between him and Rion, Ronan was guessing that Gun was only taking him up on his offer because he couldn't find anywhere else to go. Anywhere safe, anyway. There were places for a man without an Elysian education around here but... they weren't the best places and the last thing Ronan wanted to do was push the guy into living out in the slums.

"Eh," Ronan waved a hand through the air. "It's not a bother. I was just hitting a bunch of dead ends with my work, anyway."

He looked Gun over and laughed, not an unkind laugh. Just amused that this unkempt guy was offering to clean up the place--and right after Rion bitched about how Ronan left things everywhere.

"You're not cleaning anything," he said. "Rion says we're having a big cleaning day but what he really means is he's going to try and toss out all my stuff because he doesn't like how I keep it."

Which was messy, to be fair.

Opening the door to the apartment lobby, he tilted his head toward the direction of their apartment.

"We're here on the ground floor, so you're lucky. No queasy elevator rides."


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