Driven by boredom out of one of those anonymous, windowless bars with beige siding and deeply recessed doors, Aidan was then stopped outside on the sidewalk by uncertainty. There must have been some rain earlier, for though the ground wasn’t particularly wet, the black, grainy smell of pavement and its accompanying spilled car fluids was strong. He breathed it in. Streets this time of day—or night?—smelled the same just about anywhere, often with a splash of garbage and people but mostly cracked asphalt, concrete, dirt, and on the corners of streets, cigarette smoke. That was what he chose to smell, at least. He was in a selective mood. He glanced up and down the street, and started walking. It annoyed him to note how few people were out; it wasn’t that late. (The recent trends in the city news crossed his mind before another inhalation of exhaust and fallen leaves reminded him again of rain.)
His joints were well-oiled and he walked quickly, though he didn’t have anywhere to be. He had the disquieting sensation that he was out past his curfew—even more annoying. For the first time in more than a year of roommates and a parade of already occupied crash-couches, he had only an empty room waiting for him at home. And it would have to wait. First, he apparently had empty streets to attend to. No, it wasn’t late, though it was dark enough to be called dark. Sure, it was in that case too dark for sunglasses but that really wasn’t anyone’s business. It was dark enough, streetlights aside, that his loose strides blended into the shadows, dark enough that no one would think twice about him no matter how he walked, but early enough that he shouldn't be the only kid out kicking cans.
He walked, and then for a few blocks, he walked gradually slower, losing momentum. The air seemed to be the exact temperature of his skin, and it neither pushed nor pulled him anywhere. At a corner, watching a late bus roll through the intersection, he considered that boredom and drinking went together better than boredom and wandering, and that he might’ve been better served to stay longer at the Boring Bar, no matter how pan-faced and pea-brained the bartender had been. He walked, and he started to get pissed off, his shirt sticking to his back beneath his jacket. He’d been home for a few weeks now and in those weeks he had not been able to come up with a single reason for actually being here. In fact, he was starting to accrue negative reasons, non-reasons, anti-reasons, including that the only interesting thing that apparently ever happened was serial murder. In which case, he might as well go home if he was going to be here at all! Fucking pathetic.
He bitchily turned the corner in the opposite direction the bus had gone but soon was soothed by the sight of a few neon window signs. He hadn’t been down this way in a while—a long while. He lifted his head from its pouty slouch, his gait relaxing into a stroll, still slow and purposeless but more interested, now. However, it seemed he had missed boat once again as the neon of one storefront, then another, switched off. Inevitably, it was getting late enough to be called late. A shop door opened about as Aidan drew even with it. Out of pedestrian habit he looked up to see what business the door belonged to before he glanced at the person coming out of it, and when he did turn his eyes to the only other human being in the vicinity, their back was to him. Locking up, he guessed, not that he cared. No, suddenly he had better things to concern himself with, such as the height and build of the door-man, which served to draw Aidan’s eye directly to the guy’s well-dressed, well-sculpted backside. Perhaps there was a god—. Well. At the very least, the night had suddenly gained focus.
“Nice one,” he sang as he lingered lasciviously from a legal distance of about three sidewalk cracks away, halfway between stopping and carrying on. He oscillated on one heel, his face opened up around an appreciative white grin, and he pushed his dumbfuck sunglasses up to the top of his head. He helped himself to an unobstructed eyeful, groping his chest for the camera that was curled inside its neckstrap, cat-like, beneath his bed halfway across town. Right about then, he understood how drunk he in fact was.
Phoenix was bored. Bored and cold. It was a horrible combination. The shop was quiet, Cooper and Pax were otherwise occupied and he’d never quite figured out the timer system on the air conditioning. To compensate for at least one of those things he’d turned the radio up, hoping to drown out the silence, and with the silence he could drown out any thoughts which tried to sneak in. Wandering away from a half hearted reshuffling of the magazines, Phoenix hoped up onto the counter, kicking the heels of his silver hi-tops against the wooden surface which supported the table he was seated on. The rhythmic bang of his heels sounded a slightly irregular beat to the song which came onto the radio.
As another song began, he looked towards the clock and noticed that it was moving with a particular kind of slowness towards the end of the day, when he could cash up for the day, lock up and head out. Where he was going to go, he had no idea. Going home seemed like an awful idea. He didn’t know if Charlee would be home and as much as he loved Puck, he was more in the mood for human company. Leaning backwards, he freed up a bit of room so that he could get his hand into the pocket of his jeans, tugging out of his phone and checking it for messages, as though he wouldn’t have felt it vibrating against his thigh if someone had sent him a text. There was always hope though. A friend or a client, wanting a last minute meet up. Sadly for him there was nothing, and Phoenix was left to pout and decide that he would start getting ready for the end of the day, even if it was a bit earlier than usual.
With practised movements he tidied up the shop, and cashed up the takings for the day, relying completely on the calculator and checking it three times to make sure. No doubt Pax or Cooper, whoever was in the following day, would check over it for him. They both knew maths wasn’t his forte and he didn’t mind getting help from them. With the money counter, and transported to the safe, there was little more to do but collect his belongings and make sure everything was locked up. With the keys for the shop in hand, Phoenix retrieved his bag from the store room and slung it over his shoulder, and then moved through to the front of the shop, locking any doors that needed locking as he went. Finally he was able to step out into the cool evening air, gaze flitting briefly around the street before he turned around to lock the door, pondering as he did so the dilemma of where to go next if he had deemed home unacceptable.
Focused on that particular problem as he was, Phoenix was only vaguely aware of there being someone on the street with him, and it didn’t really occur to him to look and find out who it was. Someone walking past while he was locking up the shop was hardly a noteworthy or rare experience. What was slightly more unusual was the words which followed, spoken with a certain inflection Phoenix recognised. Glancing rapidly from side to side, he realised that there was no one else in the vicinity who that comment could be directed at and so he straightened and turned his head to look at his potential admirer. Eyes narrowing slightly, he noticed first the person’s gaze was focused on a particular part of his body, and secondly, that he knew that gaze, and the person behind it. It took him a moment to place the man, but only a moment, a broad smile curving his lips.
“Photographer-man.” Phoenix greeted him, satisfaction evident in those words, though he opted to play it cool, to some extent, toning down his usual exuberance. He was aware of what the photographer’s name was, but having enjoyed been called ‘shopboy’ by him before, he opted to return the favour. “I did wonder when you might appear back in my life, and here you are, a little later than I imagined.” He commented, and then glanced over his shoulder, as though trying to see his own ass, before looking up at Aidan, smiling brightly, playfully. “Did you get a good enough look? Want me to pose some more? Or wait while you get your camera?”