Title: A Credible Witness
Description: Scott's house, Zea (pre-raid)
Scott Blehnwar - March 5, 2010 05:04 PM (GMT)
Scott came in the back door, and the sound of soft clinking stopped him.
"Zea, you don't have to do that."
She was washing dishes. She'd even heated some water to do it.
He'd found he was less surprised about the things she'd done to the side room than he expected. Which was a good thing. So she'd mostly just been hanging out up there, being very quiet.
Zea Mazuo - March 5, 2010 05:07 PM (GMT)
"Somebody does," she answered, plunging one hand down into a drinking glass to swirl soap around the bottom. Harsh soap. They must be making their own.
"Otherwise it won't get done. I'm the one who had time."
Time to wash dishes. Time to sit and talk to her familiar. Time to wait until the hallucinations died down completely, leaving her in a flat and solid reality that looked less familiar but far more friendly.
"Do you need something?"
Same old question.
Scott Blehnwar - March 5, 2010 05:13 PM (GMT)
His face shifted slightly, and he watched her, minus the sigh.
Well obviously. She was washing Nicky's dishes instead of huddled upstairs talking in different voices.
"If you need anything to help physically, medications or anything, we can talk to Dice."
To be frank, the idea unnerved him a little, but, well, the boy did have medical training, at the very least. And he'd more than proven his willingness to help the pack and the wolves from the labs.
Zea Mazuo - March 5, 2010 05:17 PM (GMT)
There Scott went, ignoring her question. That's all right. He'd think of an answer eventually, both in the short term and in the grander sense of her ever-looming debt.
"If Dice were going to give me Gift Suppressant to deal with this, he'd have done so already. He knows what I was taking, and probably knows why."
Stupid doctors, always thinking they knew best. Yes, the medications were addictive. Yes, junkies had to be kept away from the object of their addiction no matter what they said or did.
But Zea was different. She needed those drugs. No use explaining that, though.
"And anyway. I'd rather not."
Scott Blehnwar - March 5, 2010 05:26 PM (GMT)
Scott shrugged faintly, and grunted.
"Well, if they," ah, the nebulous ethereal they from before, "hurt you more, or you're having problems with withdrawal symptoms like the others, I'm sure he can help."
The physical stuff. Treat the symptoms, makes it easier to deal with everything else. He had no idea how those drugs really worked, no clue what he should be expecting Zea to be going through.
Zea Mazuo - March 5, 2010 05:29 PM (GMT)
Zea rinsed the glass and shook the water out of it.
"It was withdrawal, and my Phase hitting. The convergence won't happen again unless I somehow get access to Gift Suppressant again, and somehow manage to stay on it until I die."
She set it down in the rack with an audible click.
"Doesn't seem likely, unless I have more drugs available and less life left than I'm estimating."
Scott Blehnwar - March 5, 2010 05:37 PM (GMT)
He frowned, ever so slightly, face coming together with just a touch of exasperation. How pessimistic.
Something didn't quite click.
At first he'd thought she meant she'd rather not have more drugs, when she said "I'd rather not." But he remembered what had happened, the first day, and it clicked with what she was saying now.
Rather not. Rather not. Rather not talk to Dice?
That didn't make sense. All the other Lab Pack were just fine around him. Which begged the question why she was by herself, instead of with them.
Scott cocked his head, pursing his lips as he eyed Zea thoughtfully.
"Is there something I should know about you and Dice?"
Zea Mazuo - March 5, 2010 05:43 PM (GMT)
"We worked together," she said bluntly. "I didn't like it."
Zea would have liked to say that she thought he was completely out of his mind, with a capacity for sadism and depravity that she didn't like thinking about because it also reflected on everyone else on staff.
But that would require speaking ill of Scott's pack. That would be inappropriate. What if she said something so negative about Dice that he was no longer welcome? Reflexively she shied away from even seriously considering the possibility. Her debt wouldn't let her do it. She just couldn't.
"I'm not sure I should talk about him as a coworker. He's your pack now, and since you've accepted him it really doesn't matter what I think," she added, scrubbing off a bit of something-or-other with one fingernail.
Scott Blehnwar - March 5, 2010 05:52 PM (GMT)
Scott scratched his beard and continued watching, thoughtfully.
Having another perspective could be a good thing. He'd noticed a little bit of tension in some of the Lab wolves around Dice, which clashed with the way the others treated him.
Some of the Kahlites had never forgiven him, even after all this time.
Except for the Lab pack, did any of them know what had really gone on? Nikola had finally forgiven Dice, it seemed, but most of his problems seemed to revolve around his brother, not the history of the pack. Otherwise surely the doctor would have never made it past the day he first appeared in Point Grey.
There were some days where Scott really didn't want to think about his Kahlite family, and what must have happened to Kepler and Caleb.
"I think it might," he commented, softly.
Zea Mazuo - March 5, 2010 05:57 PM (GMT)
The nice thing about conversing while doing dishes was that Zea could pretend to be keenly interested in this green bean stem that was clinging to the inside of this bowl. Important things, stems. Deserved her full attention. Perfect excuse not to directly look at the man who owned this house.
Zea's hands stopped moving, and before she could catch herself, she turned and stared at him.
She was caught. There was no way to avoid this conversation except to lie, and she really couldn't do that. Couldn't.
"Well, what do you want to know?" she asked, faking a casual tone. "A lot of it isn't my story to tell, if the Lab Pack doesn't tell it first. If Dice hasn't told you first."
Scott Blehnwar - March 5, 2010 06:10 PM (GMT)
Scott's face hardened.
Dice hadn't ever told them anything of consequence about what happened.
Dice hadn't told any of the rest of the pack about what went on inside the 'hospital' his family had run.
Hadn't even told Nikola when they made plans to rescue the Lab Pack, who nobody even knew existed.
They could have rescued Kepler and Mac and Embla and the others much sooner, if Dice had told anyone.
Maybe Caleb would have been alive. Who knows. Scott could only make assumptions about what had happened to Caleb.
It wasn't fair to ask Zea, if she didn't think it was her place. If she didn't want to tell him. But he wanted to know. Why did Kepler have to suffer. Why did Jossy have to die.
"I want to know what he did to my pack, to my family," he said, very low. "I can't... I can't ask them to relive that." Kepler. He can't ask Kepler. "After they managed to survive and move on."
Scott's broad hand flattened out and rubbed against the side of his neck.
"Whatever your reasons, you are uncomfortable around him, and that's just as valid, to me."
Zea Mazuo - March 5, 2010 06:21 PM (GMT)
Scott wanted to know what Dice did?
When Scott asked what Dice had done to his pack, to his family, to Kepler, to Caleb, to all of the others, what Zea heard was this:
What did you do?
But no, that wasn't right. For some reason it mattered to him how she felt about Dice as well. That was absurd. Why would he want to know that? What difference could it make?
Then again, it wasn't her place to judge what he wanted from her. It was her place to give it to him. He was a Kahlite, and the Lab Pack trusted him.
"He was..." She searched for a different word, but only hit on the single term she knew to explain it. "...unprofessional."
It didn't mean to Scott what it meant to Zea, to her family. Her parents were military contractors, mercenaries, and to them "professionalism" meant the ability to hurt people--sometimes in terrible ways--while remaining detached, without getting emotional or sadistic about it. It meant fulfilling contracts and getting people maimed or dead or disappeared without letting anybody down or getting too involved. Without enjoying it too much. Without being either squeamish, or a sick freak about it. It meant detachment.
Whether Scott knew what that meant to Zea as Quinn Simon and Zeke Mazuo's daughter... she had no idea. It was the right word.
Dice was unprofessional. Dice had enjoyed it. There was nothing simultaneously so disappointing, and so terrifying.
Scott Blehnwar - March 8, 2010 01:40 AM (GMT)
There was something about the word, the way she said it, that conjured different meanings than the initial idea.
It almost made him think of the way he felt when he was on patrol. In order to be able to take care of the Infected and not lose himself entirely, one had to take a cold stance about it.
No hard feelings, it was just for the good of those still living. It just couldn't be helped.
The thought of what it meant when applied to Dice filled Scott with a sense of dread, and his face dropped into wretched lines as he stared at Zea.
Zea Mazuo - March 8, 2010 01:50 AM (GMT)
Zea glanced over, expecting a reply or a request for more detail. She didn't get one. When she took a second look for confirmation that he understood, she saw that he wasn't frowning because he was confused.
He was probably displeased because he knew what she meant.
"You don't want to hear what I thought about it. But I didn't find it amusing. There was nothing cute or clever about any of it. I did my job, but it wasn't a... I don't know. I didn't have a passion for it like he did. It bothered me to work with him."
She was quick to amend, "I mean, obviously he sees it differently now."
Scott Blehnwar - March 8, 2010 01:57 AM (GMT)
Scott rubbed his hand over his mouth, eyes hollow.
"So it would seem," he muttered, turning away.
A passion for it.
How any of the Lab Pack could accept him like they did now after what he could only imagine had happened, was beyond him.
He wished he knew the story.
How could they truly have been expected to forgive Dice and accept him without knowing?
That was just it. They hadn't. They'd been forced to.
He didn't really know what to think about that.
Scott's eyes flickered up to Zea and he grunted as he left the kitchen.
"'preciate your honesty, Zea. Really do."
Zea Mazuo - March 8, 2010 02:19 AM (GMT)
Uh oh. He didn't like that answer.
But he appreciated it. He'd said so, and he didn't seem like he was lying. She'd definitely done what he wanted her to do, but maybe he shouldn't have even asked that question. He shouldn't have asked about things that nobody wanted to think about. Was it always better to know?
Except that he didn't. He still didn't know anything. He just knew now how much had been kept from him. Not a kind wake-up call. Not at all. Shouldn't she tell him more than that?
Was it just that Zea didn't want him thinking ill of one of the Lab Pack? Or was it that she didn't want Scott to think ill of her, that she'd throw one of his pack to be publicly shamed just so that she'd be seen as 'the good doctor?' She wasn't. She really hadn't been. She'd been as curious as anyone, but she had been-- It was different.
What was Scott going off to do, anyway? He wasn't going to go make trouble for Dice, was he? Zea couldn't let that happen. She couldn't be the cause of Dice losing his place here, of any of the pack losing their place here. She owed him too much. She couldn't.
"Wait, hold on," she said, flicking water off her hands and then wiping her palms on her pant legs. "It doesn't just seem that way. Maybe it's not as easy for other people to tell, but I know he cares about them. He's the one who came and found me first, who wanted to make sure I--"
That she what? That she wasn't going to drag them all back? Kill someone for revenge? What?
"--that I wasn't going to be a problem. I used to be his colleague, but I think he'd have killed me to protect them. That means something, doesn't it?"
It should. It had to. Otherwise Dice was going to wear out his welcome and then... who could say? Maybe Zea would be next.
Scott Blehnwar - March 8, 2010 03:10 AM (GMT)
He wasn't sure where he was going.
It was some heavy matters to think on.
And there was a lot of thinking to be done, before he could act. If he could act. So many options presented with this information (or lack of?) but they all had heavy consequences and would require many things if he picked any of them.
But he was going to take it one step at a time. Down the hallway to the front door first.
"Wait, hold on."
Scott stopped, pausing in the shadowed hallway with the light from the kitchen bouncing off his broad shoulders. The only movement was the rise and fall of his chest as he listened, staring to the front door with blank eyes.
How were they to know?
He'd never said anything to the Kahlites. Never apologized for the ones that they lost. For what he had done.
He hadn't even told them that there were still Kahlites alive in the buildings.
"That means something, doesn't it?"
He supposed it did. If Dice had changed, and was remorseful, and was trying to protect them from someone who had been like him, it did sort of somehow mean something.
But if Zea was on Point Grey, it meant she'd been accepted in by Nikola. It should have been a pack matter, and they all should have known and been able to decide whether or not it was enough of a risk to accept her into the pack.
Not Dice's place. Things weren't supposed to be done like that.
....Nothing had been done the way it was supposed to, for a long time.
"I don't know, Zea."
His eyes flickered to the picture frames on the walls.
"How can I?"
Zea Mazuo - March 8, 2010 03:22 AM (GMT)
"I can't make decisions for you, and certainly not about him," Zea answered. "And I'll admit. I don't know anything about the-- the... pack thing."
Pack. To Zea her mother was her pack. Everything else belonged to everyone else. She was just... here. For now.
"But the others accept him. Whatever he's doing, it's enough for them. It's..." Bad connection to draw. Dangerous comparison. Necessary. "...not always easy to tell what the rest of you want. Maybe that's what's wrong."
Of course, it wasn't. Dice had had years to figure these things out, and he had people here who genuinely loved him who could clue him in. He ought to know. But... for Zea, it always came back to what they wanted, to what paid a debt. Fixation was a bitch.
"What do you want? What should he be doing instead?"
What was the right thing to do? What was the correct answer? What did they want from Dice? From Zea?
Whether the conversation felt that way to Scott, every question about Dice was a question about her. Was she dangerous? Was she different? Would she stay? Did she belong? Was she giving them what she owed them? Was she lacking? Should she leave?
It was all the same thing, to her.
Scott Blehnwar - March 8, 2010 03:49 AM (GMT)
Again, Scott's hand rubbed over his mouth.
He didn't know. He didn't know.
He wanted to know what had happened.
He wanted Dice to pay for what had happened.
He wanted Dice to apologize.
.........He wanted Caleb and Jossy back. For Kepler to not be a changed shell of the girl he'd once taken care of.
He wanted to have known this whole time.
He wanted the Thornharts to give real explanations.
"I just... don't know yet."
Running his fingers through his thick hair, Scott sighed.
"It'll.. It's not my place, anyway. Nikola said you and Dice belong here."
It didn't matter what he thought or wanted, in the end.
Zea Mazuo - March 8, 2010 04:00 AM (GMT)
Zea watched him quietly, listening to his silence and even blinking slowly so as not to disturb the flow of his thoughts and expressions.
He was deferring. That she could understand. It was a reaction which made sense, given what she'd learned of how things worked here... and given what the wolf coursing through her veins knew by instinct. In the end, someone had to decide. Nikola was the Alpha. He had decided.
"I owe Nikola a favor for that. So does Dice." She continued to examine Scott, her usual reluctance to look at him directly burned away by the mixture of curiosity and concern. She owed Scott in an impersonal sense because of the pack he belonged to, but she also owed him personally. Even knowing who she was, he'd taken her in, given her a place where no one would ask questions.
Now that they had abandoned the pretense that this conversation had nothing to do with Zea, she kept pressing. "But your Alpha isn't here. You are. When you know what you want, you should tell me. Until then, I'll wait."
Scott Blehnwar - March 9, 2010 12:54 AM (GMT)
He looked... tired.
For all of his mass, spreading out and filling the hallway like a pillar of dependable strength, he just looked... tired.
"But your Alpha isn't here. You are."
A soft grunt, under his breath.
He wanted time to think, for now. And apparently to think about what he expected from Zea. Somehow she was concerned about herself in this, and turned the conversation to herself, again.
It was odd, his reaction to the knowledge that she was there.
It just wasn't the same, compared to how he'd felt the first time, when he met Dice.
"Until then, I'll wait."
"Yeah," he muttered, and went upstairs to wash.