2007-08-02: Es Mi Arrepentimiento


McAlister_icon.gif Ramon_icon.gif


As promised, Ramon goes to check on Ali on Cass' behalf. But Cass never told him just what Ali's power was…

Date It Happened:

August 2, 2007

Es Mi Arrepentimiento

The Den of Iniquity

Saturday afternoon. The two TVs at the bar are /going/ - apparently, the Yankees are playing the Padres - and there are /fans/, despite this not being a sports bar, in particular. The Yankees are playing - /every/ bar is a sports bar. Even in Brooklyn.

So there are a dozen blue-collar guys crowding both ends of the bar, shouting and pounding backs when something goes right, and cussing and yelling at umps when it doesn't. Makes for a lively atmosphere, at least.

Luckily, the bartender's got a little breathing space. Ali's out with a rag, cleaning off tables, while another server's on the other side of the room doing the same thing; apparently, it'd been much /more/ lively just a few minutes back. The earstwhile DJ looks more than a bit worn out, but doesn't seem to notice things like the faint circles under her eyes or the occasional yawn.. she's busy. Workin'.

Interestingly, the Den has a new window, differentiated from the old ones by the complete lack of wear and tear, just to the left of the door. One of the usual tables there is missing entirely, the chairs that used to be around it pushed up against the wall.
So a table got thrown through that window, is Ramon's very first thought.

This is where he usually comes for a beer, and some pool, but today he's got a different purpose. He looks around, scowling for a second. He's forgone his suit: he's here in a black tee-shirt and jeans like he might have worn any day of the week—but it's not like he's fooling anyone. Having won what is equivalent to the Probability Lottery in his new job, he doesn't fit in with the blue collar crowd anymore.

"I need a Corona with lime," is the first thing he growls at the girl, as he settles down at the bar. And then he focuses on 'listening'…just to her. The last thing he wants to do is get the thoughts of every drunk, horny guy in here.

Ali looks up, startled - «beer, yeah - beer - » couple that with a moment of minor irritation at his tone and presumption, but.. hey. Nothing any person in this industry hasn't heard a dozen times over.

She tosses aside her rag. "Sure. Just one sec, huh?" And .. she actually takes a moment to go wash her hands in the small sink to the side just for that purpose. "Who are you rootin' for? Careful - the guys get antsy when people go against the home team." She.. could care less herself, but - she's making an attempt to be friendly.

Ramon squints over at the screen and then smirks. "I'm a soccer fan. I'm not really into baseball. How about you?" God. He's got to attempt to be charming. Wasn't that what Lachlan or Jack were going to be here for? To make nice while he just did his thing? Grrr.

Ali tosses a warm grin back over her shoulder - the sense of relief is palpable. This one's not going to make it a bad day, seemslike. And.. she heads over to the beer cooler, selecting a Corona, heading back as she offers, "Never got the hang of sports. I'm more the terminal hipster geek. Sit and listen to the radio, read books, that kind of thing. Boring, but, hey. The only good thing about baseball is the pants." A wink comes with that, as she churchkeys the bottle open. "Lime, didja say?"

All business- but she's not unfriendly there - in 'listening in', the oddest thing would be.. well. It's like a pre-echo. Everything she says is considered, every word carefully picked. Practiced twice before she spits it out. She's /really/ paying attention to the words she uses; it's perhaps a testament to a quick mind that she's keeping up a normal conversation while doing it.

… no. No fear. Ali's world is a pretty cool place - and it shows in how little the eyepatch /bothers/ her, beyond the curiosity someone would probably expect.

She sets about quartering a lime, happily - "You should.." <try out a smile>, goes the thought - quickly squelched. Nothing is quickly forthcoming to replace that last.. "Yeah. Nothin'. nevermind." She frowns slightly, at herself - "Glass? You strike me as a 'bottle' kind of guy, but I gotta ask."

"Bottle," Ramon agrees. "Only way to drink it. Lime through the bottle, drink the beer." He's so awkward when he barely knows a person. "My daughter's about your age," he offers up at last. "She likes books too." Passively listening, he reminds himself, is not going to do a thing if he doesn't start asking some questions. "I think we got a friend in common actually. Know Cass?"

Ali sets the bottle, with a bit of a flourish, lime wedged in the top as it should be, in front of the fellow. "Yeah." The /word/ is friendly enough, but it comes with a sudden wariness. A protective wariness, in fact.

SOMETHING good happened in the game - the guys watching erupt into cheers.

The woman pays them no mind, "She's a pretty cool chick - helped me out finding a couple of books." <Okay, Ali - scary guy with eyepatch. Check. Never met him before. Check. Asking about Cass…> A sudden determination crops up, in fact. "How do you know her?"

"She's one of my very dear friends," Ramon says. He holds out his hand. "Ramon Gomez. She has helped me through some tight spots." He relaxes just a notch, himself. And he even tries out a smile. The extent to which this actually makes him any more charismatic is just…anyone's guess.

"Yeah. Mr. Gomez - pleasure." She shakes his hand, firmly - "Sorry I don't know her any better." Ali's got a sunny smile, even a friendly lean forward on the bar, going, there - but her mind's going a mile a minute… almost literally. Brighter than she looks, this one.

<He one of /those/ guys? Probably. So play it cool, Ali. You can play it cool.> She looks over him curiously. "what happened?" She taps her cheek. "Gives you sort of a pirate look." Preocupied, the mere notion that might be even remotely a touchy subject doesn't even occur to her.

"Industrial accident," Ramon says. He keeps his response under tight control. "Piece of equipment overheated, blew up. Took a bit of it in the eye." He smirks. He can't help it. "Yes, the pirate comparison has been made before. I was promptly given a parrot named Pauly Shore, and this." He digs it out of his pocket. It is this eyepatch with a skull and crossbones on it. Completely deadpan, he adds, "Argh."

Okay. That, she can't help laughing at - and, oddly enough? She can't help warming to him /just/ a bit (pirate jokes can't be all bad!) .. but she fights it. "You know the parrot's gonna get passed to your .. daughter, you said? It'll outlive her, too." She winks. "Amazonian birds- the gift that just /gives for generations/. And tears your fingers up, too." She sits up, moving to deliver a couple more beers to the guys on the left, raising her voice to keep up with the conversation.

"Sorry about the eye, though - you work a plant or something? That's a serious workman's comp thing."

"I got a settlement and a huge promotion after it was all said and done," Ramon says carefully. Great. If she checks into it, it's all over the news that he was an /IT Guy/. Maybe she'll assume…yeah. "I worked IT at a bunch of places, so it wasn't a plant I visited every day or anything. I had this van and we were the outsourced IT guys. As for the bird, I'm not sure I can let her get near my daughter." He clears his throat. "Apparently the guy who gave it to me has enough of a crush on my daughter to have taught it to say that his rival for her affections was staring at her…regions."

"… hell of a way to get a promotion. Eww." Ali drifts back. "And you know, from a certain point of view? That's a serious compliment. Having a bird calling out admirerers. Even Regional admirerers." She snickers… (her mind's still working. Fast. Only half of it's on the conversation - but the biggest worry, the biggest fear, is that this guy's gonna hurt Cass. It reverberates, rolls back and forth. Something in her's /protective/.. and man, she's fighting it. There's a strong temptation to /do something/.. and then, wierdest thing? A sense of 'plastic cages'.)

She focuses on him, though. "Ali. Alyssa McAlister - but. Ali. Sorry. I shoulda said earlier."

Good. Protective is good. He can now recommend the girl fully. But to put her mind at ease directly would be to reveal his own hand. "It's alright, senorita pequena," he rasps. "If I were you, looking at me," he does grin now, a little like a Doberman pincher who has decided he's not going to attack, "I wouldn't exactly be eager to give out my name. But I'm—" not harmless. That's a flat out lie. "Catholic," is what he settles, lamely, on. He only likes it when enemies are afraid of him. Little girls are a different story.

"Yeah? I used to be." She flashes a wry grin. "Catholic school cured me. Nuns are really neat people who shouldn't be allowed near anything remotely resembling a ruler. Or soap." She's amused, yeah - but the memories include phantom knuckle pain and imposing women in black habits. Nuns do leave an impression, apparently.

"Hey, it's just a name. We traded 'em. Comes with being polite." She leans again on the counter - and frowns, slightly. "Wait. You … said you knew Cass knew me." An eyebrow raises. "You're checking up on her.. or me?" It's a thought that rolls out /before/ she can edit it. Or stop it. Brain mainlining to mouth.

"…" He gives McAlister a look of grudging respect, nodding. She's smart. She doesn't look it, but she's quick. He reminds himself, yet again, that he should never do anything involving social skills. "You," he says at last. "I owe her big time and more than that I care for her as a brother. I apologize if that offends you," he rumbles, grimacing.

Ever felt fear? It's such a foreign thing to her it rolls through her like a shockwave; she has very few of her own defenses against it, and it's something that really just short circuits her for a moment. Her slow backing off is unconscious - her glance at the backroom door a function of the mind kicking into survival mode and noting exits. This one, apparently, is more 'flight' than 'fight'.

And… something about it is utterly irrational. Something deeper, though… she apparently trusted Cass. And now she's obviously doing a lot of thinking about those plastic cells. "Yeah. It doesn't. Uh." She lamely makes an excuse. "I.. gotta hit the back room. You know, work is never done. Not offended, nope. She's a really great person - " Maybe, screams that fear - or maybe you just screwed up /big/ time.

"She did not ask me to check up on you," Ramon says evenly. "I just watch out for her. There's a lot to be worried for out there. As you obviously feel." He stands up and takes a few steps back himself, taking out money. This is what he gets for being fundamentally honest. Or maybe just radiating scary. He grimaces. Crap.

… give the girl some credit, at least. "Come…" A /long/ pause, as that internal editor goes to work. "You.. don't have to go."

If there's a snake, better you know it, goes the thought - if there's a friend here, better you know /that/, too. But don't let it get stupid. You're better than this.

"If you'd like, I could use a hand with a box or two anyway." She waves a hand to the back room door - and. Call it brave. Call it insanity - but there's determination in there.

Oh good. Physical labor. Manly things. Ramon nods and heads after her—careful to keep his distance from her. It never even /occurs to him/ that /she/ might try to do something to him. Knock him over the head or something in her fear. He's a Big Guy. He Fears Nothing. Rawr.

The woman leads the way to the back, waving the server over, "Grab the bar, hon? Back in a sec."

The fear is reigned in by pure practicality. And - a certain, unexplained temptation; perhaps it's not the physical that she threatens with. Of course it's not, in fact. Her thoughts turn to /making/ him tell her the truth - and she /wrestles/ with them. Fighting them back - she has a deep aversion to it, even now.

Besides. If she turns up dead, at least everybody knows. A morbid thought, indeed. One that couples with her holding the door open to let him pass by, closely. "So how do ya know her?"

Her thoughts turn to … Ramon stops dead in his tracks. And then he forces himself to move. He picks up one of the boxes. "I asked her to research something for me," he says. "She is also one of my daughter's good friends." Pause. Beat. Long breath. "Where do I put this?"

"not that one - " Preediting still - "Want to grab the Patron box, over there?" Ali heads for the back - "I need to get that one emptied - the shelf by the door - and then i gotta throw out a bunch of the empties." … and she's doing busy work. Her thoughts show that much.

"Who's your daughter? If I can ask." The woman is fishing, yes. Hoping, in fact.

Mirrors mirrors everywhere, showing reflections of them both, over and over again. Distorting reflections at times, as they crisscross. And then they pass into a new room and they are merely windows…like in all those police shows. Ramon takes direction well, and he hefts the box without complaint or comment, bringing it over to start emptying. "Elena Gomez."

"Elena - " It draws an absolute blank - no connection whatsoever. "Yeah? Sorry - bet she's a good kid."

Ali comes back in, collecting a few of the empties that have piled up… and she asks, bluntly. "Do you work for them?" In her mind, things are simple. Call it out - if something bad happens, here, nobody else gets hurt. Fair enough.

"One of the ones with the agents and stuff. The ones that grab people." Unspoken is the, 'If you're here to grab me - let's cut to it, shall we?'

"No," Ramon rasps. "I do not work for them. I wanted to make sure /you/ don't work for them. Or any of the other nasties out there. I guess we've cleared that up." A pause, a beat. He decides there's no harm in cutting to the chase either. "Cass /is/ the proud owner of a secret lab, but hers is voluntary. She offers--/offers/--her help to people who want to control their powers, with respect and without fear. She and my daughter. My daughter was very good at coming up with various non-invasive exercises. No needles, no little cells, and at least as far as I've been helped, not even so much as a lab, though I know there is a hospital currently nursing someone who was kidnapped and badly damaged back to health in safety and security. /I/ insisted that anyone she helped got a thorough vetting. I don't want her getting hurt trying to do good."

Ali leans against the wall, there, across the room. Visibly forcing herself to relax - "… so I guess I gotta trust you." That comes only after a moment of examining that statement, turning it over in her head, poking at it for holes.. and with a sudden and frank need to have it be true. One way or another.

"I.. can use her help." A flash of a faint smile. "You say 'was'.. she okay? Your daughter."

"Yes…I meant was in the context of her not really doing it anymore, not…" The blood sort of drains from his face. God. He can't even slip up like that again. It might bring down some sort of curse. He takes a deep breath, reminding himself that it's just words, and a bad use of the language at that. "She'd sit me down at the kitchen table and make me work through it."

Ali nods, and just watches him - her own thoughts are in turmoil, and she seems to pick and choose out of them at random. "What.. would you have done if I'd been … you know. Dangerous. Or something." … and there's a faint echo of, ''cause, you /are/ dangerous and..'… quickly squelched.
"Walked out, told Cass to avoid revealing her secret and to keep her distance." Ramon says evenly. He gets back to the busy work, needing some of his own all of a sudden. But he can't say certain things.

He can't, for example, say, "I'm not a killer."

But he can say, "It's just a safety thing. Not an antagonistic thing."

McAlister nods, then. "I won't hurt her, if I can help it." She's quick to say that, eager to, it seems, hang on to this particular connection, this particular hope. "I know I almost killed my roomie. I know." .. brain. Currently shorted to mouth. "But.. I won't again. Not them. If it looks like I will, I'll run. I promise. You gotta.." And she /clamps down hard/ on that. Stops the thought right there. Trails off, biting her lip.

And she.. just turns to carry her boxes to the back door. It's open, and in easy conversational distance. But she's got to be busy, herself.

"What is it you /do/, exactly?" Ramon can't help it. He'd been trying very hard not to ask the question. He also quits listening at last, feeling guilty, dropping the telepathic connection. And, more gently, "And what is it I've got to do? Believe you? I believe you. You're not the first person with an ability to face nearly killing someone with it by mistake."

Ali shrugs, slightly - in for a penny, perhaps. "… people do what I tell 'em. If I'm not careful." She comes back for more boxes. "I had no idea, until a couple of people pointed it out. Funny how it all fell together." Slowly, she gathers a several more. "Cass .. offered to help me figure out how to make it /not/ work."

Ramon is suddenly very, very still. He stops in the act of picking up another box. Bent to the floor, with the box in his hands, unmoving. It's like he's stopped breathing for a moment. Everything about him is still, like an animal sensing danger. Now he's the one trying to clamp down on things. Thoughts. Feelings. Kneejerk reactions. He stands like that until logic can kick in, until he can slowly uncoil from this position of wary readiness he had just adopted. Then he expels a looooooooooooong breath. The box is set down with a little clink of amber colored bottles. He wipes sweaty palms on his jeans. "I'm sure you'll do fine," he rasps.

Ali doesn't miss it - and her worry is plain. .. "Hey. You okay?" That alto carries nothing more than genuine concern - and the boxes are just dropped, the woman crossing the intervening distance with just a step or three. "Mr. Gomez?" And.. then he speaks.

"I.. sure. But. you alright? I - " She honestly glances back at the door as though retracing her steps.
He's absolutely sweating. A sick, strange, guilty look passes over his face. Replaced by one of anguish. Replaced by one of a man desperately attempting to sort through things /rapidly/ so he won't act like a spazz. "I'm…I'm okay. I'm fine, kid, just—Call it a war flashback. You're fine." He looks away. His voice is still hoarse, still raspy. "You'll go see Cass? You'll let her help you? Even though I scared you? You'll do that?"

"Yes, sir - hey. Sit.." She bites that off, and just goes on with a different thought, "I'll get your beer.." Ali pulls out a chair, offering a seat anyway, and is /already/ heading back to the front. "Or a new beer. Sorry - I didn't mean to, you know." She doesn't, but she's trying. "

He sits. He sits, because sitting would be good. It'll keep him from backing out of here like a damn pussy and making some little girl his daughter's age feel like shit because he is thinking of the wrong Siren. Hopefully she bought his excuse. He watches her go, his gut twisting into little pieces. He's likely to throw up the beer if he lets this keep up. So he closes his eye and tries not to think of anything much for a moment. Praying, a little bit. God and His sense of humor, his sense of irony.

An attempt to quash the rising anger at his friend Cass. It's not deal breaker anger, he still cares about her a hell of a lot, but it is still anger.

He tries to tell himself that it's possible she didn't know yet.

Slowly, he opens his eye and raises his head.

Ali isn't gone long. Long enough. Long enough to get a new beer, a new slice of lime - long enough to make it back, but not long enough to be doing more than be setting it in front of the older man as his head comes up.

Unbidden, she moves to take the seat next to him - worried. "I.. " A long, long pause - and then she asks, softly. "Can I do anything?" There's nothing hidden in her expression, no schooling of nuance - if it's to believed, her heart's out there, and her worry is genuine. Barely knowing him, yes - in Ali's universe, after all, life is a beautiful thing. Troubles and worries are fleeting, at best.

"You brought me a cold beer," Ramon points out. He downs it in three quick swallows. He's seized by the sudden weird urge to ruffle her hair. He resists. He gives her a smile that is much warmer than his failed attempt—and sadder, too. Then he stands up. "/You/ don't have to do anything at all." He digs his card out of his pocket. It's actually one of his new ones, so it reads:

Ramon Michael Gomez

Chairman, EvoSoft-Lancaster Board of Directors

And his cell number and email address.

"You need something, you call me." he orders. "You," odd emphasis on you—"are a good person." He should know. He was all up in her mind.

He puts down /more/ money for the second beer, though it's only on the chair, and starts walking towards the door.

"Es mi arrepentimiento."

Trust that she'll find a dictionary later. She takes the card and holds onto it, keeping it close, mystified as the man leave. "I.. thank you, Mr. Gomez. Be.." She sighs, her own eyes closing. "I hope I'll see you again? Maybe later, right?" And then? Then she looks down at the bit of cardstock, making no move to stop him.

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