The silence was beautiful to Garrett. He was in a small coffee shop that was loud and bustling around him, but Garrett was in his own little world in complete silence. The book he was currently reading, Divergent, had his full attention. Garrett barely noticed as a silhouette appeared before him at the table and demanded his attention with words.
"I…Okay," Garrett offered to his new tablemate. Garrett completely understood avoiding people, it was what he did best, so he wasn’t about to push this new person away. "So who are you hiding from," Garrett asked, looking around the cafe. He dared to close his book, but kept a finger in the page that he was reading as to not lose his spot.
With a sigh of relief, Robert placed his drink on the table, giving the man across from him an appreciative smile. His eyes flickered to the novel the stranger held in his hands before returning to the man’s face as he spoke again. With a cringe, the hooded man cocked his head in the direction of the two crones who had been harassing him as of late. "The two elderly women in the cheap velour tracksuits." Robert whispered, a shiver running down his spine as the shrill voice of one of the women declared excitedly about her hopes that the young raven haired man would be sporting his hot pants that day.
"They’re not hot pants.” He said quickly, face tinging a rose color at the topic they were discussing. Turning to scowl at the pair of oblivious silver haired, lanky women. They were near their eighties, hair neatly combed back, both dressed in brightly colored velour tracksuits and a fair amount of make up decorating their wrinkled faces. Robert let out a frustrated huff of air, as the two went on about how well those pants managed to emphasize certain parts of his lower body.
Turning back to his tablemate, Robert grabbed his cup bringing it to his mouth as he fixed his eyes on the book the other man held. “They’re compression shorts.” Whether or not the other man knew what he was on about didn’t matter to Robert; the declaration was mostly for his own benefit, restoring some of the dignity the two shriveled up women were slowly stripping away from him. He took a sip of his drink, shifting stiffly to gesture at the book the other held. "Sorry, I didn’t mean to interrupt. What’s it about?"
Sydney laughed as the panicked looking man sit down across from her. He kept looking back towards the counter, as if someone over there was going to kill him. She raised an eyebrow at him. “Nice to meet ya,” she said in her thick New York accent. She was amused by the man in front of her. “I’m Sydney.”
The tension in Robert’s shoulders eased a tad as the woman made no attempt to outs him from either the table nor to his tormentors. "I’m Robert," He said, giving Sydney a strained smile. "It’s a pleasure to make your acquaintance."
Eyes darting in the direction of the two chattering crones, Robert fiddled with his hood, making sure the two elder women wouldn’t be able to spot his face as they went about ordering their drinks. "So— ah— have you been here long?" His voice was strained, the stress of being discovered still eating at him.
Turning his gaze back to the woman across from him, Robert gave her a nervous smile, eyes widening slightly as the two lanky women passed behind him, discussing with one another about which window they ought to sit at to get the best view of tall, dark, and leggy. One of them let out a shrill laugh, causing Robert to cringe. His brows rose worriedly as the woman told various crude remarks about what exactly she wanted to do to the young man’s derriere.
Realising he was frowning, Robert straightened up, clearing his throat as he shrugged. "Heh," He shifted nervously, shooting Sydney his best attempt at a smile that he could muster in his deeply disturbed state. "They’re… ah, pretty loud. Aren’t they?”
"Pretend you know me," Robert hissed out as he slid into the empty seat across from the stranger. The hood from his rain jacket was up, shielding his face from the rest of the coffee shop patrons and from the two women he was hiding from. Placing his drink on the table before him, the raven haired man gave his tablemate a pleading pitiful look, his body tensing as the croaky old voices of two elderly women neared. "Or not— just please don’t give me away.”
He hoped his tablemate would comply, and spare him any humiliating sexual harassment the two crones have taken to showering him in. The last thing he wanted today was to be groped and pinched by two eighty year olds.
Noah leaned against the side of one of the shops of the center he worked at, a cigarette balancing between his lips as he took a long drag and held it in for a moment before letting the smoke exit his lungs in a slow breath. He sighed, feeling his nerves relax a bit as the nicotine made its way through his system. He hated long work days, the middle of the week always seeming to drag. Not only was he tired for having had taken Melanie out the night before to some school safety thing, he had also had a rough morning with a few transients that had been hanging around the property as of late. He was glad to finally be on his break, feeling like any longer without a cigarette and he was about ready to strangle someone. He was cooling off more and more though, as he closed his eyes and allowed himself to enjoy the sweet tar burn as he inhaled another lungful of smoke.
He let the smoke snake out of his nostrils, closing his eyes to keep from getting any of it in them. “Shit..” he muttered to himself, realizing that he still had a long day to go. He loved Melanie with all his heart, he really did, but sometimes Noah wondered to himself why he ever decided to take on the whole parenting thing. He could have easily chose not to give a damn about the child, like Marley had, but just the mere thought of it made Noah frown. He might have been tired all the time, frustrated and even feeling like he was on the verge of his breaking point at times, he couldn’t deny that Melanie had really made him into a better person. Plus, not to mention that he got to go home later on today and sneak some of her candy. Yeah, parenting had it’s perks sometimes.
Opening his eyes once more, Noah’s gaze landed on a few passer-bys. He watched as people passed him by on the sidewalk, going about their shopping, completely ignoring him. He was used to it by now though, and didn’t much really care. In fact, he preferred it. The only time anyone paid attention to him on the job was when there was trouble going down that he had to settle. Plus, he much preferred be ignored than to being looked down upon with judgement and disgust like he was back when he was using. He may still not look like the guy next door, but at least he no longer was a dirty, sketchy-looking junkie. Noah took one final drag of his cigarette, before dropping it to the floor and crushing it out with the heel of his boot. When he raised up his head again, letting out the puff of smoke, he didn’t realize until it was too late that someone had moved into his close vicinity and the billow of smoke moved right into their face.
"Oh shit, I’m sorry about that…" He apologized quickly, a frown pulling at the corners of his mouth in annoyance with himself. The last thing he wanted today, out of all days, was to get bitched out by someone because he wasn’t paying close attention to his surroundings.
There was something about the closely grouped shops, crowded pathways, and stale commercial air that always threw Robert’s sense of direction off, leaving him feeling light headed, dizzy, and displaced. Barbara used to joke that it was simply a male genetic fault— that men weren’t built to walk the halls of malls, shopping centers, and gallerias. That, in Robert’s humblest of opinions, was a complete load of shit. He was fairly certain that his inability to cope with such places had less to do with his genetics and more to do with some troubling childhood event— one that he thankfully can’t seem to recall, nor does he wish to recall it at all.
With an impatient sigh, Robert glanced up from his daughter’s scribbled wish list, eyes scanning the map before him. He frowned, wrinkles forming on the bridge of his nose. Why on Earth places like these enjoyed investing in unhelpful minimalist maps was beyond him. This was the 21st century; after all, couldn’t they install a touch screen map that could help him narrow down just which shops he ought to go to?
Grinding his teeth, Robert glanced around him, eyes searching for someone who could possibly be an employee here. He hated asking for help, but what he hated even more was having to be in places like these longer than he needed. Bruising his masculinity for five minutes sounded far better than wandering around, stopping every ten to either regain his bearings or to empty his stomach.
Icy eyes fell on a tall brunette, clothed in what appeared to be a security guard’s uniform, just some ways off. Robert said a short prayer of thanks, eyes flickering upwards as he folded the list, slipping it into the back pocket of his jeans. Stepping forward, a swarm of black dots bled into his vision, causing the raven haired man to come to a jarring stop. One deep breath, two deep breaths— Robert waited patiently, fists clenching as the darkness crept away and the shop fronts were visible once more.
He took another breath, moving forward carefully, towards the man who could hopefully send him off in the right direction and cut his time spent in this miserable place in half. Robert came to a gradual stop beside the man, forcing himself to focus on the other man’s actions to ease his dizziness. And despite his eyes having watched him take one last puff of the cigarette before discarding, he wasn’t expecting the other man to turn blow it out in his direction.
Taking a step back, Robert gave the other man a pained smile. “Ahm, No— it’s alright,” he forced out, covering a cough by clearing his throat. “A lung full of second hand smoke is better than the pungent smell of crony capitalism that seems to pervade the atmosphere here.” He slipped his hands into his cardigan, eyes flickering down to the disposed cigarette as he attempted to find the words to explain his situation without sounding like a ditz.
"I…" He shifted his gaze to meet the other man’s, frowning at his own behavior. "Sorry, I hope I’m not interrupting your break, but do you happen to know where I can find a shop that sells kids toys? I don’t mean computerized toys, rather toy… toys." He finished awkwardly, frown deepening. The appropriate words were at the tip of his tongue, but for the moment he just couldn’t seem to figure them out.
I take it that you’ve been doing some extensive research, haven’t you? We have a wedding to plan, and that has to come first. So, it will most likely be a lot more time than you initially expected. After the wedding, we can look into a surrogate, meet her and make sure the child can, well… be like you. So, how long would that take? A few months to plan a wedding, so, three. About, lets see… four months to find a surrogate? Then the estimated twenty months, and lets add in two for paperwork and legal issues. Brings us to a little over two years. Sounds like that can be managed, don’t you think?
I suppose so… what do you mean when you say you want to make sure the child is like me.
I only live to make my partner happy, Robert. If you want more children, then we can have more children. However, you have to wait until we get married first. Is this something you can hold out on? I-I’m not sure about the whole twelve-kids thing, but we can go as the wind takes us.
I can wait… but just so you know: the average wait time for domestic adoption is 14.8 months, 9 months for international adoption, and an average cumulative total of twenty months to find the right surrogate, ensure she’s pregnant, carries the child to term, and sort out the legal issues. So, no matter which route we go or when we start, it’ll be some time before our family can grow.
… But a baby? Damn, Robert. How long have you been thinking about this for? We’re not married yet and you’re already considering children? I-I mean, it… It’s not a bad thing that you’re thinking about our future and all — god knows I haven’t thought that far into it. Uhm… but whatever makes you happy, Robert? I mean, what do you want me to say?
Look, I don’t want to force you into anything but I’ve always been a family man— I’ve always pictured myself with seven to twelve kids. I don’t want to bring kids into this world if you don’t want them too. So, do you want them?
A b…baby? You want a child? How? Adoption?
Well, yes— I mean, we could go about finding a surrogate but I doubt we’d ever come to an agreement as to whose sperm we’d use— unless of course, we find a woman who is willing to donate two eggs, each one fertilized by one of us, and she carries them both to term. We could have twins—of sorts, biologically linked. Adoption would be nice too but, I like the idea of them being genetically tied to us and one another…