Not that he wanted to sound stereotypically let down by city streets of Gotham, but New York wasn’t exactly going the way Adrien had planned. Having big dreams of the Empire State’s capital city while growing up in the Midwest wasn’t a good idea from the start, but could you really blame him for it?
The prospect of ditching his crappy hometown in Ohio and becoming a new person with an exciting life seemed so appealing, especially when he was in the brink of graduation at Harding.
But nope. Adrien was, surely enough, still the same old fucker he’d always been. The lights of New York City only illuminated every last one of his personality flaws, rendering them all the more noticeable to anybody giving him the privilege of attention. Especially if they were wealthy older men.
Adrien Salt was never going to be anything more than a slutty troubadour who fucked around for someone else’s hard-earned money. He wasn’t a goddamned prostitute —- not that he hadn’t entertained the idea of professionally selling his body, more than once —- but he certainly felt like one during each of those shameful walks back to his accommodations in Brooklyn.
Gene had been a pal of his for years, and he actually cared about the guy as a friend, but Adrien wasn’t sure if he could keep living in someone’s bathroom. It wasn’t that Adrien had lofty expectations for himself, but he figured that he at least deserved to sleep in something more comfortable than somebody else’s tub.
Adrien’s quest for a better living situation was either a symbol of his unwavering American ambition, or a pathetic display of his embarrassingly low standards.
He didn’t have a job, so it wasn’t as though he could actually afford anything decent in conjunction with his monthly-wired money from mom and dad; his allowance from the Salt home back in Columbus was decent, but not enough to live on. That was just his fault for not choosing law school like his brother.
It was either Gene’s bathroom or a hostel, and Adrien had seen too many torture porn movies to let that be an idea worth seriously considering.
Without a job, he usually ended up busking at the Subway stop near Times Square, playing whatever songs he thought could earn him a tip from some kind stranger. He’d also perform under the prospect that he’d attract the attention of a music mogul looking to sign new talent, or even just a rich old man who had a taste for nubile musicians with a bad daddy issue and useless college degree. Any of the above worked for Adrien.
He was probably the only person on Earth who married constant ambition with decidedly low aspirations for himself.
This Thursday morning in particular had operated under usual protocol, singing songs for anybody who’d listen —- which was usually one or two people, if he were lucky. Hold on to your stars, before they fade… he sang with complete conviction; they didn’t call it “performance” for nothing. He didn’t care if it looked odd.
At some point during the song, though, he noticed a familiar face buzzing by. He was sure he was going crazy from all the ramen he’d consumed for months, or in the middle of a brain aneurysm; something like that. But it couldn’t have been the person he thought it was.
Until, that is, it just was.
It was fucking Ludo Brooks.
He gripped Julian’s small fist firmly in his own, warily keeping an eye on the cone Julian had in his opposing hand. “Should’ve gotten you a bowl.” He muttered to himself, having to stop in the middle of the semi-crowded subway as the boy paused every so often to lick at the cone. He sighed and leaned down to pick him up, hoisting him against his hip as he reached to scoop some dribbling cream from the boy’s chin with his finger and lick it. “You’re making a bloody mess, mate. Hurry up and finish your cone so we can catch the train, yeah?”
“Train!” Julian said enthusiastically, jabbing his cone towards the direction of one just as it began to clamor in. “No, no, no, no, no.” A desperation rang out in Ludo’s voice in response, yet not due to Julian’s observation, but rather, the moment that Julian had gestured towards the train was the moment the cone began to fall. A sticky residue remained against his hand, an absolute mess and there was no possible way the cone could be eaten now though it wasn’t without trying. Julian of course made a grab for it, attempting to resume eating, but Ludo pulled his hand back swiftly. “Can’t eat this now it’s rubbish.” The response was immediate: one jutted lower lip and raised brows later, and cries began to wrack the small boy’s body. No soothing or bouncing of the hip seemed to quell the boy, either. Ludo began to walk down the platform, anywhere, in an attempt to find something to distract Julian. “Shh, sh, sh no, look, look at the nice man singing, we’ll get you another one later alright?”
He paused before Adrian not realizing who he was though the voice was strikingly familiar. Yet Julian’s cries and the cone now melting onto the fingers of his other hand was consuming all his attention, and it was only after he managed to soothe Julian enough to get him to watch the performance, that he immediately grew tense. His mouth fell, and in an instant all his issues moments prior were forgotten. “Adrien…Salt?” He began incredulously, as though he couldn’t believe the sight before his eyes. His face was a mixture of confusion and well…confusion. He recalled Adrian being rather odd in the time he had known him, but this was certainly the last place that he had expected him to be. Or perhaps it shouldn’t have been, and under other circumstances he wouldn’t have been so surprised. “What are you doing?” He began, completely ignoring the fact that he was in the middle of a performance, or whatever all it was he was up to. You could never tell with this boy, after all.