2007-04-26: It's Raining Camel Spit

Starring:

Daphne_icon.gif Lachlan_icon.gif

Summary: Daphne and Lachlan run into each other at the zoo again, and come to the realisation that they can do almost the same thing.

Date It Happened: 26 APRIL 2007

It's Raining Camel Spit


Bronx Zoo

Another day at the zoo, cleaning up after the birds, hanging out with kids and adults alike. It's a nice job, really, though Daphne's favourite tasks involve demonstrations, or just taking animals out of their normal enclosures to let people get up close to them. Today, it's a camel - a one-humped dromedary camel to be specific - borrowed from the zoo's camel ride exhibit, which is normally reserved for children. This camel is particularly intelligent, though, or at least, she /seems/ to be around Daphne, responding to the keepers voice, and even non-verbal cues. Plus, she's never bitten a zoo visitor. Harnessed, held loosely by a reign, the camel is happy to allow people to pet her without spitting, kicking, or biting.

It's a pretty warm day, though not uncomfortable. It should probably be a little warmer for this time of year, but this just means there's a little more zoo traffic. Given the fact that there's no need to get out of the hot sun, more people are spending time out in the open, traveling from exhibit to exhibit. It's only a few more hours before the zoo closes; looking at her watch, Daphne finds that it's around two o'clock. A little more time, and she'll have to head back toward the aviary to take care of the birds of prey.

—-

After surviving being electrocuted, the only logical thing to do is to go to the zoo and check in on that African wild dog that he wrote a letter about. After all, Lachlan has nothing better to do, right? The Scotsman is just heading for the dog exhibit when he spots a … a camel. It's very big and hard to miss. Still, it's actually the person attached to the rein that gets Lachlan's attention and causes him to alter his course to start moving toward the odd couple. "Hey," he grunts once he's close enough. "Wha'd they do with tha' dog?" Oh, and hello, Daphne.

—-

Unlike a lot of people in the city, Daphne's been pretty sheltered regarding the weirdness that's been going on, except for the warning given to her about a week ago - maybe a little longer. It's hard to remember, but in any case, she's been on the lookout for people she knows, or the one person she saw in that photo. She doesn't always remember visitors to the zoo, because there /are/ so many, but she does remember the guy who tried to pick a fight with her in front of the other zoo patrons. She runs a hand down the camel's neck to prevent her from spitting, since she can feel - and hear - Daphne's rising temper. "Ah, hey, we got your letter." She smiles. It looks convincing, right? "She's still with the other dogs. Hasn't had her puppies yet, though. It'll be a couple more weeks. We're going to send a vet team in to watch." It was the best compromise they could make.

—-

… oh. Well. There goes all of Lachlan's snarling righteous rage. He seems taken aback at first, half-surprised it actually worked — and then he grins. Hey! It worked! "Well tha's great, then," he states with grand obviousness. "She'll be happier fer it." And then a glance is given to the camel, which is then promptly studied. Hey, they had one or two of these in the circus. They stank. This one stinks too. "She'll prolly have an easier time o' givin' birth too," he adds as an afterthought.

—-

Don't get too cocky, Mister Man. Daphne was on the side of the dogs! Having decided she doesn't much like Lachlan at all - 'cuz he's some crazy animal activist guy who— well, so is /she,/ but that's beside the point! It's the attitude she doesn't like. Then again, first impressions weren't the best between the two of them, and the keeper is relatively inclined to tell the camel to spit at him. Just for fun, you know. "Well, there was still a bit of an argument about it. There were a lot of concerns on both sides while we were discussing. They're still not sure how it's going to turn out, but I agree. We'll just have to watch the pups closely for a couple weeks after they're born."

—-

"Why's tha'?" As far as Lachlan is concerned, the dog will be just fine and dandy now that she's not being separated from her pack. The pack itself doesn't pose a danger — wild dogs adore pups — and the /mother/ certainly wouldn't hurt them because she's done this before. Granted, the Scotsman doesn't do a lot of conservation work; he doesn't know how precious the life of one pup really is.

—-

"Well, these dogs are native to Africa," she says of the pack. "Where they live, it's a lot drier, there's less of a breeding ground for bacteria. Plus, the environment is different here, the people visiting the zoo is a small source of stress, which will compromise the mother's immune system, and she'll pass fewer antibodies to her pups. Since we're a conservation-oriented zoo, we have several breeding programs for endangered species. The African Wild Dog is extremely endangered in the wild, so it's imperative that all the pups survive." She knows what she's talking about with the dogs - she really likes them a lot, and it shows in the tone of her voice. "They're beautiful animals. It'd be a shame if they're gone in a couple generations. They're heading in that direction, unfortunately. Some are estimating that by the year 2050, the only populations left are going to be in zoos."

—-

"People're allus visitin' the zoo," retorts Lachlan with a soft snort. "The mum's used ta it b'now. S'no' gonna be a prol'em." Duh. All that other stuff about bacteria and whatever just causes his brow to furrow. Uh, sure. He'll take Daphne's word on that point, because it sounds like it makes sense. He just gives a soft grunt and a shrug. "S'a bugger." Yes. Profound.

—-

She gives the camel another pat. So she's just dealing with someone who's a little misinformed, who likes dogs. "Of course, normally they're all fine around people, but throw pups into the mix, and even the most gentle dog can get a little snappy." Daphne's going to make sure she stays as calm as possible, but even she can't control the dog's instinctive nature. "We're going to try to keep her comfortable, her den's facing away from people, so I think it'll be all right. She's just a little tense at the moment. But she took to the den we made for her pretty quickly, so at least that's one less thing we have to worry about." The camel idly takes a bite from a nearby tree, sampling the leaves. "What brings you back to the zoo? Just to check on the dogs?"

—-

Clearly Daphne doesn't work quite the same way as Lachlan does. Then again, he /specializes/ in dogs; she has a broader range. Not that he would /know/ this, really. He shrugs again. "'Ve never had a dog tha' acted up with me," he remarks casually. "'M sure ever'thin'll be fine." He's /sure/. If it isn't, then the people are to blame, because they're Doing It Wrong. At the question of why he's here, the Scotsman shrugs again and stuffs his hands into the pockets of his jeans. "Yeah, came ta hear how they're doin'." … er … wait. "From … ye." Yeah. That's it. God, he shouldn't talk to people when he's tired.

—-

She doesn't really have a specialty. She's decent with most of the birds and mammals because she can talk to them. The reptiles are a little more of a problem, but she's definitely getting better with them. "We'll have to leave it up to her," is her eventual answer, because whatever they talk about, it's ultimately up to the mom to determine how the pups are going to end up. Hopefully they'll all be alive and stay alive, then when they grow up, they can exchange for broader genetics.

"Look, sir, you don't have to worry," Daphne says gently. "The people who work here really do know what they're doing. We don't just make decisions without considering /every/ possibly outcome, that means looking at things from all sides. It's why I work here - because I know what I'm doing. The only reason anyone is eployed here is because they care about the animals. I promise."

—-

"Doesna mean they know a bloody thing 'bout 'em," responds Lachlan flatly. "They dunna know wha' they're thinkin' an' feelin', an' they think too much 'bout ever'thin' and bung it up." That's right. Superior Scotsman is superior to people with degrees in biology and animal behavior.

—-

She's not a patient person - not usually, anyway. The easiest way to get her temper to break is to question her own experience. She has plenty! Unlike that kid she met the other day, she's not so sure she's going to be able to get away with grabbing Lachlan's shirt collar and giving him a shake, and besides, this guy's just a zoo patron, not some guy with abilities like Victor was.

For a moment, she stares at him, blue eyes somewhere between frustration and anger.

Suddenly (Seemingly, without warning) The camel spits at Lachlan.

"Oh, god, I'm so sorry about that." …Not really, considering the fact that she's chuckling. "She's— She's usually so good, I swear, just…" The camel, sensing Daphne's anger, figured she'd do something about it! And because the camel /is/ an animal, she doesn't understand complex emotions and politeness and things like that. Uh. Anyway. "Look, I'm very close to having a veterinary degree. And I know how the animals here think and feel, seriously. That's why I'm in this profession."

—-

Another reason that Lachlan did not like the camels in the circus has just manifested itself. SPLAT! Right in the face. It's so unexpected that he doesn't even have time to think about dodging. "Bloody— !" The Scotsman shoots a glare at the beast before lifting the hem of his shirt to wipe off the nasty blob. "Yeah, wha'ever." No, Lachlan does not believe the camel is anything but awful now, no matter what Daphne says, and her laughter doesn't help matters any either. He too spits, but it's to the side and to clear his lips of any leftovers that might've clung there. Ugh. "D'ye really?" he grunts skeptically when she mentions knowing how the animals think and feel. "Prove it."

—-

While Lachlan's cleaning himself off, Daphne's soothing the camel, petting her neck. "What a bad girl you are," she says quietly, gently. "What a bad girl. Baaaad girl. You can't do that to people." Except, by the tone of her voice, the camel certainly doesn't think she's very 'bad.' She continues rubbing the beast's neck; at least she doesn't spit anymore at the moment. "Yes, I do." There's a small pause, almost as if she's considering, but then she says, "I can't /prove it,/ that's not possible. You're just gonna have to take my word for it." Sure, she's got a secret, but it's something she's not too terribly excited about sharing with people. There are already too many who know.

—-

"Dunna think s'possible?" Oh /yeah/, Miss Woman? Lachlan releases a soft snort, shoving his hands into his pockets again. "C'mon, I'll show ye." And with that and a jerk of his head for Daphne to follow, he starts to stride off in the direction of a nearby dingo exhibit. Normally, Lachlan is very secretive about his own powers, however Daphne totally challenged him, and he can't back down from a challenge. That isn't /manly/.

—-

But— But she's got the camel! Oh, well, she's been walking around with her anyway. "I Can't…!" She starts, but since Lachlan's already heading off toward the dingo enclosure, all she can do is roll her eyes and follow along behind. Of course she knows it's possible to relate directly to dogs and other animals alike, but that's for her to know, and not anyone else. Unfortunately, it somehow keeps slipping out, and as determined as she is to keep it to herself this time, she's about up to her ears in frustration with this guy. "Look, I'm not sure what you plan on doing here, but I have my own duties. Things I have to do by the time we close." It's just a warning. If she's unimpressed, she'll be takig the camel back to the camel ride park and leaving her there so she can finish her work.

—-

Once he's right up near the dingo enclosure, Lachlan squints in at the animals, studying them — and their thoughts. Hmm. Which would be most likely to impress? He doesn't seem to hear Daphne, really, and once he's figured a target, he points: a young female. "Tha' one. Watch." And turning his attention to the dingo, he lets out a short whistle to get her attention. For an animal accustomed to crowds of people calling at her every day, she sure seems to latch onto the sound and the Scotsman who gave it fast — and she even wags her tail a little. "Hey. Hey, swee'heart! Up!" He makes a gesture with his hand, simultaneously sending telepathic signals that urge the dog to, indeed, rise up. After several seconds of nothing but tail-wagging, the dingo rises to her feet — and then briefly goes up on her hind legs. Lachlan grins and drops his arm again. "Good girl!" Happy thoughts go the dingo's way, causing her to nearly wag herself into a frenzy.

—-

Okay, she'll watch. In fact, she's quite interested in what Lachlan's doing, especially because while Lachlan's talking to the dog, Daphne can hear the dog responding quite clearly. She can't not - it's just like she can hear the camel, like she can hear the other dingoes, the squirrels and pigeons that are all looking for handouts. So when the dingo responds, Daphne /already knows,/ and so seems more introspective than impressed. In fact, it's not amazement with which she looks at Lachlan, but a sort of grave expression that's more concerned than anything. There are other people nearby who are watching the dingoes, and… /hopefully/ they just think Lachlan works here. "You're lucky," Daphne says quietly. "I don't think anyone has a clue what you just did." Okay, it's not the collar-grabbing shake she gave Victor, but it's still pretty displeased.

—-

Who cares? Lachlan proved his point. He's quite proud of himself. The smile he turns on Daphne could be classified as 'smug'. "They never do," he grunts, "b'cause they canna do wha' I do." The Scotsman crosses his arms over his chest and lifts an eyebrow expectantly. Well? Where's the crow she should be eating?

—-

There's no reason for her to be scared. She's never been hurt before, but that's the entire point, isn't it? She doesn't /want/ to be. If she's careful, she figures she'll be safe. "How do you think I know what you just did?" she asks quietly, smiling as a few kids come by to pet the camel, then run off back to their parents. Camels are fun, but not as much as some of the other animals they could be seeing! Still, he's right — there are very few people who would think twice about it, because not many people can do what she does. It's why she's not too concerned about talking to the animals - she just makes sure they don't act too out of character too often. It's a sort of 'do as I say, not as I do' situation most of the time.

Doesn't mean she's less careful.

Looking to Lachlan, she smirks, too, before looking up at the camel she's been leading around. The camel tilts her head a little, then deliberately spits right at Lachlan. Again.

—-

SPLAT. "Hey!" This one gets him right on the shoulder, and Lachlan has decided that he really hates camels. "Stop tha'!" He goes to a nearby trash can and digs out a relatively clean napkin to wipe off the latest wad. But … wait. Hey. Hold up. He freezes in the middle of it and squints at Daphne. "Wai' … ye mean s'no' just dogs? Ye can do it with other kinds?" That's … that's /not fair/. He sounds jealous.

—-

Now it's Daphne's turn to look smug. Yeah, /take that./ If that doesn't show Lachlan that she knows what the hell she's talking about, nothing will! "H-hey, shut up!" she hisses, scowling as he just chats about it like they're talking about the weather. This is /serious stuff/ here! "Or I'll have her spit at you again. She sure wants to." Her eyes are wide, though her brows are lowered. She looks angry, though not to a point of shouting. She doesn't want to draw attention to them. "But yes. Mammals and birds. I'm working on reptiles. I told you I know what I'm talking about, didn't I?"

—-

Yeah. That is totally unfair. Lachlan frowns more and continues to clear his person of unpleasant camel-gunk. Gross. "Oh." Mammals /and/ birds. And reptiles on the way. "How'd ye— ?" But he stops, glances around, then starts digging around in his pockets for something. "Here." He withdraws a business card that looks as though it might've been in those pants for a while. "When yer no' hangin' out 'round here, gimme a call. 'Ve never met someone tha' could … y'know. So." It's interesting and he wants to know more about how she works her powers.

—-

It's not unfair! It was a real pain in the ass at first, and took a whole lot of getting used to. "I can't tell you how I do it, I just /do—/" Cutting herself off, she takes the business card and looks at it. "Lachlan, huh?" she asks. Briefly, she's tempted to feed the card to the camel, but she can't do that. It'd make the camel sick! So, she puts it into her pocket instead." She might give him a call, she might not. Admittedly, she'd like to talk to him, too, but the fact that she's so worried about people overhearing them makes her hesitant. "I'm Daphne." But… that's easy to figure out, considering her name's stitched to her shirt. Looking around, she asks quietly, "How long have you been able to do that? And it's just dogs? Really?"

—-

"Yeah," the Scotsman mutters, a little resentfully. Daphne can do cooler things. It's not fair. "Just dogs. Been able ta do it fer 'bout … 20 years." And he can only talk to dogs after 20 years. /Just dogs/. Lachlan feels inadequate.

—-

Twenty years, and just dogs? Daphne's look might be mildly pitying, but she turns her attention back to the camel so it doesn't show as much. "Sometimes it's a pain," she says, rubbing a hand down course fur. She doesn't say how long she's been doing it, but… she's younger than him, so probably not as long. Really, only a small amount of time, compared to twenty years. "But, look, they respond to you, that's what's important, right?" Another pause, then… "I really have to get this girl back."

—-

Grunt. "Yeah, a'righ'." It doesn't sound like Lachlan thinks the responding is enough. He is assuming, of course, that Daphne can do /everything/ that he does with other animals, which may or may not be the case. The fact that she's younger and could have accomplished so much in that time makes her somehow more superior and totally taints his idea of being hot shit. Sigh. "'ll see ye 'round, then. Take care o' yerself." And with that, he starts off toward the zoo's entrance.

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