Title: Starts Like A Bad Joke
Description: London Heathrow, 2002, closed
Fynn Callaghan - October 24, 2010 08:24 PM (GMT)
"Flight 2275 direct to JFK will begin boarding soon, please have your boarding passes and id available; premium and gold star passengers are able to board at your leisure in our preferred passenger lane."
Fynn checked his watch-- he easily had another two hours to go. Damn these trips over the pond, the layovers were usually terrible.
He should have packed another book. But his publisher had called him and demanded he fly over in a hurry, it was important, he had to be here right now because she'd just gotten a prestigious appearance for him and it was important and dammit Fynn don't you care about your image at all?
So he'd thrown some clothes in a bag, grabbed the book he was reading, and off he went on a pre-bought plane ticket. Which was why he had a three hour layover in Heathrow, and was going to finish his book in the next half-hour, and would then have to find something in the bookstore. The thought made him wrinkle his thin nose.
Airport bookstores were like going to the gas station when you wanted beer. What you got was, shall we say, not satisfactory.
And the smell. The thing about airports is that so many people and items went through them in any given day. And he could smell each and every one of them that had been there already. It was very close to sensory overload each time he had to enter a major airport. Which was more frequent than he liked.
Zea Mazuo - October 24, 2010 08:40 PM (GMT)
Zea was really doing it. She was really actually holy shit seriously doing it. She wasn't just talking about it and sort of idly planning for what she would say if they were actually face to face. She had, only yesterday, picked out a narrow selection of things that she would actually be wearing when she--
Holy shit, she was actually doing it.
Zea had slept a little on the plane, but now she was honest to god in another country because she was leaving to go meet her father. Holy shit. Holy shit this was London, and in a few hours she was going to get on another plane and holy shit. She couldn't get back to sleep now, she was certain. She'd never eat or sleep again. Well, not for a little while.
Holy shit. This was actual reality, the reality where she was in London in their airport about to get on the plane that would take her where her father was stationed. Of all the things that were strange about this situation, the fact that a werewolf was--harr harr werewolf in London yes her mother had already made that joke thanks--sitting in an airport having checked bags full of clean socks and bullets and hair mousse just didn't matter to her right now.
She felt like the first terrified young woman running off to accost the man who'd never known he'd been her father. Totally uncharted and terrifying ground. Best not to think about it. Maybe eat some pizza. They had pizza here right?
Shit, she was going to puke. She was going to die. He was going to be angry. She'd get shot. What if he was angry?
But wow, if he wasn't, it would all be worth it. He was mister Mazuo or Sergeant Mazuo or some other rank, but she was going to be Doctor Mazuo god damn it or have a nervous breakdown trying because if she was going to steal his name she'd at least put something totally badass in front of it.
She was going to puke.
She leaned over her copy of Mama Lola: A Vodou Priestess in Brooklyn, until her shoulders were almost on her knees. Breathe, Zea. This is going to be awesome. It just is. It has to be.
Fynn Callaghan - October 24, 2010 09:01 PM (GMT)
A sharper scent jumped out at Fynn, and he traced it to the slip of a girl curled over in her chair, who was clutching her knees so hard she seemed just this side of shaking.
That couldn't be good.
Fynn took a few deeper sniffs, now that he was facing her (she was three empty seats down), and blinked in surprise. She was a werewolf. All things considered, it wasn't entirely unthinkable. The dogs were spread like rats compared to the bjorn.
Maybe that was what was giving her problems. She didn't seem ill, just mentally distressed. But her anxiety level was rising, he could even visibly see that.
It wouldn't do to have her go on a rampage about the airport. Whatever the wolves called their version of berserkir.
Picking up his bags, Fynn moved two seats over, so that there was still one between himself and the girl, and braced his elbows against his knees.
"Everything all right there, love?"
Zea Mazuo - October 24, 2010 09:12 PM (GMT)
Whew. Zea you are not going to die. There have to have been other people in the history of the world who are going to meet the reason that they're a shapeshifting magical beast oh god what the hell is going on.
She felt a shift near her, and pulled up a bit at the sound of a voice. What was that smell? There--
"--rything all right there, love?"
Zea laughed, embarrassed that she'd apparently been frightening strangers. "Oh, no, I'm just--" She turned to address the man two seats down, the great big smile on her face freezing only briefly when she realized that it was him she smelled. That was weird. He smelled weird.
What did that mean?
Well, there was hardly any goddamn way to ask about something like that. Maybe he was sick. Or--and the thought wouldn't unstick--he wasn't human. Like she wasn't. Did that mean he could tell that she--
She pushed a handful of her curly hair away from her ear, and laughed at herself again. Yes, Zea, there are two unholy manbeasts in the airport. One is Canadian and one is Irish or something. Sure.
"I'm just nervous," she said. Something about the anonymity of airports made everybody a little more forthright. After all, nobody had more than a few minutes or hours to make a connection, and then they'd all be scattered to the winds again. "I'm going to meet someone I've never met before, and I'm just jittery. It's not a big deal."
Fynn Callaghan - October 24, 2010 10:08 PM (GMT)
He smelled like a well-groomed man who spent a lot of time with books and forests, but underneath there was a deep, musky scent. Probably unlike any animal she'd ever encountered. Something primal and with an essence of strength.
Fynn smiled, wide and charming with his big white square teeth and the way his face pulled into beautifully expressive lines.
"Issat so? An' who might that be? Some dashing love interest to sweep ye off yer feet?"
She was very pretty, a little slip of a thing who couldn't have been more than twenty --...wait, if she was a werewolf, he might have to amend that. He wasn't sure how they aged but he knew it wasn't quite as gracefully as the bjorn. Her smile was so big and bright, even if it was nervous.
Spending some time talking to someone would do them both some good, Fynn would bet money on it. For one thing, he wouldn't have to buy another book quite so soon.
Zea Mazuo - October 24, 2010 10:14 PM (GMT)
Zea snorted, and blushed, and covered her mouth with one hand as she shook her head. Her hair swished the back of her neck as she thought, oh my God no.
It did put the thought in her head that she might want to tell him who she was immediately, though. If he were a friend of her mother's, he might get all-- ew. That was her dad. Nobody else's family was like this. NO ONE. NEVER MIND THAT SOMEBODY'S OBVIOUSLY MUST BE. ZEA'S MORTIFICATION WOULD BE UNIQUE IN ALL OF HISTORY.
"...No," she finally got out. "Family member."
Weird smell on this guy. Kind of cool. But weird. Weird!
Fynn Callaghan - October 25, 2010 01:21 AM (GMT)
Fynn's eyebrows went up and he chuckled. What an interesting reaction.
"That's good, lass. Family is important."
Particularly when you're not human.
He leaned back against the chair, a bit more relieved. The girl seemed slightly less anxious. She was busy dealing with another person instead of wallowing in her own thoughts and worries.
"If yer so nervous, it must be someone important."
Zea Mazuo - October 25, 2010 01:39 AM (GMT)
"Yeah," Zea said, giving the word the full weight of 'oh dude you have no idea' that it deserved.
He was important. He was her father. He didn't even know her but he had always always been her dad. He was the reason her smile was twice as big as it should be, the reason why some people didn't like her tan, the reason why she heard and saw things that nobody else could because he was the reason she wasn't even a human being. Definitely, he was important.
"Time to introduce myself to my father," she said, raising her eyebrows and smiling somewhat grimly, making it clear that she had a formidable task ahead of her, but that it was a course she was set on with no room for diversion. It was happening. "See what he thinks."
Of what? Who knew. Time to see what he thought of being a father, of the fact that his friend Quinn Simon was the mother of his child, of the fact that nobody had ever told him, of the fact that she was there and was a girl and was a werewolf like him and was going to get a PhD in something god damn it or die trying because there ought to be a Doctor Mazuo in the family.
Of having a family at all.
"So yeah. I'm all--" she ended the sentence with an aimless sort of flailing of her wrists, emphasizing that she was a disordered mess, but only in the most predictable and probably harmless of ways. Well, where her father was concerned at least.
Fynn Callaghan - October 25, 2010 06:54 PM (GMT)
Fynn smiled again, pleased to see that with Zea's mind occupied, she was not nearly so stressed.
"I'm sure he'll be pleased to see ye; who wouldn't want a beautiful lass like you for a daughter."
It wasn't meant to be creepy, she seemed so young. Too young for him. Just a genuine compliment.
"Me own da worked himself to the bone trying to keep me in school. Said there should be at least one of us with brains."
Zea Mazuo - October 25, 2010 07:07 PM (GMT)
Zea liked being called beautiful. She wasn't sure how much she liked that in the context of how it'd affect her father's opinion of her, but she liked attention and this guy didn't seem like a rapist--but then they didn't always, but whatever, she could probably torment him to insanity if he crossed her so she tried not to worry overmuch--so she came down on the side of appreciating the compliment.
When a not-a-rapist man complimented her appearance, there was only one thing to do. Simple question to be answered yes or no.
Of course, it helped that Zea was ever starving for stories about other people's fathers. It was a fascination for her. Someday she might realize that it was a bone-deep yearning for the pack she already called her own, a hole in the young woman's understanding of the world that nobody could have explained for her. For now, though, it was just something she liked hearing about.
"So did you like it? School, I mean."
Fynn Callaghan - October 25, 2010 07:14 PM (GMT)
Fynn chuckled, rubbing his chops with one broad hand.
"I'm not so sure ye could have said I enjoyed it, persay, at the time. T'was difficult, and I wasna attending the best of facilities. But I was hungry for the books, and I earned scholarships to better academies and universities."
It didn't hurt that he had the option of taking a few years off to work and build up funds when needed. Fynn had the luxury of time, unlike other students. It was not uncommon for him to not come back from the summer while he worked on the family business and kept a second job in the shops in the evening and weekends.
Education was very different in the years during the World Wars, though. He was busy rationing with the rest of the country, and wishing he could have been born years earlier, so as to be a brave soldier with the rest of his countrymen.
"If I hadna enjoyed it on some level, I suppose I never would have received a degree."
Zea Mazuo - October 25, 2010 07:17 PM (GMT)
Zea grinned, a hearty smile untainted by earlier nervousness. People should have degrees. People should want to know something; it didn't matter what as long as they wanted to know.
She was getting that goddamn doctorate. She had to. Everybody else she knew had one. Granted, they were all professors, but aside from her mother, those were all the grownup settled have-their-shit-together people she knew.
"What's your degree in?" she asked.
Fynn Callaghan - October 25, 2010 07:27 PM (GMT)
"History, love. Cultural studies, mostly of the UK." A bit of an understatement, but she didn't know that.
It was amusing sometimes to go this roundabout way of introducing himself, particularly to somebody who will appreciate his accomplishments once he got around to making them known.
"T'is work, but if ye love the field, t'is worth it."
He eyed her.
"Is that yer own plan, then?"
Zea Mazuo - October 25, 2010 07:51 PM (GMT)
"I'm getting a doctorate in botany," she said, with the same certainty she'd have given a statement that she was going to get on a plane in a few hours. More, even, because there were theoretically fewer variables outside her control. A plane could get delayed. A doctorate simply would occur, come hell or high water.
She'd hate for him to think she's one of those hard scientists who doesn't think anything anybody else studies is any good, though. That wouldn't be productive. His disciplines were good, even if Zea had proven conclusively (conclusively! with science!) that those religious practices had it wrong. She'd never find the hypothetical tradition that had it right if not for dedicated people to do the studying for her, she noted with her fingers curled around the spine of her book.
"Cultural studies are great, though. I actually took a religion minor and I may hit seminary one day, too. But who knows."
The enthusiasm of undergrads. Except she wasn't one, Zea reminded herself. Which meant she had no excuse, and would probably be like this forever.
Fynn Callaghan - October 27, 2010 05:38 PM (GMT)
Fynn laughed, throwing back his head and roaring. Ah, the dreams and energy of the young.
Zea Mazuo - October 27, 2010 06:24 PM (GMT)
Zea raised her eyebrows. That was an interesting reaction. Was he entertained that she had such a long to-do list, or was it just that he thought seminary was a silly place for her? That she could understand; she'd ruled most of them out for similar reasons.
Whatever the reason, she got the distinct feeling she wasn't being taken seriously. If there was one thing Zea took seriously--and there was in fact way more than one--it was herself.
Her new acquaintance--the one who smelled really good, and she still didn't know why!--wasn't impressed with her. Well, fine. He didn't have to be. The alternatives might piss him off or offend him, but by God he'd at least remember her face.
She snorted. "Yeah, well. I'd have hit seminary first, but I haven't found one that's any use. I may have to ditch institutionalized instruction altogether where that stuff's concerned."
Let's see what you do with that.
Fynn Callaghan - November 2, 2010 09:26 AM (GMT)
Fynn wasn't actually that surprised. The search for a religion that made sense of the vast potential of spirituality lead all over the world, to many places, times, and lifestyles.
He rubbed his jaw again; it was a habit, after all. A mannerism, if you will.
"T'is wonderful, love. Ye have a bright plan, an' tha's good. Science an' facts can be balanced in a person with the human condition, and you'll be better for it."
A particularly well-perfumed woman walked past and Fynn sneezed, wrinkling his nose in distaste.
Zea Mazuo - November 2, 2010 09:36 AM (GMT)
A purse, now that was a magical thing. In a flash, Zea's hand dove into her handbag and emerged with a small plastic-wrapped packet of tissues. She didn't even ask if the stranger wanted one, instead just held it out on her palm in offering as she answered his assessment. Whether he took it or not, Zea would simply keep talking.
"They need to be balanced with facts," she agreed. "It does nobody any favors to hand out information about the universe without doublechecking it first."
She tilted her head, trying to gauge his reaction to this. Obviously he couldn't be informed that she had the ability to gather first-hand data about a faith's afterlife claims; he'd think she was crazy and it'd either be an awkward couple of hours or he'd call the cops or a tabloid something, which would be even worse.
"But like I said. Botany first. Things that make easy sense get to be at the front of the line. I'll take the Krebs Cycle over predestination any day," she said with an impish little smile.
Fynn Callaghan - November 2, 2010 09:44 AM (GMT)
Not that the tissue would help, it would smell like plastic and whatever perfume the company put on it, and whatever scented products were in her bag and oh sweet Lord why were humans obsessed with artificial scents.
But he took it, because she offered.
He chuckled at her certainty. It was refreshing, and intriguing. She was so determined.
That and she used big words.
"I'll have to take your word for it, then. All I ever worked on is the way that humans perceive it and why, not the physical or the actual beliefs themselves."
He just studied them, he wasn't looking for answers to his own metaphysical needs.
...That was a lie. In a way, he was, because he'd wanted answers about his history, what he was, where he came from as a bear-shifter, and he had an interest in the cultural relevance of the bjorn as they were in the United Kingdoms, but it wasn't spiritual guidance or answers of the afterlife that Fynn searched for with his work. It was the study, the thrill of finding the answers to something and piecing out how things must have worked.
Zea Mazuo - November 2, 2010 09:53 AM (GMT)
Didn't look at the religions themselves, just the people who practiced them. Insistent curiosity and sweet delicious cultural relativism--two great tastes that taste great together.
"I think you can learn a lot more about a religion by looking at how people approach it and how they live it than by listening to the people in charge," she noted. "If a particular teaching is crap, people will ignore it no matter how important they're told it is, which is why so many Catholics use condoms," she added archly, deliberately and casually dropping sex into the conversation.
"Studying the official line is mainly useful so that you can see what people are pretending isn't in it. At least... that's what I've found."
Zea's many opinions. Let her show you them.
Fynn Callaghan - November 2, 2010 10:08 AM (GMT)
His eyebrows shot up, and Fynn looked genuinely surprised, and pleased.
"Aye! That's exactly it, and it's not even touching on the issues with changing leadership that picks an' chooses what it will enforce from the text, or if it even bothers with whatever holy text they might be using; and you've got the groups that don't have texts, which is an entirely dif'rent level because religion in such cultures is such a part of their way of life in a way that it shapes their lives and you live and die by the day to day realities of your beliefs in a very personal way. None o' this poncin about with a church leader far away that you hear his letters, no, ye have to respect the village shaman an' the druids or they'll make yer crops fail and cripple ye on the hunt or take a form and eat ye as a sacrifice to the gods."
He was gesticulating with his hands in neat, punctuating movements.
"And as humanity moves forward into their so-called civilization those beliefs have a way o' changin, and becoming less of an impact so we learn through books and letters, but they still cling to parts of those old ways, even though the interpretations of the supposed 'Word of God' is an ever-changing, living thing."
Zea Mazuo - November 2, 2010 10:17 AM (GMT)
Zea's grin got wider and wider as this strange-smelling Irishman rattled on at considerable length.
In that smile was keen interest and pleasure at a real conversation and the hopeful desire that he'd actually have something to say on the subject worth hearing. It was also a little smug, maybe... just a tad.
She'd gotten him going. Zea had his interest. Thankfully, now that he had actually begun to express his own opinions, he still had hers. Would be sad if he'd turned out to be a dumbass. She couldn't have these conversations with chemists or biologists; they just didn't get it. This fellow was... lovely. Why didn't she hang out with the liberal arts students and faculty more?
"I've always liked oral traditions, basically because of that. People aren't going to remember every single thing they hear, but they'll remember what's relevant to them and fill in the rest. It lets a set of ideas actually evolve, whereas you really don't see that kind of selection process with a written text. People can get a good distance away from it and make it their own, but the book's always going to be sitting there reminding them what they've changed. Oral traditions don't have to worry about that! It doesn't matter if what it is now is what it always was, as long as it's always relevant, you know?"
Fynn Callaghan - November 2, 2010 10:31 AM (GMT)
Probably because a lot of them were complete and utter gits and poofters and you had to weed out the lackluster daft morons before you could find someone.
"Some cultures placed great value on knowing the stories word for word. The Norse, aye, their bards could be killed for getting one word wrong in a saga. A wrong article or conjunction and ffft," Fynn sliced the air in front of his neck with the side of his palm, "that'd be the end of ye. But even then, with the stories set just so, it's more a matter of personal application, other than the parts where things are a certain way and if ye didna offer praise or a sacrifice ye'd end up dead. Lots of ways to end up dead, with most 'pagan' religions, ye know."
His eyes sparkled and as he talked, his accent seemed to be sliding deeper and deeper. What a charming young woman.
Zea Mazuo - November 2, 2010 06:13 PM (GMT)
"Hm," Zea said, nodding thoughtfully. "That is true. A lot of places did a pretty good job of keeping a handle on things changing. But then again, you have other traditions that really were under a lot of selection pressure to change radically. Like Vodou."
This was straying a little more onto her territory, the tradition that she'd verified through preliminary testing was at least on the right track even if it were not perfectly on point.
"Not only was it under pressure to remain relevant, but you can take any diaspora tradition and subject it to pressure to change or die. When the Jews lost their temple, the tradition changed a lot, and when Africans were dragged to the United States, their religion suddenly needed to change because of the new situation, but it also had to be able to hide, to pretend it was Catholicism. An altar to Saint Gerard is no problem, but if any of the people in authority watching knew that it was really for Baron Samedi, they'd have a conniption and the slaves would be the ones who paid for it."
Zea resisted the urge to touch the St. Gerard medal around her own neck, even though she was suddenly keenly aware of it.
"Maybe one factor with being able to withstand change is having enough social power to take all those pressures to adapt or die and give them the finger, and demand that everybody else adapt to you instead. Norse people seemed to be a little more large and in charge than African slaves were. What do you think?"
Fynn Callaghan - November 2, 2010 06:54 PM (GMT)
"Verreh good lass! If ye had the power, t'was easier to resist change to your religion and yer culture. It's no great secret that many groups die and change from bein' swallowed by something greater."
Nordic culture, Islam, Christianity, Hinduism, all the power-groups of the time. Historical fact.
"Hiding within Christianity were a common occurrence a' the spread o' Christ an all that, and over the centuries. Many of the pagan European tribes adapted the idea of Saints as well, and I'm sure ye've heard about how most a' the 'Christian' holidays truly came from various celebrations of other cultures, so that the Church didn't have to enforce the lack of holiday."
Romans? Didn't care so much. Christians? Them and their selfish monotheism.
Zea Mazuo - November 2, 2010 07:06 PM (GMT)
"Well, yeah," she assented. "If their new subjects actually had to change anything they were doing, they wouldn't be as easy to keep control of."
Opiate of the masses what?
"Let them keep having their own gods born in the winter that die as a sacrifice and get resurrected later, and they won't care much what the new priests say it all means. Honestly regular people probably care a hell of a lot less who's tyrannizing them lately as long as it looks enough like the old tyranny. I mean, when you're a peasant, what the hell is the difference anyway? Going to be a serf or a slave no matter who's wearing the fancy clothes this generation. As long as everyday life doesn't change too much, there are bigger things to worry about."
Fynn Callaghan - November 2, 2010 07:26 PM (GMT)
Fynn nodded sagely, paying homage to the timeless presence of class separation.
His research also focused on what happened to the shapeshifters as conquering cultures moved in, but he couldn't really tell that to the world.
"Have ye thought about other studies besides yer science and religion, love? You're pretty into cultural politics."
Zea Mazuo - November 2, 2010 08:09 PM (GMT)
Zea shrugged. "I mean, I have. But I'm a little too goal-oriented to be dropped off somewhere and allowed to come back when I understand everything and can explain it in three hundred pages or less. I'd much rather do work with the native ecology. Then I can still be around whoever lives there and learn a little from them, but I'm not under pressure to be able to take back a report."
There was also the fact that she didn't really care as much what other religions did with their time or their money or their souls, if they were not factually correct about what a living thing was and what they became afterward. She wasn't searching for new customs to try on; she wanted new tools to deal with things she couldn't even mention to them.
Well. She might be able to tell a Houngan or Mambo and have them understand, but telling Catholics had gone so poorly that it wasn't worth a retry.
"Anyway. Not everybody who thinks other people are interesting can study it to the exclusion of other stuff. If we all do that, then there won't be any botanists or priests--" Or priestesses, she noted privately. "--who know anything."
Fynn Callaghan - November 18, 2010 02:09 AM (GMT)
"Aye, that's true. Only knowing one thing isn't necessarily the best."
Fynn just couldn't help himself.
"Although ye've got a bit more time than others, I'd say."
Not as much as Fynn, but. Well. More.
If she let the comment pass, then he'd just let the situation lie. But it was too good of an opportunity to pass up.
Zea Mazuo - November 18, 2010 02:35 AM (GMT)
There it was, wasn't it. Was she right? Was he like her? If so, what the hell did that even mean?
"Yeah," Zea replied, giving him a sly look that said she knew what he was alluding to, but what could she really say? Yeah, her father had been older than he looked. That might have been notable, or it might have been nothing. She didn't really know, and nobody she knew really knew. "I've heard that."
Fynn Callaghan - November 19, 2010 05:51 PM (GMT)
"We are now beginning pre-boarding for flight 5675B, direct flight to LaGuardia; premium and gold star passengers are able to board at your leisure in our preferred passenger lane, please have your boarding passes and IDs ready."
Fynn cocked his head up, and carefully placed his book inside his bag.
"That's me, dear. Here," he handed her a business card. "I'd love to know how things turned out. And let me know if you ever need anything." Something in the way his tone had changed to level seriousness indicated that he meant every word of that last sentence.
"It was wonderful to meet you, best of luck with yer da."
As he stood up and pulled the strap of the meticulate leather messenger bag over his shoulder, Fynn reached to shake her hand.
When she read the business card, it would read as thus:
And on the other side, was listed his personal email, and two phone numbers.
Zea Mazuo - November 20, 2010 01:00 AM (GMT)
Now he was leaving.
Zea automatically took the offered business card, a little taken aback by his request to hear how things had turned out. Some mean and cynical part of her curled up at the back of her mind wanted to know what exactly she was supposed to let him know she needed. What problems did Zea Helena Mazuo have that could be solved by friendly strangers who smelled good?
She shook his hand, and nodded. She half-realized that she'd somehow ended up monopolizing the conversation, having learned relatively little about him and told him all sorts of bizarrely-personal bits about herself.
Zea didn't even know why he smelled like that.
"Thank you," she said. "That's really nice of you. Have a safe trip."
Fynn Callaghan. There were people named Fynn?