I'm pretty sure he's tossing the apple to Avery. I'll let him catch it.
Nathan started to follow Alton, letting the apple fly towards Avery. The teen was more than ready to catch it, stretching his hands forward to grab the fruit from the air, but his reach was just a little short. When he saw the apple falling out of his grasp he dove for it, misjudging his step and catching his foot on a jutting brick in the path. Avery hit the concrete at about the same time the apple did, and Nathan cringed at the sickening thud he made when he landed. "You alright there kid?"
"Owww..." Avery winced, pushing himself up. "That was poorly planned..."
Alton had watched the small spectacle with his eyebrows raised, not even flinching when Avery smacked into the ground. As he was rising, the shopkeeper walked over to him, kneeling to give him a hand. "You seem to have nicked your chin," he said calmly, touching Avery's cheek to turn his face and get a better look at the scrape. "I can get that cleaned up for you, but we need to go inside first. It looks like we might get some rain."
Nathan rolled his eyes as he listened to this, finding Alton's behavior a bit weird, at best, but the distant rumble of thunder made him quickly start for the rooftop door. "Yeah, let's get inside before the storm hits," he agreed.
"What's with you?" Avery asked as he and Alton made their way after him. "Do you melt when you get wet?"
"Funny," came the deadpan response. Nathan shook the doorknob, forgetting it was locked until Alton tapped him on the shoulder, holding up the key. Stepping aside for the shopkeeper, he wrapped his arms around his waist, hoping he would hurry up and let them in.
"He's afraid of thunderstorms," Alton explained, opening the door and gesturing for them to enter. "Right this way."
Nathan was about to ask him how the hell he knew that when another, much louder thunder roll sent him scurrying into the building. Fuck that, he didn't care how he knew as long as he was inside before the rain started. Avery barely contained his chuckle, as he followed in after him.
Alton had Avery's chin cleaned up and sandwiches fixed just before the first raindrops began to pitter-patter on the roof. Nathan had hunkered down in a large armchair, content to eat his lunch in as much safety as possible. Avery sat across from him on the floor in front of the coffee table, devouring his sandwich like he'd never eaten something so delicious in his life. Alton sat on the bench in front of the window, idly stirring the cup of tea he'd fixed for himself as he stared at the downpour outside. He'd been quiet since they'd sat down in his apartment to eat.
"So," Nathan said, getting anxious from the weather and the awkward silence. "This is your house? Above your shop?"
Alton nodded, turning back to him with a simple smile. "Yes, it's more convenient to have my home over my store. It makes it much easier to open and close, plus it certainly saves on the commute."
"It's really nice in here," Avery noted, polishing off his sandwich. "You must make a lot of money in your shop to have an apartment as nice as this."
That made the shopkeeper laugh, and he shook his head. "Oh no, I make a modest living. Enough to pay for my bills and feed myself and Adonis."
On cue, the Siamese slunk into the room, rubbing himself against Avery's back, purring so loud Nathan could hear him from where he sat. The teen laughed and scratched the cat behind the ears, giving him the attention he was demanding. Adonis didn't seem the least bit affected by the storm outside.
"You're both welcome to stay until the rain ends," Alton offered. "I know I certainly don't mind the..."
There was a loud knocking downstairs, and Alton's brows furrowed as he turned back to the window to see who was at the shop door. He rose to his feet instantly, rushing across the room, straightening out his vest and hair as he went.
"Is something...?" Nathan started to asked, abruptly shushed when Alton pressed his fingers to his lips. The shopkeeper locked his piercing blue eyes with Nathan's gray, his stare petrifying, seeming to lock Nathan in place as Alton took his fingers away.
"Stay upstairs," he said sharply, his voice soft and deathly serious. His skin had grown very pale, and Nathan could have sworn his eyes got a little darker before he turned away. "Stay quiet, and no matter what you hear, don't come down into the shop. I'll be back shortly." Alton hurried out of the room before they could question him anymore.
The two men sat in complete silence for a beat before Nathan found his ability to speak again. "He is really weird..."
"There's a reason people tend to be put off by him," Avery said with a lopsided frown. "I think there's something... wrong with him."
"What do you mean?"
Avery didn't get a chance to answer, jumping to his feet when there was a loud crash downstairs. He gave Nathan a look, starting for the steps himself. Nathan immediately rose and followed him, catching his arm. "Whoa, what are you doing? Alton said to stay up here..."
"Then stay," Avery shot, back, pulling his arm free. "I want to see what's going on." The teen disappeared down the steps, and Nathan sighed. He was curious too. He jogged after him.
"Goodness, I wish you wouldn't scare me like that," came Alton's muffled voice from behind the door at the bottom of the steps. "Why is it you must always appear out of nowhere?"
"I left a note on your door this morning," a second voice -- a stern, masculine one -- replied. "Did you not see it?"
"I did, but I didn't expect you to have already made your appearance..."
"And give you an unfair advantage over these matters? I think not."
Avery pressed his ear against the door, trying to hear better, wrinkling his nose because it was still very muffled. He reached for the knob, but Nathan caught his hand, giving him a silent glare not to do it. Avery raised his eyebrows, as if pleading with him to open the door and get a better look.
God damn it, how do I get myself into these situations? I want to see who it is just as much as Avery does, but Alton scared the shit out of me with that stare. Come to think of it, there was definitely something not normal about the look he gave me, but I can ask him later. That other voice sounds... weirdly familiar. Augh! Why can't I put my finger on it? Maybe a little peek wouldn't hurt, as long as we stay quiet.
Or maybe we should go stay upstairs like Alton had told us to.
Fuck, what should I do?