4/24 Issue: The Cat's Meow

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Slarti
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4/24 Issue: The Cat's Meow

Post by Slarti » Sun Apr 25, 2021 3:51 am

Timelined the day after Arcade Games.

Shaw: Sebastian allowed the tank to roll to a stop in front of the broken-down old building. "Are you quite sure this is it?" He checked the GPS, and it was correct, but... oh, there was a sign. X-Factor Investigations. "I'm surprised the city granted him a business license. This building should be condemned."

Jessica: "Apparently he's been doing extensive renovations to make it habitable inside... Beth helped out a bit." Jess took off her seatbelt and looked to the backseat, "Come on, Sharky. You get to help today instead of just being adorable." Sharky barkbarked happily and waggled his stubby tail.

Shaw: "I would hope," he said, giving the neighborhood a once-over and a sniff. Sebastian couldn't help but smile a little at his namesake's excitement as he opened the door, then circled to open his wife's door.

Jessica: Jess climbed out of the tank and caught the excited predator before he splatted into a puddle on the sidewalk. "Remember, Figaro, Dupero and Breathless are gonna be scared of you so you have to be caaaaalm..." she told the silver corgi. Sharky cocked his head on one side then licked her nose.

Shaw: Sebastian moved to the back of the tank and searched for the carriers he'd picked up on the way. There would not be duplicating cats zooming about unrestrained on his leather seats.

Jessica: Jess carried Sharky over to the building and set him down at the top of the stoop, "Okay, you need to let us in because we don't have keys. Think you can manage that?" Sharky nodded and morphed a tentacle to poke into the door lock, his tongue lolling out almost in concentration.

Shaw: After locking the tank and arming the alarm and anti-theft protection that Jess would probably prefer he didn't have, Sebastian glared at the surrounding area and joined her at the door.

Jessica: Sharky successfully picked the lock and opened the door, going back to his mistress for praise. "Good boy!" Jess was happy to provide the praise, going to the door and poking her head inside to see if she could identify where the critters might be before she went inside.

Shaw: "Have you ever been inside?" Jean Grey had been in their home countless times, but he didn't know if his wife had visited the girl here. He'd only met Madrox professionally in his office and only vaguely knew he had his own.

Jessica: Jess shook her head, "No, Jamie isn't exactly my biggest fan..." she chewed her lip, listening for critter sounds and feeling out the place with her empathy.

Shaw: "Ah yes, Sarkissian." Sebastian secured the door behind them to keep out the neighborhood ruffians and looked around the first floor. It appeared to be the office, and half renovated. "You haven't heard from her yet?"

Jessica: Jess shook her head, "Nothing yet... I hope she hasn't just gone without saying anything..."

Shaw: "Wouldn't that be her typical mode of operation?" He quickly scanned the space and whistled sharply, hoping the dog would respond.

Jessica: "Yeah... but this is different..." she set Sharky down so he could go and explore, maybe get some reaction from the residents.

Shaw: A rattling sound came from upstairs, followed by some most definitely canine whines and yips. Sharky took off up the stairs in hot pursuit. "I believe we located the dog."

Jessica: "One down, two to go..." She started up the stairs after Sharky, "The cats are probably upstairs too if that's where they're living..."

Shaw: Sebastian followed, spotting the living area, another kitchen undergoing renovation, and a bedroom. Also immediately apparent was an excited white dog bouncing inside a crate while an excited silver dog bounced outside.
Jessica: "Sharky, do not open that crate until we find a leash..." Jess looked around for one.

Shaw: Sharky wasn't in the mood to listen when his new playmate was right there. Just as Jess spoke, the silver dog freed his friend and the puppy popped free to sniff this strange silver dog all over. Sebastian moved toward them, crouching to catch the real dog. "What'd you say her name is?"

Jessica: "Her name is Breathless..." Jess located a leash and grabbed it, going over to them and offering it out to Sebastian.

Shaw: The puppy perked up at her name, jumping up onto her hind legs to get to Jess, by climbing over Sebastian. "Got you!" He captured the wriggly dog and she changed tactics to try to lick his face. "Helpful."

Jessica: Jess laughed a little, "She likes you!" Maybe she could find some cat treats and listen for meows when she shook the box?

Shaw: "She's a puppy, she likes anything," he chuckled, snapping the leash onto her collar and looking in the cage. Her food and water were gone, so he soothed the fluffy pup as he looked around for her dog food. "I'll get this one some water and perhaps she'll calm down."

Jessica: "Okay, I'll go look for some cats..." She wandered towards the hallway and went in search of closed doors.

Shaw: Breathless drank down a bowl of water and kept licking the empty container on the floor, looking back up at him with big, sad puppy eyes. "You can have more soon, I promise."

Jessica: "Figaro...? Dupero....?" Jess called, carefully climbing the stairs to the third level. "Here kitty kitty...."

Shaw: The puppy was starting to do a little potty dance in between bouts of sniffing Sharky all over for the sixth time. "Go help your mother find the cats," he told the dog-thing. "I have to take the organic dog out for her business."

Jessica: Jess heard Sharky behind her on the stairs, "Want some food, kitties?"

Shaw: Luckily, the pup seemed to be potty trained, and they were quickly back inside. He dropped the leash and let her prance ahead of him. Breathless darted into the bedroom and hopped on the bed, sniffing with interest. She whined, circling and looking between Sebastian and the bed.

Shaw: He sighed and moved closer. "I know you don't understand," he told the pup, scratching her behind her ears - one pricked, one still drooped at the top. "We will look after you until your owners are located."

Jessica: She heard a meow somewhere on the third floor and headed toward it, "Sebastian, can you shake some cat treats or something...?" she called down the stairs behind her as Sharky trotted off in search of a kitty.

Shaw: Cat treats. Right. "I don't suppose you know where those are?" he asked the puppy. Her head cocked and she circled on the bed, then flopped down. I'll look for some, he told her, leaving the puppy rolling on her back on the bed.

Jessica: I'll keep looking for cats up here... think Sharky might be onto something so I'll follow him. She wandered after Sharky, stepping around random construction equipment.

Shaw: Sebastian checked the sketchy kitchen and located not only cat treats but also what he hoped was catnip. Although it could have been some sort of marijuana concoction, considering. He left the dog to her own devices and followed his wife upstairs.

Jessica: Sharky had stopped at a door and was pawing at it when Jess caught up to him. Clearly he was doing that for show because they both knew he could get under that door if he really wanted to.... maybe he was afraid of the cats? She turned the handle and opened the door a crack to see what was inside.

Jamie: Jamie snorted awake at the creaking sound, flailing and pulling the shower curtain and rod down into the tub with him. "Whozzat?! Wuzzat?! Figaro!!"

Jessica: Jess startled at the sound and opened the door the rest of the way, "Jamie?"

Shaw: Sebastian took the remaining stairs three at a time at the yell - the new voice was male, and that was all he could tell - until he skidded to a stop behind his wife and saw the younger man in a heap in the tub.

Jamie: "....." Slowly, Jamie sat up and untangled himself in the most dignified way he could manage. He cleared his throat once he was free from the trap of his own making and looked over at the door. "Yes?"

Jessica: "Have you been stuck in here this whole time? Where's Jean?" She watched Sharky trot over to Jamie and give him a sniff.

Shaw: "I thought you said Madrox was missing, or is this one of his duplicates?" Sebastian ignored the new problem and addressed his wife at the same time as she spoke to him.

Jamie: Jamie started at the silver ...thing heading toward him and he looked down at it with a cautious eye. "Are you going to lock me in here, too?" he asked it before realizing they were also talking at the same time. "Huh? What?"

Jessica: "Are you Prime or a dupe?" Jess asked to clarify both their questions.

Shaw: Sebastian watched in amusement as Sharky gave Madrox a thorough sniffing, parking both stubby front legs on the man's leg to get higher.

Jamie: "Gooood blob-dog..." Once Jamie was content that he wasn't going to be attacked, he looked up to focus on Jess' question. "Yes."

Jessica: Jess gave him a flat look, "This is important. We need to know which one you are so we know if you're actually missing or not..."

Jamie: "I'm not missing... I'm right here."

Shaw: "His name is Sharky," Sebastian supplied.

Jessica: Jess tried to keep a lid on her frustration, "Jamie... yesterday at the ceremony someone came and attacked the building and, we thought, took you and Jean. That's why we're here. Someone needed to take care of the animals..."

Jamie: "The animals? Someone needs to take care of me! Figaro locked me in here! That darn cat is ruthless."

Shaw: At the sound of clattering nails behind him, Sebastian turned and saw Breathless tearing up the stairs, leash flapping. She bounded past them and tackled Madrox back into the tub with a happy yap.

Jessica: "Well... you're free now...?" Jess pointed out, gesturing to the open door. This had to be a dupe because he wasn't freaking out about Jean.

Jamie: Jamie opened his mouth to ask what Jess meant by 'took you and Jean,' because that had finally infiltrated his brain, when he was silenced by puppy tongue. "GAH!" He flailed a bit and pulled Breathless down to sit in his lap, giving her a cautious pat on the head. "Good white fluff who doesn't want to murder me."

Shaw: This isn't Madrox Prime, Sebastian sent, watching the boy and his dog with a nose twitch. "How and why were you in the bathroom when the dog was locked in a crate with no food or water?"

Jessica: Yeah, I'm getting that feeling too... Jess clicked her tongue at Sharky, "Go find the kitties for me, okay?"

Jamie: "I ran out to get some construction materials, so put her in the crate for the time it took me to do that so she wouldn't go eating something not-food while I was gone. I really had to pee when I came home, so was gonna do that and then take her out to potty after, but Figaro decided it would be hilarious to shut me in here. With no handle on the inside of the door."

Shaw: "And where is Miss Grey?" Sebastian spoke slowly, in part to make up for that torrent of words that had just emerged from Madrox.

Jamie: "Last I knew she was at the X-Men headquarters getting ready for the press conference... Soooo..." He finally wiggled and scootched until he was out of the tub and stood, holding the squirmy pup in his arms, "Somebody wanna tell me the whole story?"

Jessica: Jess glanced at Sebastian, "We're... not sure of all the details... things have been kind of crazy... but the ceremony was attacked... Jean is missing... we thought you were with her so you're listed as missing too... the rest of the team..." she looked at Sebastian again, not sure how to put the next bit of news.

Jamie: "Well, obviously I wasn't with her. I was left here like some slave labor to fix things and then got locked in the worst bathroom in the building by a demon cat."

Shaw: "Left here, by whom?" Sebastian cocked his head, watching the puppy attempt to eat his hair.

Jamie: "The other me." Jamie adjusted Breathless to the other side and tried to smooth down his new 'puplick' but gave up after a look in the mirror. He just needed a shower. Nasty bathroom.

Shaw: Sebastian looked at Jess. Aha. "Well then, the other you and Miss Grey are missing." He sighed. "And there are.... complications."

Jamie: "Are you sure they didn't just run off to play hooky like they always do?" Wait, what? "Complications? You didn't find any body parts did you?" Jamie shuddered and Breathless whimpered.

Jessica: Jess chewed her lip, "Well... from what Heather gathered from conversation before everything went to shit... They assumed Jamie had snuck inside the building to make out with Jean because Jean didn't leave with the rest of them... but then everything went to hell and neither Prime or Jean showed up after the dust settled."

Jamie: Jamie blinked at Jess for a minute, then sat heavily on the side of the tub. Breathless squirmed out of his grip and tried to play tug o' war with the hem of his jeans. "I'm not ready to be Prime," he whispered to himself.

Shaw: Sebastian's head tipped to the other side. "How would that work, precisely?"

Jamie: "Huh? What?" His eyes got huge. They had super hearing! "Ummmm... Good question? I have no idea." Jamie could kick himself for forgetting about their better than normal ears. "Well... They're together, right? So, they should be fine. ...Right??"

Shaw: "Well, those left behind in the attack - some, at any rate - have been reduced to... young children." Just saying it sounded ridiculous. "So, if they were struck by this as well, and they were abducted by this new threat..."

Jamie: "But... if they're 'young children,' shouldn't I be that, too? Since I'm him... He's me..." Explaining it was always hard, dammit.

Shaw: "I have no frame of reference for how your abilities function, but I am aware the Prime suffers from injuries inflicted to his duplicates..." He narrowed his eyes to study this specimen.

Jessica: Jess looked between Sebastian and not-Jamie, "Maybe since you were already out it didn't affect you...?" she offered as a guess.

Jamie: Jamie's eyes bugged out and he shrunk away from Mr. Shaw, until he realized he was cornered. "Um. Yeah huh....?" Help.

Shaw: Sebastian realized he was making the boy nervous, reminding him of his years teaching at Xaviers. "You share a telepathic connection to Miss Grey. Can you reach her?" He was still speaking slowly.

Jamie: "It's not as strong as the other me... So I dunno?" He closed his eyes, then cracked one open to check and make sure they weren't going to advance on him, then closed them again. Focuuuus... Foooocuuuuuuus..... Nothing. "Um. Nope."

Jessica: "What about Prime?" Jess looked over her shoulder when she heard Sharky coming back.

Shaw: Sharky returned with a ball of white fluff dangling from his mouth and Sebastian moved to intercept.

Jamie: "What about him?" Oh, right. He closed his eyes again. "Uh... It's... It's weird. Like, I can't contact him, but... he's...alive? I think." Was he? He tried to think harder at him, but just got the same feeling. "Call it a gut feeling, I guess?"

Jessica: "Do you mind if I...?" Jess took a step forward and reached out a hand to touch him.

Shaw: Sebastian was relieved to find that the cat in Sharky's mouth was very much alive and he took the fluffy white creature, who meowed and quickly settled in his arms. "Aren't there two?" he asked the silver dog, who yapped, spun around and took off, then paused and looked over his shoulder for Sebastian to follow.

Jamie: Jamie blinked at Jess and her outstretched hand, then gave her a high five.

Jessica: Jess stared at him for a long moment before rolling her eyes and reaching to take his hand.

Jamie: Jamie arched an eyebrow and looked at their hands, "What does this do?"

Jessica: "Shut up and focus on your connection to Jean and Prime again."

Jamie: He frowned at Jess but sighed and closed his eyes again and focused. "I don't know what you're trying to do, but my weird telepathy doesn't work this way."

Jessica: "Doesn't work what way? I'm not a telepath." She closed her own eyes and followed the feelings.

Jamie: "...why do you want to hold my hand?" His eyes got wide, then narrowed quickly and looked down the hall for Mr. Shaw. Jamie leaned into Jess and whispered, "You're married!"

Jessica: Jess rolled her eyes before she opened them and looked at him, "Will you just do as you're told? Contact helps..."

Jamie: "Helps what?!" He groaned and held her hand.

Jessica: "To focus my not-telepathy." She closed her eyes again, "Now its your turn to focus."

Shaw: Sebastian found the other cat sitting in a window, staring out at the tank. He gave the feline a pet and placed his duplicate on the sill as well. I found both cats, koibito. They're fine.

Shaw: He turned to go and clicked his tongue at Sharky, but the silver dog had other ideas, morphing into a silver cat and hopping up to join the others.

Jamie: Jamie closed his eyes again with a put upon sigh and 'focused' on the instinct that he felt.

Jessica: Okay good... I'm trying something with our dupe friend. She focused on blocking out her own feelings and any other bleed through to entirely feel what she could from Jamie.

Jamie: Jamie opened one eye to peek at Jess, then closed it again when she was still in the same position. He still had no idea what she was trying to feel. He didn't have any emotions about the other him being alive. Just instinct.

Jessica: As someone who followed her instincts more than she probably should, Jess knew instinct when she felt it. A kind of intuition, a thread pulling from somewhere deep inside. She sucked in a breath as she reshifted her focus, "Okay... I get it."

Jamie: "You get...what?" Jamie was so confused. "I'm so confused."

Jessica: "What you feel... how it works... it's like intuition..." She let go of her hand and shook it off, "We'll find them... can you handle taking care of things here until they're back?"

Shaw: Sebastian returned to find them still in the questionable bathroom. He decided to investigate some of the debris scattered about the floor as he listened in.

Jamie: "Um. Sure?" He looked around at the mess of the bathroom then down in the hall again. "What do I do?"

Jessica: "Feed the cats and the dog... hold down the fort, you know? Do whatever jobs you were doing before... try not to get locked in another bathroom..."

Shaw: He didn't bother to restrain his soft snort at her instructions.

Jamie: "All I was supposed to do was patch the walls... For a few hours...." Jamie wanted to whimper, but suppressed it.

Shaw: "Perhaps you can patch a few more," he offered.

Jessica: "Would it helped if I came by every day to check on you?" Jess could feel that insecurity.

Jamie: "Okay..." He looked pitifully up at Jess, "Can you bring food?"

Jessica: She laughed, giving him a pat on the shoulder, "Yes, I can bring food."

Jamie: "Oh thank you!" His shoulders sagged in relief and he gave them both a grin. "And thanks for letting me out of the bathroom."

Jessica: "No problem... How about I also bring you a phone so you can call if you get stuck in another one or something else happens?"

Shaw: Sebastian leaned to look through a bizarre window in the center of the open floor. And the boy had the audacity to believe their home was strange.

Jamie: "Phone is good... I mean, we have a landline for X-Factor, but I guess that wouldn't help me if I got stuck in the bathroom again..."

Jessica: "I'll bring you one, don't worry. How about I come back in a couple of hours... I doubt you have something sorted out for today...."

Shaw: As he nosed about, he spotted movement from the corner of his eye. A silver cat sauntered over and he gave it a smirk. "You look pleased with yourself," he informed their pet.

Jessica: Jess eyed Sharky-cat suspiciously, "There better not be any silver cat-clone babies in the future..."

Jamie: Jamie blinked at the silver cat, then looked at Mr. Shaw, then Jess. "Can it procreate?"

Jessica: She shrugged, "No idea... it's not like I asked questions about how they were made..."

Shaw: "...from Miss Kincaid, I believe."

Jamie: Jamie narrowed his eyes at Sharky and frowned, "I'm not sure if that makes it better or worse..."

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