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twisted_albel in somni_astrum

Rough around the edges

Who? Albel Nox and Rinoa Heartilly
What? After Rinoa's harsh words, Albel seems to turn over a new leaf. But will his new appearance convince Rinoa?
When? Sometime in the afternoon after Rinoa's classes
Warnings None

At the SFAI library, a man was sitting by the help desk, idly perusing through a book as he waited for someone to approach him. He was most likely the replacement for the man who previously held his position. It was probably for the best. Compared to the first one, this man was far less rough around the edges. For one, he was dressed more sharply, sporting a black turtleneck shirt that accentuated his slender frame.with his streaked hair tied in a single long ponytail along his back. His expression was also more calm, less combative and irritated as the first one. His appearance was that of an unassuming librarian there to perform his duties. The only indication that there might have been more to this man was the presence of a single claw that gently turned the pages of the book that he was reading.

Comments

These exams are killing me.

Not literally, of course, but she'd definitely thought it more than once. Every time she thought she was done, another test was coming out of the woodwork, mocking her, teasing her, and reminding her that no matter how close she was coming to an end, the light at the end of the tunnel was nowhere within sight.

Rinoa sighed, inclined her head, and dragged herself into the library before forcing herself to straighten her posture. She was only coming for a book. Some last minute studying would help before the test really came. In other words, she was doing a cram session, likely the kind that required coffee or tea--or at the very least, something with caffeine in it.
Albel glanced up when he heard the doors swing open, looking quite pleased that Rinoa cared enough to visit the library during exam season. He set his book down and was the first to greet her as she entered.

"Well, you're looking worst for wear," he smiled.
Worst for wear? She heard the comment and had no idea what it meant, so whether it was an insult or a compliment, it went entirely over her head. In consequence, she simply gawked at him.

Wait. Who was this? It took a second look before she realized it was Albel. He looked different, didn't he? He looked... nice and she just wasn't getting it at all. What brought all of this about? Who in the world did he think he was fooling?

"Albel Nox? You mean you're still here? I thought you would have left." Then she made a face and gestured with one hand, "Well, I mean, you look like you fit in now, but it doesn't necessarily mean you will."
"That last comment is a little mean-spirited, wouldn't you say?" Albel looked liked he was enjoying Rinoa's confusion with a semblance of a quiet smile on his fae. After all, she seemed to make it clear that she really looked down on his attitude towards everything. Despite how pleasant he may have been acting then, all of this was in effect a chance to prove her wrong. A challenge accepted and met.

"Why would I leave now? I just got here."
"I'm just being honest. You can change clothes, but it doesn't change a personality."

Brutal honesty, actually. Rinoa had it and it was probably part of what made her easy to dislike in middle school. Not to mention high school. Well, the two weeks she was there.

She didn't know what to think of his response and it rendered her quiet for a moment. She chose not to answer his question and instead, gestured toward one of the aisles. Who knew how much he changed the layout since she'd last come? If he had changed anything, she didn't want to waste the time to find what she was looking for when he could get it for her himself--and much quicker at that.

"I'm looking for a book on significant artists from the fourteenth through the sixteenth century. Can you help me?"
Albel figured that it would have been that easy to convince her. Even he believed that old habits die hard and that people are fundamentally the same beneath the surface. Honestly, all he really did was put on a pretty face and dress for show. Nothing truly changed for now. In the end though, maybe he might change for the better after all of this. He didn't know.

And of course, part of his master plan was to rearrange his section of the library in a way so that people would have to come to him for help finding books. It kept him busy so that he wasn't swimming in boredom. And it made sure that he practiced such odd behaviors like being "courteous" and "respectful".

"Sounds like Renaissance artists. Any region in particular?" he asked leading her as any proper librarian would.
Rinoa shook her head, pushing pleasantries out of her mind. She wasn't real interested in carrying on a long conversation with the man. She just wanted the book she'd come for and was willing to leave without another word, chiding or not, after she received it.

"No. Something general is fine. Something specific is fine as well. I can do the rest on my own from there."

It was just an essay on various artists of the centuries. She wanted to find some that coincided with her style, so she could write about what inspired her. It wasn't meant to be comparative, but it could be if she had the right sources at her fingertips. If Albel was any good at his job, then she could probably say he contributed to her good grades, as he had for her last paper.

Exams were ten times as important, though.
Albel crossed his arms with his claw gently tapping his elbow as he paused to seriously think about what Rinoa required. As far as he knew, she didn't complain about his choice in books and he would like to keep it that way.

"Leonardo and Michelangelo are the most famous, but probably overdone. The other important ones would be their peers in Italy like Raphael and Boticelli. But if you're interested in something more obscure, there are the artists from the Netherlands, Germany, Spain, and France. For now, I'd say that you should try...this one. A general overview of Renaissance art. This should be good for basic information for research lest you decide to narrow your focus to a certain theme, style, or artists."
"I really don't have any preferences," she chuckled a little.

The information was nice, but unless she was writing it down, she wouldn't retain any of the information. That was the whole reason for lectures and footnotes and textbooks, right? Unlike some of the people in her class, she didn't sleep, and she wasn't always up all night working on cram sessions. The night she went to see Albel was an exception, but he didn't need to know that.

"Anything's good. I just need something to work with."
"Let's stick with the Italian artists then. That's where most of the action was happening back then anyway." Albel really had to thank Wikipedia for his cursory knowledge on the subject. Enough to be able to recommend books based on that amazing website.

"This one should suffice," he said, picking up a book with snapshots of the lives of famous artists as well as their major contributions to the field.
A hand rested upon her hip as she nodded, whether he looked back at her or not. Point was he was helping her, even if he was saying a lot of things that were sort of going in one ear and out the other. It was a little mean, but Rinoa had to admit that she had a difficult time taking anything he said seriously, because he really wasn't that trustworthy and seemed more interested in benefiting himself.

That was neither here nor there, however.

"Thanks," she replied simply.

Rinoa offered a hand in his direction, as polite as she felt she could muster up, which wasn't too shabby in her opinion.
This was unfortunate as Albel would never say anything that he wasn't sure of. Sadly, he wasn't aware that she wasn't taken him seriously at all despite the effort he put into all of this.

He glanced at her hand and accepted it, though he had to ask...

"Why the formality?"
She cocked an eyebrow at him. Formality? Really? That wasn't formality. If he wanted formality, he should have seen her the last time she saw Caraway. That was formality. Not even a hug. Rinoa saluted her father as he left, and remained eternally stiff when she thought of the man.

...Why couldn't she just go back to Korea? Right, because Mom wasn't there and she wasn't able to stay on her own just yet--not when Caraway had her so sheltered that she didn't know how to care for herself.

"Hm? What are you talking about?" she asked with surprise.
"You're only tolerating me," Albel astutely pointed out. "You came for your book and you're trying to keep everything as professional as possible. You're even staying polite rather than friendly and offered me a handshake. Fairly formal considering we're on a first-name basis."
"I was actually holding out my hand for the book. You're the one who apparently wanted to shake hands."

That was actually sort of funny, too. Since when was he so attached to her? He didn't even know her. He knew her name, and a lot of what she studied, but that was about it. Of course, that was without all of the knowledge of what he was really following her around for.

"I didn't know you wanted to be near me so badly," Rinoa cracked a smile.
"Fool, I'm not *so* desperate," he growled, slipping this once, but perhaps this was understandable after what Rinoa was implying.

"But...maybe to an extent, helping you with your assignments has been enjoyable."
"I didn't know that. I must be the only one who puts up with your antics."

His juvenile antics. His rude antics. Antics were antics. He was like a little child. She couldn't think of any other way to put it, really.
"I have no idea what you mean," he said easily because quite frankly, he didn't think his behavior was at all antic-y. He simply had a different way of thinking about things. In that regard, one could call him "special."

"Don't flatter yourself. I've helped other people at the library as well." he said, almost slipping in another one of his honoriffics.
She shook her head at him in disagreement, "Just because you help other people doesn't mean they like you and doesn't mean they tolerate your rudeness. I don't know anyone who would. In fact, most of the people I know would sooner teach you a lesson than allow you to continue."

She tried to imagine what Squall and Seifer would do. The former probably wouldn't do a damn thing, but the latter... It was hard to say. Seifer was prone to irrationalities.
"Someone's already gone ahead and done that," Albel shrugged. "This is more than me playing dress-up."
She blinked at him. Did he get jumped? Even if he did, he'd never admit to it and he looked like he was okay. Suffice to say, she was just missing something and didn't feel like prying him for information. That never got people anywhere and all it did was tick the involved parties off.

Confrontation seemed to be a less than strong suit for most, "I don't know. People are always skeptical of words, because words don't really mean anything. I guess something has to be said since you didn't, you know, kick me out of the library or something. Not that you would, given that it's your job."
"Indeed words don't mean a thing. Fool. But at least you're not so blind as to be blissfully unaware of the meaning behind actions," he conceded. Such an interesting hypocrisy. A Catch-22 of sorts. Have the way he uses words criticized, but when he tries and change, his words mean nothing. Only Albel would ever be faced with a more absurd situation.
"Again with this "fool" thing. That sort of proves my case in point. You can't mean what you say because you're still treating people the same way you did before. A wolf in sheep's clothing is still just a wolf, albeit a very hungry one, but a wolf all the same. Sheep know the difference between wolves and their own kind."

She waggled her hand's forefinger back and forth. It wasn't at him; it was simply a motion. "Can I have my book now?"
"Of course," he said and handed the book over to Rinoa. He ran his claw through his hair to reset it back to place. "As always, if you need anything, I'm just right over there."
"Thanks."

She took it with that strange comfort that she always took texts with. She might have not liked essays, but Rinoa did like books and she did take a great delight in reading. She looked it over once and gave a nod.

"Yeah," she continued, unsure really of what else to say. "You'll see me for as long as you're here, because I'll always have essays to write and exams to study for."

December 2009

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