Since arriving in Silvervale, Ritz has done well for himself: getting steady grades and credits sure to get him on the dean's list, a whole apartment of new friends (some still to be had
), getting a job waiting tables and occasionally MCing for Pink Barrel (one of the local bars at Rebecca's Hole), and being able to sell some of his arts and crafts out (+profit!!!
) thanks to the weekend markets at the Trade Center. It was nice coming back to a place he's grown to love, even if he did just lived here for a year. One could say Ritz has settled easily in the city, some people even mistake him for a native, part of it is thanks to Bert and just how naturally welcoming Silvervale is and part of it is his own little quirks fitting well with the locale. It has been a very eventful 2 months for Ritz; having been assigned as an assistant set designer for this year's production of Tinker Town though he would have liked to be in the ensemble, he's a month late for casting even as an understudy. The previous holder of his position backed out due to conflicting schedules and to be honest, Ritz was pretty thankful for the opportunity. It gave his brain ample distraction from the nagging fact that he's been away from his family for too long, not that the frequent video calls and dotingly messaging them didn't quite suffice.
So there he sat, at one of the affordable generic cafes in Tinker Base unsurprisingly packed in the middle of the afternoon, on his table a tablet hoisted up by his binder having a grande chai latte and a slice of chocolate mousse cake. Sporting homey hair and a very comfy kinda-tan-maybe-a-discolored-orange sweater though somehow still looking fashionable, all slightly worn from arranging last minute preparations for the musical starting in a few days while trying to brush off the need for a nap. He's been trying to get a hold of Gwen on skype for the past hour but she seems to be quite occupied, maybe asleep, possibly away, maybe in trouble?, actually in trouble?, what if she was? his heart skipped a bit. Is the internet just slow? Maybe it is, or she's just probably doing something very hands on, right?
He convinced himself and before another troubling thought came to mind, her face popped up from his tablet screen, he instantly lit up. "OH THANK GOD, I thought you were---"
he exclaimed but immediately got cut off "DEAD? Hyung, I'm doing just fine. You need to chill, I left my phone upstairs and I was busy with something."
she said matter of factly, well acquainted with his brother's unrelenting concerns. "Of course I knew that, I'm confident you're well and capable on your own. ANYWAY, hi and how's life Gwinnie?"
asking as if they haven't talked just two nights ago as he sipped and choked on his coffee. She smiled as if holding in a bit of a snicker, finding humor at her brother's expense. Gwen had a slightly tilted smile, something she got from their mother, which Ritz has always found some comfort in. Though at first glance you wouldn't take the two as siblings due to huge differences in their profile (Ritz with his sharp features and Gwen with her soft visage), once you observe them together you'd find they're two peas in a pod of and course you'd also notice Ritz was more dramatic in contrast to Gwen who can get pretty stoic. "I'm doing great lowkey fantastic, I haven't felt as chill in ever."
she replied, her last words slightly hindered by a quiet chatter in the background. "Well, it's called a gap year for a reason. Is that dad I'm hearing? Who's he talking to? Also you look slightly skinny, have you been eating fine? You need to get something more substantial than just fast food."
sincerity heard in his last comment while to someone unfamilliar, the comment would have felt like a jab but of course Gwen knew better. "I'm eating alright! I've just been watching my weight lately, okay? Don't sweat it. And yes dad's here."
She hollered over at the man in question and eventually he appeared on screen, holding the phone panned up from his chin. "No, dad, face it in front of you like eye level, Hyung is eating and I don't think he wants to be all up in your nose business."
Ritz heard, her voice seemed to come from a farther proximity of the phone. "Hey kid, how's Silvervale?! We miss you big time though we're doing great here, you're sister's been learning some farm stuff from the Griffith's lately and for some reason, there's been a surge of heaters malfunctioning so business is doing swell." Gwen, doing hard labor? Gwen who hates getting mud in her shoes? that's unusual, she hasn't shown much interest in farming as far as he remembered. "I missed you too, wish I could visit soon but I'm packed for the next few months. Don't overwork yourself dad. And farming, really? that's great... though unexpected, well have you asked her what her plan after the year is yet?"
He was worried, she hasn't shown interest in going back to school or mentioned anything about getting a job. He'd just hate for her to be a bum, and the old man needs to retire soon, though Ritz isn't entirely basking in money he is financially okay so Gwen would probably do fine if she'd get a job too. He knew she's smart and is actually really confident in her capabilities to be well off by herself. "Actually, she has mentioned something about getting into Agriculture, maybe she could try for SVU?"
His voice louder towards the end to which she responded "OR ELSEWHERE! I don't want to bother Ritz, dad and I don't think SVU is very up there in that field."
Although admittedly her company would comfort him, she is probably better off elsewhere. "Yeah, she's making sense THOUGH I wouldn't mind having you here but that's good, that's a start."
He smiled feeling content about the worry off his list, a pretty long list. "Well okay kid, I'm sure you'll figure it out as you always do."
A doorbell rang from the other side of the call. "I'll get that."
The phone transferred on to Gwen picking at what looked like veggie fritters, an extra hand caught by the camera as it swiftly pulled away while she pulled an expression that seemed to have scolded the owner of said hand. A guest? "Yo, you've got someone over?"
hoarse-throated Ritz inquired, "Yup, just a few friends." On a random Thursday afternoon? "Oh, cool, who're they?"
It's strange because they weren't particularly the type to invite people over, Ritz was always the one who took to things like that. "Just some neighbors."
she replied, sounding off a little cagey as she darted her eyes off the screen. What's with the tone? "That's nice, you're making neighbor friends now huh? We stan progression."
he said trying to disarm what's become an awkward tinge in the air. "Yeah, it's great whod've thought occassionally socializing with people could be refreshing."
And then this husky bass unembodied voice went "Heyy, John, taste this!"
Ritz' eyes widened, "Hot smokin fritters, this is delightful!"
the countriest sounding twang uttered. "Told ya, you did it justice Gwinnie!" wait, she cooks now?
the husky bass voice proclaimed. It didn't take Ritz too long to realize what was happening and for a moment, his jaw unhinged. He raised both brows up, the way people do when they want to express "I can't believe this" or "you can't be serious"
but don't want to put it in words. Gwen put a thumbs up over to her left in response to whoever it was from the other side as she sneakily made some distance away from them. "Listen, before you say anything or freak out or get maybe mad slash frustrated and confused."
she ended with a little sigh. "He's my friend too, he just wanted to hang out, don't.make.it.weird."
He furrowed his brow, pretending like he doesn't understand why she's explaining. He shook his head, forcing a smile that probably came out more like grimace. "NO, it's totally great, I'm so glad you and dad have someone to hang with and it's not weird. You're the one making it weird, shush. I'm totally fine and cool with it, why wouldn't I be?" UHM IDK MAYBE BECAUSE YOUR YOUNGER SISTER AND YOUR DAD IS GETTING COZY WITH YOUR EX BESTFRIEND/EX BOYFRIEND BEHIND YOUR BACK? "Well you've been gone and you know it can get very lonely for us here so let us have this and be fine with it."
Gwen plead totally not buying his brother's bullshit.
He exhaled deep tugging at his sweater palms "OKAY, yeah no, I totally get it." "SO, I'll drop the call now, DAD SAY BYE TO RITZ!!"
Gwen switched to the back camera revealing a waving Eleanor "BYE KID, TAKE IT EASY, WE LOVE YOU!!"
Ritz blew him a kiss in response. "Okay well, don't worry about us and good luck on the play!" Clearly they were doing just fine "Alright, I love you Gwinnie, take care of pops! AND EAT BETTER, props to cooking, that's at least step in the right direction, we love a little chef moment!"
dramatically putting his unoccupied hand to his chest "kbyeloveyoutakecare"
she replied in one quick breath. She's always had trouble with displays of affection, it's one of those little things that he and Ritz contrasted from. And just like that, Ritz was left with a slight bit of unease. Apparently they've been doing just fine, maybe being away from them was for the better because now they're open to having to invite other people into their life by themselves? Maybe Ritz has been the one keeping them from acting on their own about those kind of things? It seems they've made at least one new person step into the Gang House, so that's something. They don't need me anymore, they'll be just fine.
The thought sounded more remorseful than thankful in his head. And also, hanging out with Clarke Gabriel? I just... I have no words. Though it's not like they ended it sourly, how did we even end it again?
They haven't properly talked, Ritz barely even got words in and for some reason quiet guy Clarke actually did more of the talking. Maybe it was because that was how it went that Ritz felt strange about it. He rested his face square on the table, cupping his nape with sweater palms. What even is my life right now?"Hey fart face, what's wrong?"
A blonde girl in a pastel pink chiffon shirt dropped a stack of filled folders on Ritz' table. "Boy problems?"
she nonchalantly nudged the facetabled Ritz then took a sip from her espresso. He begrudgingly lifted his head up, cheeks red from the pressure against the table. "Is it weird if your family still hangs out with your ex boyfriend?"
he finally replied. "It depends, because was he close with them to begin with? And do you still have feelings for this guy? Are they also into him? Did they swipe him off of you? scandalous. But you know, people can be friends with their exes. It's a thing that happens."
Hannah was a woman of many words. "You have a point but it's just so strange right now and I hate that it's strange and I'm just all sorts of upset for reasons."
he sighed, deep. "Well, an annoying guy always tells me this 'sulking won't get you anywhere so just feel something else and move on' so take your own advise you hypocritic dickwad"
she said in her trademark almost nagging somewhat comforting tone. "Well, anyway here are the papers on La Fontaine that you wanted. Told you I'd find it."
she handed him the stacked folders with a self satisfied smile. "OH MY GOD YOU'RE AN ACTUAL GOD SEND, THANK YOU SO MUCH I LOVE YOU!"
he exclaimed taking it as h stood up to hug her. "Uhm, that's actually a meal and a drink mind you."
with slit eyes she threw him a sly smile. "Right right, just give me a heads up when."
he nodded, "Is now good?"
her glance turned over to the counter. "Do you take love, affection and homecooked meals? Kind of tight right now, give it a week maybe?"
Goofy pleading smile activated. Admittedly, he got broke from setting up a few things for the musical and from making some merchandise up for the Tinker Fair. "I won't say no to the first three items but what says your grande chai latte and choco mousse?"
she teased with eyes narrowed, glare now directed back at his face. "Listen, Bert insisted to buy it for me because I babysat Vivi last night."
he scowled. "Come on sister, look at you gitting it with a sugar zaddy!"
she teased. "Stop it, NO! I'm still a self sufficient young man who's just a little broke right now!"
his voice cracked as he furrowed his brows. "Sure, of course you are. Anyway speaking of Bert, that party's tonight? Are we still supposed to help out? Because I just got my nails did and I'm not really about that hard labor life right now and apparently first few sessions in the gym can also really really hurt. OH AND with that there was this cute guy from the treadmill giving do me eyes, but it turns out he lost his contact lenses and was just trying to figure out if I was someone he knew."
Ritz snickered. "SO I was totes blue ballsed so we actually both technically have boy problems so let's also go hang with an after party tonight at Rebecca's Hole and grab us some boiz. I'm sure there's plenty because there will be tourists coming in for the festival."
It was a nice plan, granted a bit all over the place but he did have the next two days free. "That's actually a good idea because I haven't properly drank in 3 months and I don't have plans for tomorrow anyway so yes totally let's do that thank you, you're a shining beacon of light. And you know what, you can just skip helping as part of my gratitude with the papers, just make sure to come before 9 because you'll miss Bert's meats." "Nice phrasing."
she chuckled "You know I meant Bert's barbecue and ham, anyway let's just get this shit out of the way."
An hour and a half passed by, Ritz skimmed through the papers, highlighting keypoints about the history of La Fontaine's bordel, faster than he should have. "So, you're really going to take a political spin on the paper?"
he asked not looking away from his task. "Yeah, fuck Smith's restrictions, I'm not letting this micro aggression against my gender be left unfought."
typing on her Macbook air with resolve. "Alright, well you know I support you and I'll be there with you if he protests against it. Which hopefully he doesn't."
he closed the folder, and cracked his knuckles "He doesn't have the gall, I'll talk about it on air if he even so much as give me a look."
she sneered, Hannah wasn't the type of person you'd want to be enemies with, this Ritz knew from the start and still sometimes finds disturbing. Not from fear of her but more of concern with how she handles some things. They met on the first day of this technical writing course, they got partnered randomly to collaborate on a piece together. Who knew that two unstable heads with a passion for storytelling could actually make good writing partners without tearing each other's heads off? They didn't exactly clicked off as friends right from the start because they would always find themselves in awkward pauses while brainstorming. Ritz' narratives are usually passive-aggressive and can get a little too poignant, sometimes even convoluted. While Han's writing voice came off as somewhat aggressive and in your face. They spent an actual day, writing a 3 paragraphs essay because they kept revising their work. But through time, exercise, caffeine and enough conversations they eventually got their groove. At first, it was mostly because of Ritz' efforts because Hannah could care less as long as they got the work done. But as Ritz' persistent ass would have it, their writing partnership eventually bloomed into the wonderful mess of an arrangement that is their strange friendship."By the way, how's it going with your tenant friends? specifically what's his face, mister dreamy eyed stripper roommate of your life and sir flower man fragrant for the gods, last time we went drinking you were being gross going on about how cute they were and how you just want a man in your life to hold you. Lordt someone save this boi."
Han teased, another thing she liked probing at with Ritz. "Shush Han, someone might hear you, god! They have actual names you know."
Ritz said, flustered because Hannah actually talks louder than how she thinks she does. "Why so sensitive? Softass."
Palm to face, so quick. "Whatever, it's just a little crush and you know I fall in like with any guy who gives me even the slightest bit of attention."
he argued, lips pursed. "Just trying to help and remind you your prospects, you know you can fix your boy problems by getting a new boyf."
she grinned, obviously enjoying herself. "That's not, I mean, yes but STOP IT." "SEE, YOU'RE CONSIDERING IT AHA!"
winning is Hannah's drug. "God fuck, okay. If I invite one of them to come with us to an after party, you'll leave me alone about this?"
he reasoned, more directed towards himself than it was at Han. "YES PLEASE! The more the merrier because we do need to split the bill. Mom took my credit card privileges and you're not exactly with money right now."
she clapped a tiny clap "Actually, I'm not even sure either of them are going to Bert's thing."
he said immediately taking his phone. "But I'm going to find out now, well at least with Lix." "Oh my god, they were roommates."
she gasped, he flipped her off.
To: "Lix it up, baby, Lix, it up." @Lionhearted
Yooo, Felix, you coming to Bert's party later? Do you have plans afterwards? I heard there will be some free drinks and stuff at some bars in Rebecca's Hole, if you'd want to get on that we could go. Also with some of the others too probably. Would love to bang with you. NO PRESSURE THOUGH!!
"There you go, that's that, let's finish schoolwork now."
he said triumphantly, waving the phone at Hannah's face. "Uhm dude, bang with you?"
she bursted in maniacal laughter, getting the attention of the closer tables. "OH FUCK! SHIT FUCK, UGH GOD I'M SUCH A DINK JESUS CHRIST!"
he fumbled at the cancel button but it was too late.
To: "Lix it up baby, Lix, it up."
*Would love to HANG with you, ugh flimsy ass auto complete, I AM SO SORRY!!
Ritz again flattened his face square on the table. "Earth swallow me now."
he mumbled, fully embarassed. Han was just dead, laughing her soul out. It took them another thirty minutes to finish rushing through their schoolwork. "Ritz, you should ring Nadia up too, we need as much people as we could for the billl and I need my dose of that spunky dumbass.""DO I SMELL A LITTLE CRUSH?!?!"
Ritz teased."Get me drunk enough and I might just consider it."
Han, ever so shameless.
To: "Cutchy Kween" @lopsided
From: RitzHey guwrrll, we're bar hopping later after Bert's party, you game for it? Han says you need to come.
"It would be nice if the others would come along." "You mwean some spwecific othews."
tuned Han, in her embarassing baby voice. Ritz' eyes made a 360."Let's get a going, I needs to get my everything done awf for tonight. This pretty face needs a pretty 'fit."
Han curtsied."I could help you with that."
Ritz suggested,"I think Bert needs your help more, sizt."
Definitely true."Alright, but are you sure there's nothing I can help with?""Ugh go away mom, dote elsewhere, I'm an independent woman."
Han practically shooing Ritz away, a usual scene before goodbyes with the young man.
They then hugged see-you-laters and went their own ways.
As expected, the streets were more crowded than usual, it's easy to differentiate the locals from the tourists because the latter have this bewildered almost enchanted looks on their faces. It's easy to get your head lost in Silvervale because everywhere you look there's a plaque or a statue, or a strange memento on display, or a house that looks slightly different from the rest. And there's something about the ever present blue-ish silver fog that hangs suspended in the air that just gives the town an idyllic feel. It's like if Silent Hill was not eerie, not fucked up and more strangely endearing. Ritz still gets stunned at how pretty Silvervale can get sometimes even though he's collectively lived here for a year and a half. Maybe the witches were real and they casted a charm on Silvervale to make it the way it is?
he wondered. His inclination for the paranormal showing. He paved through the crowd and got his way to Redwood, it's almost mahogany brickwork standing out among the gray stoned neighboring complexes.
He ran his way up to the rooftop, finding his way to the lounge area where Vivi sat watching Teen Titans as she cut out triangles from blue and white colored paper. "VIVIII!!! What's up kid?"
he said sitting down in front of the freckled, doe eyed girl. "Ritshhh!!"
she exclaimed, her lisp comes out when she gets a little excited. "I'm doing some danglets for dad's party later, it's in Silvervale's official colors, Blue and Shilver!" extra factoid added because she's THE ONE
, "ugh, Vivi your mind, we stan an informed queen!" "But what are danglets?" "You know, for dangling around and stuff."
Ritz hugs Vivi, squeezing her a little too much. "canf breathe!"
her voice muffled on Ritz' chest. "sorry, got carried away, ugh you're so precious I just can not! Where's dad?" "Setting up tables and getting the Karaoke up and at it."
she pointed out to the deck, where Bert was fussing about full of spirit and cheer. "Alright, you continue your amazing work you little artisan, I'll go help your dad out!"
Ritz, now sported a denim jacket over a white button down, french-tucked into skinny denim jeans, looking much less fatigued than he did a few moments ago which is also thanks to a little makeup hiding the bag under his eye and the corners tinted with a little tangerine to distract from anything else. The sun hasn't set but it can be clearly seen slowly coming down the horizon, it painted the silvery blue atmosphere a tint of bright orange turning it almost pinkish. The cold February breeze wheezes in, maybe an outdoor party wasn't the best idea? But everyone will start coming in soon enough and it could get warm and cozy real fast. The rooftop usually adorned with various clothes basking in sunlight, now sports some chairs, equipments and tables still waiting to be set up. "Yo Bert, the muscle is here, what can I help with?!"
Ritz puffs up. "AH RITZ MY BOY, welcome, welcome, please feel free to fix up whatever you can!"
Bert waved screwdriver on hand, stationed in front of a karaoke, though the man was pushing early 40's his physique fixing up the stumpy old machine barely shows it. "AIGHT, LET'S GIT IT! Hyped to get to sing with that later by the way."
Ritz said, doing a little shake as he picked up one of the coffee tables to set up.