Title: Getting Crowded - reposted
Description: Scott's house (pre-raid)
Scott Blehnwar - January 19, 2010 04:58 AM (GMT)
The walk to Scott's house was surprisingly bland, compared to the way it had started, and it was almost as though Joseph hadn't been needed at all. Scott waved to him as he led Zea up the porch.
It was nice inside, although the house was the typical cool of a building in Vancouver without any active heating. The entry-way opened on the right to the living room, splitting away from the hallway and the stairs.
Jordan, curled up in a striped green armchair, looked up with a faint squeak and darted up the stairs.
"There's the couch, obviously, let me get you some pants. Or a blanket. Would pants be good?"
Zea Mazuo - January 19, 2010 04:59 AM (GMT)
Zea had seen houses around here, and some part of her was still curious about the one belonging to this Scott person. Then again, she still had a ghost tagging along beside them waiting for attention. Zea turned to her with a finger over her lips, and then extended a flattened palm the way she would if she were telling a dog, "stay."
She might be unable to stop ghosts from harassing her and calling her and bothering her, but she didn't need to have a full conversation around people who could only hear her half. That was like talking on one's mobile phone at dinner, and even in the days when such devices were practical, Zea would not have done it. Just rude.
Her nostalgia was halted in its tracks by a familiar smell. "...Scott. Is there someone here? A young guy, kind of pretty? Kind of erratic? I forget his name." As soon as she said it, she knew that she was right. It was him. She couldn't be here. "Look. I probably shouldn't be here. I don't think he needs to be around me right now."
Scott Blehnwar - January 19, 2010 05:01 AM (GMT)
He turned, head cocking to one side as Zea stopped.
"Young... Oh. I suppose one could call him pretty. You know Nicky?"
Unless she had killed his parents or something, Scott really doubted that it wasn't anything that he could handle. Aside from being half-crazy because of his Gift, Nicky seemed to be little more than a pain in the ass.
Zea Mazuo - January 19, 2010 05:02 AM (GMT)
Zea held her breath, pulled in what felt like six different directions. On the one hand, Scott and Joseph wanted her to be here. On the other hand, there was a dead woman who wanted Zea to find the rest of her body and put her head with it. On yet another hand (since her Gift could have as many hands as It wanted), there was... Nicky? Nicky must have been his name.
On the one hand, perhaps she could be useful to him somehow. At least she could offer. But on the other hand... how could she do anything but upset him? She'd upset Miranda. She'd upset Embla. She upset everybody but Griffin and Kepler--she thought, perhaps, maybe--and how could that ever be a good thing? How could that do anything but make things worse?
"I--" she began, faltering immediately. "Look." She borrowed the phrasing she'd used with Nikola, since it had neatly and concisely explained her position without unnecessary justification or excuses. "You need to know. I was at the labs. And not in a cage. Okay?"
Scott Blehnwar - January 19, 2010 05:02 AM (GMT)
Scott's face pulled blank. As he stared at Zea, his lips worked a little bit as he chewed the inside. He wasn't thinking specifically of her.
Dice hadn't told them that there were other werewolves who worked at the labs.
Granted, Dice had never told them who all was at the labs as test subjects, either. Scott would have taken Elkyone labs on long ago, by himself if he had to, if he'd known Kepler and Caleb had been there.
Nicky had never mentioned it, though. And he hadn't come with the lab pack. He'd come before them. He didn't even really seem to recognize them.
But she was here. She had to have talked to Nikola. And if she was here then the lab pack, who would be the strongest voices in her judgement, had to have at least accepted her presence, if not necessarily agreed with it.
"I don't think he remembers." He was still holding the door open, lips pursed and face trying to be blank.
"You should come in."
Zea Mazuo - January 19, 2010 05:05 AM (GMT)
Oh, sure, that'd be super convenient, Zea thought wryly. He just conveniently doesn't remember.
But then, from what little she recalled of him specifically, it was certainly possible. It just... it seemed too good to be true--for the sake of her short-term convenience--and too awful to be conceivable. What if she had to be the one to talk to him about these things? To remind of all that had happened?
She wanted to run. Badly. But Scott told her to go in, and since this was his house... it was his authority. Zea just wished she could shake the lingering fear that these people had no idea what they were getting into. They just let people into their lives, into their very homes! Into their pack! Did they have no idea what could go wrong?
Zea--being one of the threats that she honestly believed they ought to be keeping out--was not in the best position to teach them such protective habits. But their openness disturbed her profoundly.
When she entered the house, she walked with the deliberate tenseness and care of someone who knew perfectly well that she was going to be walking on broken glass and just kept going, undeterred. This place was oppressive. Every solid thing and even the very air she breathed seemed to enter into her and scream at her that she didn't belong.
Whispering. This place was busy. Were they haunting the structure? The campus? The people? Zea herself? Or Scott? Or was she the one calling them here?
Zea heard humming, a gentle but bright tune she had heard somewhere before. What were the words? Something something yourself... it's--
Oh, now she could hear the rest. "Enjoy yourself... it's later than you think... enjoy... yourself..."
Now, where had Zea heard that before? She couldn't remember where she'd run into such a weird little tune. Past Scott was the rest of the house. Pictures everywhere. Like a home. Like a normal home, for normal people who loved each other and--
There was Kepler. Scott knew Kepler. Of course. Of course he knew her. Everyone here probably knew. Song was still going. How bizarre.
"The years go by... as quickly as you wink. Enjoy yourself, enjoy yourself. It's later than... you..."
That was where she'd heard it! She was...
Zea's mouth shut, her jaw snapping closed audibly. She hadn't realized she'd been singing it. That was where she'd heard it. In her own voice, just now.
Well, Zea thought. That's embarrassing.
Caleb Thrawmoore - January 19, 2010 05:11 AM (GMT)
Scott went up the stairs, disappearing out of sight onto the landing and into the rooms above. If he heard the singing he did not mention it.
Past the pictures, straight down the warm wooden hall, was the kitchen. A nice, spacious, split kitchen, with a bar counter, stools to the right, and large glass windows to the ceiling. Cool grey sea daylight lit the room with a diffused glow.
Someone was sitting in the kitchen, on one of the stools. His cane was hooked around one of the bars, just to the left of where his feet were perched. He'd been just sitting, quietly, soaking in the house.
At the sound of voices he'd come to, attention focused toward the front door.
"...Scott. Is there someone here?"
What was she doing in
his Scott's house?
...Never mind. He knew the answer to that.
A face that almost perfectly matched the one in some of the pictures, except it was harder now. A cheeky grin had become a possessive scowl.
A familiar face.
A very close observation would note that he cast no shadow, that he created no scent, and that he created no warmth.
But he looked as physically present as Scott had.
Zea Mazuo - January 19, 2010 05:13 AM (GMT)
Zea liked the pictures, filled as they were with faces she wished were not so ubiquitous here. Even now she refused to regret her decision, her actions, the choice she had made and the deal that the lab pack had agreed to for her sake. Zea refused guilt.
But even so... this constant weight of her obligation to them was exhausting. She'd not yet resigned herself to the fact that its exponential growth was not a thing she could avoid. It was going to expand and expand forever, and every forward advance in repaying it would come on the backs of Kahlite favors and further debt.
Shhh... came the voice of her familiar, her Gede, her John the Conqueror. What would she do without him? The voices fell back a bit. But, neglected for as long as he had been, what more could he do? I can do more than that, dearest, he told her as she traced her fingers along the hallway walls toward the kitchen. Warm and ...and normal.
Scott lived in a house. A perfectly normal house, with pictures on the walls and a kitchen and real live people. She could have cried. But she and her familiar were not alone, and it wouldn't be good to embarrass Scott by--
He's not alive, love, but he is looking at you, came his voice again, deeply amused. Aren't you going to say something?
Dead? Well, then that was fine, too.
Zea had one thing to say.
"....I should go."
Caleb Thrawmoore - January 19, 2010 05:16 AM (GMT)
So many looks were mixed on the dead man's face.
Anger, jealousy, possessiveness, disgust, disbelief, disappointment... and overlaying it all, a very healthy layer of resentment.
What the fuck was she doing in
his Scott's house.
What the fuck was she doing on Kahlite land?
Why wasn't she dead? The labs collapsed, exploded, practically everyone except the lab pack and their rescuers (including Dr. Elkyone, his memories sneered) eliminated. She wasn't part of the rescued group.
After all of it, why did she get to live?
What was wrong with all of them? First Dr. Elkyone, then her. Had they all gone daft after the world exploded and him and Kep were captured? If Scott knew what had happened to his Skaals, surely he wouldn't be upstairs trying to find clothing to make Dr. Mazuo comfortable and clothed.
He could feel that other, the man, the one who was obsessed with her. The one who claimed her. He didn't remember a lot about him, he was too focused on the idea of making her as miserable as his string bean, but he remembered that sometimes the man, John, that was it. John was there, always.
After what Caleb had seen in Gage when Zea came to apologize to the Lab Pack and present herself, he didn't like John. Not at all. It layered on a deep-seated discomfort that was tied to the other spirit. He couldn't remember why, but he did not like Zea's John. And the scene with Griffin only cemented it firmly.
"He'll come after you, if you leave."
Caleb glared sullenly at her.
She was under Scott's care. She didn't deserve it.
"And he's right about Nicky. Kid doesn't remember shit. Can barely remember his own name."
Caleb was still trying to figure out if he liked Nicky or not. He remembered Nicky, from when he was alive. There was a small sense of comraderie, being fellow test subjects and all, but Nicky hadn't been around. Nicky'd got out. Thanks to Kep. Caleb had been proud of her.
"Scott's not gonna let you go until Nik tells him to, or until you're not loony anymore. He's like that."
Zea Mazuo - January 19, 2010 05:16 AM (GMT)
Not going to let her go.
At least, Zea noted, someone else here seemed to realize that she was trapped. She was here until the Alpha gave Scott the okay to cut her loose, or until Scott himself judged that she was no longer in need of his supervision.
He was just like that. Just like what? Welcoming and generous like all these insane Kahlites? Or just so concerned for his packmates that he wouldn't let a threat like her out of his sight? The latter she could have dealt with, really, but Zea was terribly afraid that it wasn't the whole story.
"Do you want me to tell him," Zea asked. "That you're here?"
Caleb Thrawmoore - January 19, 2010 05:19 AM (GMT)
It was a blessing and a restriction, at the same time. Better to be trapped in the care of someone who would try and understand and help you, than killed.
"Do you want me to tell him," Zea asked. "That you're here?"
It slipped out before Caleb could even think about it.
He paused, frowned, looked past Zea down the hallway to the stairs, and almost seemed vulnerable, pained, for a second.
One hand, with two silver bands on the middle and ring fingers, threaded into his untameable slump of curls.
He was still coming to terms with his own self-awareness. He didn't want... no. He didn't want Scott thinking about him. More than he would be, anyway. Not when he couldn't do anything, couldn't hear him.
He didn't want her help. Stupid bitch. Just because she worked out a deal with Griffin didn't absolve her. She got off easy.
She had to pay it back. Every ounce of pain that she was spared. Every shivering fever, every wretched taste of bile, every needle-bite.
"You don't deserve to be here. He'll take care of you, but you don't deserve it."
Caleb bared his teeth. Small, white.
"People like you shouldn't be in this house. He's a million times the person you are, and he's even going to be concerned about you."
Again, that veneer of sullen resentment.
"He's going to take care of you and you don't even know what it means."
Zea Mazuo - January 19, 2010 05:21 AM (GMT)
When he'd so strongly answered that she shouldn't tell Scott about him... Zea simply nodded. It was an unconditional agreement that because he wanted it, it would be so.
It was wise of him, though she didn't share the judgment. His continuing existence would only be painful for Scott, depending on how insistent this one was on continuing it. Zea wished for his sake and for Scott's that the ghost would just let go and move on.
So of course she agreed.
But he was so upset. All about Scott, it was. Automatically Zea noted him in the newly-formed category of "Scott's ghosts," as opposed to "Zea's ghosts" or "hospital haunts." He probably needed Scott the way her familiar needed her, and that meant that--
Means together forever, John finished.
It certainly did, a thought that should have disturbed Zea far more.
The difficulty with what Caleb was telling her was that, quite frankly, it was all true. Zea could find no flaw in his logic. It was debatable whether that was because he was truly correct or because she had so tenuous a grip on the living world that ghost-logic felt most appropriate.
"I told him that," Zea said. "Him and Joseph. They won't listen."
Caleb Thrawmoore - January 19, 2010 05:21 AM (GMT)
"I told you. He's like that." An afterthought, "...Joseph is too."
This was good. She accepted it. It didn't really make it any better, because she still did not deserve a place in the house, but it wasn't as bad as it could be.
It was good for her to know her place. That she didn't belong.
Reaching for his cane, Caleb slid off the stool and limped out the back door, passing through the wood and glass and stumping off to the main part of the campus. The further he walked away from the house, the more he slid toward translucence, just a small fraction at a time. It stopped when it was just fully noticeable enough.
He didn't want to be there. Not now, anyway. She was ruining the peace he'd been soaking up. If he wasn't going to be there, he could go check on Kep. See how the labbies were doing. He understood by now that he could not do anything for them, but it just seemed like maybe if he tried hard enough, he could help them, help his String Bean, feel just a little bit better.
Zea Mazuo - January 19, 2010 05:24 AM (GMT)
Such an interesting fellow. He was fixed on Scott, but he faded a bit when he left this place. Was it the location? Perhaps she'd been wrong, then. Was it...
No. It wasn't--
The thought wouldn't finish. Something about... about manifestations and... and self-image and...
Her feet were warm. Warmer than they had been before. But it was a little wet in here, in the kitchen. She looked down to see if something had spilled, and with dulled surprise noted that she was standing ankle deep in blood. It was thick enough that she could feel it between her toes when she shifted them.
No smell. That was good. It was the smells that got her sometimes. Ghosts had the oddest scents, she'd found. Nothing to do with how they'd presented as living beings. Hell, for all she knew, the mess on the floor was the tactile-visual representation of someone else who'd glommed onto this house and its inhabitants.
Or maybe she'd just finally lost her mind.
"John," Zea asked. "I think I'm hallucinating."
Let me in. I'll tell you.
She sighed. She wanted to tell him no. There was already so much to keep track of, and he'd already left her to drift once today. Could she really trust him to steady her now? What if he was still angry?
Zea. You know that I don't HAVE to ask you. So say yes.
The unwilling medium laid her face in her hands. He was right. And there was something moving across the backs of her ankles. Zea shifted her palms to dig her fingers into her hair. Why couldn't they just leave her alone? She hated her Phase. Hated it, hated it.
Dropping her hands in resignation, Zea simply nodded. Her body took a breath that didn't belong to her, and the dry floor beneath her feet seemed a little more normal. There was... it was noisy in here, though... it was just--
--libel lawsuit was completely frivolous and three weeks of the stomach flu couldn't possibly have stolen the recipe for broken tail-lights, you can get a ticket for that you can't just walk up to a woman and that damned radio is just too forward on the VCR but his hands were wet and that amazing song was playing and when she smiled they--
Just let it go, Zea. I'll keep--
--such a silly thing to get worked up the bus stop was raining even though muffins shouldn't have so much flour you new year's party that stupid whore couldn't keep her hands off of publishing my book, finally, after years of--
--just wash the floor you fucking pig I can't believe you me get my belt and I'll give you something to cry the soundtrack was just fantastic, but it would can't eat meat, so of course they--
--find my head, she said she would, she said she would, and now she's just sitting there on the floor like an idiot! Somebody wake her up! I need to talk to her!
--me, can you?
The answer to John's question was plain in its absence. Of course she couldn't hear him. Zea's body sat down cross-legged on the floor to the kitchen. When it heard footsteps in the hall, it turned partly to look at Scott.
Eyebrows up in mild surprise and amusement. Noted his presence. "She is such a lot of trouble, and I can't stay indefinitely," Scott was greeted by Zea's voice and Zea's face. The creature behind them, though, was not Zea. It was using her eyes to stare coolly into his, unwavering and unafraid. A thin smile that might have been appreciation or mirth. "So kind of you to open your home."
Scott Blehnwar - January 19, 2010 05:26 AM (GMT)
The stairs creaked as Scott came back down, soft flannel pants in one hand and a blanket in the other. Zea wasn't where he left her, but she hadn't gone far. To the kitchen, there, yes. She was sitting on the floor, and he frowned.
Scott padded down the hall, stopping when her head turned to look at him.
"Zea? You might -"
"She is such a lot of trouble, and I can't stay indefinitely."
His eyebrows went up, and Scott's jaw crooked to the side as his brain started churching.
"Hunh." Short, non-committal.
"So kind of you to open your home."
Scott sucked in the underside of his lower lip, gnawing it for a moment.
"You're not Zea," he concluded, frowning again.
Zea Mazuo - January 19, 2010 05:28 AM (GMT)
The smile turned indulgent, and just a mite condescending. His insight was received much the way it would have been if he'd assured Zea he was a big boy who now used the toilet every time.
"Yes, very good," came the reply.
A sharp head tilt, listening. "She says that you'll have to lock her up come nightfall. She'll escape if she Shifts and--" The sentence broke off, interrupted. Abruptly a laugh followed. "I think she's embarassed to Shift in front of a stranger. She says--" The woman sitting on Scott's floor closed her eyes and shivered violently, and then sat still.
"Shh..." she said gently, carefully. "Se bon kè krapo ki fè l san tèt. Tsk, tsk, tsk."
Scott Blehnwar - January 19, 2010 05:28 AM (GMT)
Nope, definitely not. A spirit, then. Somebody was possessing her. That was one thing about Deadspeakers, some of them. Not only could they speak with the dead, but the dead could inhabit their bodies.
At least this one was helpful, if not amicable.
"We'll do that, then. Here," he held out the pants.
If he could get her dressed and situated somewhere he could keep an eye on her, perhaps on the couch, it would work better.
Much better than sitting in the middle of his kitchen floor.
Zea Mazuo - January 19, 2010 05:29 AM (GMT)
Zea--or whomever was currently at the controls--tilted her head and looked at the clothing Scott was holding down to her as though he'd offered her a parrot. What was the usefulness of this?
"Kisa sa a ye?" she asked, reaching out and taking what he was holding. "Kisa pi nou--" Zea gasped, her body jerked sharply, and a quick frightened glance lit only briefly on Scott himself. She'd been out of control. Someone else had been--
Zea took a deep breath, pressing one hand against the floor behind her to steady herself. It was solid and it was good, and it was still. It was real. Where was John? He'd left her again. Had he left her because he was angry, and willing to let her mind and her body be invaded by a stranger just to prove a point?
Or was he just worn out for the time being?
There was no way to know, and the panic wasn't helping her figure it out at all. "Scott," she whispered, the word barely more than a hasty breath. She glanced down at the pants in her lap, and then out his broad window. "I--"
The emotion dropped out of her expression and posture, suddenly and completely. A slight frown drifted across her features, and then disappeared. Abruptly she stood, pants still in one hand, and took the few paces necessary to close the distance between them. Seemingly oblivious to his presence, she tried to slip past him to the hallway beyond and--if she walked far enough--outside.
Her forward motion was halted, and it was her arm holding her back. Or rather, a hand on her arm. The hand was attached to someone else's arm, and that arm belonged to Scott. Logic indicated that the hand was his as well, and that he was why this body wasn't moving.
"Ah," she said, the mystery explained. An experimental jerk of her arm didn't dislodge him, so she decided she'd better explain. The heavy Asian subcontinental accent weighed down her words, slowing her sentence. "Please to pardon my hasty departure, but there are things outside which I must be finding. Wery important."
Scott Blehnwar - January 19, 2010 05:30 AM (GMT)
Scott was worried. The glance set off instincts in him, the need to protect. He couldn't help her, though. All he could do was keep her body safe.
He was bending down to help her -- hunh. Green underwear. It clashed with the shirt -- when she stood up.
It was somebody else now. No, she couldn't go outside, he couldn't let her. Scott reached out his hand, grabbing her arm. Just lightly, just enough to stop her forward motion. It was enough, it seemed.
It was amazing how differently one basic syllable could be said.
"You can't, I'm sorry," he told the spirit. "Zea's body has to stay here, inside. It will have to wait."
He could reason with it, right? Or he could at least try.
Zea Mazuo - January 19, 2010 05:31 AM (GMT)
"Listen to me," she continued, her tone patient but implacable. "I know that she agreed to stay here because you told her to, and I know why. But she agreed to help me before you told her to stay."
As if that settled everything, she yanked on her--and for now it was her--arm to pull it away from him.
"You are a good man, and I will return her when I'm done with her. But I have to go. No matter what she owes you, you don't own me. Understand?"
The unspoken implication, whether Scott noticed or cared, was that Zea's position relative to the Kahlites was precisely the opposite. Perhaps they didn't want to think of it that way, but Zea did... and ghosts understood.
"Now, please to stop being so grabby."
Scott Blehnwar - January 19, 2010 05:32 AM (GMT)
Scott remained firm. Blacksmith hands created a grip of iron, there was no way the spirit, no matter who inhabited the body, would be able to use Zea to get away from him. Even if she proved to be particularly difficult.
"If you're in my territory, then yes, I do," the hair follicles at the nape of his neck were starting to itch as they tried to raise hair that was too long and heavy. This was his space. He was in charge, here. And sympathetic as he may be to the plight of whatever was keeping the spirit here, it was not going to disrupt his job or talk to him like that.
He stepped in front of her, a giant wall of flesh.
"You just work something else out. She's not in her right mind, and you can take care of that agreement when she is. You will not be going out and about, particularly in the body of someone who could endanger herself and my pack."
If his brain hadn't snapped to the created idea of invasion of his territory, he might have noticed the implication. But he didn't.
Zea Mazuo - January 19, 2010 05:33 AM (GMT)
He even owned the ghosts in his territory? Was he insane?
"You don't understand, you--"
Scott was getting upset. It was frightening and it was wrong and--
The sentence faltered, the spirit losing her concentration, and only partly rallying it again. "You--"
And Scott was getting upset.
Furthermore, whatever agreement Zea had made with this poor woman who only wanted the remains of her body brought together before she rested... she had made it long after incurring her terrible debt to the Kahlites. Scott was a Kahlite, and a dominant one.
The possessed woman stopped pulling away from Scott, and looked down at the offending arm trying to escape his hands. "Stop it," Zea whispered. She ducked her head down hard, squeezing her eyes shut. She'd agreed to help that ghost, yes. But no matter what burdens her word placed upon her, they were nothing compared to this. Scott was a Kahlite.
Zea concentrated for a moment on stopping herself from trembling, and nearly lost her privileged position behind her own eyes. So she let it go. "I didn't..." A ragged breath dragged itself into her lungs, the convulsive little gasp before tears that she really really really didn't want to allow. There was still time. Maybe she could explain herself. Maybe if she explained herself she wouldn't completely fall apart. "I needed the key to-- to lock the door, and I..."
She pressed the heel of one palm to her forehead.
Shut up. Shut up! All of you, shut up! I can't afford to have you do this here! I can't even hear myself think!
"I didn't have the-- the key to the room. I'm sorry. I... I should have made sure..."
Scott Blehnwar - January 19, 2010 05:34 AM (GMT)
It wasn't rational, getting upset at a spirit who could very well have died before he was even born. By all logical rights, she should be the one allowed the privilege of choosing what happened. But Callings were never logical, and in a society where might means right, Scott was winning.
There was a very good reason that the sanctity of the house with the iron dragon was indisputable.
Scott's features were pushing forward in a stern purse and he was staring the spirit down, his grip starting to tighten as she continued to struggle.
His mouth opened to reiterate how the situation was going to work when Zea's body stopped pulling away. She whispered and it was the shaky voice that he'd heard before, not the strange, slow accent.
As soon as the tiny words left her, as soon as that tiny gasp gulped past her chapped lips, as soon as her body stopped pulling and instead trembled like a fawn, he released his grip. Instead, both hands, warm and strong -- strong with a comfort, strong as a protector should be -- lightly wrapped around her upper arms. She was cold, through the shirt.
"Hey, hey it's okay," he shushed, "It's okay, I'm not angry. It's not your fault. You'll be okay."
The contrast was night and day. His features were soft, sympathetic, concerned. His voice, previously stern and unbending, was soothing and gentle.
"You'll be okay."
Zea Mazuo - January 19, 2010 05:35 AM (GMT)
Not her fault? Who cared if it was her fault! She could have done something about it. Oddly, the very logic that she scrupulously refused to allow anywhere near her position with the Lab Pack was the very logic breaking her down now.
She could have prevented all of this. All of this chaos in Scott's house, Joseph getting into her mind and attracting the interest of John and then there was this ghost from the lab in Scott's house and her mother probably didn't know where she was and if she'd just gotten the key from her mom when she'd sensed her Phase coming on her she--
Zea wasn't even looking at him, not really. But his hands weren't cold and he had a good scent and a heartbeat and his house was probably safe enough and--
And she still shouldn't be there.
"I needed to... to get the key from my mother." She wet her lips and put her palms to the sides of her head, pressing on her temples and trying to block out the noise. She could barely hear her own voice, and Scott's was more distant still. "Mom has it. I can't... can't be out. But I've been gone and... and maybe she forgot, but..."
It had been such a long time since Zea and her mother had lived together. This had all been so normal, so routine, back when she was in high school and when she came home for breaks through college. Once a month Zea would get a little crazy. So... once a month Quinn would lock all the doors, and take her out running at night to burn off some of the nervous energy.
And sometimes Quinn just stayed home with her, and held her, and was warm and had a good scent and a heartbeat and her house was safe and sometimes Zea even slept.
She couldn't do that here. Zea just... she just couldn't. Everything was askew. The people she trusted were all dead and wanted favors, and the people who should hate her wanted her to stay where they could help her. Every expectation was coming out sideways, and she didn't know what to do. Everything was so close to being right, and it was all still so terribly wrong.
Her fingers curled hard until her nails dug into her scalp. She tried to focus on the pain instead of on how badly she just wanted to curl up on the floor and cry.
"I don't belong here," she said, unconsciously echoing Caleb's sentiment only minutes before. "I don't."
It was the dilemma every Skaal faced to some extent. But for Zea... for Zea it seemed worse. She wasn't merely between woman and wolf. Her mother was white, and local, and her father was black and foreign. She wasn't a Kahlite, but she wasn't... necessarily an enemy. She couldn't even decide half the time whether she belonged with the living or the dead.
No matter where "here" ever was... it was never right. And she never belonged.
Scott Blehnwar - January 19, 2010 05:37 AM (GMT)
Mother. Zea's mother lived in Point Grey? Was she actually serious about that part, and not just having a crazy moment?
Who had a werewolf daughter? More specifically, who had a werewolf daughter and knew about it? He couldn't think of anyone. At all. The only humans that knew about the pack had close ties with it, like Mac's Carmel. There was nobody.
Somebody was going to be surprised. Or pissed.
He wanted to gather her up, to wrap her up and help her feel safe. That was always what he wanted with those he brought in. He wanted them to be safe, and comfortable. With their surroundings, with who they were, with their abilities.
As Zea's fingers started to curl into her scalp, tugging and pulling at the dark hair, Scott's hands moved upwards and covered hers.
It was sad to see her struggle so, to see her so upset with what she was unable to control. But at least she was focusing on herself. She was able to maintain a presence for now, instead of letting someone else take over. He'd finally figured out that's what happened when she was 'crazy.' Someone was possessing her body.
More soft, soothing, shushing noises. Maybe if he kept her talking, she's be able to ride it out, or she'd wear herself out and fall asleep. She did look tired. Desperately tired.
"Why, where did you come from originally, where are you supposed to be?" Not accusing, not sharp, just questions, words to keep her talking.
She'd worked at the labs, sure, but there had to be some connection. She'd been allowed to stay on the grounds, he could smell it on her. She'd been to the Lab Pack. She'd talked to Nikola. Nobody had ever mentioned her.
What had she done to end up working for Elkyone Labs? What had she done to the others? How did she fit in?
There had to be a reason this strange woman, with a Gift so strong, had been hidden from the Kahlites for so long. If she lived with her mother and her mother lived in Vancouver, why didn't they know about her? It was like she popped out of thin air.
"Do you have a pack somewhere? It's okay, tell me, c'mon Zea, I'm right here, it's okay, talk to me."
Zea Mazuo - January 19, 2010 05:38 AM (GMT)
It was getting hard to hear him again. His voice got through, and by now she could recognize it and pick it out of the insistent begging and indignant shouting. It was a single friendly voice, and it mattered, whether it should be there at all or not. Whether it made any sense or was anywhere approaching right... it was there.
Questions. Some kind of questions. Hard to hear them. A pack? A pack?
"No!" she answered, the word leaping out of her with such force that she very nearly shouted it into his face. "They're all dead. They've always been dead. Everybody is dead. It's just me and my mom and--"
She grunted in exertion and annoyance as the ghosts around them--sensing that they'd been acknowledged in conversation--redoubled their efforts. But Scott couldn't hear them. Scott was a whole different order of beast from Zea and her ghosts, and he might as well have been inhabiting a completely different Creation from them as well.
He smelled good, though. Living people always smelled so good. Like they were really and truly there. The world of the living was a whole different universe full of warmth and light and heartbeats and--
And Zea didn't belong.
She'd come so far and almost made him understand, and then it all seemed to fall apart. Her head came up, glanced about briefly as though familiarizing itself with new scenery.
"Good Lord," came the delicate voice of a Londoner. "Will you look at the time! We're missing Keeping Up Appearances."
Scott Blehnwar - January 19, 2010 05:39 AM (GMT)
He sighed. They were getting so close.
"You should finish getting dressed first," he verbally nudged the new spirit, picking up the pants and handing them to it.
He needed to know who Zea's mother was.
He would also give his right arm for a trained Deadspeaker with power, but they didn't just materialize. That one he was going to have to do without.
"No TV anymore, broadcasting went out three years ago."
Zea Mazuo - January 19, 2010 05:40 AM (GMT)
"Well!" came the offended response as Zea's hand snatched the pants from Scott's. "I never."
A glance down to herself, and then over to the pants. "Young people these days, really." A heavy exasperated sigh, and turned on her heel to head away from him and into the living room. Distracted enough by the sudden need to clothe its host-body, the ghost didn't truly register Scott's remark about the lack of television broadcasting. Either that or it didn't understand it, and promptly forgot the irrelevant information. Ghosts occasionally did that.
After a moment of unsteadiness from an unfamiliar mind in an unfamiliar body, the spirit inside Zea got her dressed, putting an end to all this mad brazen half-nudity. What sort of woman was this, anyway?
"Now then!" she called back. "Where's your tellyvision?"
Scott Blehnwar - January 19, 2010 05:40 AM (GMT)
At least she was dressed.
And wanting to stay inside the house.
Scott stood in the doorway, holding the blanket that had been thrown over his arm.
"It's there, in the corner."
He sighed, and repeated, patiently, "It won't work. Networks stopped broadcasting. And there's no power."
Maybe she'd at least pick up on the part about no power. Everybody understood the idea of a blackout.
He could work with a spirit who just wanted to be entertained.
Zea Mazuo - January 19, 2010 05:41 AM (GMT)
No power. No power and no television? How did these people eat? Did they cook over fires like neanderthals? Drawing pictures on the walls to keep themselves entertained without broadcast programming.
"Well, that's a load of bollocks, it is. Why, you can ju--"
Zea shook her head. Dropped the misplaced English demeanor.
"Anyway," she said faintly. "If you could find some Gift Suppressant, that would be great." Before the sentence was even done, she'd dropped to a cross-legged position on Scott's floor. She shook her head roughly, rattling herself to clear her thoughts. "It's the wi--"
That had been the wrong request to make. Gift Suppressant? Shut them out again? Did she know how many had been lost without someone to hear them and care for them?!
Raging ghosts descended upon her in a screaming fury, raking across her skin. Like kitten claws, they left invisible trails up her arms and across her neck and on her back as she curled inward, away from them. Her hair fell down around her face as long trails on her body showed up red as blood stood in the cuts like Morse code dit-dit-dit down her skin.
Zea's body was cringing away, but her voice was laughing. "Bodda you, Zea? Not so akamai now, ha! No lab rats here kokua you, no no no!"
Whatever was going on, someone was highly amused by it.
Scott Blehnwar - January 19, 2010 05:42 AM (GMT)
And then threw himself forward, shouting her name as he kneeled and reached for her.
"ZEA! You stop that, you're hurting her!" In the same breath with which he had shouted, he was now trying to admonish the spirits.
Someone was amused, most certainly.
That someone was not Scott.
Zea Mazuo - January 19, 2010 05:43 AM (GMT)
Zea's hands were pressed to her face to keep the scratches away from her eyes--she remembered them getting this bad once before, and they always wanted to get in her eyes--when her palms slammed down on the floor. She stopped laughing.
Her gaze fixed on the man next to her, eyes wide and unblinking. Her body jerked as Scott's arm reached around her shoulder.
"How some skinny lolo nigger find ono boy like you, hah?" She shifted in his grasp to look at him, seemingly in shock. Thin red trails ran from her shoulders beneath the shirt, up above her collar, and up around her chin to crawl up her cheeks. Her eyes narrowed, still staring intently.
"I maki die dead so long, boy." Shifting her weight onto one knee, the woman on Scott's floor stayed within reach of his arm as she turned to slip one leg over his knee, drawing up closer on top of his thigh. One hand slipped around the back of his neck as she bent her leg around behind him. "Make my day mo betta, bumbye I go home."
Scott Blehnwar - January 19, 2010 05:43 AM (GMT)
Scott's pupils shrank to pinpoints, and he froze as she climbed into his lap. Of anything to be expected, this was certainly farthest down the line. Attack him, sure, he was expecting that. It would make sense.
It'd been a long time, and he was completely taken off-guard. He couldn't do much more than stammer and place a hand on her sternum to keep her from coming closer.
Zea Mazuo - January 19, 2010 05:44 AM (GMT)
It was only Scott's far superior strength that stopped the advance, because his reticence by itself was far from enough to daunt his new houseguest.
"Wot? Boddah you, boy?" Dark-skinned fingers wrapped around his wrist where his hand was pressed against her to keep her back. "Da cute!" Her fingers slipped under the wrist of his sleeve, and the hand behind his neck had curled fingers in his hair. "Eh, can get one good roll bumbye she kick me out? I not pau da kine fun I had wen I got da kine mana stay a while."
Something obviously occurred to her, and she studied him carefully. "You not some mahu, eh?" She rethought it. "No. Kay den. Mebbe you no like nigger girls but das all I got, brah. Try close you eyes. We do any kine bumbye I go."
Scott Blehnwar - January 19, 2010 05:44 AM (GMT)
Goosebumps shivered down his spine, meeting with the ones that rippled upwards from his wrist. At one time, that would have been returned with more than a shake of his head, but this was wrong.
"No, you can't. I can't. I won't." The arm around her shoulder had become a strong hand around the fingers in his hair, pulling them away.
"It's not your body. And I'm not available. Leave her alone."
It could not be denied, Zea was an attractive woman. And barely dressed, at that. But even if it was actually herself trying to press against him, he wouldn't. He wasn't like that. Even when he was younger, he was more the type to go for a friend with benefits, somebody he knew well and liked, than a one-night stand. And things had happened, and changed, since then.
Zea Mazuo - January 19, 2010 05:45 AM (GMT)
An exasperated eyeroll. Whatever this spirit considered a valid excuse--and certainly she considered the ethnicity of her host body at least worthy of mention--it was clear she didn't think much of this one.
"Oh, fo' real? No act, friend. You like dis wahine. Just one time, wiki wiki, you s--"
Zea blinked, and looked around. She seemed to forget about Scott's hands on hers, holding her at a distance. She frowned and her head pulled back a bit as if perplexed by what she saw. Blood stood in the hair-thin scratches along her shoulders, neck, and face, but they weren't bleeding anymore.
She made several confused blinks, then her eyes focused on Scott in front of her as though she'd only just noticed him. "Hey, mister. Have you seen my dad?"
Scott Blehnwar - January 19, 2010 05:46 AM (GMT)
He didn't even know her! Scott frowned, slightly indignant at what the spirit was saying. He did not "like" Zea, he was just trying to help and given that she was crawling in his lap half-dressed it was beyond ignorance to deny that she was an attractive woman, when she wasn't possessed by a spirit that was trying to blackmail him into--
"Hey, mister. Have you seen my dad?"
Oh thank God.
He did alright with kids. Kids were good, if they weren't being a pain in the ass.
Setting Zea's body back on the floor, Scott put her hands in her lap.
"I don't know who your dad is. But I can help you look for him. Do you know his name?"
How old was this spirit? Old enough to speak in sentences, so it had to be at least six or so.
Zea Mazuo - January 19, 2010 05:48 AM (GMT)
It was all Quinn could do not to break into a run. Zea was gone. Zea was gone again. Yanking on her coat, the Place Vanier resident locked the door behind her and set out walking.
Quinn had no idea where she was going. She had no idea where her daughter could be, and she had no idea what exactly she was supposed to do about this. She just knew that she couldn't sit still and hope Zea just came back. Quinn knew better. The moon was halfway gone, and Quinn should have remembered what that meant. She should have known; it had just been so many years and this was Zea's first Phase back.
But that wasn't an excuse. None of that mattered. She was Zea's mother; she shouldn't have left her. She should have been there. Now her little girl was God only knew where, and it was her fault. There weren't many people she could turn to, either. She didn't talk to them. She helped with hunting or gardening, sure. But other than work? There was no one worth talking to, not really. Mostly Quinn drank with these people, or got in the kind of quick and savage fights that ended with Scott dragging her outside to cool down and sober up.
Scott. Scott would know how important this was; they had both lost someone who meant a great deal to them, and now that Zea had resurfaced, Quinn knew her friend would understand how far Quinn was willing to go to keep her.
Where the hell did he live, anyway? Seemed like everybody knew him, but Quinn had never thought to ask. Not seriously, anyway. She'd find out. Somebody would know.
Zea's eyes turned upward toward the ceiling, as though in thought. "Uhm." She tilted her head. "I don't remember. He drives a big red truck. We were going fishing and he told me to wait in the car but I got bored and went to have a look around, but I got kind of lost and now I think I should go back."
She gave a resolute little nod. "I'm Dale. What's your--"
A shiver ran through her, followed by an expression of profound irritation.
"I had it. Ain' no time fo wala'au all day!" she exclaimed. Lunging forward, she got an arm back around Scott's neck and planted her mouth firmly on his. It was obvious--and had been for some time--that there was no argument he could make to dissuade this particular spirit. She knew what she wanted, and could see no reason why she shouldn't get it right this second.
She barely had time to come up for air before there was an insistent knocking at Scott's front door. From one perspective, it was the worst possible time. Then again, at least it might provide a change of subject.
Scott Blehnwar - January 19, 2010 05:50 AM (GMT)
Dale, and a dad with a big red truck that likes to go fishing. Great. Not like there weren't a million of those around. "Hi Dale. We're gonna fi-"
Scott barely had time to register the change before he was rocking backward, having to throw out his arms so that he didn't fall under the sudden force.
He shouted, and then startled further. OH bad idea tongue in mouth TONGUE IN MOUTH. Now that he wasn't keeping his head from slamming into the floor, he tried to get one hand between the two of them so he could pry her away, trying to twist his face away and most definitely not responding positively the whole time.
"That's enough now get off me stoppit hey HEY HEY HANDS DON'T GO THERE-" with an outrage that started out squeaky shock.
Somebody knocked on the door just as he managed to break her grip, wrapping his hands around her arms and push her back, sending her to the floor. More than twice Zea's weight was above her body, pinning her against the carpet. Scott sat high, keeping well out of reach of her lips.
Somewhere, in the part of his brain that was not busy with searching grabby hands bad touch do not want that's what you think and now she's under you WHOA HEY THERE NOT OKAY WATCH THAT KNEE better secure her legs God why do these things always happen to me he was grateful that Jordan was hiding upstairs and Nicky was sleeping downstairs.
A greeting was shouted at the door, along with a barked "Come in!"
They could help, surely. If it wasn't pack -- which he highly doubted -- he could convince them she was crazy, and find out if she had anybody on-campus that she knew.
Zea Mazuo - January 19, 2010 05:51 AM (GMT)
Quinn impatiently waited out the two or three seconds it took to be invited into Scott's house. Why did people take so damn long to answer the door? What was his problem? Couldn't he tell from inside after not having seen her for days that something important was going on?
The essential irrationality of this line of thought didn't much matter to her at the moment.
She turned the knob and stepped inside to the sounds of a struggle elsewhere in the house. The only thing stopping her from assuming that something was wrong--and that somebody might need to be stabbed or battered--was the fact that Scott had invited her in. He was only slightly more likely to call her into the middle of a fight than he was to a heavy bondage play party, and that wasn't saying much.
Still, it was hard not to draw the comparison when she walked in on Scott with a woman pressed into the carpet beneath him. Except that Quinn knew that woman. In fact, she'd been looking for her all day.
"Oh, fuck me," she exclaimed. "Thank God!"
Scott seemed to be holding Zea just fine--and Quinn wasn't surprised, since he'd pulled her right up off her feet on more than one occasion--and when she checked out the window to gauge the time, she reckoned that she had hours to get Zea home before the moon rose and things got messy.
That was, of course, assuming that Zea didn't do something insane like attack her mother's friend spitting and cursing in a language none of them had ever heard before. That didn't bode well for Quinn's plan.