Stray Cat Adoption


cat_icon.gif claude_icon.gif helena_icon.gif

Scene Title Stray Cat Adoption
Synopsis Helena brings home a stray Claude, but more importantly, CLAUDE SHAVES HIS BEARD OFF!
Date January 1, 2009

Ruins of Midtown

If ever there has been an unshaven face, it's Claude's. It's somewhere in the afternoon, and the currently Uninvisible Man sits one block (or it was, once) away from the Deveaux building, in a usual collection of garb that has obviously been slept in. Moreso than usual. He even smells a little bit like he spent too much time hanging around pubgoers last night, though he's properly sobered up since then. All in all, though, he looks… a little lost, wandering along the rubble of what was, and looking out for… for what? The very fact that he's even in plain sight should tell anyone who knows him that something's the matter.

Helena is on her way to the library. She's being careful of course, though this far in the rad zone, there's little to worry about in the way of people unless they really shouldn't be here. Still, she darts carefully from building to building, and likely an easy visual target for the likes of Claude to pick out.

Claude's head lifts when he picks up on Helena's movement from the corner of an eye, and he immediately leaves whatever he was busy trying to find. "Oi! Raincloud!" He gives a quick look around, then starts in Helena's direction, hands in his pockets and his expression somewhere between incredibly annoyed and oh-god-it's-cold-out.

Helena starts and turns - the nomenclature is familiar, and when she sees the scruffy man, she starts to smile. A split second after she feels her mouth tugging upward, she quashes it, because god forbid she look glad to see him. Claude tends to hide from things like smiles and sunshine and fluffy puppies. They are not a few of his favorite things. She lets him come to her, and she shoves her hands in her pockets, glancing at him sidelong. "How do I know it's really you?"

Claude doesn't hate puppies. Probably. He's never really given it any thought. His response to Helena's question is quick, and without thought. "Because nobody bloody knows I know you, do they?" He stops a few yards from Helena, inquisitively lowers his gaze, then asks without pause or humor whatsoever, "What happened to the roof?"

Well, he has a point, but telling Claude he's right won't do much to forward the conversation. He already knows it. Helena looks down at her sneakers. "A few things. Kind of ironically, I wasn't around for any of it. I think Peter had a fight up there, and there's this faction - they call themselves the Vanguard - that tried to use it as a firing point to assassinate the President Elect. I haven't been up there since, so they might have added to the damage."

Somehow, he knew Helena would know more about this. See? Right again. "Yeah." The last thing he could still think of calling 'his' has been destroyed, and he doesn't even appear to care. 'Appear' being the operative word— it has given him some thought… "So, about thing where you tried to get me to join your little organization." His lips pull into a smile, though both it and his tone seem a kind of condescening.

Helena arches a brow. "You don't play well with others." she points out carefully. "I know that, and I haven't bothered you about it since. Hell, if all it took was knocking over a bit of statuary, maybe I should have thought of that." More seriously, "There's a lot going on. To the tune of 'world wide epidemic destroys ninety percent of the world's population'."

"Well then obviously you're going to need someone who knows what they're doing." Claude notes, matter-of-factly. Clearly Helena's earlier points are moot! The vaguely patronizing smile is still there, but perhaps for good reason- "I've been chasing people about and keeping them from doing stupid things since you were dribbling on your mother's shoulder. Don't forget that."

Helena lifts a brow. "So now suddenly you want in? Or is it because you suspect my people have a lot more information than you do currently, and you want to get your hands on the up and up?" Helena puts a hand on her hips, regards her bearded mentor for a moment, and lets out a breath. "Come on." she says. "We can get you food - and god, a shower, you reek - and I can show you what we have. What have you been doing lately?"

"Am I offending your nostrils?" Claude quips, smirking. "That's life outside for you, princess. Tough luck." Not that he would mind a shower, a full stomach and some proper sleep. "I've been going through the files I had stowed away. Files from back when I was still with the Company. It's getting harder and harder to find anyone I had any information on. Most of them, I'm guessing it was already too late before they even stuck me in one of their little cells." Short version of the story— There is boredom. A lot of it. Then, offhandedly, "That, and I got tossed around by Sylar a little bit."

Helena turns on her heel to stare at him. "Are you alright?" she asks, and her tough facade cracks a little. Her expression lends itself to a certain amount of edge. "You got away, or you wouldn't be here." She forces herself to relax. Knuckles clenched white start to loosen. Claude's not the only one who's had an up close and personal altercation with Sylar. Helena lets out a shudder, and then is immediately mortified for letting Claude see it.

That, perhaps, also for good reason. Though Claude isn't anywhere near put off by Helena's show of emotion, he does let out a breath of a 'Ha!' at her sudden worry. "We're becoming fast friends. He knocks me over the head, I break his nose. He tries to murder a girl in front of me, I hit him in the noggin with a brick." He's smart enough to realize the seriousness of the situation, but to show it? No thanks.

Helena simply nods at that. "He's signed on to this Vanguard thing…" she trails off. "This isn't the best place to talk about it." The fact that she trusts Claude - to a point - is what inclines her to lead him to the library.

"Right." Claude nods, eyes once again on the environment. "I suppose this is the point where I ask how you're doing, then." You know, like a normal person who doesn't avoid contact with absolutely everyone.

Helena looks at Claude over her shoulder. "Actually, that was my less than subtle way of finding out what you've been up to. You already care about what I've been up to, or you wouldn't be letting me take you with me like a stray cat I found on the way home." Her mouth perks into a smirk.

"Oi, cats aren't just charming enough to get invited into people's homes, they're clever too. There's a reason there's so many of the blights." Claude remarks dryly, shrugging lightly. "Yet for all you know, they might only be looking for a bed to claim and a kitchen to plunder before they're off again."

Helena turns to look at him, her gaze very level. "What's going on is really big." she says frankly. "It's so big that factions you'd never expect to be working together are putting things aside and dealing with the problem, because it's so huge no one can handle it alone. If all you want is to shit, shave, and bathe, that's fine. I certainly owe you that much. But when you see what's going on, I have a feeling you're going to think twice."

The look on Claude's face, at first, is one of mild surprise. It disappears within seconds, though, to make place for what appears to be amusement, and maybe, just maybe, a tiny bit of pride. Showing a spine is good, apparently. "If that was all I wanted, I'd just do another round of homeless shelters." He smirks, then motions in the direction they were going. "Well, go on, then. Lead the way."

New York Public Library

The progress of actually getting into the library takes some time. Helena's way in is windy, and there are passwords to exchange with the sentries, not to mention the hullabaloo that undoubtedly occurred when the normal protocol required Claude to get frisked, provided he even permitted it. But regardless, it ultimately leads to Claude being shown the main hub of the library, a maze of activity amongst the members of the group. Helena's eyeing the scruffy man sidelong for his reaction. Not that she cares what he thinks. Really.

Claude is a bit hard to read at the moment. The way into the building already reminded him plenty of memories he felt were perhaps best left forgotten, even if this is no Company. The further in he got the less patience he's shown, but… he looks impressed enough once he and Helena finally arrive in the main hub. He straightens and observes, mind racing as he ponders about this or that. "How many dedicated people have you got working here?"

One of the people attached to this operation is seen at a computer console when the two arrive. Cat's in her mid to late twenties and about five feet eight inches tall, casually dressed in jeans, winter boots, and a hooded sweatshirt. Blue, with the word Yale in white letters across the front. Brunette locks fall across shoulders and down to the middle of her back. Near the desk are a backpack and guitar case. Stacked on the table by her right hand are three books. She doesn't seem to notice anyone else yet.

"About twenty or thirty." says Helena, keeping it carefully vague. "But that's just us, and we've got allies that swell the ranks. Listen, showers are that way…" she points down one of the halls, "In the men's room. I'll make sure there's a change of clothes waiting for you, and when you're done, we'll get some food. We can talk them." She almost pats him on the arm, but refrains at the last moment.

Claude nods slowly, letting his eyes scan over the number of people before following Helena's pointing finger. "Great." He smiles happily, and starts walking that direction almost immediately. Not before, however, patting a hand roughly but amiably on Helena's back. "Back in a few, then!"

She's absorbed in whatever she's doing, at least seemingly, still not noticing the presence of blonde leader or scruffy not-invisible man. As he heads off to the showers, Cat's fingers go still and she reaches for one of the books sitting there. They go to a page in the back portion, she perhaps has about one quarter of it left to read, and she begins to reduce that fraction.

Helena gingerly doesn't breathe while Claude is patting her on the back. It takes her a little time to root around to find clothes she thinks will fit him, but sweatpants and an old white t-shirt and a not too moth-eaten sweater should suit him fine. She even finds him socks. And then she's off to the kitchen, rolling up her arms in preparation to cook something. "Hey, Cat." she calls out. "You're not going to believe who's here." She continues on her way to the kitchen.

Her eyes lift from the book and move to settle on the speaker, interest coming to her features. Cat stands and walks over, bringing the text with her. Where most people might put in a bookmark or dogear a page for that purpose, she just closes it. The text is that German language book she's been carrying for a while now. "Stormy," she greets, with a chuckle. "It's kind of hard to shock me with people coming here nowadays. I mean, we've had the next President and Matt Parkman as guests. Have we recruited Elizabeth Windsor now?"

Helena lets out a laugh. "Not quite. His name's Claude. He's…he has a long history with Evolved. Peter's had some training from him, and so have I. He's a bit a bit of a bastard, but deep down - deep, deep, deep down - he's a good man." A pause. "Reaaally deep down."

"Claude," she repeats. "Peter's trained with him. Do tell." Cat slips into a chair and rests attention on the blonde. "We all have our scars," she opines, regarding his nature. "In the end most of us just want to live and be happy. I'm intrigued."

Helena smiles a little. "Claude's more or less interested in saving his own skin." she admits, "Except he keeps making these choices. He helped Peter, he helped me. Mind you, he kind of beat the snot out of me while doing it, but I became a lot more dynamic in handling my powers. And in learning how to deal with folks like telepaths."

"Now that," Cat replies, "is especially interesting to me. And speaking of telepaths, I'm sorry I didn't tell you this yesterday, Stormy, but it was a party and I wanted to not talk business, not drag things down. An experiment was conducted, and it worked. We now have photos for some of the KVG people."

After sharing that, she backtracks on topics. "He beat you up?"

Helena blinks. "Wow, really? Did you add them to the Catabase?" And then off-handedly, "To be fair, he was encouraging me to beat him up at the time too. It was part of the training."

"I did," Cat replies. "It was a thing of calling up the images, having them picked up by the telepath, and converted into computer image files." She doesn't say who else was involved, thinking it obvious by the mention of how it was done. Her head tilts as she thinks, perhaps picturing something. "Makes sense," she replies after a few beats. "He attacks you, and keeps attacking, you get thrashed unless you figure out how to stop him."

"Something like that. I'm going to the kitchen to make something for him." she says, and without further ado, heads off in that direction. She doesn't seem to object to the idea of Cat following, though.

She's on her feet and moving as the leader heads for the kitchen, nodding once. "Effective," she comments. "It's a fairly classic method, not unlike throwing a child into water and giving the simple instruction of swim or drown. The lesson sticks, maybe more so, because you figured it out yourself, and it builds confidence that you can engineer a solution on the fly. Inspires grace under pressure."

Helena goes rooting through the mini-fridge on hand for what few perishables they can permit, and comes up with eggs and bacon strips. Going for a pan and some butter, Helena sets about making a fairly simple meal, using up pretty much everything. For all that he's skinny as a rail, she thinks Claude's likely to eat a ton, and besides, she'll want some, and maybe Cat too. She stands at one of the counters, cracking the eggs into a bowl.

Speaking of grace— there is none to be found on Helena's tag-along at the moment. He's wearing the clothes that were left for him, and as though he didn't look sufficiently out of place already… he now also looks sufficiently almost nothing like himself. When he wanders into the kitchen in search of the atmokinetic, he's wiping a towel over his face to get rid of the last bits of… shaving cream? Indeed it is. Claude, for once, looks like perhaps only the likes of Bennet would still recognize him, squeaky clean and with a smooth face. Making the food-smell induced grin on his face all the more clear. "There. That's better." A look at Helena may make clear that he's expecting at LEAST a laugh, if not sheer ridicule.

Helena just happens to have looked over her shoulder at Cat when she espies the newly shaven Claude. She can't help but let out a giggle. "Claude, you look…" she searches for a word, even as she moves to select another egg and crack it, its contents oozing into the bowl, "Clean."

Watching Helena start to cook, Cat has a flashback to an evening in late September. Her features take on that distant expression they get when she does this, and a touch of wistfulness sets in on them.

Dani sits down with Cat, looking a little nervous, and then leans in and takes her first bite. It's a little salty; her one mistake was double-salting the dish. But it's certainly still edible. She chews and swallows, looking over to Cat a bit nervously for her evaluation.

Fork meets food and is lifted, then taken into mouth. She chews in the fashion of one raised in society. Small bites, mouth closed, no noises. Food is tasted. Her eyes show enjoyment of the taste experience now being had. Salt content doesn't seem to bother her. Maybe she doesn't detect a difference in it, maybe she likes added salt. Either way, without words being spoken because her mouth is full, enjoyment of the stroganoff is obvious.

The reporter smiles, and relaxes. "Good. I was a little worried about how it would turn out. The notebook thing was a good plan." It's filled with cooking notes; what was done, and what needs to be.

"I knew the food would be excellent," Cat replies with a smile after swallowing, with one hand taking up the wine glass. "If there'd been any doubt I'd have been watching you cook." Her wine is sipped, and afterward the fork is taken up again. There is more consumption to happen.

"Than you were more confident than I was. I think I double-salted it." she says apologetically. "But it's still edible, at least. That has to count for something."

"We're young, neither of us has blood pressure issues. Extra salt won't hurt us," Cat opines. She doesn't say much, her interest is in eating this meal before her and enjoying it, which shows as further evidence of Dani's success.

Claude entering the kitchen and drawing a giggle from Helena draws Cat out of the past, and her eyes travel to the man. Her wistful expression is set aside. "Yes," she states, "he does."

"Clean as can be. Figured I'd at least try and do something about that face while I'm going to stay visible for you people." He's still quick to answer, but there's something vaguely awkward about his tone. He shakes it off soon enough, though, tossing the towel onto a shoulder and throwing Cat an look that is somehow unimpressed and curious all at the same time. "You work here too, then? 'S your name, function?"

Helena can't help herself, she smirks at both Claude's humor and his directness toward Cat. "Sit down." she instructs him, but that's as far as to bossing the man around as she's likely to get. Butter gets slapped on, and slabs of bacon after that, filling the air with their smell.

"I'm Cat," she offers simply, extending a right hand with warm smooth skin and calluses around the fingertips. The nails are short and absent of paint, and her grip has a bit of strength to it, these things being noticeble should he accept and return the gesture. A slight smile forms on those features as she states "I do a lot of things here. I'm the guitarist, the lawyer, political science advisor, and archivist, and archer, among other things." Does she really do all that, or is she being pretentious to match that Ivy League name on her hooded sweatshirt?

Some beats of silence follow as she regards the man and perhaps makes an assessment of him. "You're fairly unforgettable, Claude," Cat eventually remarks.

Claude does not do well with being bossed around. Not since his trusted partner shot him twice in the chest, all those years ago. So, naturally he— … sits down, albeit with a bemused glance toward Helena. This food smells like it might be worth following a tiny order for. Once he finally turns his head to face Cat again and shake her offered hand just as firmly, he frowns at her summary. "That is one hell of a basket of productive." He smirks at her last comment, and rubs his now strangely clean shaven jaw. "Well, I do my best. Is it my looks, my charms, my good manners?" Perhaps to show just those, he then turns to Helena and grins, tilting his head, "Plate those things and shove them over here, will you? I haven't eaten in a bloody fortnight."

"It's almost ready." Helena says, shuffling about the food. "I'd really rather you not get food poisoning because the eggs are undercooked." But after a few moments, three plates have food on them - one of those a mountain of eggs and bacon, the other two more modest. Claude gets the champion's portion. Quietly, as they're about to tuck in, Helena inquires, "Can you tell us what happened with Sylar?"

A glance is sent Helena's way when Claude comments on her basket of productive and rubs his jaw, as if the two were sharing some kind of inside joke. Her eyes travel back to the man, and she sits, seeming about to ask him something, but Stormy's arrival with food and the question regarding Sylar prompts holding it back. Her full attention is on Mr. Now Not So Invisible.

Claude pulls his plate a tad closer to himself, despite the fact that no one is likely to steal it from him at this point. Something he's learned to do over the years, and doesn't even seem to realize. "Sylar?" He pokes his fork into his food tentatively, and sighs. "The first time he followed me for a while, I don't remember where exactly. Came out of nowhere, didn't look like himself, either, at that point. I confronted him and told him to back the hell off. It ended in a bit of a brawl that got me a few cracked ribs and a nice concussion as a souvenir, but I managed to run in the end. Didn't want to, but I'm not supid enough to stick around when he knows I'm there. Never even showed my face, though. Probably thinks I'm stuck invisible." He stuffs a forkful of food into his mouth, chewing all too hastily.

"I'm surprised he didn't - " Helena stops and shakes her head. "Cracked ribs and a concussion? How did you get away?" See, this is the sort of thing that fascinates Helena. Claude pulls all this stuff from seemingly nowhere. Sometimes it's the little tricks that save a person, and she's ripe to get what she can from him.

Her mind is at work recording what Claude relates and filing it away, at the same time analyzing it to come up with pointed questions. One of which is "How did he know you were there, and manage to hit someone he couldn't see? Did he just get lucky?"

Her speculation on Sylar calls something up in her mind, a recent conversation which plays out.

I've lost two homes in a few months two homes, two jobs Not that I cared much for the bowling job," It's not quite the comparison, but it's something. Gillian grimaces again as she touches her bandaged forehead, looking at the woman who helped her out. "Least there's some things you don't have to worry about," she says, remembering one of the many abilities she knows the man happens to have, and figuring he wouldn't bother cutting her skull open for one he's already got.

Her features seem puzzled by the statement, as she doesn't get the meaning behind it, and Cat follows up with a question. "Which would those be?" The last of those medical supplies go back into the bag they came from the store in, and she returns to the small amount of remaining sandwich. The Piccoli's bag rests nearby, there being still one more sandwich for each in there, but they're left for the moment.

"This," Gillian gestures to her forehead, the newly sewed up wound. She's already beginning to caccoon back into the blankets as she glances toward the bag. One more sandwich. It isn't going to be grabbed for right now, instead just trying to get back some of the warmth she had earlier. "If he just wants power then he wouldn't bother going after something he's already got."

"This," Gillian gestures to her forehead, the newly sewed up wound. She's already beginning to caccoon back into the blankets as she glances toward the bag. One more sandwich. It isn't going to be grabbed for right now, instead just trying to get back some of the warmth she had earlier. "If he just wants power then he wouldn't bother going after something he's already got."

"Sylar has panmnesia," Cat reports when she emerges from the land of recall.

"Jsh's l'k I s'd." Claude answers Helena, before swallowing his mouthful of egg and looking between the two women. "Just like I said." He repeats. "I never showed my face. Stayed invisible. Once he'd pushed me against a wall and I'd smashed my thick head into his nose, he got a little less patient and I got tossed into a wall by his telekinesis. From then on I just avoided being hit over the head when I could until I found the right chance to get away." He's about to start eating again, but then frowns. "He might've seen it as a game. A hunt. Probably didn't think I'd be prepared a second time." Cat, then, gets a stare. "Panmnesia? That's one I haven't heard before."

"He never forgets," Cat explains, as her fork lifts and hovers above the food on her plate. "But how did he know you were there in the first place? Did you make a noise and draw his attention, or bump into him?" The questions are calm enough, as she seeks to pad out her mental encyclopedia on the subject of Gabriel Gray.

"I have no idea." Claude answers honestly, brow lowering as he pauses the shoveling of his apparently aptly sized pile of food. "Thermal vision, smell, hearing, something more telepathic based… some way of detecting me while I was out of sight." He quirks a brow at Cat. "Anything sound plausible to you, little bee that could?"

"If he had thermal vision," Cat states, her face showing the mechanics of thought, "he'd have known where you were, and probably where your forehead was, so I doubt it was that. If he knew where you were by telepathy, he could've used illusions to make you think you were safe, unless you have some really incredible defenses against that. Smell would tell him someone was nearby, and be traceable to spot even if you moved. Hearing, the same." She pauses for a moment, her features shifting into something like embarassment. "Sorry, Claude," she offers. "I'm just big on collecting data, looking for anything that could be an advantage against him, or a particular disadvantage."

Claude shows no sign of minding the stream of information, even if he does look a bit surprised. "No harm in that. Long as you keep feeding it useful information." Between bites, he continues, "It could be something to do with his senses, still. He knew where I was just fine until I hit him in the nose. He may have just been disoriented that time."

"I'm the archivist," Cat replies, as her forks goes into the food and emerges with an amount which goes into her mouth and is carefully chewed. In her mind she's wondering how astute and perceptive Claude can be, if at some point he'll figure her ability out. Nothing is said until her mouth is empty again, at which point she states "Helena," the blonde is glanced at, "says you have ways to defend against telepathy and are a decent trainer."

Either Claude is simply not aware of Cat's ability, or, for once, he's being subtle. Either way, he nods and explains with a grin, "Well, weak telepathic attacks, and I've been told I'm good at smacking people around while teaching them a thing or two, yeah. I do what I can, and the Company taught me well." This last remark is made with both pride and regret. Maybe he's letting his guard down a bit too much.

"I've had a run in with the Company before," Cat shares, with another glance at Helena, "courtesy of Sylar. He was using her face, and it nearly got us both thrown into a deep dark hole. We couldn't convince one of them she wasn't him, and he was calling for backup. The problem was solved by a bit of very timely wind. They claim to be Homeland Security agents now, flash badges that look real. It may be true, but I still refuse to recognize them as real." Her jaw sets as she speaks of it, and the speculative look returns. "Weak telepathic attacks. Like, say, purposefully reading a dictionary in my head or thinking in another language."

A grin forms here. "Reading a foreign language dictionary in the mind's eye, maybe."

"Exactly. Takes a bit of training for the usual person," Claude answers, insinuating he might do more than suspect Cat does not fall into this category, "but it's easily doable if you're not a total lapdog." The bit about Sylar impersonating Helena gives him something to mull over at a probably considerably slower speed than Cat. "Doesn't matter what kind of title people give themselves. Company, Homeland Security, 'friend'. People are people, and you'd do yourself a favor to stay wary around anyone." Then, happily, he continues to work down the rest of his meal.

She nods slowly, understanding that all too well by tragic experience. Open the door during a disturbance in the hallway, let people in for safety, get abducted by those people, and lose her oldest friend. Her lover. Cat says nothing of it at present, choosing instead to eat her food and not allow a mournful expression to show itself. Helena is being quiet as she eats, Claude may also wish to eat without conversation.

She has just a few more words to say at the moment.

"Welcome aboard, Claude."

Then she lets them enjoy their food in peace, and does the same.

January 1st: Kismet
January 1st: The Man in the Box
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