Apples & Oranges Part 2

This area, in the northwest section of the city, is characterized by a large number of Korean-owned businesses, serving a primarily Korean community, despite signs that simply label this as the "Asian Trade District". The streets are clean, the storefronts barely containing any English to them at all. Several of the more prominent businesses in the area do have English signs, but they are always below those that name the establishment in Korean. Restaurants, cafes, noraebang bars, grocery stores, and gift stores are among the shops found here.

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"Well shit man, then lets go! You're late for a very important date!" Apparently Joao has decided he's going too and will be carrying the goods. "Pick one. Home or this other place? You got a fifty fifty chance of succeeding on your mission." One last lengthy drag is pulled from the cigarette, burning it right down to the filter, which emits a nasty taste that causes him to spit as he flicks the butt away. It lands a ways off on the pavement and continues to roll until it disappears under a parked car.

Todd looks anxiously back to the notepad, and flips a few pages. "This other place?" he echoes, uncertainly. He looks up, and gives a troubled little smile. "Actually, I'd like to go home, if you don't mind. Um…" He goes back to the notepad, which seems to be as much security blanket as handy memory tool. He flips back to the first page, and relaxes slightly. "Right here. I live at 'Hope House'. There's an address and everything!"

Joaquim grins and says, "Decision made - lets go," clearly insinuating himself into the situation. A couple steps bring him up behind Todd to peer over his shoulder at the little notepad, trying to glean the address from the page. "Home is where the heart is, buddy, and likely a shitload of people who really like fruit?" The sack is indicated, "What's with all the fruit?" A brow arches above a gleaming green eye.

Todd nods a little, perfectly happy to follow Joaquim's lead. In fact, when Joaquim tries to get a look at the notebook, Todd shifts so that he can get a better look at it. There's nothing much to see on that page except an address and a phone number. "I don't know," he answers, with a glance to the fruit. He looks a little doubtful, as his gaze shifts back to Joaquim. For a moment, he looks puzzled, but then smiles again. "I guess I like fruit?" he guesses.

Joao chuckles at that, eyes flashing as he nods. "Alright then, lets get you home so you can make a crapload of fruit cocktail!" Address noted, a brief glance around reasserts bearings and then he is off, long legs breaking up the distance in quick bite-sized pieces.

Todd is a shorter fellow, and he has to trot a little to keep up with Joaquim. As he follows, he puts the notebook back into his shirt pocket. "Are there any strawberries?" he wonders, a bit distracted. "I do /love/ strawberries…"

Joao visually frisks the sack as he continues the pace and then announces, "I think I see some. Under the oranges and yousqauts they'll become great makings for strawberry shortcake in no time. Just add a little sugar." Swaying around a corner, progress is made without account for the other man's shorter strides. "You got family?" An inquisitive glance back at Todd is made to see if he references the notepad for the answer.

Todd looks a little hopeful as he asks, "Oh, can I have one? Strawberries are my favorite." He continues to half-trot in Joao's wake to keep up, but doesn't seem bothered by it. The question causes him to brighten, cheerfully. "Yeah! I have a mom. Her name is…Her name is…" He stops trotting, and actually just stands for a moment, staring into space. "Her name is… I don't know, but I /do/ have a mom." He brow furrows with a mixture of confusion and worry.

"A mom!" Joao proclaims in a tone that might make some consider it mocking, but is actually just how he is (aka a little weird). "Moms can be good and moms can suck royally. I suspect the way you said that, your's is a good one." An abrupt halt has him whirling around to give Todd access to his bag. "You got other people?"

Todd has a distant look, brow still furrowed in deep concentration. "Mom. Yeah. I…I think she's a good one…I don't…really remember…" He gives a troubled little laugh, but forces a smile as he looks back to Joaquim. Belatedly, he reaches into the bag to take a strawberry, but still looks troubled as he bites into it. "I don't know," he admits. With a self-conscious little smile, he adds, "I don't remember a lot of things, really. Shouldn't there be more trees here, for instance?" he asks, glancing around at the urban surroundings.

Joao picks off a strawberry too and pops it in his mouth before rotating about to peer at the landscape. "Trees? I dunno, I don't generally keep track of the trees in this area. You think we're going the wrong way?" Eventually the rotation comes full circle, realigning in the direction they were headed. Suddenly even he's a little unsure. "I don't live out here, man, so I guess I could be a little off?" He thought he was sure!

Todd shakes his head, uncertainly. "I…I don't know," he admits. He chews at his lip for a moment, forgetting the half-strawberries in his hand as he looks at the various buildings. "I'm almost certain there should be more trees. Lots of pine trees. Like a forest. And…and roses! Yes, there should be roses. And not /nearly/ so many buildings. Or paved streets." He looks back to Joaquim, doubtfully. "Where were we going, again?"

Joaquim catches on and stares at Todd for a prolonged amount of time while the wheels turn and readjust. "Alright." This is said to himself. Then to the other man, "We're going to my house. We bought a bunch of fruit because we're going to… make fruit cake. It's Christmas!" Okay, so he's having a little fun with this, but it could be a lot worse. "This way, buddy!" Once again he's moving, following the previous thought on directions.

Todd relaxes a little as Joaquim succeeds in distracting him from the disorientation. It's not like it's hard. "Oh! Okay. Well, that sounds /lovely/. It's certainly unseasonably warm, if that's the case. And I guess a lot of Scrooges must live here," he decides, watching the passing buildings as he goes back to trotting along in Joaquim's wake. "Where are all the Christmas lights?"

Joaquim blocks a bit of chuckling behind pinched lips, but the flash of emerald eyes relays amusement quite well. "We're in Koreatown! No Christians here." Coming up on an alley, a decision is made to prolong the arrival at Hope House, dragging out Todd's exposure to Joao without the presence of potentially protective wardens. Turning down the alley, a glance back attempts to assure that he's still being followed.

Todd continues to follow Joaquim, though his brows shoot up at the explanation. "Oh! Well, that explains all the funny writing everywhere…" He turns into the alley behind Joaquim, and absently eats the last of the strawberry, tossing the stem away for the birds to scavenge.

The former line of questioning is tossed in lieu of another due to the affect it seemed to have on Todd. It does come out rather blunt, "How come you have amnesia? You don't have that… that disease do you? The one that they say is brought on by aluminum foil?" Clearly Joao doesn't remember the name. While chatting he sure-footedly transverses the littered alley, pausing briefly here and there to peer in windows and open doors.

Todd is not quite as nimble as Joaquim, and so he picks his way through the debris a little more carefully, and thus more slowly and noisily. "Um? I don't know. I don't know what disease you're talking about," he responds, uneasily. He resorts to his notepad, and flips through a few pages, but finally says, "It doesn't say anything about it." He glances up, to see Joaquim looking in windows and doors, and tilts his head with another slightly puzzled expression. "What are you doing?"

Joao stops and turns to Todd with a thoughtful expression that hedges on pained as he mines about in his head for the name of the disease. Various words are tried out as one by one they march across his consciousness. "Osteoporosis? Nah, that it isn't it." "Ania- no." Several words arrive to his tongue to quickly fail and be tossed off before he excitedly spits out, "Alzheimers!" A triumphant grin presents itself while awaiting the verdict. The question is forgotten for now.

Todd blinks a little, his head still tilted as he just stares blankly at Joao. "I don't know what that is," he finally says, and gives a self-conscious smile. "I really don't know. Honest. Can we talk about something else?" He's already forgotten the question, himself, as he glances around at the littered alley. "Where are we going, again?" he wonders, as he takes in the surroundings with mild curiosity.

Joao is contemplative whilst absently nodding. "Home, buddy. We're going home." Whatever he was thinking about is tossed into the nearest trash bin and once again he's on the move. "What do /you/ want to talk about?" Not traveling quite as fast as before, a strawberry is picked out and offered out to Todd.

"Oh, right," Todd responds easily, and continues following Joao as he takes off again. He accepts the strawberry, with a slightly surprised and pleased, "Thanks!" He takes a bite as he walks, still watching Joaquim. "Well. I don't know. Let's talk about you," he decides. "Where do you live?"

Helpfully, Joao spouts, "In a house," and gestures for the next question. Something moves within a pile of debris and a halt is made as he peers intently through the layers to see what it is. Inching up closer, a tennis-shoe toe ferrets through a crack between two boxes, hooking under an edge so that he can flick it off the top to reveal the trio of rodents that /thought/ they were well concealed within. "You're alright," he calls to them, "Ugly as shit, but alright." They're rats.

Todd blinks a few times. "Oh." He opens his mouth to ask the next question, but before he can do so, Joao reveals the rodents and Todd jumps back by about three feet, with a start exclamation. "Oh my /god/. What… Those are /rats/!" he accuses, pointing at them and glancing to Joao, wide-eyed. "/Gross/!"

Joao is caught halfway between annoyance and amusement, eliciting a half-assed bark of laughter that quickly gets swallowed by the irritation that resolves to darken the light in his eyes. "Not gross, just kinda ugly." They scattered at Todd's outburst, so the tall boy turns to face him full on. "You ever wonder what they think of you? All /wrong/ and hairless, missing a mighty useful tail? You're like a giant pink, awkward, noseless, deformed ugly ass freak to them."

Todd jumps backward another couple of steps to avoid any contact with the rodents, and only looks up when Joao turns on him. He blinks several times, mostly unconfused by the whole thing. "I am not a freak. I'm…I'm a person. I don't look that different from /you/. And I /do too/ have a nose. It's right here on my face." He touches his nose, just to be sure. "Yeah. I /do/. /And/ hair. On my head. I'm not /stupid/, you know," he defends.

Joao sighs and rolls his eyes. "No, I'm talking how /they/ see you. They don't care if you're a person, you're just /wrong/ to them, and evil. They see all humans the same, just like you see all rats the same. Humans are evil murderous beings that kill for no reason whatsoever." Cracking a slanted grin, he adds, "I'm just as ugly as you are to them. I was just trying to get you to take a look through /their/ eyes." A shrug sluffs off the topic and back he goes into progress, turning a corner to a shortcut to the street that /should/ have Hope House on it.

Todd frowns a little, and glances back nervously toward the places where the rats had taken cover. "I don't kill things," Todd says, uneasily. "Not for any reason. I /don't/." He looks up, belatedly realizes that Joao is taking off without him, and hurries to catch up with him. "And I'm not evil. I think I would remember /that/." There's an uncertain pause, and a certain anxious vulnerability as he adds, "Wouldn't I?"

Joao swings around to face Todd, bringing about yet another stop. "I don't think you're a killer, you're too … /too/ nice." The emphasis expresses both accusation and compliment. "But rats see all humans the same. Don't you see all rats the same? If they got to know you," and now he's goofing around again, "they'd surely know you're different, but right now, you're just a human. One of a horridly large infestation that is taking over /their/ world." A wink sends him off, embarking upon the last few feet of the mini-alley.

Todd comes up short, because he'd actually been almost running to catch up. He still looks pretty disoriented over the whole thing. "Oh. Well…Um." He frowns a little, and shakes his head. "I don't care if they live in the alleys or whatever. But they carry diseases and stuff, right? So they should just stay in their world, and I'll stay in mine. Okay?" When Joao gets moving again, Todd follows, trying not to fall behind.

Now Joao has to laugh! Raucously even! When it comes to an end so does the alley and they pop out onto the main street where he thinks the House should be, but more importantly he informs Todd, humor flooding his tone. "So do humans! Humans also have poisons, nasty traps, dangerous cars, guns, and various other horrible means of killing them, so yea, they don't /want/ to be in your world - for long." There is that little bit about sniping food from humans.

Joaquim and Todd are coming out of a small alley, with the former carrying a bag of fruit. It's daytime (afternoon?) and pleasant out.

Todd continues following Joao, trotting to keep up with the taller man's long strides. "Well. They're rats. It's not like… you know. Not like they have feelings. Not like humans." He's not trying to be insensitive. Really, he's not. "But if anyone ever asks /me/, I'll suggests trapping them and taking them out to the country, okay?" he offers, helpfully.

Joao snorts derisively as he stands at the brink of the curb, purposefully teetering as narrowed green eyes scan the block. "Suggest that they keep their damn food in containers and wash up after themselves so the rats won't be tempted." The street numbers are one by one eyed until he latches onto one in particular. "There we are." A certain aura of disappointment arrives to taint former joviality as he surveys the rundown house. Even so, a good natured sounding, "Home sweet home," infuses his voice.

Todd frowns a little. "Well, to be fair…The people /did/ build the city. Maybe the rats should build their own city to live in?" he suggests, helpfully. "It could have little tiny houses and everything." About that time, Joao calls his attention to the building, and Todd blinks. He looks quite perplexed, and he says, "This isn't my home." He sounds quite certain of that, for a person who can't remember his mother's name.

That has Joao spitting laughter. Little rat houses. Once again his eyes shine brightly. "You are hilarious, friend." As to the shabby house, he quickly inserts, "It's my house, remember? Christmas dinner? Fruit cake.?" The presence of both a period and questionmark is no mistake. The insinuation is subtle.

Michael's not one to visit Korea town often, his tastes are decidedly European in nature, not even the food can lead to his shopping in the area, but this evening sees him walking down the street not far from where Todd and Joaquim are talking, he's currently in a black three piece, it's a fairly generic style, it would be acceptable in just about any era, on his wrist is a Rolex. He's giving off little evidence of being a vampire at present; this being one of those rare times of late that he's taken to passing for human.

Todd gives a little uncertain grin at Joao, as one might do when they don't get the joke. "Oh! Right. Your house," he says, trying to sound like he remembers when clearly he doesn't. He glances back to the house, then comments, "You don't have any Christmas lights. You should put up Christmas lights." Back to that again. He seems oblivious to the insinuation, as his gaze eventually lands on the small sign declaring it as 'Hope House'. He frowns, slightly, then glances to Joao. "…Are you pulling my leg?" he wonders, tentatively.

The Rolex is spied before the man, drawing Joao's gaze slowly up the arm to meet the curious face. "Only slightly," is absently tossed off to Todd as he continues to peruse Michael, trying to scratch an itch, but in the end he just shrugs and lets it slide. "It's /someone's/ house, I assure you." The stranger is boldly eyed as a request is voiced, "You got a cigarette, buddy?"

Todd blinks a few times, looking at Joao. "/Someone's/ house? Well, that's…" He looks back to the house, then to Joaquim. "…Okay?" When Joaquim calls out to Michael, it draws Todd's attention that way, and he gives a distracted but friendly smile, and a little wave. Not that he recognizes Michael, but he's the sort to be friendly to perfect strangers.

Michael looks at Joaoquim, his expression good natured as he studies the Shifter. "No, I'm afraid I don't smoke." He nods to Todd. "Good evening Todd. I see you found your way home this evening." He knows Todd doesn't remember him, or much of anything else for that matter. He sometimes wonders how Todd remembers to check his notes.

Hmmm, busted. A shoulder lifts as if to casually shrug it off - the bit about the cigarette - when Joao's actually referring to the part about Michael blowing his fun. Looking to Todd the grin grows with a toothy nature. "I told you /someone/ lived there." Then back to the vampire with a searching gaze. "Next you'll tell him it isn't Christmas. He was all excited too." Joaquim is now smartass from head to toe.

One might wonder such a thing about Todd, but it's one of the many mysteries about his condition. When Michael makes that little comment, he gives a perplexed but polite little smile. "Oh, this isn't /my/ home," he says, and points at Joao. "It's his. We're having…Christmas dinner. Or…something." His smile falters a little, and he glances to Joao. "Um? I told you, it's not /my/ home. My home has pine trees. And roses."

Michael studies Todd for a moment, he's tempted to leave the pair to their conversation, but Mike doesn't like the smartass routine. "You have the address in your notes; Hope House." He shrugs a shoulder to Joaquim, and then looks back to Todd. "And it's not Christmas, it's still Summer." He sounds almost bored, his expression thoughtful as it rests on Joaquim. "And what exactly is your interest in this?"

Todd blinks a few times, frowning as he looks at his watch. "…Oh. Well. That explains the weather…" he mutters, as he checks the date. He pulls out his notepad next, all confused about things as he flips through it. For now, he leaves Michael and Joao to chat as he becomes absorbed with searching through the pages of information.

Joaquim is getting a bit fidgety, be it Michael or Todd's instance, but either way, he tries to transfer the bag back to the amnesiac, "Here, mind taking this for a couple?" The other hand fumbles for the pack sprouting from the t-shirt pocket hidden under a flap of the loose lime button-up shirt. All of this while considering what to say to Michael. "I was helping him out. He was confused - as you heard."

Michael seems amused for a moment, his smile fades almost immediately however, he studies Joaquim for a long moment and then speaks in colder somewhat firmer tones. "I don't care what your intentions with Todd were, but I suggest you don't lie to me. I dislike being lied to." He turns his attention to Todd for a moment, waiting for him to catch up.

Todd fumbles with his notepad and the bag after it is handed to him. It's rather difficult to manipulate the pages one-handed, after all. Still, nothing is dropped, and he finally just shakes his head. "There's nothing in here about pine trees and roses. I don't know why I'm thinking of that," he says, taking on a rather bemused expression as he glances back and forth between Michael and Joao. His gaze wanders to the bag, and he brightens. "Ooh, strawberries!"

Rather then get annoyed, Joao gets confusedly amused, volleying back to Michael, "What in the hell did I lie to you about?" An oddly protective step is taken in front of the human while facing the other, but over his shoulder he throws a grin at Todd. "There's oranges and yousquats too. We're gonna make fruit pie and juice when we get you home." One eye is always kept on the man that the Shifter isn't sure is a man.

Michael looks at Todd and then to the building. "Your armband then? That mentions that you're to be returned to Hope House? This is as the sign suggests Hope House." He looks at Joaquim once more, he's not amused. "You're that there are carers inside? And that I was here when you were telling Todd that it was /someone's/ home rather than his?" He shrugs a shoulder. "As I said I don't particularly care. Just as long as you don't lie to me again." He nods to Todd. "Good evening, I'll likely see you around." He turns his attention back to Joaquim. "I sometimes wonder what they think letting him out, he's hardly able to function in the real world. It's pure luck that he hasn't found himself in trouble." With that Michael begins on his way once more.

Todd already has a strawberry out and takes a bite as he glances back and forth between Michael and Joaquim. As Michael goes off on his spiel, Todd's friendly expression falters, and he suddenly seems to lose his appetite. "I'm /right/ here," he murmurs, uncomfortably, and cuts his eyes back to Joao. "I should go inside," he says, in a small voice. He glances down to the bag, then back to Joao. "Do you want your fruit back?"

Joao stands silently for Michael's rebuke, not twitching even a muscle, and then when the vampire is finished, he bends to light the cigarette much like he did earlier - not that Todd would remember. A prolonged inhale draws the drug out and into his lungs, sedating any residual feeling that he might have had. Disappointment seeps past the short-term high as the human retreats from his little game. "It's your fruit, buddy. I was just carrying it for you." Note the difference between how he says the word 'buddy' to Michael and the way he says it to Todd. It's much more familiar to the man he's spent the latter part of his day with.

Todd was uncomfortable before, but now he's uncomfortable /and/ flustered. "Oh. Well… I'm so sorry. I…I really am. Um. I hope you didn't have any…inconvenience…" He forces a little smile, and looks up toward the building. There's a slight slump to his shoulders that wasn't there before, but he continues to force something approximating his usual cheerfulness. "Funny, how some places just don't feel like home, right? I mean…I guess I must have felt at home somewhere. Don't you think? Everyone ought to feel at home once…"

Joao leaps in the opening with a bright open friendly grin, "You mean somewhere with roses and pine trees? A real good mom to make you pies and fruit cake? Call your name all soft one minute and loud and trilling when you've broken something?" Yes, he's trying to trigger that switch in Todd and his sharp chin remains cocked with hope. There's also a little comment dropped in to try and change up the mood that had descended. "You /do/ have a really cool nose." A drag is taken on the cigarette to stop up the hole that keeps leaking in weird desperation.

Todd blinks a little at Joao. In fact, he's blinking really hard, and his eyes seem a touch more moist than they were a moment previous. "Yeah. Something like that." Luckily, he is quickly distracted by Joao's comment, a blush rising up into his cheeks as he ducks his head and gives a little embarrassed grin. "Oh, it's just a nose. But…thanks…?"

Good, maybe now Todd won't be left with a bad taste from their interaction. Damn vampire. Joao looses a bit of his luster as he squints in the general direction Michael went. "You got a pen? I suspect you actually write stuff in that little book, huh?" All attention is back and keenly focused on the fruit bearing man.

Todd smiles uncertainly. "Sure…" He reaches for his pocket, and fishes out a pen. "If it's important. Do I need to write something?" he wonders, already digging out the notebook.

The cigarette pinched between lips as Joao snatches the pen out of Todd's hand, only to reach out, palm up and open in a silent request for that very same hand. The pen mimics writing in the air to suggest he wants to write something on it.

Todd reacts without thinking with an automatic, "/Hey/. That's mine…" It almost seems to be an instinctive thing. A moment later, with vague embarrassment, he seems to realize what Joao intended, and he opens his hand so Joao can write on it.

Joao scribbles in a childlike script: 'Remember Joao. Be kind to rodents.' Then the pen is closed and popped back into Todd's pocket as he takes a step back, pulling the cigarette out of his mouth while twin streams of smoke are expelled from the keen nose. "You're a cool dude, Todd. Beware of sharp dressed men." Referring to Michael and all his kind.

Todd looks at his hand after Joao has written on it, twisting his hand a bit to be able to read it more easily. He glances up at Joao, and smiles vaguely. "Well, thanks!" He still has that slightly puzzled look that seems a nearly permanent part of his expression, and soon it becomes clear why as he glances back to his hand. "So. Who's…Joe-ah-oh, again?"

"Me." Joao responds with a smile. "But you don't say it like that." Even though he knows he won't be remembered, or how it should be spoken, he still gives an attempt. "You remember Zsa Zsa Gabor? It starts off like that and then you pretend you stubbed your toe - ow. Put it together - Zsa - ow!" He takes a drag while watching to see if it sinks in.

Todd looks a little bemused. "Zsa Zsa who? That's a funny name… Zha…ow. Hm. Joao. I like it. Nice to meet you, Joao," he says, holding out a hand for him to shake, if he wants. About that time, there is a sudden shrill, "/Todd/!" from the porch of the house, and Todd flinches. "Todd Landers where have you been? Rose has been losing her /mind/ over you…" It's a rather plump, rolling-pin armed woman with dark hair. She does not look happy. Todd gives Joao a rueful little grin, and offers, "I should go. See you around, though!"

Joao takes the hand and gives it an energetic shake, smiling in an odd way as he continues to blatantly peer at Todd. Then the woman hollers. He isn't keen on mothers, or whatever the hell this woman is, so in that instant he's gone like a fond memory, disappearing into the alley to join the other city rats.

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