1965-08-10 - Redirected Revolvers and Reticent Revelations
Summary: Ambrose stops a robbery because he hates drug abusers, but it turns out that the man he saved, Lindon, is more than he initially expected. Stop telling him about himself, Archive!
Related: None
Theme Song: None
lindon ambrose 

Often, Lamont is with Lindon even when it seems he is alone. The Shadow cloaks himself in invisibility and plays chaperone to his artifact, keeping him safe from would-be collectors. However, with Hargrove going to ground and no activity in months, and the fact that sometimes Lamont has places to be, it means Lindon just has to take his chances. Like this evening, going down to the street to post a letter. How much possible trouble can he get into posting a letter? The house with all its wards are right there even if Lamont is out. He's ten feet from safety. What could possibly happen? It's a nice neighborhood, what with having mansions, and there are few people walking the streets — few, but not none — and honestly. Honestly. Nothing bad is going to happen.

So there is Lindon with his letter, and the blue letterbox on the street a stone's throw from his front gate. He's still dressed rather stuffily for the short jaunt, in his tweed from work and looking quite scholarly. And distracted. His mind is a million miles away.

Pity the mind a million miles away. Safety is relative, after all, and what with the twilight hour just beginning, everyone else is holed away inside after tiring themselves out in the heat of the day.

Something blunt suddenly presses directly against Lindon's spine. Rounded, small in diameter, there's very few things it could be other than the muzzle of a small sidearm. "Gimme yer wallet," comes the phlegmy voice from behind. "Give it!!!" The gun is poked harder still into the small of his back. Uh oh.

It's the mundane things that Lindon tends to overlook. He's calculated the odds a magical presence would menace him on the streets, but not that there would be a robber. He raises his hands, letter still clasped in one of them. "You've got to be kidding me," he says with a sigh. Ten feet from safety!

His mind is already at work on the problem, feeding him information about points of pressure and ancient to moddern forms of self-defense, but there are too many unknowns. Is the gun loaded? Do all the chambers have a bullet? All this for his wallet? It's just money, except except except—

"—I can't. It's got my library card, but you can have the cash. I need that card, though." Some things are worth his life, as a matter of fact.

"I said, gimme your goddamn wallet!" The would-be robber snarls, poking Lindon pretty hard in the back this time around. There's the ominous sound of a safety disengaging to follow. "Tick tock, tweedy."

Across the street, someone's paused behind the field of peripheral vision of both men. He stays still as not to draw more attention, cerulean-blue eyes slowly narrowing in intense dislike as to the scene unfolding across the way. In a khaki field jacket overtop a white tanktop and in worn blue jeans tucked into combat boots, Ambrose calculates odds even as he begins to conceptualize moving across the street faster than the blink of an eye.

"Just give me a minute," Lindon says. "I'm not going to fight you." He moves slowly so as not to startle the robber. "Let me have the card, and I won't even report you." His voice wavers, because he's not great at lying. He will report the robber. Not to the police, but to Monty, which is much worse.

He takes out the old worn leather wallet, and he opens it. "No one needs to get shot today," he says, though it's not clear who he's trying to convince. Monty really won't like this. It's a good score for the robber, though. There's plenty of cash to be had if only the librarian would hand it over, but instead he's carefully taking it out of the fold, maintaining a white-knuckled grip on the wallet itself. He needs that card.

His senses are trying to tell him something, a mind at work so quickly its conclusions almost feel like premonition. The data hasn't coalesced in his brain yet as a notion any more informative than 'something is happening.' So he does the only thing he can think to do. He freezes.

A peremptory snap-snap of fingers near Lindon's ear means the robber's getting antsy. "Hand over the bills! NOW!" He tries to keep his voice from rising, but he's getting nervous too — this exchange is taking waaaaaaaay too long in plain sight of the houses nearby. A heavy coughing overtakes him briefly, the sound full of sickness brought on by hard drug abuse.

Ambrose sighs and then begins to crouch, bending at the knees. ZIP!!! Suddenly, there's a hand on the robber's wrist, both bending it wildly away from Lindon's body and making it crackle — ouch, that's definitely something fractured — and the gun goes off, CRACK!!! The bullet ricochets off the concrete and somewhere into the yard of the mansion proper. Ambrose's other hand slaps onto the back of the man's neck and lifts him up as if he were an errant kitten. Rotating in place, he walks a few steps, speaking as the man squirms and makes funny sounds.

"I Suggest that you remove yourself from this place as fast as your feet can carry you, sirrah, and never return — because if I see you again, I'll be the last thing you see." There's something spine-tingling about his words. He seems serious. Very serious. His tone has that same emptiness that Lamont will occassionally use.

Sometimes Lindon's instincgts are good! Becaus standing utterly still gives Ambrose leave to do all this without any interference, and with Lindon's long limbs, flailing or misguided attempts to help are nothing to sneeze at. The librarian cringes at the gunshot, but he's aware immediately the bullet hasn't hit him. Phew!

It isn't until the robber has decided that there are easier ways to get paid and beats feet that Lindon dares to move. He slowly slips the bills back into his wallet and looks toward the source of that voice and his rescue. He's pale, shaken, and yet there's poise about him, and big dark eyes a soulful puppy could take lessons from. "Thank you…?"

And boy does that robber beat feet! With a throaty whimper, he nearly runs into a tree in his efforts to remove himself from the situation. Ambrose is certain to watch him go, his attention hawk-like until the man is well and truly vanished, before turning around.

"You're welcome," he says shortly, still discontent by the knit of his brows. "I presume the bloody bastard didn't leave a hole in you? You're still aright." His accent, while primarily British, has odd nuances here and there, stresses that aren't found in any other place than the Fertile Crescent of the Middle East. Lindon will likely pick that up right off the bat.

Lindon nods and says, "Oh, yes. I'm fine." He slips his wallet back into his pocket, and he finaly gets around to dropping his letter in the letter box. So much trouble just to inquire about an ancient scroll from Morocco he already knows is tucked away in a museum somewhere because he's seen it in his head.

"You're from Basra," Lindon says, his tone probing at the words delicately, with a certain degree of academic uncertainty. He's still getting used to treating his hunches like the facts they are, as if he's still half-afraid one of these days they'll fail him. He looks Ambrose over, as fascinated as he is cautious.

"Good," the brunet mutters under his breath, looking Lindon over once more just in case while he puts his letter away into the mailbox. It's in this moment that he dismisses the librarian from his interest and turns to walk away without any other fanfare. Hands are jammed away in his pockets. As he turns, the field jacket slip wide of his hip to reveal at least one service revolver in a rather antique holster — at least, in terms of the current day and age.

It's Lindon's next comment that stops him dead in his tracks. He turns slowly, smoothly, almost leerily, and stares silently at the other man for a long enough count that it is getting awkward as hell. Has Lindon grown two heads?

"…and how did you come to that conclusion?" he asks quietly, not making any other overt gestures where he stands; no grab at his gun(s — spoiler, there's another at his other hip, hidden by the fall of the jacket now), no shifting his weight to readiness, just that nearly-blank expression of patient expectation.

Lindon knows enough to remain cautious, his take on body language tells him that much. Even the way Ambrose doesn't go for his weapon says something about its existence. Though, to be honest, with the sheer amount of weirdness in Lindon's life, he's not afraid of being shot to death. The universe would never allow him so mundane an end.

For a moment, he stands awkward, with nowhere to put his hands. He eventually manages to settle them at his sides in more or less a neat and non-aggressive stance. "Your accent," he says. "The region and, ah, time. Which would make sense if you were perhaps raised by grandparents." Or grew up way back when, which Lindon is too polite to consciously observe.

"Raised by my grandparents, was I?" That much is amusing to Ambrose, who dares a sly little grin of amusement. It's not entirely kind, almost more mocking. "Daft things never once had a hand in my life," he informs Lindon with little love for the deceased. "Still…"

And his eyes rove over the librarian with that impersonal attention, as if he were a problem that needed to be potentially resolved. "Clever. Very few people have noted this lately. Very…few."

Lindon stammers, "Just throwing out a theory." He shifts under Ambrose's gaze, and he ends up with his arms folded across his chest in a somewhat defensive pose, though the way his shoulders curl suggest surrender. He's not a fighter. God no. The tweed runs deep in this one.

He glances around the street. His front gate is on the other side of Ambrose, and he's not much of a runner either. Besides, it would be awkward to suddenly take off. Even more awkward than having a conversation, and for all that he is made of living awkwardness, he does try to avoid it. Honest, he does. So he stays, and he says, "I'm something of an academic. That's all. I just pick up things."

"…I think not," and Ambrose shakes his head slowly, his cold blue eyes never leaving Lindon's face. "No one in this bloody city, much less this continent, has been able to name the exact location…not even its emigrated countryman." Now the first prowling step closer. His movements are smooth and precise, not an ounce of energy wasted, and still his hands remain in his pockets.

"What's your name then, sirrah?" he asks as he draws closer still at a pace not much faster than an amble.

Lindon stands up a little taller. He has height on his side, a lanky 6'2" with which to gaze down at trouble (soulfully and with a 'please don't hurt me' aura radiating off of him). "I'm very good at what I do," he says evenly. He's gone back into no-sudden-moves mode, standing quite still.

Dark eyes dart around the street again, but his senses aren't telling him something is coming to intervene this time. The 'something' is already here and stepping toward him. "My name is Lindon Mills," he says. "I doubt you've heard of me."

Really, the only place the name Lindon Mills (as opposed to the Archive) is known is among academic circles, and few at that. Among archivists on the East Coast, he might be obscurely referenced for a good find or two. Maybe.

Height apparently doesn't deter Ambrose in the least. He's certain to stop moving forwards at Lindon once he's within touching distance and absolutely close enough to warrant enticing the taller man into a retreat.

"No, not at all," and the brunet in his field jacket doesn't sound surprised by this. "Your name hasn't crossed the annals of my conversations within New York City once. And yet here you are, telling me of Basra." His expression remains distant, cold. "«But do I allow you to remain as you are or suggest that you have better things to do…?»" As he talks to himself uncaringly, his tongue slips into Persian, its linguistics both that of ancient and modern.

Lindon does shuffle back a step. That's close enough, strange man from Basra. "I specialize in antiquities," he says gently. See, it all has a logical explanation, and there's no reason to come closer or look menacing. "It doesn't mean anything. I know things. Knowing things is my job. The assortment is quite random, I assure you."

He flinches at the Persian. The urge to respond in kind is strong, but he is capable of learning self-preservation. Instead, he says, "In any case, thank you for the rescue. I really must be getting home. So much to do in the library."

Ambrose simply lifts a hand palm-out. By the confidence of motion and firmly planted boots, he means to keep Lindon precisely where he is and it won't cost him much to continue doing so by the steadiness of posture.

"Hold on, Mister Mills. You specialize in antiquities?" he asks, even as the commanding hand drifts down a few degrees, already half-forgotten. "How charming. I thought it a rare occupation, but here we both are." His lofted brows and faint (conniving) smile express mild delight in the situation. "I too have a vested interest in antiquities. You can guess as to the cultures of my interest, I'm sure, given how quickly you quoted me my childhood city." Go on, he seems to dare.

Lindon stops short. He is definitely made of surrender and don't-hurt-me vibes. It's been so long since he's been on the street talking to a stranger without Lamont around that he's lost what little skill he had in social situations. Even the normal ones are strange now, and this? This is a whole new level of what. The urge to call for Monty is strong, but alas, he can't rely on him to solve every problem. No. He will deal with this himelf!

"You're in antiquities, too? I collect old books. I archive them." He takes them, catalogs them, locks them away here in the Western world. "Most of my finds are European, but, like I said, my knowledge and opportunities to share it are quite random."

Ambrose nods in confirmation to Lindon's question and remains silent afterwards to listen. By the directional shiftings of his gaze, he's marking the microtells and shifts throughout Lindon's body and preparing his various plans dependent on the outcome of the conversation at hand.

"Books. A fine hobby. I prefer the wonders of the Tigris and Euphrates rivers, and the cultures that surround them to this day. You wouldn't happen to have anything akin to…" he pauses, inhaling as he thinks. "Sumerian texts or…Akkadian tablets, would you?"

There's that prickling in the back of Lindon's mind again, the one warning him to step lightly as he takes in Ambrose's gaze and deciphers those tells. Lindon remains still. It's his prey instinct, like the danger can't see him if he doesn't move. One day that will come in useful. One day.

"I haven't handled any Sumerian texts or Akkadian tablets," he says, "though not for lack of wanting to. My friend and I are planning a trip to Morocco at some point, and we might tour that part of the world. Who knows what I'll find?"

Ambrose smiles almost to himself as his attention slides off to one side, towards a taxi trundling by on the street. He watches it pass with a vague interest before looking back to Lindon again.

"If I may impart a warning not to take what isn't yours," he says, delicately enunciating the words until they're crisp enough to leave paper-cuts. "I have heard tell of many a malediction cast and left upon those bold enough to attempt it. I've discovered over the years that you…Americans — " He says this almost derisively. " — don't take this seriously. Then again, neither did the Germans and look where it got them." It seems almost a thought spoken aloud to himself and almost out of context given the current bent of conversation.

"You mean like curses?" Lindon asks. That one is a gimme. King Tut and all that. Of course Lindon knows better than to take that lightly. Such things do in fact exist, and there is little levity in his tone. "I'm very careful about what I choose to uncover. Some things remain buried for a good reason."

His eyes narrow as he studies Ambrose. "You've suffered," he says. "You have the look of a man burdened with knowledge best left buried." He knows the look. He sees it in the mirror all the time.

"Yes, curses. This makes you wiser than most, Mister Mills," Ambrose replies evenly, though deep in his eyes, there's a glitter of distaste and distrust. He doesn't immediately respond to the painfully-truthful observation from Lindon. He just stands there, silent as the grave, allowing the animation to drain from his expression and eyes, until they're cold as the Baltic Sea once again — full of warning.

"…you have no idea," he then murmurs quietly.

"I'm knowledgable," Lindon says quietly. "Wisdom is harder learned, I'm afraid. I don't get out in the world very much." His brow furrows with sympathy for this man thinking of wiping his mind or sending him on. Lindon can't help it. It's in his nature. "You don't rest easily," he says, "and you don't stay in one place for very long. It must get rather terribly lonely."

He purses his lips, then asks the fateful question, "Do you have somewhere to stay right now?"

Ambrose swallows silently. He then reaches up and scratches idly at the line of his jaw, never once dropping shared gazes with the other taller man.

"I do, as a matter of fact, have a place to stay, and pray that you never find it." A short sniff and then comes the first twitch of frayed composure. "How in the bloody blazes can you tell that I travel regularly? What are you, some sort of storkish soothsayer? Do you palm a bloody crystal ball in your spare time?"

Lindon's brow knits. Storkish? There's no need to make fun. "Your clothes," he says, "are generic in a way that fit in everywhere and nowhere. The way you carry yourself, like all places are alike to you." He taps his temple. "I see you adrift. But no, I don't have a crystal ball. Listen, I just know things."

Realizing he's saying too much, Lindon skirts toward the manor. It means sidestepping Ambrose, to whom he gives a wide berth. "It's just my IQ," he explains. "They put me in special schools." That much is true, even before he became the Archive, he was a clever boy.

"Just your IQ," echoes the brunet in his field jacket and jeans rather dubiously. "How bloody likely." He makes no further movements towards Lindon nor does he attempt to bar his way. If anything, he's taking a perverse and relatively immature delight in seeing the taller man get nervous.

"Well then…Mister Mills." The way Ambrose's gaze flickers about Lindon's face is definitely the tell of memorizing precisely what the man looks like. Have fun hiding in a crowd now, Archive. "You've shared with me so much wisdom today. It seems that I'll need to be more mindful of my apparel, as a start. However, I refuse to adopt an American accent." By the wrinkle of his nose, the idea is unappealing to him on multiple levels. "In good faith, what can I offer you in turn…?" As Lindon moves, he'll find that the other man never once ceases to rotate to directly face him — never once shows his sides or back.

Lindon winces. Not that he hides well in a crowd to begin with, being tall and gawkish and pale from too much time spent indoors. He relies on being a nobody to blend, and now he's a somebody. Damn it. It's so easy to make him nervous. Speaking at all can be difficult sometimes. He shifts uncomfortably and the way he casts a long look at the manor now behind him, it's obvious where he'd rather be. Mister Mills lives very well indeed.

"Oh, I just talk this way because I'm from Kansas," he says. "Honestly, you don't owe me anything. You saved me from getting robbed tonight. I could've been shot. I'd say if anything I owe you."

Another short sniff. Ambrose then says, coldly,

"I have an intense dislike of the general populace abusing drugs. They are nothing but a woe and bane upon this society and those around the world. The drugs lay proud men low and turn them into slovenly milksops who can't lift an arm, much less a weapon, when danger turns upon them or those around them. That man I have seen before many a time on these streets, attempting these robberies in order to have one more dosage. Were he not as he was, I would have continued walking by."

He gives Lindon another hard look. "You owe me nothing, Mister Mills. Call it luck."

Lindon utters a short breath of laughter. "I don't get lucky, Mister… what do I call you, anyway? You seem to have me at so many disadvantages."

He lingers. He should go back inside, but this man is the most intriguing person he's met in a long time. It's a bad thing to lock up curious Lindons forever, even if it is for their own good. "You know, in another life, I could be someone like that man, trying to drown it all out. I try not to judge too harshly."

"I have no issue judging," the brunet informs Lindon flatly. "The use of the drugs changes people and they, in turn, rarely do even when separated from what they crave. They leave the world behind them, one way or another." His is a bleak take on things.

"And you may call me Traceur," he informs Lindon, tone bleeding away some of its harsh steeling. It has the air of a nom-de-guerre, even with the impeccable (if not antiquated) accent of Parisian French.

"Clearly," Lindon says, not without humor. "Those are all compelling reasons that have kept me from going down that road. Perhaps luck smiles on me after all; I've found a compelling reason to remain a part of this world, for all its flaws and faults."

The more Lindon talks with Ambrose and nothing blows up, the more he relaxes. When he doesn't think too hard about what he's doing, his stance is easygoing. "I'll call you Traceur," he says agreeably, without even trying to pretend he's not aware it's not the man's name.

"Please do," Ambrose says in regards to calling him as such. He gives the other man a long and silent look before coming to some unspoken conclusion. Or maybe he's simply trying to make Lindon uncomfortable again.

"Would that I have the luck to find such a compelling reason in turn." His tone, gone quieter, makes mockery of the librarian's happiness. "And here I thought seeing the sunrise was enough for the people of the world."

"I've seen a fair share," Lindon says, tilting his head curiously. "They all run into one another after awhile without something to give them context and meaning. Someone saved my life, or maybe my soul, I'm not sure which. You look like you're still floundering."

As soon as he says the words, he snaps his mouth shut. Then, quieter, he says, "I'm sorry. I don't mean anything by that. The words come and sometimes I don't stop them in time."

What commiserating reactions Lindon was drawing from his new acquaintance immediately turn off like a faucet. The other man's chin tucks visibly even if he doesn't hesitate to attempt to glare a hole between the Archive's eyes. His is the first step backwards now, hands balled into the pockets of his field jacket.

"You're too observant for my druthers, Mister Mills. Mind your tongue," he nearly growls, beginning to rotate in preparation to leave.

"I know, I'm sorry," Lindon says. "I don't get out very often, and I did almost get robbed tonight." He laughs a little, more nervous than amused. "I'll just… um. I'm just going to go." He gestures toward the manor. "I've got stuff. In the library. To do."

He backs toward the manor, not quite comfortable enough to turn is back on Ambrose just yet, but yeah, he'll try to stop saying true things.

"You bloody do that," Ambrose fires back sharply. "Scarper, you milksop." He's not turning his back on the Archive either, even as he begins to walk away down the sidewalk. If he has his aforementioned druthers, he'll never cross paths with this lanky man and his all-too-accurate observations. It's been decades since someone's had him so well-defined right off the bat.

"All right, all right," Lindon says, all placation and soothing. Even as he's being insulted, he understands it's because Ambrose is unsettled. He almost says as much, but he bites his lip. Proof he can learn. "Good night, Mister Traceur. I wish you a peaceful evening." One of them has to 'blink' first, as it were, and he turns away, walking toward the gate to his very fine house in his very fine neighborhood.

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