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When Lucy stops by first floor to make a delivery to Drew after he ran off so quickly the other night, one of his belongings comes with a surprise; Cyrus finds fault in his apartment.

Lockwood Towers, Lobby

May 21st, 2013

"Dude has a creepy friggin' photo open …"


Night-time is when the interior of the Lockwood Towers apartment building feels the most like its past. The faint glow on the polished tile floor just seems to summon the feeling of history; take a snapshot now and hold it up against an era gone by and you'd be hard-pressed to see the difference.

It hasn't been dark for long, just long enough that most residents who work until the evening have already come home for the night, and the lobby is, for now, peaceful. It's not silence that makes it so; no, were it absent sound, the atmosphere would be altogether different. Too still. Too aware.

The quiet, friendly chatter of Maevis Shine makes it feel more like home. She's positioned just by the door of the little security office by the main doors, wrapped up in a large, quilted pink housecoat — it's technically after hours for the building manager, but Maevis hasn't put her work to bed just yet. She's talking to Sarah, who's sat within the mini-office at her mini-desk, tossing a happy-faced stress ball from one hand to the other. She doesn't appear stressed, however; it's an idle motion as she smiles at the lovable caretaker.

Maevis turns from the conversation when she hears movement, all smiles. "Lucy! Lucy, I wanted to ask you, have you seen that Mr. Friendly since yesterday?"

After closing up the shop, Lucy starts the trek back to her apartment. She holds a box of her Red Queen Velvet cupcakes to give to Drew after their ordeal yesterday. He seemed much more affected than she is - and she certainly is affected. She didn't sleep well last night. She kept the lights on and when she did drop off, she had nightmares where she was continually running away from something she couldn't see. She'd wake with a jolt, see that only an hour passed and then, when she drifted off, found herself running again. The exhaustion shows on her face and she certainly wasn't her usually chipper self all day. In fact, she drifts by Maevis without answering, completely in her own thoughts.

It seems like she won't even respond, but she stops suddenly and turns. "I'm sorry, Ms. Shine, did you say something? I'm not exactly myself today."

"Oh, don't worry, honey," Maevis says, overflowing with warm sympathy even though she hasn't a clue what really spooked Lucy. "I was just asking after Mr. Friendly, wondering if you've seen him today."

A rustle from inside the security office preludes Sarah plopping a cardboard box on her desk. An unevenly cut out square of paper with the typed words LOST & FOUND in large, bold font is taped to the front. "I uh, I have his phone."

"Oh. No." Lucy looks down at the checkerboard box that proclaims the goods inside game from Jabberwocky Cafe. "I was going to just take him some sweets to cheer him up. It's a bit late…I thought I'd leave them outside his door." Most likely she'd knock as he's the only other person who went through the same thing as she did.

Blinking, she looks at the large lost and found box without really comprehending why Sarah has it until the obvious is stated. "Would you like me to take it with the cupcakes?" If she's delivering one thing, she might as well deliver both. "I'll make sure it doesn't get frosting on it."

"You're so thoughtful, he seems like such a nice boy." It's Maevis who delivers the kindnesses, turning with the help of her cane. Her approval given, she starts to meander on her way. "Alright, alright, I'm taking these old feet to bed." The tail end of her conversation with Sarah, no doubt.

"You seem like the kinda person who wouldn't cut 'n' run with this guy's phone…" The security guard tosses her stress ball through a kid-sized basketball net taped to the wall and rifles through the box as Maevis makes her way off. By the sound of the scarce rustling, there's not much in it. "He just moved intoooo… one-eleven, just down the hall. I knocked earlier, but he didn't answer. I thought— " Sarah has the phone in hand— had the phone in hand. She promptly flings it over the box onto to the desk like the thing's on fire. "Jesus fuck!"

"Yes, he does." Lucy only met him the once, but he seemed nice enough. As for being thoughtful, she's not quite sure how to respond to that, so she just nods and makes way so that Maevis has a clear exit. The woman seems somewhat vacant - almost like she's half asleep. She listens carefully to Sarah telling her where the man moved into, but her behavior toward his phone is puzzling. "What is it?" She steps a bit closer, completely unsure of what would cause Sarah to toss it.

"I just wasn't expecting that," Sarah replies, calmed and eyeing the phone bitterly for surprising her. "I hit the power button. Dude has a creepy friggin' photo open." She elbows the box aside to pick the guilty phone back up, turning the screen up to face Lucy.

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It almost seems to move; a trick of the light, a glare on the screen. It's hard to decipher right off the bat that the wall in the cell phone photo is that of the stairwell, but it holds a certain dull green familiarity. "I guess Mr. Friendly's not the best photographer," Sarah comments casually, but there's a faintly anxious edge to her voice — sheepish, nearly — and a discomfited stiffening of her shoulders inside her uniform.

For a moment, the picture doesn't register for Lucy. It just looks blurry. But, then, the shadow seems to move and the woman gasps, quickly stepping backward and pulling the box of cupcakes close enough to her that the contents must be a little squished. "P— put it away— delete it—" She won't give Drew his phone back to have that the first picture he sees.

It's clear that the image has spooked her in much more than the visceral scare that Sarah received. Lucy's face starts to drain of blood and her eyes are wide. She is forcing herself to look up toward the ceiling rather than see the photo any more. "Please."

Sarah's brows shoot up, almost — almost — more startled by Lucy's reaction than the picture itself. It serves to cement her own initial fear of the photo. Fear, after all, is contagious. It spreads like wildfire— but this is just a crappy cell phone photo. Optical illusion. Trick of the mind. Camera malfunction. Shadow. Blur. Those are the things Sarah is trying to convince herself of as she forces her eyes back to the screen. "Okay, okay… yikes." She spends a moment with the task, pressing more buttons than necessary to just delete a photo.

"Ha!" A much lighter exclamation. She offers the phone across to Lucy — this time, the featured photo is that of Drew Friendly and an elderly lady who his arm is wrapped around. Both are smiling. "He's kinda cute, right?" It'd be easy to leave it at that, but Sarah's elbows start to shift uncomfortably on the desk and — nope, she can't hold it in. "You uh— you ever see… anything like that before? The other picture, I mean."

There's a quiet rap on the wall next to the door. Which may or may not startle the ladies present, particularly as Cyrus Holte had been so quiet as he padded down the halls. His head peeks around the corner to catch sight of each of the ladies before offering a very political, nearly sardonic smile. It's a nicety, a nuance, and, in some respects, a cliche, particularly as he's here under no smiling circumstance.

His dress, however, remains professional, despite the hour. Perhaps he's only just arrived from whatever campaign ploy he's been part of. It is, after all, an election year. The navy suit, paired with a light blue button up shirt, and paisley blue tie all blend together to build the artificiality of the image — a man about town. Yet something in Cyrus' blue eyes stirs beneath the surface in an unsettled mess. "Ladies," he greets, but not in a creepy way, well not in that creepy a way. Maybe it's a little creepy.

Lucy doesn't care how looks or sounds to Sarah. All she knows is that image has to be deleted and erased from memory. She had been doing her best to completely forget about it, but that now seems impossible. Her color is still pale when she shrugs at the mention of him being cute and her only answer to whether she had seen something like that is a haunted look. Reflexively, she twists her wrist as if she can feel something cold and clammy holding onto it with a light touch.

The greeting by Cyrus is enough to startle her and she takes another quick step backward. "I— I'll— I go check on Drew?" She holds a shaking hand out to take the phone from Sarah.

The security guard's smile for Cyrus is a little bit wooden, her eyes a bit too wide open. To her own personal senses, she and the picture-perfect politician are oil and water. The hint of something less than picture-perfect behind his eyes piques her interest to the point of almost shooting up from her chair. It creaks on its cheap, aging joints instead. "What's up?" she asks him while handing the phone off to Lucy, her glance to the other woman turning a bit discomfited — the look then quickly quashed down — over the mention of Drew. "Hope the dude's alright," she asides.

There's a twitch in Cyrus' armor — a brief assurance that something is most definitely not alright, but then his more veiled self takes over, prompting a rise in one of his eyebrows. "I wanted to check if there's been some unusual activity in the building." His tone is even, but it's braced in a way, ready for some grand answer. And, as if providing a caveat to some campaign promise, he raises a hand to allay questions, "I mean, has there been any teenage vandalism as of late?" With a non-humoured chuckle he shakes his head, "I haven't been around much the last few days and just wanted to check on something."

Lucy nearly drops the phone when Sarah hands it over. She can't really trust her reflexes and ever since seeing that picture, she is completely unnerved. "Thank you," she says softly to the security guard. Though she can't muster a smile, her tone conveys as much warmth as she can manage, given the circumstances. "I hope so, too."

She's almost to the hallway when she hears Cyrus' question and it's enough to stop her in her tracks. She doesn't turn around so much as slow to a stop, curious to hear what the answer to that is. Maybe what she experienced was just an teenagers and practical jokes. It certainly doesn't feel like it, but she can hope.

"Uhh," the security guard replies after Cyrus, thankfully, defined "unusual", her eyebrows angling down to punctuate the odd look she gives him. If there was an incident of vandalism, she'd know about it. Wouldn't she? "Nnnno…" She leans onto her elbows, hunkered over the Lost & Found box that still sits on her desk. "Have you seen any vandalism?" she queries, half-skeptical, half-angry that it might've slipped past her radar, her faint Southern accent colouring her frustration more than the words themselves. "Lemme at it."

The response has Cyrus' eyebrows drawing together as he nods to prove he is indeed hearing. But at the no, it looks as if the wheels in his brain are turning, trying to piece something together in silence. The question seems to break these thoughts, causing him to perk up and shake his head, washing away whatever thoughts had been rolling within. "Well," he begins only to pause and consider how to say what he needs to say, "As I said, I have not been home much as of late — election year and all that — " he waves a hand fleetingly only to smile wolfishly and have it fade some, "but…" his throat clears uncomfortably, "there seems to be a black figure. Painted," uncomfortably his head cants to the side before shaking again, "no, not painted, burned into the ceiling of my apartment…"

Lucy stays until she hears the end of Cyrus' description. A dark figure burned into the ceiling is too much for her overworked imagination at the moment. Without a backward glance, she power walks down the hallway with her box of cupcakes and Drew's cellphone clutched in her hand. It's not until she's standing outside of his door that she stops and tries to regain her normal breathing. When she is as relaxed as she's going to get, she knocks firmly on the apartment door. "Drew?" she calls out, her voice quaking only a little. "It's Lucy. I, uh, brought you some cupcakes. And your phone!"

While Lucy waits for an answer from the new resident, Sarah squints at Cyrus. Black figure has her noticeably on edge, her mouth open without so much as a clue toward how to phrase what she's thinking. Instead, she goes about hefting the box off her desk and depositing it off to the side on the floor as if all is normal — aside from the apparent vandalism. "If someone vandalized your apartment, shouldn't you be— like— " she straightens after the task, "… reporting a break-in instead? Or an explosion… uh, you know what, how about I go take a look at it, see if it's worth bothering Maevis over. Gimme two seconds."

She picks up the office phone. "Yeah, Barry, can you cover me for like ten minutes… well whatever, just reroute the cameras…"

Down the hall, something stirs behind Drew's door. The unlocking that follows is almost frantic, hurried, to make up for lost time — but the door only opens a couple of inches, enough to reveal the young man in his pyjamas (a t-shirt and striped pants). The dark circles under his eyes are the ill eggplant hued paint of a poor night's sleep. Behind him, his brightly lit apartment is stacked with unpacked moving boxes, all neatly arranged but, nevertheless, taking over the living room. "Ah— ah, my friendly neighbour! Thank you…" Skittish, he elbows the door open enough to reach out for the gift. "Ah— good, my phone," he says, bewildered with a streak of surprise — he may not have even realized he'd dropped it. "I'm sorry I ran away so fast before… not very— very upstanding of me…"

Leaving the security office securely behind, Sarah's prepared to escort Cyrus up to his apartment for a miniature investigation, headed for the antique elevator. "When exactly was the last time you were home and everythin' was normal?"

"Except nothing was taken and the lock seems fine," Cyrus counters as he falls into step with Sarah. "I would report it if something seemed amiss aside from the big black figure on my ceiling — " he shrugs before canting his head to the side, "You can't tell me that the police would take such a thing seriously, can you?" As far as the last time he was home and didn't see anything was amazing, "Maybe… maybe a few days ago… maybe. Sorry, I really haven't been home much…"

Sarah replies with a guttural scoffing noise, clearing her throat afterward only in some belated attempt to seem more professional.

"It's fine." Lucy feels a little less on edge with someone who witnessed the same thing. She knows that Sarah and Maevis mean well, but she can't explain anything to them. The picture on the phone is the closest she can come to that and it doesn't even capture the feeling of being in the midst of those shadows. Delicately, she hands over the box and the phone with slightly shaky hands. "They may be a little squished." The cupcakes, not his phone. She quickly glances over his shoulder at the unpacked boxes taking over the living room and then focuses back on Drew. "How are you?"

"Feel I've struck up a case of insomnia, but uh— " He scratches through notably mussed hair and looks slightly sheepishly upon Lucy. Distracted, Drew glances past her, leaning ever-so-slightly out of the doorway to look up and down the hall. Nobody else is around, a fact which seems to disturb him more than if there were. Nervously, he offers, "Do you— would you like to come in…"

Far upstairs, where the elevator has deposited its two occupants on the right floor without incident, the air feels less oppressive; a surprise to notice, if you spend more time on the lower levels, where the feeling that someone's watching you is becoming unnervingly frequent. As the security guard looks down the corridor, the eye wants to snare movement far down before it turns a sharp corner — a shadow at the end of the tunnel-like stretch of walls and royally red-carpeted floor.

Trick of the eye.

Sarah stares down the hall like she's preparing to run a race. Nothing there. This hall is almost identical to every other hall in Lockwood Towers, except for the numbers on the door. She strides with determined professionalism forward, waiting to is being let into the apartment of Cyrus Holte.

An invitation in was not anything Lucy was expecting. "Oh! Uh, I mean, I don't have to. I just wanted to make sure you were okay." A prolonged conversations wasn't what she thought would be on the menu. However, she feels slightly more relaxed around someone who experienced the same things that she did. She doesn't think she'll have to explain herself for being edgy or what has been up with her lately. "What I mean is, I don't have to come in if you don't want me to. You don't have to be polite. But, I mean, if you want company, I could use some, too." Her lips quirk up in a nervous smile.

The light in Drew's anxiety-touched eyes seems to spark and shine a bit brighter, warming to the idea of a visitor the more Lucy speaks. As he's about to open his mouth and welcome her in, however, his gaze shifts slightly to his right, just over his visitor's left shoulder. He catches there, confusion prominent over his face, his eyes struck with fright— he blinks several times, harder and harder, as if fending off a headache— or hallucination. He blinks his way back to Lucy, staring at her in disbelief. "I," he all but blubbers out. "I think actually I should— I should get back to— I have a lot of unpacking to do, as it… as it happens, a— " The poor guy has broken out in a sweat. This time, when he blinks rapidly, it's to fend salt from his eyes. Behind him, not a single box in sight seems to have been unpacked yet. "a— another time!" His eyes are once again behind Lucy when he hurries the door shut in her face, and locks it. Were she to look behind her, however…

There's nothing there.

Cyrus' eyebrow ticks upwards as his generally easy smile takes on a slight edge. He exhales deeply and turns the keys in the lock. There's no question in his own mind that he always locks the door. The handle is turned, and the door is opened. He steps back in a gentlemanly manner to allow Sarah through first. "After you," he says politely, beckoning the woman into the apartment before following her himself.

Sarah traipses in, her arms swaying at her sides, an idle gesture while her senses are on high alert. She takes note of every single feature of the apartment as it unfolds before her dark eyes, smacking her mouth once as everything seems to be in place, as far as she can tell.

She comes to stand in the center of his living room and tips her head straight up to look at the ceiling.

There's nothing there.

The paint is clean and untouched. The security guard glances skeptically over to Cyrus, expecting him to lead her to this supposed black shape.

Cyrus lips part wordlessly as he stares at the ceiling. While Sarah may be staring at him skeptically, he's questioning his own sanity. Some days he wondered if some ex is gaslighting him to make him believe he's crazy. He points at the ceiling, "Well, I suppose I'm more tired than I gave myself credit." The smile he finds seems easy, but it's not. He'd virtually ignored the shape for days. His lips press into a thin line. "It was there." Or, at least, he saw it there.

She can't quite believe or disbelieve him; Sarah's look lingers in a kind of skeptical limbo. "Uhh…" A smile pulls her lips taut, then straight. "Right." She sounds more dubious in belief than her critical eyeing of the clean ceiling, as if trying to imagine what Cyrus thought he saw — or what was there, but finding no trace. The lack of evidence has her standing in the residence without purpose, now, and her hands go uselessly to her hips. "If you see anythin' else out of the ordinary, you know where to find me. Just… I guess keep your door locked and… get some sleep."

Cyrus' hand rakes through his hair as he treads back towards the door, to usher the security woman out of the apartment. "Yeah…" he replies, shifting his eight from one foot to the other. And as far as locking it is concerned, "I always do." His lips purse as he glances back towards where he could've sworn the mark was, "And yeah, maybe a couple days off to sleep is warranted…" He shrugs. "As always, thank you for your help and service." More than ever he's thankful that he always tips the building staff well at Christmas. At least he can rest assured he does something for these people.

Without cupcakes or a mission now, Lucy glances nervously over her shoulder. Something spooked Drew. Of course, he was pretty spooked to begin with, but the look on his face has brought back all that ill feeling. There's nothing behind her, however, when she steps away from Drew's door. Perhaps it was a trick of the light, but that's not a chance that she wants to take after what happened before. Post haste, she quickly moves for the stairs and practically sprints up them to her own apartment.

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