Logs:Dumb (Good) Luck

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Dumb (Good) Luck


Characters: Lance and Marek
Date: 2020-02-13
Summary: Lance and Marek happen to run into one another in a Barnes and Noble. One thing leads to another and it turns out they have some common interests and goals.
Disclaimers: {{{disclaimers}}}

The Barnes and Noble in Metairie is a nice one. It's a stand-alone expansive building that promises bookworms a commercial paradise to indulge the mind and the wildly varied hobbies, and get a latte if you like paying Starbucks prices in a quasi-cafe setting. Lance might like that, if he had the expendable income. That purple and gold LSU Letterman jacket with the tiger mascot does its job in distracting from the fact that the rest of the Junior's outfit is pretty well worn and really on its way to worn out. It works. But he probably would prefer to be searching the stacks in a secondhand shop.

Yet, this evening when the foot traffic starts to die around dinner time, Lance is here, working his way down the rows of religion, of all things, his arms hugging a trio of books close to his chest, one hand going out occasionally to tug at a spine, pulling it half way out to peek at the back before nudging it back in. The way he holds the books suggests either that they were tough finds, or that they'll cost him dearly to get, or that they're embarrassing in content. Maybe all three!

--

Off campus, Marek decides that he can let loose a little. On campus he tries to keep a fairly low profile, but in this Barnes and Noble, he's more willing to dress a bit better. He could probably be in a photoshoot for GQ with his outfit by Kinfolk. He wears it like he was born to it. It's dinner time, but he's at the bookstore, rather eager to pick up a special order. The young Ithaeur is a closet nerd it seems as he scans the esoteric little books that hold hints of truth rather than the usual things found out on the stacks.

Through sheer dumb luck, he happens to spot Lance. He smiles as he collects his purchases and mochachino, making his way over to his newest acquaintance and work-out buddy. "Hey, dude," he calls in advance of his arrival. "How's it going, bro?"

--

Dumb luck can turn out to be good luck. (It can also go extremely poorly, but hey, it sounds like a 50/50 shot, right?) Lance's eyes are drawn by the voice, but in the way of one that doesn't really expect to be the target of the remark. He's got his model looks but lacks the model clothes to really make him stand out. When his blue gaze lands on Marek, it's with a brief measure of surprise and an abrupt and not at all subtle shift of those books down to his side. "Oh, hey, bro. Sup." If his cheeks have a little color, maybe it's the books. Maybe it's Marek.

"I didn't expect to see you here." In fact, Lance may have picked this Barnes and Noble because it's a little farther from campus, a little farther from anyone who might know him. "I mean, I know you said finance, but I expected that to be a more numbers nerd scene than this kind," this one of words where Lance is moving to lean on the bookshelf and misses the shelf with his elbow, banging the edge against the one farther down as he gives his weight to it too early. Smooth.

--

Marek winks and teases playfully, "If you did expect me to be here, I'd have to worry that I'm being stalked." His eyes flit down to the books that are being carried at the other young man's side, a little smirk forming at his lips. His blue eyes lift back up as he takes a sip of his coffee. "I needed to get away from campus for a little bit and had some books to pick up." He shrugs idly, lifting his bag up to show -he's- not big stalker pants.

Marek giggles a little at Lance's smoothness and offers, "Relax, dude. I won't tell the swim coach what I've seen here. Your nerdiness secrets are safe with me." He takes another sip of his coffee and confides, "You never know when it comes to finance. I know a few fellas that try to use all sorts of tricks to get inside tips on when to buy or sell or what's going to hit it big and what just isn't. Back in Victorian times, for instance, a lot of the wealthy had a pet psychic to help them make decisions." He laughs a little. "Can you even imagine putting Miss Cleo in charge of the most important economic decisions of the decade?"

--

"What?" Lance, briefly distracted by straightening up a book he managed to topple as that elbow came down, doesn't seem to quite register everything Marek is telling him in the moment, but his brain is obviously tracking even when his social cues are falling flat. As he straightens the book, he loses grip on one from his stack and it goes falling to the floor. The purple cover says, _Magick in Theory and Practice_ by Aleister Crowley.

The blonde glances down toward the dropped book, cheeks renewing the slight coloring. "Shit, I'm all thumbs tonight." That has to be unusual for the EMT, but such is life sometimes. "The coach knows I'm a closet nerd. Couldn't keep the scholarship otherwise. It's kind of what they look for, I think. Brains and brawn." Notice that there's a gaping lack when it comes to social skill? Yeah, that's pretty easy to see. "Psychics, huh? Nah, I wouldn't trust Miss Cleo. The ones around here talk a good game mostly, but seems like that's all it is. Waste of money, probably." It doesn't sound like something he'd buy into, and yet, there's that book that he's casually starting to kneel to collect if Marek hasn't gotten there first.

--

Marek flits his eyes to the book, his own countenance becoming a touch more shrewd as the words and the physical evidence don't quite line up. He cocks his head as he tries to meet Lance's gaze. "Crowely, huh?" He flashes a smile after a few beats and says softly, "That one isn't too bad if you're just beginning. His take on meditation and hermeticism in general are a little limited, but as good as anyplace to start."

--

How awkward can Lance be? It should be put to some kind of test. Maybe here and now! His smile goes self-conscious, lop-sided, but after tucking the book back onto the stack he takes a moment to process just what's been said to him. "Yeah," comes with a little bit of a squint, a hesitation, even as he meets Marek's eyes, some kind of question there in that gaze. It manages to find its way to his lips. "You're... into this... stuff?" At least he manages not to say anything derogatory about it. "I'm-- having a hard time, uh, believing?" At least it appears to be an honest remark. "But I guess I'm just getting started, yeah." That much he'll admit shifting the rest of the stack so Marek can look at the similar titles, while Lance just continues to stay that nice rosy color. "Do you want-" Look, he can make it all more awkward, "Do you want to go somewhere and talk, maybe?"

--

Marek says, “There's nothing to believe until you see it," with a shrug. He does nod as a more clear answer to the question of believing though. "I've seen some stuff, so I believe, yeah." He flashes another smile and then nods, "Yeah. We can go somewhere if you want. Did you have a place in mind?" He pauses a moment, taking another look at all the titles Lance has. "I can lend you most of those if you want. I think I have all but one or two." He sighs and purses his lips. "Speaking of that, sorta, do you happen to know anyone looking for a roommate? The dorm rooms are hellasmall and I have all sorts of junk."”

--

"I've seen some shit, but nothing like this," Lance replies, lifting the books. "But... I mean, if it works... right?" He doesn't sound entirely convinced, really, but then, he does seem to be more cerebral than fanatic material. His blue gaze drifts down to the books, staring at them as though just the covers could tell him if he's crazy for even starting to think in this direction, but after a moment, his eyes come back to Marek's face. "I mean, some of the guys on the teams, maybe. I'd kill to move off campus, set up a good place, but. Money makes the world go 'round." He shrugs his shoulders. "I think there's a diner down around the corner. Or there's some bars. How old are you?" Can he get into bars? The Junior's studying the wrestler's face, expression thoughtful.

--

Marek waits until Lance's eyes meet his and says softly, "Magick is real." It's simple and with a certain gravity that perhaps only an Ithaeur can really give it. He smiles then, the seriousness of his statement evaporating with its appearance. "That's why I'm in finance. I think I'll be good at making the world go 'round." He lets a giggle slip and cuts it off abruptly, face turning red. "Umm. Diner. I won't even be 20 til October." He wrinkles his nose and sighs dejectedly. "But a burger sounds pretty awesome!" He nods towards the exit and observes Lance out of the corner of his eye.

--

Mortals are really good explaining away things that shouldn't make sense in the world they live in. Maybe Lance's mind is busy adding to his tally of people who might be having a big joke at his expense, but there's something about the way his eyes linger on Marek's that make the gravity intended sink in (a little). "Pretty solid endorsement if the man who knows the numbers believes, I guess. Maybe I should start handing you my EMT pay and seeing if you can make it magically multiply." There's humor there, but not without an edge of seriousness.

"I'll be twenty-two tomorrow, so if you need anyone to hook you up with booze or whatever," the junior offers with a slight smile. They've all been there before, right? Underage and sorely in need of what they just can't get without a good fake ID from time to time? "Let's go." He suggests, but he'll detour to the counter to pay for his books before heading out the door.

--

Marek smiles and jokes back, also with that hint of seriousness, "Even a church only charges ten percent. Ya know someone's scammin' ya if they ask for more than that for an investment. I could help you start a portfolio though. Mine does better than most." He keeps his voice fairly neutral, but the way his eyes light up and his chest puffs with pride, he's probably understating it.

"Twenty-two tomorrow? Shit dude!" He claps his new friend on the shoulder, smiling big. "Happy birthday early if I don't run into ya!" He pauses a moment as he watches Lance move to the counter and then rushes forward to intercept him. He says real soft, "Let me buy the books for you for your birthday. Or go halvesies. I'll have to do a lame gift card otherwise and that's kinda dumb."

--

Ain't no such thing as a free lunch is pretty core as philosophies go for the scholarship-maintaining blonde, and that's fairly transparent in his considering look as Marek intercepts him with that offer. There's a hesitation, and then a slow, "Alright," and the books are offered over toward the wrestler. "I like the sound of the portfolio, too. I don't know shit about finance," which Lance probably shouldn't be admitting, "But I might be able to do something real. I've got a car to sell if I can find a buyer for it."

He watches Marek through his lashes for a long moment before he adds, "Thanks. Valentine's baby, I'm pretty much overlooked for babies shooting arrows and Hallmark. If I ever kept a girlfriend, I'm pretty sure it'd be a nightmare day even more than it can be." He rolls his eyes; he's probably not wrong.

--

Marek grins big as his offer is accepted, giving the other blond's shoulder a squeeze. He very nearly squees, but manages to keep it private, for just the two of him. "Awesome," he chirps as he ponies up a credit card to pay for the stack of books. As the clerk settles up, he says to Lance, "When you're real bored, I'll teach you what you need to know. There are lots of things out there now that letcha get in with just a little upfront. It isn't like in ancient times, like the nineties, when you needed a grand to get in on a mutual fund or dumb crap like that."

Everything settled, he presents the bag to Lance with an affectionate smile and gives a smacking peck on the cheek. "Happy Birthday and happy Valentines, bro." He winks and gives the other guy a nudge before heading towards the door. "I gave up dating girls in tenth grade. Dudes are simpler until it's family time someday. But now? Shit dude, we're all a hot mess. One hundred? I worry sometimes my left hand is getting jealous of the right. What girl needs that sort of mess?"

--

For what it's worth, Lance seems like he's following along with what the finance major tells him. He nods along, flashing a smile at the clerk as he moves to lean on the counter nearby while Marek makes the necessary exchange of commerce for goods. "I don't even know what a mutual fund really is," he admits with a shrug. It's not his field, after all, and probably he's heard the term thrown around, but to really know what it is or how it works? Obviously, here is a student who could benefit from Marek's expertise.

If Marek thought Lance was blushing before, though, the return with the bag and the kiss that comes along with it has his cheeks proving they were, in no way, topped out before. Even the tips of the swimmer's ears turn pink, an automatic furtive glance sweeping to see who just saw that. He manages an awkward smile for the clerk who's looking at them like they're adorable. It takes him a moment before he can follow in Marek's footsteps, though his long stride has him catching up in short order. "Must be nice to be... uh," what are the right words here? Lance never really has the right words, just the blunt words: "Well, to know what you want. I guess." He really is guessing. He's squinting and everything. "Do you have a ride or do you mind walking? I took the bus." Maybe that's an attempt to change the subject from something that has him continuing to be pink-tinged while his eyes slide to steal glances at the wrestler. It must not be a complete departure from the topic though because he does add, in a way that might seem impulsive, "Hands are a lot less maintenance than some chicks, that's for sure. Are dudes really less?" There's a beat before he adds. "I don't really date. Just fuck."

--

Marek smiles and shrugs a little. "Knowing what we want and being... um... dogged about getting it is something of a family trait I guess." His smile turns a little apologetic as he says softly, "Just bap me in the nose with a newspaper if I come on too strong, kay?"

He seems fairly content with walking as the two stride along companionably. "I don't really drive." He coughs and flits a glance Lance's way. "Truth is, I had a driver growing up, so... I don't actually know how to drive." He pulls a face and rolls his eyes. "Lame, huh?" He grins though and pulls out his phone triumphantly. "Fortunately, I do have Uber!" He considers if guys are any better and then shrugs. "Most of the time their wants are in line with mine, so there's less... conflict of interest I guess." He pauses for another few steps before he muses, "I don't know that dating is really any different than what we're doing now, really. We hang out. We talk. We go eat. Only real difference is that if it's a date, you're probably getting blown after dinner." He shrugs idly. "Not that it would be off the table when it's not a date, so I dunno. Maybe I just don't get what a date is supposed to be after all." He laughs a little and shoulder bumps Lance. "Just fucking is easier on the portfolio. I went to this party last night and... whoa." He gives his head a shake and sighs wistfully. "I guess I managed to get a sniff of that wild side you were talking about at the gym."

--

If Lance got the joke, he might even laugh. As it is, the pattern of canine-language goes right over his pretty blonde head. It is a moment in coming, but after clearing his throat, the oh-so-human lifts a single shoulder in some kind of shrug. "You're fine." Not too strong? That's probably what he means. "I'm-" That seems to be the beginning of something that requires the Junior to pause and think through what he wants to say. "There was this dude, and I-" Maybe he'll get through this sentence before the Uber driver arrives. "Anyway," does not sound like the end of the previous sentence but he does add, "I'm trying to figure out... stuff." One of those.

"Having a driver seems cool. Wish I'd had a driver as a kid," he plays it off well, but there's a touch of envy in his expression, however briefly. "I drive but I don't wanna dent the car if I'm gonna get a good price for it. I'm pretty sure I read those things depreciate like crazy as soon as they're off the lot." He lifts a hand to push his fingers through his hair. He bites his lower lip, perhaps thinking through that rest.

"I dunno, dating usually means shit like flowers and remembered monthaversaries and exclusivity. Maybe it mean something different for dudes." That causes a little crease between Lance's eyebrows, but he's distracted pretty quickly by the next thing in his mental cue. "A wild party, huh? Sounds like a good time." Did he skip something? His hands are in his jacket pockets and he's looking a little awkward again by the time he adds, "I mean," as though this were perfectly in line with the flow of the conversation, which it's not, "I'm kind of of the opinion that getting blown should never be off the table." There are probably some reasonable limits to that statement, but he doesn't need to run down them now, not when he can flick a glance toward Marek, a little conflicted, but more gauging of the finance major's expression.

--

Marek sneaks a glance as the Junior works the first bits out in his head. He frowns a little in concern and offers softly, "Well, if you ever need to talk it through, no judgment, kay?"

He nods at the wisdom of the older boy, shoving his hands in his pockets as they wait for the ride. He glances at the phone and says, "Just a few more minutes." He then nods and says, "Yeah. Cars aren't really good investments. New cars anyway. Classic cars can be. Like on all them history channel shows."

He listens to Lance's thoughts on relationships and then smiles broadly as the party is brought up again. At the jump back to blow jobs, Marek smiles and offers a furtive little wink. "It's agreed then. Never off the table." Then, Lance is perhaps saved as the Uber driver pulls up. Marek opens the back door and slides to the far side so Lance can sit in back with him should he so desire. He does the amiable chat with the driver, confirming who he is and where they're going as Lance settles in. After they pull away, he flits his attention to Lance and asks, "What's your favorite thing the diner serves, dude?"

--

Lance's tongue flicks out to lick his lips before biting that lower one again, all mild nerves manifest. "Yeah," he manages in answer to the transfer's kind offer. Judging by the way he says it, the way he steals another glance at Marek, he might try (try being the operative word, given his skills with words on the whole), but not now. Not while they're in the Uber. The only other thing he says before Marek gets into the car is, "I didn't buy this car, so should turn a profit on it anyhow." He says it as though this doesn't raise the many questions it really must. But there's an Uber to get into, so...

The blonde slides in beside the wrestler and after a moment, one of his long legs adjusts a little closer to Marek's, but not quite touching. After another moment, the jock's blue eyes are glancing over to the wrestler, his expression still thoughtful. When the question comes, his shoulders find that favored expression: the shrug. "Their breakfast plates are pretty good. A little greasy, but a lot of food for cheap." This matters in Lance's world. "The eggs are pretty good protein." Even if whatever makes up the rest can't necessarily be credited with any kind of nutritional benefits. "I've had their burgers before. They're alright." And also inexpensive. He doesn't say it, but it's easy enough to guess that that's a theme here. "So what kind of place are you going to look for? Or does it really come down to finding the right roommate?"

--

The comment about the car does draw a glance, but the Uber is neither the time or the place.

Lance's leg in such close proximity gives Marek the nervous shakes for a moment, his knee vibrating up and down until he finally glances out the window and presses his leg lightly against the Junior's. "I'm a pretty strict carnivore," he says with a giggle, hearing about the eggs and burgers. "I get scrawny if I don't eat enough protein," he admits with a sigh. He flits his gaze back over to the other blond, giving his leg the tenderest of presses. "I'd kind of like a condo with a hot tub, personally, but that's not... typical, I guess, for college students." He worries his lip for a moment. "I really want a roommate or two though. Throw some parties, maybe yaknow? Like a frat, only with less... dumb-asses. So I guess it's about the right roommate. I'd die if I had to live alone." And by the look on his face, sad and earnest, he might just believe that in a literal fashion, rather than hyperbole. "I don't do alone well at all."

--

It would be hard for Lance not to notice the little jumps of the leg so close to his, but he doesn't move his away, not even when the younger man's leg is touching his, even if he does get a slight touch of color to his cheeks.

"Wrestler and all that. Don't you guys sometimes have to do some crazy diets? I just need to eat enough of mostly the right things. A lot of protein shakes really. It's expensive, but better bang for buck." He glances over at Marek thoughtfully. "Not typical, but sure sounds good. Parties. Hot tubs. Sounds like living the dream if you ask me. If you can, you should." He shrugs. "Maybe if the portfolio you set up for me takes off, I can afford to throw in with you. My room's tiny in the dorms and my roommate sucks."

His eyes cast out the window, nodding his head, "That's it up there." It's as much for Marek as the driver. Delphine's Diner. It really was as close as Lance said. "I hang with the team sometimes, and I've got some bros and stuff, but, not really any good friends." There are reasons for that, but he doesn't go into them. "If you wanna hang around-?" He lets the offer hang, shrugging like it doesn't matter. Maybe it doesn't? Life is easier as a loner in Lance's experience.

--

Marek mutters sourly, "I wish my roommate would suck." He glances out the window and gripes, "He just snores and doesn't believe in deodorant." He peeks over and flashes a grin, but then the place with the food is within sight. He nudges over, pressing a little tighter as he excitedly moves more towards the middle so he can see past the driver better. "Sweet! Food!" he crows with a whoop. His face flushes some then and the gives Lance an apologetic smile. "Sorry. I'm... um. I guess I'm hungry." He clears his throat and then shrugs. "I don't have hardly any friends. Just... well... you, really." He thinks a moment and almost says something, but then the driver is pulling over to settle up and dump his passengers out so he can get to the next ones. Marek pulls out a ten to tip the dude and then urges Lance out. "If ya end up moving in wif me, you're in for a treat. I'm a pretty good cook!"

--

If Lance chokes a little bit, he covers it convincingly (NOT AT ALL) with his coughing fit. His face is red and he's looking real grateful for the fresh air as he slides out of the car, bag of books and all. Maybe he was just too busy coughing to notice the exuberance for their arrival to the proximity of food, or maybe that doesn't really bother him.

He gives a nod toward the Uber driver and reaches to clap Marek on the shoulder. "Then I guess you'd better get cracking on all those number wizard ideas so I can afford to move out of the dorms." There are so many good reasons, it would seem, for Lance to find a way to afford a new living situation. Briefly, a frown flickers on his face, but whatever it was doesn't seem to be connected to the here and now, but that means it's easily dismissed as an issue for Future Lance to have to deal with, if the road even ever turns the direction where it becomes necessary.

He leads the way into the please-seat-yourself diner and to a booth whose vinyl seat is torn in a couple of places but still serviceable. At least the service is quick in getting to them, taking their order and getting them set up with drinks. (Water for Lance - he's exciting that way.) Only then does he say, "So if you had a driver as a kid and want a condo with a hot tub, why're you on scholarship?" Marek did say he was on scholarship, right? Blue eyes are on Marek's face, but the inquisitiveness now carries an edge of something else along with it. Interest? Maybe that. Something more than the casual attention of getting to know a new bro. After all, suddenly, Lance is contemplating a shared living space.

--

Marek just giggles at the coughing, red faced Junior as he tumbles out of the vehicle behind him. He does offer, "I bet your scholarship would provide the money for your share of rent off campus instead of the dorm. Most have to in case you're, like, married or whatever." After that, he enters the diner with Lance, his own books in tow.

He slides into the booth across from Lance, leg stretching until the toe of his shoes are alongside the toe of Lance's. He shrugs at the question of the scholarship and says, "I earned it. Honestly, my grades weren't good enough to get into much of anywhere other than the local CSU and that place is miserable." He sips his own water, although his is all fancy with a slice of orange added per his request. He leans forward and whispers, "I'm in finance 'cause any idiot can do it." He grins and chirps, "Even me!" He takes another sip and leans back. "I sort of screwed High School up royally. Too many fights. Too many skips. I was going through... a... phase, I guess. The only good thing I did was win a lot at wrestling. After being on the CSU team a semester and getting some okay grades, other schools were willing to give me a shot... so long as their team wasn't so great and they really could use a 149 pounder that has mad skills at getting other boys on their back." He winks at the last bit, grinning cheesily.

--

Lance's blue eyes stay on Marek's face while the other kid talks, his foot adjusting but not actually moving away from Marek's though there's a bit of a telltale touch of blush again on his cheeks. When the finance major leans forward, Lance does too, his brows going up at the admission. When he settles back, there's a different kind of thoughtful look on the jock's face; he has quite the repertoire of expressions for while his brain is at work. "Maybe I shouldn't trust you with my money after all," he says, with a pointed lift of his brows, but the smirk doesn't actually say it's out of the question, just more food for thought.

"You should always do what your talents-" the junior starts to add, until his phone sounds one of those awful ringtones. It's not the obnoxiously cute kind, but rather the sort designed to make the entire crew of a submarine spring to their posts. "Shit," is a swear under Lance's breath, his hand fish-hooking his cheap phone out of his pocket and swiping the screen. "Fuck." Then there's the awkward shuffle for his wallet even as he taps out some kind of message, his companion momentarily all but forgotten. He drops a couple bills on the table, enough to cover the food, all the food that was ordered before he's sliding off the bench, mind already far ahead of him.

His blue eyes have a focused edge when they finally drop to Marek once he's standing. "Sorry to bail without those happy endings." Can he make jokes at a time like this? Is it a joke even? "But I've gotta go. Maybe I'll be able to afford a place off campus after all if this pans out, though. Text me sometime." Then, his jaw is setting as he heads for the door, not wasting any time as he breaks into a sprint down the block just outside. Maybe he left his books on purpose so he could run faster? Maybe he just forgot. Either way, hopefully Marek will notice them on the bench and Lance can grab them from his new friend later.

--

The young werewolf is nothing if not perceptive. He does see those books after the hasty exit of his companion. Marek doesn't ask any awkward questions, his own life as an Uratha giving him a certain sympathy for hasty retreats with little explanation. It's rather the reason for some of his troubles in High School. He just offers a little wave, an understanding smile and a soft, "Later, dude." Since it's already paid for, he'll make sure that there are no prisoners taken when the food arrives.