claire_icon.gif rupe_icon.gif

Scene Title Woolgathering
Synopsis Rupe takes regrettable but necessary action and implants a trigger in Claire.
Date January 15, 2009

Carmichael Manor

There is nothing at all modern about this home. From its red stone facade to its Victorian wooden staircase, fireplaces and Persian rugs, it simply reeks of old world elegance and old money. Despite the age of the building and its furnishings, care has been made to maintain it, to hold on to the character that tends to be pushed out for more fashionable and clean-lined style.

There are five bedrooms, one of which is occupied by Rupe and the other by his live-in housekeeper/personal assistant, Christa. The rest stand ready to be used, should someone need a safe place to stay. The main floor offers ample space to gather throughout a living, dining and drawing room, as well as an elegant foyer.

There is has a hidden doorway that can be accessed via a narrow alley around the back. The door is protected by a keypad and only faintly lit. The basement is all old, exposed brick. The floor is poured cement with practical, yet high quality area rugs. There's a cluster of comfortable sofas, a large LCD TV and a Nintendo Wii. There are a set of mats in one corner and several pieces of state-of-the-art exercise equipment. The space is large, cavernous almost - though with low ceilings and a faintly musky scent. There's also a row of lockers and an expensive-looking antique billiard table with carved wooden legs. One corner of the room holds what looks like a storage room, but with very secure, metal reinforced walls and a heavy locking mechanism on the door.

It's been going around Shedda Dinu that Rupe is trying to have one-on-one chats with all of the members. Their numbers are growing quickly - so quickly, in fact, that Rupe is holding meetings almost all day in some cases. On any given evening, there are at least a few people making use of the clubhouse in the basement.

The academic isn't in the clubhouse though - he's in his study, which is on the main level, just past the kitchen. 'Study' is not really the appropriate word. It's much more like a library with a computer in it. The floor to ceiling bookshelves are filled with all manner of archaic texts. There's even one of those rolling ladders to reach the higher volumes.
Rupe sits behind his desk, beneath a bay window with the curtains drawn. He's sipping something warm from a mug and has his eyes trained on the monitor as he awaits the arrival of one Claire Bennet.

There's a quiet knock on the doorframe to the study as Claire lets herself into the room. "You wanted to see me?" she asks as she makes her way inside. Her coat was already taken at the door, so now she's just rubbing her hands together to return some of the warmth there. "I'm sorry I kept you waiting. I tried a new shortcut and discovered it's actually the long way."

Rupe smiles warmly and stands. "Oh, no, no worries. I just…" he shrugs. "…putter around in the meantime. Never worry about keeping me waiting in my own library. Please, close the door and have a seat," He motions to one of the high-back chairs in front of his desk.

"How're you doing, Claire? How are you feeling about everything?" He leans on the front of the desk and looks to her. It's rather significant that he doesn't want to be behind it, like some kind of authority figure. In fact, he sits in the other highback chair beside her and turns it inward so they can face one another.

Claire backtracks quickly to shut the door to the study before moving to take her seat, breathing warm hair on her hands gingerly. She may heal instantly, but a lingering chill is still a lingering chill. "I'm doing as well as can be expected," she admits after a moment's consideration. "My whole world's kind of threatening to go topsy turvy on me, but that's nothing new. I have hope for what you envision for us." And that earns Rupe a smile. "I think it's a better chance than PARIAH had."

"I think so too," says Rupe, the smile lingering. For all he smiles a lot, it doesn't ever seem fake. And his tones are often even and soothing. There's never really the sense that it's put on, like a doctor might. He gives every impression of being a gentle person - power or no. "If you need anything, please don't hesitate to ask, all right? Is your stipend sufficient? Is you apartment safe?" There's concern there. She may be a fighter, but she's also a young woman.

"The stipend is fine," Claire assures. "Julian and I look after each other. I think we're okay." Normally, it would seem a bit patronizing. But coming from Rupe? It just doesn't have that feel to it. "You've been so generous already."

"I don't call it generosity. I call it compensation. I recognize that you all have to give up things to fight. And I know most of you can't afford it. The least I can do is make sure that you all are comfortable." Rupe looks at Claire quite earnestly. "And please, let me know if you have any concerns about any of our new recruits. We're getting in several now who weren't members of PARIAH and don't have anyone to directly vouch for them. We have to be careful that we don't pick up moles. And I haven no doubt that you were trained to keep watch for them in PARIAH as well."

Claire nods. "I'll keep an eye on them." She scratches absently at her knee and then folds her arms under her chest for lack of anything better to do with her hands to keep from fidgeting. "Sometimes, I'm not sure how valuable I was to PARIAH. I was just the ideal candidate to handle volatile explosives, in case anything went wrong. I'm not sure how valuable I'm going to be here, either. But I'm hoping to surprise myself."

"Claire…" Rupe looks down, then up at her. "You are one of the strongest young women I've ever met. I know this not because of anything you've done, but through how you've handled everything that's happened to you. Your power, fighting for PARIAH. Not many young women would be brave enough to hold up and get through all you've been through."

The academic rolls his shoulders back and inhales, then, "I really do want to stress that you are all more than your powers. Your ability may only have certain limited applications, but you can learn to do more. To pick locks, to handle explosives, to throw a punch, hack a computer. Your ability is just another tool in your arsenal. It doesn't define or limit who you are or what you are capable of doing."

The brunette gnaws on her lower lip as she listens to Rupe's words of encouragement. "I know," she says. "I'm… eager to learn other skills. I've never really been seen as more than just my ability. I'd like to be something more." Again, Claire smiles. There's hope still in a girl who's seen the whole world blow up around her.

"And I'm confident you will. I have a special role for you. Well, several. But one in particular." Then Rupe locks eyes with her and holds the gaze, firmly. She'll suddenly feel very…strange. Unable to look away. Charmed. Entranced. Whichever word you want to use for it. "I need you to relax, Claire. Trust me. Listen to my voice and hear my words. You are safe here." The academic's already soothing voice is suddenly even moreso. It's the most relaxing tone imagineable - more than all the wave sound CDs and whale songs combined.
The trance he's pulling her in to causes the world to become indistinct and fuzzy around the edges, like a profound tiredness while eyes remain open. "I have a job for you. Do you understand?"

Claire's smile fades slowly, but the confusion on her face doesn't last long. She relaxes, unfolding her arms to rest her hands in her lap. Slowly, she nods her head in response to Rupe's question. "Yes."

There's a moment of guilt that lingers on Rupe's face as Claire falls into the trance. He takes a deep breath and murmurs, "I'm sorry, Claire." A beat, and his tone of voice continues with its soothing rhythm. "If I am attacked, I want you to protect me. You are nasaru, my bodyguard. When I speak your title, nasaru, you will come to my aid. Do you understand?"

Nasaru. Claire's features show no real flicker of recognition of the title or what he's really asking of her. All the same, she nods her head once more. "Yes."

"Good," says Rupe. "When I touch your shoulder, you will wake. The last thing you will remember is that I said I had confidence in you. You will not remember your title until I speak it. When I do, you will fulfil your duty." It's a good thing that she can't really register his features right now. The man's face is lined with regret. He doesn't like doing this to allies, but what must be done must be done.

After a moment to be sure the message took, Rupe breaks eye contact, then, reaches forward to touch her left shoulder gently. "Claire."

Claire blinks away the trance. After a moment, she flushes with embarrassment. "Sorry, Rupe. I must've been woolgathering. I'm listening now." She flashes a quick smile, sheepish at her inattentiveness.

"You must be tired," says Rupe. He sits back now that he's confident the young woman doesn't remember what just happened. "You know you can always use one of the rooms here, right? Even if you're down in the clubhouse and just find yourself wanting a nap. Or if Julian starts to drive you crazy, you can come here for a few days." He quirks a grin. "Did he tell you about his project?"

"I do feel a little sleepy. I'm sorry. This isn't like me." The girl shakes it off and then nods to the offer of a room. "I might take you up on that." Claire tilts her head to one side curiously, "Julian's project? No, he hadn't really said anything to me about it."

"Well, I'll let him tell you all about it. But it's likely to help us quite a lot." Rupe looks quite pleased. "Well, that's all I wanted to see you about, Claire. To make sure you were doing all right. That and to give you the opportunity to talk to me about anything you might not have wanted to say in front of others."

Claire's head bobs up and down once. "I'm glad you checked in with me. Let me know if I can do anything for you. I'm happy to help." She reaches out a hand to shake Rupe's.

Rupe takes Claire's hand and shakes it warmly. "Right now? I need you to take care of yourself. And help Julian if he needs it. Other than that, just tell me what you think of our new recruits. I'll have something more specific for you to do soon enough. And my door is always open if you have suggestions of your own to put forward."

"I'll keep that in mind. Thanks, Rupe." Claire rises from her seat and lets herself out of the study, closing the door behind her.

"I'm sorry I had to do that, Claire," Rupe murmurs to the closed door, once the young woman is both out of sight and earshot. He remains standing, eyes on the door for a few minutes before he returns to his desk.

January 15th: Final Orders
January 15th: Said The Spider
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