Priestly firmly believed that if something you were about to do was going to be one of those cosmic events that forever altered the very fabric of your reality, they should come with some kind of warning label. Especially if it was something as boring as putting up 'Roommate Wanted' flyers at the local collages.
Cause seriously? That shit ain't fair.
After the month he's had, the universe owed him some brownie points. First, there was the epic fail that was his and Tish's attempt at a relationship. Which, while they worked well as friends, their equally stubborn and brazen personalities clashed in a very non-awesome, very loud way. Tish thought he should do everything that she told him to, when she told him to and he thought that slavery had ended a long time ago. Priestly hadn't been able to last two weeks before he returned his piercings to their proper places (the holes had been closing!) and succumbed to the urge to burn the khakis and all that went with them. Though he had decided to keep the shaved face, give or take a day’s worth of stubble. It was a lot less maintenance.
Then came the fun night his now ex-roommate got arrested (and subsequently evicted). Apparently being stoned wasn't a reasonable enough excuse for throwing a dresser out of the second story window of their shabby condo. On to the neighbor's car. In the middle of the afternoon. So yeah, now Priestly was down a roomie and in need of a second income to insure that he himself did not end up homeless. His landlord was a very laid back guy, but not that cool (see: eviction). And while he didn't even want to know how the guy had earned his share of the rent - and as much as he loved his job - the Beach City Grill did not pay enough to afford his current living arrangement on his lonesome.
So, full circle. He was pretty proud of his flyers. An afternoon spent hand writing one, on this freakin' sweet purple paper he found, and making copies on the ancient copier in Trucker's 'office' in the back of the sandwich shop. Priestly had even taken the time to fringe the bottoms for tear away information slips. He felt accomplished. He really did.
Still, for people who were suppose to be in their experimental stage, these college kids sure didn't seem to know what to make of a guy who’s mohawk matched his paper. Well, the front part, anyway. He ran out dye.
Story of his life, man.
Priestly finished stapling the ad to the student announcement board with an exaggerated flourish. Holstering said office supply in his back pocket, he turned, ready to meander through a few more hallways on the off chance of finding somewhere else to hang flyers. He had to find the parking lot again anyways. Stupid horrible sense of direction.
And the girls thought he was late to shifts because he was lazy.
That wasn't the only reason.
Where was he going? Right, parking lot-
"Hey! Excuse me?" Priestly was startled out of his thoughts by a hand on his shoulder.
"Jesus!" He nearly jumped out of his skin. Priestly whirled around, ready to bitch at who ever had interrupted his inner monologue to nearly give him a heart attack and had to look up and up . . . and up . . . and oh my . . . "Holy fucking redwood, Batman!"
tree guy in question raised his eyebrows as his hand fell back to his side. A slightly bemused grin tugged at the corner of his mouth.
"Excuse me?" He repeated.
Right. Priestly pointed an accusing finger at the really, really big guy.
"Man, sneaking up on people is wrong. What if I had a heart condition or been carrying a knife? One of us could have died!" The guy had the nerve to laugh. "Dude!"
Priestly watched him shake his head, floppy brown hair flying about. "Okay, one? If you'd had a heart condition, I would have been sorry and called an ambulance; as for the knife, I hope campus security isn't that lax. Two, I wasn't sneaking." Priestly raised an eyebrow. "Really, I wasn't. I've been trying to get your attention since you hung that flyer."
"My flyer?" The brown haired man held up a purple piece of paper, which he had obviously just torn down from the board in his haste to follow Priestly. "Hey! You were supposed to just take a slip from the bottom! Now no one else will see it." Priestly huffed, taking the stapler from his pocket and walking around the idiot towards the student board.
"Wait!" The hand was back; this time not letting go. Priestly half turned, looking over his shoulder. "Sorry. It’s just that - I was-" He took a breath, "I wanted to know about the room."
"Really? Wow. That was fast. My flyers are awesome!"
The other man laughed again, "Or I really need a place to live. I'm Dean. Forester."
"Well, Dean Forester," Priestly said flatly, "you are a buzz kill."
"Right. It's. . . a nice color?" He hedged. "You match."
It was Priestly’s turn to laugh. "You noticed, huh?"
Dean's answering grin was bright. "You're, uh, kinda hard not to notice, man."
This wasn't the first time someone had said this to him - probably not even the hundredth - but it made his face heat up. He was dressed like he always was; his shirt was black with 'Yo Mama' written on it in seven different languages, each a different color; old, worn black jeans with more holes than not; and flip flops with black polish on his toes (Tish and Piper got bored during closing). So, yeah, not his most extravagant but still a bit out there.
Priestly turned to fully face Dean, definitely curious now. He was younger than Priestly, but not by much - maybe a year or two. Dressed in a faded Adidas t-shirt, blue jeans and sneakers, Dean looked every inch the All-American boy. He tilted his head. Well, for a Gigantor. God. Priestly wasn't short!
"You alright?" He blinked and realized Dean's face was suddenly much closer than it had been. Dean seemed to notice it too, since his face flushed and he suddenly stood up straight with a cough. They stood there, awkwardly staring at each other, in the middle of the busy hallway. Dean played with the strap of the bag he wore over his shoulder while Priestly fiddled with the flyers he was still holding. He groaned inwardly, this was dumb.
"So you wanted to know about the room?" It was better than nothin', and it seemed to shake Dean out of his own funk.
"Oh, yeah!" Hazel eyes widened eagerly, "I've been looking but most of the places around here that I can afford kinda suck and I really want to move out of where I am now." He waved the flyer at him for emphasis. "It says that I get my own room and bathroom and the price is great and you seem great and . . ."
"It's all just so great?" Priestly asked amused. It got another of those loud laughs.
"Yeah. Sorry, it's just. I would really like if we could work it out, you know?"
"Sure." Priestly pointed to the fringe of the paper. "My info is on there; so's the address. I work until about four today and tomorrow. If you want to see the place, just give me a call or something. While I cannot promise how long the offer will be available, the sooner the better, man."
"My last class ends at five, could I just drop by? If it's not a problem?"
Priestly shrugged. "I'm flexible. I'll make sure I'm around."
"Awesome." Dean said with a smile. "So I'll see you later then, I guess."
Dean nodded, starting to walk backwards. Priestly waved and turned to head down the hallway, before stopping. He turned back around quickly, shouting out to the fading figure.
"Hey wait! Dean!" The dark head turned back with a questioning look.
"How do I get to the parking lot?"
Priestly hated business conferences.
They came around one or twice a month. The center where they all rallied was only a few blocks away, so when they let out, the Beach City Grill was invaded. Suits apparently can't resist a sub sandwich. Go figure.
The staff had been working non-stop for the past two hours and there were still at least twenty people left waiting to order. Tish's quiet cursing had been steadily increasing in volume as she manned the condiments and kept everything stocked; Jen was busy taking all the online orders that weren't related to all the suits that had invaded their home; Piper was wrapping each sandwich as it got passed to her; Priestly had a system, 'assemble, pass, repeat'.
It was nearly 45 minutes past the end of his shift and he was gonna be so late. Trucker was supposed to have been back from wherever it was he ran off to awhile ago. He knew the girls were waiting for him as well. They all had the same idea.
When the boss gets back, one of us is free!
It was a wonder that people believed humans evolved from apes, when they clearly more resembled vultures. Huh.
As if summoned, the crowd parted, revealing Trucker. He waded his way through the people and behind the counter. He'd barely taken a breath before -
"I've been here since two - "
"I need to finish this project - "
"Please, please, please let me go - "
Priestly shouted to be heard above all of them. "My shift was over almost an hour ago! I gotta go, man!"
The girls all glared at him as Trucker took time to consider all the arguments.
"Seriously. I have someone coming over to look at my extra room and they're coming at five." Priestly pleaded. He was not above begging. "I need outta here, people!"
Trucker understood. He helped Priestly get the condo in the first place. Priestly had just moved to Santa Cruz with next to nothing. He had seen the 'Help Wanted' sign in the window, desperate for a job. Trucker let him in and even allowed him to sleep in the office until he had saved up enough to afford a place. One of Trucker's surfer buddies owned a building made up of three units, which he rented out. A tenant in an end unit had needed a roommate and he'd gotten Priestly a great price.
Trucker grabbed an apron and nodded to Priestly. "You're a free man, kid. Get."
Priestly raised his hands in victory while the girls moaned and groaned about the unfairness of it all. He gave them a grin as he untied and tossed his apron.
"Maybe next time, ladies, you'll invite me on your little road trip." He bowed and high-tailed it out of there as fast as he could.
There was traffic. He tried to avoid it, took a wrong turn, ended up on the other side of town.
His not so silent mantra of "fuck fuck FUCK!" grew as he neared his condo. Priestly wasn't surprised to find the guy, Dean, sitting on the hood of his parked car. He was leaning back on his elbows gazing around aimlessly. He was dressed the same as earlier, shirt riding up to reveal a hint of six pack.
Crap, Priestly thought, stopping now.
He parked, took a breath and got out to greet Dean. Dean jumped off his car and met him at the door.
"Sorry I'm late." Priestly said as he stuck his key in the lock. "We were invaded!"
"It no problem, man." Dean said, stuffing his hands into his pockets awkwardly. "Hey, your name's Priestly, right? Like Jason Priestly? I didn't get it earlier and it said so on the paper. . ."
Priestly was quick to shake his head in denial. "No no no no no! Well . . . yes it's spelt that way but, no!" He grinned broadly, the sunlight catching on his lip piercing. "I am way more awesome than that 90210 bull." Dean laughed, ducking his head slightly.
"Yeah. I'm sure you are." He said softly. Priestly cocked an eyebrow in question, but he plowed on in an overly enthusiastic tone. "Can I see the house?"
"Yup. Me casa es su casa." He pushed open the door and walked on in, not waiting for Dean. Opening the hall closet to his immediate right, he shucked off his shoes and motioned for his guest to do the same. "Rule one, shoes off when you walk in. You don't have to keep 'um in this closet, but there is too much damn sand in Santa Cruz to walk around in them. Doesn't matter if you haven't been to the beach or a sandbox, it will find you and gets everywhere."
"Duly noted." He toed off his own sneakers by the door next to a bucket full of . . . aprons? "You bake much, dude? You've gotta lot of aprons here."
The purple haired man shrugged, "Nah, I work at a sandwich shop. It's required." He gestured vaguely towards the bucket, "Sometimes I forget to take it off. Keep meaning to bring them back."
"Oh, shut up."
Dean laughed under his breath, watching Priestly stomp further into the condo. He allowed his eyes to roam around the room. To his right was a big room with a large, second-hand couch and a decent sized TV. There were lots of knick-knacks all around the room and on the small coffee table. And straight ahead was . . .
"Sorry, if I had gotten back earlier I would'a cleaned up a bit-"
"You have an orange staircase." Dean's voice was filled with what Priestly hoped was awe. It was true. The large wooden stairs were painted bright, neon orange. They stood out from the rest of the light blue decor and dark wood floors. A statement piece, if you wanted to be polite. Even the railing was orange. Priestly rubbed a hand over his head, the gel in his hair crunching at the pressure.
"Yeah. You might not believe it, but it was actually like that before I moved in." Dean heard him let out a huff of a laugh. "Personally, I think Sharky did it during the 70's, before he swore off the brownies."
Dean was afraid to ask. "Sharky?"
"The landlord," Priestly answered. "Swears he fought off a ten foot great white with his bare hands, while surfing during the," Priestly made air quotes, "'storm of the century'. Or something. It changes." At Dean's bemused expression, he was quick to assure him. "He's a great guy. Total business type of dude when it comes to his rentals."
"Right." Dean smirked a bit. "So, there's Sharky, the orange stairs, and you, Mr. Priestly. Pretty interesting place so far. Can't wait to see the rest."
Priestly lead Dean through the living room and around a slight corner. "Just Priestly, please. I'm like Slash." They ended up in a small kitchen. The counter wrapped around the three walls that made up the room, only broken by a short fridge and the backdoor. It was the same light blue and weathered dark wood as the rest of the house. Walking around, Dan realized that it wasn't just the refrigerator that was short, but the entire kitchen. It seemed to be build for people under 5' 6".
Priestly seemed to understand what he was thinking. "Yeah, I know. You get used to the height. Sharky says that it adds 'character' to the house." He leaned over to Dean to whisper conspiratorially, "He's a small guy. I don't think actually noticed when it was built."
"You think this is bad?" Dean whispered back. "There was this house, back where I used to live, everything was short. I mean, like, your outta luck if you’re a short person small. I can't tell you how many times I hit my head. I had to bend in half just to get through the front door!" Priestly broke the moment by throwing his head back with a loud, uninhibited laugh. The sight made Dean proud to have caused it. He really seemed to get along with the off-beat man and he liked him. It was . . . nice. He hadn't really made too many friends since moving here and there was something about Priestly that made him forget the mess he had left behind.
Priestly's laugh died down to small chuckles and he shook his head. "Man, imagining you in a . . . a doll house. Ha! That's a picture." His mouth twitched, but he kept his composure. "So, the house. This as you can see, is the kitchen. The door over there leads out back. We've got a small porch; there's a hammock but not much else. Um, I can show you what will be your room?"
Dean nodded and Priestly lead him back around to the stairs. "Brett's girlfriend was here a few days ago. She took most of the stuff. She said I could do whatever I wanted with what was left, and I haven't moved any." He explained as they climbed the steps. "So, if you want, there's a bed frame; you'd just need a mattress. And one half of a dresser set." When they reached the top, Priestly pointed at the open doorway to the left. "That's the master, and it's mine. I won it during a game of poker."
"He bet you his room?" Dean craned his neck to get a look at the inside, but could only tell that is was cluttered and green, unlike the rest of the house.
"I got him drunk, broke, and wanted his room. I am a card shark." Priestly admitted, unashamed, as the two walked down the small hall to the right. Dean dared to poke at the fin of purple and black hair.
"You look it." Priestly smacked his hand away with a grin. He didn't seem bothered by the intrusion of his personal space.
"Whatever." He opened the first door they reached. It was a small bathroom with blue walls and sea foam tiles. There was a shower stall and a white pedestal sink with a large mirror above it. "I got my own bathroom, this one is all yours. The shower head is tall enough for me, so you should be alright. I think." He walked to the other door a few feet down. "And this is the bedroom."
Dean opened the door and stepped in. The walls were green, like the ones Priestly's room, and it was a good size. The closet was to his right and, while not a walk in, his stuff could definitely fit. The bed frame was pushed up against the wall opposite the door, under the only window in the room. A dresser with a lamp on top was next to it; a substitute for a bedside table, he guessed. There was enough extra room for some of his furniture. He walked around the entire room before turning back to Priestly, who was loitering in the doorway.
"So," Dean started casually, "you think you could handle living with me?" He couldn't help but match the smile that spread across the other man's face.
"I think that should'a been my question." Priestly joked. "So, you want the room?"
"I want the room."