Aug. 21st, 2008

re_mybrains: (Doubtful!Tom)
March 30, 2004

"So where exactly are we going?"

Beth and her partner -- Rue, she'd introduced herself as -- exchange glances. Beth snickers. "Skullcrusher Mountain."

". . . Oh, thanks, that's not ominous at all."

"There's a couple local gangs that call it that," Rue clarifies, voice implying an eyeroll. "Rumor has it they set up a trebuchet to deal with the zombies. I don't believe it, but it keeps anyone from attacking the place."

"Not that it's easy to attack in any case," Beth points out.

"Yeah. Have you ever been here before, Tom?"

He shakes his head. "No. This is my first time out of the midwest."

Beth half-turns to look at him. "How'd you get here?"

A shrug. "Walked."

Beth's eyebrows go up, impressed. "And you're still alive."

"Go figure."

Beth shakes her head. "Wow. Anyway, it's a place called the Cloisters, part of the Met. It's up on a hill by the river and it's a freaking fortress."

"Jess'll check you out before she'll let you in," Rue adds, as they take a turn and begin climbing a hill, "but it shouldn't be a problem. You look pretty harmless."

Not entirely certain whether he should feel that his masculinity has been insulted, Tom nods and watches the city go by through the windshield.


The Cloisters are, in fact, a freaking fortress. Beth wasn't kidding. As they reach the gates, he spots a stocky, pony-tailed figure approaching from the other side. "That's Jess," Beth identified over her shoulder.

The ambulance draws to a halt, and Beth gets out. Tom clambers out the passenger side door more slowly, checking warily around the area, one hand on his gun. When he finally turns to approach Jess, she looks . . . suspicious. But approving, under that.

Apparently Beth has been explaining the situation while he's been surveying the surroundings, because Jess holds out a hand when he nears the gates. "Hi, Tom. Give me three good reasons I should let you come in here."

Startled, he shakes her hand on automatic. "Um. Because . . . I'm . . . harmless?"

She snorts, amused, and glances at his gun. "And armed."

"And not dumb," he corrects. "And not dead." A thought strikes. "And not infected."

She raises her eyebrows. "Can you prove that?"

He wrinkles his nose. "I, uh, suppose if you insist I could strip down."

Another snort. "Thanks for the offer. That's two reasons."

He sighs, scratching his face. "Because I'm tired and hungry and haven't slept someplace that's really safe in -- days, and I'm a total noob to New York and I'll probably end up dead by tomorrow if I don't stay here."

Beat. He ducks his head and adds in an embarrassed mumble, "Not to, y'know, guilt you into it or anything."

Jess smiles. "I don't guilt easily. Where're you from, Tom?"

"Detroit, originally. Now, kind of -- nowhere."

"How'd you end up on the road?"

He sighs, tired. "I got trapped by a shamble in a shopping mall for a month, and I didn't really feel like staying in Michigan after that. I was hoping things would be better in the big cities."

"A month?" she repeats, surprised. "Jeez."


She's quiet for a moment, then nods decisively. "You can come in. I'll be hanging onto your gun, though."

"--What? That's it? I can stay here?"

"Soon as you hand me that gun," she repeats, firm. "You can keep the bat, though."

Tom pulls out his gun, glances down at it. It's suddenly, weirdly hard to let go of it. After a moment, he flips it around, ejects the clip, and racks the slide. The bullets go in his bag; the gun goes into Jess' waiting hand.

"You've got to understand," Jess says, accepting the gun, "I've got people in here I'm responsible for. And we get the occasional whackjob who wants in here who'd like nothing better than to get inside and get violent."

"No, no, I get it." He blows out a breath, rubbing the back of his neck. "I get it."

"Okay then." She moves away to set about getting the gates open, and Tom turns to Beth.

"Well, um. Thanks for the ride."

She smiles. "Yeah, no problem." A nod toward Jess. "Think she likes you."

He blinks. "How can you tell?"

A grin. "You used 'noob' in a sentence. She knows a geek when she sees one."

Tom opens his mouth to protest he's not a geek, considers, and closes it again. Beth offers a hand. "Hopefully I won't see you around again."

"Um. Yeah. Thanks again." He shakes her hand and waves to Rue in the ambulance, who waves back with a grin and a thumbs up.

The gates open with a creak, and Tom steps into the Cloisters. Or Bald Mountain, or whatever the locals call it.

Whatever. It's safe.


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