The city hadn't changed much.
It sounded quieter. Or perhaps peaceful would be found a better word. It, so far, turned out to be nice; returning to a place that held such chaos for me as a child and finding it welcoming. Certainly no one recognised me, all the hospitality I found held unfamiliar smiles and eyes which showed no recollection. I didn't have expectations for being noticed. It'd been a long time since I last walked these streets and I have an inkling as if the town gladly forgot about me as soon as I left.
I turned the corner and strolled down a side street, curious to see if a certain shop remained in business. It had been the hang out of people I hadn't the pleasure to truly call friends. I figured it would be unlikely I would even get in, seeing how ill prepared I came to the cafe.
Yet when I arrived at the door, there stood no intimidating bouncer. I quickly took advantage of this opportunity and ushered myself inside, noticing the place happened to be quite busy. The sound of chattering and animals easily became overwhelming, yet I took a seat at the counter nearest the food and tried to ignore all of the noise. A shadow quickly fell over me and I feared the impending potential of being thrown out.
"You have your pet, sir?" A rough voice came out over all the noises of the cafe, and I turned to face the speaker.
"Uh, no, I'm sorry, I'm just visiting from out of town, I haven't-"
"Did you read the sign? All persons must be accompanied by at least one animal."
I frowned at the man, desperately looking around. "I understand, but..."
The bouncer had an obvious intention to continue protesting when a voice cut him off, "It's fine, Calvin, he can stay here this once," The large man regarded me for short while and then stalked off for the door. As he left, I turned to see whom had allowed me the gracious privilege of staying. He looked around my age, maybe a little younger. Hair brown, a tiny bit longer than most haircuts, and a clean goatee on his face. I instantly recognised him, despite the age added, and smiled.
"Thanks," I said, uncertain if I should address him by his name. I didn't want to catch my old schoolmate off guard. Perhaps I would give him a little time to figure out he that, as a matter of fact, I was not a stranger.
"Oh, don't mention it!" He cheered, "Just make sure you make more of an effort to bring along a furry friend if you happen to stop by again. And feel free to sample any of our treats," He motioned towards the bowls on the counter which had labels of their names and included whether or not the treats could be fed to animals. "What brings you to our town?"
I scoffed to myself, "I used to go to school here when I was younger." I asked for a glass of water after that, which he happily obliged.
"Really?" He responded as he passed me my drink.
"Yeah, I went to Bloor's Academy, drama department."
"Oh, wow! Me too, I was in music 'though. It's the Bone Academy now, by the way, under new management," He corrected me, as he began wiping down the counter. "And I'm Gabriel, by the way," He suddenly added, as if he had remembered his name.
I smiled at him, which made him pause curiously. I saw a spark of recognition pass through him as we made eye contact and I brought the drink to my lips, giving a bit of a smile, "Asa," I responded, drinking to keep myself from grinning too widely at his expression.
His eyes grew wide and he gaped at me for a moment. "Oh my gosh!" He exclaimed, looking trapped and unsure how exactly to respond. "Oh my gosh, I should have noticed!" He ran his hand through his bangs, as if grabbing his head in shock. "The yellow eyes-I should have noticed right away!"
Those yellow eyes looked down at the water in my cup as I have a slightly awkward laugh, "Yeah." I couldn't muster a sure way to carry the conversation after the realisation and brought both hands to hold the glass.
"Well, how long are you in town? Does anyone else know?"
"I don't know, indefinitely I suppose. And, I really didn't know how to tell anyone. Or where to find them. I came here on a whim-you took over the Pet's Cafe?" I looked back up, realising that it was quite a possibility. Gabriel loved this place like no one else when we were children; it had always been the perfect place of work for him.
He smiled widely, pushing his hair out of his eyes. "Yeah! Mrs and Mr. Onimous handed it down to me and decided to do some traveling. I couldn't be happier here." He appeared to look around, a sort of pride sparkling in his grey eyes and it really showed how utterly blissful he felt running the store.
I smile and nodded, looking back at my drink again. "How are the others? Like Emma, and them," I asked awkwardly keeping my gaze at my drink and following up with a sip.
He gave a laugh, perhaps because I had singled Emma out and I bit my check to help from blushing, "Everyone's been doing great. Charlie's been working at Bone Academy. Olivia's finally got her big break, as we all knew she would. Lysander's also been doing well, but he's moved out of town. And Emma and Tancred are engaged," I looked up for a brief moment and, once more, took a quick gulp of my water to avoid the disappointment in my expression from showing.
"That's good," I breathed as I put the glass down, nodding. "Great to hear everyone's doing good," I turned my glass, afraid to ask about Manfred but being extremely curious. Our friendship had ended horribly, but we had been thick as thieves up until then. There lay a part of me that wished I could come back and make amends with him, holding high hopes that he found himself able to move past all this ridiculous contempt for the "good children."
There came a loud crash followed by a lot of cawing and barking. Gabriel sighed, "Sorry, I really shouldn't be shooting the breeze while I need to work. Stick around and we can catch up when the store closes?" I glanced outside and shrugged.
"Sure. Just not too late." He nodded solemnly then shuffled off and I popped a treat into my mouth.
a/n: weh i might not even continue this. read and review, let me know if you guys think its got potential.