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If she could list her mistakes that led to the present moment, it would probably begin with deciding to venture to the zoo unaccompanied. As of late, she has been trying to keep herself preoccupied so as not to dwell in the dark corners of her heart and let the negative thoughts pervade (though they occurred whether she wanted them to or not). Her counselor had recommended traveling to new places, either alone or with friends, to avoid sulking and being more prone to depression. She would credit her second mistake to not inviting someone along with, perhaps a coworker, but it was difficult to invite someone when you didn't have their contact information. So therefore, going alone was her only option next to not going and Rose would admit she wanted to see more San Diego sights, so what better place to go than to the zoo?
The morning started off well. She kept to herself as she casually strolled through the first section of the park, marveling at both the size and splendor of the popular attraction. She saw both locals and tourists alike traversing the walkways, most accompanied by another and few were similar to herself, alone and simply enjoying the sights. She began at the first attraction of monkeys and spent a great deal of time observing the smaller monkeys who were much more rambunctious than the larger ones.
After then, she continued forward through the Lost Forest (as indicated by the street signs) and here is where she would credit her next mistake: not picking up a map. She could just as easily follow the signs, but even then, the zoo was so large it was easy to lose your sense of direction. She tried to preoccupy herself by marveling at the many animals she passed, but soon she couldn't ignore the fact that she hadn't the slightest idea of where she was.
Rose paused to gather herself and moved to the sidelines so as not to get jostled by the moving crowd. Way to go, Rose, she berated herself as she fiddled with her purse strap nervously. What was supposed to be a nice outing turned into a nightmare. She could already feel the anxiety settling in and her mind was already turning against her. None of this would have happened if she had just stayed home... She sighed slowly, practicing the breathing steps an old therapist had taught her when she was younger. It helped her not accelerate the anxiety and postpone the depressive thoughts; on occasion, it worked and more often it didn't, but she was hoping this was a moment where it did.
A few more minutes passed of practiced breathing and she could feel her mind lightening the load of cognition. That was all she needed to begin problem-solving. Okay, if she didn't have anybody to call to come fetch her, it was best for her to seek someone out nearby. Her eyes scanned the crowds and she felt intimidated by the good majority. After all, most of them appeared to be families and she wouldn't want to intrude on such a joyous time. Spending time with family was valuable and she'd loath to interrupt.
Then, her eyes focused on one lone individual seated not too far from where she stood. He was attractive, to say the least, and for a moment, Rose felt a little startled by the thought. In these six years, she's never felt a true attraction to another person before, not since Declan. It was quite jarring to the girl. While, in any other context, Rose would have simply continued on, she couldn't ignore the facts that she was lost and that he appeared so at one with his environment. It was easy to tell that he was a local. He could surely help her, right? Without allowing herself time to overthink and convince herself not to, Rose was pressing forward.
"Excuse me," she prefaced with an apologetic smile as she approached him. "I'm sorry to bother you. I'm quite new to this place and I... well, I'm a little lost." She could feel her face warm with the flush of embarrassment having to approach a complete stranger with her woes. Her embarrassment was even more apparent in how her French accent was peeking through, a tick that reoccurred whenever she was overly emotional or nervous, despite having lived in America now for going on six years. Rose tucked her hair behind her ear nervously. "You wouldn't happen to have a map on hand, would you?"
Perhaps it was a little bit strange. Maverick would be the first one to admit that he wasn’t what one might call “normal.” And he knew that his affinity for zoo animals could be one item on the long, long, list of why he didn’t fit into any conventional definitions of normal, but that didn’t bother him. He’d gotten used to doing a lot of things alone, first in a bad way, when being alone led to dangerous thoughts, then again after his hospital stay. Now he enjoyed his own company quite a bit, and had very little shame about it. That was what led him to spend a lot of his leisure time alone. Of course, alone usually meant by himself in a particularly crowded place.
Maybe that was one of the reasons he liked the zoo so much, he was surrounded by people, but peacefully unplagued by anxiety of their thoughts and opinions, or feeling out of place. He focused instead on how the zebras strolled around the near end of their enclosure, a new foal - that he was particularly fascinated by – following behind its mother closely in the grassy field. It was something he’d probably never tire of, watching the animals in their carefully crafted habitats, the nuanced ways they interacted with one another, and occasionally with the patrons that get close to the glass or fences. Something about it took him away, to a simpler world where he could rest and be happy just to be noticed on occasion.
Almost as though that thought had summoned her, his reverie was broken, but acceptably so, by a girl, maybe near to his age. He offered her a smile, knowing that strangers could be rude in places like these sometimes, and that wasn’t someone he wanted to be. She was pretty, stunning even, it took him a moment of awe at the sweetness of her face and the shine of her hair in the sun to focus on her words. Unable to contain it, a quiet laugh escaped him, simply at the fact that she’d managed to pick the perfect stranger to ask for directions, as he knew this place like the back of his hand.
”I don’t have a map,” he admitted, he didn’t have much use for one himself, ”but I can certainly get you pointed in the right direction.” he offered. He wondered at her accent whether she was on vacation in America and had lost her group or something. She spoke very good English for a foreigner. ”Are you looking for a specific animal? Or meeting someone at a shop or something?” it was a huge zoo, and if he hadn’t spent so much of his free time here over the years he might have gotten lost as well.
rosalie fleur castellane
The familiarity she had with being lost was both a bother and a comfort at the same time, as odd as it was to admit. Rose was no stranger to being in foreign places. She could remember with vivid clarity the anxiety and fear she felt when she moved away from Paris. It was the first real emotions she felt in a seemingly long time after awakening from her comatose state. It startled her, yet also was a relief for that fact that she could still feel emotions. But so too could she feel pain...
Thankfully, there wasn't any pain associated with the present moment. Simply the desire to relocate her own positioning so that she could maneuver through this jungle. Her heart dropped at his admittance of not having a map, but she still offered a gentle smile of thanks regardless. Rose shook her head at his questions. "Oh, no. I came here alone," she confessed.
In hindsight, it was probably not wise to confess such a thing to a complete stranger. Her aunt had warned her of such things when she first moved to America; she cautioned her of the dangers foreigners faced, particularly 'young, pretty ones', as she so put it. Perhaps it was her own naivety or how his smile slightly distracted her, Rose didn't feel as if she had reason to be wary of the man in front of her. Instead, she was more anxious of the fact that she was no closer to solving her issues than she was before she approached him. Her hand raised to comb the ends of her hair as an instinctual habit all the while glancing around.
"Actually, maybe if you could point me in the direction of a shop, I'm sure they'll have a map?" Rose returned her attention to the taller male, once again offering an apologetic smile. "I appreciate your help." Perhaps she was being over apologetic, but from one lone individual to another, Rose could identify with the desire to be alone. And judging by how no one else was near him nor returning from somewhere, she assumed he too was alone. There was an odd kinship at the knowledge that they both ventured to such a large attraction without company, but it was understandable for him, who clearly knew his way around. Rose, on the other hand, would take this as a learning example to remember that she was still new to the city.
People had found it strange for ages, that Maverick liked to come to the zoo by himself. Looking around, most people were surrounded by family and friends, groups of children were escorted by teachers or babysitters. They were here to spent time with one another as much as they were to see the animals and enjoy the atmosphere. But like most things, Maverick was perfectly content to visit the zoo alone. The familiarity was soothing, and even without anyone he knew, the crowd made him feel a little less alone in the world. It was certainly a great place to people watch, Maverick particularly liked to see how the humans and their behavior mimicked the animals in enclosures all around them.
Oddly enough, Mav was delighted to hear that the pretty stranger had come here alone, if only because he felt a connection - like when you discover something new you have in common with a friend. If his smile widened a little at the confession, he hoped she didn’t notice.
I can do that!” he said cheerfully, thinking quickly about where they might have a map for her. ”If you go that way around the zebras, and all the way down to the lions, there’s a big ramp up to the treetops cafe and some shops, and they might have a map. Or you can go that way, past the pandas, and right before you see the penguins, there’s another little restaurant.” he rambled for a moment, pointing out opposite directions on the road they were closest to, which in the end was really just a big circle.
”Or, um…” he started, suddenly abashed as he realized that while he was happy to give her directions he was somehow sad to see her go, ”I could walk you, if you’d like?” he asked, flushing slightly even as he suggested it. ”Oh, I’m Maverick, by the way.” he added, hoping that he seemed less like a creepy stranger and more like a helpful...stranger.
rosalie fleur castellane
For a moment, Rose truly felt dazzled—or something akin to that description. Truthfully, she wasn't all too certain what the spontaneous reaction was but it left her staring up wide-eyed at this kind gentleman who promptly began to ramble directions. None of it stuck whatsoever, but she was more dazzled by how effortless he was able to provide guidance. It was admirable in its own right, but what startled her the most was how he made it appear as if this was his home. She could discern quite easily that he frequented the zoo often and that small bit of knowledge had her lips tugging into a small smile.
Now, if only she would have retained any of what he said, she might share a little of his own confidence in navigation.
Rose flushed a tad and ducked her head embarrassingly right as she was about to admit that she didn't quite catch any of what he said. Thankfully, he must have picked up on it or for whatever reason of his own, he was then offering to walk her. Rose peeked up at him to catch the slight flush in his own cheeks that made him appear so much more endearing that she had to suppress a giggle. With a curt nod, her smile widened a hair.
"If you would be so kind, I would like that," she agreed, tucking stray blonde strands back. Why was she suddenly nervous? It was an odd fluttering sensation in her chest that she hadn't felt in such a long time... Rose would admit she didn't want to simply bypass this circumstance. She felt drawn to this man for reasons she couldn't explain and had her curious to explore why.
"Maverick?" She repeated, canting her head curiously to the side as she tested out the new name. It suited him, oddly enough, though she hardly knew him. "Pleasure. My name's Rose."
In stating such, she offered her hand politely for him to shake, finding a sense of camaraderie with Maverick. Who knew a random excursion to the zoo would have her in this position, befriending a complete stranger because of her lack of self-preservation? Though, in hindsight, she was gradually becoming more thankful that she didn't grab a map.
"I do appreciate you helping me," Rose continued sincerely. "I underestimated how large this zoo actually is."