It was a lonely night, walking back from your job at the Magnus Institute. You were a humble intern, having joined the staff months ago. You were already considered fresh meat by the archival staff- with Tim affectionately calling you the ‘new kid’ and Jon already scowling your way- Sasha assured you it was a sign of Jon being Jon, but you can’t help but wonder about your boss’s attention.
What sparks your curiosity more is your boss’s boss.
You’ve never met him personally, only having been interviewed formally by Mr.Sims and a few paperwork files mailed to your home by the Institute. But one Elias Bouchard piques your curiosity more than anything else at the institute. He seems calm- almost deviously so- with his sleek style and enchantingly golden eyes that seem to pierce your soul. Well, from what you've seen from the photos Tim and Sasha have provided of the man.
But it’s none of your concern. After all, he isn’t exactly your type.
He didn’t even show up to your official welcome party- a little event featuring Tim, Sasha, and Martin. Jon was present and only spoke about seahorses. At least you learned they swim upright and avoid predators by mimicking the color of underwater plants.
The streets seemed to wind and wind, the unfamiliar London streets looking more like a labyrinth than a residential area. The sky remains a looming gunmetal grey, its dark and almost heavy clouds rumble, threatening to unleash its hellish downpour. There’s a buzz and a melodious chime at your phone and with deft hands, you pull it out of your pocket and check it.
did you get home safe?
Me: omw now!!!
Tim: its going to pour in 2 minutes you know
Me: ill be back before it opens up, don’t worry.
And right as you type that out, a roll of thunder shakes the earth- and fat cold droplets of rainwater begin to smack against your skin. It heaves and hums before the rain begins to drench you. You yelp softly, beginning to scurry down the streets. The mud sloshes against your ankles and it’s only a moment before you slip- eating the coarse pavement like it’s a 5-course buffet. The cold water permeates the fabric of your clothes, sending chills down your spine. You stand back up, shaking off-
You need to find a place to dry off-
Thankfully, a nearby alleyway is empty- grimy enough to warrant a health code violation but at least it’s dry. The brick wall is chilly to your shoulder as you lean against it. There’s no sign of the rain letting up, an ever-present drumbeat as you wring out your sleeves. The button-down you oh-so-loved now clings to your skin, while the windbreaker you picked for the late spring chill does nothing to keep the water off.
Nothing else seems to be in the alley, save for your shivering form and an old rusty dumpster. Coated in age-old graffiti with a twisted top, it sits against the wall. You sigh and look away from the frankly reeking thing (it smells like old napkins and half-rotten fruit.), trying to dry yourself off. And from the dumpster, it begins to rattle. As if something is taking nails and scraping them against the inside- you think it might be a fox, or maybe even a badger. It’s nothing, you tell yourself, as the scratching passes before returning in intensity. And you cave in, setting your bag and jacket onto the pavement. Peering into the dumpster’s over crack ever-so-slightly, something thuds against the inner walls- a flash of grey fur.
You recoil slightly and the thing looks up at you-
It’s a cat. Small and thin-framed, with ears that pin themselves against its skull in irritation. With eyes like citrine, they keenly watch you as if-
Is this cat checking you out? Weird.
It seems trapped in this thing, pacing on top of old containers and black bags. It tries to jump through the crack but ends up slamming its face against the grimy walls. A pang of pity runs through your heart and you succumb to your impulses. It takes a few attempts- (namely failing to lift a broken lip means the sacrifice of a few fingernails.) Finally wrenching the dumpster lid fully open, you lean against the brim, holding out your hands.
"Pspspspsps-" You chitter, trying to beckon the ashen grey cat. It stares blankly as if it's been insulted to the highest degree.
"Do not patronize me. This is already humiliating."
There's a voice, low and smooth- you tilt back and glance down the alleyway. It's empty, save for you and your new friend. What the hell was that voice? You try to shake it off, but the sensation of being watched lingers- dragging the hairs on the back of your neck up.
But you turn back to the cat, who seems to be pondering its escape through your awaiting hands. It takes a moment, before slinking closer to you. And with ease, you scoop up the kitty- holding it like a very disgruntled child.
“There you go, buddy!” You smile faintly, much to this cat’s displeasure. It stares, almost as if it’s considering something before-
"Meow." It says. In an incredibly distinct voice. In a human voice.
When you scream and drop the sack of fur, there is mild cursing from both ends- you land flat on your ass, the pavement scratching at your palms. The cat hits the rim like a sack of potatoes, before tumbling out by your feet.
"Watch yourself, you bumbling idiot!” That voice- you’ve heard it before. On some of the recordings Jon sometimes plays back- that’s
The cat looks irritated to all hell and back, but at the name it- he seems to stiffen, turning his gaze back over to you.
“Ah.” He looks you up and down- (and you
his eyes linger on your face for too long).
“The new hire. I do wish we were meeting under more pleasant circumstances-”
“You’re a fucking cat?” He huffs a motion that shakes his little kitty face. He sits opposite from you, eyes narrowed and tail flicking back and forth.
“Language. As per the cat scenario-- not usually, no.” With that, your face scrunches in pure confusion- something he almost laughs at. “It’s a predicament that is none of your concern . Now, if you’ll excuse me.” He stands right back up and he’s not two feet down the street before he stumbles. You clumsily stand up, just to kneel by his side.
“Are you alright?” The moment you say that, you catch a glimpse of his paw- pink and small, yet bottle-green glass sticks it’s edge out, glimmering in the storm light.
“What does it look like?” He bites, and you hold up your hands- a motion of innocence he waves off. And his eyes lock with yours, as something seems to lull your mind. A curtain of fog seems to lower on your mind and tongue, speaking the very thoughts on your mind.
“I’m just trying to help! It’s not like you can pull it out yourself. And what were you planning on doing, walking around as a goddamn cat?” You grumble, letting Mr.Bouchard huff and puff himself out.
“I was going to head back to the institute. Attempt to resume my work. Without any meddling assistant or idiotic interns. ” He sounds like he’s pouting, but because his face is particularly feline, it doesn’t show. The last comment stings, but you shake it off.
“...With paws? Do you think you and your little kitty paws can fill out spreadsheets? No- just... No! Look, I’m not leaving you here-” He bites out a smug little laugh, making your anger begin to bubble like a pot on the stove. “You’re coming with me.”
“Was that a question, Mr.Bouchard?”
At that, he looks at you with a cold glare- which, in all honesty, makes you want to run and cry in a closet somewhere. But the reality hits you when you see his little grey tail swinging back and forth like a pendulum.
And so, you just pick him up- he yowls and whines, even trying to claw at you. But holding him like a sack of flour, tucked beneath your arm seems to work.
“With what, a sharp little meow? Doubt it.” The man has no power here- at least not with you. And he seems to recognize it, going slack as you pick up your bag and jacket. The rain has let up a little, the steady drizzle nothing compared to the earlier downpour.
“Where are you taking me?” He bites, and you glance down. His eyes are solely fixated on you- cold, calculating, and genuinely disturbing in their depth.
“To my apartment.” You blurt out, the mental mind fog settling back into your mind. “I have tweezers to remove the glass and I was gonna let you stay the night. When the rain comes back.”
He stares and stares- considering, pondering each and every one of your words before he sighs. His tail flicks back and forth before he speaks again.