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The Good, The Bad and The Dirty

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Why of all times did it have to be winter, when he chose to be kicked? Why of all things did he have to leave his phone and money behind? It was better than anything, it was better than keep living with his tyrannical father, who would control and mentally screw him over and over. Although this man didn’t approve of the way his own son choose his life, the way his own son chose to love. 

Rean Osborne wasn’t into girls, he never had been. He was into guys, and that was ever since High School. 

Now he had nothing but 50 mira in his person. But they were still enough for Rean to actually have a phone call at a nearby phone booth. He’d call Elliot of all people, maybe he would understand. He had to understand his situation. 

His heart beating, his breath being on uncontrollable speed, and with shivering hands he dialed Elliot’s number that Rean knew by heart.

“Hello…?”

Just when he thought Elliot would pick up, Rean heard a strange voice instead, and first thought it’d be Gaius, Elliot’s boyfriend, who would have picked up the call for him. But no, that voice was not even Gaius’s at all. 

Shit, did he mess up? He looked at the screen, only to realize that he messed up a number and chose a 3 instead of a 6.

“Hello…?” said the voice again, this time it sounded a bit irritated.

“Uh, hello! Sorry, wrong number! I meant to call my friend but I messed up the number and… I only had these 50 mira to call and no phone and—” Rean kept babbling, trying to make a point but was then interrupted by the voice.

“Okay, kiddo. First, calm down. Secondly, come to the restaurant called “Golden Rooster”, then go to the entry next to it. You may find a bell labeled ‘Armbrust’. Then just ring the bell and I’ll let you in. I’ll help you.”

Rean couldn’t believe what he just heard. This gentleman sure sounded generous and all but… could he really trust a stranger like that? No, this wasn’t the right time nor the right place to ponder about Rean’s recurring trust issues. He’d take the offer and hope it wasn’t a trap.

“T-thank you so much! I know where the restaurant is!” he said “I’m on my way!”

With that being said, he hung up, grabbed all his luggage and walked out of the phone booth.

Golden Rooster. He remembered it being a calvardian restaurant, but he never had eaten there before. 

He barely knew the place though, and yet he knew most of Heimdallr. But that was honestly not the biggest issue. The district was perhaps one of the low-life ones, he could remember that at least.

Rean had this bad feeling that the guy was probably living under the worst conditions ever; he had heard things of the people living here, but Rean wasn’t one to judge quickly. He really couldn’t enter a tram since he didn’t even have his ticket with him. He was cursing his father for kicking him out, especially during winter. 

It was cold, Rean’s hands were hurting already (though it was more from the carrying than from the cold) and he hoped to arrive to the street very soon. 

As soon as he saw the sign of the restaurant, his lips curled up into a weak smile of relief.Rean had finally reached the destination, and now he had to spot the bell button with the… what was the name? Armbrust?

He pressed the button twice, hoping for an answer soon. He took a quick look at the exterior of the restaurant, and looked through the window where he could see one of the workers standing behind a counter. So it was a calvardian restaurant… and he couldn’t remember ever eating in there, but walking past it now and then. It looked quite neat and clean from what he could see, and if he had the money he sure would try it.

Rean wasn’t realizing that someone was standing next to him, he was too much focused on the restaurant.

“Are you going to keep looking at the restaurant waiting for me to come out and pick you up?” a voice suddenly came out, and when Rean looked around, he could see a man standing in next to him. 

Oh, he sure was attractive…

The man was a few rege taller, had white hair with a mullet falling on his right shoulder and four earrings, where three of them were more rings while the fourth one, who was pierced right on the earlobe, reminded him of a gemstone. He was wearing a black hooded jacket, underneath he donned a black tank top. 

The man looked at the bags that Rean was carrying until now, then grabbed one of them. “Now follow me. It’s cold outside and I really don’t want to catch a cold.”

With a nod, Rean grabbed his other belongings and followed the stranger. He didn’t seem like a creepy person, at least judging by the looks… but even then Rean should not judge a book by its cover. This man could still be bad news after all.

The man opened the door to his apartment, letting Rean in first. “Now get in, and please take off your shoes.”

Rean nodded, then entered the apartment before taking off his shoes. When the man entered as well, he could hear tiny meowing from the distance, then saw a little tabby cat walking up at him. 

The cat looked quite small and had very soft fur. It seemed quite friendly to him the moment it was rubbing its head against his leg.

The man could just snort at the scene. “Seems like Poptart is already taking a liking on you”, he said, then walked past Rean with the bag and dropped it at a nearby corner of the living room as soon as he left the hallway. 

Rean followed the man immediately and dropped the bag next to the other one. He took a quick look and noticed that the living room did look a bit messy, but he really couldn’t complain that much. If he knew the man a bit better he would take the opportunity to clean up, although he really didn’t want to sound too finicky. 

“Take off your jacket if you like, my place is warm enough for you to get rid of it” the man offered. 

Rean hesitated for a bit, as he really didn’t want to stay for a lifetime. “Ah, I just… want to have that phone call and leave immediately…” he said with a frown.

The man looked at him, quirking his brow, then took out his phone from his pocket. “Here” the man said, handing Rean the phone. 

Rean took the phone, then dialed the number, and this time he doubled checked what he dialed, so he wouldn’t do the mistake again. 

Rean waited for Elliot to pick up his phone, but it surely didn’t happen…

“Hi, this is Elliot Craig. I am currently not availa—”

Rean heaved a sigh when he removed the phone from his ear, pressing the red circle on the screen before returning it to the man. 

What now? He couldn’t just stay here, at a stranger’s place. He knew that he couldn’t ask Gaius either because he was in Nord for some family business. And Elliot? He could have been busy with music school and wasn’t picking up because of that. 

The man was watching him, then heaved a sigh. “How about… you take off your jacket now and sit down? You seem totally fucked up right now, kiddo.”

Rean looked back at the man, and nodded. He took off his jacket and sat down on the couch, placing the jacket next to him. The couch surely looked worn out and old, as if it had survived several wars.

There were so many thoughts in his head right now, and he couldn’t help but feel helpless and distressed. 

“I… he was the only one who could help me…” he muttered, more to himself than the stranger. 

Rean was too busy blaming himself he didn’t realize that Pop tart was sitting next to him, meowing, then placing a paw on his thigh. Rean looked at the cat, then reached out to pet her. Pop tart was purring at the touch, she really seemed to enjoy it.

“I’m Crow, by the way”, the man said, “Crow Armbrust.”

Rean then looked at the man, who was standing next to the couch, looking back at him and holding out a can of soda.

Rean declined by shaking his head. “Ah… I’m… Rean…”

Crow nodded, then opened the can to take a sip from it. “Only Rean? ‘kay, then. Now tell me what happened. It’s not very common to see someone carrying all his belongings.”

Rean looked away, then at Pop tart.

“My… father kicked me out… because I came out as gay to him…” he really didn’t know why he was openly telling it to someone like Crow, a stranger. Perhaps because he was hoping that he’d understand Rean. “He called me a disgrace, and I was not worthy…”

“Ah, the typical homophobic answer… fucking sucks, man” Crow then said, “don’t worry, kiddo. I am pretty much gay myself, so you don’t have to worry about me kicking you out. Besides…if you don’t have any other place to stay right now, you can crash here.”

Rean looked at Crow, widening his eyes as he heard the offer.

Was he for real? Did Crow really let a guy like Rean stay at his apartment? They barely knew each other!

“B-but I don’t even know you…”

Crow chuckled at that, then took another sip from his soda. “Doesn’t mean we won’t have the opportunity to get to know each other. I won’t bite you or anything, kiddo.”

“P-please don’t call me ‘kiddo’... I’m twenty…” Rean said with a frown.

“And I’m twenty-two. See, I’m older. But fine, I guess. I won’t call you that anymore.”

Pop tart was poking Rean’s arm as if she was asking for more pets.

“Oh, and that’s Poptart. Or Poppy” Crow said, “I hope you don’t mind cats.”

Rean looked at Poptart, petting her again. “Oh, no…I never had a cat but she seems quite nice. She also has… a soothing presence.”

Crow couldn’t help but chuckle at that. “Heh… that’s Poppy for you, she makes you feel better whenever you had a shitty day. Girl knows.” 

Rean’s lips curve into a soft smile, looking at Poptart again, who gently poked his arm with her paw, asking for more pets.

“Oooh, now you got her into something” he laughed, then looked at him again.

Rean's hand was brushing over Poptart's soft fur, and the cat purred at every pet she received from the boy. Rean's smile didn't fade, and his gaze was still fixed on Poptart, until she managed to climb onto his lap, then laid down on it. 

"You should surrender, you won't be able to get up for a while now" Crow pointed out, then looked at the clock, that was hanging over the couch. "I'm getting hungry. What about you?"

Rean was focused on Poptart's sleepy face he didn't even pay attention to Crow actually asking him something. It took him at least a few seconds to return from his trance, then looked at Crow, furrowing his brows.

"I-I'm sorry, what?"

Crow rolled his eyes. "Are you hungry?" he repeated his question.

"I— uh... a little bit."

"How much is 'a little bit'?" Crow kept on going.

"I haven't eaten much today, but I'm not feeling that hungry..." Rean replied.

"That's code word for 'you're starving but depression doesn't want you to show it'" Crow retorted.

"Wh— I am not starving !" Rean countered, frowning at Crow for pointing that out. 

Crow handed him a flyer, that was fixed on the pin board. When Rean looked at it, he realized that it was from the restaurant below. "Oh... I guess... living here really does have its benefits but... I don't have any money on me."

"It's on me, idiot. At least until you can earn your own money."

Rean looked up at Crow, who was looking back at him. "I... I cannot accept this."

"You can and you will " Crow insisted, "I am not letting you go to sleep with an empty stomach."

"That's...—" Rean just groaned, then browsed the flyer for something that was actually suiting for his taste.

"The chop suey doesn't sound so bad..." Rean finally said, then looked up at Crow, who gave him a not. 

"It's the shop's specialty, to be honest. Then it'll be two chop suey... coming right up!" Crow grabbed his wallet from a drawer and put it in the back pocket of his pants. Before he left the apartment, he looked back at Rean, lifting his hand. 

"Oh and... please don't do anything stupid while I'm away, ‘kay?" he winked at the raven, forming his hand into a pistol, before leaving.

Rean did definitely catch that and huffed at this. "Was he trying to flirt with— oh, Aidios... no" he shook his head, then looked down at Poptart. He tried not to move too much when he placed the flyer on the couch table, then sighed. 

"Your master is crazy, Poptart..." he muttered, "But I'm... glad he's keeping me here until I can reach Elliot..." he heaved a sigh, wondering what Elliot had been up to and what'd take him so long to call back. He wouldn't really bother too much with it right now. As long as he'd get along with Crow, it should be okay. Crow was okay... and also very handsome.

"Stop it, Rean. For Aidios's sake, that man's probably not even single!" he muttered under his teeth, then sighed while he leaned back on the couch once more, staring at the ceiling. 

Poptart then walked to the kitchen, Rean’s gaze was following her and heard her meowing. Rean got up from the couch and followed her to the kitchen. Poptart was staring at her empty food bowl. 

“Ah, are you hungry, girl… boy? Wait… Crow said you’re a girl, right?”

Rean would ask Crow later... or remember it again. Now he had to get the food for the Poptart, who as looking at Rean, her tail wiggling. 

"Ah... where does he keep your food-- ah! There!"

After a bit of browsing through the cupboards, he found what he needed. It was a can of cat food, not even the cheapest kind... Crow really was treating the cat like royalty...

Rean opened the can and put the wet food into Poptart's bowl, who started eating it immediately. "There you go, Poptart.." Rean said, his lips curling into a soft smile. His gaze then went to the empty water bowl. "Hm... he doesn't give you milk, right? It's... not even good to begin with... cats are lactose intolerant..." he muttered, mainly to himself. 

Once the water bowl is filled, Rean gave the cat a gentle pat before returning to the living room. 

It wouldn't take too long for Crow to come back with dinner.

----------------------------------------------------

"Oh... so you want to become a history teach?" Crow asked while putting some food in his mouth.

Rean nodded. "Yeah... I... kind of wanted to have a degree for something and history was something I've been interested to for a while now" he admitted.

Crow nodded, chewing his food down, then swallowed. "I see, I see."

"What about you, Crow? Did you go to college?"

Crow shook his head. "Nah. I finished high school and pursued what I wanted to do my entire life. I'm a rockstar."

Rean nearly choked on the Aloe Vera tea he was drinking. He started coughing, but managed to catch some air afterward."

"A rockstar!?" Rean repeated Crow's last words.

Crow furrowed his brows. "I'm kinda surprised you didn't actually recognize me or heard of me or my name. I'm a singer and guitarist of the band named the HOUNDS. We're about to celebrate our big debut in Erebonia and are planning to have a concert in the coming weeks at Dreichels Plaza."

Rean didn't know if he should feel embarrassed for not knowing Crow or his band. Perhaps it was the influence of his father and how he treated the pop culture nowadays. Rean wasn't really allowed to listen to many things on the radio aside from classical music.

"I uh... wasn't really allowed to listen to any of the music that's playing on the radio nowadays and my father was only allowing classical music at the house."

"Huh..." Crow blinked at him. "Man... sure sounds rough. Who's your father anyway?"

Rean swallowed. Should he really tell him? Of course, he was quite nervous about that as well. His father was no one than the Blood and Iron Chancellor, Giliath Osborne.

"G-giliath Osborne..." Rean blurted out.

Crow looked at him, widening his eyes. "Dude, you gotta be kidding me..."

Rean shook his head, his gaze was fixed on the food and he didn't even want to look at him. "I'm his only child."

Crow couldn't help but clear his throat. "Man... I'm so sorry for ya but... that man's fuckin' insane!"

"Well, no shit" Rean spat. "I mean... you're right... he has changed lots after my mother passed, so I had to listen to him and only him."

Crow heaved a sigh, reaching out to gentle rub Rean's shoulder. "Gosh, I'm so sorry to hear that, really..." he looked at Rean with a frown. "To think that he kicked you out for being gay... man... this man's agenda's full of shit."

Rean couldn't help but just nod. He then heaved a sigh himself, then placed the box with the food on the table. "I'm... kinda full right now..." he said.

"Sorry for ruining your dinner."

Rean shook his head, looking at Crow sadly. "No, it's not your fault. Just... talking about it doesn't suit well for me and... while I'm glad I'm out of that hellhole, I'd rather it hadn't happened at all..."

Crow sighed, then placed his own box at the table. "You're free now, and can do whatever you want. If you need a job, I could get you one. One of my good friends is looking for someone to help him at a coffee shop." Crow really hoped to change the topic somehow.

Rean perked up at him, now he was quite curious. While he wasn't quite familiar with preparing coffee or working at a coffee shop, he wouldn't miss that opportunity, right?

"Right now, he has found another one who works for him, but he wouldn't mind another one helping since uh... he kinda has... little trust on the new kid. He can do good coffee and is a great cook on top of that but... his attitude isn't quite the best one."

Rean thought for a moment. It didn't sound bad, actually. After a few minutes of thinking, he looked at Crow, nodding and smiling at him.

"Alright... I could try..." he said.

Crow grinned at him, lifting his hand to ruffle Rean's hair which caused the raven-haired to blush at that.

"That's the spirit!" Crow exclaimed, "If ya like we can check it out tomorrow!"

Rean nodded, reaching out to touch the spot on his head that Crow just touched. "S-sure... uhm... I have a question... where do I sleep?"

Crow's expression changed into a frown, then he thought.

"Uhhh... good question. I ain't lettin' you sleep on the couch."

"But I insist!" Rean countered.

"Nuh-uh. You'll sleep in my bed. I will find another solution later tomorrow... perhaps by getting you another mattress. But right now, you need a good bed. Take mine. I'll take that couch."

Rean wanted to protest but he knew he wouldn't win that fight. Heaving a sigh, he got up. 

"Okay, fine. Your bed it is."