The Archaeologist's Find

Discussion in 'THREAD ARCHIVES' started by Kitti, Apr 29, 2012.

  1. The first thing that one would notice about the land, were they arrive by plane, would be the nearly oppressive heat that seemed to pervade every last foot of the land to where the mere thought of colder temperature was almost something that the mind could not longer picture. Arrive by other means, the heat was a more gradual shift, slowly taking hold in a way that was not immediately noticeable. The twin to the heat, which made it all the more stifling, was the humidity that hung wet in the air like a sheet of moisture draped over all that it touched.

    In this climate, plants thrived, which made sense enough. The leafy trees that made up the emerald canopy received plenty of liquid to sustain their life function and the soil, which was tangibly wet due to the humidity, was filled with untold nutrients that fed the trees as they grew taller and taller, their branches reaching to the skies. There was shade in many areas, though the dappled sunlight would find any gap possible and filter down through the broad leaves of the trees to reach the ground below and urge what plants it could into growth. Some of them adapted to the low light, gaining energy from other sources instead. More than one plant native to the area had been known to feed on the small animals that would unwittingly come too close.

    From several of the trees, fruit hung low, ripening on the branch and some of it falling, rotted, to the ground for animals to scavenge. The sweet smell of rotting fruit wafted on the gentle breeze, calling to all the creatures that might feat upon it and spread the seeds. Happy helpers, insects hummed through the air, some content to feed on the sticky fruit mush while others were more inclined to target the soft-furred mammals, feeding on their blood.

    The small, off-white boat that had been coming ever closer to land finally touched gently against the shore and a flurry of activity followed this, suddenly hopping to motion as it did so. A dark-skinned man with many wrinkles across his brow moved to the front of the boat with a steady swagger - he was clearly at home in the setting and confident with himself and his sea legs had been gained long since, thus he hadn't been affected by their trip in the slightest. From the side of the boat, a girl turned quickly, her braid trailing behind her hand in the air, creating a gentle arc as she spun to grab her things. She was slightly paler in the face than she ought to be and while her wide eyes and expression denoted great excitement, her complexion and unsteady gait belied her inexperience.

    As soon as they touched land, Lauren had ceased admiring the plant life and animal that she could see from her position leaning over the side of the boat. A tiny patch, pale yellow in color, stood out against her skin and she peeled it off hastily before gathering her rucksack. She hated being seasick, envied the other two men for their apparent composure, and truly detested the seasickness patch that she had to wear every time she stepped foot onto a boat. It made her, in her opinion, look hesitant and pampered, which she did not like. She compensated as best she could by being even more eager than usual, a difficult feat. She did not want to make her fellow archaeologist regret allowing her to come along with him for this incredible opportunity.

    "Ready, then! I've got my bag, is there anything more you'd like me to grab for you, sir?"
  2. Back up north the weather felt crisp and chilled every time the winter air kissed the skin. Old Man Winter showed his kindness to some and unleashed his wrath unto others. Comforting those who lived through it in such a way that one either felt invigorated into staying awake or caused them to bundle up under blankets in the human equivalent of hibernation. All plants but the stubborn evergreens felt the cold embrace all the way until spring thawed the icy grip of death and allowed life to flourish once more. None enjoyed the cold more than those who could appreciate it in comparison to intense heat and unbearable humidity.

    Every airport they had stopped at along the way, the young man with raven black hair removed a layer of clothing. Other colleagues' advice on packing for warm weather were validated every mile flown further into the southern hemisphere. For once he had listened to others and heeded their advice. Only a fool would come down into Brazil this time of year expecting chilly winds. Though it did not stop the weather up in Maine from hitting the low twenties early in the morning when he boarded his own flight. Bangor always had a knack for chilling one right down to the bone if they were unprepared for the unforgiving weather in January.

    By the time he had arrived at the final destination he had nothing left but a white dress shirt and finely tailored tan slacks along with brown leather shoes. Fine leather gloves kept each of his precious digits safe from even the prospect of frostbite. Items which made it clear he enjoyed luxuries above all else. All his other articles of winter cloth now found themselves either draped along his leaf green rolling suitcase or hanging over his right shoulder. Realizations of just how hot his destination would be really started to sink in upon experiencing it himself. Luck came for a short time in the form of air conditioning on the plane yet it could not stop the feeling of increasing heat at each airport the pair stopped at.

    Minus all the bulky clothing one could now tell he was rather slim and borderline lanky. A man who exercised his brain more than his body. Though he remained healthy regardless. After all no one with poor eating habits would remain so thin unless they possessed one helluva hyper-metabolism. Perhaps he was the type who owned a treadmill? Either way no one could deny his striking features that looked every bit as handsome with or without the thin-framed glasses which adorned his face. Titanium made the thinness of these frames more than acceptable through sheer durability. A must since the jungle paid little mind to the cost of prescription eye-wear.

    Irritation colored his face during the entire flight until finally reaching the final destination along with his colleague. Sunlight glared off the reflective lenses of his glasses turning them from clear to a much darker shade to hide hazel eyes. Beads of sweat collected along his brow as the blood in his veins had yet to thin out from the seasonal norm of thickening up for the winter cold. Soon enough they would enter the fishing village which he had arranged for them to stay in for the sake of closeness to their true objective in coming to Brazil. For all the annoyances the climate caused their surroundings exemplified natural beauty. Even then his eyes narrowed behind the shaded lenses every time the high-pitched whine of an insect reached his ears. After he swatted a few of them away he looked over at Lauren with his lips curved into an all too familiar frown. For all her optimistic nature, he countered Lauren every step of the way with a stern expression that only relented once in a blue moon.

    "Yes. Find a place in your bag for my coat. None of my luggage has enough room for it right now. The thought of it getting sullied during our travels is an unpleasant one. My mind has hounded me with it the moment after I took it off in the first place. Get it done before we get off the boat."

    A pause came halfway through him handing the coat to her as another thought crossed his mind.

    "I hope our supply of insect repellent does not run out during our little expedition. Even after all the inoculations I took, I would like to remain disease free. I trust this little expedition of ours will be worth it though. If we get another chance though I'd like to buy some more before we enter the jungle. Something tells me there's a lack of kiosks giving away free samples out there."

    Less than a moment later he added yet another comment.

    "Try not to stick your hand in the water. You might not get all your fingers back if a piranha sees them as a tasty snack."

    Snobbish nature infiltrated every level of his tone that came out a little deeper than one might expect from just looking at his face, with a sarcasm that came from selfish negativity more than trying to get someone else to laugh. Yet there was also a keenness of intellect in his voice that made it clear one would not be wise to try outwitting him. Even on a bad day. For this reason alone the pair had run into little resistance even after crossing the border. Classes in foreign languages from his college years and the time spent never allowing himself to get out of practice came in handy. Those who wanted to pursue archaeology needed to know languages both dead and alive in order to achieve success.

    Which was exactly what allowed him to turn toward the captain of the boat and ask how much longer the boat ride would be without a single mispronunciation.

    After they arrived at a dock long overdue for maintenance less than an hour later both of them exited the boat as the raven-haired man ordered around helpers at the dock as though he were the one who hired them in the first place. Just moments after fussing over how their guide should have arrived already he wiped the sweat from his face and ran his fingers through his hair. Few would dare to anger him if they knew his reputation. Half the time total strangers felt his reputation established itself with a fearsome swiftness through his actions alone. Though the American currency he dispensed might have had a hand to play in how the proceedings moved with such smoothness.

    "All I want is to rest in a bed for a few hours and change my clothes. . . is that really asking too much?"

    Not to mention how much they put up with him.

  3. With the dour tone of voice coming from the man by her side usually being enough to dampen the spirits of all of those they encountered, it had never seemed to upset Lauren or cut down her indomitable spirit. His warning about her fingers not coming back from piraƱas did not alarm her in the slightest, though it did stifle her urge to run her fingers over the gently rippling waves. Her question had mostly been rhetorical, she had not expected him to take her up on the offer, though in hindsight she supposed that she should have considered that possibility a little more strongly.

    "You know, if you were just going to sulk about it, you should have left it at home. I'm sure it was cold in Maine but honestly. You could have just sucked it up and turned the heater on, you know" while she was still chipper and cheerful about her response, her deft hands were moving in swift motions to fold the jacket neatly. It was bulkier than she'd like to have with her, even just folded in her dull green duffel, but she made no complaint about carrying it with her after the initial heckling. She slung the bag over her shoulder and followed him quickly, her effervescent smile firmly in place as she thanked each person whose feathers he managed to ruffle just walking along.

    Her outfit was a contrast to his in many ways, though the colors were the same, and due to the colors it was simple enough to determine that they were on this adventure together. His crisp white dress shirt, or it had been crisp before he'd sweated in it profusely, matched her nearly transparent white linen shirt and his khaki slacks were analogous to her khaki shorts. Beneath the shorts, she wore a pair of thin white socks pulled up to her knees and tapering ever so slightly before disappearing into sand-colored hiking boots. She had the fresh look of a college student, especially with her pale gold braid trailing down her back, which did not match her true age by any means. She was a breath of fresh air in the sour and sullen wake of Vincent, trying to mend frayed feelings behind his back as she moved.

    "Catch more flies with honey, Vincent" she chimed brightly to his back, the corners of her mouth edging upward to her cheekbones in a wry smile. "Not to say that your method of getting things done isn't effective." She stifled a smile behind her hand and hurried along behind him, nearly keeping pace with his smooth gait. They would soon get to the nearest approximation of an inn available, a breezy hut of a place with two open rooms for guests. One of the rooms was already taken by a chubby photographer with a patch of a macaw on the sleeve of his shirt, leaving the other room to Vincent and Lauren. Fortunately, there were two small wooden frames in the room, though it was certain from the looks on the faces of the women that they did not envy Lauren even having to share a room with the man.

    "If you want to sleep, you'll have a bit of time. Not too much, mind you, but you can rest yourself up and perhaps get changed. Then we're going to need to be on our way again" she mentioned, her gaze passing over the small room. She shot him a cheeky smile, dropping the sack on the floor as she did so. He would likely complain about the lack of a usable shower, she knew, but the bed was something at least.
  4. Most of her cheerful comments fell on deaf ears as they approached the hut which contained their accommodations. Not a single word came out of his mouth in response to the cheerful little digs at his sour disposition. For all his unkindness to others Lauren enjoyed a somewhat uncharacteristic reprieve from his vicious tongue. All the way down to Brazil she had endured his disregard toward others while not a single word of it found itself aimed at her. Though it never protected her from hearing him complain about others to her during the flight. Perhaps deep down he realized how much her presence made up for his lack of people skills? Yet sometimes silence held much more venom in it than words.

    She's the only one who has been my assistant before and NOT requested a transfer at the next opportunity. . .

    Now inside of the hut they walked along what looked like wooden flooring created in haste along with a single handwoven rug of yellows and purples in the middle of the room. Vincent had gone to great lengths to find a place with a wooden floor rather than an earthen one. Lucky for him this tiny little place had come into his knowledge through overhearing the locals talk on previous trips into this region of Brazil. Flowers even adorned the hand carved wooden dresser which separated the two beds. A nice touch even if it did not put a smile on the raven-haired man's face. Everything tried it's best to come off as inviting with a type of rustic jungle charm.

    Diminished levels of sunlight reflecting against the specialty lenses revealed him looking right at the blond without shame of getting caught. Did he appreciate her patience with him? Or was it suspicion as to why she did it? Very few had proven in the past they could stand him on the phone let alone as a travelling companion. Even worse. . . as a temporary roommate or even sharing a tent if things came down to it. Just what did she get out of all this? A few theories existed within his calculating mind about why she had taken the position as his colleague on this expedition. Often, despite the promise of his hunches, other archaeologists flat out refused to work with him and often felt no regrets even after Vincent made an important discovery. At the very least it guaranteed him credit which garnered the support of wealthy benefactors who funded him.

    "I hope we find a shower somewhere when we arrive in Bolivia. I refuse to bathe with the piranha. Even so this room is adequate."

    A room he made sure found itself paid for in advance with money from his benefactors just as their airfare had been. Major costs required a reliable way to pay them off quick. Everything else actually came from Vincent's own pocket such as food expenses. Lauren might not have paid attention to who paid for what bills but in truth he would pay for everything she needed on their little expedition. A silent way to show some signs of kindness or at least a way to deny getting called a scrooge. Though it would not deprive him of much. Vincent still had plenty over other unkind names people could use to replace his name. . . with ease.

    "At least I have a chance to rest."

    Vincent sat down on the side of his bed after pulling his rolling suitcase up next to it and started to remove his fine leather shoes along with a pair of rather expensive looking socks. Barefoot at last, he leaned back until his spine rested against the bed. Staring up at the ceiling with his feet still touching the floor, thoughts running through his mind while spreading his toes. Silence descended upon the two while his eyes bore a hole into the roof with their focused stare.Music suddenly started to play in the room next door to theirs. Some sort of smooth jazz deployed to ease the mind of the room's occupant while they did whatever they were doing in there.

    "Now if you don't mind Lauren I'd like to change clothes. Go explore the village or something while we're still here. You seem to enjoy meeting new people."

    Rather than start dancing around the point or just outright disrobing right before her eyes, Vincent made his wishes known without hesitation. Yet his associate might swear she saw a flicker of a smirk on his lips meant to taunt. Could he be testing her? Vincent putting active effort into testing another person came off on a whole different level to his natural charm.One would find him pulling punches on the same level of rarity as a blue moon. Brutal honesty was one way to describe his choice of tact. Respect for others did not factor into his mindset unless the person actually found a way to earn his respect over time.

    "Wake me when its time."

  5. The room was something oddly charming in the middle of the river village that they had stopped in and Lauren was honestly surprised at how homey the little room seemed to be. The flooring was wood, even if hastily crafted, and there was not just a rug but flowers. Native to the area, of course, she thought, her eyes flickering over the thick pink cone of the quesnelia testudo, paired hastily with a wispy gravilia banksii. Her smile was genuine at the care put into trying to make the room more lovely and from his final judgement - adequate! she could tell that Vincent appreciated it as well.

    He immediately made himself as at home there as Vincent would ever be, willing even to change his clothes. That meant, at least, that he was not too disgruntled by the settings. She'd heard him remark once that he was afraid to unclothe in a place for fear of catching some sort of parasite. She smiled now, not even bothering to hide the grin behind her hand. He was teasing her, that much she could tell, and she was plenty amused by the subtle personality shift. For her loyalty to him, he was allowing her a glimpse of his personality beyond insisting on getting his way. Not that she doubted that he was a very demanding and critical person, no one could deny it from meeting him, but she'd stuck near him.

    It had been a puzzle to the other graduate students why she would stay with her first "test" assignment with Vincent. In truth, she appreciated his lack of guile and his blunt words didn't disturb her. It was comforting in a way to know that if she messed up, she would certainly be the first to hear about it. Clearly a master of his field, learning from Vincent might not be the easy route to take but the most rewarding things were rarely easy. Besides, his comments were never unduly cruel. He was either complaining, as was the case with the shower situation at hand, or he was giving criticisms for how to improve. What better way to learn than to be taught by the best, who held back no words for fear of being harsh?

    "Well, Vincent, you haven't upset enough people for me to consider just leaving you here while I wander about on my own. Besides, you and your acidic disposition will surely scare away anything that dares approach us out there. I'm far safer with you with me, until I learn your technique of making the very mosquitos feel ashamed for their biting technique when they bit you." Lauren winked at Vincent before waving and turning, fully intending on doing just what he'd suggested. She'd wanted to explore the village a bit anyway and she wasn't quite to the point of feeling tired, yet. Especially when there was so much here that she had only seen in her textbooks of the area.

    Thinking back to those blandly written, beautifully illustrated books she felt a sudden twinge of excitement, a thrill in her heart. She couldn't believe that she was actually standing on Brazilian soil, hearing the hum of foreign insects in her ears and admiring the plant life that hundreds of years ago, someone from where she was from couldn't have ever dreamed of seeing. She'd even been warned not to skim her fingers through the Amazon River. Such beautiful words that had only represented a fairytale land to her before that were rapidly becoming familiar to her, memories etched indelibly into her mind. Smiling to some of the locals of the village, she approached and began in Portuguese and, from their body language, could tell that they understood. Thank you, Brazil, for being somewhat predictable sometimes. This village was at least large enough that the inhabitants spoke the main language. The locals listened intently and, for a bit of the coin in her pocket, were happy to show her around.

    Their little tour ended perhaps two hours later, after introducing Lauren to the plant life that she'd previously only read about and even showing her some of the animals that meandered through the village with hardly a care. Glancing down at her watch, Lauren was horrified to realize that she'd been so distracted, she hadn't even realized it had been an hour and a half. She had enough time, still, since the claim had been that they would not be prepared for another two hours, but she still worried about the prospect of Vincent waking up and leaving her if she was late.
  6. Vincent waited until the woman with hair of pale gold shut the door behind her before making his rounds through the room. Privacy found itself assured by the drawing of curtains that while a little on the thin side hid the interior of the hut from onlookers well enough. After locking the door Vincent started unbuttoning his shirt, letting it rest on the bed after it had been folded with care. It revealed pale skin and an easily visible rib cage for all the room to see and marvel at. Well, not really. Soon his fine-tailored pants joined the dress shirt. At the end of it all a pair of tanned hiking boots came to rest on the floor at the foot of his bed. The time to wear them would come later and after that they would not come off again for a long time. If anyone caught a glimpse of him through one means or another they might notice an odd habit: for every piece of clothing removed a clean one took it's place.

    Only a fresh appliance of deodorant interrupted the process.

    His white dress shirt found itself replaced by a bone colored Baja style long-sleeve shirt used on safaris complete with a new scientific innovation that bonded insect repellent into the very fibers for up to seventy washes. Cigar colored pants that could zipper off into shorts shared the same useful innovation. Vincent had gone out out of his way to procure three more sets of clothing just like these to bring along for the trip. All of them were packed away inside his rolling suitcase. Opening up a different part of his suitcase, he stuffed the sweaty clothes inside one part and then stuck his leather dress shoes inside the space his hiking boots occupied not all that long ago.

    Once everything had finished he laid face down on the bed, not even placing himself under the covers. Just before passing out his glasses were placed inside an olive drab case made of composite materials guaranteed to provide durability under multiple circumstances. That was placed right on the edge of his nightstand. Muffled smooth jazz continued to play in the next room distorted just enough so that the song remained unrecognizable. Rested against a somewhat firm pillow, his head turned from left to right for a minute or two as the hazel eyed man got himself settled in for a nap.

    Soon enough his eyes closed as he drifted off to sleep.

    Fifteen minutes passed by until a dream finally started to take form in his mind. Jungle plants surrounded him on all sides at sizes three times too large or two sizes too small compared to what they should have been. All around him buzzed noises that were not quite those of any insect he had ever heard before. Lauren was nowhere to be seen and yet he had the unmistakable feeling that he was supposed to find her. Vincent started to shout her name out into he jungle only to not even hear it echo back. Sounds of monkeys screeching in fear came as the only reply to his calls for the young woman.

    Underneath his feet the ground started to shake as gigantic roots with insectoid compound eyes tore loose from the ground.

    Everything started to go fuzzy just like when he failed to wear his glasses. Now the ground split into a vast chasm that threatened to swallow him into an endless void whole. He started to fall only to manage grabbing hold of a jagged edge with his left hand and then his right. Clawing at the edge, Vincent tried to get out with nothing less than the desperation of survival. An abyss awaited him below while the roots with so many eyes wrought havok on the jungle around him. Trees were left toppled in a wake of utter destruction as these terrifying roots cleared a massive hole in the thick canopy. A fearsome shadow towered over him now, filling the mere mortal with an undeniable urge to look at the source of the sinister shadow. Upon glancing upward all his eyes could make out was blurry beast of leaves and vines and fangs and claws. Both arms on the monster were as thick as tree trunks that ended in sharp claws while the maw of the beast itself had a strange quality to it that his blurred vision would not allow him to identify.

    Luckily for Lauren, he was so exhausted from the trip thus far he managed to escape the nightmare only a few minutes before she returned.

    Just enough time to compose himself.

  7. Much to Lauren's chagrin, when she arrived at the makeshift inn, Vincent was already sitting up on the bed. Fortunately, she wasn't running late, though, he had simply awoken before she was there to alert him that they needed to go. She felt a bit put out, despite the fact that it meant that they would be ready to go sooner and with less fuss. Possibly it meant that she wasn't needed along, anyway? Then again, when had Vincent ever needed anyone?

    By scaring away all of the graduate students that he was given, Vincent had assured himself to be a master without apprentices in his way that he would need to waste time teaching. Intimidating fellow archaeologists had meant that his haughty position above the rest was unchallenged as he singlehandedly retrieved priceless artifacts of ancient civilizations. It was almost sad, really, Lauren thought, though she would never express this thought with Vincent. He was at the top, possibly the most respected archaeologist in the world to those who had not met him, and yet he was alone there. No surprise, given his tendency to hold no punch, but she wasn't always sure that he had wanted quite this path.

    Grabbing her bag from the floor, she made no mention of him waking before she returned and was instead smiling at him cheerfully. He seemed his usual self, as distant as always, but a bit less frazzled. She was glad to see that the nap had done him some good overall and that he seemed to be on a more even keel. not that she could be any real judge of that until he opened his mouth and actually spoke to people besides herself, but his expression seemed a little softer than it had before he went to sleep. Not that she mind his thorough tongue-lashing of the people around him -- they usually deserved it and someone had to do it. She was actually a bit grateful that she didn't have to worry about making sure people did their job. There was every likelihood that she would have been a terrible manager had she pursued some sort of career with a hierarchal system.

    "Everything should be just about ready, sir! It's been nearly two hours since we stopped, so things should be good to go. We'll soon be in Bolivia at this rate. If we stop at a large enough town, you'll probably be able to get a shower, even. How much do we owe them for our use of the room?" Lauren was already rummaging around in her room for the smaller sack in which she kept currently useful currency. She never had too much on her, since people could not always be trusted to be honest, but she had plenty to pay for the room, she was certain.

    She noticed, without remarking, that Vincent had changed clothing already and his attire now much more easily matched her own, save for the fact that she could smell the bug repellant from where she stood and that, even as simple as the garments were, his still made him look like he could buy everything she owned with a single hand motion. Probably true, she reminded herself. He was famous, after all.

    "I'm surprised, really, that you chose me to accompany you, you know? I mean, this is going to be so huge and I'm certainly not top of the field yet. I mean, it's my goal to eventually be an authority on ancient civilization and be published in journals and all, but I'm pretty new to it all. Surely there were scores of others in the field who wanted in on this big break, right?"
  8. Pity for him from the girl was lost on Vincent, as he knew nothing of her feelings on his position in life. Just how lonely was he? The extent of his isolation would not shock those who knew his disposition well enough. Quite a few would say he earned it with no shame in such a dig at him. Yet the reasons still remained shrouded in the fog of the past and the mists of his own memories. Some event somewhere must have shaped him into a man with such an unforgiving tongue. Even then just one singular instance could not have such a profound effect. No one had shot his parents in a dark alleyway or killed his uncle. Otherwise spandex might have taken the place of safari gear. An exact number of defining events in any person's life would end up difficult to estimate.

    Upon the mention of paying for the room a tiny chortle managed to escape his lips. He reached down for the hiking boots near his bed with one hand, then going to grab a fresh pair of socks with the other. One foot at a time. Socks went on first and found themselves meticulously aligned until achieving perfection so that the grey heels lined up with his own. No less would satisfy him even if no other saw those socks. Hiking boots came next with little ssurprise. Laces were pulled on with precision so that they came out to an equal length before he started to tie the knots which would keep everything snug. Double knots for twice the durability that required just a little extra effort to untie. Not even for a single second did he look away or allow his vision to focus upon anything else but tying the knot for each shoe.

    "My benefactors have already taken care of our accommodations for this entire expedition. You need not concern yourself with our finances."

    Finally a few seconds later the question he had actually expected while they were still up in the skies of the USA rather than a riverside village. The fact she had waited so long might have even impressed him. After all now they were away from those potential 'ears in the wall' which often plagued Vincent in his travels. Patience certainly was a virtue of the woman he had chosen to accompany him. It would serve her well. At least in surviving an extended period of time with him for certain.

    "Yes. . . several others were trying to get in on this opportunity."

    But so far you're the only one I trust not to kill me when we're out in the jungle.

    Only after he finished putting on his shoes did Vincent look up at Lauren with penetrating eyes like two scalpels. A look that often unnerved others when directed upon them and not the artifacts found in ancient ruins. Those hazel eyes contributed a million times their weight in gold to the field of archaeology with knowledge discovered through the surgical fashion which he often examined his own discoveries or even others. Right now one could say he did not look into her eyes but into her very retinas. The exactness of those eyes had a terrifying intensity thatmay have led to him wearing glasses. Just how hard did he strain himself to see what others had overlooked? Did his dedication know no bounds?

    "I have my own reasons for choosing you. Try your best to make me not regret it."

    Charm had no place in his voice and tact had no home in his tone. Deception from Vincent came from him outwitting the other person or even entire groups of people through sheer intellect and a well chosen vocabulary. Buzzwords, to him, were scraps that the scavengers in his field gnawed on when they had nothing left to say. All the words that ever came from his mouth had a point even when he ranted. Tangents held a purpose when he went off on them through sheer will forcing them to stay relevant. All of it so that in the end whoever listened all the way would come away a little bit wiser. Intelligence that most got grey hairs before earning dwelled within a head covered in thick, yet soft, raven black hair.

    "You know they've made our job easy for us with all the deforestation. All the mystery is almost gone from this part of the world."

    Vincent had spoken again while gazing around them only after they had loaded everything onto the boat without any sort of trouble. All the workers remembered him quite well from mere hours ago. They also remembered Lauren quite well and appeared as though they did not want to forget the young woman. Several of them could be caught staring at her backside if she dared to turn around at any given moment. Yet Vincent's gaze would never be found there. . . nothing there held his curiosity and therefore none of his interest. But what did serve as a little bit interesting was the sound of bitterness in his voice as though the entire world had conspired to rob him of some mystical experience. A conspiracy that of course predated his birth by more than just a decade let alone before his parents had even met one another.

    A few minutes before Lauren would witness a fit of talking from Vincent that often only came out during his lectures. But this one was just a little different. Instead of talking about archaeology he was talking about himself. A subject most would not pay tuition fees to hear about three times a week on Monday Wednesday and Friday from 1pm to 3pm. So why talk to her about this? Perhaps this was why he had brought her along? Did he feel he had found someone that would listen? Someone worthy of listening to him? Or was he just a lonely man with anti-socal tendencies? Time was the only thing that could tell for sure.

    "You know how they have those dreadfully drawn out specials on armageddon, the antichrist, or Atlantis on TV? I've never watched one. Not a single one. And do you know why Lauren? Because they are a waste of time. They have not found a damned thing that cannot be found in a book or on the internet. If they had found something it would be on international news within a week. Long before they could craft some long drawn out TV special to announce their discoveries. Certainly before they could hire some famous actor to narrate it. It is why I have never agreed to do one of them. And I never will. Not for my discoveries. I write books instead. I write books and I teach courses."

    Dead in the eyes, he looked right at her without even blinking.

    "That is where my money is born. I lack the charm to be one of those TV personalities."

    Ranting had gotten him rather worked up to the point that he sighed before finally falling silent for a few minutes and staring at his reflection as it got distorted by ripples in the river. Whether he was allowing her to have input or just wanted to relax remained a mystery. Others on the boat refused to comment on what he said at all. For once he was not getting on their case and that was enough to keep their mouths shut. God knew it took very little for him to start coming down on someone and if they responded with anything other than acceptance it only got more intense. All it really proved was that he could make people hundreds of miles away from Maine feel just the same as his students and fellow colleagues felt. Luckily for those on the boat, none of them had a term paper due to him.

    "Yes. . . we'll get to Bolivia soon enough. As long as we avoid Chile we'll be fine."

  9. The knowledge that their every accommodation was being paid for by the benefactors of the trip was nearly enough to make Lauren drop the small coin purse of currency. The whole thing was paid for, entirely? There would be no worry of money the entire trip, just the focus on the discovery? It was incredible and certainly not what she had expected from the adventure. Most of her colleagues had complained about running out of funding partway through or having to cover the price of an airplane ticket themselves. It dawned upon Lauren that she hadn't bothered to question Vincent when he had called her and told her to meet him at the airport but not to worry about booking her own flight. He had seemed so in control, she hadn't even though to argue.

    Watching a moment longer, waiting for her full answer from Vincent on why he chose her, Lauren watched him adjusting his socks. His fingers moved slowly, meticulously aligning the indicated hell of the sock over his own foot in the correctly corresponding place. Neatness was clearly important to him, a determination that was not feigned, since none would see his socks. Clearly, it was important just to him that things be in perfect order. This little quirk amused Lauren, though she did not want to appear so irreverent as to chuckle at Vincent for no apparent reason. Instead, she allowed a small smile to tweak the corners of her lips instead, an expression that was not lost when he finally did finish. Through the tying of his laces, Lauren continued to be amused by his careful work and attention to detail as he created perfectly formed little double knots that would hold well but were, more than that, entirely symmetrical. That was a talent in and of itself, she mused.

    His own reasons? It was obvious that he did not wish to elaborate further and she was not desperate for any further answer. Perhaps he had thought that she was reaching for compliments even, which was not her intended goal but rather an accident of curiosity. He was staring at her, that unfathomable look that seemed to pierce straight through to the gaze of the person he looked at, or deeper if they crumbled beneath it. Instead, the look met only her unwavering emerald and the indulgent smile on her face. Their things were all gathered and packed, ready to be picked up and left with quickly, something Lauren took advantage of as she slung some bags over her shoulder. Like that, they were off once more, headed back to the crew to continue their travel.

    If men were looking twice at Lauren as she breezed past, keeping pace with her mentor, she was too oblivious to notice. Her thoughts were entirely on the topic at hand - deforestation, currently, and on the occasional waves to people who smiled and seemed to remember her. Kind words were the grease on the gears of just about any relationship, business or not, and this was to be no different, no matter the language or people. The small acknowledgements, however, were hardly more than second nature since she was listening intently to Vincent's words. Before she could come up with a response, however, he had begun to speak and it was so unexpected that she was truly caught off guard and her pace slowed a little. Vincent was speaking of himself, personally. His feelings and his thoughts.

    Worried that if she said anything about the unexpected nature of his tangent Vincent would never allow her the opportunity again, Lauren didn't comment on that at all, instead acting as though it were perfectly normal of him, despite the fact that it was not as far as she knew. Instead, she smiled at him cheekily, her eyes brightly dancing.

    "Why am I not surprised that they asked you to narrate one of those? You know, I've never really been on anything big or important before, but I've helped work on some stuff and catalogue others, that kind of thing, and the part that drives me craziest right now is all the people asking me what my opinions are on aliens and whether or not I think Machu Picchu was influenced by aliens. And I just know that whatever I say, if they have half a chance, they'll run back and print something about how 'Archaeologists believe that aliens... blah blah'. So I just stand there, looking at them dumbly, and then they treat me like I'm deaf or something, like clearly I'm stupid for passing up the opportunity for them to make me famous."

    A stipulation to this trip had involved avoiding Chile and Lauren was also dreadfully curious about why that was, though she was interrupted briefly to yell that they should make it into Brazil in roughly twenty hours. She turned back to Vincent, holding back her question until she had settled down into a comfortable sitting position against the side of the boat.

    "So, do you have something against Chile?"
  10. Not lost on him was the lack of an immediate response to his rant. Instead she waited, which came off to him as choosing her words with care and intelligence. After interpreting her silence as such he then started to listen to her actual words. Shocking to those that knew him, he let the girl finish speaking without any sort of interruption. Did he value her perspective? It had more to do with having some amount of manners than anything else. Once Lauren started to respond with her own experiences that involved the media a small amount of empathy started to form from his end since he had gone through it all before. Every look she had ever gotten he had also received ten-fold by now. Only he had not given them dumb looks, but rather a hefty piece of his mind which made every journalist who asked him that question regret it.

    A smirk came to his lips as he recalled something he had come across on the internet once.

    "I'm not saying it was aliens. But it was aliens."

    The comment came with an air of nonchalant mocking one would expect from Vincent. Rare though was the instance of him cracking a joke which one could label as a joke without much thought. More than often his humor hid itself within organizing the facts in a certain way that made those of a learned background chuckle in their heart of hearts. Riddles almost to those that heard them. On other occasions he would outright expose someone for their shoddy research, then let his lips twist into a sadistic smirk at their expense. Feelings and egos alike were left bruised with a subtle malice that stung until one could pull off a good comeback. Even then that only invited more stinging words from his vicious tongue. Both were accepted forms of his sense of humor that, like Vincent himself, pulled no punches whatsoever. No one would expect more commonplace jokes from him.

    Perhaps it was just a fluke?

    Either way when the subject of Chile came up, even those who did not speak English on the boat felt a change in the air itself. Vincent put no effort into hiding the old emotions unearthed by old memories. Salt poured into a wound that had deluded itself into thinking itself closed. Few subjects brought such true bitterness out of the seasoned archaeologist but Lauren had managed to find it with relative ease. Most had to look up his Wikipedia page to think of bringing up his history with Chile. Journalists had learned their lesson three years ago to stay off the subject which most could say he viewed as beating a dead horse.

    "I had something against Chile. Once. But currently it is more a case of them having something against me."

    A wistful sigh escaped his lips.

    "Once I was placed in charge of an expedition there into some ruins left behind by Spanish explorers. Most saw the site as sacred, a church built hundreds of years ago. Pilgrimages were made there every year by religious followers who saw it as one of the first places Christianity came into the country. For that reason many Christians in the region held it in great reverence. But I had a theory that gave the area a much older significance."

    Lauren soon found him leaning closer to her, lowering his voice down to a much more intimate level. Now only the two of them would hear his words unless someone had a directional microphone straight from the CIA pointed at their position. Very few subjects made Vincent wary of others overhearing what he had to say. Given the rather high opinion he had about his own opinion.

    "From what I had researched, somewhere in that area there had once been an old temple. But no one could find it. Then I suggested that the Spainards had built over the temple with their chapel and that in the catacombs there might still be traces of the original structure. But other archaeologists along with religious figures despised the thought of my tearing through one of their old structures just to find another. They only cared about one part of the past. . . not the whole truth."

  11. It was reassuring for Lauren to note the softening of features when she spoke about the media. Of course he would understand how she felt - he was much more famous than she was and had been dealing with them longer. Still, it was something in common between them and she appreciated his little smirk at the thought of something funny, probably something that he had told one of the reporters. She couldn't even consider doing what she imagined he had done, he was not one to hold his tongue and Lauren was certain that he had given at least one a thorough tongue-lashing. Judging by his small smile, she imagined that this was exactly the case and that he had not a single regret.

    At the explanation of what had transpired in Chile, however, Lauren had at first felt the change in tone and thought that maybe she would be reprimanded for her question, but that was not the case. She was grateful that he was willing to divulge a subject that, judging by the tone of his voice, was not a happy memory for him. When he began to speak, the crew of the boat made themselves unusually scarce since they didn't want to have to deal with the grumpy, fussy man any more but Lauren edged closer to him, her eyes widening a bit with interest.

    As Vincent went into detail about the site that he had been working on in Chile, Lauren could not help her hand from flying to her mouth. Such discoveries as his changed the very outlook on the history of the region. His work was impressive and as a result, the things that he was privileged enough to investigate changed the very impression of the history of people. There was a pang of envy in Lauren's heart, but she knew that the mission that they were on currently was also incredibly important. Just as perception shattering as his story of Chile, she hoped. As he concluded, her hand flew to her mouth and her jealousy was forgotten in favor of horror and disapproval.

    "That's so... How could they pass up a chance like that? That's an incredible find! A view of history that we have yet to see! History is written by the victors and it's a rare chance to see what they crushed and repressed with their presence! It could change how we think about ancient civilizations in the area!" her tone was appalled and her eyes were like saucers now. She almost wanted to head straight to Chile instead and start digging herself. Any further admonishments of the Chileans was cut off, however, by the rocking of the boat.

    "What was that?" she asked, her horrified expression changing instead to a confused scowl. The boat should have been on a fairly smooth course and the jarring impact on the side was not typical. She turned from Vincent and made her way to the side of the boat to look over and into the water. She was not greatly reassured by what she saw as she looked down. Was that a shadow, lurking beneath the water? Was that what they hit? Not that there was much that could harm them, protected as they were by their vessel, but she still wasn't keen on the thought.

    "Vincent, can you come have a look at this?"
  12. Though he enjoyed someone taking his side, Vincent hid the pleased feeling that came upon hearing her admonishments of the Chileans. Instead he chose to let her continue saying what he believed without having to do so himself. Years had passed since that incident and thus he had given his own opinion on it several times. No real point existed in giving a lengthy speech when the truth of what happened was enough to make others discuss it. Despite what some had called a conspiracy to not explore the church, there were those who supported his theory even after Vincent was banned from the country. One day he hoped the decision was repealed before he turned into an old man.

    Though when their small vessel was rocked everything changed.

    Stoic as he often was, the way their boat rocked made his eyes dart around with a sense of urgency as they sought out the source of the disturbance. Through one method or another he also manged to get closer to the vessel's center. After all he was not about to allow himself to get knocked overboard and fall victim to some river monster. Crocodiles and piranha were not horrors from mythology but they were still every bit capable of killing a man. At least the damned things could not fly. If they did he would never have gotten on the plane in thr first place. Let alone the river boat. Vincent had no intense desire to meet them without three feet of glass between him and them while visiting an aquarium.

    Under his feet, through the thick rubber of his hiking boots, he could feel the boat shift while whatever had struck them passed under them. Luckily he had not fallen over or had his glasses knocked off. Upon hearing Lauren call for him he carefully edged away from the center of the boat to get a good look at the lingering shadow in the water. Though his opinion on whatever was there by no means hit expert level. Biologists or any sort of specialist on animals native to the area would have been much more help right now.

    [Not finished yet.]