Tattered Pages || Sansa Stark & Elixir

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    Rome, Italy. 2015.

    Tattered Pages was just a name. The bookstore Jane had worked at for two years
    never would have been the object of her fantasy. It was a means to an end,
    a way to remember her perished parents and reign in money for her college
    debt. There was no mysticism, no joy. It was simply a deed that was done.

    Rome was supposed to be a blessing. Instead, it had been a curse.

    Or so she had thought.

    One rainy night, Jane attends to her shop business. A stranger visits her,
    and together they begin the journey of recovery neither of them knew they needed.

  2. Jane Randall; The Bookworm
    Jane Randall
    "A reader lives a thousand lives. The person who never reads lives only one."

    There was never enough time in the day. 24 hours wasn't enough. Jane was rushed as always, panicking from mid-terms and her sister's student conferences spoken in a language she wasn't used to. Walking down the cobbled streets of a moonlit Rome, Jane tried to forget about her bike that had a flat tire, her backwater bookshop and how she'd called her sister's teacher a potato on accident. Italian was still an improving work for her. Being raised in England, she'd had to learn the strangely romantic language on short notice after news of her father's untimely death. And here she was, once homeless, now being provided for by her estranged father's will. It was almost as bizarre as the city that surrounded her, the country she now lived in and the people who inhabited it. An odd situation for an odd young woman.

    Sometimes, she thought, I wonder how I'm going to make it in this place.

    Taking the keys from her pocket and keeping her textbooks balanced in the other arm, Jane managed to open the bookshop one-handed. She stepped into the dark room and dumped her textbooks atop the main counter with a heavy sigh of relief. Once she re-locked the shop and flipped on the dim lights, Jane was able to check her watch. 12:15. Past midnight already? She groaned, knowing there was no time for homework and she had to get some sleep as soon as possible to face another day of chaos. She tended to a few disorderly things here and there, wishing she had an extra pair of hands, before she heard shuffling and footsteps coming down the spiral staircase.

    "Jane?" called her sister, Zaya. "Is that you?"

    "What are you doing up?" Jane replied with a frown. "It's past midnight and you have school tomorrow."

    "I know. I just stayed up 'cause I was worried." The thirteen-year-old sat on the iron steps of the staircase and peered through the bars down at her adopted sister. "How did class go?"

    "Fine," said Jane. "Turned in my essay."

    "The big one?"

    "Yeah. I think I did well on it. You were a great helper."

    "Please. The crap I'm learnin' here, I'll be a scholar by next year."

    The siblings chuckled before the eldest gave her advice. "Go on, get to bed. I'll be there in a minute. I just wanna tidy up here before I open tomorrow."

    "'Kay. Night."

    "Night." Jane watched the young teen in her pink onesie trudge up the stairs with a yawn, closing the door to the upper apartment behind her. The student took a moment to smile to herself, proud of all the things she'd accomplished in the short 24 hour days, across countries and bloodlines. It never ceased to amaze her, the determination she'd found so suddenly. Perhaps it was inherited by parents she never met. She hoped so.

    Jane stood at the counter in contemplation before hearing the pitter patter of dog feet coming down the iron staircase. Zaya must have let him out, Jane thought, grinning to herself before moving to greet the bloodhound who had attached to her since her arrival.

    Only, he did not come. Jane tried calling to him. "Buster!" she summoned, but the dog did not respond, and began to bark wildly. "Hey, shh! Buster, quiet!" Jane dropped what she was holding and rushed to silence the massive canine, only to discover what, or who, he was barking at.
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  3. Sebastían Abelló; The Forgotten Artist
    Sebastían Abelló
    "Just when I think I have learned how to live, life changes."
    The air was crisp as it swept the streets of Rome. It wasn't too chilly as the month of October neared its close, but it did cool down a bit around nightfall. It was enough to chill Sebastían's bones though, for he wasn't wearing sufficient layers for the occasion. A worn down white t-shirt, an old vest, and some jeans that were slowly forming holes around the knees weren't nearly enough to maintain his body heat. Going from the comfortable 70s to the lower 50s wasn't a welcome surprise in this state, but it was what the man had to deal with.

    The streets were his only home now.

    Just another day in paradise, he thought to himself with a bitter smirk as he looked up to the sky. His irises were coated in dark chocolate, the stars above reflected inside them. Though they provided his eyes with some youthful shine as he gazed upon them, alone they appeared rather dull and empty. Their dark brown hue almost appeared black sometimes with how faded their light was.

    Who can press any blame, though?

    All they ever see is nothingness to begin with.

    Sebastían was once a man of pride and a passion for art and knowledge. If you met him while he was still attending school, you'd wonder just how he became a man living off the lonesome and merciless streets. Academic achievements, paintings placed in Museums by his teachers each time he won a competition, and a friendly and outgoing personality to match; he was easily considered one of the most talented and well-liked people of his class. He can still distinctly remember when his art teacher, Mrs. Alescio, told him with such certainty that he'd be the next Michelangelo or Raphael.

    For a while, he actually found himself believing it.

    Let's just say those days are long gone.

    Reminiscing the past made Sebastían feel incredibly bitter, and he found himself wishing to drown his sorrows. Passing pubs made resisting incredibly difficult, but the man didn't have any money to spend on a comforting drink anyways. He got by on nearly-empty bottles that most of the bars would throw out, but most didn't have enough to grant him the slightest buzz. He's developed quite the tolerance with how much he's indulged in hard liquor over the years, so a shot or two wasn't nearly enough to give him a satisfying fix.

    Better than nothing, though, he thought to himself as he roamed around behind a pub. He could hear the music and chatter coming from inside the building, but the alley behind it was desolate. Not a soul to be seen—

    Until he heard shouting.

    "Lasciar andare di me!"* He heard a feminine voice call out, dragging his attention from the abandoned bottles, most of which didn't have a drop left anyways, to the source of the cries.

    There was a young woman, most likely not a day over twenty three. Cowering over her was a much older man, seeming to be in his forties or so. His cheeks were rosy, probably due to a sufficient amount of alcohol he consumed over the course of the night. He was speaking to her in drunken slurs, but she didn't appear to be enjoying herself at all. Sebastían looked at them with his brows furrowed in pity, but he normally wasn't the type to get involved in a situation like that.

    Perhaps it was the half full bottle of Grappa in the man's hand that changed his mind.

    "Hey!" Sebastían called out, speaking in Italian so the man could clearly understand him. As the man turned hazily to face him, his face twisted in displeasure, Sebastían gave him a quick jab to the face. The two were about the same height, but it was clear that the drunkard weighed much more with that beer gut of his. Still, with the force of Sebastían's sober punch, and with the man already being off balance and not in his right mind to begin with, he knocked out quite easy. The impact did leave Sebastían's hand feeling sore, though. He shook it off.

    "Grazie, grazie!"* The woman thanked Sebastían frantically, tears filling her bright green eyes. Not wanting to get involved more than he already was, he simply put up a hand and forced a smile across his lips.

    "Prego,"* he spoke as he leaned over the unconscious man's torso. He gently pried the bottle from his hands, giving the girl he just saved a small wink.

    "He's had enough, anyways. I'll take this off his hands."

    Sebastían continued wandering the streets for a few more hours after that, feeling nice after downing the bottle he took from the drunkard behind the pub. His cheeks were developing a small red hue, and his eyes looked glossier than before. He had a carefree grin on his face, for the alcohol he consumed helped him forget all about the nostalgia that came with remembering his past.

    Such potential you had.

    All wasted.

    Now since that thought decided to invade his mind, he went from chuckling to himself in intoxicated glee to brooding in silence. His brows furrowed with a mixture of anger and sadness, but the most prominent feeling of all wasn't exactly a feeling.

    It was the lack of them.

    He let out a deep sigh as he continued to roam around the city, but he knew now that it was nearing midnight that he had to find a place to stay for the night.

    His dark irises roamed about the place in search for a comfortable and accessible sanctuary, but most of the doors he tried to open were locked tight. He only ever approached older, more desolate looking buildings, with hope that nobody was present within them. Eventually, he came across what looked to be a bookshop. He looked through the windows, and there wasn't a soul to be seen. Must be closed up, he thought to himself as he began to search for a way inside. He knew he'd be gone before the sun rose again, so he wasn't afraid of getting caught spending the night there.

    He began fiddling with the windows, but most were locked. However, as he went towards the back alleyway, he found another entrance. This is probably locked, too—, he thought to himself, but to his pleasant surprise, the door opened.

    Maybe there is a God after all.

    He walked into the rather cramped, stuffy shop. There were books stacked very tightly on shelves, though some still didn't seem to fit. Some more were stacked on desks and the window sill. His guess was that maybe some visitors didn't put the book back where it belonged once they were done reading, or maybe the owner of the shop just didn't have time to tidy things up completely. It didn't matter to Sebastían, though. He just wanted to sleep.

    His thoughts kept him awake, though.

    Wanting to distract himself from them, he decided to pick up a book. The first one he found was The Count of Monte Cristo, the original French version. Sebastían was a man of many languages, contrary to his situation and appearance, so he picked it up and began reading with ease. It brought back memories of his school days, since he could recall having assignments related to this book. However, he was starting to feel less bitter. Instead, he decided to focus on how he felt whenever he first read the book—free, nothing to worry about but simple things like grades and getting your projects finished.

    Those were the days, he thought as his world slowly fell to black.

    His peace didn't last long, though.


    He could hear a ruckus erupting right in front of him. Being awakened from a deep slumber, he wasn't prepared for the sudden howling being thrown his way. The book in his hand fell off his lap as he shook back to life, and he completely fell out of the chair he had passed out in. "W-What on Ear—" he began to say as he toppled over onto the floor. His speech was interrupted, though, as the dog that appeared to be interrogating him for a moment, came up and began licking his face instead.

    For reasons Sebastían didn't understand, the bloodhound before him decided to trade the barking for affection instead. He rubbed his nose under Sebastían's wrist, bringing Sebastían's hand onto his head. Sebastían's gaze flickered back and forth in confusion for a moment, but he figured that, if the dog wasn't barking anymore, he just might be in the clear.

    "Good boy," he spoke to the dog in a gentle murmur as he sat up on his knees and patted his head, fluffing his floppy ears up as he brought his hands around the affectionate creature's face. For the first time in a long time, a genuine, sober smile spread across Sebastían's lips as the hound panted contently. Maybe it was because he was feeling pure, innocent affection for the first time in forever?

    Who knew a dog could bring more comfort than a bottle of Grappa or Wine.

    Or, at least, he came pretty damn close.
    #3 Elixir, Dec 21, 2015
    Last edited: Jan 2, 2016
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  4. Jane Randall; The Bookworm
    Jane Randall
    "A reader lives a thousand lives. The person who never reads lives only one."

    Buster's barking was sudden and fierce, but it quieted as quickly as it had begun. For a moment she wondered if Buster was simply being paranoid, but the dog did not come when called and she could hear him panting happily from a distance. The thump of his tail hitting the floor over and over echoed through the shop. Jane furrowed her brows and stepped forward from the counter, curious and cautious. "Buster?" she called from behind the bookshelves, maneuvering around them to find the canine in question. "Buster, what's the matter with you? Be quiet, it's late and--"

    Her jaw dropped. Sitting on the floor with his arm outstretched, a dirty stranger patted Buster atop the head. The dog panted and licked his face before yipping again at Jane, showing her what, or who, he had found.

    "Oh my god. Oh my god." Jane immediately began to panic. She fumbled for her purse, which she had left on the counter, realizing she had no protection from the stranger. She stepped away subconsciously until her back hit the nearby shelves and several books went tumbling to the floor. Jane picked one of them up in a hasty search for some form of safety from the intruder. "Buster, come!" she called fearfully. The bloodhound obeyed, trudging to her side and sitting in a calm position, much opposite her frantic demeanor. His peace with the situation did not calm Jane, who held up the large encyclopedia in self-defense from the man in the room. "Don't come near me!" she shouted. "Who are you, what are you doing here? You can't have anything and I don't respond to gun violence, so leave before I call the police!"

    English. Being her default language, it was only natural for her to shout in fear at him the only way she knew how. But a look of understanding and knowledge of her own faliure passed Jane's features, and she gripped the book tighter to show her anxiety. One look at the odd man told her all she needed to know. He was dirty, his clothes ragged and old, and he looked as though he'd just come in from the streets. Perhaps he had. A homeless man looking for shelter. He had pet Buster and shown affection, which meant he certainly wasn't hostile, and Jane could swear she saw a French copy of The Count of Monte Cristo on the floor beside him.

    Drawing in a breath, Jane decided a different approach. Perhaps one he could better understand.

    "I mean... Che ci fai qui?* Uhh. I... No me piace questo.*"
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  5. Sebastían Abelló; The Forgotten Artist
    Sebastían Abelló
    "Just when I think I have learned how to live, life changes."
    "Buster?" Sebastían heard a voice—with a seemingly English accent—call out.

    How ironic, Sebastían thought to himself with a sigh of despair.

    Buster busted me.

    As the sound of footsteps grew nearer, Sebastían could feel an uncomfortable lump growing in his throat. It wasn't like the kind you get before you cry, for Sebastían felt relatively calm.

    Well, besides the fear that crashed over him from getting caught breaking and entering.

    And the possible jail time he might have to face for it.

    He immediately stopped petting the bloodhound before him as a young girl came into sight. She didn't have classic Italian features, according to the usual women he'd see born and raised in this country. Her skin was as white as snow, rather than the usual honey glow most females in Italy have. Her eyes were also a bright, brilliant blue. For a split second, they froze Sebastían in his tracks.

    Despite the situation, he couldn't help but be charmed by her beauty.

    As the sound of books toppling onto the floor echoed through the small bookshop, however, Sebastían was immediately knocked out of his trance.

    The girl was clearly frightened, and she had every right to be. Any normal woman would assume Sebastían was a robber, rapist, or worse. While he was neither of those things, he did break into the store. That alone is a crime, but all the man honestly wanted was a roof above his head for the night. As she gripped the encyclopedia, her knuckles whitening from how tightly she held onto it, he could tell that it was about time he spoke up and said something to her. An explanation was overdue.

    He stood up after her words, noticing right away that she had to be foreign. Her Italian wasn't exactly fluent, but he got the gist of what she was trying to say.

    Wanting her to be more comfortable with her speech, he decided to respond in English.

    "I mean you no harm," he stated as he put his hands up in surrender. For some reason, he couldn't bring himself to look her in the eyes. Perhaps it was because she was so pristine and alluring, and he was so dirty and ragged. He didn't want to see the same look all of the people in town give him.


    "I'm sorry for intruding on you and your shop," he began, his dark brown gaze still glued to the ground. His long waves covered a majority of his face. "In all honesty, I don't have a place to stay. The back door was open, so I walked in."

    After a brief moment of awkward silence, he gathered the strength to look back into those sky blue eyes of hers, attempting to show a display of sincerity. "My name is Sebastían Abelló. I truly don't mean you nor your store any harm. If you'll allow it, I'd appreciate a place to stay for the night. However, if you decide to call the police on me now, I'd also understand."

    The way he spoke revealed that he wasn't uneducated in the slightest, despite his ragged and tattered appearance. Yet still, despite the dire situation he was currently in, he couldn't help but crack a smirk with his next statement.

    Perhaps some of the liquor was still in his system, after all.

    "I can't guarantee I wouldn't run if you did call, though. I'd rather not go to jail."

    Honest sarcasm at its finest.

    "I'll help pick up the books first, though. Of course."
    #5 Elixir, Dec 22, 2015
    Last edited: Jan 2, 2016
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  6. Jane Randall; The Bookworm
    Jane Randall
    "A reader lives a thousand lives. The person who never reads lives only one."

    Jane stared at the defenseless stranger with his hands in the air, and her disposition faltered. He spoke English as if he were born into it, despite the Italian accent laced in his every word. His speech was fluent and educated, yet his attire screamed the opposite. A million questions had been raised in the few seconds it took him to speak, and Jane stood frozen in place as she tried to comprehend and process all of them. An enigma had broken into her store and she couldn't seem to decipher him.

    The back door was open. Zaya must've forgotten to lock it. It was hard to accuse a man of breaking and entering when there truly was no "breaking" involved; he'd simply opened what was already unlocked and found a secret place to stay for the night. His claim to not be a threat was believed, too. He'd been kind to Buster and raised his hands to show a lack of a weapon when she'd made herself known to him. He was doing no harm to her shop when the bloodhound had found him and the look in the homeless man's eyes was true to his stated intentions.

    Slowly, Jane lowered the encyclopedia. She looked the man over once, twice before allowing her guard to slightly lower, despite the odd situation.

    "You...you mean it?" Jane asked, meeting his eyes again. "You just want a place to stay?" She asked herself inwardly how she could trust a man she didn't know, but something about him told her everything would be okay. He had a peaceful aura about him. Jane's heart was made of gold, despite the horrors she had seen and been victim to. She would regret it if she offered no compassion here.

    "Only one night," she said at last, wondering if her decision would backfire. "I don't have enough food to support another person. I don't make much at this shop and I'm still in school, so..." Jane placed the encyclopedia awkwardly atop a wobbly stack of books. It was clear that she hadn't organized the shop in some time, having been too busy with school and work and Zaya to pay much attention to the little things. "There's a couch there, the one you were laying on. I, uhm. I could bring you a blanket? Are you hungry?"

    Damn it, Jane thought. Here comes "Mom Jane."
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  7. Sebastían Abelló; The Forgotten Artist
    Sebastían Abelló
    "Just when I think I have learned how to live, life changes."
    "Only one night."
    "Only one night."
    "Only one night."

    Those words swept over Sebastían like a tidal wave. They seemed to echo in his ears, and he couldn't explain the feeling beginning to stir within his entire being—with as much power as a furious tornado.

    Perhaps it was relief? Gratitude? Pleasant surprise?

    No, those words weren't nearly enough to describe it.

    He was in a state of complete and utter euphoria, and no amount of petty words in the world could express it.

    But, it was all showed in his smile.

    For the first time in what seemed to be forever, Sebastían's entire face transformed. His expression softened, his eyebrows slightly raised. He flashed his somehow still semi-white teeth in a seemingly relieved grin, a pleasantly shocked laugh escaping his lips. It was a single, happy huff—that of which almost came out like a sigh of contentment. He took in all the young lady before him was, and he watched her the whole while leading up to the moment he heard her speak those words. She had lowered her "weapon" and gave him quite the look over, and Sebastían was almost sure that she was going to tell him to leave. He couldn't deny the slight hope she'd grant him a roof above his head just for the night, but he didn't actually expect her to. He expected her to be like everyone else who sees a homeless man here in Rome—to shout accusations, rude remarks, or just look upon him with expressions filled to the brim with pity or disgust.

    She didn't do any of those things, and Sebastían was shocked.

    But, it was a pleasant spark—that's for sure.

    "I don't have enough food to support another person. I don't make much at this shop and I'm still in school, so..." He continued to listen to her speak, her words—though slightly frantic and timid still—seemed to float through the air like a feather. Sebastían felt like he was being completely surrounded by her comforting aura, even though he was only promised a night.

    Still, one would be surprised how much one, little gesture...

    Can change one's attitude and outlook completely.

    "There's a couch there, the one you were laying on. I, uhm. I could bring you a blanket? Are you hungry?" She went on, and Sebastían couldn't help but laugh at her offers. It wasn't a mocking laugh in the slightest, but he couldn't help but be amused by her overall persona. A girl that was once so fearful, ready to defend herself and her home even though she only had an encyclopedia, was now offering him things he hasn't had in years.

    It's a little funny how she asks if I'm hungry, but she just said she didn't have enough food.

    "You have a heart of pure gold," he found himself saying as he shook his head slightly, causing his waves to tumble over his face as he stared back at the ground. His hands, which were once raised to show his defenselessness, were now rubbing the back of his neck. For some reason, he could feel the slightest bit of embarrassment sway his being, and he turned his dark gaze to the side shyly.

    How am I supposed to even face someone like her,

    When I'm someone like this?

    Sebastían's smile faded the slightest bit as that thought corrupted his mind, but he shook his head once more, trying to get that slight bitterness out of his system. It's just a night, he reminded himself as he let out another sigh, attempting to calm down his buzzing nerves. This is just a generous girl with an innocent soul, just wishing to help you while staying within her comfort zone. Hell, this is more than a man like you even deserves. But, you can't turn her down, and you can't be disrespectful.

    Don't impose on her like a wretch.

    "I've already intruded enough by coming in here without your permission initially," he began, his expression still kind, but softening in a more somber, melancholy way. "I wouldn't dare ask you for a meal when you've already stated you're limited."

    I'm used to going without food, to begin with.

    He left his statement as such, bending over for a moment to pick up the book Buster made him drop in surprise just moments before. The Count of Monte Cristo was always one of Sebastían's favorites, so he set it aside next to the couch he'd be sleeping on that night. "I will ask to borrow that book, though," he flashed her another grin. "It's always been one of my favorites, ever since I was young. I'd like to finish it again, if you'd allow it."

    With that request floating in the air, Sebastían sat down on the couch, setting the book in his lap. He rubbed the back of his neck again, feeling a slight bit of shame once more. He turned his head back to the side.

    "I do.. suppose a blanket would be nice, too.."
    #7 Elixir, Dec 23, 2015
    Last edited: Jan 2, 2016
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  8. Jane Randall; The Bookworm
    Jane Randall
    "A reader lives a thousand lives. The person who never reads lives only one."
    Jane felt odd, the longer she looked at him and listened to him speak. He was such a contradiction. The stranger looked beyond homeless--family-less, abandoned, hopeless--yet he spoke and held himself as if there was something to live for. It would be rude to question him outright, but Jane knew that thoughts of him would not leave her as she went to sleep for the night. Buster's unusual calmness around the Italian was strange, too, as the dog was known and trusted to be vicious toward anyone he thought would bring harm to his family. But there wasn't much time to ponder it. She was tired after a long day, and not particularly up to facing moral dilemmas.

    "Uhm--a blanket, yeah. Hold on. I'll get that." Jane smoothed out her skirt and left the reading area, awkwardly rushing toward the closet behind the front counter. Her father had always kept blankets in the back room, so her landlord had said, in case the power went out and the heater with it. Apparently that could happen in terrible storms. Jane retrieved one of the plush blankets from the many and returned to the stranger in her bookshop, offering it to him.

    "Here," she said. "Sorry if it's old and dusty. I'm, uh, I'm actually new to this place. I don't know how long that thing's been there." Jane curled her hair behind her ears and folded her arms across her chest, glad that he was kind, but still anxious all the same. She was known to become stressed in strange situations. It was what made her transition from England to Italy so off-putting to begin with.

    "Anyway, uhm, I don't care about the book. If you really like it, that is. I can't read French and not many people that come in here are from France, so...you can have it. I have others." Jane picked at her nails. "The Count of Monte Cristo is a literary classic, one of my favorites..."

    Enough, Jane. Go to bed. You have to wake up in six hours.

    "Uhm. Okay. I'll just be upstairs, you can knock on the door if you need me. My sister Zaya might answer. Just don't scare her. She's a fiery kid, she might punch you and scream for me." An awkward chuckle. "Okay. Goodnight, then."

    And Jane retreated up the stairs with Buster at her heels, wondering what the hell had come over her.
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  9. Sebastían Abelló; The Forgotten Artist
    Sebastían Abelló
    "Just when I think I have learned how to live, life changes."
    Sebastían flashed the girl a smile as she wandered off to go grab a blanket for him. She's so kind, he thought to himself, still feeling like he didn't deserve her generous gestures. Still, he wouldn't dare come off as ungrateful. After the hell he had been through over the past few years, even something as small as a couch to sleep on and a blanket to go with sent him flying sky-high to cloud nine.

    It's amazing how some people take things like this for granted.

    As she returned, apologizing for the possible mustiness of the blanket, Sebastían just shook his head her way. "It's perfect," he reassured her with a gentle grin, his eyes shimmering the slightest bit in gratitude for the plush piece of cloth. He eased the blanket out of Jane's arms, taking care not to invade the girl's personal space as he did so. As she wrapped her arms around herself, he wrapped the blanket around his torso, leaving his arms out as he held The Count of Monte Cristo in his hands. He watched as she hooked her hair behind her ear, finding himself charmed once more by the simplest gestures she made.

    He forced himself to look away out of shame, though.

    "Anyway, uhm, I don't care about the book. If you really like it, that is. I can't read French and not many people that come in here are from France, so...you can have it. I have others." He listened to her say, and his eyebrows perked up as he met her sky blue gaze again. "Really? You wouldn't mind?" He questioned, and another grateful smile graced his lips.

    "Thank you."

    Sebastían didn't look into the girl's eyes as she spoke—at least for the most part, for he met her gaze every now and then in hopes of not seeming rude—because he still wasn't so sure on how to react to her kindness. As she warned him of her little sister, Zaya, Sebastían cracked a smile and chuckled softly her way. "I'll be careful," he assured her.

    "Sweet dreams."

    His gaze followed after her as she disappeared up the staircase, and as soon as she was out of sight, Sebastían knew what he had to do.

    Early dawn was peeking through the window. The sun hadn't risen yet, but it would any moment now. Even though he was blessed with a comfy couch to sleep on and a plenty warm blanket, Sebastían didn't sleep a wink.

    "That should about do it," he spoke softly to himself as he patted his hands down on his torn up jeans.

    He had spent the whole night tidying up the bookshop.

    He walked around the small store, that of which seemed much larger now that there weren't books scattered about everywhere. Instead of leaving stacks upon stacks on the desks, Sebastían went around the whole store, organizing the books by size and by authors. All of the smaller sized books, he managed to fit neatly in the blank space on the shelves above the books already resting there. He wasn't wearing his vest anymore, either, for he had used it to dust all of the books, shelves, counters, and tables off. Sebastían even folded up the blanket lent to him neatly on the couch he didn't even sleep on.

    Hopefully this shows my gratitude enough, he thought with hope, though he still wished he could do more.

    Someone with a heart as pure as that, in Sebastían's eyes, deserves more than a clean store.

    They deserve the world.

    He opened up a window, taking his dusty vest and shaking it off outside. Once a majority of the dust was off, he put it back on.

    With that, he made his way to the front door—his hand extended with the intent of leaving without a single word of goodbye.

    I didn't even get her name.

    What a pity.
    #9 Elixir, Dec 23, 2015
    Last edited: Jan 2, 2016
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  10. Jane Randall; The Bookworm
    Jane Randall
    "A reader lives a thousand lives. The person who never reads lives only one."
    As Jane pushed the eggs about the frying pan, her mind was elsewhere. There were so many things to do and so little time in the day, one of her many problems encountered as a grown adult. She tossed some onions and ham into the cheese-flavored eggs and turned back to the bathroom that she and her sister shared, hoping for a distraction from the day's many upcoming problems. "You almost done, Zaya? Breakfast is ready."

    "Hold on, hold on!" Jane heard the sound of the blow dryer turning on. Zaya's African genetics were a point of frustration for her when it came to hair care and getting ready on time. "Can you wait? I gotta do this."

    "Don't worry. I'll be downstairs for a minute, your serving is on the table. Just keep an eye on the clock." The student put her sister's food on the table before rounding up a second serving. "Don't forget to give Buster more water."

    "Yeah, yeah." Jane chuckled under her breath as she opened the apartment door, a plate of eggs and hashbrowns in hand. She stepped down the iron spiral stairs with her gift, hoping it wouldn't be too much for her visitor. Jane's kindness was one of her many wonderful traits and she would feel terrible letting the handsome stranger leave without first giving him a meal for the day. How often did a homeless person get to eat? Were the options nutritional? Jane had never contemplated homelessness enough to wonder what he put into his body, but so long as he was with Jane, she would give him something of value. Jane walked onto the sales floor and peeked her head around some bookshelves.

    "Uhm, sir?" she called. "I wanted to..."

    Her jaw dropped, again. The bookstore was spotless and clean from bottom to top, as if an angel had graced her with mercy. Not only were the books placed into shelves, they were organized by title, author and genre as they should be, something Jane never had the time to do. He even dusted, she thought in shock and awe. So impressed and joyful was she, that Jane almost missed the silhouette by the shop's front door, preparing to leave.

    "I--wait!" Jane shouted, rushing to the door so she might stop him. His eyes met hers again from their height difference, and she swallowed the nervous lump in her throat. "You cleaned my shop. You...you did that, for me? I--I can't let you go without saying thank you. Or eating. I, I didn't know you cleaned otherwise I would have made something nicer..." Jane offered him the hearty meal. It was clear that she was flustered and blushing, having been prepared for one type of meeting only to be met with another. She wondered if her words were coming too fast. "Please, eat something, won't you? I hope you don't have any allergies. You've done more than I can possibly thank you for. This is the least I can do."

    At least now she had a reason for feeding him, other than the kindness of her own heart.
    • Bucket of Rainbows Bucket of Rainbows x 1
  11. Sebastían Abelló; The Forgotten Artist
    Sebastían Abelló
    "Just when I think I have learned how to live, life changes."
    "I--Wait!" Sebastían heard that familiar voice call out. By the time he turned around to face the source of the shout, the culprit was already right behind him. He looked down at her—quite literally, actually, given their immense height difference. His eyes widened with pleasant surprise as the scent of eggs and hashbrowns filled his nostrils.

    As she went on in thanks and explanation, Sebastían simply flashed her a warm, grateful beam as he gently shook his head. "Thank you," he corrected her prior statement. "Those are the words I should be saying, miss. Not only did you offer me a place to sleep for the night, you even made me a meal regardless of your scarce resources. Tidying up around here was the least I could do for you," he countered her gratitude with his own, his expression soft as he looked upon her.

    Such a beautiful young girl with an even more dazzling heart.

    How did I get so lucky all of a sudden?

    As he took the plate from her hands, he took care not to touch her with his dirty skin. She looked so pristine, so clean, so perfect—he didn't want to ruin it with his raggedness and filth. He flashed her another soft smile, as if thanking her again as he began eating. How long has it been since I've had a decent meal? He wondered to himself as he ate slowly and thoughtfully, savoring each and every bite.

    Probably at least a week, now that I think about it.

    Sebastían mainly got off scraps that people handed out, or perhaps some food nearby restaurants would throw out. If you add up all of the discarded portions he consumed, it'd probably only add up to about a quarter of a proper meal's portion. Hell, he'd be lucky if the baker threw him some damaged bread. A loaf a little larger than the size of his hands was a blessing in his eyes, for that could keep him going for a couple days.

    In comparison, this meal itself was like a gift from God.

    Or, perhaps.. a Goddess?

    "This is delicious," he finally spoke once his mouth wasn't full. He was trying to eat slowly, but as soon as he was done chewing, he already had another bite at the ready. He could pace himself at first, but after he got a taste of the wonderful food prepared for him, he found it nearly impossible not to shove it all in his mouth right then and there. Once about half of his plate was finished, he actually rounded off the rest to the edge of the plate.

    "By any chance, would you have anything I could put this in to take with me?" He asked, hoping his eyes didn't reveal why he wanted to save it for later. A meal like this only came by once in a long, long time for a man like him, and he didn't want to waste it by eating it all now. He knew he couldn't ask her to stay another night, so he figured he'd take some of this with him and save it for another day.

    If I ever end up on the brink of starving again, it'd be nice to know I'd have this waiting for me.

    I'm sure it'd still taste wonderful even if it was cold.
    #11 Elixir, Dec 23, 2015
    Last edited: Jan 2, 2016
    • Bucket of Rainbows Bucket of Rainbows x 1
  12. Jane Randall; The Bookworm
    Jane Randall
    "A reader lives a thousand lives. The person who never reads lives only one."

    "Hm? Oh! Uhm, yeah, I do. I can get something, hold on." Jane awkwardly tapped her chin in thought, wondering what she could put the food in that she could live without, until the memory of an old tupperware container came to mind. She climbed up the stairs to her apartment again and opened the door, crouching to the bottom row of white kitchen cupboards to retrieve what she was looking for.

    "What are you doing?" asked Zaya from the table.

    "Oh, nothing. Just looking for something."

    "For who?"

    "No one." Jane stood up with the tupperware in hand, looking to her suspicious sister.

    "I'm not an idiot, Jane. Come oooon, who's downstairs? I heard voices."

    "No one! Trust me, it's fine. Just finish your breakfast and make sure Buster has a bowl of water before you leave for school. I don't want him dehydrated on the way there."

    "Okay, okay, but tell me who's down the--"

    "Byee~!" Jane closed the door to the apartment, sighing as she stood on the other side. Zaya wanted to be a lawyer, it was only in her nature to ask questions and get to the truth of a matter. But some truths are better off buried. If Zaya knew Jane had let a complete stranger sleep downstairs, she might not be happy. It unsettled the sister to keep secrets from her younger counterpart, but perhaps there would be time later to tell the truth. Jane descended the iron stairs and reapproached the waiting Sebastian, offering the plastic container to him.

    "I hope this will do. You can keep it." She bit her lip, wondering what else there was to say, but she was far too awkward to think of something, let alone open her mouth to say it.
    • Love Love x 1
  13. Sebastían Abelló; The Forgotten Artist
    Sebastían Abelló
    "Just when I think I have learned how to live, life changes."
    Sebastían watched as the young girl before him began pondering what container to hold his spare food in. For a brief moment, he almost wanted to ask her to forget about it. I've imposed on her enough, he began thinking as he turned his gaze sideways towards the ground. Maybe I should just ask her for some foil or wrap--

    He watched as she climbed up the stairs in a hurry, an idea suddenly popping into her mind. He smiled as he watched after her, his grin holding a warmth he couldn't explain.

    Perhaps this is what it feels like to be able to indulge in one's kindness.

    Just a few more moments later, she returned with a plastic container for him to hold his spare food in. "I hope this will do. You can keep it." She told him, and he beamed towards her, his smile bright with gratitude. "Thank you, miss," he began as he moved the food from his plate to the container neatly. "I'll treasure this," he spoke again, his dark brown eyes shimmering with a slight bit of pleasant surprise and complete and utter thankfulness.

    As he looked down upon the girl before him, he still couldn't help but be taken aback by their height difference. Am I just that tall, or is she simply that small? He pondered to himself as he cracked a mischievous looking grin. A small huff of a laugh escaped him, but he covered it up nicely as he pushed his waves up and out of his face, his expression normal once again as he faced her.

    "Thank you, truly," he spoke to her in gratitude once more. "This is more than anyone in this town has done for me in years, so I'm honestly at a loss for words." He rubbed the back of his neck in an almost shy manner, though it was more so out of shame. The fact that he was in this predicament to begin with wasn't something that made Sebastían feel proud in the slightest.

    "I'll take my leave now," he spoke as he began turning his back to her, opening the door in front of him.

    He turned his head the slightest bit with his next words, only glancing at her from the corner of his chocolate coated eyes.

    "I hope you have a wonderful day."

    With that, he was gone.

    As one would expect, Sebastían couldn't get that sweet girl off of his mind.

    I wonder how old she is? He thought to himself as he held the container with his earlier breakfast close, the remaining food still untouched. She looked like she was in her teens—a freshman in college, maybe—definitely not a day over twenty one at most, he let out a sigh, giving up on the guess. She didn't look like anyone else around here, and she mainly spoke English. Is she American? British, maybe? he found himself still wondering about every minute detail about her, seeing as they only shared but a few words.

    I didn't even get her name.

    At a loss, Sebastían went about his usual routine of wandering about Rome. The only thing he could recall about the girl came from one of the books he was organizing; it must have been a text book she forgot downstairs. He didn't open it for the fear of invading her privacy, since she hadn't yet given her name willingly, but he did see the school bar code and tag on the side.

    She goes to the same University I once went to.

    ♥ Rome University of Fine Arts ♥ (open)

    Rome University of Fine Arts, one of the few nationally recognized art schools in all of Italy. It's a private school, extremely hard to get into. He doesn't know how much it's changed since he last attended, but he was pretty sure the courses were still just as difficult. They don't mess around at that school, but the rewards they give you for excelling are equally as immense as the challenge. Sebastían never had any problems up until the moment he decided to drop out.

    I wonder if Mrs. Alescio still runs that nearby museum, he thought to himself. She was one of the head honchos on campus. Not only did she supervise a majority of the fine art and literature courses, she was also the owner of the nearest museum. She'd feature a lot of the student's works, including Sebastían's own at the time. If they were good enough, she'd even put them up for sale to give her students a taste of what it's like to be a true artist. Many people envied Sebastían at the time for being one of her favorites, since almost every painting he created was featured at the museum.

    However, he hasn't set foot in those sacred walls since.

    I don't have the right anymore.

    Not as I am now.
    #13 Elixir, Jan 2, 2016
    Last edited: Jan 2, 2016
    • Love Love x 1
  14. Jane Randall; The Bookworm
    Jane Randall
    "A reader lives a thousand lives. The person who never reads lives only one."
    Rome's university of fine arts was a second home for Jane. A rough transition from one European country to another left her feeling stranded, out of her element and far from anything she knew to be familiar. The university was the one place she felt truly comfortable. Her teachers could speak English whenever Jane couldn't find her Italian words, her fellow students were understanding and friendly, and the campus was beyond beautiful. There was something inherently special about this place. Jane had met people who had moved across the world to attend this school, who were grateful for the opportunity to study, just as she was. But every student was praised for their work. Her current art professor, Mrs. Alescio, had her own gallery for showing off student achievements.

    It was here that Jane found herself, admiring art of past students with a content smile on her face.

    She passed paintings of minimal colors and angles. She passed art pieces of rustic suitcases in the shape of Italy, of men sitting in chairs and glass bottles hanging from the ceiling in a variety of hues and shapes. Everything around her was incredible. As a student of beauty, she could appreciate everything her eyes came into contact with, and she was proud of each artist individually.

    Eventually, she stopped in her tracks at the sight of a particularly exquisite piece of art. It moved the pit of her soul, and her mouth fell open in wonder. Colors of every hue graced the work before her. Brush strokes were of elegant make and matter, and the mixture of colors was so brilliant that Jane could not look away. The painting features a loving couple walking down a street on a rainy night, though every color of the rainbow was vibrantly present. Jane had to stop herself from making noises of awe.

    "Mrs. Alescio?" she asked, turning to her professor. "Who painted this?"

    The woman, beautiful and dignified in her own right, smiled warmly upon Jane's mention. "Ah, si. That piece belongs to a most beloved student of mine. I could not bear to sell it." The professor pointed to the plaque below the picture frame, revealing the name Sebatian Abello. "He was my most talented student. I don't think I will ever take this portrait down."

    "Nor should you," replied Jane. "It belongs in a place like this. To be admired publicly."

    She couldn't say why, but looking at the loving couple in the painting made her lonely, and she craved for a rainy night to walk with someone in.
    • Bucket of Rainbows Bucket of Rainbows x 1
  15. Sebastían Abelló; The Forgotten Artist
    Sebastían Abelló
    "Just when I think I have learned how to live, life changes."
    Sebastían continued to roam about the city, his head elsewhere as he set one foot in front of the other.

    I wonder where she's from? He once again had her on his mind. Her accent sounded English—proper English. She must be from England instead of the Americas, he continued to ponder about every minute detail, simply unable to forget her. After a while of endless thought, he silenced his brain with a sigh. Feeling hopeless and rather worthless, his pessimistic attitude began settling in once more.

    Do I even deserve to wonder about her?

    He shook the negativity out with a ruffle of his hair.

    I should probably find somewhere to wash up a little.

    Most of the time, Sebastían didn't really think about bathing. It isn't necessarily accessible to the homeless to begin with, but every now and then Sebastían simply couldn't handle his own filth. Perhaps it was because he came into contact with someone so pristine, but he felt dirtier than normal. He came across a nearby park, one of which that featured a rather large birdbath and fountain. Being that it was still extremely early in the morning, there weren't many people enjoying the sights the park had to display. Sebastían was practically alone, other than the company of a few critters here and there.

    He walked over to the bird bath, using some of the water to wipe down his face. He wet his tousled and greasy curls in an attempt to clean them a bit, but there wasn't any soap around to actually wash all of the dirt out with. He's tried walking into places with public restrooms before, but many won't let him in because of his ragged and dirty appearance.

    It's worth a shot.

    He shook his head and got most of the dirt off of his arms and face, and he was thankful that—now that the sun was out and about—it was much warmer. However, as if the sky wanted to mock him, clouds slowly began rolling in.

    Is it going to rain?

    A little over an hour later, it did.

    Sebastían tried going into smaller, less fancy restaurants in hopes of borrowing a restroom and the soaps within them, but many shunned him away. He let out a sigh as he attempted to block the falling raindrops with his forearms as they came pouring down, only to no avail. As the rain began to fall, it wasn't just his hair that was wet. Soon, his entire body was soaked with the waters of the sky, the angel's tears caressing every stitch and inch of his being.

    However, perhaps it was a blessing in disguise.

    "Ciao, mi potete aiutare?"* he spoke in Italian to a nearby florist as she was gathering all of her plants on display outside, taking them back into the shop to protect them from the rain. The lady was in her middle ages or so, gentle wrinkles placed around her mouth and eyes. Her skin was a honey beige hue, and her hair was long, dark, and wavy. There were a few gray hairs to be seen within the silken strands, but what Sebastían noticed the most was the glisten in her dark brown eyes. Instead of being filled with disgust or pity, they were filled with concern.

    "Oh mio! Sei fradicio!"* She exclaimed, rushing him inside her shop. "Usare il bagno e asciugare. Ecco un asciugamano,"* she spoke to him, handing him a soft towel. Sebastían's eyes widened in surprise at this reaction from her, but then he realized that now... He didn't look like a mere homeless man, he looked like any other person who just got caught in the sudden downpour. All of the dirt that caked his clothing was invisible thanks to them being soaking wet.

    "Grazie,"* he spoke to the woman, his tone coated in sincere gratitude. He couldn't help but silently thank the rain, as well. "Grazie."*

    Sebastían was given the chance to indulge in a touch of kindness once more as he went into the restroom, using some soap to wash his already drenched hair. He also stripped down a little, washing some of his body briefly, as well. I shouldn't take too long. Wouldn't want her getting suspicious, he thought to himself as he quickly dried off and put his still damp clothes back on. The towel he used was covered in dirt, so he also rinsed it under the water, wringing it out to try and relieve it from most of the filth corrupting it.

    "Grazie ancora,"* he spoke to the woman once more as he placed the towel on a rack, hanging it up to dry. "Lo apprezzo."*

    With a bright smile, the woman handed Sebastían a bouquet filled with beautiful flowers. Inside were vibrant lilies, roses, and even orchids. "Questi sono gli ultimi. Nessuno ha comprato loro oggi,"* she stated as a grin caressed her aged lips.

    "Dare loro alla tua ragazza,"* she spoke as she flashed him a wink.

    Sebastían let out a polite laugh, nodding her way.

    "Grazie ancora. Buona giornata."*
    • Love Love x 1
  16. Jane Randall; The Bookworm
    Jane Randall
    "A reader lives a thousand lives. The person who never reads lives only one."

    There wasn't much else on her mind except for Sebastian that day. Each class, she found something to remind her of the homeless stranger who had so kindly broken the law, so sweetly trespassed where he ought not to be. Had he truly been an artist at the very school she attended? A student of her current professor? The paths were simply too close together to call it coincidence, and while Jane was never one to believe in fate, perhaps the events of the past few months would change her.

    "You look off," said Rosella, one of her few friends at the Roman University. "You've been off all day. Are you sure you're alright?"

    "I'm not sure," Jane replied. "I can't stop thinking about that man." Naturally, she had told her dearest friends about the encounter. It wasn't something she could keep to herself.

    "You should try to see him again. He clearly liked you."

    "Liked me? He broke into my home, Rosie."

    "The Italian way of saying hello." It was clearly a tease, and both friends laughed despite themselves. "Well, either way. I think you should see him again. Maybe let him stay another night, and..."

    Both young women stopped at the sight of a bouquet of flowers, pink and brilliant in hue, resting on the cement near the gates of the university. On a little card, in English, read the words, "for the loveliest night's sleep I've ever had." Somehow, Jane knew the message was meant for her. She picked up the flowers with a great blush on her supple cheeks, grinning from ear to ear.

    "Are those from him?" asked Rosella. "They're beautiful!"

    "I guess so," said Jane. "Who else would they be from? I suppose they could be for someone else, but I just feel like they're somehow...meant for me." She leaned forward and smelled the delicious flowers held tightly in her hand, as if it was the happiest thing that had happened to her that day, for perhaps in fact it was. "Oh, they're just beautiful. I have to find him again. No one is this nice for breaking into someone's home..."

    Now, she thought, if I were a homeless person...where would I be?
    • Love Love x 1
  17. Sebastían Abelló; The Forgotten Artist
    Sebastían Abelló
    "Just when I think I have learned how to live, life changes."
    As Sebastían walked away from the university, the bouquet and note fading from his sights with each step he took, he paused in his tracks. He couldn't help but wonder if the one he brought the present for would be the one to receive it. The bouquet was lying there in a public place, one with many young adults who were bound to be curious and reckless. With his index finger and his thumb stroking his thick beard in contemplation, he began to wonder if he should wait and see if she would be the one to pick it up.

    I'll just wait here for a while. It's not like I have any plans.

    A few people came to investigate the flowers other than the young girl they were meant for, and Sebastían waited within the shadows that cloaked him, watching to see if any of them would walk off with the gift. Thankfully, it was left with an abandoned curiosity each and every time, and the vibrant flowers remained in their rightful place.

    That was, until the angel they were intended for finally found them.

    Sebastían's pale lips curved up into a warm smile as the celestial girl he came across the night before appeared again. He couldn't deny, he honestly believed he'd never be able to see that beautiful face again. Another girl was with her—a friend, perhaps—and the two seemed to be having a conversation. He was much too far to hear their exchange of words, but he was close enough to see the innocent blush coating the cheeks on the source of his gratitude.

    She truly is beautiful.

    With that thought in mind, Sebastían took one last look at the young girl.

    Afterwards, he smiled at the ground and disappeared once more.

    Sebastían couldn't find any scraps of food no matter how hard he tried, so he took out the container with the food made for him that morning. Not wanting to waste it, he only took a couple small bites before putting it away again, needing just enough to stray his hunger. He continued looking around the dumpsters, the usual place he'd find useful things that most people threw out. He was looking for food, but then he ended up finding something much more valuable.

    A sketchbook.

    Who on earth would throw this away? He thought to himself as he ran his fingers over the leather covers. There's still a good amount of clean pages left in here. Sebastían shook his head in disappointment, feeling sorry for the abandoned door to the creative world. With the hope they also discarded a utensil, Sebastían continued to search through the same trash bag. To his delight, he found a charcoal pencil. It was almost on its last leg, but there was enough left for a few more sketches.

    With a bright smile, Sebastían knew exactly who to draw.


    He made his way over to the closest park, sitting down on one of the benches underneath a tree. The sun's rays were bright now that the rain had passed. It didn't rain too much in Rome to begin with—warm, sunny weather was the norm around here. Sebastían enjoyed it, for the heat of the sun's rays helped his thick hair dry off much better. It also provided plenty of his light for the masterpiece he was working on in his lap.

    He couldn't add color, but she still seemed to shine just the same.

    Jane's Portrait (open)
    • Love Love x 1
  18. Jane Randall; The Bookworm
    Jane Randall
    "A reader lives a thousand lives. The person who never reads lives only one."

    The park, naturally, was the first place Jane thought to look for her homeless friend. In England, homeless people lived in the park, aside from visiting there or spending time wandering peaceful locations. It was a place of tranquility and deep thought. She loved to visit nature herself, with her sister and the dog, or even without them. The great trees offered solace and the breeze could calm anyone's frayed nerves. Oftentimes, Jane would love to sit on the bench by the water and feed the koi fish, listening to the sounds of the pond. It kept her mind clear and her heart focused. She wondered if, in his spirit, Sebastian was the same way. Needing focus, needing readjustment.

    If he did, surely Jane would find him here.

    The young student exited the taxi with her flowers and her book bag, paying the driver and watching him leave. The park across the street was always her favorite. Willow trees and massive ones she didn't know the name of hovered overhead, and created shadows for shade and open space for sunlight. She clutched the bouquet close to her chest so she could smell the flowers as she walked. Jane was horribly nervous. She'd only known the man for a day or so, and already she ached to know more about his mystery and his delicate charm. She didn't believe he was dangerous, not really. He didn't raise a single finger to harm her or her shop while he slept overnight. While the concept of chasing down a homeless suitor might have been distasteful in the eyes of some, Jane was determined to at least befriend Sebastian and work toward helping him in whatever way he needed. She had a heart of pure gold, and would wear it on her sleeve always.

    It didn't take too long for Jane to find the man in question. She could see him in the distance, looking adoringly down upon his sketchbook and drawing away at something he seemed passionate about. It occurred to Jane then, how attractive he was when working on a project he cared for. She tried to imagine him painting the masterpiece she'd found in the art gallery and knew it must have looked something like this.

    "What are you working on?" she asked rather shyly from a distance, approaching him apprehensively. "I mean--if you're busy, I can come back another time..."
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