glasspaperclip: (Ray // weeeeeeell)
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7th Avenue Station
(1,538) // (PG)
Bob Bryar/Ray Toro
No one ever walks past the sliding doors to meet up with him. People just get off the trains and head to their houses, their work places without paying attention to the guy sitting all alone with a picture in his hands. Truth be told, he doesn’t pay attention to them either. It’s… odd, in a way, but he seems to be waiting for someone in particular.
The guys aren't mine, it never happened.
Inspired by this post at [livejournal.com profile] we_are_cities + this post at [livejournal.com profile] heavy_lights
♥ to [livejournal.com profile] anne_elliot for all her help and cheers, ♥ to [livejournal.com profile] ky_betty who did the beta duties. Thank you so much.


*

He goes there all the time. From Monday to Sunday, never missing a day, not even when it’s a certain holiday or when the weather is awful, just like the other week. He simply goes there – everyday, yes, but never sticking to a given hour. Sometimes he shows up in the morning, sometimes late in the evening, it seems to be a random choice, lead by the whim of the moment.

It doesn’t matter when he gets there though, it’s what he does afterwards that has a meaning. A meaning unknown to bystanders or people who work at the station – everyone knows about him by now – but that’s apparently strong enough to keep him going, day after day. He gets in, hands in his pockets and head lowered, and he walks up to the last seat on the right. If it’s occupied already, he leans against the tiled wall, if it isn’t he sits down and waits for no one, while people around him get on and off the trains.

There’s a camera pointing right on that seat. At first the men in charge of security used to keep a close eye on him whenever he arrived, probably suspecting him to be plotting some act of violence. Once or twice they even went on and checked his ID, but they never found anything to charge him with. He’s just a normal guy with a harmless (yet bizarre) habit.

Now they just cast him casual glances when they happen to look his way, they’ve stopped considering him potentially dangerous. Sometimes, when they’re out patrolling the station, they even greet him, “Hey Ray, how’s going?” while the dog sniffles at the trash bin nearby. He answers in a polite way, always smiling, exchanging a couple of words with them before they leave. He’s never the first to start up a conversation, preferring to keep by himself, but he answers everyone when they talk to him, from the girl who’s forgotten her watch to the homeless guy who asks for a dollar to spare. When people leave him be though, he remains where he is, sitting on the last seat and watching the trains.

The length of his stay varies as well. On some days he sits there up to an hour, on others he remains for a mere ten minutes, there’s no given rule in that as well. When he stays longer though, he usually digs out a picture from his pocket. From afar it almost looks like a page of a magazine, cropped and with white lines dividing it in four sections, just like it happens to old pictures that have been kept folded up into the wallet for too long. He pulls it out, unfolds it, and flattens the glossy surface against his thigh, seldom looking at the lonely frame of the person depicted in it. His fingers keep on going over and over the image though, tracing the silhouette by heart, lightly brushing past colors that once were brighter, worn out a little by the constant rubbing of fingertips against paper.

He never shows it to anyone. Whenever someone draws close, he covers it with his hand, as if he felt ashamed about it – or maybe it’s just shyness, an odd sense of discretion. The woman who sells tickets near the entrance has seen it though. It’s been an accident, she didn’t mean to, but she was in waiting for the train and lowered her head a moment before he could place his palm over it. She has no idea about the identity of the guy portrayed in it – at first she thought it may have been a relative but no, there’s no resemblance between his features and that blue-eyed boy looking straight at the camera – she just guesses it might be a loved one judging from the care the picture is being handled.

Yes, a loved and long lost one. It explains why he knows it so well, it explains the way his fingers caress the spot where the guy’s hair is the most, as if he probably did when they were together. What still escapes everyone (and perhaps it also escapes him too, who can tell?) is the reason why he keeps on going there just to watch the trains stopping and leaving, stopping and leaving.

No one ever walks past the sliding doors to meet up with him. People just get off the trains and head to their houses, their work places without paying attention to the guy sitting all alone with a picture in his hands. Truth be told, he doesn’t pay attention to them either. It’s… odd, in a way, but he seems to be waiting for someone in particular. He peers at faces behind the windows, following some with his eyes longer than others, scanning every unit with veiled anxiety. A couple of times he even started to get up, the muscles in his legs flexed, his gaze focused on someone he thought he may have recognized.

Unfortunately, he’s never found whoever he’s looking for, at least until today. Hope always gets replaced by a slight dejected look and he leans against the back of his seat, while his fingers once more start brushing up the picture. One could think that after so many months, he’d grow bored or simply discouraged by such an eternal waiting, but he proves to have some real patience, showing up in the subway without missing a day.

*

The old woman is dressed up as a gypsy, walking slowly and with trouble. She spends most of her time in the subway, asking people for a dollar in exchange of a glimpse in the future. She reads the hands of giggling teenagers who want to know about their love life and of mature women with money issues; men tend to ignore her for the most part, claiming to not believe in fortunetellers, but when the station is almost empty, they let her spy their future in their palms.

She probably isn’t a real gypsy, it’s all for the show, but she has both dignity and pride intact. When some people try to give her a couple of bucks without letting her do her job, she straightens her crippled back as much as she could and refuses to take the money. She might be poor, but she isn’t a beggar, never mind a thief.

Today she’s working in the 7th Avenue station. Years ago, when she was young and beautiful, she used to walk around for miles, telling the future and dancing in the streets. Right now though each step weighs a ton, and she gets tired easily, so she chooses a different station every morning and remains there all the day long. For being a business Friday, she already earned quite well, enough to put together two meals and perhaps even a handful of cookies from the French bakery. Still, it’s quite early, she can go on for another hour or so.

Slowly, she walks up to the row seats, her footsteps echoing in the distance. There’s almost no one in the station right now. People will start showing up again in a couple of minutes, trickling down the staircase like the first droplets of water that presage a flood, but in this very moment it’s just her, two boys sharing an iPod, and a young man sitting on the last seat. Her earrings clink together as she draws near him, dragging a little her left leg.

“Do you want to know your future, son?” she asks, smiling.

He turns his head and smiles back, and his eyes are clear, full of… a feeling she can’t quite nail down. For lack of a better word she could call it ‘hope’, but it’s a far too rough definition.

“I already know what future will bring but yes, tell me.”

Nodding, she takes his hand in her ones. Usually she waits a little before speaking, people tend to not trust a response given too quickly, but this time she just glances at the soft lines of his palm and folds up his fingers. Behind her back, the lights of an approaching train can be seen, people are already gathered in small groups.

“You'll find what you’re looking for, son,” she says, and then she adds, “No need to pay me, it’s a gift. Good luck,” almost as an afterthought.

He nods and thanks her while the train enters the station and comes to a full stop. The sliding doors begins to open, causing him to look up, as he always does when a train arrives. It’s fairly crowded, filled with people heading back home from their working places, women, men of different ages and races. He stares at them all, watching them as they leave the cars, sometimes bumping against those who need to get in.

For a moment, it looks like the same old story will repeat itself, disappointment is already starting to creep in his features. Then, for the first time in months, he gets up and heads straight towards the train – towards someone? - his smile brighter than it's ever been.

As he walks, the picture he had in his hand falls on the floor.
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