Logs:Flighty Subject

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Flighty Subject
Dramatis Personae

Ryan, Steve


"This can be the start of your awkward apology."


<PRV> Black House - Ridgewood

This stately townhouse has a cheerful yellow brick exterior, its front entrance spectacularly inaccessible but affording residents a commanding view of the quiet street below. Inside it's bright and airy and almost entirely empty of furniture. It has the pristine, sterile look that comes with professional renovation, but here and there the obvious custom touches -- whether from the previous residents or at the new owner's request -- shine through.

The first floor is expansive, with a longish open floor plan that's quickly falling out of fashion. One entire wall of the living room consists of tessellated geometric mirrors, reflecting the truly massive and functional fireplace and even larger mosaic stone hearth. Beyond this the dining room and kitchen are conjoined; the space left for the as yet absent dining table looks vast and strange. A small half bath is tucked at the rear of this space, beside which the back door leads down into a small backyard with a patio sheltered by a quaint little pavilion and a strip of a garden along one side.

The staircase winding through the heart of the house is lit by a generous skylight, and runs parallel the main hallway of the second floor, which joins two comfortably sized bedrooms room, with an expansive and luxurious full bath in between and not one but two hallway closets. On the top floor is a massive bedroom with as much glass as wall and its own full, if smallish, bathroom. French doors one one side of this attic room lead out onto a roof deck, whose stairs lead down into the backyard far below.

It's been a mild day -- for January -- the thin sunlight clouding over now and again to spritz noncommittal rain on a city still recovering from the new year. Steve must have caught one of these not-quite-showers between the subway station and his destination, his hair just a touch damp still and his jeans are spotted with droplets, though his blue-and-green plaid flannel, shielded from the worst by his the coat he shed when he came in. The shield -- the star at its center still an eight-pointed Star of Bethlehem -- he brought with him, but it's leaning against a leg of the table.

He's eyeing the space-age looking chrome air fryer -- or rather its glossy box, sitting in the midst of the wrapping paper that had been peeled from it -- on the table with a sort of pained embarrassment. "I know, I know," he says. "I was flailing a bit. Shopping for gifts is not one my forte, and the Internet claimed it's amazing -- indispensable -- for people who like to cook..." He runs a hand through his hair and hands Ryan the other gift-wrapped parcel on the table, rectangular and kind of flat. "I do learn, though, and I hope this one is a better present."

Ryan has taken up kind of a languid sprawl across the floor, head pillowed against the sturdy side of a dog who definitely lived at New Leash on Life and not in this house the last time Steve was here, a huge black and brown brindle pitbull with a broad blocky head and soulful amber eyes. He's casually dressed in fitted blue jeans and a rose-colored pullover screenprinted with a spray of white and purple larkspur under purple cursive text that reads 'death to white supremacy'. "I'll try it," he promises, "but I'm real skeptical what is the point of frying without oil. If I make anything delicious with it though I'll be sure to invite you over for some." He's slow about sitting up, reaching for the second gift to tear the wrapping paper off.

"Well, the advertisements says that you can taste flavors that you never knew were in fried foods before because the oil drowned it out." Even Steve sounds vaguely skeptical, here. "But I also feel like...maybe the oil is part of /why/ fried things taste so good? As I said, I was flailing." His deliberately casual slouch back into his chair after he's handed over the present isn't fooling anyone, his pale blue eyes following Ryan's unwrapping, keen and hopeful. Beneath the cartoon Christmas trees on the wrapping paper and the foam padding beneath it, a modern wooden frame encloses an acrylic painting, a 3/4 profile view of Horus taking off from the roof deck railing, his primary flight feathers dramatically outstretched to catch the air. The brush strokes are bold and decisive in Steve's characteristic style, capturing the poetry in that dynamic moment between stillness and flight. It's more abstract and less detailed than his work /before/ the injury to his right hand forced him to switch to his non-dominant left, but probably the best of Steve's paintings that Ryan has seen since then.

Ryan leaves the wrapping paper crumpled on the floor beside himself, holding the painting up to study it with an open delight. "Oh man, this is great. You really do wonders with motion." He sets the painting down carefully on the table, glancing up in the direction of the stairwell. "Horus is going to love this. Guess he might get embarrassed if I hang it up in the middle of the living room." Though he's already examining his walls with a critical eye.

Steve blushes through his smile, the faint breath he lets out relieved, certainly, but also proud. "I'm glad you like it!" Slightly less certain, he adds, "I hope he -- likes it, too. I didn't think that it would embarrass him, I mean...would he even recognize it's supposed to be him?" His frown is more thoughtful than anything else. "He's clearly very bright, but I have no idea what birds think of art generally."

Ryan cocks an eyebrow, studying Steve critically, now. There's a stretch of silence that goes on a few beats longer than comfortable, before he replies mildly, "Horus has a great eye for composition. You should see his photography."

Steve blinks slowly. "I'd love to see his photography," he hazards, finally, bemusement warring with a vague, lurking doubt. Though that eases when he allows, fascinated, "Gosh, he could get a literal bird's eye-view."

Ryan swipes his phone off the table, tapping at the screen a few times before tossing it lightly to Steve. Twitter is pulled up on the phone, open to the timeline of user "Neferhor" -- 'birds eye views' is, in fact, the display name on the tweets. The timeline is a mix of cheerful stream-of-conscious ramblings and striking photographs of New York and its denizens, many taken from angles that imply the photographer has gotten into some very precarious positioning. "I keep trying to convince him to teach a class at Chimaera, but he's not so into the idea of schedules."

Steve catches the phone easily in his left hand and scrolls down the timeline on its screen, his curiosity quickly turning to confusion, shock, and then intense embarrassment of his own, the blush burning all the way up to his ears. He's still startled when he looks up from the screen to Ryan. Back down to the tweets. Over to the painting. His mouth falls open. Works soundlessly for a moment. He closes it, then tries again. "Horus is a --" He scrubs his right hand over his face. "-- photographer. Oh gosh. I've been talking to him like he's your --" Somehow he manages to blush fiercer, his voice all guilt and amazement and still a touch of disbelief. "I'm ah, going to follow him. On Twitter. And probably should apologize when I see him next. And I do hope he likes the painting."

"Among other things." Ryan drags a hand against his face, palm rubbing down against his beard. "You sure aren't the first person to make that assumption, though probably you held onto it longest." Now there's amusement creeping back into his voice. "-- just what the hell kind of bird did you think he was?"

"In retrospect I don't know how I didn't realize it." Still blushing hard, Steve leans forward to hand Ryan his phone back. "Wondered about that -- tried looking it up. Really should have asked Flicker, or Sam, or -- you. Think I just felt too awkward doing it, after a while." His wince is small, self-deprecating. "The same can probably be said of more things in my life than people might imagine. So he's your...housemate."

"Yeah. Been friends since --" Ryan hesitates, brows furrowing for a moment before he just shakes his head. "Well. Next time he's home you can ask him what kind of bird he is, he's got a wide variety of answers ready." Ryan looks back to the painting, then to the wall behind the couch. "Conveniently, it's nearly his birthday, too. This can be the start of your awkward apology."

Steve nods, his blush finally receding, though a vague sense of being somewhat unbalanced in reality -- frankly not so very different from his default state -- lingers. "Not sure anymore if I'm capable of making any other kind." There's a profound pain in this admission, the same that's never far from his surface these days. But it recedes in some small part when he looks back at Ryan, the warmth of his affection soothing if not removing his grief. "It's so good to have you back."