Lara sifted through her mail absently as she kicked her shoes off. Junk, junk, bills, and more junk. She sighed as she continued to look through the envelopes and—that was not her mail. She frowned at the offending envelope and sighed once more.
She’d moved into this apartment nearly a month ago, and so far, she had met all her neighbours except for 32D, the apartment right across from hers. Xavier Crane. That’s what the cute guy in 32A had said his name was.
She scooped up the envelope with his name on it and decided now was the perfect time to meet him. She stepped into a pair of slippers before approaching his door and giving it three good knocks. And then she waited.
Maybe he wasn’t home? But she could see a light was on, and she was pretty sure she could hear music playing. She knocked again, harder and with two extra knocks. When it became clear that the door would not be opened to her, she huffed and returned to her own apartment.
She plopped a pink sticky note onto it and scribbled a quick note for him to please have his address changed to avoid this happening again. She slipped the envelope under his door and wiped her hands clean of Xavier Crane and his misplaced mail.
Two weeks later, Lara discovered she had most definitely not wiped her hands clean of Xavier Crane and his misplaced mail. Once again, mixed in with her own junk and bills, another envelope with his name and her apartment number found her.
Once again, she made her way to his apartment, and once again, she received no reply. She left another note—slightly more aggressive, but no less neighbourly—requesting he please update his address so she would not have to find his mail mixed in with hers.
And, once again, her request went ignored.
She found herself standing outside his door, knocking until her knuckles were sore, and even though she was exhausted after a long shift at the hospital, she was determined to stand here until he appeared and spoke to her like a decent human being.
Lara was jarred from her perpetual knock-and-glare routine to see her cute neighbour from down the hall staring at her with a raised eyebrow and an amused smile.
“Oh, Travis!” She was suddenly very aware of how disheveled she was. She lifted her fist from the door and tried to calm all the flyaways drifting around her head, and tuck away the chunks of hair that had broken free of her ponytail. “Please, just Lara.”
“Alright, just Lara,” he teased lightly, shifting his large cardboard box from one arm to the other. He nodded toward the door she was stationed at. “You looking for Crane?”
“Uh...yeah. His mail keeps getting delivered to my apartment and I’ve left him a few notes but…” Travis looked like he was trying to hold back a laugh.
“Yeah, the last guy who lived in that apartment was always bringing mail across the hall to him,” Travis said. Lara wondered how long he would stand here talking to her while holding that box that looked about half as heavy as she was.
“Oh…” Lara said, looking forlornly at the door that refused to be penetrated. “Well, I’m not going to do that. So either he fixes this, or he doesn’t get his mail,” she insisted with what she hoped was a look of defiance, but what felt more like a petulant pout.
“You’ll find it hard to convince him of that,” Travis said with a low chuckle.
“I can be very persuasive,” she said with a deep scowl and a deafening series of knocks on the door. Travis' nervous laughter sounded just barely loud enough to be heard over her knocking.
“I believe you!” he borderline-shouted. “I just meant that he’s not home right now.” Lara's hand froze against the door.
“Oh.” Well, now she just felt stupid. “I guess...I guess I’ll just try him some other time.”
Feeling awkward, she turned on her heel to head back into her apartment. She was just about to wish Travis a good evening when she heard a loud crash and clatter of what she assumed as the contents of his box breaking free and colliding with the floor.
“Ah, shit,” he said softly as he frowned down at the mess. She couldn’t bite back her laughter as she moved to help him clean it up. “You don’t have to do that,” he insisted as she knelt down to gather his fallen groceries.
“It’s the neighbourly thing to do,” she said with a teasing smile of her own. Once she’d helped Travis crate his groceries into his apartment in batches—what with his box decimated and all—she surprised herself by accepting his offer for tea.
Travis was astonishingly sweet, and very cute, which she had known going into this, but he was made all the cuter by his sweetness. His tree-trunk-sized biceps didn't hurt, either. She found herself happy to sip her tea across from him and make light chit-chat. Before she knew it, it was late and she was yawning into her empty mug as she tried to sip on tea that had disappeared long ago.
At the sight of her third yawn of the night, Travis chuckled lowly and suggested that perhaps she ought to head home and get some rest. Her goodnight to him was cut off by a fourth yawn.
“I’ll keep an eye out for you,” Travis said with a warm smile, and Lara stared up at him in confusion. “For Crane?” he reminded her, his warmth turning to amusement.
“Oh, right, of course! Thank you,” she said with a slightly unhinged giggle as she backed out of his apartment and into the hall. “Well, goodnight! And thanks for the tea.”
“Goodnight, just Lara.” He waved and closed his door just as she was turning to leave. And just as his door closed and she pivoted to head to her own apartment, she found herself colliding into something large and obtrusive, and effectively being knocked onto her ass with a graceless grunt.
She looked up to see a tall, lean man with a shock of silvery blond hair, his head tilted down to her with what she assumed was a smile. Assumed because all she could see were his crinkled eyes above a black face mask as he stood there and waited for her to get up and get out of his way.