The pure, comforting silence of the library was barely disturbed by gentle tapping on a keyboard as Cairn typed in the name of a book wanted by a student. The book was already checked out, and he was making the reservation as said student left the building. When he was done he took a moment to stretch, closing his eyes to roll his neck, breathing deeply and flexing muscles hidden beneath his casual shirt. When he opened his eyes and turned back to the counter he was surprised to see a familiar girl there, she watching him rather intently with a smile in blue eyes.
“Hello,” she replied, watching him before asking, “I was wondering if you could help me…”
Five minutes later Cairn had descended off the rolling ladder which had helped him reach the book the girl had wanted, noting inwardly that it didn’t seem related to her studies at all, as she had requested books from him before and this one was a little out of place. She thanked him, however, hand brushing his own as he handed it over. Instead of turning and leaving, she waited to walk side by side with him on the way out of the aisle, smiling at him once more—he of course smiled back—before making her way back to the table where her three friends were studying. They were watching him too for some reason.
He simply smiled at them before making his way to his own desk, practically feeling their eyes boring into the back of him until he was at his post again.
That wasn’t the first time something like that had happened, either. It almost seemed to rotate between which girl would ask him for references or ideas or help with finding something, but he really had no choice but to smile and help them. He was flattered by the attention, really, but tried to stay away from that quietly whispering table as there was no way he wanted to give any of the females the wrong impression.
And so, with a sigh and nothing else to do, a drawer was opened and the half-finished crossword puzzle from earlier was removed, Cairn immediately setting out to solve it.
He was penciling in the second to last word an hour later when the girls at that table’s whispers suddenly turned into something more energetic and alarmed. Out of his peripheral vision he was aware of someone’s shape moving across the room toward him and he was just looking up to see what was happening when that shape thudded into the desk’s other side and slid down it, the girls’ wide-eyed stares on whatever it was. When he leaned over the desk to look down, he was greeted with the sight of Dean Mitchell crumpled on the floor there, shivering and face grimaced with pain and haziness, open-mouthed in a heady pant, her shirt mostly ripped away below the bust and her knuckles bloodied and bruised while her hands gripped at herself involuntarily. There was also blood on her lip and at her nose again.
“Shit, really?” Cairn asked himself as he quickly rounded the desk, crouching down to observe her, and without thinking, set his hands to her neck to check her vitals. The soothing sensations started almost immediately, and after his hands jerked back in surprise, he stood, noting to a co-worker that had neared on hearing the noise that he would have to cover his shift. The guy nodded, clearly glad he didn’t have to deal with the girl himself, and after steeling himself a moment, Cairn bent down to pick her up bodily, trying not to touch her skin and failing as her head lolled into the crook of his neck.
He managed to move, however, through that gloriously calm, entrancing place, carrying her with relative ease as he stepped out into fresh air—air that smelled soft and sweet with dew and flowers which couldn’t exist in the concrete parking lot of the campus. He managed to carry her to his car, opening the door after some fiddling and carefully placed her in the passenger seat.
Crouching by the open door, one hand moving to her cheek, he asked gently, “Hey, can you hear me?”
She nodded slightly, clearly trying to focus on him and just having a hard time actually doing so. “Know what?” she said finally, eyes rolling closed as she breathed in and the intensity of the other world’s sensations heightened for a moment for Cairn. Her voice sounded terribly far away and sleepy.
“What?” he asked, taking his hand from her and reaching into the glove box for a tissue. He dabbed at her lip first, then her nose.
“Deal sounds good,” she slurred, patting at his arm. Then she added in a rather frustrated tone, “Thirsty. Where’m I?”
“My car, for now,” he noted with a smile. “Let’s go find you something to drink.” He helped her pull her legs into the car and did up her belt for her, door shutting gently as he made his way around to his side.
Luckily enough there were many places open at that hour, Cairn pulling in to a secluded part of a parking lot and heading in quickly to buy them each some water and fresh rolls. When he got back, he opened her door to hand her hers so she could get some fresh air while she came down.
Dean’s high lasted a while longer, but apparently she’d already been out of it for some time before stumbling into the library because it didn’t last as long as the previous time he’d seen her drugged. How she had avoided getting arrested in that time was a mystery, and probably just dumb luck. This time, when she started to come out of it, she became increasingly concerned and agitated about her shirt, repeatedly asking what happened to it. Eventually she threw up (thankfully out of his car) and then groaned as she stayed bent over her knees.
“Fuck…” was the first semi-sober sounding thing she deemed to say. It was followed shortly by, “Fucking hell, what was I eating?”
“I guess it doesn’t matter anymore.” Cairn smiled gently before rounding the car to his trunk, and on returning, handed her a shirt that had his scent about it. “You want me to take you home?”
She just blinked at him a moment, shirt in her hands and looking both exhausted and furious. “How’d you…huh. Did I call you?” She was trying to piece together the time she’d spent stoned and only getting bits and pieces, none of them making much sense.
“All I know is you somehow found your way onto campus. And into the library.” When she looked at him at this, he smiled softly, before asking, “I guess you weren’t kidding, huh… You know who did this?”
Dean shrugged slightly, pulling his shirt on as she answered, “The guys from last time. Guess they were just waiting for another chance. Got me at a bus stop pretty far from here. No idea how I got from there to here.” She held up her hands then to display the damage and said with a half-hearted smirk, “Guess I fought though. For all the good it does.”
Cairn made a noise at that and frowned, clearly unhappy with the persons at fault, arms crossing as he looked out over the parking lot.
“I’m gonna take that deal,” Dean said out of the blue after a few minutes of sitting there and sipping at water. “The one you talked about earlier. I can’t do this anymore. They keep finding me everywhere. And you’re not so bad. So far.”
He nodded. “It’s just a pity you live so far out. That’s not going to come in handy if you get into trouble.”
She shook her head. “I’m about to get kicked out. I turned eighteen and the system’s done with me. I was going to move in with Boz and Wo; they’ve got a couch in the garage I can sleep on.” She coughed and put her hand to her stomach as it was apparently sore. “I don’t have a phone either, so I couldn’t call you anyway. I don’t know how this is gonna work. I’m just saying I’ll do it if there’s a way to make it happen.”
Cairn took the time to think about this for a few minutes, pondering pros and cons, before he said, “Well… you need a place, and you’ll need to be nearby…” He looked to her, hand at his chin as he thought out loud, “…I do own a building…”
As she stared at him, he quickly noted, “Well you wouldn’t be living with me, really, you could have the floor below mine, if…well, if this works out.”
“Uhhh.” Dean was justifiably uncertain about that idea. Granted, she’d never had privacy in the last six years of various foster homes, but living with a half-Kin male? That would be…different, to say the least. But then again…
“…the whole floor?”
Cairn smirked. “I can’t exactly wall it all up, so yeah. I don’t use the other floors anyway. I used to use the ground floor to practice, but I shook the whole place so badly one night that I switched to outside to save the foundations… If you’re worried about money, I’d still pay you. The place is on old generators and water systems that people don’t take notice of, so there’s no worry about rent. You’d just have to buy your own food and things.”
The idea of that much space to herself was terrifically tempting. Still getting paid was even better. Her next point, however, was, “How would we make it work though? I mean, me being around to cork you and you being around to keep the flashbulbs off my ass. I’m not really gonna fit in a backpack to take to class, you know.” She rolled her eyes at the thought, half-joking.
“Now there’s a thought.” Cairn smirked at the mental image of the brash rocker stuffed into a bag for him to cart around. “But maybe I can find a way for you to come anyway. Guess I can think up some sort of excuse.”
Dean shrugged, getting too tired to really ponder the situation anymore. “So…I came in the library, huh? Did I make a scene?” She grinned, as if the thought entertained her quite a bit.
“I think you scared the shit out of a couple of people.” He grinned back to her. “Gonna have a hard time living this one down.”
She laughed, leaning back in the seat and pressing her hands lightly to her abdomen and stomach as the action caused some discomfort there. The strain from those Kin’s party had taken its toll on her guts, it seemed. “Awesome,” she snickered, eyes closing.
Then she sighed and asked, “So are you cool with me staying over again? I could take the couch. It’s usually a bad idea to go back to the foster hens looking like this and, you know, hungover. Got me sent to fuckin’ state rehab once a couple years ago for using.”
He smiled, and nodded a little. “You’re welcome to stay whenever you need to.” Watching her for a little, he finally shifted himself and headed to the driver’s side.
By the time they reached his home it was later in the evening, Cairn immediately stripping his jacket, wallet and keys, boots off by the door. As he wandered in, he also stripped his shirt, revealing a tank top underneath and some sort of designed necklace which had been hidden before. After tossing the shirt in a basket presumably for washing, he headed to the kitchen to pull a carton of ice cream out of the freezer and collect a couple of spoons. Standing, he began to snack, asking her as she took off her own boots, “Want some?”
“Hell yeah,” she agreed immediately when she spotted what he referred to. “You got any soda?”
Discarding the pot for a moment, spoon in mouth, he nodded, shifting to open the fridge to find her a can. Turning, he removed the spoon and wandered over to her. “Hope sugar-free’s alri—” he stopped, coming face to face with the sight of the girl, half-bent over, one hand at a boot that she had fallen asleep unbuckling.
After he’d been smirking at her for a moment, the can and spoon were discarded on the counter. Cairn moved to gently slip her remaining boot off and then pick her up again, gliding quietly across his floor to the bedroom where he lay her down as softly as he could, not wanting to wake her.
After the blankets were up around her snugly, he shifted from the room as gracefully as ever to take up his spoon and ice cream once again, slumping down on the couch to flick through the stations on the television, trying to find a way to pass the time.