Once Lachlan could see the face of the girl he’d given his scarf to, his expression softened. She was incredibly young, especially to be out braving the storm alone at this time of night. The librarian squinted, trying to see through the snowflakes that sprayed his face but found it near impossible. Still, her voice and the features he could just barely make out seemed familiar.
Living in Ash Falls for so long meant seeing a few familiar faces here and there, and after a moment of thinking Lachlan remembered how he knew her. “You manage the craft store, don’t you?” He rarely went into the place, but before the storm he would sometimes get elementary classrooms in for tours of the library, and he’d always try and prepare a craft or two for the students. It always ended up being a huge amount of supplies to buy, so more often than not he was asking for Annalise’s help. It had been a long time since he’d gone there, but her face was unmistakeable. “Annalise, right? I’m Lachlan. I work at the library.”
He spoke despite the howling wind, the last thing he wanted was to come off as threatening or suspicious.
With his leather-gloved hands, Lachlan tied the scarf up so it was wrapped a few times and then secured before looking around from where they stood. The streets were practically abandoned now. He wasn’t too sure if he liked the idea of the girl trying to walk home alone, and so he glanced down at her again. “Are you going to be okay? You’re only wearing a sweater. You must be freezing..”
"Lachlan." The blonde repeated his name quietly, more to herself so that she would remember it later on. "Yeah, I think I’ve seen you around before. You used to come by the store every so often, right?"
She shifted slightly, rubbing her hands along her arms to add some warmth to her body. “I should be fine. There have been colder nights, believe it or not.” She made a personal reminder to keep her voice loud enough that he could actually hear her. “As long as I don’t manage to lose my sweater, or anything…” She smiled at the man, shrugging her shoulders.
"What are you doing out so late, by the way? I thought the library closed earlier than this."
The sky had darkened to an ominous grey overhead, clouds angrily churning as the streetlights began to flicker on. Why he needed to mail his letters now was anyone’s guess, but now that he was closer to the post office than his apartment, it felt silly not to just get the errand over and done with.
Lachlan was wrapped head to toe; a long plaid scarf was wrapped tight around his neck a number of times and he wore a heavy carding coat, layered underneath with not one, but two sweaters that varied in thickness. It all seemed like overkill, since the temperature during the day only seemed to flirt just below zero, but during the night it was beginning to drop as cold as twenty below. The snow was blinding now, so Lachlan knew he needed to get off the road and avoid getting hit with a car. There had been enough accidents happening in the town as of late.
As Lachlan wandered to the sidewalk, he could make out other figures in the night, trying just as hard as him to make it to their destination. There was one he was approaching, face indiscernible in the flurry of snow. They were hunched over, clearly not wearing clothing suitable for the harsher nighttime temperatures. Lachlan quickened his pace to meet with the figure sooner, and with a wave of his hand, stopped them. Immediately he began to unravel his scarf. The librarian leaned close to who he was speaking to, so they could hear him over the deafening sound of the wind an precipitation. “Your lips are turning blue, here.” It was only a small thing he could do, but after seeing the obituaries in the paper in these past few weeks, he knew the community had to do what it could to make sure one another didn’t freeze.
Cleaning the store after hours was always something that Annalise loved doing. The solitude, the quietness of the store when everyone else had left. It was nice to turn the radio on and just clean. Making everything tidy and organized made her feel a bit better about herself. She felt like she was actually doing something productive.
Today, however, she rushed through it so she could leave as soon as possible. She had spilt paint on her jacket yesterday, and put it in the wash last night when she got home. of course, by the time she remembered, it was too late to put it in a dryer in the laundromat attached to the apartment building. This morning, she’d completely forgotten until she was leaving for work. Instead, she had to make do with one of the thickest sweaters she had. It worked well enough, but the temperature always dropped dramatically by night fall.
She was expecting the temperature to be well below freezing, but even so, stepping outside was a shock. The blonde walked fast, her arms wrapped around herself in an attempt to stay somewhere warm. As she walked though, she was stopped by a man. The librarian. At least, she thought he was. He was always working at the library when she was there. She was surprised when he wrapped his scarf around her neck, flinching slightly in fear that there might be open skin on her neck, or he might brush her face, or something terrible might happen.
"Th-thank you." She stammered out, a small smile forming on her lips. She realized just how much she was shivering when she actually spoke, and she pulled her sleeves over her hands, even though they were covered with her gloves.
Sensing the pause in her words, he only just managed to bite back a smirk—she was still wary of him. Good.
"Well, suit yourself." He replied, voice soft with a hint of amusement. He could see the contemplation in her eyes, knowing that she was oh so close to accepting his offer. It made little difference to him whether she joined him or not as it wasn’t like he was about to murder her in cold blood.
Well, if she continued to be so pathetically annoying he might, but his murder quota for today had already gone past the mark so it would have to wait for another time. He chuckled at the thought, however, taking a seat inside the car only to peer out and curiously raise an eyebrow at her.
"Well, as long as you don’t get too cold? The weather’s only to get worse, I hear."
As soon as he mentioned the weather getting worse, it was as if the cold seeped through her clothes. She was used to the cold by now, especially how it got colder at night. The thought of a ride home seemed nice though, especially considering the car had heat.
Shifting where she stood, the blonde chewed on her lower lip. “Are you sure you wouldn’t mind giving me a ride? I don’t want to be too much of an inconvenience..” She adjusted her gloves, making a mental note to be careful not to get too close to him. For his sake and possible her own.
What harm could letting him give her a ride home do, anyways? She was smart enough to get herself out of the car if anything got too bad.
"Maybe not … Doesn’t really look like it." He followed her line of sight down the block. "Well that makes me feel a bit better about falling so often." He laughed a little, proud of himself that he didn’t fade away at all about it. His control was getting better, and that could only be a good thing.
"I … Sort of, yeah. I think I have to control my nervousness more first. It’s getting better, I though. I’ve remained mostly visible during this conversation so far, right?" He offered a small smile. "I think I was invisible the whole first week of high school, people looked a little surprised to see me in the second week. Do you need any help with your groceries, by the way?" he asked, noticing the very full bags that she had. "Looks like you’ve got a lot to carry, it might make walking through this a lot harder."
"Oh, wow! Well, high school is rough, so I don’t really blame you. I probably would have been invisible the entire time through high school." Annalise chewed on her lower lip, noticing briefly that the weather had made her lips more chapped than she realized. Although she had just met him, she couldn’t help but feel proud that he seemed to have a little better control over his powers.
Pausing, she looked down at the bags in her arm and shifted slightly. “Uhm, if it’s no trouble. I mean, I can handle it if you need to be somewhere, or something…” She smiled at the man, adding quickly, “I’m Annalise, by the way…”
Stopping himself beside his car, he reached into his pocket for his keys, his heart near stopping as he couldn’t find them for a few long seconds. An elated sigh, however, fell from his lips as soon as his palm encased them.
"Not holiday homes, per sé…more like cabins. They are terribly inconvenient to get to." He chuckled, giving her yet another rare smile.
Unlocking his car, he quickly leant in to turn on the engine, wanting to get the heating on as soon as possible. “I live in town, oui. One of the apartment blocks downtown.” He paused, standing tall as he glanced down at her in an inquisitive manner. “Did you want a lift?”
Getting a lift from a total stranger that was wandering through the woods. Who had parked in the woods because of a ‘job’. It was possibly the worst idea ever.
"Uhm, no… I can walk." She replied, shifting slightly where she stood. She stood a careful distance away, keeping her eye on him. The idea of a ride did sound tempting, though. It was starting to get really chilly, and her feet were wet. "I don’t live too far from here…"
"I’m, no I’m fine. I mean I might have a bruise or something but nothing big." He kicked at the ground. "They should be salting the sidewalks better, that’s the 4th time I’ve fallen this week." He kicked at it a bit more, trying and failing to break it up.
"Um. Not invisible. Just camouflage. It happens sometimes when I don’t notice. So, um, maybe? I can mostly control it, but I need to focus." As he spoke, he faded almost completely, before his image solidified. "One of—- er, my Mum, she says it happens a lot when I’m embarrassed, like instead of blushing. And in crowds; she doesn’t like going shopping with me." He smiled sheepishly, letting out a small laugh at the memory. "I’m Dev, by the way." He held out a hand to shake.
"Are they even salting it?" Annalise asked, more as a rhetorical question than anything. She looked down at the sidewalk, noticing more ice than sidewalk, and more snow than ice. It didn’t look like they were doing anything about it, on this street anyways. "It’s definitely a hazard to everyone…"
Camouflage. That could definitely be a handy power if you knew how to control it perfectly. Even how the man could use it was handy to some extent. Disappearing in embarrassing moments could be a god send. “I’m Annalise. It’s a pleasure to bump into you, Dev.” She spoke with a smile, glancing down quickly to make sure she was still wearing her gloves before she shook the man’s hand.
"That sounds like it could be a really handy power. Have you looked into learning how to control it easier?" It was a hypocritical thing to say. She, herself, would never look into controlling her power, but it seemed like it could definitely help Dev.
Dev glanced up as someone came into his line of vision, just in time to collide with them. The impact itself didn’t do much damage, but a patch of ice had him skidding to the ground, landing directly on his bag with a groan. He quickly stood, aware that he very well may have disappeared during the fall, and cleared his throat. “Yeah, um, yes. Yes, I’m alright. Sorry, that might have been my fault, I forget that I’m not always … visible.” He looked up at the girl, noting the worried look on her face. “Are you? Er, alright, I mean? You’re not hurt or anything?”
Not always visible. Annalise had half a mind to ask him about the comment, but figured it must have been some sort of power he had. Invisibility, that would be cool. Better than touching people and absorbing their life, anyways.
Forcing a smile onto her lips, she shook her head at his concern. “I’m fine. I was just concerned that you might’ve gotten hurt.” She slowed her breathing, trying to calm herself down. She hadn’t actually touched him, with her skin at least. That was definitely a relief. It was bad enough that she had knocked him down in the snow.
"Can you turn invisible often?"
Upon realizing she had to jog a little in order to keep up with him, Sebastién couldn’t help the smirk that graced his face—the only true, positive emotion he’d shown all day.
By this point, he could vaguely see the outline of his car in the distance, having to stop himself from letting out a whoop of joy—it had indeed been a long day.
"Quoi? That I am here for work? Well it is not your… eh,préoccupation… concern. It is my job.” She was a little dense, but in saying that he could definitely see where her train of thought was headed. All the signs lead to it; the midnight walk in the woods, the job, the car hidden from view. And her worries were close to being true, but not quite.
Sebastién certainly had more class than that, and frankly, he was quite offended that she would even dare think he would murder or hide a body in the woods. His creativity level stemmed much higher than that.
"Perhaps it is, though I find that I care very little. It was the only way I could get the job done quickly and efficiently." That was true, he thought inwardly. The car park was in the opposite direction of where he needed to go. "My client has a holiday home here and needed something delivered. This was the closest I could get as there is no road in."
Still looking up at the man, she noticed the smirk on his face and smiled slightly. It was reassuring to know that he had some emotions, at least. He wasn’t a total sociopath or anything like that then. He seemed like he could definitely be nice enough.
"I didn’t know there were any holiday homes out here. Wow." She pondered the thought. It seemed believable enough. Holiday homes always seemed to be isolated locations. That didn’t make him any less suspicious, though. Holiday homes usually had roads so that people could get to them…
Tugging the sleeves of her jacket down, she kept her eye on him. “Do you live in town then?”