It’s Lent, ain’t it?
[A.J. keeps a steady hand on the man’s back, but he doesn’t directly respond to that. It’s the kind of thing he’s no good at. And so, he tries to resort to humor.] That works out, you know. I have a bad track record with my best friends’ wives.
You still should let me hook you up with someone.
[He manages a weak laugh and finally breaks the hug, rubbing at his reddened eyes. This was a small step in the right direction and he still has a ways to go.] That’s good to know.
If you find someone, okay. [He highly doubts A.J’ll find a single person though.]
It’s Lent, ain’t it?
[A.J. pats the man’s back, taken off guard by the sudden hug at first. But it seems like Sid needs it, with whatever the hell is going on, and so, he hangs onto him, allowing the guy to take whatever comfort he needs.] What am I, you shithead? Chopped liver?
[Sid isn’t ready to let go, so he doesn’t. While his face is still unnoticeable he tries to dry the tears for when he does decide to let go. The man’s words make it easier to do so and when he speaks his voice tries not to break.] One of my best friends.
[Ray smirks to himself. Kid looks like he’s about to piss himself and he wonders if he’ll have trouble with manners again when it comes to him.] Few days. Came in with my daughter.
[Daughter? Great. There’s another that’s going to give him that same look, he knows. When he runs into her he’ll have to make sure not to do anything ill mannered around her.] That’s great. That you have her, that is.
[Ray nods, satisfied with the answer for the moment. He folds his arm over the bible, to keep his place but give the man his full attention. Showing him how a real conversation is supposed to happen.] Sidney. It’s a pleasure. I’m Ray Mercer.
[Sid watches the man sitting in front of him, getting the impression he’s teaching him for his rudeness. He could be wrong also, like he is most of the time.] Nice to me you too, Ray. Been with us long?
[Ray nods his head, lifting his eyes to look at the man again. There’s just a toughness there. He watches him carefully.] That’s a start. Now, how about a proper introduction?
[Sid looks left and right before meeting his eyes with the man’s. He’s still giving him a look and it makes all the more uneasy. If Sid were five years old he’d pee his pants.] Well, uh, I’m Sidney.
[Ray shakes his head. He leans over the bible again, looking down at the pages as if it was a dismissal.] Don’t have many people, son. Just don’t appreciate the bad manners.
[Sid scrunches his nose. He knew he should of tried harder to hold in that yawn and he finds himself hoping the man will yawn since it’s suppose to be contagious. It seems like he’s done talking, but Sid doesn’t want to walk away with the thought of being hated by someone else.] Sorry. I’m sorry.
[When the man yawns, Ray watches him closely. There’s something like disapproval crossing his features. Manners were the first thing he learned, before he even knew how to suckle and it seems this man must have skipped that lesson.] Not you?
No. [Even if he decided to give something up now, he isn’t sure what it would be. The man looks at him like he’s disgusted Sidney isn’t partaking.] Please don’t hate me.
[Ray smiles at the question, glancing up at the man as he approaches. It’s no one he recognizes and the man looks like he’s in a rough state of mind, just from the way he carries himself. He nods his head, voice low and calm as he speaks.] Don’t need a holiday to read the good book, son. [He gives him a smile.] But the answer is yes.
[He wasn’t sure and it never hurts to ask. Sidney takes the other seat at the table, feeling the tiredness coming again. It’d be rude and disrespectful if he yawn while the man speaks, so he turns his head like that will hide what he’s doing. It doesn’t.] That’s good. So is my friend.
[Ray sits at a table, a bible in front of him, reading through the passages, though at this point he could probably recite most of it my memory. It’s habit, a nightly ritual he has and tonight he’s feeling despondent enough that he needed the familiarity. There’s something in the air he can’t quite place and it leaves him uneasy.]
[After his talk with A.J the other night, Sidney had been able to get more sleep during the night. He’s up now because there’s still some stuff on his chest and he thinks taking one of his late night walks will ease him. When he sees a man sitting at a table with his nose in some kind of book, he makes his way over to the other night owl. Up close he sees that it’s the bible.] Are you celebrating Lent too?
It’s Lent, ain’t it?
Look at me, Sid. The point of this group is so that’s not ever just you facing a mutant. There ain’t nothing wrong with relying on people. And do you have any idea how many people rely on you? Christ. [A.J. looks intently into the man’s face, his brow furrowed in concentration.] People kill shit. Don’t mean they have a goddamn idea about being a person. Don’t mean they know how to comfort or console or listen. You douche.
What do you want? You want me to work out with you? What’s it gonna take? You even know what a man is? Gonna put on some muscles and feel better? Shit, man, that ain’t gonna solve anything. You’re skinny-ass Sidney, and that’s who you ought to be.
[Sid stares at A.J with watery eyes as he speaks. He’s close to tears but he won’t let them fall because that wouldn’t be very manly right now. The thought of them working out together helps keep the tears from falling. It’s a relief to hear that he wants him to continue being who he is and that makes him step forward, embracing the other in a hug. This definitely isn’t manly for sure, but Sidney doesn’t care, it’s something he needs to remind him that A.J’s there. Since his face can’t be seen, the tears finally flow.] I’m just terrified no one’s going to be there for me.