1965-09-06 - Tentative Friendship
Summary: Another job well done.
Related: None
Theme Song: None
ambrose arlo 

It's a productive night, but a close call. Arlo warned of cops before Ambrose's thieving was complete. Skin-of-the-teeth escapes were necessary, back streets and alleys. They've both gotten away clean, though. The youth has proven himself useful yet again. Not just his senses, but his knowledge of New York has won the night.

Now, waiting out a beat cop in an alley, Arlo tilts his head, listening for the fading of footsteps. "Annnnnd he's gone." He smiles at Ambrose. "We have officially gotten away with it." He bows.

From the heavy slanted shadow of the alley, two ruddy-nightshine points of light appear and blink once. Then Ambrose steps into the wane light, his brows knitted. He has one hand wrapped about the strap of his knapsack, the line of fabric diagonally bisecting his chest, and he pads on silent boots over to beside Arlo. A dubious glance at the youth and then he listens into the relative silence of the city further.

"…very good then." A sigh and he lifts the flap of the knapsack to peer within. The artifact having been lifted is safe within its triple wrapping of foam and archival containment. He's certain to tighten the smaller strap to keep the knapsack shut. "That was far closer than anticipated. I knew I chose well when I offered you the opportunity." He gives Arlo a thin, pleased smile.

Arlo's smile broadens. "It feels good to earn my keep," he says, "but yeah, that was close. I thought I was going to have to throw myself on the fire there and distract them." He shrugs, adding, "If they arrested me, they wouldn't find anything on me. Thankfully it didn't come to that."

Willing to get arrested for the cause? No one has claimed Arlo is a bastion of sanity. "So do we drink to this? I could drink to this."

The Brit's smile grows a touch; while it's mildly toothy, it's also not entirely unfriendly.

"I don't see why not — and drinks will be on my tab, as they always are." He takes the first step out of the alleyway and looks in both directions along the sidewalk, an old habit that dies hard. "To the King Maker, I presume? Unless you have an opinion otherwise? You've earned your keep, after all. I wouldn't allow you to be arrested," he adds nonchalantly, waiting on Arlo to make a decision on matters. "You're too useful."

Arlo gestures to Ambrose as he says, "That's what I like to hear. That it's on your tab." He nods then and makes his way toward the King Maker. He tilts his head curiously. "You wouldn't let me get arrested? That's awfully nice. I'd probably only get a fine, but I wouldn't look forward to the holding cell while I wait."

After a few paces, he asks, "Have you ever been arrested? I've been threatened with it, but so far I've talked my way out of it. Plausible deniability is very important."

Ambrose snorts softly even as he keeps a comfortable pace beside the younger man, hands shoved into the pockets of his dark fatigue jacket. It'll take them a short while to reach the King Maker at this distance and he seems to accept the inevitability of small chat by his reply.

"It's a hassle getting oneself away from the authorities if one is arrested. I'd rather not waste the time breaking you out." He glances askance to Arlo. "I have been arrested once, yes. It was short-lived. The holding officer had a sudden change of heart about keeping me behind the bars. I admit irritation at having been processed…no doubt my face is within some damned manila filing folder somewhere, but…there is nothing to be done for it now save for remain out of the clutches of the buttons. Police," he clarifies.

"Buttons," Arlo says, and he grins. "I dig the way you talk. It's far out. I never heard anyone talk like you before." He shoves his hands in the pockets of his jacket. "I'm afraid of getting arrested. I'd probably be a lot more crooked if I wasn't so afraid of ending up in prison."

Arlo offers Ambrose some blessed quiet for a few long-legged steps. "So how old are you, anyway? You don't look all that old, but you act like it. But maybe that's just part of being British, I don't know."

"We'll just have to do our best to keep you from the interest of the police then," he replies quietly. The Jackal does appreciate the brief period of silence, even going so far as to sigh almost contentedly. Despite the stress, it's still technically mission accomplished. Another item to ship, another deposit to pick up, life's peachy…in its way.

Then Arlo pipes up again and he sighs. "I should not look old at all, no. I have looked this way for a very long time. It has nothing at all to do with being a citizen of the crown. I've known many a Londoner to have the look of a sun-wrinkled prune by the time they reach their sixtieth year of life. …why, are you looking for an exact number of years?"

Arlo shrugs and says, "I don't know. You're a tough nut to crack, and I know you like it that way, but I'm curious. You want to know what's sad? Aside from Michael, you're the closest thing I've got to a friend. I don't trust many people. And you've got…" He gestures at his face. "The eyes. I know something's weird about you."

Arlo is quick to add, "Not that I mind. I'm weird, too. I've seen weird stuff. Weird doesn't bother me. I'd rather know weird people than normies."

A period of silence follows as they reach a crossroads. It requires waiting for the bright-white walk person to avoid being smushed by traffic and Ambrose seems to scowl at the red STOP across the zebra stripes on tarmac. Evil, evil STOP sign. Like a car could hurt him. Stupid need to blend into humanity.

"What you are describing is a result of my curse. In my eyes. It is relatively new and…directly influenced by the number of people about. In a large city, it is terribly apparent, especially at night, rarely in the day, thank god. I realized it as such about…oh…" He sucks on a canine beneath closed lips briefly before releasing the suction with a quiet click. "Twenty years ago. I counted my eighty-fifth birthday this last April. Quite the milestone, I'm told," he says cynically. The signal turns to the white walking person and he strides across the street, in a hurry to get away from the small cluster of people also waiting to cross.

Arlo, far more squishable, regards the STOP with some indifference. It's nice not to get run over. Sucks to have to wait. "Eighty-five," he murmurs, whistling lowly. "I'm twenty." The words come lamely. Nothing's impressive about twenty when one is eighty-five and looks so young!

He picks up his pace to keep up with Ambrose. The cluter of people are noted, but it's the Jackal that has his attention. "Is that why you don't want to get close to anyone? Because they're just going to die of old age even if you don't kill them on accident?"

"…in part," the brunet allows in a flat tone. "If they do not succumb to the curse, they succumb to old age. If they do neither, I am then generally the source of a witch-hunt. It used to be easier when science did not rule — when the Old World's religions and pagan beliefs ran deep." He walks with his chin tucked now, looking ahead from beneath his brows. More lamplight flashes red in his pupils. They're not but a block now from the King Maker.

"These days, technology advances at a shocking pace and the ghosts of tombs are left for those who vaguely remember them. I would rather be forgotten, considering I am to be alone as is my curse." Literally.

"Isn't that hard, though?" Arlo says. "I'm alone most of the time, and it's torture. I'd almost go back home, except that cost is too high, and I got my pride. But it means I'm isolated, and it kills me. Isn't it better to have a little company? Even if it's not permanent?"

Arlo thinks about this, and he says, "I'd be a perfect candidate to be your friend. You don't even really like me all that much, and if you accidentally kill me, the only one who'll even notice is Michael, and I'll tell him not to come after you."

Ambrose comes to an abrupt halt at that last sentiment, his expression gone cold as he glares at the younger man.

"I am not the bumble-handed accursed that I once was, Avery. I'm not about to kill anyone unless absolutely necessary. We are no longer in a time or age that requires the spilling of blood to make a point. I have other methods to accomplish what I must." A huff and he gets to walking again, hands still shoved hard into his jacket pockets.

"Yes. Yes, it's hard. It's one long string of years all bound together with not even remembering the last time I watched the moon rise. It all blurs. All the faces blur, the names fall to ash on my tongue, and I live on. You wish to be my friend, Avery?" He stops again on a dime, turning about to almost loom over Arlo. "Be present. Be mindful of yourself and your thoughts. Be wary that at all times my curse is seeking your life. And keep that damn angel away from me."

Arlo holds up his hands and says, "I don't control the angel. I'll tell him to leave you alone and to be nice, but he answers to a greater power than I. I already told him we're cool, so he shouldn't give you any hassle. I didn't know he was gonna or I would've stopped him." Wasn't he laughing when Michael scooped Amborse up and carried him off?

He stops short when Ambrose does, and he watches him intently. "But yeah, I can be mindful. I'm always present when I'm not having my headaches." As for being wary, he glances aside and says, "And while most of the time I don't really care if I live or die, I'll be careful it's not you who has to live with it."

"You had better be careful or I'll be certain that I find another lookout after returning you to your apartment in a state of amnesia regarding everything about me. I've done it before, I won't hesitate to do it again," Ambrose informs his cohort with utmost sincerity. "And I don't care if he answers to God himself or to some lunatic who thinks himself the next Messiah. No more just…" He throws up hands briefly. "Picking me up as some toy and flying me about." Because he's not about to admit that he's moderately scared of heights.

"Hurry up," the brunet then grumbles. It takes not a minute more to reach the door to the King Maker and down the steps they go. Inwards they travel, the bouncer wisely says nothing after reading his facial set, and he goes right to his particular barstool. "Mac. The usual. Whatever the lad wants," he's sure to amend, arms now folded.

"I'll be careful," Arlo says with a patient blandness. He doesn't take it personally, that Ambrose is threatening to take him back to his apartment and empty his mind. It's like Ambrose cares! "Wait, have you done it to me?" he asks. "I don't have any missing time."

Arlo trots down the steps and into the pub. "I'll take whatever his usual is," he tells Mac, and he hops onto the barstool beside Ambrose's. "I get it, man. He didn't respect your personal space. I don't think he understands stuff like that."

"Well, make him understand it," Ambrose growls, giving Arlo a hard side-look. "I am not something to be tossed around." Mac arrives in short time with the two foaming pints of dark stout and the master-thief is quick to grab up his glass. Down two large throat-fuls of beer go before he seems to slouch in his barstool with its short backing.

"I haven't taken any of your memory away from you, no. I've had no reason. You've discovered nothing about me that would compromise my ability to continue on in this world." Another huge swallow of stout. "You might have an inkling of an idea if I ever do. I've heard tell it's a bit like walking into a room and wondering what precisely you meant to do." He smiles and laughs to himself, finding some dark humor in the idea.

Arlo nods to Mac when the stout is brought. He takes a drink, then tells Ambrose, "I'll try, but he's one of the creative forces of the universe, and I'm just a mutie from the Upper West Side." His accent has become a lot lower brow than that, but one does what one must to blend.

"Could you take memories I don't want?" Arlo asks. "Like if I said I don't want to remember my family, could you just erase them? My childhood? All of it? I'm not saying I want you to, but if you wanted to, could you?"

"No, I could not remove the memories. That is not within my abilities that I have discovered. I can merely Suggest that you remember something otherwise…perhaps layer it overtop. I have not ever done this for an instance spanning years of time. A week, many a time. A month or six, less yet. Besides…no. I would not do that even if you asked politely, Avery." Ambrose glances over at his comrade, jaw set. "You think your family a blemish in your life. No. Even if you dislike them, they are still family. I would not take that from you."

Arlo shakes his head and says, "No, you got it backward. I'm the blight on them. I had a great childhood, by the way. We had a big apartment, my dad was very successful, and my mom kept a very nice home. My brother was my best friend. That's why I don't want to remember it anymore. It's gone, and thinking about it is just…" He shakes his head. "It's wasted emotion."

He studies his beer, then he takes a few long swallows. When he comes up for air, he says, "It was just a thought. If I didn't have that to compare my life to, it wouldn't be so bad."

"So why are you wasting your emotional energy dwelling on it? Can they not hold a place in your life but off to one side, not to be touched upon unless necessary? Why continue to draw the parallels?" Ambrose asks, rotating in his stool all the better to face his lookout. He holds the sweating pint glass in one hand while keeping the other half-tucked across his body. His hand rests possessively atop the knapsack. None of the other patrons pay terribly close attention to them…like as not because they know better than to do otherwise. Mac works at rubbing up a splat of spilled liquor with his bar towel before disappearing briefly into the back kitchen for something. "Let them collect dust if they do not wish you present," and he wrinkles his nose. Tsk.

Arlo shrugs. "If it were that easy, no one would have hangups. I mean I don't think about it all the time, but when I'm alone a lot, or I see happy families, or something else reminds me. Or things get rough and I think about how it could've been if I could've just been normal."

He drinks, keeping up quite well despite his thinner stature. "Saw my brother the other day," he says. "He's studying to be a rabbi. He said I could come home, but I'd have to lie about the powers and never use them again. I'd marry a girl my mom picks, and we'd only adopt, so the gene doesn't spread. I told him to tell them to go to hell. But, you know, you get to thinking."

"He sounds like a proper douchebag," opines the brunet before throwing back the rest of his stout. He thumps the pint glass on the bar and burps quietly. A hand then raised signals Mac for another pint for himself if not for Arlo as well. "Or is it douche-canoe…? I rather like the sound of the second insult, personally. Something about the way the 'oo' sound carries through." It's probably even funnier with the crisp, rounded British accent with touches of the Fertile Crescent.

"Don't dwell, Avery. It's a waste of time. Live in the now, while you're still alive. Indulge in your…hobbies and keep company with the damned angel. Run with me, as you like. Ah, yes, your dues." He reaches back for his wallet in his hind-pocket and pauses. "Or would you rather receive them later, closer to your abode? I would hate to hear that you were pick-pocketed of your hard-earned paycheck on your way home this evening." Lies. He'd chuckle at the irony.

Arlo grins, then laughs, shoulders shaking. "Yeah, he is." Just. The way Ambrose says things! Arlo's thoroughly tickled. He can't be maudlin when Mr. Proper says douche-canoe. "He means well, but he doesn't get it." His brother has never had to wonder where his next meal is coming from.

"That would be hilarious," Arlo says with his typical near-indifferent tone of voice, though there's a spark of humor in his eyes. "I won't get it pinched." He holds out his hand to receive the money, but he doesn't try to take it from Ambrose. Look at him respecting the cursed one's sense of boundaries. "I was thinking, maybe now that I've got some money coming in, I could work on getting my GED. It's a start."

Arlo is handed a fold of bills, numbering somewhere between two- and five-hundred dollars, in fifties. Careful not to touch the young man as well, Ambrose returns his billfold to his back pocket and slouches once more in his seat. With second pint in-hand, some of the prickly edges seem to be rounding out. Blame the alcohol.

"It is indeed a start," he agrees. "An education gets one nearly everywhere. Never forget, however, the lessons learned outside of the desk and its rote memorization of facts — never forget application as well as assimilation. It's all well and good to know the square root of three-hundred sixty-two, but that does you no good in the middle of the desert in the night when you've no idea how to start a fire much less find shelter."

Arlo says wryly, "You don't have to worry I'm going to lose my street smarts just because I get a piece of paper. But the desert?" He shakes his head. "I've never even been camping. I carry a zippo, though, so I can always make a fire."

He glances down at the bills in his hand and his eyes widen. He counts, then he counts again. Then he stuffs the bills in his jacket pocket and says, "Do you have any idea how much money that is?" He keeps his voice down. People might hear of the money and want it for themselves! "I'd ask where you get this kind of scratch, but I'm pretty sure I don't want to know."

Ambrose's lips slowly rise into a slow, cold smile. "You don't want to know," he echoes lightly, making the words brittle as only a Brit can. "The less you know, the better. My benefactor pay what I ask of them. Am I aware of the amount? Yes and no." His shrug sloshes his pint about, but not enough to spill. "Inflation is a curious but unavoidable thing, I've learned, but I've need for only so much of what I earn. I am a simple man, when it comes down to what matters, with simple needs. If you can make better use of it, then do. Besides…consider yourself paid off in turn for your cooperation in my endeavors as well as to ensure your own comfort." Just like the good old days of Shanghai, where money was enough to earn loyalty.

"I won't have to worry about rent for the rest of the year," Arlo says. "I could move if I wanted. I could afford some place uptown. I won't move, but I could. I could eat out somewhere nice every day for a month." He won't, though. He's been squirreling all that money. Too many lean times to get comfy with it just yet.

Arlo takes up his pint and raises it to Ambrose. "To our beautiful partnership, and my dear old sugar daddy." He drinks, finishing off the pint, and he sets down the glass. "In fact, let me get this next round."

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