The Invitation

raleigh_icon.png zan_icon.png

Where: A bus in Summerlin

When: August 21, 2012; Afternoon

What: Two strangers on a bus receive mysterious invitations.

Daylight is harsh today, and the heat, perhaps a bit more than most can handle without fleeing to places with air conditioning. But people still have to go, where people still have to go. Like tattoo artists, and erstwhile collegiate students.

Indeed, tattoo artists do still have to go where they have to go. Raleigh is no different. She moves down the sidewalk of Summerlin Street, riding along on her skateboard as she weaves in and out of the pedestrians that insist on getting in her way. Due to the heat out today, she is forced to keep herself cool, thus making the space around her cooler than the area a foot and a half away from her skin. On her back, she has a raggedy ass backpack that she used through her high school and college years which appears empty at the moment.

Once erstwhile, but no longer. School is in full swing and Zan has geared himself up for the semester. Mostly. Presently he might be eschewing homework in place of braving the heat and rebuilding his library of oddities in film. Stripped down to a t-shirt and shorts, the mayor's son wanders along a concrete pathway with a video camera guiding his sight. A backpack hangs from his shoulders, already toting some weight to it but a bottle half filled with water sits in a side carrier and adds to the baggage.

Raleigh rolls up onto a bus stop just as a bus pulls in. She leans back on her board, skidding to a stop with a white trail left behind on the sidewalk. She stops on the end of her board to pop it up so she can grab it by the trunk and moves to put herself in the queue to enter the bus. When her turn finally arrives, she steps aboard and pays the fare before she moves to find herself an empty seat near the middle of the bus, taking in the cooler air conditioned air with a slight sigh of relief.

The camera is lowered as the bus goes by, giving Zan a full look of it. He starts after it, gaze following its progress to the bus stop, and while he jogs to catch up he's still a few seconds behind it's actual arrival. His free hand grabs the rail and he pulls himself inside just before the doors snap closed. Fare is fished out of a pocket as the driver pulls back into traffic and he starts back after paying, swinging into an empty seat a row or two behind Raleigh.

Raleigh makes herself comfortable as she leans back against the empty backpack and puts her board against the seat next to her. She looks up in time to see Zan hop onto the bus and an eyebrow raises slightly as she tries to place the familiar face. Her eyes moves along with him as she wracks her brain to remember why Zan looks so familiar to her. As he sits down, it triggers. "I remember you. The guy with the girlfriend, right?" She asks as she twists in her seat to be able to look at him better. "At the mall." Her finger pointed at him.

Raleigh and Zan aren't the only ones who get on the bus, and the doors close behind a tall lean guy with shaggy dark hair. White shirt, jeans, sneakers, he's moving through the bus as if looking for someone, pausing when his eyes land on Zan and Raleigh together. There's a smile, and he fishes out a buss pass, letting it beep in acceptance before putting it back away and heading towards the pair. There's something familiar about him to Zan, but it's so far removed in his memory, it's still just a niggle.

His own backpack is coming off and set in the open seat beside him. And once settled, Zan focuses on his camera, turning it off and fitting a cap over the lens. When he's addressed by Raleigh, he looks up with raised brows. "Right," he confirms, drawing the word out a little. He fits the camera into his pack after seating the lens cap, dropping his gaze from the woman to his belongings as they're put away. As he looks up again, he briefly looks past Raleigh to the newest passenger, frowning faintly. His next words come even slower, distracted. "I have a girlfriend, and I was at the mall."

Raleigh smiles in confirmation, not noticing the other person on their way towards them. She rests her arms over the back of her seat, resting her chin on the back of her hands as she looks at Zan. "Sorry for picking on you during all that. It was something to do and it was funny to me. I hope I didn't offend you or anything like that." She says as she reaches up to push a stray strand of hair behind her ear. She then finally notices that Zan isn't looking right at her, but rather behind her which causes her to look back over her shoulder to try to see what he's looking at.

It's the guy, obviously, and he moves forward, nodding to the both of them but never looking them straight in the eye. Despite having just gotten on as well, he's leaning over to yank the yellow cord indicating that he wants the next stop.

But yet, two moments later, he's heading past the pair, and with the oh so casual flick of the hand, two envelopes fall into the laps of Zan and Raleigh respectively.

"Don't worry about it," Zan answers. He still sounds distracted, with his attention on the man. A small crease begins to form between his brows, trying to place where he's seen the guy before. He shifts slightly in his seat when the guy approaches, flicking a glance toward Raleigh and nearly missing the delivery of a letter. One hand releases his pack to grasp the envelope, however, and he twists around in his seat to continue watching the guy.

Raleigh glances up at the man, offering a nod in return to the man as she watches him pass by her. She blinks in confusion as the envelope lands in her lap, drawing her attention away from the man who delivered it. A confused look forms on her face as she studies the envelope for a few seconds, looking at both sides of it before she looks back towards the man and Zan for a moment. Her attention then returns to the envelope before she opens it to see what's inside.

The funny thing about those letters is that both, have their names on it, and while they are staring at the guy and then down to their envelope, the bus is easing to a stop and he's getting off. Seemingly oblivious to the loss of letters.

Inside though, in both of them, are passes, to a nanotehcnology conference that seems to be happening in two days. Each, with their names, once again, on it.

"Hell if he looks familiar," Zan says more to himself, once the guy is getting off the bus. He turns his attention to the envelope then, likewise opening it with some serious hesitation. Or maybe paranoia. Teeth toy with his lower lip as he he looks over the contents, and that crease in his brow deepens. Another glance goes to Raleigh, as if he's trying to glean the contents of her envelope without actually asking her.

The look of confusion grows even more so as Raleigh pulls out the contents of the envelope and looks the pass over. "The fuck?" She says to herself as she examines both sides of the pass and noticing her name is also on the pass. "How the hell does he know my name?" She says to herself before she looks up at Zan as well, seeing the curious look on his face. She holds up the pass so he can see it with a slight shrug of her shoulders. She looks around for a moment to see if anyone else is looking at them before she grabs her board and moves to sit next to Zan.

Zan twists around after getting a look at Raleigh's pass, identical to his own but for the name shown. He tries to get a last look at the guy, tries to place where he's seen him before, but to no avail. He's turning back when the woman slides in beside him, and looks a bit surprised at that. He edges over to give her space, more by instinct, and stuffs the pass and envelope into his pack before finally closing it. "You going," he asks, pack settled on his lap, gaze now turned toward the front of the bus.

Raleigh sets the board between her legs as she looks at his pass, seeing it matches her own. She looks at her own for a moment as she considers his question before she finally shrugs her shoulders. "My head is telling me that I'm not going to go, but knowing me, my curiosity is going override my brain and I'll end up going." She pauses for a moment before she finally asks, "Are you?" She looks in the envelope to see if there's anything else in there other than the passes.

A hand reaches up to drag over his face then rake through his hair as Zan considers. "Yeah," he decides finally, though he doesn't sound too excited about the idea. Actually he sounds a bit uneasy. "Going to figure out where it was I've seen that guy before first." That sounds a little more resolute at least. A breath is let out, long and slow, and he glances sidelong at Raleigh. "I'm Zan, by the way. Zan Caldecott."

Raleigh frowns at the sight of an empty envelope. Not even spending cash. She sighs and slips the pass back into the envelope before she slips off her backpack from one shoulder so she can put the envelope into the pack and zips it back up. She nods as she looks to where the man got off the bus at before she looks back to Zan. "I've never seen him before." She says simply before she extends a hand towards him as he introduces himself. "Raleigh. Raleigh Kerrigan."

"Looked familiar," Zan says. He starts to lift that hand again, this time to possibly chew on a nail. The offered handshake stops him, though there's still a second of hesitation before he accepts. "Nice to meet you," he continues. It's an effort to pull his mind out of wondering, but he returns his attention to the front of the bus again as he draws his hand back. "Like I said, no harm no foul. Probably would have done the same if roles were reversed."

Raleigh shakes his hand firmly before retracting it. "Likewise." She says simply before she slips her backpack back onto both shoulders and makes herself comfortable, focusing on the bus. When she gets home, she's going to have to do some research on this nanotechnology conference. She's brought back by his returning the conversation to their prior one. She looks over to him and lets out a soft laugh. "Well, that's good to know you'd make fun of me too." She says with a smile. "Now I don't feel so bad."

Zan shrugs, shoulders rising and falling as his attention shifts to the world passing outside the window. "Yeah, well, that guy's an acquaintance. Kind of one of those friends you keep because they send funny Christmas cards but you don't really socialize with them. Ever." He does start chewing on a thumbnail after a moment, looking ahead once again. "My stop is coming up," he says after another couple of moments. He digs into a smaller pocket on his pack, finding a pencil and a scrap of paper. His number is written down and passed off to Raleigh. "In case you see that guy again," he explains, though his tone lilts the statement into a question.

Raleigh nods her head slightly in understanding as she glances around the bus, eyeing the people also on board. "I've got a few friends like that back in college." She says with a smile. As he mentions his stop coming up, she nods and gathers her things together so she can let him out. She takes the number before she looks at it and slips it into her backpack. "Thanks. Let me give you my card." She says, digging around in her pack before she retrieves a worn business card proclaiming her tattoo shop, Slingin' Ink with the slogan 'Home of the $20 hole.' beneath the logo as well as the contact information and gives it to him. "Stop by if you ever want a new hole or some ink."

The card is taken and Zan starts to reach for the cord. Starts to, and pauses to give Raleigh a look, somewhere between amused and horrified at the same time. "Wouldn't that just make my dad's day," he says aloud, just as he pulls the cord to signal a stop. Not to mention a moment of wondering what Rylie would think as well. The card is pushed into a pocket and his pack is pulled onto his shoulder as he stands. After a brief sidle for the walkway, a small wave is given toward the woman and he heads for the exit.

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