EuroMind had sent out a notice. A mutant on the run from Paris. EuroMind had been noted as following the boy, who was spotted by security cameras as having landed in O’Hare International five hours ago. The blond young man looked completely human, nothing out of the ordinary aside from being extraordinarily pretty in the way that the old time fashion industry liked their young men to be pretty. Various street cameras had him moving about the city until nightfall when he fell off the radar.
It was night time. A cold gust drifting through the Windy City. And then there was a partial ping. Black leather clad cat boy, same blond hair, same height and build… only now very obviously not fully human. He was perched on a lamppost with a simple, new, non-descript black canvas backpack on his back. And he was surveying the streets below.
When the notice came in from Euromind, Samantha made mental note of it as something to either focus on or dismiss as needed. When it was updated to show the young man arriving in Chicago, at O’Hare airport, she moves it to the ‘might require immediate attention’. Then he disappears off of all surveillance.
Samantha is almost immediately in a taxicab, oversized messenger bag at her side, and headed toward the young man’s last known location.
That was a few hours ago. She had to dismiss the taxi cab as it would have been exorbitantly expensive to let it drive her about all evening, and is now walking briskly toward where the ping had place the partial match. She’s dressed for the typical Chicago winter even though she’s far more tolerant of it than she remembers being of winters in London or New York. Or Colorado. SHIELD HQ was never based in Colorado. SHIELD? No, NORAD. In Cheyenne Mountain. But SHIELD never had involvement in Cheyenne Mountain….
Samantha’s brisk pace slows, and her steps seem almost uncoordinated for a moment, as if she’s suffering a dizzy spell or similar.
The black fabric was, perhaps, not the same as what he recalled. The cold had to get Cold before he felt it. But this was an imitation, a costume. The ears and tail and claws had been part of the suit, in what was still fresh memory. Now, the ears were soft and furred, the tail sensuous and black. Le Chat ‘sat’ upon the lamp, peering down at the black claws that were actual claws at the tips of his fingers when Samantha’s brisk walk stuttered. Green cat-eyes flick up and instantly lock on her. His ears perked forward fully, listening. Worried what the almost stagger meant, LeChat leaps from the lamppost, landing with a flip at her side.
“Careful, mademoiselle. The ice can be slippurry,” says the cat-eyed young man, hands reaching out to catch Samantha’s elbow and help her find an anchor to steady herself on.
Samantha is catching her balance as quickly as a cat-suited young man can appear near her and offer assistance. She’s still disconcerted enough to be startled by the man and she very nearly lashes out at him. And with her LMD-level strength, that would have been … very unfortunate.
She visibly startles and appears to flinch, though her eyes when they land on Le Chat are not in any possible way showing fear. She picks up on the young man’s clearly Parisian accent — even a hundred years after the last time she’s heard one it’s still distinctive — and she takes a moment to straighten primly.
“Thank you for the assistance,” she offers in a primly posh British accent, though some of the vowels are slightly flattened as if she’s not been back to the UK in a very long time.
“No purroblem,” says the catboy, dipping into a bow. When he straightens, his tail wraps about a leg and a shiver is visible at his eartips.
“If you’re alright meow?” he prompts, sounding like he’s getting ready to go… find someplace warm because holy hairballs is it COLD right now!
“Yes, I’m fine,” Samantha says, even as her eyes are taking in the young man and his decidedly unwise clothing choices. “Though I suspect you will not be if you stay outside in this weather for much longer.”
She mentally sends a signal for a taxicab and receives a ping that one will arrive in thirty seconds. “Had you any other plans this evening besides attempting to contract pneumonia?”
“I..” had thought this suit was warmer.. or that the wind wasn’t as… Le Chat frowns faintly, ears drooping a bit.
“No.. I guess I didn’t have any other plans…” Nor places to go. But, he can’t let anyone in on that, can he? So, he pulls himself up straight, forces himself to appear not cold — even though his ears and tail give him away — and plasters a camera ready and brilliant false smile on his face.
“But it’s not a purroblem,citizen. As long as you are good!” he says with one more dramatic bow. his weight shifts, ready to leap away.
Samantha simply crosses her arms and raises an eyebrow, especially at the word ‘citizen’. And just to bring home to the man that she is anything but a citizen, she says in archaic but nearly perfect Parisian French, “You are aware that Euromind tracked your movements leaving Paris, yes?”
“The…who?” asks the cat, ears perking forward again as his head tilts. The golden bell at his collar jingling softly in the freezing air. His slitted eyes are wide and kitten-like, making him seem so much younger than he is.
Keeping to French as the inadequately-clad young man responded in kind, Samantha takes a moment to explain. “The government agency in France that oversees people with unique physical traits or abilities.” This makes it that much more likely that he is the young man Euromind flagged leaving the country. And to test his apparent ignorance further, she very clearly (to most people) left a LOT of detail about Euromind out of her explanation.
Ignorance test passed! Le Chat is very ignorant since his head tilts the other direction even as he frowns lightly. There’s that look she might be familiar with, the look of the fugitive, the secret ID, not wanting to be registered, tagged, found. His eyes narrow slightly, frame going from open and trusting to a feral human-wary cat in a heartbeat.
“Are you from that agency?” he asks in return. Yes, in French. Turn of the 21st century french. Properly Parisian French. High society seeming, but young and still teenaged.
“I am not,” Samantha says entirely honestly in her British English again, though she keeps to herself that she’s SHIELD and affiliated with them. “But I am with an agency local to this city tasked with protecting people.”
That’s about when the taxicab she’d pinged pulls up behind them.
There’s no driver.
“Perhaps you would prefer to get in out of the cold?” Samantha gestures toward the waiting vehicle.
When she confirms that she’s not from that agency, Chat sighs lightly. His breath is a puff of white. And then she mentions the car. Chat turns to look and double takes.
“Whooooa!! That’s… that’s so cool!” he chitters, still in French. His eyes bright and wide and excited, he moves toward the vehicle to look into the windows, searching for the driver he knows he didn’t see. The fur-covered tail curling in delight.
Again, Samantha raises an eyebrow at the young man’s reaction, but then moves to open the car’s door to try and get him to climb in. “Yes, I found these self-driving taxicabs to be horribly fascinating as well when I first arrived here. Shall we?”
She’s quite possibly starting to understand that turn of phrase ‘herding cats’.
“I didn’t realize the United States had self-driving cars already! I had heard of them. Hadn’t some gotten into an accident not too long ago?” he’s asking, creeping about the now open door to peer inside. A moment, and then he crawls in, half over the back seat, to look into the driver’s seat, again for a driver he knows isn’t there.
Samantha waits for the felinoid man to climb into the car, then gets in after him and pings the taxicab to secure the doors with ‘child safety lock mode’. She also sends it a destination address — the apartment that SHIELD has rented for her but she so rarely uses — and the vehicle starts off, its AI starting to chat amiably.
Thankfully it appears to NOT be the Tony unit.
It’s the subtle click of the doors that alerts Chat to his predicament. He turns, back to the back of the front seats, just as the taxi moves forward. He tumbles forward into the backseat, tumbling bonelessly like a cat, before scrambling up to half perch with a look like ‘I totally meant to that!’
“Where…. Where are we going?” he asks, eyes bright and wide and like a cat in a car going tot he vet. halp!
Samantha stays primly seated in the car, her oversized messenger bag against her legs in the floorboards. “Am I correct in presuming that you have not taken the time to find a suitable residence, even if only temporarily?” She doesn’t wait for an answer. “I am taking you to a residence that I know is secure.”
If a bit … lacking in fresh produce.
“….There aren’t bars on the windows, are there?” he asks, the tremble of his ears and the very tip of his tail telling of the sudden stress, even as he is moving himself to sit up like an actual person. The slits of his eyes turning to ovals in the low light of the taxi’s interior.
The taxicab continues along its merry way in the late evening streets as Samantha shakes her head no to the now VERY disconcerted and worried-looking young man. “No, there aren’t. Not even one of those fire escapes I used to think every building in America had on their sides.”
She’s not sure what else to tell the man, so she lets the vehicle lapse into silence as they drive along. Actually, one more thing.
“Perhaps you should sit facing forward so the authorities do not attempt to reprimand you?”
And at that the boy shifts and sits up on the seat correctly. Back ramrod straight, hands on his knees, face forward, ears straight forward and trembling from the tension. His tail, on the seat between them, shudders now and again.
The drive is quiet enough after that, if not terribly relaxing. Samantha leads the young man to her flat and lets him look around, promising to return with food, likely in the morning.
She departs, spends most of the rest of the night reporting in to SHIELD and trying to determine as much as she can about the young man — this task made more difficult by the fact that he refused to share a name with her.
By the time she returns to the apartment, it’s empty. The young man is gone, a window having been left open and its screen pushed out. Samantha curses faintly to herself.
SHIELD receives information about a mutant that has fled Paris, France to Chicago and Samantha goes out to 'welcome' the young man to the city. It's an ... interesting meeting.
December 29, 2051