Support Leopard

November 20, 2018:

Cloud comes around to check on Logan with all that's going on. Then Banner stops by for a beer.

The Garage - Xavier's Institute - New York City

The garage of Xavier's School for Gifted Youngsters is no small affair. This section of the mansion is capable of storing a large number of vehicles each inside of their own 'berth'. The berth's have wooden walls that contain cabinets and drawers, each with tools and parts for their designated vehicles.

The floors of the garage are a polished granite with in-laid designs that are their own artistic displays… intricately placed wild patterns of muted color tones. This, clearly expensive, floor stretches the many yards of the whole garage.

The ceilings of the garage are a good thirty feet off of the ground and contain dark cherry wood support beams. There are tall windows along the walls that stretch up to these high ceilings and some more smaller windows up there as well. There are also silver chandeliers that hang from the wooden rafters that supply soft warm lighting.

Multiple large wooden doors can be raised and lowered to allow for the vehicles entrance into the garage and there are a few large workstations set aside for cars to be parked at for service.

On one end of the garage is the doorways up into the west wing of the mansion itself and the far other end of the garage are the wooden doorways that lead into the horse stables.


NPCs: None.



Mood Music: None.

Fade In…

With all that has passed, Xavier's has been deceptively quiet even at this time of the evening. Inside the school itself life continues, the students and faculty continue about their routine and dinner is prepared and eaten. Yet for some the rush and pomp of every day life isn't entirely for them. There are some of the people who call this old manor home who aren't fans of that hustle and bustle and one of them is the man known as the Wolverine.

Though out here, with what passes for his family, he's just Logan. And when he's on the premises but not about the mansion itself he can often be found out here in the garage. It's just off the driveway, a separate building with four sets of doors. One of those sets of doors are open, a light from inside shining outwards and casting a long shadow behind the man as he works on the aged 1970 Norton motorcycle that he'd come close to declaring 'finished' only to break it all down and work on it some more.

Right now he's seated by a disassembled engine, working on the radiator and frowning to himself. Occasionally he reaches over and takes up his open bottle from the six-pack nearby. A few drinks now and then, but mainly he's there alone with his thoughts.

Amongst the residents sometimes glossed over at the Mansion is a figure that the unenlightened view largely as a particularly cute or smart pet or mascot. Yet the clouded leopard known as Cloud is much, much more. And she sometimes needs time away from the loud noises and noxious smells of a truly active manor. Her usual solution is to stalk about the woods that surround the property. But there is something else Cloud also does.

Cloud's major contributions to the life of the 'family' of the manor is twofold: first, she can be exceptionally helpful in certain conflict scenarios, which is why she usually wears an X-embossed 'service animal vest' which includes a communications array and a tracker. But the other contirbution Cloud makes is that she is, quite unobtrusively, the mansion's silent, sometimes purring denmother. Is someone upset? A quiet companion can appear, certainly not asking questions or demanding answers, and just be present. Afraid? Nothing can engender a feeling of safety better than a big bundle of protective fur. And so forth. She is often one of the first to connect with new students, children or refugees when they are brought in.

So too, Cloud knows when others who are too gruff and determined to ever ask for help might need it anyway. And she is curiously adept at finding her way to wherever they might be on softly padded nearly silent cat feet. Even into a smelly garage full of oils and fuels and lubricants and machines … not to mention alcohol and cigars. But as is her trademark, when Cloud comes in she does not speak. She does not ask questions. She also does not interfere. She just pads in, finds a corner nearby, and lays down. Not even a look of expectation is offered.

For now, mere presence is enough.

At first glance Logan's blue eyes flit over towards the leopard. He had heard her approach though she was deceptively quiet, one of the hardest for him to track at times. Yet it was just the subtle brush of fur upon cement, the faint chuff of a held breath that lets free at the right moment, and her scent that he only catches on a fortunate shift of the wind. She'll see his brow furrowed, knit for a moment as his gaze rests on her sidelong, a twist marring his features as if he were inconvenienced.

But she might well perceive the playing of his inner monologue as he argues against himself about her presence and company. A small under the breath exhalation that could be a laugh if it were given life. He shakes his head, looking to the side and away, then back towards her. One eye scrunches up as he says in that rough gravelly voice. "Heya, kid."

Friendly, for him. And as quick as that he turns back towards the motorcycle. No he's rarely a treat for her keen senses, depending on her taste in liquor and tobacco. But there's also the primal smell to him, the subtle tang of blood and sweat and the predator that might speak to some kinship. A connection of the wild that is simply there.

A swig of beer is taken then he sets it aside. He rests a hand on the six-pack beside him and then looks at her. Not too hard to discern his thought as if trying to figure out whether he should offer her one or not.

The leopard chuffs softly in response when Logan addresses her, and flicks her ears to visibly demonstrate that she heard him. For a bit, watching - or watching-not-watching as the case may be - Logan debate with himself the leopard simply stays curled up where she is. But eventually she uncoils slightly and twists around, laying back down facing the beer-drinking mechanic. Her luminescent green eyes stay almost lazily open, watching him visibly, but the rest of her remains quite still and unobtrusive. She really does well at that 'just being present' thing; she has enormous patience. It may be the one consistent behavior she has that gives the lie to 'just a leopard'.

A small snort comes from him as he shakes his head and on a lark he takes a beer from the six-pack and sets it down on its side just a few inches away from one of those paws of the leopard. It makes a glassy clink and then rolls slightly. On the one hand she might indulge, since really beer is universal. On the other hand it might just make enough of an interesting sound for her to paw at, since cats often find bottles kind of amusing to swipe at.

Whichever she chooses, however, Logan turns back to the motorcycle and takes up the dirty rag and goes back to cleaning the radiator. A few swipes, then some more solvent, then a few more swipes.

Curled up so close, the X-vest-wearing clouded leopard watches the bottle as it is laid out, then rolls slightly toward her. For a few moments she almost seems to ignore it, concentrating those softly glowing green eyes more upon the rollee than the rolling bottle. But then she extends a paw slightly, lightly laying it down on the bottle, and she rolls it closer to her. And then? Then she sets it gently spinning. So far, no movement is made to open the bottle. But she has acknowledged it was offered to her. And if that pleases or amuses Logan? So much the better.

"Logan?" comes Dr. Banner's voice from outside the garage. There's sounds of the teacher walking up the concrete and gravel in the driveway as he approaches. His tone is casual, relaxed, but seeking. Banner arrives in the doorway to the garage, having followed the light inside. He has a box in his hands, still taped. "Some of your parts have arrived," Bruce explains in his mild way.

Dr. Banner is a science teacher, and has been at the school for about half a year. He mostly stays to himself, though he's friendly enough if approached, in his shy way. The only real warning that's public about him is not to startle him; his other status isn't well known at all.

He looks curiously at the leopardess in the X-jacket, pausing where he is: interested but not invasive about it. He lifts the heavy box a little more to indicate it, but not impatiently.

"Banner," Is offered over his shoulder without looking even as Logan continues to clean the radiator and then rolls up forwards onto one knee, starting to press the part back to the Norton's frame and upon the front of the engine. He scowls to himself as the metal scrapes against other metal, his brow furrowing in a way that twists his features up into a dangerous scowl. But mainly looking dangerous to those who don't know him.

"Put 'em over there." No please, the jerk. Though he does glance over in the Leopard's direction and his lip turns wryly when she pads at the bottle and sets it spinning. He leans in, grabbing a ratchet in his off hand, and starts adjusting the connection. "You want a beer?"

He stops long enough to lean back and grab one out of the cardboard six-pack container, hefting a Molson over his shoulder in Banner's direction. "Figure I gave one to the cat, can't rightly refuse you one."

Just before Banner speaks aloud, calling out to Logan, the leopard flicks an ear and wrinkles her nose slightly; it's subtle, but a sign they are perhaps about to be interrupted. Not that there's actually anything to interrupt. Not that she would admit, anyway.

As she would be aware of Banner and the admonishments surrounding him, minor though they may be, so too the erstwhile science teacher would be aware of the resident leopard. Not that she spends great amounts of time in science classes, but she often shows up when a student is stressed or upset, comforting and consoling without words, facial expressions or judgements. And despite a natural penchant for stealth - on silent cat's feet, after all - Cloud does not startle. She makes a point of announcing herself, which is most all of the proof the residents need of her intelligence.

After Logan addresses and welcomes Banner, the cat pauses in her spinning of her beer bottle to lift her glowing gaze to the science teacher, ears swiveling forward. She does have an unnerving tendency to give someone her absolute attention, something that has proven to make many others feel 'seen', 'heard', and 'understood' in ways the non-telepaths sometimes find difficult. When Logan offers Banner the bottle, she actually makes a point of rolling hers against the concrete floor demonstratively.

Some hesitation reads on Dr. Banner's face, as he weighs the offer. The box is moved and placed where requested without any offense at all. Dr. Banner is usually very accomidating. Sometimes to the point of being pushed around, but he seems to genuinely not mind. Or if he does, he keeps it locked down somewhere a lot deeper. "I…. sure, but just the one," Dr. Banner accepts, deciding to err on the side of being social. Within limits. "I feel very welcomed, thanks," he does say with an amused deadpan, and Logan explains the invite was only because he couldn't refuse him one. He crosses to accept the bottle, and then stands resting near one of the workbenches and the package, trying to open it.

"Hello," Dr. Banner says, to the leopard on the floor, respectful of her intellect. He's unsure about her, which can give him a little note of anxiety, but she's been a comforting presence to many, and he's generally willing to give the benefit of the doubt.

It might well be curious how easily a feline can incorporate itself around others, simply existing in a way that declares this is but normal and how it should be. Which is perhaps why Logan seems to not mind her presence at all, at least for now. He smiles sidelong at her, then back towards Banner as he rises up from his place before the motorcycle.

A nod is given towards the box of parts and he murmurs, "Much obliged," So perhaps his mood is improving. He takes a swig of beer and steps out of the garage proper but still close to the door that leads out onto the driveway. The night sky above still suffers a touch from the glow of New York City and its nearby sister city Gotham. But at least there are some stars above and that bright full moon.

"So Chuck's gone for a bit. You gonna stick around now that the inmates are gonna take over?" He asks that sidelong towards the scientist. But a faint smirk might be seen as he aims a look towards Cloud.

When acknowledged by Banner Cloud remains paused in her games with the bottle, lifting her head a bit more and making a point of a slow, deliberate nod towards him, a soft chuff such as her kind would give to another of their kind out of respect and acknowledgement. She flirts her tail up from her side and back down, and then she rolls the bottle about playfully, almost as if she isn't paying any attention at all to the two-foot conversation going on. But those who know her well would be keenly aware she pays attention to everything. Right now, she's just blending into the background, to allow the men to talk and express themselves without regard for her, until or unless she feels there's a need for her intervention.

Dr. Banner is very quiet for that question, and takes a little while to formulate his answer through the press of lips that makes his expression look very concerned: somewhat closed-off. "I expect to stay here, yes; I need to pitch in on these dimensional phenomena. The lab here's excellent, so I don't think I need to go anywhere to do that. I expected a call from Mr. Stark requiring, um, my expertise, but I haven't gotten it yet." There's a softer laugh and ease of features. "It concerns me. It shouldn't, perhaps, though. So you may have me here longer," Dr. Banner says, with a reserved smile. Banner pauses after finally getting the beer open, and pocketing the cap. He takes a small sip of it. "Unless SHIELD comes in. I suppose it's a 'wait and see', for me." Being pulled in multiple directions is sort of normal. As is his lack of resistance to it. He'll go with the flow when he can. Cloud slips below his current radar, as she's deliberately faded into the background. He has his own thoughts taking his attention now.

"Still no sign of the professor, then?" Dr. Banner asks delicately.

The X-Man gestures to the side, one hand waving wide as if brushing aside his words. "None I'm aware of. Figure Team Telepath will wander in there and make a bunch of squawking noises, then wander out and tell us the world is doomed or sommich." And to be fair they can both hear the silent scowl in those words, the sardonic derision not meant so much as insult and more to allay the severity of the situation. But it's shifted to the side as he takes a breath and frowns distantly.

He looks back towards Banner and then clinks his beer against the other man's in a brief informal toast that he offers as, "Well, here's to him coming back from wherever soon." That having been said he turns and starts to move towards Cloud, pausing long enough to kneel down a bit and offer a scritch to the noggin if she seems inclined, perhaps as a way to not exclude her from the discussion.

"Bad timing with the whole Illyana thing up in the air. Some folks still don't know which way ta jump on that." Perhaps even himself being one of them.

Offered scritches the leopard accepts them, leaning her head up into the hand, a rumbling purr building from her chest and vibrating against the cement floor for a bit. She gives an angry sort of chuff, almost more of a forceful sneeze, at mention of the recent troubles and everyone's feelings about Illyana. She has not made her own opinions terribly clear on that front, though she has made a point to check on Illyana, and to stay with her a while. That wouldn't be something one would expect if she felt the girl was a danger. Would she?

"Squawking noises," Dr. Banner echoes, as if it amused but also really worried him. And Dr. Banner is very good at looking worried. It's like a special skill. He rubs a hand along his cheek and then the back of his neck. "At this point I'm not sure about the world being doomed," admits the scientist, which likely gives no peace and quiet to anybody. He says some of it to the leopard. Animals are somewhat easier to express worries to. Even if they are intelligent, still holds. "But it's better to be optimistic until there's more evidence."

After the scritches, Logan frowns and looks up towards Banner. "M'hungry." He pushes himself to his feet and starts to step towards the door once again, only now tossing his beer to the side where it clinks into the bottom of the garbage can. Over his shoulder he calls, "You folks want anythin'?" As if the Leopardess might well ask him for some snack on his way back out.

Turning around he walks backwards a few moments, "Don't touch nothin'." He says as he points at Banner rather… pointedly.

Cloud does turn her head to watch Logan for a few moments as he departs, though she does not actually ask for a snack. She can fetch her own, and has proven so countless times, most notably this summer when she brought in - dragged - a boar in during a cookout and rather insisted on tearing off a haunch to be barbequed along with everything else.

Once Logan has departed, though, Cloud turns her attention back to Banner. She rises slowly, leaving her bottle behind for now, and stalks over to strop herself against his leg, twining around behind him and ending up on his other flank, pressed against his hip as she looks up, nodding again demonstrably. She too seems to agree it is better to be optimistic until all the evidence is in.

Dr. Banner looked partially insulted when he was told not to touch anything. That's not something he generally has aimed at him. It's more just surprise. If he wanted something, he didn't decide quickly enough to aim it before Logan was out of range. Well, of what Bruce would assume his range is, unaware of the hyper-hearing of the other man. So instead he just releases a breath, looks down at his beer that he didn't /really/ want. But he drinks it anyway, and then gives Cloud a sort of defeated little smile and half-shrug. "Guess it's just us now. Not touching things," Banner says, in his quiet humor.

Cloud does not seem worried at all about Bruce touching things. She doesn't go out of her way to swat at things Logan has neatly arranged, but she doesn't really care. What does she do? She strops against Bruce and pads off towards the back of the garage, ducking under one of the workbenches there. It's not a clear shot visual, but it would not be hard to tilt to the side and get a line of sight to watch her delicately open a small box fridge, then poke her muzzle in and gum a bottle from inside. Then she actually closes the fridge door and pads back to Bruce, taking a seat in front of him and leaning forward, offering the bottle in her mouth to one of his hands. There's a brownish liquid inside, identifiable from its label as a bottled high-end iced tea. The leopard says nothing, but she can be quite eloquent in her silence.

At first Bruce thought the leopard was just done, as she was moving away. He sighed and partially turned away from where she'd went. He looks at the workbench and the box, and then the beer, drinking it since he opened it. When the leopard comes back she gets a puzzled but surprised look. He accepts the bottle, brows pulled together, and looking at it. He then laughs softly. "That obvious I'm not a beer drinker?" he asks her, not expecting an answer. "It is all right," he assures her, feeling slightly silly for talking. He isn't sure how much she understands, really. He hangs onto it since he was given it, but will work on the open beer, disliking to be wasteful. "Perhaps it'll relax me just a little." Bruce doesn't sound like he thinks that's a great idea. "Life of the party." A softened smile follows, and he seems to shake himself out of it. "But there's things to do. Missing people to find. No time for that."

Cloud gently butts her head against Bruce's hip, then rights herself and watches his face intently again. It's true, she could actually speak if she wanted. But given how carefully controlled Bruce keeps himself, part of her worries how he'd respond to witnessing her transformation. Talk about startling and disturbing. So she resorts to the sort of communication she has always used. Most two-foots are smart enough to get it with some helpful prompting. She sniffs around, audibly and intently, and stalks around in a circle, then stops again in front of Bruce expectantly. Looking for people? She's an expert at that.

Bruce is sharp. In his own way, usually science related, though he has a talent for leaping to things outside of the normal box or scope that others think inside or assume. He's also somewhat familiar with transforming things. He isn't sure entirely what may be going on with her, whether she is actually an animal, or a mutant animal, or a mutant who is more comfortable as an animal, or some forth option such as an alien that isn't really an animal or mutant at all. He watches her convey the message of looking around, but he's mostly focused on her.

"You're more than you appear," Bruce says, but it's a more gentle tone. He doesn't want to upset her either. "Even beyond what you're showing me, I think," he says. There's a mellow smile. "I'm going to try to follow the particles left behind, though I really need to find a rift that's active, and get some better scans of it. Or someone that was just inside such a rift. If you see someone like that, or a location where one was, it'd help."

More than she appears? Cloud nods affirmatively. She definitely is that, and she's not keeping it secret. She doesn't flaunt it when it isn't necessary, but lying is … well. It's completely counter to her nature. She considers his point, and then nods again. She can hunt around for clues, and come find the science man to help make sense of them. That works for her. Smart as she is, she lacks the education to make science work for her.

"Thank you. Every little bit can help. Even a small disturbance," Dr. Banner says, in the same way he would to a student that he's working with on a project. He entirely lacks any manner of heirarchy, though: he'll respect any opinion and any helper equally. He watches her a little longer, and gets rid of his empty beer bottle in a bin next to the trash for recycling. He tips the tea at her in a silent thanks. "Best get back to it, though. I'm working on it in the lower lab, but if you don't have access, my classroom or a message through one of the others may work. Such as Betsy." There's a sudden fierce flush as he speaks about the woman.

Cloud nods and presses her cheek against his hip, then twines around him and goes back to her spot on the floor where she was resting when he arrived. She offers a final nod before curling up on the floor, apparently agreeing to his terms. She will come find him, or find Betsy, when she has something. And it does seem that the huntress is rather likely to find something if she tries. She's lucky like that.

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