1964-04-28 - Getting Better Acquainted
Summary: Lamont catches a rare break in Lindon's defenses to speak to him mind to mind.
Related: None
Theme Song: None
lindon lamont 

He called ahead, to make sure Lindon was there. And then he's come in a cab and on foot. The limo'd be too ostentatious, surely. Lamont presents himself at Lindon's door, somberly but casually dressed.

Lindon has tried to tidy up a bit. It means the books are in neater stacks and some dusting has been done. He's not used to receiving visitors. He's put on coffee, too. He answers the door and says with an awkward smile, "Come in, uh, Mr. Cranston." Are they on a first name basis while sober? He has no idea.

"Lamont, please," This is delivered gently, rather than commandingly. He knows what he intends….but it'll all be so much easier if Lindon likes and trusts him. And….Lamont's charismatic, but he's not comforting.

Very little is for Lindon. He steps aside to let Lamont in, and he closes the door. Then he goes to the kitchen to pour coffee into plain, matching cups. "Do you take cream or sugar?" he asks. He takes his black. At least he knows precisely how much coffee and water to put into a machine of this make and model. It's a fairly decent cup of coffee. "What can I do for you?" he asks.

"Both, please," he says, softly. "And I rather thought I could do more for you. I've discussed it a bit with Strange. What I hope to do first is lay some groundwork….but it involves the kind of mental techniques that won't work unless you assent."

Lindon fixes the coffee up to his guest's request, and he brings the tray containing both cups into the living room. There's a spare patch of coffee table he's tidied up enough to fit both the tray and a plate of cookies he bought somewhere. He sits on one end of the couch and gives Lamont an odd look. "You and Strange discussed me?"

Lamont looks back at him gravely. "Yes," he says, with that note in his voice, meant to be calming. "Strange is an expert, and far more powerful than I am."

"And I'm a point of interest," Lindon says with a tight, brief smile. "What kind of mental techniques do you have in mind?" he says. "I've found that a lot of those techniques don't work. They can't get through the mental chatter."

There's a glint in his eyes, at that. "The techniques I have tend to work on a more…visceral level," he says, very carefully.

Lindon's brows lift. "Visceral?" he says. "You make it sound almost obscene," he says. "Or violent." He takes a sip of his coffee, then shakes his head. "No, you don't have a violent vibe right now." He gestures, a wordless invitation to continue.

Lamont hesitates, as he doctors his coffee. "I….have been a violent man," he admits, slowly. "But am not now, I think. That is not what I propose. But….emotional. Subconscious. Hypnotic. Perhaps that's more accurate."

"I think with the proper meditative state," Lindon says, "I might be open to hypnosis." Still, he sounds skeptical. Letting someone into his mind, not necessarily his first choice. "So when do you propose to start? I feel like I barely know you, so this is all kind of odd."

He spreads his hands. "As soon as you like - probably the sooner the better. And well, we can start with the meditative state. I propose, at first, to implant some suggestions that might fend off the rushes of information. Let you keep some of yourself, more easily."

Lindon frowns faintly. "I suppose at this point there's nothing to lose. The next time I get another vision, there's no telling what it'll take." He takes a deep breath, drops his gaze to his coffee, and says, "I've asked Strange that if I ever get so far gone I'm not me anymore, I don't want to suffer."

Sympathy looks strange on those features, but it is there. "May it not come to that," he says, and carefully, he takes Lindon's hand. His own is surprisingly warm, almost feverishly so, dry and callused.

"I just figured you should know," he says calmly. "Since you seem to want a mutually beneficial arrangement." He takes another drink of his coffee, distracting himself with it. He swallows, and he clasps Lamont's hand in turn. His own is cool, long-fingered and thin. He slowly looks up to Lamont, dark eyes searching his features.

By the time you get to middle age, the lines in your face give some hint to your personality. And his are not kind, but harsh. "I understand," The pale eyes have a kind of distant kindness. "But Strange and I, we can help you. We truly can. But the first step is believing in it."

Lindon's gaze goes to their joined hands. "It's been hard to believe in much of anything when there's so much you know. I used to be a passable Catholic, but…" He pauses, then admits, "Maybe not the best Catholic. But I believed in something. Now I know it's just a drop in reality's bucket. I know my odds mathematically. They're not great. But they're slightly better if I try."

"I know," Lamont admits. "Now….here, let me?"

Lindon nods quickly and says, "Of course, of course." He says. Quieter, he adds, "Why else would you be holding my hand. Let's just do this." He sets his coffee aside. "I'll try."

Lamont gives him a pokerfaced look. "I'm not flirting with you," he says, with a hint of humor. "That'd hardly be professional, would it?"

Lindon snorts and says, "I shouldn't think so." Lindon never notices when he's being flirted with on the rare occasion it does happen. "This is just a professional arrangement."

"Think of it that way, if it helps," Lamont advises. And then, suddenly, those gray eyes take on a strange luster, hypnotic. There's the press of will against Lindon's own, but ….it's not coercive. It's a bulwark, someone else's certainty, heightening the contrast between Lindon's own mind and that information that comes like a flood.

Lindon takes deep, slow breath. He has studied Eastern techniques, and they help. The maelstrom of his mind begins to quiet. Tentatively, Lindon lets Lamont in. It's no easy task to separate where Lindon ends and the Archive begins. The knowledge is like the root of a tree growing in concrete. There are many prongs of 'attack' with mental shapes more fractal than anything else. Those are the real danger, not the trunk of the tree but those questing little roots.

He can't chop them off. But he can redirect them, like a man training a climbing rose up a trellis. It hurts, a bit, those figurative thorns. For all that impression of menace, the smoky tinge he has, somehow….he's gentle. A climber left alone will sprawl and tangle ….but this is the initial imposition of order. «See?» asks that mental voice, barely more than a whisper.

Lindon starts a little. A susurrus of whispered facts and figures ripple over them both like a breeze. He calms again. «The next time if happens might not be as bad,» Lindon allows. The part of him that's him has taken such a shattering. There are still little pieces of memories clinging to those grabby roots. There's not much that can be done for them, but there's still a lot that will be spared next time. It's something, at least.

That willingness to believe is the important thing. Room for hope to grow. «This is just the beginning. What's important is that ou believe that it can happen.»

«What difference does it make?» And there it is, the voice of wanting to give up. Wanting to. If he really wanted to give up, he wouldn't wake every morning, shower, groom meticulously, get dressed, and go out into the world. If he truly believed there was nothing left to do, he wouldn't be doing anything. In the parts of him that are him, there is a dull ache, a familiar pain. He's been isolating on purpose, but that doesn't mean it feels any better for it.

Lamont's voice is firm. «I know it hurts. But we will help you.»«Why?» It's the thing Lindon can't figure out. The part of him that archives information knows logically why he would be a valuable asset to protect. He's a smart man, and there are easy compelling reasons that make this all make sense. But the part of him that's a person, who wants to mean something to someone, anyone, can't reconcile it. The cold intellect says it's simple: the part that's a person doesn't factor into the equation. «Never mind. I'll honor the arrangement.»

A ripple of frustration, swiftly stilled. «Because I'm genuinely a nice guy?» A hint of snark in this. «And I'm arrogant enough to think I can help you. While I haven't been through this situation precisely myself…..I know what it's like to suffer.»

Lindon is still a moment, his mind quieted. Nice is something else he tries to suss out. Intellect doesn't factor things like altruism, which is rather foolish and shortsighted in its way. Once that occurs, suddenly altruism gets examined from every angle. «All right. I believe you.»

«Good,» he says, in that calm voice. «In all honesty, I have a compelling reason to make sure the balance of my behavior tends towards the lighter end of the spectrum. I've something of….an enforced conscience. Imagine a well-armed Jiminy Cricket.»

Lindon laughs lowly, bright sparks firing in his mind in and amidst the damaged parts of his psyche. He used to have a sense of humor. Low-key, subtle, but it was there. «Jiminy with a gun, got it. How did you enforce your conscience?»

«In essence, I have a …a geas laid on me. A magical requirement. If I break it, I die badly.» His tone is matter of fact, as he continues shoring things up, like someone rebuilding a garden wall.

«More sorcerers should come with that.» Lindon takes a drink of his coffee. «No offense.» The humor fades. All is seriousness again. «So you wear a white hat now. That puts you above most.»

There's a sense of an edged smile. «Gray. Light gray. But….it's not merely coercion. I do try, on my own, to tend to that light. Perhaps you'd care to meet the Cricket, sometime.»

«So long as he doesn't pull that gun on me.» He leans back where he sits, watching Lamont intently. «What can you see when you're inside my mind like this? Not that I've got much to hide.» Not entirely true. His feelings in the moment are tamped down.

A pause there. «Right now, not much. I'm following patterns, seeing where memories go…and what looks like yours, versus what you're…being forced to carry. I'm not looking at the contents. Think of a man carrying a box of books, not reading the books. I'm not here to pry.»

That seems to satisfy Lindon, and he gives a small nod. «So what happens now? Things feel quieter, but I'm distracted; it might not last.» The gears are turning, quick and efficient as they sort out the various hows and whys and whens of the quietude in his mind. If this can be called quiet. Even when he's not knowing, he's always thinking.

«Here,» he says. It's followed by an odd sensation - as if Lindon's hand's been taken, guided. Now it's his turn to reinforce the patterns, like digging channels to make water run a certain way. «Do you feel how that feels?»

«It's strange,» Lindon ponders, observes. «It hurts, but it's a satisfying pain, if that makes sense." A release of pressure, like lancing an infected wound hurts but feels good. «It's easier to think about my college years, and I remember writing down my sister's name.» Which is the only way he knows it now."

A waiting presence, «You try. Do what I just did. The deeper we draw those lines, the more likely it is you won't get overwhelmed. Think of it as a spillway on a dam - less strain on your barriers if we can route those floods of knowledge where we please.»

Lindon tries, he really does, but it's out of his league. Study and work taught him those Eastern breathing techniques. «I can't feel anything different.» A pause, then, «I don't want to lose it. Even though it's devouring me, it defines me. I would miss it. I just don't want to lose who I am.»

He's silent for a moment, surveying. «…..how did it start? One day, you woke up and then…?»

«I was hit by lightning,» Lindon half-smiles, though without much humor. «The sorcerer trying to create The Archive misfired. I was in a coma for about a week. When I came out of it, I was a raving lunatic, blathering whatever was in my head. I was in a mental ward for awhile. Then I lied my way out, telling them the voices had stopped when really I'd just stopped responding.»

Now there's a sense of more predatory attention. « …..do you know who it was?»

«He's dead.» That thought comes prompt and flat. No love lost for the dead man. «The backlash from the spell killed him. For what it's worth, I don't think he was evil. Just stupid. Greedy. His wards were weak and he paid for it.»

There is a perhaps worrying lack of concern, at that revelation. «I see. And often, that's the case. We bite off more than we can chew. Helps weed out the arrogant and the foolish.»

«It's too bad people get caught in the crossfire.» Again, bland. Bland with a bitter aftertaste. There's a lot of unresolved issues there. Understandably. «At least you and Strange are on the side of sanity. Inasmuch as you guys can be sane.»

«It's heavy weaponry to play with, and it will consume the idler, the dilettante, the foolish, and the corrupt,» There's a terrible calm judgement there. «I only barely escaped destruction as one of the latter. But yes, sanity and humanity, for as long as I may defend and retain it.»

«This is your greater objective,» Lindon observes. The process of telepathic communication helps him focus, if nothing else. Though the voices press around them. The quietude doesn't last for long. The pressure of those voices begin to throb at his temples, and he winces.

«Yes,» he allows. «One need not be morally pure, one's self, to defend that which is.» And then there's a little pleased burst of surprise, before he's….turning things? Deflecting something. Stepping in between Lindon and all that lore, like a shield. No attempt to block the flow, just direct it. «Hold to me,» he orders, and for all that calm, there's pleasure there. So much to see, even if he can only catch handfuls as it passes.

«It's all right.» Lindon's mental landscape is fairly serene. He's so used to letting it wash over him and through him. «It's not a vision. It's just the flow.» He holds to Lamont, though, focusing on him, failing to fight him. The facts are largely mundane and completely random. Theological, scientific, mathematical, quotes of poetry and prose. Nothing terribly heavy on the mind.

Agreement there….and then things are settling into more of an order. Lamont does a bit to help….but then he's fading from contact. And in a moment, consciousness is back in its usual place, and the old Shadow has a hand to his forehead. "Well," he says, with a hint of humor. "I am out of practice."

Lindon draws back, blinking a few times. The information rushes in and whispers around. He's used to it, the mundane stuff. It brushes up against his mind but doesn't undo it. "That was interesting," he says. "And I think I know a little more what you're about." He purses his lips then adds, "Sorcerers are mad. No offense."

Lamont grins at that, sharp and lupine. He's got good teeth, at least, if not brilliant ones - too much tea and tobacco. "It's true," he allows, with ease. "No doubt about it. We have to be."

"I don't have it in me," Lindon says with a shake of his head. "My world wants order and sensibility, and you people thrive in chaos." He gestures with his own cup. "Would you like a refill?"

"Please," he allows. There's more life in his face. Almost eagerness, in fact.

Lindon can't help but grin a little as he gets to his feet. He takes Lamont's cup and his own into the kitchen, nothing if not efficient as he fixes another two cups. He doctor's Lamont's to exactly the way he had it before. Then he brings the cups out and sets them down. "If nothing else, I know the recipe for a good cuppa joe."

Lamont takes a grateful sip. "A treasure worth having, " he agrees. He looks a little sleepy, as if even that effort'd taken out more than he intended.

Lindon has lost so much of his empathy, but not all. "Do you need to rest? I can, er…" What comes here, and offer to see Lamont to the door? To offer him the couch? Or the bed and Lindon would take the couch? He has no idea how this part works. "Can I do anything?"

His smile's weary, eyelids heavy. "I'll get a cab, in a moment," he assures him. "And then go home and rest for a bit. Not the years, but the mileage."

Lindon nods quickly, and he relaxes a bit. Social crisis averted. "Right. Thank you." He smiles. So awkward. "I appreciate you doing this." He taps the side of his cup with his fingertip. "If you wanted to drink again, I'd buy."

There's something almost sly in that. "I'll take you up on that offer, soon enough." Unlike Strange, Cranston is A Okay with a little chemical relaxation, now and again.

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