Of Paranoia and Parents

Summary:
June 12 2014: Jericho checks in on Nancy's mom. He promised he'd keep an eye on her. And he keeps his promises.

O'Neal Residence, Queens

A cramped little apartment in a rough neighborhood. This place used to be nice, but really isn't anymore.


Characters

NPCs

  • Anabeth O'Neal

Mood Music:
[*]


Jericho approaches the apartment block where the O'Neals live. Well, where Annabeth O'Neal lives, he mentally amends. He's been looking in on her once a day as much as possible, posing as her new neighbor, Jeremy Trevor. He's got short sleeves on for once, passing his markings off as tattoos, an open collared shirt and a white tee underneath with jeans and sneakers. And a hat. He thinks it looks silly, but it's more or less what the non-super hardcore gang members wear around here. He's going for the *ex-banger* vibe himself. Gotta blend, but don't wanna be too creepy or off putting. Does him no good to get stopped by the NYPD.

He sighs. He's prior visits have not been especially fun. Annabeth is, near as he can tell, a very bitter woman. Still, he tries, keeps an eye on her drinking and meds, does the dishes every once in a while and generally keeps the clutter from getting unbearable. How Nancy put up with this woman for so long is a bit beyond him, taking family out of the equation. Sadly, it's very much in the equation which is one of several reasons he's here. The others mostly involve certain secretive snakes.

*

Anabeth's drinking, since Nancy went in hiding, seems to have equaled out. She isn't actually drinking any more then she did while having her daughter as her watchdog. It's just spread out over more days. She no longer has sober days when she can't find where Nancy hid her booze. She can just have as much as she feels makes her happy, which is apparently a slightly blurry buzz at all times, starting from when she wakes up to when she finally goes to bed at night.

Today, Anabeth is arguing with the landlord, her apartment door open. "Whaddya mean she didn't pay the rent? Yeah, I know it was due last week. It's Nancy's job to make sure you get yer money."

*

Uh oh. That's not going to start life off on a good footing. He knocks. "Anabeth? Hey. It's Jeremy." Pushing the door open just a bit with his knuckle he peers inside to see how things look in there today. Some days are good… some are bad. Today? Who knows.

"Anabeth? Everything okay?" It's not. He already knows it's not.

*

Anabeth is still in her nightdress and bathrobe, worn slippers on her feet. The sad part is this woman is only in her mid 40's. She has so much life left but she's just given up. She's already dead, her body just hasn't clued in yet. The landlord looks very unhappy, sneering at the smell of stale booze on Annabeth's breath. "Hey kid." she says with a nod of her chin to Jeremy, a glass of scotch in her hand. "No. Nancy didn't pay the f'in rent. Lazy bitch. NANCY! Git yer ass out here! NANCY!" The landlord looks to the young man, sizing him up. Jeremy looks too old for Nancy and, well, one would have to have pretty low standards if they were here for Anabeth. The pictures on the wall show a much different woman, young and full of life, pretty. What happened to *that* Anabeth? This one is storming off down the hallway to her daughter's room. "NANCY! You lazy, good for nothin' piece of crap! NANCY!" She opens the door and it takes a while for her brain to compute that Nancy isn't there, not just right now, but probably hasn't been for a while. "Her closet is empty… "

*

He's never seen her quite in this state before. She's registered, albeit vaguely and drunkenly, that Nancy's been absent before, but she probably forgot. Her memory isn't really the greatest of things. So he just steps inside and shrugs to the landlord, looking up the stairs for a long moment before headed up behind her. He knows damn well the closet is empty. He was here when she emptied it. "What's goin' on Annabeth?"

*

Nancy's mother tries to figure things out from behind the fog of booze. "Her closet is empty… slippers are gone. Bitch left and took the rent money." Her paranoid delusions circle round and round, getting worse as she imagines more things her daughter has been doing to her. "Probably took the money for all the bills too. Sneaky little… " Anabeth fumes to herself, finally looking up at Jeremy as if only now registering that he's actually there. "I always knew she was no good. Kept tellin' her. I knew it. I knew she was up to somethin'. Why else would she always be cleanin' up? Hidin' whatever she's up to. Drugs. Probably hiding her needles. S'why she's always cookin'. It wasn't candy… well, nose candy maybe."

*

Jericho sighs inwardly. His HUD flashed up the moment he heard the argument. It didn't take long to find the name of the building manager, the rent prices and the routing number. He has lines on a number of rather dirty accounts that he's stolen from people who have tried to kill him and wound up rather mortified themselves. He doesn't like to use this money on himself because it's hard to launder it enough to suit his needs. For this though? A standard laundering will do. Let's see… dummy back four accounts… should be good. "I dunno, Anabeth. I mean I don't know if she's as bad as to leave her mother without a house, right? Maybe she wired the money." He looks down very pointedly at the landlord when he says this.

*

The landlord shakes his head, looking at Anabeth with unveiled disgust. He knew Nancy. Good girl if maybe a little grumpy. Always paid the rent on time, or at least only a couple of days late. Not like some people in the ramshackle slum. The idea of Nancy doing drugs is ridiculous. Julliard would kick her out and even Antonio Guiseppi knows the girl wouldn't risk that. He thinks that the girl must have finally gotten smart, left. This woman wasn't a mother so much as a … what's the opposite of a sperm donor? He looks to Jeremy when he mentions money being wired, confused. Is this man covering for Nancy? Apparently she likes her men older. Who knew? "Si. I will check in the morning. See if it was wired."

*

Jericho nods, relieved at least that the landlord finally seems to be on the up and up and not some slumlord. "I'm sure it'll be there." He says, lower and more for the landlord's benefit than for Anabeth's, though she can probably hear it. He'll let Anabeth stomp around in back and go to see if the kitchen needs cleaning. It probably does.

*

Anabeth paces around in the hallway between the bedrooms and the bathroom doors, muttering to herself incomprehensibly. She sips at her scotch, talking to herself, coming up with more conspiracy theories of why Nancy is gone. Antonio is a good man, he's just in a bad place. He grew up in this part of town, remembering when it wasn't so bad. Poor but decent. He pats Jeremy on the shoulder. "You take care of that little girl, eh? She good kid. Deserve better life, si?" he says in his broken english with his thick italian accent.

*

'Jeremy' murmurs low as he turns the faucet on and moves some dirty dishes. One of the reasons to come over regularly is that so this stuff doesn't pile up. "She does and I'll do what I can for her." That's all he says, figuring the man will assume what he will assume and the less said at this point the better. "Anabeth?" He calls up. "Had dinner yet?" He glances over to see if she's taken her meds yet.

*

The landlord gives 'Jeremy' another pat on the back. He's not totally happy with the fact that Nancy is dating a man so much older then her, but at least he's good enough to be being responsible. A good man for a good kid. He heads out the door and closes it behind him. Anabeth is still pacing and muttering, pacing and muttering. Occasionally her mutters are dotted with cursing. Her meds sit on the dining table, exactly where they were left the day before. If she's touched them, she must have put them in the same spot and Anabeth is just not that organized. She hasn't been that organized in a long, long time.

*

Maybe he can convince her to take them later, though he wonders how much good they really do her. While he cleans up the mess from a couple nights running (which looks like it hasn't been touched either since last he saw it) he sighs inwardly. Again. The whole thing just doesn't make sense. It fits none of the typical profiles for alcoholism and her evident paranoia is only making him suspicious. Something is just bothering him about the whole thing and he can't quite put his finger on it. Let's see. Dinner for the crazy lady… And maybe putting Nancy up for canonization for putting up with this for twenty years. That seems like it might qualify. "Hey…" Looks over his shoulder. "You gonna stay in there?"

*

Coming out from the hallway, Anabeth stops when she sees 'Jeremy' standing in the open area that makes up the kitchen/dining area. "Who are you?" she asks initially. "You a friend of my Nancy's?"

*

"I'm Jeremy, remember? Moved in about a week ago? Maybe a little more?" He jerks his head out the door to indicate 'across the hall.' "Met your daughter once or twice." Best to not give too much away here. "Y'hungry at all?"

*

Anabeth walks over and refills her glass, taking a sip. "Yeah.. across the hall. I remember now," she says in a tone that implies she doesn't really but she knows that she should. She goes to sit down at the table, looking lost and afraid. "I feel them, you know. Crawling in my head. Worms. Little worms. Crawling. The whiskey… it makes them stop, but they're still there. I can feel them. They aren't crawling, but they are still there."

*

Crazy people talk crazy. Buuuuuut… "Yeah?" The dishes dried he pops a couple of pot pies into the oven. "How long has that been going on?" Worms. Worms in the head. It could just be her crazy talking but everything about this has felt wrong the more he's dug into it. The fact that the Polyglobal servers didn't have the info he needed on the experiment done on Anabeth and Nancy didn't help his own case of paranoia.

*

"Nancy. She doesn't believe me. She takes the booze away. And then the worms start moving again. She's trying to kill me. She is working with the worms. Killing me slowly. She thinks I don't see it. Murderer. That's what she is. Killer. Dirty little seed." She gets up and starts to pace some more. Yeah, there is a reason her mother isn't part of the work force anymore.

*

"Maybe she's just worried about how much you drink." 'Jeremy' gestures to the multiple empty bottles of spirits cluttering the place. He oughta take them down to a recycling center at some point. "Not exactly aqua vitae there, y'know. How long exactly have you felt the worms in your head? Does it hurt?" Yeah getting info out of a paranoid drunk is hard. And largely pointless. He should know after that one SOAR Op in Pakistan…

*

Anabeth O'Neal shakes her head, pacing the floor. "No. She's part of it. They made her. She's one of them. One of the worms. She crawled inside me and lived there till she was a person. She thinks I'm fooled. She's not my daughter. She's a worm. A killer." Is what the madwoman saying making any sense? "They hurt sometimes. When they crawl for too long. She talked me into trying to not make them stop. That's how I know she's part of their plan. I didn't drink for almost a year and I got headaches every day. So bad I almost couldn't see. So I drank again and the pain went away. She keeps trying to get me to stop again. She's trying to kill me. You have to believe me. She's a bad seed. Why does no one see it?!"

*

"Easy, Anabeth, easy. I'm not going to take it away." Well, not unless she starts binge drinking and mixing it with viccodin. Then he might get a bit drastic. Most of that sounds like crazy talk, pure and simple, but Jericho knows enough to know that people don't just imagine pain that bad often. Well, addicts do sometimes to get their fix and Anabeth is nothing if not alcoholic, but the hacker has long since learned not to dismiss things at face value. "Do the meds help any?"

*

Anabeth sits down, taking a long drink of her whiskey. She slumps in the living room chair across from the tv. She sits there for a while, staring at the blank screen, looking like she's seeing something on the screen that isn't there. The pot pies are done before she comes out of her reverie. "They don't make the worms stop. Only this. But… sometimes, the pills, they make me remember. I remember who I was. Before the worms came." She is practically muttering to herself when she looks up at 'Jeremy' sharply, gasping. "You believe me, don't you? She doesn't believe me. But you do. You do!"

*

At this point 'Jeremy' is not sure what he believes other than he's absolutely certain there's more to this than meets the eye and that his instinct tells him that it has something to do with Polyglobal. He brings the pot pies over in bowls and sets one down near her with a spoon. "Yeah, Anabeth. I do." Well, he believes she's not nuts, anyway. Er… make that, not totally nuts. She's clearly a bit off her rocker, to put it mildly. But a lot of this stuff sounds too convenient to be coincidence and, as he's noted more than once in the last few days, he doesn't believe in coincidence."

*

After getting her to eat and take her meds, Anabeth watches her game shows for a while and drinks the rest of her glass and one more before going to bed. She doesn't seem to object to 'Jeremy' being there, as if his presence is just replacing that of Nancy. Once she is out cold, there is a text message from Nancy. <Hey! It's Tabby. How is she?>

*

'Jeremy' is just on his way out, and pensively quiet as he usually is when he's chewing on a thought. Conversations with Anabeth range from downright suspicious to kind of sad to off the wall nonsensical. Once again he wonders how on earth Nancy put up with this as he makes his way out on foot. He's got a lot to digest and frankly, he needs to figure out a way to get some answers. <One of the better days for her> He doesn't go into details about the rent. It's literally no big deal to him and he'd figured it'd come up sooner or later. <Usual paranoid mood swings though. She went to bed okay though.> Ah the joys of being able to text mentally.

*

<Thank you. For doing this. I know she's a handful. Try not to let her get to you. Oh! And DONT play classical music around her. EVER>

*

<Don't mention it> Once Jericho's a couple blocks out he buttons up his shirt, ditches the hat and pulls a coat out of his pack. Just like that, he's got a completely new look, and starts carrying himself more like a guy on the street and less like an ex-banger. <I promised I would. I know if I had to pick up and go suddenly and leave people behind I'd have wanted someone to take care of my family. I'll keep that in mind about classical though. How're things on your end?>

*

<I can't tell whether this is great or it sucks. I had to cancel my classes for the summer. No work, which is a plus. Lots of practicing. But I'm kept mostly to myself so I don't affect anyone. And the one guy that likes being around me… Ugh. I think he hates me. He just likes being around my power.>

<Oh… that reminds me. Please don't be mad. The guys at the bar are sorta looking into you, your connection to that snake, my connection. You know, more paranoia and distrusting everyone that isn't them. Just like mama wolf. How is she btw? Tell her I miss her.>

*

<The blue furry guy who turned into a bespectacled nerd when he got close to you in the bar?> Yeah. Jeri saw that. <Hank McCoy, right?> He turns a corner and walks toward where he stashed his motorcycle. <Are they at least gonna help you out with your situation?> The hacker glances behind him as a car backfires, momentarily tense. <Hope you don't have to quit Juilliard for good. One musician to another, you've got some serious talent.>

<Well not like anyone's never looked into me before. It's fine. They probably won't find me.> Heh. Mama wolf. <Mama wolf's doing okay. I'm sure she'd be happy to see you, even if she's got an odd way of showing it. She thinks of you like a daughter. Said as much to me a a couple days ago. I promised not to spill any secrets but I'm pretty sure that isn't one.>

*

Obviously, he can't see it, but as she sits in her bed, texting her weird associate, she smiles when he mentions the name of Hank. Dammit! She's got to get over him. Twice she's tried to get close and twice he's given her a very unfavourable response. <Yeah, that's him. I told him I liked him. He's giving me the whole 'it's not you, it's me' speech. Guys suck. I'm going back to liking girls.>

*

<Look, N-er, Tabby, it's not like I've got a stellar track record in the love department, but if the guy's as much of a lab type as he seems, I'll be he's never gotten that kind of attention. He probably doesn't know what to do with it and it makes him uncomfortable. I wouldn't be so easily put off.> He laughs to himself as he approaches his old Harley. <Not that I imagine you are in general.>

*

<Please :( I kissed him and he ran off like I bit him. Maybe he's gay and doesn't know it>

*

The hacker starts his ride and pulls into traffic. <Sorry, Tabby.> He really is. He's come to like Nancy. <For what it's worth I hope it works out. Sorry I don't really have anything more insightful to say. Everyone else being okay to you?>

*

<I'm staying mostly away from everyone. My power sorta freaks people out. Oh! That reminds me, can you get my … damn, I can't tell you where I am cause I don't actually know. Well crud. Flat lollies it is then. Gotta make more. I'm down to 2 left. And I don't know if I will be allowed to use booze here to flavor them, so I'm just making regular ones. Weird>

*

<I can drop it off at a dead drop somewhere you can get to easily. Don't have to know where you are. What'd you need?> Lolly's? Maybe the… She can't see it but he snaps his fingers. Lollipops. He never saw her without them. <Candy molds, perhaps?> He turns onto the highway and after a moments takes the road toward the Polyglobal building. It'll be a bit of a drive.

*

<Yeah. My skull mold is still at home. I didn't even think about it when I left. Maybe I can ask Hank to go out and buy me one. If he's still talking to me. It's cause I'm dumb, isn't it? He's like a doctor and a scientist and hell, he graduated university before he was 20! Or maybe I'm just too skanky. He probably likes his girls all… you know. Virginal. I suck.>

<I'm going to bed. Talk to you tomorrow night. And try not to let mom get to you. She wasn't always this bad. Oh, and if she mentions the worms, just humor her. It gets a little weird, but remember that she's not really all there.>

*

Oh dear. Isn't this what she has a Wolf Mama for? Jeri's really not a very good person for this sort of thing, despite or perhaps because of the fact that the grumpy goth girl has kinda grown on him. <Look, Tabby, you're not skanky, okay? Really I'm being honest and trying not to be creepy, but you're not. About the only thing bad I thought about you when we first met was that you were pretty grumpy. But hey, that grew on me and I'm an antisocial jerk. So whatever his problem is, I can almost promise it has more to do with him than you.> Pause for him to pull past a black sedan. Yeah. Drink in the irony. <And you don't, for the record, suck.>

<Alright. Sleep well Tabby. I'll be here same time tomorrow.>

*

<I do too suck. Not that you're ever gonna find that out. :P >

*

<Cute. Sleep well.> Wow. She can't help it can she. Mmmm. Possible that runs in the family. These are this thoughts as he heads over toward Polyglobal.


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