Or Bury Your Head


pam_icon.gif teo_icon.gif

Scene Title Or Bury Your Head
Synopsis Pam is owed an explanation. She receives more and less than she wanted to hear, which is unavoidably what happens when you gossip about Miles and Deckard. You know that time she mentioned trusting him? Things change. Hard to tell what, exactly.
Date December 16, 2008

Animal Shelter

Yap yap. Squeak. Rrrrgh. Teo's squatting down in front of the diamond grid of a dog pen, studying its occupant even as its occupant studies him. He isn't the only thing walking around on two legs in here. The animal shelter gets a fair amount of traffic during this season: conscientious shoppers looking for a pet that comes from the heart— or at least not from the bowels of corporate commercialization, and the usual rate of unfortunates and idiots who lost their beloved companions and have come in hopes they might recover them here at the shelter.

The temp working the desk had told him that Pam would be in for an evening shift some time soon; that he'd point her over once she was. Until then, Teo and the Doberman study each other through the gaps in the metal wire, solemn and conspicuously silent in the cheerful havoc massed in the pork-chop-flavored air around them.

Pam came in through the back, it seems; when she appears, it's at the door separating the examination rooms from the waiting area. Hair pulled back in a neat braid, Pam cuts a professional figure. The temp waves her over, then gestures to Teo. Pam frowns, heading his way with pursed lips and a flicker of apprehension. "…Why are you here?"

The onion of winter clothes straightens abruptly into the shape of a man, and Teo glances over with a blink of something like surprise. Always one to stand on ceremony, he proceeds to — stand up, his expression going instantly sheepish when he sees the one that Pam's wearing on the front of her head, the smell of cigarettes hanging off him like spidersilk except where dog reeks at his fingers. "Cat," he says, in that quick, nervous, monosyllabic way that a furtive child would circle around a woman with her arms akimbo. Pam's arms seem to be just barely not. "The one with three legs. I do think Abby would like him. If he isn't gone yet." That might well be at least one reason he's here.

"Come on back," Pam says after a moment's thought, turning and gesturing for him to follow as she heads into the back (surprise) and down the short hall. Once they're out of sight of the waiting room, she nudges him into a supply closet. "What the hell is going on?"

Always one to cooperate, Teo allows himself to be hassled along the facility until he finds himself unceremoniously dragged into a closet by a blonde stripper-cum-veterinarian. If his fantasies were more creative, he would probably have considered this one ruined. Trying not to put his foot in a bucket, he answers distractedly, "I've been dragged into a supply closet by a veterinarian who's also a stripper. If my fantasies were more creative, I'd probably consider this one ruined. Oops," he catches a broom before it hits the other brooms.

Pam's cheeks turn pink. "Vet tech. And it pays the bills, okay? I'm not the one hanging around in alleys with arsonists and guns and things. I have no idea why I haven't called the cops or SCOUT or something." Her voice is quiet and sharp. "Probably because I'm scared. Because guns, Teo."

That makes Teo try to stop being a facetious or distracted jerk. Fear. It seems like an ordinary facet of life until it accumulates to terror, systemetized, and starts to usurp familiar places and faces in your life. Though he wasn't the one to bring it into Pam's, he realizes that the association makes his presence here, at best, unnerving.

"I understand," he says, regarding her other career track. His throat moves in the shadow of his coat and he relinquishes the broom once it seems capable of standing on its own power. "I own a gun because I live in a bad part of town. It's licensed.

"D-Deckard isn't an arsonist." A fractional hitch, because Teo has to remind himself not to lie, then. Earnest for all his haplessness, he puts a hand on the back of his head. Holds his stare and his voice even. "He's been framed. And hurt bad. You've met him before; that's got to make a little sense on some level. You don't have to be scared of us." This, from apparently the least reliable example of appropriate civilian conduct on the planet.

"That's why I didn't turn him in when the report went out," Pam tells Teo, eyes intent on his. "Because it didn't seem right. I wasn't sure. I know there are people out there willing to frame him. Maybe willing to do a lot worse." She exhales, taking a step back to lean against the shelving. It smells like dry cat food in here. "Is he on drugs or something? What does Sammy have to do with it?"

The closet isn't exactly generously-proportioned, but an almost polite conversational distance is afforded by the two keeping to opposite walls. They don't have to cross their eyes to look at each other, at least. "Yeah," Teo exhales the syllable, making it half word and half sigh. "I think he was doing business with the wrong people. But he's trying to clean up now." The lattermost statement sounds a little too hopeful to be a conscious lie, if anything; the word 'trying' stressed with the ghost of a grimace. "I don't know about drugs." Marijuana. Not his business. And, for a moment, Teo thinks that 'Sammy' isn't, either. "Who?"

"He's not like that usually. Why would he tell me he's an arsonist? And Sammy. Sammy's a regular, he was out in the alley —- I thought he knew what was going on," Pam protests. This still isn't making any sense.

Realization crosses Teo's face before he can even think about faking something else there. Oh. Sammy. His brow furrows slightly, struggling with words, now, as much as he is with avoiding divulging more than Pam strictly speaking needs to know. "There's been some kind of telepath thing going around.

"I — you might have heard of it. Psychic influence, mind control." Sort of. He actually has no idea what conventional category Miles' ability fits into, if it does. "Evolved shit, I believe. Just like the news." And every day of his life. "When Deckard spoke to you, he wasn't Deckard. And Sammy wasn't Sammy. Flint's pissed off a wide variety of residents," he finishes lamely, his gaze dropping to the floor.

Pam's mouth hangs open a little. "Seriously? Telepathic…? Something goes around possessing people?" She blinks; once, twice. One hand comes up to cover her mouth. "And I met it?"

That's a good term for it, Teo thinks, blankly. Possession. "Something like that. I— you're fine. I think you're fine. He wasn't… Deckard's fine. No one got hurt." Apart from his own accidental strangling, nearly getting shot in a moment of confusion — but that was a different thing altogether. A further memory niggles at the back of his mind. The avian telepath, Eileen; then Pila. He's about to say something, but evidently chooses not to.

Creases his brow. "They're just people, Pam. If there was a face in there I thought you should be running from or reporting, I'd probably try to do it for you."

"No one got hurt?" Pam repeats, sounding incredulous. Her hand drops from her mouth again, curls into a loose fist, along with her other hand. "Where's Sammy now? Is the thing still in him?"

Possibly, Teo's interpretation of that word— 'hurt'— differs somewhat from conventional usage. "I don't know," he admits. "I don't really know Sammy. Or the other one. Man. Woman. They're not things," he protests helplessly, his fingers tightening on the edges of his sleeves.

"There's more than one? You didn't say there was more than one," Pam says, blinking. "What else do you call it? Something that goes around possessing people? Is it a person? Is it a ghost? Mike really didn't seem happy when whoever or whatever it was got out of him."

Despite that Teo's well-aware it is perhaps stupid to be running around and making sure everybody makes politically correct references when they're fighting terrorists, he can't help it. "There are thousands in the United States, at least. Evolved. And they aren't 'it's — they're male or female, generally. That was a person, yeah: I think he was a man. Mike wasn't happy. Poor bastard had a shit week," he agrees awkwardly, his gaze moving uncomfortably past janitorial equipment until he locates the young vet tech again. "I'm sorry this happened near you."

"…You really think I have a problem with Evolved people?" Pam asks, staring at him. "No. Okay? No. I don't care. I mean, I care about people getting discriminated against and things like that! I'm not…" What's racist, but with evolution? "…Adaptationalist. But there's a maybe-guy out there taking over people's bodies and that is really not cool and shouldn't someone be alerted to it?"

'Adaptionalist' works, cursorily. Teo suspects it probably implies something else, but he can't scrape together the braincells to locate the wrinkles in etymology right now. "Maybe. Maybe," he nods his head in what appears to be affirmitive despite the ambiguity of his verbal response. "But who? HomeSec's a pack of Nazi assholes holding scalpels and Evolved prisoners. SCOUT puts people in jail and does police work. I didn't see any fingerprints on Mike's brain." Deckard one moment, Mike the next. Complicated times.

No, Deckard is Mike. At least to Pam. Like she's Honey to him! Which sounds dirty right there. "So what are you, then?" Pam asks with a frown. "Why are you involved in this?"

It doesn't escape Teo's notice that she gives no verbal confirmation that calling in the uniforms sounds like a bad idea. Then again, he trusts police, Federal agencies, and HomeSec, all, about as far as he can can spit. With a dry mouth. Possibly he's biased. "Unemployed," he supplies, after a moment. "Unevolved. In the wrong place, a lot. In the market for a three-legged cat. And you're…" He actually had an end for that sentence originally, but he forgets it in time to let her fill in the blank or ignore it, as Pam chooses.

"Not… Not involved in this. Any of it. I knew Mike was in trouble, I can't…" Pam shakes her head. "All I want to do is go about life not being scared. Is that too much to ask?"

No. Yes. "You could pretend it never happened," Teo hedges, his voice three shades quieter than it was before. He looks at the floor, the thin bleed of electric light casting tousled, strandy shadows down over his eyes. Hands on the panels of his jacket, his elbows pulled in where they can't disturb anything. "Most people do." By now, the educational board has divided up Washington Irving's survivors up among the other public academies, paid for a new fleet of school buses.

"Most people forget about body-possessing telepaths?" Pam asks incredulously. "How long has this been going on?"

"Most people forget that Manhattan is batshit loco," Teo clarifies, gently, glancing up to squint at the woman. See how she's doing. "I think it's been going on a few years."

Pam is doing. That's about it. She looks confused and tired and upset, but she's not freaking out so much. "Can't anybody do something about the… ghost-jumper guy?"

Wincing, Teo glances over his shoulder at the far wall, as if searching for inspiration. "I don't know. Maybe. Some people know about him by now; they might be able to help. You'll be all right," he adds belatedly, as if this reassurance was a pertinent answer to her question. Abashedly, he adds, "Though next time, I'd maybe leave the back door be."

"Right. Don't worry my pretty lil' head 'bout it," Pam says flatly.

That does sound terrible. Amadroa would shake her son for leaving a woman on those terms, so Teo's left standing and staring at the chapped patch of wall beyond her head, inhaling the scent of cat food. "Mi diaspace. I just… it's a dichotomy. An unfortunate one." An uncomfortable shrug moves through his shoulders, another topic gapping his lips before he locks his jaws with a click of enamel. "You go about life and not be scared, or you ask for something else. I'm not trying to be a dick." And he really is sorry, though he gathers that if he said so again that would warrant a knee in the crotch.

Pam folds her arms across her chest, regarding him with her chin jutting up. "What's the somethin' else?"

With her chin jutted, Teo can almost meet her eyes without lowering his own. He hesitates visibly. He hesitates visibly for a conversationally awkward length of time. "For starters—" Another half-beat. For whatever reason, the audacity of her stance, her coping with the past few days — weeks — leaves him thinking he can say this. Eventually, he does. "you could probably go on ignoring the probability that you're Evolved," he mutters, with all of the social grace and tact with which a bulldozer might attempt to move a sandcastle to safe distance from the black appetite of the encroaching sea.

Pam raises an eyebrow at him and fixes him with a look. It is the kind of look you cannot give without being very sassy and pissy. Sasspissy. "That's retarded," Pam tells him, as though it is a sure thing. "You're retarded. I'm not Evolved."

Teo has met a number of women who can talk to birds. Sass and priss might save the world yet. "I'm not very bright," he admits, with a penguin-like shuffle of shoes on the floor of the storage closet. "But I think you are Evolved. You're very good with animals. Pila was well-trained, I know. No one else handles birds the way you do. Not veterinarians, shopkeepers. No one. It was like watching somebody fit a horse with a fucking chair, what she let you do." He meets her eyes, his own lips slightly white with nerves he couldn't account for if you asked him.

Pissy, not prissy! It's hard to be prissy when you deal with dog shit and dance around with your butt hanging out. Her brow furrows. "Nobody can prove that. There are people who are good with animals. That's just… that's my thing. It's just my thing. That doesn't mean I'm Evolved." She sounds a little less certain; the thought has crossed her mind.

Pissy, not prissy. Teo has it now! No fear. "Nobody's trying to prove anything. I— it's not an accusation. There's just… a lot to do, and think about. If you're willing to. That's what Evolved do, isn't it? They have 'thing's." He spirals down into a desultory silence. Breathes in, out. Squares his shoulders and eyes the door, before eyeing the woman.

Pam raises her hands in annoyance, lets them drop. "What does me bein' good with animals have to do with you and Mike an' Sammy runnin' 'round in back alleys with guns? 'Cause I'm not seein' it."

"Nothing," Teo answers straightforwardly. "Except for what you have in common with the boy riding Sammy's kit. And probably, with the way telepaths and shit function, uhm. If you worked on it, you might have a better chance at keeping him out than most people. You're part of a larger context." A half-beat. "If I could have put that in more sterile and uninteresting terms, I probably would have. I understand if you never want to speak to me again," he adds ignobly. Hikes his shoulders, and sort of shrinks back into the collar of his jacket like a hermit crab into its shell, sheepish.

Pam eyes him. "I'm still not entirely sure what you're tryin' to say," she says slowly. She reaches for the door handle, shaking her head. "In any case, Stumpy's adopted. He's not here anymore." She opens the closet door and steps out into the hall.

The Sicilian follows her, habitual paranoia shunting a glance left then upward even as he unpacks his long frame back out into space enough not to break things. "I'm saying you might not be the sort of woman to want to worry her pretty little head about crazy shit like that," Teo says. "You have enough business to worry about, si?" He closes a hand on the doorjamb and swivels it shut behind him, before shoving it into his pocket with a rueful shrug of one shoulder. He picks the direction from which they'd come and admits, quietly, "That's too bad."

"Don't get sanctimonious on me," Pam says with a sudden scowl. "You said I could ignore it or do something else. I asked what the something else was. What's the something else, Teo? Quit beating around the bush."

Three steps toward escape, Teo is stopped. He glances back over his shoulder, his brow hooked low in self-consternation. He was being— sanctimonious. Maybe he was. Hadn't meant to be, but accidents happen: more frequently to people like him than to people like her. Which is probably why he thinks about words. "Short answer," he pre-empts. "Pick a fight. Do something about what you see with what you have. Long answer, you don't seem to have time for." His eyes shift past her, pale irises catching the distant flicker of electric lights coming on, the evening shift setting up to care for the pets brought in by masters fresh off work.

Pam shakes her head. "You should take a look at the other cats," she tells him. "'Course, if you only came here to take care of one little one 'cause he only had three legs and wanna ignore the rest, you shouldn't take any at all."

"I thought that was this way," Teo answers in tacit agreement, pointing a callused finger the way he was walking. "I might have remembered wrong."

Pam gives him a somewhat dubious look before turning about to busy herself in one of the other rooms. Away from Teo!

December 16th: Like Brother, Like Sister
December 16th: Escape Route
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