1965-08-03 - A Different Kind of Deal
Summary: Vitale meets an injured beast in the park and learns that he can indeed heal beings of another kind… at no real detriment to himself… right?
Related: None
Theme Song: None
halgrim vitale 


Full dark in Central Park in the summer isn't exactly empty, except in the innermost sections, and that's mostly due to the rumors of the bear. Or wolf. Or whatever it is, because none of the Bugle's CENTRAL PARK CRYPTID reports agree on what it looks like, except that it has horns and yellow eyes. This leaves the denser stands of trees largely unoccupied save for the wildlife: families of raccoons pour over their finds from the park's human-frequented areas; bats and nightjars fly overhead, seeking dinner; coyotes seek rabbits in the bushes. A whole other world exists here in the park's heart.

That whole other world isn't without its risks either. In the middle of a small stand of oak is quite a mess: there's a metal stake driven into the ground with a broken chain hanging from it, huge furroughs torn out of the grass and dirt, and a mess of long, black feathers. Blood dots the area as well, scattered about from whatever happened, and follows a trail into the bushes leading even further into the park.

Vitale is mostly in the park at night because there was a major drug deal going on and Vitale was usually along to accompany their men, just in case someone pulled a gun, or a knife, as they often do, thinking they can get a one up on De Angelis. He's wandered away from the actual deal though. If someone shouts, he'll go back but for now, he's distancing himself from the stupid that's happening behind him. It's the same stuff as always, dirty money changing hands, people faking smiles and pleasantries in hopes that they don't shoot each other, in hopes that they go home and their wives and children are still alive. It's become a monotonous process to Vitale, no longer thrilling, exciting or even frightening.

When he happens upon the metal stake, the chain, the black feathers and blood, now that? That's out of the ordinary and falls under all three of those categories. "Someone out there?" He whispers, not wanting to draw anything evil closer but if someone is hurt, which by the amount of blood, someone might be, he can help. "Listen, if you're a mutant, I can help if you're hurt."

In response to his inquiry a raccoon waddles out of the bushes. It pauses to stare in his direction, decides he's not about to come after it and begins inspecting everything. It sniffs at the stake, tugs at the chain. The links won't come loose, so it turns its attention to the feathers, taking one up in its teeth. The sight of it waddling along with the incogrously long feather in its mouth is comical, except for how it proceeds to head down that trail of blood and damaged bushes. In the direction the raccoon has goneaway from the deal, yet far too closecomes a low snarling sound.

The raccoon appearing nearly makes Vitale laugh. When it picks up a feather and waddles away, a small chuckle does escape him but it's born more of fear than anything as a bead of sweat works it's way down his spine at the low snarling sound. "Hey, Hey, little buddy. That's probably not a good idea." And, perhaps because the raccoon hadn't seemed to give a damn about him, Vitale follows it, but slowly, trying to get close enough to pick the damnable animal up because he fears there is something more worrisome the way it's going. Maybe JP will let them keep a raccoon if he saved it from some werewolf in the park. Or JP will think he's lost his damn mind.

The raccoon, who is remarkably fat for a wild raccoona pregnant female, maybe?waddles just out of Vitale's reach, even picks up the pace when he begins to follow. The path it's moving down is strewn with broken, bloodied branches, and leads the two of them to a small clearing. The raccoon scampers out into the open, and in response to a loud growl drops the feather and flees beneath another bush.

Just beyond where the raccoon entered the clearing sits the mangled remains of a bear trap. It's been ripped in half and abandonned, but it clearly found its mark before that to go by the blood all over it.

And it's still not the most remarkable thing in the clearing. The ground slopes down to a rock outcropping, and in the small depression formed by the overhang is what has to be the cryptid. The confused reports aren't confused, as it turns out, they're just describing something that's made of numerous parts. 'Bear' isn't unreasonable, because it's easily that long from snout to tail, and 'wolf' isn't wrong either because the body has all the marks of the wolfman of legend. The horns are ram's horns, curling back from its head and around to almost its chin, and the source of the feathers is the heavy blank mantle on its shoulders and down its spine. Something glints bronze and pearlescent under the dark black-gray fur in a pattern that suggests scales. On its hands and feet are huge claws that have a metallic sheen to them. It's distracted, licking at the gashes that the trap put in its leg.

Vitale watches the strange ritual that the raccoon participates, almost as if it's brought the feather as an offering to something before it scampers away. Vitale is about to say something, likely along the lines of 'what the hell' before he looks up and finds the god that the raccoon was serving and his eyes go wide. The beast doesn't even look like it belongs in this world. Vitale would be certain he was hallucinating if he wasn't a healer. He looks at the gash in the beast's leg, the complexity of the animal was fascinating to him, leading him to believe that perhaps it wasn't always an animal, perhaps this was a mutant, much like Severin, who could take different forms but either way, this was dangerous territory. He leans down to pick up the feather and starts to back up slowly. The feather, of course, was a peace offering in case he was discovered before he could escape.

The methodical licking stops the second Vitale lays a hand on the feather, and the beast's eyes snap to him. They glow baleful yellow, and when its lips curl back in a snarl that same light makes its sharp teeth flash in the darkness. The growling starts soft and quickly escalates, deep and furious. It doesn't get up, though, just stays in that awkward position.

"Easy, alright? I ain't here to hurt you. I swear." Vitale says, as if the beast can actually understand him. He holds out the feather, waves it a little bit, and sets it back on the ground. He even kneels down a little, being generally submissive but fear is likely a loud scent on Vitale right now. "If you're not, all of that," He gestures at all of the beast. "All the time, if you're also a man, I can help you… but you probably have to be a man. I can heal that. I can show you." He reaches over for a small stick on the ground, small enough to not be threatening, so the beast doesn't think Vitale is arming himself. He waits, to see if the beast reacts first.

The beast's eyes track Vitale's movements carefully, and the growl continues until he says 'heal that'. The sound dies, and it huffs a breath, waiting, teeth still bared in a silent warning. The stick doesn't appear to concern it; it just keeps watching him.

Vitale takes the stick and presses it against his wrist until he draws blood, then tilts the injured wrist towards the beast, where the injury fades before it's eyes. He points to the beast's leg. "That, buddy? I can take it away, but only if you make yourself human and you let me touch you." He tries to explain.

The creature tilts its head and watches Vitale's healing with intense interest. He speaks of 'changing' though, and it blows out a sharp breath, a snort of dismissal. A pause, and then it opens its mouth and…says something. It's a collection of sounds, a snarling growling cawing bleating chorus that suggests an attempt at communication. It stops, waiting, watching him for any hint of understanding.

"I don't speak latin, sweetheart." Vitale says, a smile growing somewhat as the creature speaks, and he can tell that it's trying to talk to him in some way but not in a way that Vitale can understand. He stays on his knees though. "If you don't bite me, I can come and try to see if I can heal that, take it away. It might work." He offers.

The beast snarls at Vitale's first comment, eyes widening and flaring brightly. This only lasts a second, though; his repeated offer gives it pause. And it speaks again, except this time, the halting, snarled words are English. Broken, to be sure, and not easy to understand, but English none the less. "If. You lie." It flashes its teeth rather than spell out the consequences of coming into range with anything other than the most benevolent of intentions.

Vitale is surprised by the sudden English. He smiles slightly and nods, understanding what will happen without needing the clarification. "I do not lie, but I do not know, if this will work. If I cannot transfer the wound to myself, I will not hurt you any worse than you are now. If I *can* however, there will be a dull pain, of me taking it away. It will only last a moment, but I need you to be prepared for it, know that I am not harming you, I am healing you." Vitale slowly, so so so slowly rises to his feet. "I'm coming now. You'll have to let me touch you."

The beast watches him as he speaks, its expression that same fierce focus. It snorts, though, when he rises, and shifts so that it's no longer arced around to lick at the injured leg; instead it's half-lying on its good hip, arms propping it up. It's tense, clearly expecting betrayal at any second, and ready to answer any such act appropriately.

Vitale slowly comes over the beast, moving just as slowly as ever, trying to make sure that he is not at all here to harm him. He moves to sit beside the beast and gently, places his hand on it's leg, away from the wound but just beside it. The beast will feel pain, just as Vitale had promised. It's the dullness of pain receding, like having a needle pulled out of your arm hurts on the way out just as it had on the way in, that pain is nothing like the pain Vitale experiences though.

He has to bite his tongue to keep from screaming, mostly because he doesn't want to draw any of the men over here, but Vitale crumbles in on himself as blood starts to stain the leg of his pants, making the dark fabric darker and wet. Sure as Vitale promised, the wound fades, replaced by skin, untainted by scar, just gone. The man however is left in the fetal position, nearly sobbing in pain.

When Vitale touches the beast's leg, he feels coarse fur, the kind meant to keep a wolf warm through neverending winter. Up this close he can see the more vulnerable parts of the bodyneck, torso, and thighsare covered with keeled scales. They're layered over one another in thin, diamond-shaped plates, and look for all the world to be made of brownish black mother-of-pearl. They don't completely cover its legs below the knee, (nor do they go past its elbows), and it's here that the bear trap found purchase, digging deep into muscle and tendon.

The beast snarls when the healing sets in, less a sign of imminent violence and more a reaction to the pain changing. The sound fades with the injury, and when Vitale curls up on the ground, bearing his own version of the wound, the creature sniffs loudly. It's trying to assess how likely he is to die. Dead humans attract attention, also, the other monsters will probably object (they object to everything it does).

Death isn't anywhere near Vitale's door, but the wound is healing far slower than it usually does. He doesn't know how he's going to explain this to his father's guys and he's wondering if it might be better to let them think he abandoned the job and wandered off than to come back limping. How did you get to the garage from here? He goes to sit up and then immediately slumps back down. Wow, blood loss makes you woozy. "I'm alright, I'm alright." He assures the beast. "Might take a couple hours, this one." He laughs a little, the sound born more of nerves than actual amusement. "I can't believe I did that."

Not trusting Vitale to know his own mortality, the creature waits in that same watchful posture for several seconds. Then it gets up and tests its leg, which is functional once more. And oh, it's big, now that it's not crouched or laying on the ground—eight feet, easily, in its current hunched posture. It studies him for a time after he speaks, moves around him towards the warped trap. This it shoves towards him. "Reason," it says, forcing the word out. Then, "Excuse," which is much harder for it to say, but mostly intelligible.

Vitale's eyes widen as it gets up and is way larger than Vitale previously guessed. "Wow," He says, pressing up on one arm and dragging his good leg up. He looks at the trap as the beast shoves it towards Vitale. "Why did they put it up?" He asks, for clarification. "This isn't my doing, I don't know why they put it here except, perhaps you were seen, handsome, you don't exactly look like you're real friendly at first glance." He tries to explain, running a hand over the ruined trap.

The beast's lip curls. "Your kind. Hunts. What it cannot. Understand." It grunts and shakes its head; an entire sentence was apparently uncomfortable to get out. It walks past Vitale again, this time further into the overhang. It takes something there in the dirt, brings it to Vitale and drops it at his feet: a scale. This one is fully intact, and appears to have fallen off naturally. Maybe it sheds them? The rounded diamond is a good four to five inches on the long axis, and light weight, yet feels as hard (and as cold) as Detroit steel. The edges are smooth and polished, as are the points.

"They do. I am also something they do not understand, though. I'm not one of them, handsome. You just saw what I did, right? Their 'kind'? They can't do that. Humans, normals, most of them are despicable. They hurt what confuses them. I just am not as obvious as others." He presses himself up to a sitting position when the beast brings him something. A scale, he sees as he picks it up to examine it. "Most people would call you terrifying, and while they aren't entirely wrong, you're also beautiful, but not in the traditional sense. I have… I *had*, a partner, who could change shape, go from man to beast. Those who saw it happen, had wanted him gone as well. My best friend? Can expell electricity from his body. Another can control machines by making *friends* with them and when they find us in public, when they get the sense that we're different, they often try to take us down, kill us even."

The beast blows out a sharp breath in response to Vitale's words, growls softly. Whether this is frustration with all the noise he's making or an expression of distaste for humanity is up for grabs. It stares at him for a time with those yellow eyes, contemplating him, then finally turns to go. The transaction is, from its perspective, complete.

"If my theory is right, if you are occasionally a man. I go to a cafe, on 3rd and Main, every single day, from 8 in the morning until about noon. If you remember any of this, you can find me there, if you're ever hurt again. Now that I know I can heal you, I will. I would give you directions to our garage but I'm sure my bossman wouldn't like that very much. Last name De Angelis, you can find me, just use that name, about anywhere." He offers as the beast goes to leave, wondering how he'll get himself home in this state.

At the edge of the clearing the beast stops, one ear cocked back towards Vitale. It's head comes around and gives him another of those long, pensive looks. It huffs a breath, turns, and moves into the bushes and out of sight. In a matter of seconds he's alone with the ruined bear trap and the wound he exchanged for a scale. The park's smaller night creatures begin to return in the creatrure's wake; a raccoon trundles out of the bushes and begins to poke around under the rock outcropping.

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