~Partners in Crime~ We're standing in the rain/And sipping cold champagne/The night is full of angels of sin/The devils of pleasure and pain
"Thanks again, Cal," Rex's father says as he leads him and his son into the basement of the house. "You really didn't have to agree to this, you know."
"I did," Rex scowls, rolling his eyes and taking some abstract pleasure in interrupting, "and misery loves company."
"You hate spending time with me that much, then?" There is a monotone to his voice, striking an odd balance between joviality and heavily masked disquietude. "Come on. It's nearly Yuletide, and we still haven't sorted out all the boxes down here."
"Oh, didn't he tell you himself?" Rex's father takes his place between one of the larger boxes, and the wall of shelves opposite the stairs, which, in all honesty, won't suffice to accommodate everything they are to spend the afternoon sorting through. "He took up swordfighting lessons."
"And from Uncle Miles, no less." Even Rex seems impressed at the notion. "I didn't think the old nerd had it in him."
"Hey, if he's old, so am I. ...Well, anyway, I'll be...generally over here if you need me, so...just pick a box and get organising, I guess. I'm sure you'll figure out a system."
"...Huh." Cal would've expressed surprise at Jonah's sudden interest in such an activity, but he has a feeling he knows what spurred him to do so.
But enough about that. Cal begins to look back and forth between the boxes and the shelves, trying to figure out how to begin the task.
With a shrug that probably takes more energy than he's willing to expend on the entire task at hand, Rex approaches a box at random, and flips the lid-flaps open, idly finding it remarkable how this world, for all its technological advancements, still finds a place in society for humble cardboard. He casts a weary look across the floor-space to his father, then to Cal, then back to the box, and begins to remove its contents, one by one, and arrange them on the shelf with enough care that they don't threaten to fall, but not enough that they form any kind of cohesive order. This box seems to be full of assorted miscellanea that fit in perfectly with the idea of being left on a shelf in a basement, to be returned to at some indefinite point in the future.
"She's got family over from Galland." He makes a point of arranging a set of matryoshki in a profoundly illogical order on the shelf. "They probably wanted to get the flights here and back over with before the end-of-year rush."
"Just fine, peaches and gravy...or whatever." He refuses to meet Cal's eye at any opportunity. Instead, he steals a brief glance across the room, to gauge how likely it is that his father might be in earshot. "Things have been...better than they were, I suppose. But now it just feels like he's trying much too hard. And, of course, Mother takes his side, and Regina takes her side..."
"Because I'm a selfish, spoilt brat? Because I'm outnumbered and that makes me wrong?" He slouches, going through the motions of contemplating the empty photo-frame he finds himself halfway through transporting. "Go on, enlighten me."
This stops Rex in place for a moment, as if he genuinely believes it, if only for a moment.
"...Then they have damn weird ways of expressing that. And I've told you about the whole meditation thing, haven't I?"
"Well, he's already got this routine where he sods off for a while, shuts himself in a room, and meditates for a while. He calls it 'mindfulness', I call it bullsh*t. And somewhere along the way, someone thought it would be a good idea to get me to go and do it with him." Rex sighs. "I won't claim it doesn't do anything, but I'd almost prefer it if it did. Some of the visions I've been having lately are getting dangerously close to being some kind of 'magical destiny' crap, and I'm not down for it."
"Don't know, don't care--" He starts to dismiss it even before getting a proper look, but cuts himself short, taking the letter for himself and turning it over. On one side, it is sealed shut with a surprisingly ornate-looking stamp of wax, and on the other, the name 'Wes' is written in what appears to be painstakingly careful handwriting. "...Oh. Well, this isn't going to be delivered anytime soon."
"Nope." His stance eases up. "...Well, I've been told about him. Never paid it any mind, though. Some old friend of my father's, or so he'd have me believe. From a world that's 'perpendicular' to this one. Right. Because worlds can just do that."