pam_icon.gif teo_icon.gif

Scene Title Featherlight
Synopsis Teodoro's little pet bird Pila suffers mysterious symptoms. Fortunately for him, Pam From The Animal Shelter has a PhD in awesome.
Date November 4, 2008

Animal Shelter

The animal shelter is a busy place, even at this time of early evening. There are always animals being, well, sheltered, and pets don't really pick times to get sick and at least owners are now mostly off work. Pam's been here for a long while and she'll probably be here longer; she's not dancing tonight. Everyone deserves a day off, so Pam is… working her other job. Whatever. This is the job she loves. Right now she's walking a large German Shepherd out from the back room. It has one of those round shields around its neck but it doesn't look as depressed as it might. "Good girl," Pam says. She doesn't baby talk; she addresses the animal like she would a person. "And here you go, back home." She passes the leash over to a tall young man who thanks her and heads on out.

Tall young men are a dime a dozen in New York City. Or maybe even more for less in a place like this, where dimes are spent sparingly and impossible waiting lines are braved for lack of access to places you can actually schedule with a secretary. He's been here before, but not often: Pila is generally very good of health.

Or used to be. Teodoro looks mildly abashed as he stands in the wide room where conscientious pet-owners as himself await services, an orange wire cage hanging from one hand and balanced on the palm of his opposite, a small white-and-blue budgie sitting inside in stylishly contrast color.

The brown cere atop her beak indicates her sex. The feathers scattered all over her floor grille and the scab forming on the shorn tip of one of her right-foot claws indicates her problem. Teo peers at Pamela. He says: "Hello. Can you help me?"

This is Pam, sans glitter and fully clothed. She stoops down to look into the cage and nods. "I can try! Hello. She hurt her foot, did she?"

The tiny hen walks sideways along her perching stick until she reaches the wall of the cage that Pamela's nearest to. She puts her feathery face between the bars and chirps once, softly. Then once more, louder. Abruptly, she explodes into irritable chirrking and chittering, flipping her black-laddered wings and beady eyes going round with miniaturized anger, her complaints piercing, strident.

"Actually—" Teo looks appropriately ashamed, peering dolefully down atop the tiny bird's round head. "I was trying to cut her claws," they're too long, Pamela can tell. Either dig into the bird's own feet or force her toes to splay and put bad pressure on her joints if she tries to climb, "but she wouldn't hold still and I accidentally broke the vein. And she's been shedding for weeks. She's been so fucking fussy, I don't know what to do."

Pam reaches out for the cage. "Mind if I take this?" she inquires. "Looks like you nicked her, yeah. I can give clipping her a shot if you like. Happens to everyone." She smiles cheerfully, gesturing toward the back room. What's her diet look like?" Pam's blonde braid swings as she walks.

Oddly reassured by the woman's bedside manner, Teo allows her to take the cage from him. Falls into step, and is whapped lightly in the shoulder by the zag of her plaited hair. He glances backward, and realizes he's being given a few evil looks from other bird owners to whom such an error is heinously unforgivable. "I'd really appreciate that," he mumbles, putting his hands into the pockets of his jeans. He stumps after her, a lumbering Sicilian to the diminutive pet doctor. "Uh— oh, I brought her birdseed," Teo says, instantly pleased she asked.

He pulls out a bag from his pocket: the generic mix. "She gnaws on the cuttlefish bone there," he points to the pale discus tied to the bars, "and sometimes I give her spinach, corn, and apples. And she really likes parsely," he rambles, walking after her. "Do you think that's why she's dropping feathers? Bad food?"

Pam briefly touches the packet, nods, and smiles at him. "Not the food. You're giving her all the right things," she tells him, stepping into one of the small rooms and closing the door behind them. The cage is set down on a metal table and clippers are fetched. "So her diet's fine." She sits down on a stool and opens the cage, coaxing Pila out with practiced ease and giving her foot a better look. "I can give you a little sample tube of gunk to put on this." That's almost absent. "Let's see… how long have you had her?"

The bird is deeply irritable, but Pam's mannerisms — and perhaps other talents — mollify her somewhat. Her ragged feathers smooth marginally and her eyes lose that dazed look of enragement. She sits on Pamela's finger, her diminutive toes wrapped around the woman's skin, cerulean-blue belly feathers soft.

Teo stops glancing around in paranoid concern that she'll try and bail out of a glass window and kill herself, and looks at the tiny hen's docility with some level of surprise. "Wow," he says. Then, intelligently, "Cool. I've had her for… about five years, although she was full-grown when I bought her. Her name's Pila." A beat's pause. "Mine's Teodoro. Teo for convenience."

"Italian?" Pam ventures. "I'm Pam. Good girl, Pila." She smiles at the bird, tone of voice soothing. She carefully clips the bird's claws with deft little snips, brow furrowing as she works. "Five years. Mmmn. Any… big changes lately?"

Most people have to grasp the bird by the body with their little feet poking up when they do the manicuring. For Pam, however, Pila sits pretty and even flattens her toes out, lets Pam find the exact spot to shear between the overgrown point of her claws and the vein inside, visible inside the hollow, translucent bone. Nevertheless, every time the small bird glances at her owner, there's a minute huff and flurry of aggravation.

"Italian," he nods. "From Sicily. You don't sound exactly local," he ventures, a touch distracted as he sets himself down memory lane. Changes? "Weather?" he scratches his jaw with blunt fingernails. Stubble's grown in since the other afternoon; there's an audible scraping of bristle. "Guess the construction projects in the area have been changing. I've been working more."

Pam does her mojo; it's pretty passive. She just… thinks about calming Pila down a little more, is extra gentle. "Texas originally," Pam tells him as she works. "I've been here for about… ten years now? Eleven." The accent's pretty faint; it gets ramped up at the club. "Have you been working a lot more, Teo?" Her eyes flick up to meet his.

He feels kind of like a parent might, if confronted by a doctor about their mould-cleaning or cooking practices. Teo almost squirms, instinctively starts to consider a way to word things most neutrally, before giving up in favor of the truth. "Yeah, I think so," he says, glancing down at his shoes, briefly, before jerking his head back upright when he realizes it must be kind of ridiculous to look at your feet. "I— guess. I'm coming up on my last semester at school and the program demands a lot of hours on the field." He bends his mouth and brow around a scowl. "Is she sick because of me?"

Pam grimaces a little, finishing her trimming job and settling Pila back into the cage briefly while she stands up and goes searching for the gunk she mentioned earlier. "I wouldn't say that. It's a change in routine." She glances over at him with a smile. "She misses you, I think."

Pila ducks her head as Pam puts her back into her cage, and alights back onto her branch with a wiggle of her tail and a chirp. She tucks her bill down into her breast feathers and watches the two humans walk about, apparently disinterested in trying to take leave of her cage door. Doubtless, she can not read or appreciate Teodoro's facial expression, but he looks sort of horrified anyway. He stoops low over her little orange house and puts a hand in, tentatively reaches over to nudge her head with a careful forefinger. Pila permits him this. "Well that's fucked up," he mutters.

Pam produces a small tube, blinks, and puts it back in the drawer. She tries another draw and roots around. "What? Birds get lonely. Put a little mirror in there and she'll be happier with the company."

"What?" Teo glances over his forearm at the woman. Her braid looks like the tail of a tetchy cat as she stalks through her supply stores, flipping to and fro. "I d— I wasn't, uhh, criticizing her emotions or anything. I'm… that was stupid of me. I'm a bad pet owner, and shit." He adjusts his finger slightly, giving the avian a conciliatory little scratch or three. She kreels slightly under her breath and blinks, bobbing slightly. He clears his throat. "You come up here for career?" There's a touch of irony in the question, but not the cruel sort.

Pam tosses him an amused look; no tetchy cat there. "You are not a bad pet owner! Don't be silly. You take good care of her. Just a little mirror and she should cheer back up again." She produces a tiny tube, untwisting the cap and squeezing a small amount on her fingertip as she returns to the cage and reaches her hand in for the bird to perch on again. Like she just expects Pila to go along with it. Like she's used to it. Kind of like Snow White, except sunnier. "It's as good a place as any to learn, I suppose. Moving costs money. I… I guess it grew on me?" She looks a little puzzled as she says that. "I never thought it would. You work in construction?"

Carefully, Teo withdraws his arm from the cage to allow the woman egress. Her reassurances inspire half a smile: apparently her bedside manner isn't too much worse than her cageside one. He leans his elbows on the counter and watches. Dainty as the lady she is, Pila steps over with her uninjured foot first, before hopping the other around Pam's finger, her grip firm and her spirits apparently lifting, if tentatively.

"I think of anything sadder than giving her a mirror to talk to," he murmurs, "but if it works." He harbors the distinct and not unfounded conviction that Pamela's advice is rarely wrong in these matters. "I have a friend who feels the same way about the Apple. I've never really understood it," he admits without any semblence of criticism. He squints at her a fractional moment before his brows hike with surprise. "Sometimes. Used to do more. How'd you know?"

Pam touches her fingertip gently to Pila's head to give a little petting to the bird. However you pet birds. Is that how you pet birds? "You mentioned construction projects in the area changing so you're working more," she says, eyes on the bird, smile on her lips. "What brings you to the big Apple?" And keeps you here, is the unspoken question. Lots of people bailed after that whole Kirby Plaza thing.

That makes sense. "There's that," Teo nods, the corner of his mouth going up. Less a cat, then. She certainly gets along morbidly well with birds— and dogs, too, if the previous patient was any indication. "Mostly, I just live too close to Harlem. I don't think we're ever going to be done with reconstruction. It's piledrivers, cranes, and dirt-movers all the fucking time.

"Good money, definitely, but hard to live with sometimes." He squares his shoulders and bends his head to the left, loosing a crick in his neck. "School," he says, and despite that he knows it's a pretty fucking odd notion for someone who self-admittedly isn't in love with the city, he adds, "I came back at the end of 2006 for school." Just after the bomb. Evolved. Don't believe everything you read. "How 'bout you? Were things different ten years ago?"

Pam keeps paying attention to the bird, like it's a rare treat and not something that happens every day. "Mmmn. It was less messy? My parents split up when I was fourteen or so and my dad moved us here. I hated it."

Except Teo isn't stupid enough to think that it doesn't happen every day. Animal Shelter and all. His expression flattens, softens, turns inward. "Sorry to hear that," he says, after a moment. And then, "Glad you stayed. My neighbours tried reasoning with her too," a jerk of his shorn-short head at Pila. "She wouldn't have any of it."

Pam smiles some. "Just lucky, I guess," she tells him. Not Evolved! No way. Uh-uh. "I think I stayed because of this place. Or places like it. I stopped hating New York when I started volunteering at a shelter. What are you in school for?"

Blunt fingers curl against the counter-top, idly seeking purchase where there is none. Pila's tiny chest goes in and out, in and out, quiescent and serene as her medication is applied. "I'm studying to be a teacher.

"You can look at me funny," he offers, magnanimously. "But Gospel of Pete, it's no lie." He doesn't look too much like a teacher, especially not now. While a button-down shirt and dress shoes can take the edge off of almost anybody, but he's currently wearing beaten jeans and a hoodie that's almost hip-hop in its oversized proportions: the sort of gear you don to avoid being mugged while carrying something precious.

Like Pila. His neighbour gave him the garment for his birthday, once. Told him his normal clothes were too tight, and called him 'bra.' If he's the slightest bit suspicious of the nature of Pamela's success with his fine-feathered friend, he doesn't show it. Knows better than that. When you're PARIAH, you have to be. "May I ask you who you voted for?"

"I won't look at you funny," Pam tells him, still smiling. She's a cheerful young woman, at least here. "I think teachers are wonderful. I… I voted for Petrelli. Mitchell scares me, and I think Rickham doesn't have a chance in hell. So really I've voted against Mitchell. You?"

Finally, Teo straightens to standing, lacing his fingers behind him to stretch along carefully restrained measurements. "I can't vote," he replies, a little regretfully. "Don't have citizenship. I think you're probably right about Rickham, though. Troppo cattivo— too bad," he catches himself. "I liked him. He had a lot of policies that protect people I care about, just as Mitchell's would condemn them." A neutral statement. "Petrelli isn't too far off, I guess," he acknowledges, daring a touch of optimism even as he chances a smile at her, taking his eyes off Pila for the first time in a little while.

"I like Rickham, too," Pam admits, smiling back. "I'd really like to vote for him but I voted strategically instead, I suppose." She eases Pila back into the cage with one last little fingerpat on the head. "You'll be applying for citizenship? Good luck with that."

A beat's pause. Teodoro considers this, even as he gently slides the cage door closed. "I just might," he says, "if I'm not going home next spring. Dear madre and my old man, they've been wondering what's been taking me so long here. But my brother just arrived here, and I have friends and a beaten dirt path equivalent of a career track, so maybe…" he grimaces, handwaving an overshare of unnecessary details. "Everyone could use a little luck. Thanks. It's always good to see some idealism tempered with strategy," he offers, by way of compliment. He lifts Pila by her cage hook. "Do you have a card?"

Pam shakes her head, moving out from behind the table with a smile. "No, I don't. But I'm easy to reach here if you leave a message for Pam."

More than acceptable terms, though the part of Teo's brain built-in with Sicilian mutters a little curse, internal. The fact she doesn't even volunteer a surname or consider writing something down is a subtle signal in the one department. Not that he should, really, be thinking about that, but the automatic processes of his head refuse to be stopped. He's curious about her in other ways besides. Nothing intrusive. "A'right," he offers her a handshake and a grin, one as warm as the other. "Grazie. Have a good day, signorina."

Pam smiles back, clasping his hand and shaking it. "Ciao?" That's what they say, right? Hey, a girl can't be too careful in New York. Last names and phone numbers are risky.

They are. Unfortunately, so is Pila's health, as far as her Sicilian friend is concerned. That's okay! Teo never lacks excuses for tactlessly running into people. Company Agents, underaged students, it's pretty awful in a relatively harmless sort of way. "Ciao," he confirms with a laugh. He flips her a wave and heads off, trotting with the long, easy strides of a dog.

November 4th: The Many and the Few
November 4th: Key Lime Gratitude
Unless otherwise stated, the content of this page is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 License