1965-09-30 - Scolding Crows
Summary: Lindon has lunch outside, where he has a conversation with Ambrose.
Related: None
Theme Song: None
ambrose lindon 

Lindon is enjoying another day outside the library for his lunch. Sure, the weather is getting cold, but he has his jacket on, and his coat on over that. Still able to afford fine food at the best eateries, and still sitting on a bench with his brown bag. It's a turkey sandwich today, with greens and a slice of red onion, a little tomato. Banana on the side, and he's got his thermos of tea. He's predictable, like a clock. Or a geyser.

There are crows perched around him as he eats. They know a sucker who's good for a few crumbs. Sure enough, he tosses his crusts to the birds. He likes the crusts, but they always look so hungry, poor things.

And someone's watching him. The angel, perhaps, absolutely, from on high, but this one's no angel. From the shadows of another nearby tree still full with leaves, Ambrose watches the librarian almost as a predator would potential prey. After all, he's got to learn the nuances of the man's behavior as to better exploit them in his upcoming attempt to…relieve the library of the burden of the ancient scroll. After all, his attempt will also test their current security measures and he's the magnanimous one, making certain that any flaws are brutally noted.

Lindon might feel the sensation of those cold eyes on him, after a few minutes of complete silence.

Lindon murmurs to the birds as he feeds them, "There you go. No, Gus, you have to share with Egon." Gus does not share with Egon, and Lindon sighs as Gus makes off with his take and Egon caws loudly. "All right, here you are." He tears off another bit of crust to toss at Egon, who gobbles it up. Another pair of crows descend from a tree branch and caw at Lindon. "Who are you? Bentfeather? You're late." Not too late to get a crust, though. "And Penelope." The fourth crow gets some. She's willing to hop all the way up to Lindon's hand. She knows he's too milktoast to be a threat.

Finally, Lindon looks up and around. "Kent, is that you?" he whispers. Just in case Lamont is flanking him on his lunches now, too.

Too far away to hear precisely what Lindon is remarking to his avian companions, Ambrose simply continues to observe him. His eyes narrow as he sees his target react to his attention and he sighs, breaking away from his lean on the tree. He meanders over step by idle step, hands in the pockets of his dark jacket; bundled too against the cold, this one, and never a fan of it.

"You've named them then?" he asks, guessing that what behavior's been enacted and the friendliness of the birds.

Lindon looks over and smiles amiably as the birds sense the Bane in the newcomer and hop or fly away with their crumbs in beak. Lindon's smile is somewhat marred by their passing. His little friends, who show up faithfully at lunch time every Monday through Friday. They don't go too far. There's still a lot of sandwich left in Lindon's hand.

"Oh, yes," Lindon says, somewhat awkwardly. "I suppose it must seem ridiculous. I'm partial to birds, a fact I'm sure earns me the contempt of my cats."

He's not bothered at all to see the crows respond. Nature knows the siren song of death well enough, even when humankind has harnessed it in a plague of words sure to linger until the world's end. Ambrose stops at the far end of the bench, granting Lindon a modicum of space. Must not spook the prey.

"Not at all. We tend to name things we get attached to, after all. What have you named them then?" Maybe he'll pick up more facets of the librarian's personality through the revelations.

Lindon nods to two of the birds who have flown to a nearby branch. "That's Gus and Bentfeather. Bentfeather is pretty obvious." He has a bent feather on his tail that no preening has managed to straighten. "Gus is named after a parakeet my father had when I was a child." He nods then to the other two. "That's Egon, because that sounds like a proper corvid name, and that's Penelope. She's the only one who will eat out of my hand. Brave girl." Penelope fixes Ambrose with a gimlet eye.

Lindon does notice the crows being a little more standoffish than usual, and he makes a mental note. He even sits up perhaps a little straighter. He's a smart man, this one. Smart enough not to let on too much, just what he sees. "How is the day finding you, Mr. Traceur?"

Ambrose puts forth a polite smile, the same he might have worn in foreign court those many decades back when he wanted answers with minimal effort.

"It finds me well enough. I found myself in the neighborhood and wanted to inquire as to whether or not you'd made further progress on the scroll. You'll remember my interest in it, I'm sure," he adds even as a glint enters his cerulean-blue eyes.

Lindon perks up and says, "Yes, the scroll! Of course. Gosh, we've uncovered so much. It's a shipping order for a building in old Babylon to be torn down and its bricks shipped to construct a mosque in what's now Basra. Apparently the old building was some kind of old temple that had fallen into disuse. The bricks were so fine, though, they were worth salvaging."

He's so proud of his little find. This ancient invoice. "I can only imagine — and I'm no expert here — that when the order was filled, the recipient rolled up the scroll and tossed it into the crevice where they found it. The environment preserved it nearly perfectly until it was uncovered by whoever discovered it."

"I wouldn't doubt that your guess may more than likely be correct. A good many artifacts are found in pristine condition due to such circumstances." Ambrose nods in agreement, his eyes wandering over to the crows and considering them idly. "They were clever though, weren't they? The people of Basra…? Utilizing that which became potentially useless with time and remaking the city around themselves. It has always seemed such a feat to me…" His voice goes as distant as his eyes, thousands of miles away and an ocean yet.

"Oh, quite," Lindon says, "and symbolically, the dismantling of the old pagan ways, rebuilding them into Islam's image, it sent a message as well. Out with the old, in with the new. It was the rebirth of the entire region." He smiles at Ambrose. It's so rare he can have conversations like these outside of fireside talks with Kent in the evening.

"I recognize the Basra in your accent," he says. "Isn't it funny, how you might have walked past this same mosque, never knowing its history as a pagan temple in Babylon?"

Ambrose comes back to the present in time to hear the comment in regards to his accent. His smile is thin, amused in an aloof way.

"Yes, I remember your proposedly clever mind coming to that conclusion. I am still impressed at your linguistic aptitude, Mister Mills. I might have done that very thing, traveled by the place without putting a second thought as to its venerable history." Yes, at one point, he did that very thing — but the next visit, it was another matter entirely.

Lindon bows his head in modesty. "I've got an ear for languages," he says quietly. That's one way of putting it. "I'm sorry if it seemed intrusive." He pauses, then asks, "Do you get back there very often? I've never been, but my housemate and I were thinking of traveling soon. Probably after the scroll project is over, though."

He glances down at his sandwich, then takes a bite. Bentfeather caws. No fair eating when they don't dare come any closer! Lindon mumbles a quiet 'sorry' as he chews.

In the brief silence that follows Lindon's question, the Jackal glances up at the sound of a nearby bell. It's simply a student letting another older woman know that he's zipping by on his bike and Ambrose's eyes follow him out of idle curiosity until he disappears.

"Not as often as I should," he admits, glancing back to the librarian and his cadre of crows. "It is a singular place. If you've never been, you're in for a surprise. I will warn you to be careful, however, considering your foreign status. It is easy to break trust and find trouble there."

"Of course," Lindon says. "It's important to respect the customs of the locals. I intend to be quite courteous. Of course we won't be drinking alcohol while we're there, and I'm aware of the food restrictions in the region. I'll be doing more research before we go. I can't wait to see the libraries and museums there."

He looks to his crows, who continue to glower at their lot. "They're not usually this shy," he says.

Ambrose nods in approval at the librarian's understanding of the culture of the Fertile Crescent. His eyes wander to the corvids lingering and glaring daggers at him. Another small, thin smile curves his lips.

"I do wonder what they think from time to time. They're not unintelligent, not at all. I hear they even hold grudges and I wouldn't be surprised at all to find that to be true."

"Oh yes," Lindon says. "They remember when someone has done them wrong, and they remember kindnesses. These ones know I'll share my crusts. Sometimes I bring crackers from home just to give them a little extra. I wonder where Samwise is today. Sometimes he has important crow business elsewhere." He looks to Ambrose. "If you start feeding them, they'll stop being so afraid, maybe."

A little snort at 'Samwise' the crow. Important crow business indeed, if the scavenger isn't here to mug crusts from the sweet librarian. "I have no interest in charming away your friends, Mister Mills. I doubt that my feeding them would endear them to me. Were they higher up the relative food chain, however, I might indulge myself in the fancy of friendship." He eyebrows at Bentfeather in particular. "Come closer and say that, sirrah," he mutters at the low complaining caw from the bird.

Bentfeather mutters a little caw and preens his wing. Some birds have to get the last word. Lindon clucks his tongue and says, "They're good company. I worry what they'll do when I'm away traveling. Maybe I should reconsider. I'd hate to break up their routine."

That would be a conversation to have with Kent: we can't travel, the birds will miss us. "Did you still want an appointment to see the scroll, Mr. Traceur?" Lindon asks. "We won't have it for too much longer."

"They will be fine scrounging for scraps, I'm sure," the Jackal comments, keeping his laughter carefully supressed. He glances from the crows to Lindon again, meeting the man's dark eyes. "Oh — yes, very much so. I welcome any chance to enjoy it without museum-grade glass between me and it. Have you come to a point in your decipherings in which I can assume to attend upon you and the scroll?" Archaic nuances of grammar, ahoy — way to blow your modern cover, Ambrose.

"Just give my number a call and the secretary will set something up," Lindon says. "I'll let her know I'm expecting it. Morning or afternoon, whichever works best for you." The nuances are noted, but Lindon has been quietly gathering subtle cues since that night he met Ambrose. Little things pointing to the unusual. Still, the unusual are people, too, and it's nothing that smacks of Hargrove or his ilk. Lindon simply can't be taxed with being terrified of everything all the time.

"I'm near the end of it," Lindon says, "so it's all about as unrolled as it's going to get. Of course we move it as little as possible, to better preserve the paper. It's in an environmentally controlled room, and there are some precautions to take like cloth gloves, and masks so as not to breathe particulates on it."

"Yes, archival-quality gloves and masks, I agree. I would hate to damage such a rarity. So few of them exist in the world anymore, it would be an abject shame were it to come to harm." Ambrose then seems to smile to himself very briefly before becoming solemn once more. "Morning may be best, the earlier the better, I think. I don't want to draw unnecessary attention to my presence, since you are doing me a great favor and going against commons sense as such." No unnecessary attention, yes, please. He doesn't need the fuss as he's scarpering off with the scroll, after all.

"That's very courteous of you, Mr. Traceur," Lindon says. "I prefer morning, myself, because that's when everyone is fresh and ready for the day. The room is slightly cooler, too. Not too cool, of course, but it's nice." Lindon smiles, and when he smiles like that, all open-faced and content, he just looks so… pure, in his way. Guileless. He's a happy librarian with a subject he's quite fond of. What could possibly come ruin such good fortune?

Good fortune like that can only be ruined by purely selfish interest, honed and hardened over decades by reclusive habits, skewed perception, and a drive to remain alive over all else.

"A morning soon then. I shall call the number on your card then, Mister Mills. I'm sincerely looking forwards to this opportunity you've granted me." It's hard not to smile toothily at the naive librarian, but he manages it. Good god, it's like…taking candy from a child — not that Ambrose has ever done this, but the allusion is comparable. "I'll arrive bundled against what chill I might encounter."

"Yes, the days are growing colder," Lindon says, "I wouldn't expect anything less. Strange, isn't it, how quickly summer leaves us? I remember complaining about the heat and it seems like yesterday. Now I'm dreading that first step out of bed in the morning. It's so chilly."

Finally Penelope comes fluttering down. She won't come close enough to eat out of Lindon's hand, but she's brave enough to hop closer. Lindon tosses her some crust, and as she gathers it up, Bentfeather caws again, registering his complaint.

"Too cold," the Jackal grumbles, even drawing his shoulders up about his ears briefly and stuffing his hands deeper into pockets. He watches Penelope take up the offering of crust and gives Bentfeather a cold smirk. "Then go closer, daft bird, he won't eat you." But the Bane will, given a chance. The miasm of curse lingers beneath Ambrose's skin even now, lazily nibbling at the grass around his feet and yet not at Lindon himself, given the deliberate distance between them.

Bentfeather caws again. This is unfair, he declares. Lindon, because he is just so like this, gets up and comes closer, putting his sandwich crusts at the base of the tree. Then he retreats to his bench. "I don't know why they're so nervous today," he says. Bentfeather and the others come down to peck at the last of the sandwich crusts. "Are you feeling well? Sometimes they can sense tension, I think."

Ambrose watches the birds finally get their access to the crusts with a disconnected sense of interest. He then watches Lindon return to his spot and makes very certain to remain at his current placement, at least ten feet from the man. "It's been many years since I've caught a cold. No broken bones, no lacerated organs…never better," he comments in a tone that could imply a distinct detachment from reality around him.

Lindon looks to the birds, as though they might have an excuse for their aloof behavior. They've got their crusts and, sensing this is all they're getting from the librarian today, they take wing. Lindon shakes his head. "Who knows with corvids? I try to make friends with them wherever I go. The ones near my house know me by my offerings. I feel that it can never hurt to have friends in high places. It's too bad I can't communicate with them. They might have some interesting things to say."

"I get the distinct suspicion that they might tattle…or at least be fond of extortion, would they be able to talk. Loyal, yes, until you forgot to feed them or offer them their daily ration. Organized in a flock, they could act as an excellent alarm system, what with their pentient to hold their grudges." Ambrose nods thoughtfully to himself. "Who knows? One day you might come across one with a loose tongue and then you'll be rather shocked, I suppose."

"Oh yes, they're little extortionists," Lindon says fondly. "If it helps frame for things for you, I'm also quite fond of cats. I have no illusions. But I would like to think I'd be a regular enough provider to gain some respite." He watches the skies for his feathered friends. "I've always had a soft spot for the rascal, I'm afraid. They're incorrigible, but they've got a certain charm."

Ambrose sighs, his expression gone discontent and outwardly for once instead of being masked away. "Would that I could have…pets," he finishes vaguely. "They do have their charms, but no cats for me. Dogs, perhaps, but those of the sands. Nothing small enough to be punted as a football. No poodles either, puh." Even as he says that, the sound of shrill barking hails from the nearby sidewalk. The small white dog in question, all fur and basically a walking mop, gives the Jackal what-for as its owner strains to walk it along further. He gives it a flat look. Ugh.

Lindon glances to the dog with some dismay. "Dogs have never really taken to me," he says. "They seem nice enough, but they're… loud." Yes, yapper dog, he's looking at you. "Goodness. I'll take my felines. To each his own." His lunch hour drawing to a close, Lindon bunches up his brown paper bag and says, "Well, I suppose I should head back inside and see how much more progress I can make today. I of course look forward to your call, Mr. Traceur."

"Of course, Mister Mills." The brunet is mindful to begin his retreat even before Lindon rises to his feet, each step careful in its backwards motions, rolling booted feet in that odd air of caution he seems to wear like a cloak. "I shall endeavor to get it scheduled post-haste. Something to look forwards to indeed." He tries for a charming smile, but can't quite smooth out its pleased edges.

Lindon would offer his hand for Ambrose to shake, but he's moved off so swiftly he doesn't really get the chance. Instead, he tosses his bag in the bin, gathers his tea thermos, and says, "Excellent. I look forward to seeing you again soon." He smiles at Ambrose amiably, if someone apologetic. Apologetic, because he has to pick up his pace to get back to the library in time. "Good day, Mr. Traceur," he says, and off he goes.

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