A few days had passed since the encounter with Rhys and Vaughn. Though, Rhys had yet to return to his own apartment until the night before he had to start his first real shift at Hyperion. Vaughn had to push Rhys out of the door, claiming Rhys wouldn't get up in time to return to his house and get ready for work in the morning (and he was sick of the messes Rhys kept leaving behind). With a sigh of defeat, the taller man eventually budged.
The smell had somehow gotten worse in his apartment during his absence. Rhys looked around in the darkness, the stars outside being the only source light preventing him from tripping. The same, crusty clothes still littered through his apartment, not helping the atmosphere. Once he found a light source to turn on, Rhys made his to the bedroom and sighed at the sight. The man finally thought tidying need to be done. However, all Rhys did to clean was swipe everything off the mattress and replace the bare bed top with a very thin oversheet and his body. He grabbed a blanket by the edge of his bed and tried to cover up. One problem" He was three times the height of the piece of fabric, leaving half his body exposed to the elements of the artificial night. Rhys was too lazy to do anything about it.
When morning came, the sound of the alarm greeted Rhys in a loud chime. He slammed his hand down on the ECHO as -he did every morning- and rubbed his eyes. The uncomfortable mess that was his bed made it extremely hard for Rhys to get a decent night's sleep. The smell infiltrating the air did not make Rhys' morning bright either. After a few minutes of contemplating why exactly he should get up and go, Rhys eventually convinced his body to lead its way into the bathroom.
Rhys looked into the fingerprint stained mirror and realized how bad he looked. The bags under his eyes cast shadows enough to highlight his deep brown iris', his hair was matted and in knots from not brushing it in a few days, and he noticed his body odor was strong. Rhys stripped out of the clothes he had been wearing (Which was a pajama set Vaughn loaned Rhys. His other clothes were getting disgusting.) and turned on the water to the shower. Steam filled the room as Rhys stepped in, feeling a sense of relief when the stifling hot water grazed against his flesh. After carefully shampooing and conditioning his hair and body, Rhys stepped out and dried off as quick as he could. There were flakes of old hair gel dripping from his scalp, but he still felt the need to slick his hair back. Professionalism. After that lengthy process, it was time for Rhys to step into his uniform. He stepped into his clothes carefully to attempt to avoid accidentally wrinkling the outfit.
After an hour of preparing himself for the day, Rhys was out the door and hitting Vaughn up with a message. "Hey. Wanna have lunch together?" He rolled up the cuffs of his sleeves and rushed to the official work sector for Hyperion.
The halls were crowded with eager new employees and Rhys had to try his best not to mow down his co-workers. He was so excited to start what he presumed would be the rest of his life. As a working-class man, he didn't mind the concept of busting his ass in a cubicle until the day he died. Rhys visioned his way up the ladder, being the CEO of the Hyperion Corporation right beside Handsome Jack. To his dismay, everyone wanted that same thing.
His messaging system notified him as Rhys entered the management department. It was from Vaughn. "You know it, bro! I'll let you know when I'm on my break. Jameson seems like he'll give it to me at a decent time."
"Jameson?" Rhys replied
"Yeah. My boss."
Rhys replied with a thumbs-up emoji before silencing the device, getting to his section. His desk was in a small cubicle in the ending row with a Hyperion issued calendar, an analog clock, and a fishnetted cup with a few pens and pencils. It was perfect for the Hyperion man. He took a sit in the black chair that was tucked underneath the desk. It resembled one of those of which you would see a doctor use. No back, no armrests. All it had was its leather padded seat and wheels. It couldn't have been more perfect to Rhys.
He started up his office computer and was welcomed to a sign-in screen. His login information had been written on a yellow sticky note beside the screen, which Rhys was thankful for. He felt it would be best to avoid his fellow employees until he got settled in. He wasn't prepared for the potential anger he would get from being fresh out of college but so high up the ladder as a start.
A few hours had passed before his boss- a cranky executive my the name of Mrs.Cranston -announced it okay for everyone to start taking lunch breaks. Rhys took this chance to message his best friend. Obviously, he wasn't going to take his break until Vaughn was able to take his. "Dude. You ready?" It took a few minutes to pass before he got a response from Vaughn.
"Already took mine. Sorry, bro. Jameson made me because I was already over my hours. We can meet up for dinner at your place?"
Oh no. Not his place. That disaster area was not fit for any guests. Besides, Rhys hadn't been food shopping in weeks. There was nothing he could prepare.
"Raincheck my place. Why not yours?"
"Because I don't want to hang at my apartment all the time. I'll see you at six. Gtg!"
Rhys groaned. Of course, his best friend wouldn't just make this easy for him to avoid. He stood up and took a stretch, walking out of his cubicle to get something to eat.
The smell of day-old coffee illuminated the air. Rhys decided he wanted to get a taste of the authentic work experience by trying some of the caffeinated bean water. On his way to the back table, Rhys scanned and skimmed through the advertisements plastered on the walls. Some were about buying clarinets (Rhys didn't even know people played instruments on Helios), others were about hotline communications, and some were about Handsome Jack "inspirational" posters. The patterns on the wall kept repeating themselves until he reached the coffee pot. Tacked to the wall was a yellow piece of paper. "Be a Helios Hero! Looking for people willing to experiment with new technology! Department doesn't matter. If interested, contact LeRoy Quinz."
Rhys raised a brow. That was oddly vague, but it did spark his curiosity. He ripped the first phone number tag off of the wall and stuffed it in his pants pocket. Would he forget about it? Probably. But, just in case.
Many long and nagging hours passed before Rhys was let go for the day. When he got home and looked at his ECHO, the time read 5:42 pm. Rhys completely forgot he had plans, so he decided to lounge on his sofa and close his eyes for a few minutes. No harm in that, right?
BANG! BANG! BANG!
Rhys' eyes swiftly opened, looking around the room.
BANG! BANG! BANG!
Rhys looked at his door, which seemed to be the source of the pounding. He got up and answered it in irritation, only to find out his best friend had had to use his knee to knock because his hands were full of takeout food. His irritability turned into embarrassment. "You forgot, didn't you?" Vaughn asked as he shook his head.
"A little. I just got home fifteen minutes ago." He looked back into his messed up apartment. "Bro. I know we had this planned, but my place is a wreck. Are you sure we can't just do this at your place?"
"I didn't just walk halfway across the station to get food from your favorite Chinese place and bring it here to you to walk another lifetime back to my place. You've always been a messy person. How bad can it be?" Vaughn shoved past Rhys and his jaw dropped. The smell, the sight. It was all worse than he predicted. "When was the last time you cleaned, Rhys?"
"This morning!" Rhys sounded offended, "I cleaned off my bed."
Vaughn pinched the bridge of his nose and sighed. He walked to the kitchen area and set their dinner on the little space his kitchen counter had left. "You've seriously got to clean. What is that smell?"
Rhys shrugged, giving a grunt. He wished Vaughn would just let them leave. But alas, Vaughn walked to Rhys' couch and threw the articles of clothing onto the floor. "My next off day, I'm coming over and cleaning regardless if you're here or not. This is ridiculous, even for you."
"Vaughn, I'm a grown adult. I don't need you cleaning my house for me."
All Vaughn did to reply was go and grab a few boxes of glass noodles, shoving them into Rhys' chest. "Eat. It's been a long day for both of us."
The two sat on Rhys' couch and chowed down on their meal. Both acted like they hadn't eaten in years.
"How was work?" Rhys asked Vaughn, shoveling the delicacy into his mouth.
"It was alright. Jameson is a cool dude, but he's very strict. My co-workers are too anxious to talk to each other- and frankly, I'm okay with that." Suddenly, the smaller man's face lit up. "You should've seen the spreadsheets! Oh, god! The numbers were the most perfectly aligned I've ever seen! Usually, people get so many things wrong. Dates and prices, even the taxes." Vaughn continued to chatter on about the documents.
As he did so, Rhys zoned out. He looked at Vaughn but heard nothing. The way Vaughn looked when he was excited was so adorable. It was nice to see him so happy. Rhys' eyes lingered from his lips to his eyes to his body and made a detour back to his lips. He could feel his heart racing in his chest and a warm, fuzzy feeling rush over his body.
"Bro?" Vaughn snapped in Rhys' face, "Yo, Helios to Rhys. Are you there?"
Rhys jolted up. "Yeah! Sorry. I've got my mind on things."
"Oh? Like what?"
Rhys couldn't just tell him what he was actually doing. He needed an improvisation. At that moment, he remembered the note he stuffed in his pocket.
He pulled out the yellow tag and smiled. "Well, I'm going to contact this Quinz guy about something he's selling. He's looking for eager patients to help him with something I guess. His ad didn't say much, but I thought I'd look into it, ya know?"
A weary expression fell upon Vaughn's face. "I dunno. I feel like if someone doesn't fully express what they're needing, you shouldn't do it. I can't stop you... but don't be an idiot."
Rhys rolled his eyes. "Me? An idiot?" He scoffed, "Please, Vaughn. I'm perfectly capable of making sure nothing bad will happen." Just as he said that his box of noodles broke from the bottom and spilled into his lap.
Vaughn laughed and shook his head. "Sure. I'll hold you to it, Rhys."
Rhys growled and looked back at the tag. Now he didn't have a choice.
After excusing himself for a minute, Rhys pushed the noodles from his lap and went to the bathroom. He scrambled for his ECHO and called the number on the tag.
"Hello." A raspy voice spoke.
Rhys could only pray that he wasn't going to regret this.