Alba’s tired. The Ball is over now and she’s pretty sure she’s had enough excitement to last her the rest of the month. Right now, all she wants to do is sleep. But, the world is cruel and there’s someone knocking on her door at three in the morning and... humming to themselves? Surprisingly enough, it’s Cyrus on the other side of her door, drunk enough for Alba to tell at a glance, holding what appeared to be a napkin with her name written on it in sharpie. It’s a fancy napkin, one of the cloth ones that had decorated the tables at the Ball, but that’s beside the point. It was folded in half, her name written above a shitty stick-figure which would make her laugh if this were any other situation. Apparently, however, he folded it by choice, rather than happenstance, as he’s loudly whispering ‘open it’.
“Sorry Teela tried to murder your friend with a rake.” She muttered, frowning at what she guesses was his attempt at a card. His handwriting is surprisingly neat, especially given the situation, but she doesn’t seem particularly willing to compliment it as she looks back up. “How do you know where I live?” He takes a moment to gather his thoughts, swaying on the spot, before he wiggled his fingers.
“Magic.” He grinned, eyes shining in the dim hallways lighting of the Alba’s apartment. She narrowed her eyes, clearly skeptical.
“Did Isaac tell you?” Somehow, it’s the most reasonable explanation. Isaac seemed to know everything about everyone, and it’s not like she was hiding where she lived. It was a reasonable assumption to make, but that didn’t make it less creepy.
“He did indeed.” Cyrus’s nodding is truly sincere, but it does nothing to placate Alba, her frown deepening. She was never certain how to feel about Isaac, on one hand Lara and Leon seemed to trust him, on the other; she could never seem to figure out his motivations, which put her on edge. He seemed to be acting within a half-dozen personalities and options simply because it somehow benefits him. She’s heard of people living double lives, but he is something else entirely. Between the shirtless bartending, event coordinating and being The Academy’s go-to, black market ID maker, she doesn’t know how he finds the time to also be a semi-intrusive know-it-all. At this point, she probably wouldn’t even be surprised if he turned out to be the Drum Demon.
“Full disclosure:” Cyrus interrupted her train of thought with his hands raised in a gesture of peace, “I knocked on eight different doors before I found you.” He admitted, before smiling somewhat wistfully. “Your neighbours are nice.”
It took Alba a moment to align the thoughts in her head with the words she wanted to say. “This is, um,” she began slowly, napkin held gingerly in her grip. Cyrus looked pleased with himself, but she could only find one word to fit her thoughts; “weird.” After everything that had happened, she only felt the tiniest bit of guilt seeing his face fall. “Lara’s the one you should apologise to.” She insisted, before shaking her head, voice coming out as a low growl. “Teela is the one who needs to apologise.”
“I know, I just thought…” Cyrus shrugged helplessly, looking at the napkin as it had done him some sort of personal harm. Alba sighed, squeezing her eyes closed as she pinched the bridge of her nose, trying to make sense of what was happening. She had gotten out of bed for this.
“Go away.” She told him firmly, not opening her eyes. She can’t hear footsteps, so when she chances a glance, he staring contemplatively down the hall to his left, or perhaps over the metal railing to the park across the street.
“I should get going.” He agreed. Without any warning, he reached out to pet Alba’s shoulder, which could be an affectionate gesture, if he hadn’t done it simply to stop himself swaying. Alba’s giving him an unamused look when he pushes off, seemingly using the momentum to propel himself down the hall. He doesn’t comment on it, simply stuffs his hands in his pockets and throws a casual goodbye over his shoulder.
It’s a weird school full of weird people.
The second time it happens, he’s thankfully not drunk, but his eyes are shining in the way they do whenever he’s particularly amused by something, and that never bodes well with her. He’s halfway through announcing that he’s learned a new magic trick when she slams the door in his face.
“That’s not a good enough reason to come to my house.” She calls through the door, stifling a yawn. “I was sleeping.” Well, technically she was napping, but it didn’t matter because Cyrus isn’t allowed to just show up at her house whenever he wants to announce something useless.
“It’s midday!” He called back, half indignant, half amused. He has a point, but she’ not going to tell him that; instead, Alba took a deep breath and rested her forehead against the door, trying and failing to come up with a better ‘plan’ than the one she had devised – ‘plan’ being used in the loosest sense of the word.
She goes through with it anyways, and maybe it’s not the best idea to tell that to someone who has, on several occasions, tried to ruin her best friend’s life, and probably will again, to fuck off, but that’s a problem for a later date, and Cyrus obligingly fucks off.
“Isaac needs to hide his laptop somewhere until Martin stops looking for it.” Forgoing any sort of greeting, Cyrus cuts straight to the chase, carrying a suspicious looking briefcase and showing up in the middle of the afternoon on a Sunday.
“I didn’t know you and Isaac were friends.” Alba leaned against the doorframe, arms crossed. She’s not letting Cyrus in, and frankly, she’s sort of annoyed that he would come to her for help. They’re not exactly friends, but she doesn’t turn him away, so perhaps that’s why he’d come to her. Cyrus smirked, knowingly.
“I don’t think Isaac actually likes people, but I owed him a favour.” He presents the suitcase once more, but Alba pointedly doesn’t move.
“What’s on it?” She asked, analysing the suitcase with probably more interest than was necessary.
“I can’t tell you.” Cyrus huffed and Alba sighed in return, rolling her eyes.
“Why does Martin want it?” She quirked an eyebrow, and by now Cyrus had begun to look vaguely annoyed and terribly put upon, even though she’s the one who’s going to be hiding a laptop that’s probably illegal in at least five provinces.
“He won’t say.” Cyrus was wearing the look of someone who knew they were fighting a losing battle as Alba ‘tsk’ed.
“How long do you want me to keep it for?” She pushed off of the doorframe, uncrossing her arms. Cyrus’s face lit up for the barest of seconds before he schooled his expression into something less embarrassing. That didn’t mean that Alba hadn’t seen it.
“A week.” He deliberated. “Maybe two.” There’s a pause and Alba groaned, begrudgingly taking the suitcase. “Great. Thanks.” Cyrus grinned, trying and failing to find something to do with his hands. He hovered awkwardly on Alba’s doorstep for a moment before she decided to break the silence.
“Go away, Cyrus.” She told him, frowning. Cyrus finally decided it would be best just to fold his arms over his chest, and he nodded.
“Isaac’ll let you know when it’s safe to bring it back.” He told her, and left with no further arguments. He didn’t exactly tell her how Isaac was going to contact her, but he’s terrifying and omnipresent, so she didn’t really feel the need to worry.
It hadn’t been long since the first clap of thunder, and now rain was coming down in sheets. Alba didn’t care, she had Netflix (which she had gotten from Lara, who’d stole it from Leon, who’d ‘borrowed’ it from Isaac, who probably got access illegally anyway) and expected to stay in on her sofa until she eventually fell asleep there, but what she didn’t expect was a knock on her door that she could easily hear over the rain. She resents having to get up, but it’s not technically morning yet, so the knock doesn’t fill her with fear or murderous rage. Well, not entirely. She thinks she might reconsider that statement once she realises whose outside.
“What are you doing, Cyrus?” She’s frowning against the peephole in the door while Cyrus is visibly shivering on her doorstep.
“Dying slowly from hypothermia. Can I come in?” He calls back. She considers leaving him out there, but decides against it, opening the door and stepping aside to let him in. “For once I don’t mean to intrude.” He’s standing awkwardly in her hall as she closes the door.
“Yeah, I can tell. Usually you have something prepared.” Alba smirked, locking the door and issuing a wordless invitation into the rest of her flat as she walks past him. “So what are you doing here?” It’s not a big apartment, a row of counters is the only thing that separates her shoebox kitchen from her living room, but it does its job. She grabs them both a beer from her fridge, and when she turns back, it appears her cat has decided to investigate the commotion, and is now purring contently as Cyrus pets it. His expression is fond, she’s never taken him for a cat person, but somehow she’s not surprised.
“My aunt lives a couple of blocks away.” He admitted, not taking his eyes off of the fluffy creature before him. “By the time the storm hit, I was closer to your place than hers.” He paused, and the cat chose that moment to run off into the other room. “Thanks for letting me in, by the way.” He sounded sincere, but distracted and it didn’t stop Alba from rolling her eyes.
“I should have left you in the rain.” She half-jokingly told him, offering the beer. He took a moment to gather his thoughts before standing and taking the bottle from her.
“Probably.” He agreed, which startled a laugh out of Alba. It’s a nice sound, Cyrus thinks as she moves past him and into the living room after her cat.
“Well,” Alba clears her throat when he follows her into the living room, sitting down on one end of a worn, but comfortable looking sofa, “you can stay until the storm’s cleared, then call yourself a cab, OK?”
“Will do.” He grinned and sat himself on the other end of the sofa, which is nicer than he had expected, it’s soft, and big enough to fit both of them without any awkward knee-touching or shoulder bumping. She’d been marathoning ‘classic’ movies for the past few hours and didn’t feel inclined to stop. Cyrus wasn’t complaining.
It’s clear that Cyrus wants people to believe that his favourite genre of movie is action, which he tells her a little bit too seriously, but then again, he know all the words to the song from the end of Dirty Dancing and is definitely willing to sing it with little prompting, which is both hilarious and sort of terrifying, given that he can’t really sing.
By the time they’re on their second musical and third beer, Alba’s humming along and Cyrus has kicked off his shoes and is unashamedly reciting dialogue alongside the characters. He’s using ridiculous voices and fucking up the words often because but he doesn’t care; he likes the way it makes her laugh. The cat - “Her name’s Hermione.” “After the Harry Potter character?” “What other ‘Hermione’s do you know?” - curls up in his lap mewling until he starts stroking her. Alba smirks at him.
“I think she likes you.” She mused. He thinks about making a witty quip, but decides against it, a lazy smile spreading across his face.
“I feel honoured.” He scratched the cat affectionately behind her ears as she blinked slowly at him, tail curling around herself.
Alba snorts, shaking her head. “She’s always been a terrible judge of character.” He rolls his eyes pointedly at her, but the cat’s timing was truly impeccable, as the next moment she jumped up and is skittered from the room. At least Cyrus has the decency to be mock-offended when Alba gives him an ‘I told you so’ look.
Ten minutes into the next film, Alba shuffles over to rest her head in his lap. This makes his heels dig into the coffee table uncomfortably, but he’s afraid to move, afraid he might scare her off, which is ridiculous, because this is Alba, who seems like she’s not afraid of anything, least of all him. He keeps still anyway.
He realises too late that she’s fallen asleep on him. It’s three in the morning, the rain’s eased up, he thinks he should probably leave. When he goes to get up, however, Alba makes a soft, angry noise in her sleep and swats at his leg half-heartedly. He tries in vain to watch the rest of the movie, but his eyelids are growing heavy.
He’s been weird, and a bit awful to Alba and her friends, and he definitely regrets probably, most of it, but right now, despite everything, this is perfect. If he could freeze time and stay here forever, in a moment where no-one’s mad at him, he’s not chasing people who don’t deserve it, and the Shadow Order is the furthest thing from him mind, well, he probably would.
He’s thrilled that it has to end, that he has to wake her up and tell her that he’s leaving and she should sleep in an actual bed and not on him, because that’s sort of creepy now that he thinks about it.
“It’s still raining.” She sits up, blinking blearily. Cyrus grins lopsidedly, shrugging.
“Taxis are waterproof, you know.” He mused. Alba’s too tired to commit to roll her eyes, but from her exasperated sigh, he can tell she wants to. She stretches with a groan and Cyrus thinks that maybe the rain got louder if possible.
“Just crash here.” She offered, gesturing to the sofa. He frowned, but everything felt slow and heavy and he didn’t want to accidentally pass out in the back of a taxi at this time of day. “Come on, it’s easier for everyone involved.” Alba insisted, and Cyrus chuckled.
“All right, fine.” And he’s still wearing his jeans and a button down shirt, but he doesn’t care. He’ll look like a wrinkled mess tomorrow, and probably wake up with a sore back, but it’s worth it. Alba salvages a pillow and blanket from her poorly stocked linen closet, before disappearing into her room. She mumbles barely coherent plans for breakfast, but Cyrus isn’t even certain if he’ll be around for breakfast, he planned to leave early and not overstay his welcome. He’ll figure that out tomorrow.
The cat curls up by his feet, rumbling with content purrs as they both begin to fall asleep. The living room is nice, he considered, there’s only one photo, a Polaroid selfie of Lara and Alba from a much younger time, and a fancy-looking electric guitar placed neatly on a stand. The only thought he can really manage, however, is that this is definitely not how he thought this day would end, but it could have been a lot worse.