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Sep 18, 2019 5:40 AM
a jean and z are destined to fall in love (if z doesn't fall on his head first)
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The cord remains intact, after that.

And one early morning, later that week, a harried-looking employee from the Starbucks down the street shows up and asks if he's Kai-Zi and hands over an enormous drink that is probably nominally a coffee but is 95% composed of whipped cream and sugar and whatever other nameless ingredients go into this sort of ungodly confection.

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“...uh. Yeah, that’s me. Thanks.”

He’s pretty sure Starbucks doesn’t do hand-delivery, but he accepts the extremely froufy drink anyway and takes an experimental sip.

“Who sent this?”

 

(...this is actually pretty good.)

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"Uh. This one regular? Him and his sister come in sometimes for the wifi? I don't actually know his real name he uses random ones a lot -- I think he's into poetry or something, he told me to submit mine to this one magazine and it got published? Uh, French dude, yea high? I dunno, man, he tips good."

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Huh.

“...yeah, that sounds like somebody I know.”

Shit. Having an actor crush is bad enough without being encouraged. Especially when he hasn’t seen a mark on him anywhere.

He digs in his pocket to extract something to tip the guy with. He’s not sure what the random drink delivery etiquette is.

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“He doesn’t, uh, come in with a non-sister person a lot, does he?”

He sounds hopeful.

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"Nah. Thought she was his girlfriend at first but she flipped at me. OK, shift's over, I'm gonna go crash, take it easy, man."

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“Take it easy.”

He’s in a good mood for the rest of the day.

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The following week, it's Jean's turn to be in a good mood.

They're rehearsing his monologue. He likes monologues.

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And Z likes watching him monologue! Everybody wins.

It’s kind of hard to watch from up here, though. 

He perches on the edge of the catwalk, trying to get a good angle.

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It still isn't going quite the way he wants. They switch which sides people enter from, change the tone of the opening dialogue, take it again from the top.

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Maybe if he just...hooks his legs over this rail, and fixes his harness here...

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He flops back and hangs upside-down off the catwalk by his knees, laughing.

 

(His shirt rides up, exposing the mark above his hip, a grinning white mask having its mouth carved wider open with a long knife.)

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He's really getting into the monologue, hitting every emotional note, running up and down the scale, it's delightful, it's exhilarating, he whispers to the front rows and screams to the sky --

-- and then he freezes, perfectly still, perfectly silent, unbreathing, still staring upwards.

Staring at Kai-Zi.

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He was caught up in it enough that this doesn’t even seem strange,

He locks eyes with him for a moment.

 

...he should stop doing this before somebody yells at him, probably.

He swings himself deftly back up and disappears onto the catwalks again.

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No, disappearing is the incorrect thing for him to do.

 

After a few moments Jean remembers how moving works and heads off in the direction of the nearest access ladder to do something about that.

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He’s made himself useful adjusting some of the angles on the lights, so he doesn’t notice Jean right away.

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That's okay. Once Jean is up on the catwalk, he can resume staring at him.

(Staring at him is important.)

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He looks up.

....hi.

“I’m wearing a harness,” he says automatically.

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(talking to him he is talking to him aaaa)

 

"Yes," he agrees, "you are."

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“...why’d you come up here?”

He turns towards him and rocks back onto his heels.

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(because Kai-Zi is the most important person in the world and any second now he's going to realize that Jean is a hopelessly flawed soulmate who is nothing like what he deserves)

 

"--it's Kai-Zi, right? I'm Jean."

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“—yeah. Z, if you want, a lot of people don’t like to use my weird pulp scifi name.”

He stands up.

“Did you send me a coffee?”

This is a little bizarre but he’s really not about to complain.

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"Really I think I returned a coffee to you."

(The longer he goes without mentioning the mark to Z, the longer before Z knows. Knows how badly Jean has failed, how broken he is...)

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“That was definitely not the same coffee. I think we both owe each other a drink.”

Oh he guesses he’s doing this now. Okay. He’s actually on board with this course of action.

“We could toss out the whole coffee thing and do alcohol instead, though.”

No hey wait too eager slow down a little.

“If you feel like hanging out with some tech, anyway.”

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This is -- unexpected? Delightful? Delightfully unexpected? Unexpectedly delightful? -- No, definitely not that one, it's exactly the amount of delightful he would have expected.

(Z doesn't know, Jean reminds himself. From Z's point of view, he's receiving unexpected attention from an attractive man, not finding out that his soulmate is -- this.)

 

"I'd like that very much."

(Should he invite Z back to his place? He should not invite Z back to his place. His place leads to activities which involve undressing which leads to Z seeing his soulmark and finding out. Not to mention that for all he knows his sister is at his place right now.)

"...would it be too forward to say that I have some excellent varieties of alcohol at my place?"

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