Level Up


caspian_icon.gif keira_icon.gif

Scene Title Level Up
Synopsis Keira returns to Caspian shortly after her talk with Tibby went south.
Date June 1, 2018

Outside Electric

Friday mornings are generally slow for Caspian. The only calls he really takes on Friday are pre-arranged things from known customers or the occasional emergency call that pays super well. Keira’s install at her precinct is going pretty good. The planning stages are over stuff has started to be delivered to a warehouse under guard for install later. If Caspian let it, the week would build up to a crazy Friday that would have him out until past dark, so he doesn't let it. Sitting on his front stoop, Caspian sips at a cup of coffee and reads the paper - a thinly printed recitation of the news of the day. If it weren't for the generator running across the street, it could have been before the war, this quaint scene.

His garage is locked but the gate is open - better to let the kids who stay next door in and out without difficulty.

An old work van, one Caspian will recognize from his time at the precinct, suddenly turns the corner, its engine roaring as it closes the distance to Caspian’s place. It comes to a stop right in front of the stoop, and the van slides open, depositing Keira and her dog Kaang on the side of the road. She closes the door and hits the side of the vehicle once, and it promptly zooms off, probably on its way back to the precinct building.

It is with a look of defeat that Keira makes her way toward the porch, occasionally dipping down to scratch Kaang atop the head — it makes her feel a little better to touch her friend every once in a while. At least she still has him.

Just sucks that Tibby decided not to give her the chance to make this up. She’ll try anyhow, but it’s still a pretty hopeless feeling to know that your best friend is that mad at you.

“Talked to Tibby,” she murmurs, frowning, as she approaches Caspian.

When the van rumbles around the corner, Caspian is following it with his eyes from behind the paper. It’s a recognizable thing, that van, so he’s not too on edge, as far as things go. He does stand when he sees Keira deposited on the curb with Kang, making his way down the steps to meet her at the bottom of the steps. “I see.” Kang is offered a hand to sniff before a scratch behind the ears is given, Caspian looking up at the tattooed woman. “I take it that since you’re here with Kang, things did not go well?”

In a strange contrast to her normal behavior, Keira seems rather…deflated. Like she isn’t all the way ‘on’ right now. She pauses before him, hesitating. “Yeah.” She lets her head droop a bit, looking a bit like a dog that knows it’s in trouble.

“She said she was goin’ for a smoke, then she took her cats and left.” She sighs softly, reaching into her pocket and pulling out her cigarettes. One is tapped out and placed in her mouth, before she offers the pack to Caspian. “Didn’t say a word otherwise, just…left.” She sighs, closing her eye and lifting a hand to rub at her forehead while her other hand fetches the lighter from her other pocket.

“Think I mighta lost a friend.” She frowns, lighting her cigarette and taking a long drag.

To Caspian's credit, he doesn't say ‘yeah’ or anything like that. He experienced this just like Keira did, some shocking revelation changing some major facet in Tibby’s life, and Tibby pulling away. “Girl really takes on the characteristics of her cats, doesn't she?” He says, waving off the offer of cigarettes. Little rule of his - no smoking at home. Turning, he puts an arm around Keira’s waist and, under Kang’s watchful eye; leads the painted blonde up the stairs to the porch and puts her in one of the seats, taking the other for himself, the cast iron squeaking a little.

He’ll oil it eventually, but for right now, nah.

“Chances are she just needs a wander to get her head straight. It isn't like we had sex on her bed or anything…. He shakes his head, taking a sip of coffee. “It's understandable, though. I think we both expected a reaction, but not that one. Are you okay, though? Need me to wire up a room in the your place for power and a/c so you’ve got a place to go? It's kind of rough. You could also crash here until we get it operational. Or were you going to try and patch things up with Tibby?”

Man, those arms of his are nice. And he smells nice. There is little objection as Caspian gently leads her to a seat; Kaang likes Caspian, so he gets a wag of the tail and a lick of the hand before following the two up the steps; he settles at Keira’s feet, leaning slightly against her leg for the sake of comforting his human.

“Expected, like, a smack to the face and a little yelling. Not for her to disappear.” Keira shrugs lifting a hand to rub at her forehead, paying particular attention to the spot immediately beneath the soft cloth patch that she sports. “Fuckin’ cats.”

She sighs after a moment. “Mind if I stay here until we get my place outfitted with power and AC? Might as well get it to th’point where I can stay there, since I’m runnin’ everything else outta there.” She’ll probably hunt down another nice brownstone somewhere and get that fixed up, too. Can never have too many places to lay your head, especially in Keira’s line of business.

Caspian nods, resting a head on Kang’s enormous head, scratching him behind the ears. “That’s not a problem. It should take me a couple of weeks to get you set up in the precinct power wise, and my spare bedroom is open until then. Next door’s been taken over by a few renters, so no room over there. Good kids, too.”

“She did it to me, but to her credit, she thought I had been blown up. Yay for forcefields keeping her safe while the explosion pitched me into a collapsed building.” He did put himself in harm’s way for Tibby, so the fact that she gave up on him utterly after meeting him still stings. A lot.

“How’s the healing going?” Caspian deftly changes the subject. “Are you going to need to sit down with The Jesus again for another dose, or are you pretty much taped up and a hundred percent, minus an eye?”

Keira sighs softly. “Well, that’s just…her, I guess.” She shrugs. “I mean, I would be pissed, too…but that’s why I went at it th’way I did.” She frowns at her cigarette as she flicks the ash. “I told her what happened…and told her I would do anything, anything to make it right. Even if it meant not talkin’ to you anymore in anythin’ other than a professional way, I woulda done it.”

She sighs, shaking her head. She still hopes that her friend will come around, but without Tibby…well, Caspian is kind of all Keira has right now, on terms of friendship.

The change of subject is welcome. “Nope, pretty much all healed up. No heavy lifting for another week or two, but I’m pretty much all good. He said something about getting me a new eye, and I was going to offer him an actual job next time I saw ‘im. Figure it would be good t’have a healer on retainer, y’know?”

She tilts her head toward him, taking another long drag from her cigarette. “Found out my ability isn’t broken after all.”

Tibby is Tibby. Nothing much more can be said about that, so he doesn't. The subject change is taken and the conversation moves to a new track. “That's good to hear, really. It wasn't nice, seeing you on the hard painkillers and using a cane. Your healer probably won't want to be on your payroll - it's too lucrative to offer to all comers instead of just one. My suggestion?” He turns to face her. “Make him an offer. Set him up with a place with no strings attached. Safe zone or no, just a place. Safe and dry. Warm in winter, cool in summer, with a regular shipment of food. Just to keep your name and number on top of the pile, and to share anything interesting he might discover, and to help out with some healing when he can.” It's a tempting offer for anyone - this healer might jump on it.

Caspian leans back, grinning. “See? Told you it'd come back. You just had to heal up some for it to work right.”

Huh. Caspian keeps on showing off why Keira keeps coming back around him. Good, sound advice — and the emotional support doesn’t hurt in the slightest. She watches him, a peculiar look on her features, a mixture of both fondness and confusion. “I’ll have t’do that. I’ve kinda scouted around, there’s a building about a block from the Precinct that might be perfect.”

She nods slowly, a faint smile on her face. Then, she reaches out, and places her bare hand on the back of his. An affectionate gesture, to be sure, but also a way to demonstrate that, while her ability is back, it’s not the same.

After a moment, she pulls her hand away, and grins. “Don’t puke or anything.” The loose-fitting clothing that she’s always worn since she got her ability suddenly proves useful; first, she slips into the face of the older fellow she killed, and suddenly there’s a very tall older man sitting in her place, looking rather…not attractive in a cutoff top.

The extremely tall man grins widely, holding up one finger. “Wait, there’s more.” He changes again, but this time it isn’t back to Keira; this time, she wears the face of a younger man, only an inch or so shorter than Caspian, but extremely buff. He also doesn’t look as attractive as Keira does in the cut off top, but it does showcase the abs that their owner no doubt worked every day to chisel out.

Finally, though, Keira reemerges, a grin on her face. “I don’t need to touch people now, and I don’t need to change back.” She doesn’t show him the fat man — he tends to rip her clothes.

She also doesn’t go into detail on the how she gets her faces yet.

“As cool as it would be to have a pocket healer, you’ve got to remember, people aren’t in it to hurt or help you, they’re in it to help themselves the most they can.” Caspian ducks down to pull a notepad - one of many - from a spot near the chair, taking notes for what might be needed. Batteries, doors, wiring, panels for the roof. More, more, more.

When she steps back and starts to shift, without contact or anything, Caspian can only grin, pushing himself up to watch the show, as it were. “How cool!” he sounds pleased. “You’ll have to change your wardrobe around a little to get them dressed since, y’know, halter tops on dudes are /so/ last year.” He snickers. “But it’s great that you can do it without touching. Have you discovered any limits to it so far, like how long you can stay in, if anything’ll push you out….if your /eye/ works?”

It’s probably best that she not go into how she gets the faces yet.

“You keep giving me good advice like this, I might have t’keep you around.” She grins over at the man, taking another pull off of her cigarette. “Seriously, though, thank you…it’s been good, having someone around t’bounce my ideas off of, and you give good ones right back.” She watches him jot down what might be needed, a fond expression on her features.

The questions about her newly upgraded ability prompts a slight grin. “Yeah. I mean, with the buff dude’s face, it at least serves a purpose of showing off those killer abs,” she laughs, “But I definitely have to plan out my outfits around whichever shape I’m taking.” She leans back in her seat, crossing her legs. “The eye comes back, actually. And it works.”

She pauses. “No limits on time…I can be a person for as long as I want. Don’t think anything can push me out, either, unless it’s negation drugs. Still have some, but I’m saving it for…whenever I might need a syringe of negation drugs.” She smirks, plucking the cigarettes from her lips to peer it over.

“Got another shape, but that one rips my clothes to shreds.” It must be a large man, because Keira has some pretty stretchy clothing. “Seems like I keep all th’scars an’ tattoos, too. Muscles has a chest tattoo and a back tattoo that I didn’t even know about until I put his face on.”

Still no mention of how. It’s a secret that she’ll gladly keep to her chest.

It’s probably best to not tell that sort of thing to Caspian. Wearing a murdered person’s face is kind of ghoulish, all things considered, and if he knew about the whole euphoric high she got when picking out her new faces…well…

There are horror franchises built on flimsier premises than that.

His brow wrinkles in thought. “What was what they called in in the Godfather movie? A consigliere, I think it was. Adviser to the Godfather.” He could handle that. “I’ll do the best I can with advice. You know I’m not really privy to the Criminal Underground, but I can give you ideas on how people would act. Which is good.” He rocks in his chair a little, sketching out a little box with locations for plugs and the like. Kind of pre-planning.. “So you’re stuck with these three dudes sharing your form? Kind of a limited toolbox, as far as things go compared to your earlier ability. I mean, well…you’re still shifting, but you’re limited a little. Still, better having this than nothing at all.”

He looks up. “Keep that syringe handy and refrigerated if you can. It tends to work better if you keep it cold, and lasts longer to boot. It may not be the perfect way to take care of someone, but in a pinch, it’ll do.”

Keira smirks. “Well, I guess that’s what I may end up keeping you around as.” She laughs softly. “I sometimes need the insight into what people think and how they might act, because I don’t always stop t’think about things like that.” And as a plus for Caspian, he has Keira lurking in the background, ready to fuck up anyone who messes with him and his.

“For now, just th’three. There’ll be more, I’m sure.” In her line of business, it’s inevitable. Especially with the whole vigilante justice thing she’s been doing — there are multiple levels of use for that one. If she kills anyone working for her rivals, she has an instant in to their organization; if she kills any of her rivals, well…

Suffice to say, the means of obtaining faces is useful to Keira specifically. Someone else might not use her ability at all.

She takes one final draw from her cigarette, before snuffing it out. “I have been. Had it on ice for a while, then I found a mini fridge and put it into th’office.”

The coffee can used for such things is nudged toward Keira, a spot to toss her butt instead of the lawn that Caspian is really trying to make work. Still, with the spindly grass out there, it’s amazing he’s got anything even growing there, with the amount of hell New York went through. “Yeah, different worlds, you and me. Tibby too. Out on Staten Island and me, here, in the Safe Zone. It’s the thing that she always respected with me - keeping me out of anything that might be considered criminal. Keeping me clean, she said.” The implication? If Keira sticks around with Caspian after her place in Staten is done, it’s kind of something he would like to keep happening. Assuming he’s not assaulted by Tibby or a swarm of cats for daring to think such things.

“Advice, I can give to the best of my abilities.” The coffee can is scooted back once the butt is deposited, Kang getting a look from his spot in the sun on the porch. “He friendly to other dogs? I mean, he’s friendly to me, but I’ve never seen him around others. There’s a girl living next door with a dog of her own.”

“And keep practicing.” Caspian says. “The more forms you have on call, the better. Try and get some girls worked out next. If you can figure out Ana de Armas…rrowl.” Caspian grins. He seems to think it’s a practice-type thing, her getting new shapes to play in.

There’s no complaint, Keira picking up the butt and tossing it into the coffee can, with a mental note to use that and keep the lawn nice. Her remaining blue eye flits up to Caspian’s face, brows raising slightly, before she nods. “That’s my goal.” She sits back, watching Caspian fondly. “You don’t need to be part of any of my business ventures — you’re legit shit only.” She nods quietly.

She’s been doing good at keeping him out of her less than legit activities so far, and she doesn’t intend to stop doing so any time soon.

“Kaang is friendly to anyone, so long as I don’t tell ‘im otherwise.” She smiles down at the dog, who lays panting at her feet. “He’ll kill any raccoons or opossums that come around if you’re not careful, though. Squirrels and birds, too, but they’re usually too fast for him. Boerboels are huntin’ dogs.”

She leans down, patting the dog. The mention of practice prompts a small smile. “I’ll work on that…no promises, though.” She chuckles softly, not telling him that most of the faces she has come from horrible people.

“Well….good then.” Caspian says with a nod. “We’ll see about finding him some dog food to keep in stock here somewhere, in case you come visit. And we’ll start getting the extra bedroom upstairs worked out. It’s mostly been storage up until now. Where I put all the boxes I’d get to later, you understand.” He looks over to Keira with a grin. “You know how well that ended up. C’mon.”

He pushes himself to his feet, pushes a button to close the gate with a buzz of maglocks engaging, and heads into the house, leaving Kang on the porch to soak up the sunlight. “I’ll give you the grand tour.”

The living room isn’t much to speak of - basically a square house with a basement, a first floor, and a second floor. The living room takes up most of the bottom floor, with a kitchen on the right and a bathroom - a full bathroom - to the left, a storage area and some stairs leading down to the basement. A staircase near the front door leads upstairs where two bedrooms - one Caspian’s, the other vacant - sit, with another full bathroom between the two. Plenty of closet space.

“So I’m there, and you’re there.” he helpfully points. “I’ll get you a key.”

A smile on her face, Keira follows Caspian into the house — Kaang sticks around for a moment, but ultimately follows his mom in. She was gone for too long with the sick thing, and she was hurt when she came back to him, so he’s been pretty protective of her. “I have some. I can have it brought by.” She smiles back at the dog, who wags his stubby tail in response.

She peers around thoughtfully, blue eye sweeping over the living room as they enter. She peers at the bedrooms, and nods slowly. “Thanks for letting me stick around. If you need help goin’ through stuff, I’ll gladly pitch in. Least I can do.” She peers into the bedroom; it’s comfortable-looking, despite the boxes.

She watches him fondly, though she keeps her distance — it seems like the right thing to do. Idly, she reaches down, rubbing Kaang’s ears.

“If he's going to need to eat, it might be a good idea to. I may have some scrap food he can have, but I already feed folk next door on sundays. Feeding Kang and you might stretch me a little far. You're okay, but kang? he's a horse disguised as a dog.” He enters the spare bedroom, turning on the window-mount a/c to get the temperature to bearable levels, looking around for a second, moving a couple of boxes out of the way. “I might take you up on that. Some of this can just be taken to the markets and sold, but other stuff might be useful, either to you or me. If it's up here, I've not used it since moving in, which shows its importance.”

The room is cozy and quiet, despite the a/c unit running. Closet is opened and the one box that lives in there, marked Caspian's stuff (helpful, isn't it?) is kicked into his room. “Let's see…clean sheets and towels are in the closet in the hall, you've got closet space for a decent amount of stuff. And…yeah. That's about it, I think.” He sits on the Queen-sized bed, Bouncing a little. “Good to have you here, Keira.”

Here's hoping Tibby doesn't get possessive and come exploring. Part of the reason Caspian doesn't have a cat.

First her ex Amadeus, then Tibby, has led Keira to be a dog person. Sure, there are canine telepaths, but dogs seems more pure. Less prone to betrayal. Plus, she never did like the idea of first her ex, then her best friend, being able to spy on her. Keira has a complicated with feline telepaths, and a complicated with felines as a result.

The little shapeshifter peers around, running her fingers over a few of the boxes. “I’ll gladly help out. Don’t know about taking it to th’market t’sell myself, but I have some boys who can do that for us.” She doesn’t make a habit of doing the small things herself — why do that when you can delegate that stuff to the hired help?

After a moment, she settles down on the bed about a foot or so away from Caspian, wiggling a bit and testing it out. It’s arguably more comfortable than the setup that she had in her former living situation, so that’s a plus.

“It’s…really good to be here.”

A place with four walls, a roof, intact windows, constant electricity, running water, and a small air conditioner in the window is pretty much paradise in this rough and tumble world. A safe place, with doors and fences to keep the bad out and the good in. A home. Something Caspian has worked on since his arrival.

“Can't go galavanting about with the common folk, can you?” He's teasing, certainly, turning to watch as she settles down on the bed. “Got the mattress from an old hotel they were tearing down. Contents were mostly wrecked, but this mattress and a few others were still sealed in plastic and in a storeroom, so I thought….why not?” He shrugs. “Gave them a good deal on the work I did, so we're pretty much even, I think.”

When she expresses her thoughts on being here, Caspian can only nod. “Yeah. It's good to have a friendly face to wake up to. All I ask is you keep your room clean, use trash and…be civilized, basically. I know you can be, but I like saying it just so were in the same ballpark.”

Keira can be shockingly civilized, for a criminal who has spent her life in one crime scene or another. “That all sounds easy enough.” She smiles faintly, laying back on the bed and stretching her arms over her head, eyes closing.

“All I had at Park Slope was an air mattress.” Not quite the digs she pictured herself having. She’s got a few rooms in mind for her bedroom in the precinct building, in any case — she’ll be sure to get it decked out much better than she had her and Tibby’s place set up. That layout was too open for her, anyhow — what with the tree growing out of the living room.

After a moment, she peers up at Caspian, before sitting up, cheeks pink. “I — would you mind if I take a shower?” She kind of needs it after the…well, after the entire month she’s had.

“Of course.” Caspian pushes himself up and stands. “You may want to get some clothes over here eventually. Right now all I’ve got is my stuff, and honestly, the drag look doesn’t work very well for me. I mean, with these hips? Honey, please…” Caspian smirks and shifts his hips, heading for the bedroom door. “Bathroom’s in the middle. I’ll get you some fresh towels and stuff from downstairs. And a big shirt while your clothes wash. Leave them on the hall floor.” He starts down the stairs, poking his head around the corner before he gets too far. “Soap and shampoo aren’t anything special, but they work and smell good so….take that as you will.”

And he heads downstairs.

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