1964-05-18 - You Gotta Be Kitten Me
Summary: Lindon brings Lamont to to Dr. Strange's for help. The situation is meow-ta control.
Related: None
Theme Song: None
lamont strange lindon 

So, this afternoon…..began strangely. Lamont got a message via phone, and dressed to go out, just after lunch. On foot - presumably he took a cab. He returned on foot, too. …….four feet, to be precise.

The creature that slipped in an open window is a big bruiser of an alleycat, the dark, dark gray that's almost but not quite black, like a gun that's been blued, save for the battles scars nearly all over him. He padded through the house to find Lindon….and demanded, in Lamont's voice, to be taken to Strange. The only explanation offered is that a deal went badly wrong, and he'll explain more later. Lamont doesn't keep cats, so there's no real cat carrier…..just a woven market basket with a lid, which will have to do. Lamont Cat is riding in it, poking his head out, and looking thoroughly truculent, ears pinned back.

Lindon has spent his day off doing what he normally does: reading. He's got books spread out before him, loose papers as well with drawings and notes. He's in full research mode, because he knows there has to be something about terragenesis out there that won't trigger his visions. Someone somewhere has spoken of it, read about it, written about it. Don't ask him why he wants to know. None of your business, that's why.

Then Lamont demanded Lindon take him to Strange. As a cat. Lindon has the driver bring him around, and he… has Lamont. In a cat basket. "I'm not going to ask," he says. At least three times on his way to Strange's. Once there, he sets the basket on the stoop, rings the bell, and tells Lamont again, "I'm not asking."

The wards whisk off to find the master of the manor and, for once, they catch him between tasks. A little organization of the library is completed and now it's off to return a certain misbehaving tome back to the practice room where it belongs, not randomly transporting itself to various sections of the shelving.

Raising an eyebrow at what the guardian spells report, Strange backtracks half a hallway to step briskly down the grand staircase and across the foyer. The door to the Sanctum opens and first to be seen is Lindon. The surprise is obvious enough in the Sorcerer's expression, even if his words are polite greeting.

"Lindon — come in. I wasn't certain of what the wards were reporting, but…" And he fades out as he realizes that there's a wicker basket on the landing of the outer steps…with a cat looking disgruntled from within. Disgruntled in a particularly sentient manner, what's this…? A single dark eyebrow arches a bit higher still as Strange glances briefly up to Lindon and then back to the feline. Sight-brightened eyes reveal…a familiar aural swirl of opposing colors in cool and warm about the alleycat and he can't help the huff of a laugh. "Well then. They weren't lying at all. Come in, to the living room." Presuming that the Archive and erstwhile practitioner will follow, basket and all, he leads the way to said room. "I assume there's a story," he comments over his shoulder as he sets about making tea by the fireplace. "There's always a story." A warm, baritone laugh follows.

Indeed, the cat's is Lamont's distinctive cloud of murk and smoke, albeit laced with threads of vibrant, almost cheerful blue….and the ember-glow of desire. The moment he can, he leaps smoothly out of the basket. No awkwardness in his four-footed body, he must've done this before. Or….more accurately, had it done to him. He pauses to groom a stray patch of fur into place, and then sits down on the hearthstones, very upright, like those statues of Bast in the Met. "Thank God, you're home, Strange," Lamont's tone is annoyed, but neither terrified nor enraged. "As you see, I need to beg your help. I….was deceived as to the nature of a deal. An old rival decided that the appropriate punishment for my one-upping her was to do a term of service as an unwilling familiar."

Lindon follows after, and he spreads his hands as he says, "I didn't ask." Once he hears the explanation, he clamps his hand over his mouth, and he says nothing. Not a thing. He just goes to take a seat in the living room, and after a moment of composing himself, he draws away his hand so that both rest upon the arms of his chair, and he looks straight ahead. Not. A. Word. He bites his lower lip. Not a sound from him.

"That is unfortunate," Strange eventually says overtop the stirring of honey into his own cup of tea. He's not about to set down a saucer of milk for Lamont, though the temptation is awful — but it likely won't be forgiven, so he abstains. Wanda would be proud. "Is it a curse or simply a charm? Binding? What have you tried so far?" The more information, the better. Some spells come with brutal backlash and he's not about to have a scattered ashen pile of soot and fluff strewn about the living room. Awkward? Muchly.

You know what else is unfortunate? The sudden, silent-pawed appearance of a silver tabby-marked…long-tailed juvenile bobcat, for lack of a better description. In the open doorway to the living room, front half in sight, stands a very, very interested Aralune, resident adolescent Malk kitten weighing in at easily twenty pounds. The pink nose might be adorable for the little twitches, but the intense attention placed upon Lamont by a pair of very bright jade-green eyes might be unnerving should he notice before she enters the room further.

"Curse and binding. Blood, even," Lamont says, tone still clinical. He's not in the least embarassed. He's ended up in weirder situations n his travels, after all. "Indefinite duration. And I've got enough magic in me to keep it running, since it's bound to me. I try and break it, all I'm doing is pumping more power into it. Recursive," He's still got a way of reporting that's very clearly military.

Then…Aralune, and the steel-gray eyes, for they are the same color in his cat form as his human, go to her. There's only a mild curiosity there, ears pricking forward, and he unthinkingly makes that scenting grimace, baring needle teeth.

Lindon stares straight into the hearth. He takes a few deep breaths. That meditation comes in useful at least a dozen times a day, because here he is not rolling out of his chair laughing. No, he's quite calm when he finally brings himself to look at Lamont. "That sounds difficult," he says with the smallest rasp in his voice. His attention shifts to Aralune when Lamont looks her way. He sits up a little, distracted from hilarity, briefly. Is that a Malk? In the flesh? Color him fascinated. And a little wary.

Strange glances down at the darkly-furred alleycat, scars and all, and nods, Doctor to patient. "Sounds simple enough, if it's truly a positive feedback loop. Break the loop, break the curse. Do you remember the language that your rival used?" He's not aware of the appearance of Aralune until he sees Lamont wrinkle that wee little button nose.

Premonition dances along the fine hairs of his neck and he looks over to see the black tip of the juvenile Malk's tail slip beneath Lindon's chair. A slow inhale and exhale, a clear weighing of options. "Lindon, don't let her nails touch you. The Fae charm isn't nearly as potent as an adult's magics, but you'll hallucinate if she breaks your skin." Word to the wise, no idly petting this once-feral creature. Aralune never breaks eye contact as she steps out from beneath the shadow of the first chair, back a lean, low curve as she seems to ooze completely into view, large ears perked forwards. A quick movement and up into Strange's chair she goes. Now holding the high ground, she gains a bit of attitude, allowing a low, purrling growl to escape barely-parted lips. "Tsst," comes the sharp sound from the Sorcerer, who glares daggers at the Fae cat. She subsides after giving him a wide jade-eyed look and assumes a loafing position, large paws tucked away beneath her. The tail though…there's the dead give-away. It lashes, tip twitching, and her stare never strays from Lamont on the hearth.

Oh, crap. That Malk has to weigh twice what he does in this form. Lamont immediately crouches down, flattens his ears out, and lays his tail back along the hearth. All of it eloquent of feline submission. Yes, yes, this is your house, you are the boss. "No," he admits, daring a glance up at strange. "I'm thinking Old Norse, that's not one I really know. And she was always into that faux-Teutonic nonsense the Germans recycled during the war."

"I'm curious how you'd have me stop her," Lindon says. He sits quite still. "She's beautiful," he comments, but no, he makes no attempt to pet the kitty, and when he sizes up the two cats, his brow furrows. Lamont as an alley cat is hilarious. Lamont as an alley cat in a scrap with a Malk, even an adolescent one? Not quite so. But then he glances at Lamont the Cat, and he purses his lips tightly. Okay, it's still pretty funny.

Aralune seems satisfied for the moment, at least, with the display by the errant alleycat on the warm bricks of the hearth. The tail's twitching slows to a half-time idle flick. Those jade eyes don't soften a titch; their intention seems to be to pin him like a mounted butterfly to a mat. Queen of the roost, this one…well, the furred Queen at least. The gentlemen here likely know who reigns in scarlet splendor.

Strange too is satisfied with the calming of the young Malk, though he's half-inclined to risk those nails to move her from his chair. Rude, this youngling. Not a few weeks back, he found a hairball on the cushion. Malk vomit is a pain to get out of fabric.

"You wouldn't stop her," he replies to Lindon and it's no consolation, so sorry. To Lamont, he nods and sips at his tea. The calmer he is as a known value to the Malk, the calmer she will be. "Old Norse isn't too difficult. I can utilize the bastardization I have on the Asgardian's All-Speak and go from there." He pauses and observes Aralune again. Did he just see a little counter-shifting of her shoulders, an enlargement of her pupils? "Sorry about the Malk. I didn't expect her to intrude. She's still a baby and is learning her manners." What's he apologizing for?

…is he apologizing in advance?

Oh dear.

It's a human gesture, the breath that the cat on the hearth takes. A man squaring his shoulders for a fight. "Good," he says, still gazing across the room. Not looking up, lest he meet those green eyes. "Lindon," he says, abruptly. "Come pick me up. Please."

"Sure, have me provoke it," Lindon says, but he gets up from his chair, carefully scoops up the alley cat, and gives him a scritch under the chin. "Good kitty," he says, and his voice wavers again. He clears his throat, and he sits, the whole time giving the Malk a politely wide berth. He's not afraid of her, per se. There's just no need to provoke her by bringing kitty right under her nose.

Oh — juvenile Malk's fun all but ruined!!! …except she's Fae. Lindon is watched with the cold calculation of a creature born and bred to sup on bad luck and, let's face it, the alleycat-Lamont is ripe with it. Her green eyes never disengage from the other feline and she even lifts her head, little pink nose twitching, as the Archive returns to the chair with the prize in-arms.

Like that was going to stop her.

Rising to her feet, she indulges in an arch-backed stretch before stepping up with deceiving light-footed grace to the side table beside Strange's chair. It's an easy arc of a leap to land squarely in Lindon's lap. The Sorcerer in question eyes her silently, gauging what might be the best time to intervene. It might be a bit more risky than Lamont would want, but he has to consider those sharp claws and their prick of illusory magic. Another 'tsst' is a reason for Aralune to glance over at the Master of the Arts and she settles again, not quite in a loaf, front paws the size of an adult's closed fist hanging over the edge of the table. Those ears still remain perked and the tail gives a rather sinuous twitch. Her haunches never quite settled either…

"It will take me a moment to engage the All-Speak spell," he says quietly and almost ruefully, tea cup in hand. "I can't risk the language being incorrect with this particular curse, given it's a blood-curse."

Strange can see his aura bloom blue, over the dark core, shades from morning sky down to the ocean on a sunny day. It's entirely unconscious, affection welling up as Lindon holds him, his body relaxing in that hold. "You're teasing me," he observes, flatly, but he doesn't sound truly offended. "I forgive you. I know this looks absurd."

Then he can read, the fraction of a moment before it happens, that leap. And he's leaping to meet her, slipping from Lindon's embrace. Better they fall on the coffee table than on the body of the Archive.

"You're very soft," Lindon tells Lamont. besides, who can stop oneself from petting a kitty cat? He sits with Lamont on his lap, and he gives Aralune a glance without inviting eye contact or challenge. It doesn't help. The moment he gets seated, Lamont is launching himself from his lap, and he barely has a chance to advise, "No!" before it's on. It's on, and all the Archive can do is watch, wide-eyed.

All Strange can do is flinch and inhale a hiss of a gasp through his grimace. A slosh of tea splats on the hearth even as he's setting the cup aside and the silvery wards are swishing from the walls, called forth by a twinge of panic from their master.

There's a lopsided 'thump' of impact as alleycat meets Fae cat and the tumble takes to the floor rather than the side-table. Aralune is larger and while not necessarily any more graceful or flexible than Lamont in his feline form, her size is what ends up tipping the scales. It's a blur of chiaroscuro furs and abruptly, everything stills. The juvenile Malk has the alleycat pinned to the carpet with two-thirds of her body; one thumper of a hind foot splays across his hip while a long forearm nearly bisects from mid-spine up to throat, across the plane of a flat scapular bone. Those ivory claws flex, not breaking skin in the least, but disturbing fur? Absolutely. His spine tucks neatly against the warm silvery fluff of her stomach.

Strange takes a tentative step closer, hand reaching around and out of sight with the intent to scruff the errant Fae cat. The silvery wards hover nearby with bated spell-breath.

And then Aralune begins to purr like a literal diesel engine and that larger pink tongue begins to groom up along Lamont's neck! Solid, mildly-slimey swipes draw lines in his coat as she settles in and dines upon what bad luck muddles his aura. If he makes any moves to escape, she simply flexes those claws and the warning is given: no running, you're mine for the moment. Her eyes half-lid in contentment.

Dominance grooming. It could be a hell of a lot worse. His eyes narrow to gray slits, his claws flex out, in, out, in….and stay. She's going to be there a while, he's accrued quite a debt in terms of bad luck come due. He forces himself to relax. "Maybe," he opines, softly, "She'll lick this curse off."

Lindon grimaces, drawing up is feet when the scuffle starts so that he doesn't catch an errant swipe. He just stares at the cats, both of them, and slowly settles down again. Is she grooming him? Long fingers creep spidery over his lips as once more he covers his mouth. It's really the only way to stop from losing it at this point. Lamont may never live this down.

The Sorcerer's sigh of relief is the outwards projection of the earlier hiss. The silvery wards don't depart; they linger about his shoulders, watchful for disaster.

"That's plausible. Again, so sorry," he murmurs, a frown of disapproval on his face. As if Aralune cares. She's going to town, now licking a perfectly awkward ruff of dark fur up beneath and around Lamont's ear. She's near to the skin and perhaps an idle caress or two might rub the rough sandpaper of her tongue against it, far more textured than the standard tabby cat. Ouch. The rumbling hasn't ceased at all and those dangerous claws flex in and out, a kneading gesture ingrained in all feline species, even those of Fae ilk. She seems to latch onto the source of all ills, that errant blood-curse, delicious and magically-metallic as it is, and it isn't long before Lamont might feel the odd itching beneath his pelt of the spell disengaging from his biological structure.

It's perhaps as dramatic as it happened initially. Aralune finishes lapping up the last of the curse and the immediate air-space about both groomer and groomed wavers like a mirage in the desert. The juvenile Malk, disturbed from her feeding, disengages with alacrity and monkey-runs at a three-beat gallop off into a side-hall, tail an insulted bottle-brush. This leaves Lamont back in his perfectly-normal human self…with a set of four pricks on his neck where Malk claws drew pinpoints of blood.

Oh dear indeed.

Now it's a sorcerer prone on the floor, in a rumpled suit in his usual shades of fog gray. Apparently black is reserved for that alter-ego of his. The same for crimson. He rises with a kind of liquid grace far looser-jointed than his usual poised care. And the pupils have whorled out to drown the irises almost entirely. The smile, though….that's the tell. Nothing like the ordinary, tight lack of humor. He looks lazy and pleased, as he gazes between them. "That did solve the problem," he allows. But he seems curiously dreamy, those darkened eyes darting. Huh. His visual spectrum's still in the feline range….and scents are still intense. The tea spilt on the hearth, the scene of the Sorcerer and the Archive, intensely personal. The places where Aralune has marked her territory. He's ignoring the little marks on the back of his neck, blood beading.

Lindon just watches this happen, and he looks to Strange, then back to the grooming. Just. The thing is, Lindon knows a lot of things. He doesn't see many things. Not firsthand. He spends too much time in libraries or his own room for that. Lamont the Person gets to his feet, and Lindon asks tentatively, "Is that better? No more weirdness today?" Then he grimaces as he adds, "Your neck. Uh, Doctor?"

"Oh, son of a — " The rest of the cuss is aborted simply for the frustrated throw of hands into the air before him. "Lindon, get him sitting. He got cut by Aralune's nails. He's hallucinating now."

Strange is fully aware of Lamont's predicament by proxy of experience. He turns and rustles about the lintel above the fireplace, searching out a particular stash of coins. He needs one made of pure iron in order to properly contradict the Malk spell's effects. It takes him enough time that Lamont is able to indulge in some odder behaviors, if the hallucinations have progressed to a certain point. It's the downside to having been scratched so close to the jugular.

Lamont stalks over to Lindon, no other word for it. And then, oh so lightly, he lays his cheek against Lindon's hair, inhales luxuriously. He knows a ghost of that scent, with his feeble human nose. But with a cat's sense overlaid, at least for the moment….and a cat's utter lack of inhibitions. "Better," he agrees, in a murmur…but it's mere parroting. The gesture's a betrayal, and he'll be profoundly embarassed and dismayed, later.

Lindon nods to Strange and says, "Right." He sits up, all ready to get up and do the Doctor's bidding, and then Lamont is there, rubbing on him. "…" He hesitantly lifts a hand, pets Lamont's hair, and says, "Yes, yes, it is. Hey, why don't we get you sat down?" He gets to his feet, then tries to steer Lamont to sit in his chair. "There we go. Good… good man."

The glance over his shoulder at the hesitation in Lindon's tone gives Strange all the reason in the world to stare — and roll his lips inwards against the tickling of a laugh that dies a slow death hidden behind his teeth. Oh no, it's…no, no, must not be scientist, must be healer now. Put the mental clipboard away, man.

"It'd be best if he's seated," the good Doctor reminds the Archive, putting a touch of patient command into the tone. "Sometimes the after-effects of removing the Fae magic can make one dizzy." The soft rattling of myriad coins reaches overtop the crackling of the fire and he delves into the small jar, digging to the bottom to find that one damn coin.

He does consent to be sat down, easily enough. But Lindon's not getting away. LAmont's grip is suddenly steely - he's strong, despite that slender build. Come *here*. And then he's rubbing his cheek against Lindon's throat, openly nuzzling him, even as he holds him close.

Lindon utters a thin and thready laugh as he's marked. "Yes, sure, I got him seated," Lindon says. It's easier for him to go to his knees before Lamont than stoop over him. "Doctor Strange is here," he tells Lamont quietly. "He's here, because we're in his house." His tone is calm. Light, even. Just a few reminders, for all the good they'll do. "We're just going to—" Erf, he almost loses balance, and to regain it, he puts an arm around Lamont's shoulders. "All right. We're doing this now."

And there is the coin he's looking for! It's a small innocent thing, the markings worn away many year ago…hundreds of years ago…and it's iron through and through, anathema to Fae magic. Strange palms it, checks it once more, and then encloses it in his fist.

The good Doctor steps over in time to see the utterly-bizarre parody of feline claiming and his mouth opens and shuts in silence. Nope. Do not laugh. Nooooooo laughing. He's got a fair amount of sympathy for what Lamont's realizations are going to be when he's lucid again, after all. Pot calling kettle black, that old saying.

"Just…keep him seated. I'm going to do a healing spell and burn it out of his system. It's in his blood right now," the Sorcerer explains as he leans in. The coin against Lamont's neck, pinned there by the scarred palm, will feel colder than normal, akin to an ice cube, and then comes the susurrus of the healing magic. The Shadow will know this sensation well enough, but it takes on a certain bubbling rather than the smooth swish of power through his veins. To the Sight, the spring-sky blue magic has a solid core of rusted-iron red that chases down every last bit of the Malk's hallucinogenic charm and eats away it. It doesn't take more than half a minute at most and then the touch of the good Doctor retreats. "Cranston?" A solid few snaps of his fingers, to draw the Shadow's attention and gain eye contact. "No more weirdness…?" The ghost of a smile lingers on Strange's lips as he echoes Lindons's earlier words.

They are doing this now. "Mmhmm," Lamont agrees, after a few more nudges. The chill of the coin makes him start and go still, body tensing. It fizzes through him, and that feline languor washes away. The gaze that fixes on Strange is sharp, clear again….he releases his hold on Lindon withouth overt embarassment, straightens in his seat. As if he doesn't realize what he was just up to. "I think it's done," he says, rising again, brushing nonexistent lint from his suit. 'Sorry about that," he says to Lindon, apologetically, as if he'd stepped on his toes or inadvertantly slammed a door in his face. "Thank you for all your help. The whole thing was just….farcical. I mean, the curse….good to know they can remove curses like that, though it did feel odd." His accent's slipped towards what sounds like British, cut-glass and precise. He's still got that blue glow around his aura, brighter than ever. Not mere accidents of magic that had him pulling Lindon close.

Lindon's cheeks flush scarlet. He can't look Strange in the eye. He may never be able to look him in the eye again. "No problem," he says, his voice a little higher than normal. Not a squeak. It's too low normally to ascend to squeakdom. He sits in the chair Lamont's just vacated, and he runs a hand through his hair, then straightens out his collar. "I don't mind helping out. It's the least I can do to earn my keep." He doesn't look at Strange, though he tells him "I'm glad you were able to fix things, Doctor."

Standing up tall, Strange does not, one little bit, acknowledge the awkward elephant in the room. The iron coin is tucked safely away back into the little jar atop the mantle above the fireplace, atop the collection rather than stowed in the bottom, in case of future use. Let's face it, not 'in case', for next time the juvenile Malk accidentally causes an issue.

"You're welcome, both of you," he comments over his shoulder, lingering over the jar's placement to further impress his outward lack of concern over the whole ordeal. Inside, the man is chortling away. Turning on the spot, he stands before the fireplace. "I've been stuck in another form before and in the wrong instance, it can be very irritating. Again, I apologize, Cranston, for Aralune. If I had known how attractive you'd be to her, I would have shut the doors." He does grant the Shadow a properly contrite smile…with a twinkle in his steel-blue eyes utterly unable to be repressed. "I'll be sure to keep her away should you visit another time."

Lamont bows, one of those gestures that should seem stagey, but works, somehow. "You have my thanks …I am in your debt, Strange," he says, just as formally, terribly correct. "And…entirely understandable. Cats have their own wills, after all, and this is her home." When he straightens, the gray eyes are wry. He sees the humor of the situation, and hasn't taken umbrage. This'll make a great story for the Bar With No Doors, someday. "But I've imposed on your time and good will long enough, today." Then he's turning to Lindon, just as punctilious. "And thank you for bringing me here. Shall we go?"

If only Lindon had Lamont's social grace. He sits there, looking at his hands because it means not looking at anyone else. Yeah, he can see the humor, but it was funnier when it was just Lamont getting laughed at. He just sits quiet, waiting for the ground to open up and swallow him whole. It never does, but maybe this time…

But no. Yet again, he doesn't get devoured by a hungry Earth and committed to oblivion. So when Lamont asks if they shall, Lindon is on his feet in a heartbeat. "Yes," he says, "we should get going, er, Mr. Cranston." Yeah, that'll save what just happened. "Doctor, thanks again. Um." He rubs at the back of his neck, then finishes with, "Bye." And heads out with Lamont.

The two are out and on the front steps when Strange appears briefly in the doorway.

"Gentlemen, don't forget this."

It's the wicker basket that Lamont arrived in initially, devoid of a cat but covered in dark shed. "It's a very sturdy carrier, it'd be a shame to lose it." He hands it off to whomever takes it and gives them both a gleaming smile. "Until we meet again." And the front doors shut.

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