Andy sized the boy up - in no way hostilely, however. In fact, he did so with that same grin on his face, and it was his own way of trying to make the guy feel more at ease.
“Ah,” he nodded, head tilted as he observed the head of hair. “Yeah, I think I should be able to help you out. Go ‘head and have a seat.”
He motioned to one of the chairs, set up before a counter and a mirror lined in bulbs. Turning on his heel, Andy made his way back across the shop.
“L…andon, right?” he threw over his shoulder, unsure. If he was wrong, God, he’d be embarrassed; but the name felt right as it rolled off his tongue, so he continued. From the folded pile atop the table against the wall, he collected a black bit of sheet acting as barber’s cape. He turned it in his hands as he leaned against the table and let a lull fall between them. Don’t be overbearing. Clearly, neither of them were the most social of butterflies, so letting the guy get settled would probably be best.
He could hear the sun baking outside, the locusts singing choruses from wherever they hid. His own shop was kept remotely cool by way of a half dozen fans; but it wasn’t the air conditioning the Apartments were lucky enough to still be hooked up to. He’d be in here, in the shop, every day, he’d made the decision; at least until his restaurant opened - what else was he going to do? He was getting at least a costumer or two each day so far, a rush of long overdue heads. Andy didn’t mind hanging around. It felt right. It felt like his element, almost as much as a kitchen; it brought back memories and familiar feelings, skill and technique not lost from disuse. It got him out of bed every morning, it got him disciplined again. Like years ago in his father’s shop, coming in early dressed presentably (a first ‘round the outpost for the redhead, daily look currently consisting of oxfords, sleeves rolled up, under a done up linen vest - a favorite piece rarely given the opportunity to be broken out - and, of course, pipe jeans which never seemed to be omitted from any outfit.) He felt professional, even if he was running a half-stocked barber shop in a dusty outpost at the end of the world. There was an unfamiliar feeling, now, one he’d thought he’d lost and could barely recognize when it crept up - pride.
Andy leant down, underneath the table he was against, and cracked open the door to a little box of hospitality - a mini fridge, stocked with drinks kept cold for potential costumers. It was Amanda’s idea. He grabbed himself a water and looked up.
“D’you drink?” he asked the brunet. “I keep beers chilled, around here, just in case - and water if you don’t.”
Andy didn’t drink, but it seemed everyone else in the Outpost did. Amanda had carried a box over from Kyle’s, and wouldn’t take Andy’s protest; she loaded the fridge up with bottles and told him that this would not only get costumers in, but keep them coming back. And Andy’d learned early on that the women in his life were always right 100% of the time don’t ask any questions don’t even fight it, so he didn’t ask any questions, and he didn’t fight it.
Landon seemed nice. Sweet. He’d heard he had his mother with him - unheard of around here. He was the only one with family, save for the Taylors. Andy didn’t exactly envy him, no, that wasn’t it - he admired him for it, and something like sympathy crossed from the freckled body across the shop.
Landon’s tentative smile widened slightly at that, “Thanks man” he breathed, relieved that he got the verbal conformation he needed though he didn’t exactly need alot considering the spread of the leathered barber chairs down the shop’s side. At Andy’s slight gesture he loped over to one and lowered himself into it palms flat on the arms of the chair, he twisted in his seat slightly to watch the redhead walk comfortably across the shop’s floor and away from where Landon himself sat. The ease of his gait made Landon think that he must have put alot of work into this place and spent alot of time there to look so natural there. It was a confidence he only really saw with Kyle behind the bar and when he saw his ever fewer friends in their own apartments and the like.
“Mhmm” he hummed complacently, trying to avoid his own features in the mirror. He’d scarcely looked in any since he’d arrived at the Outpost let alone before that point, he liked to remember his face less drawn; less dark rings, shadows, scars. But it caught his eye anyway and it both did and didn’t shock him. He had a fine stubble across his jaw, thumb sweeping across it and wondering how he’d missed it considering he’d been shaving blind for a few months using his fingertips as a guide. Then again he hadn’t really done anything for a few days that involved himself, making a mental note to get rid of it as soon as he got home he moved his touch wandering it up to the spattering of scars across his left temple and forehead. He hadn’t realised that the car explosion had embedded glass in his forehead until a few days after when his mother had silently patted them and he’d winced. It was like looking at a stranger. He looked down at his feet. Landon let the sounds of Andy clattering about getting the stuff he needed distract him somewhat, seeing with his ears rather than paying much attention to the sight actually before him- his battered boots that looked out of place against the nice, clean decor of the shop.
Landon idly wished that he had something to work on, to focus all of himself unto. It felt odd sometimes when he stretched out seemingly forgotten parts of his brain that felt grainy from something akin to slumber, after that he made sure to do a couple of things a day like pointless equations. It wasn’t as though he had anything else to contribute; he’d had no profession before the outbreak and hadn’t even finished his education. Useless. He didn’t even have any talents he was a Jack of all Trades capable in a lot if not all that he was asked to do but never finding anything in particular that he’d naturally excelled at. Being sociable and attempting to be funny had always been his gimmick. More than ever over the past month and a half he’d felt himself lose that, lose the smile as he served customers at Kyle’s replaced with a terse line of his mouth and stunted conversations that he’d fought to escape almost instantly. Then Kyle had left for a little while when the breakout happened and he’d just had to focus on his Mom sitting there paler and weaker and more vacant than ever. It was hard living with someone who was the closest to being comatose while being conscious. It hurt him how he could do nothing, say nothing, be nothing that could bring her back. Way back when she’d first started to breakdown it had made him want to whine and cry wondering why he had to be responsible, the carer when he was just a kid. A kid. But mental illness obviously didn’t care about that fact, but then again neither did zombies. So he’d kept going.
The slight pop and click of what sounded like a small fridge made Landon blink back and release his death grip on his right hand, wincing at the deep purple half-moons that his nails left in their place. He gulped the sandpaper down at the back of his oesophagus.
“I” cough “ I don’t actually drink. Water would be nice.” Even the smell of whiskey as he poured it made his stomach churn nowadays. There was no way that he was becoming any more vulnerable than his sober state made him, carelessness without alcohol claimed most lives anyway let alone adding intoxication to it. It wasn’t so simple as to drown sorrows anyway. He didn’t even like the taste of alcohol. He’d sort of promised himself that he’d drink when the last infected dropped down dead. Landon fiddled with the sleeves of his denim shirt, unrolling and rolling them with calloused hands.
The shop was up and running. Finally. Andy couldn’t pinpoint the exact moment he decided he wanted to erect a barber shop in his father’s honor - the best barber Texas knew, - but it had taken him this long to pluck up the courage to actually do it. A vacant garage, a few weeks’ elbow grease, digging out supplies and being thankful he’d brought along his own kit from yearsandyears ago - it actually happened. He still could hardly believe it, sitting inside the olde-timme joint that really was practically his father’s place in miniature.
It wasn’t as bustling as the shop of his youth had been, but he didn’t expect it to be. Outpost 31 wasn’t exactly prime real estate for a business like this. But what was, nowadays, save for Kyle’s watering hole? People needed haircuts, but they didn’t come in droves. But since Andy wasn’t getting paid for the cuts, he wasn’t complaining.
He was guitar-in-lap, sitting in one of the three mismatched leather chairs when the tinny bell against the front door jingled. His head tilted up, blue eyes peering behind red locks growing long themselves - the figure, tall, lanky, looking through his own hints at dark curls, just barely peeked into the shop. Andy’s freckled fingers stopped where they were, the strummed melody cutting off. He’d had a few costumers so far, sure, but he still sort of lit up when one passed through the door.
He sent over a nod, a grin and a wave to go with it. Didn’t he work at Kyle’s? Andy wasn’t exactly a social person, but had a thing for connecting faces to places - not to mention he lived vicariously through the open personalities of Amanda and Leila who knew every last body in the outpost. Swinging his guitar off his lap and leaning it against the wall, he untangled long limbs, pushed his hair back, and stood.
“Hey, man.” His hands slipped into his back pockets and he teetered where he stood. The brunet looked a bit lost, definitely skeptical - and Andy wondered if he actually intended his journey in. “Andy. I run the joint. What can I do for you?”
Landon fought the urge to wince at the sound of the bell, any and all unexpected noises instantly putting him on edge- even something as pathetic as a door chime. He slipped in further spotting the slightly familiar ginger with an acoustic guitar spread across his lap. He hadn’t known that anyone around was musical. The small strumming of something Landon didn’t know stopped as he set foot onto the floorboards of the little place. It actually looked really nice, obviously it hadn’t been damaged in the recent horde, it looked like a lot of TLC had been poured into it and that was rare to see.
He quickly returned the smile, raising his hand but diverting it to brush the errant hair from his eyes a moment later. Struggling not to stare he watched Andy easily swing himself up from the chair, guitar resting neatly against the wall. Landon reflected that if he tried that it would probably end with him tanking it and putting the guitar itself through the wall with his face firmly meeting the floor. He wondered idly how the guy put up with the long hair, then again it suited him in a way that it certainly didn’t compliment Landon.
“Hi” he murmured, fingers folding around the scrap of paper in his pocket and he stopped himself from taking it out. He breathed out a breath of relief as Andy revealed that he had gotten the name right. “Uh well, Leila said you could sort this out for me” he illustrated his point by raking a hand through his hair, brunette locks falling straight back over his forehead “S’nice to properly meet you” he added as an afterthought, smile as ever lopsided.
Chiding himself inwardly he forced himself to keep eye contact, it was so odd being able to hold onto human contact again after barricading himself in the apartment with his mute Mother and only occasionally smashing some very thoroughly undead skull. Certainly not socialising. Then Taylor and Isla had disappeared and he’d been keeping himself busy and generally just turning into a hermit to distract himself from the fact that he was rapidly running out of friends.
Even though the heat was starting to wear off a bit the Texan sun still burned unrelentingly at the back of his neck and he hated it. He honest to God hated it… Not that he felt like he did anything but hate lately. It had been a while since the bar had been open, Kyle’s return the sole relief of the past month or so. He’d been going absolutely mental being stuck in his apartment, hammering planks over the windows while his shadow of a Mother sat watching him listlessly still wholly unable to do anything for herself. She hadn’t managed a painting in near enough 4 years now and it was the longest he’d ever seen her without a paintbrush in her hand. Landon knew that she tried, but never when he was with her. If he let himself stop to think about it he would sure he’d say it hurt. But he pointedly didn’t, busying himself with helping any way he could with the rebuild.
But now after so many months his hair was really starting to piss him off, it was everywhere. Curling at his ears, in his eyes. It was a complete inconvenience and he needed it gone. Which was why he was wandering aimlessly with only the vague recollection of directions that Leila had given him to the cook’s place. His name started with an A… Adam, Aaron- Andy. That was the one. Landon silently praised himself for remembering. He had only a few memories of the ginger; flitting about looking anxious with rations and the like, a couple of times with this big grin on his face but Landon didn’t have that much to go on. Leila seemed to adore him though so he couldn’t be half bad.
After deciding that he’d lied to himself for the past seven years of travelling and that he had no sense of direction he stopped. It looked like a restaurant. Or something like a restaurant anyway and it looked apparently empty. Landon drew his tongue over his lips mulling over whether or not to head in. Against his probably better judgement he carefully pushed open the door peering his head round the frame hesitantly.
• I can't remember if I'm right that Tony refurbed a place to make a barber shop? • Oh idk • Some Might Say