The next day flew by. Charlie kept to what had now become his daily chores, going up to the roof to water all of his plants and check on things. The tomatoes and lettuce looked like they might be ready to harvest in a day or two which seemed absolutely insane considering it had been less than a week since he planted them. He also cut down a couple more trees and broke down a few rocks as well just to have the resources in case of an emergency. It also occurred to him that they might need to go back to the catacombs eventually if he hoped to make anything else with copper, but that would be a project for another day.
He decided to use a little of his free time fishing in the pond again. This resulted in catching three more fish. It would have been seven but his reeling skills still needed work. He caught a minnow, another river bass and a trout. How all of these different fish were living on a rooftop in Brooklyn, he had no idea, but at this point the nonsensical nature of this building was bizarrely starting to make sense.
When his chores were done, he returned to his apartment with Bear and showered before realizing that he didn’t really have anything to wear to a fancy dinner party. He decided to go see if Juno had any thoughts on the matter.
“We could always go see Oliver,” she said.
“Oliver?” asked Charlie, who was fairly certain he was about to meet another one of the quirky tenants of the building.
Oliver Duong lived on the fourth floor in apartment 405 and was apparently a professional cosplayer and costume designer. All around his apartment were costumes created to resemble all sorts of characters from both anime and films, some fully completed, others still in the process of being sewn together. There were all manner of costumes, from warriors and soldiers, to ice skaters and princesses, fairies, robots, and many more.
Oliver himself was a very thin, slightly shorter, younger looking man. He had tan skin and jet black hair which swooped down dramatically over one eye. Everything about him felt artistic, from his model-like frame to his sharply cut jawline. He was refined and elegant, as if he too were part of the costumes he chose to display. He answered the door wearing a button up white shirt and beige trousers with suspenders. His feet were bare. Charlie thought Oliver’s outfit seemed very much like something a hobbit might wear. “Yes?” he asked in a clipped tone, as if they had just caught him in the middle of something very important.
“Oliver, I’d like you to meet Charlie,” said Juno. “He’s Arthur’s grandson.”
“Hello Charlie,” said Oliver, seemingly neither interested nor surprised. “You need something?” he asked.
“Well,” Juno pressed on. “We are going to a very nice dinner party this evening and Charlie doesn’t have anything nice to wear, and I was thinking you might be able to help him out with a spare button up or even a blazer you’ve got lying around?”
“And I could buy them from you,” said Charlie, not sure how much these nice clothes were going to cost, but wanting to make sure he didn’t continue accepting handouts from the residents of the building. “Or possibly rent them for the night?”
Oliver allowed the door to open more fully as he looked at them both with a hungry glint in his eyes. A devilish grin spread across his face. Charlie had to admit that the young man was quite attractive. “An outfit?” he said excitedly. “For a soiree?”
“I mean, it’s just dinner,” said Charlie, feeling like a piece of meat. “And possibly drinks … at a nice place … I guess.”
“It’s on the Upper East Side,” said Juno who realized that they had peaked Oliver’s interest. “And there’s a personal chef.” She raised her eyebrows as if this was the most enticing part of all.
“Well why didn’t you say so?” asked Oliver. He reached out and pulled Charlie into the room by his arm, past several mannequins in different costumes. They reached a room packed to the brim with various fabrics covered in elaborate designs. There were multiple sewing machines and various spools of multi-colored threads. The walls were practically covered with sketches and designs. Charlie felt like he stepped into the office of someone who worked at Vogue. Oliver snapped his fingers, and the large sewing machine at the back of the room tossed a long measuring tape into his hand.
He went to work measuring Charlie from head to toe, not the least bit squeamish when it came to touching Charlie everywhere and anywhere. “And does mademoiselle have something to wear?” asked Oliver, eyeing Juno.
“I have a dress, and Milo, well I’m sure Milo can find something in that old apartment of his.”
Oliver threw down the measuring tape in disgust. “Absolutely not! ABSOLUTELY NOT!” he yelled angrily. “You expect me to make this monstrosity into a star,” he waved wildly in Charlie’s direction, indicating to Charlie that he was the monstrosity in question. “And leave you and the cat to wear peasant clothes? I won’t stand for it!”
“Oliver, please,” started Juno. “There’s not a lot of time, and I don’t want you to go out of your way to…”
“I have your measurements as well as the feline’s already,” said Oliver. “It is no trouble. I can’t have you bringing down my art with your ‘dress.’” He made finger quotes as he said dress and then rolled his eyes as if it were a foul word that tasted wretched on his tongue. “I can have them all done in thirty minutes.”
With that, he snapped his fingers again. Fabrics from all over the room flew out from their bolsters, swirling in a tornado of color around Oliver as he eyed them each carefully, selecting one then another out of the air with a point of his finger, or flip of his wrist? The selected fabrics flew into the sewing machines on their own. They twisted and turned, transforming slowly into a dress jacket and then a shirt and pants. Charlie watched in absolute astonishment.
“I don’t understand,” said Charlie. “What’s his relic? It seems like everything in the room is magical.”
“It’s the thimble,” said Juno, inferring the small copper thimble on Oliver’s pinky finger. “It gives him telekinetic powers.”
“Telekinetic powers? That’s like super hero level.” He thought for a moment. “Or super villain level. He could take down the world with something like that,” said Charlie.
“Sure,” she said. “But he chooses to design haute couture. It’s what brings him joy.” Charlie looked at Oliver, the fabric dancing through the air and the sewing machines working overtime in every corner of the room. He watched as magic came to life, not for the first time and certainly not for the last, right before his eyes.
Oliver! Truth be told, Oliver is only a small part of this first arc of the story, but I really hope you enjoyed meeting him because he’s got so much more to come. I’ve got big plans for this adorable little cosplayer!