DAMNED || LANDEL'S INSTITUTE

A Multifandom Asylum RPG


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Day 54: Sun Room
sleepy
mustbethesuit wrote in damned
[From here. All your top posts shall be mine.]

Peter entered the Sun Room with a dour expression. Goody, he was the first one here. Fancy that. Pick of the couches was his then. Eeeny meeny miney...moe. Peter stalked over to what he knew from experience was the fluffiest couch in the room and eased himself into its downy soft embrace. Ordinarily he would have just pounced on that sucker, but yeah. His arm was in a sling for a reason. He sighed and wormed his way into a full body sprawl. He didn't care if it was irresponsible of him. This shift's only mission was to remain as still as possible.

Of course, being the first one in here had some stipulations. With great opportunity came great responsibility. Which today, came in the form of a soft meow from below. Then the sound of puncturing fabric, advancing upwards towards him. More meows, independent of one another and even more tiny punctures.

Peter Parker was now officially the cat sitter.

"...Oh hi... lonely kittens," he said uneasily as the first scrambled over the edge of the cushion. It padded towards his face. "No no, kittens don't belong near faces." He gently picked it up and put it on his chest. Two more crawled over the edge.

He had never really had a pet growing up. And he didn't hang out with a lot of people with cats or dogs, either. So of course, he didn't have a good idea of how to properly handle most animals without ticking them off. It looked like he was going to have to make up for lost time now, as the cats' numbers swelled to four. Two were exploring his legs, another batted at a fraying string on his sling, and the first stumbled back towards his face and mewed plaintively. Peter frowned and gave it a ginger pat on the head. That seemed to to the trick. He put it back on his chest again and scratched behind its ears.

"You guys had better not start doing that claw thing on my leg. I can't reach right now, but revenge will be mine if you do."

"Meeeeew!"

"I'm still petting you! Geez."

[For Elle Bishop.]

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She had been halted the moment she had set foot in the courtyard. It shouldn't have been a surprise (and really, it wasn't), but Claire was still boggling at the sheer number of soldiers flooding the institute today. There had already been a swarm of them in the cafeteria. What did they all need to be here for?

In reality, she was secretly grateful for being turned back in. Claire had known she picked the wrong door once it had swung open and left her standing in the freezing cold, wearing nothing but her slippers and the paper thin uniform. She had stood there, shivering miserably with the soldiers until a nurse collected her shortly after. Claire scarcely lent her an ear as she all but dashed inside and refused to trek over to the greenhouse. She didn't care how warm it would be inside the greenhouse itself, it would still involve walking outside. She was not doing that.

Sour faced from both the cold and dealing with Damon, Claire stomped into the Sun Room rubbing her arms. She plummeted into the first empty seat she could find and hugged her knees to her chin, scowling at the wall.

She hated the cold. And vampires. Two things she had once thought of as fun -great adventures even - she now loathed with a murderous hatred. In Damon's case, it was a literal one.

[GRELL SUTCLIFFE WE CAN HAVE PSYCHO-BIFFLE TIMES NOW, YES?]

[From here and miffed!!! about being taken to the male roll call]

How dare they! How dare they lump Grell together with the men! He was a woman. A woman despite how he looked on the outside. It wasn't his fault God made him this way and decided to make Grell suffer the pangs and hell of being different! But no, the Institute had to go and rub it in by segregating him into the male populace simply because his body was the way it was. Well, Grell would show them one day. Once he got his scythe back, the blood would be running down the walls thicker than paint. The death god's fingers twitched at the very thought of it as he entered the Sun Room, the only neutral area he was allowed today.

Even if more of the drippy nosed, snot-faced people were here, at least the Sun Room had a mix of people so he didn't feel quite so singled out. That and misery loved company, and all the people in the Sun Room seemed thoroughly miserable. It was understandable, of course, considering what had just happened. "Tear gas," Harvey had said. Humans were so inventive.

Moving through the crowd, Grell noted a young woman who, despite not being red-eyed and poisoned, was still wearing a dour expression on her face. She was a blond, a pretty one at that, but her hair was a mess and it looked like she hadn't eaten a proper meal in some time. Poor thing, Grell thought as he stopped by her seat. This was twice he'd come upon someone who was upset over something or another. The first time had yielded fun results, so why not try again? "You're far too pretty to be scowling so much, dear. Is there something amiss?"

Claire had been ignoring the entirety of the room's population. Fixated on the wall as she was, not even the bright red blob moving towards her could earn her attention. The voice, however did. An English accent and a compliment. Calling her 'dear'.

She turned, blinking in confusion at the...the man? The man in front of her. There was a beat. Then a hint of colour came to her cheeks. Trailing after it was a small, shy smile. Her gaze flicked to the ground. "Nobody's called me pretty in ages."

No one had a reason to. And there was barely enough people on the island in the first place. Claire hadn't had a single soul outside of John to talk to that wasn't trying to kill her in years, and he wasn't one for doling out flattery. Not as he was now.

She decided she liked this guy.

A touch awkwardly, Claire unfurled her legs and made room for him, sitting with a stiff hunch and her elbows on her legs. She rubbed the fraying callouses on her hands as the knot reappeared between her brows. "I saved a guy from dying last night. He was getting chewed up by these monsters, so I came in and took care of them."

There was a scoff as disgust warped her expression once more, finally facing the man as she talked. "What I didn't know was that he's supposedly some kind of vampire." Pause. Raise of the brows. Yeah, not the easiest story to believe, but considering what this place was she was hoping he'd suspend his disbelief. "And the moment I try to help him up, he knocks me down and tries to chew me up. Then this morning at breakfast, he just..."

She bit down angrily on her lip and shook her head. It wasn't worth getting into. Damon was an ass and that was that. "If I catch him again, I'll put the ax in his head and leave the trolls be."

And she would. There was zero question in her mind about it. But with the guy here now, she would rather not spent the whole shift seething to herself. He was already proving to be better company than most. Claire put the smile back on.

"What about you? Was your night all right?"

Grell could see why no one had complimented her in awhile. She desperately needed a hairstylist. Her face was lovely enough, but the crow's nest of her hair was distracting enough that those who didn't know to look deeper simply wouldn't. Grell gave the woman a polite smile and decided to continue greasing the wheels of this conversation by saying, "That is a shame considering how pretty you are."

And it paid off. The woman moved her legs, giving Grell a place to sit and unloading her worries upon him. Grell preferred hearing about people's problems via Cinematic Record, but this was just as well. If he couldn't kill them, he could at least listen to their misery. Taking the seat offered, the death god crossed his ankles and laid his hands in his lap, listening carefully. She had callouses on her hands - a laborer perhaps? And from the colony of Australia, judging from her accent. Even if she wasn't from the seat of the Empire, it was nice to hear someone who wasn't American.

Yet, while she wasn't American, it was very apparent she was crazy. She spoke of vampires (apparently a patient) and being attacked and then transitioned quite smoothly into talking about how she was going to axe the man in the head. The vampires bit didn't surprise Grell one bit. He was, after all, a death god, so vampires weren't that far of a stretch. It was the axing. The way she moved from the topic of killing to the smiling face of a patient learning about her fellows that triggered him.

She was going to be ever so interesting. "How rude of him to attack you after you did all that work! He deserve the axe - perhaps more. You could stake him to a wall and then axe him in the head if you wished," Grell said, smiling right back. "And I, unfortunately, was ill last night and unable to do anything." He paused for a moment, a calculated move, then gasped, as if realizing something. "Oh! Where are my manners! My name is Grell Sutcliffe, of London. Might I ask your name, love?"

The flush grew stronger and Claire grinned. "You don't have to say that. You're very sweet."

Gingerly, thin fingers stretched out to cup a lock of the man's vivid red hair. Claire examined it in her hands, stroking it with her thumb once before letting the strands pour off her fingertips. "When I was younger, I wanted red hair so I could be like the mermaid in the cartoon. A lot like yours, actually. But red doesn't go so well on me." She shrugged and smiled up at him. "It looks great on you, though. You're lucky."

She almost laughed as the man instantly agreed with her and suggested a staking. The most reliable way to do it, or so the stories had said. "I'd have to find a stake first. I don't have a good carving knife either." And here she was worrying he wouldn't believe a word she said about vampires. This place really wore down on your skepticism.

Considering it was her first time hearing of somebody being legitimately ill (not to mention her recent worries over the food being poisoned) Claire's smile went limp. He didn't look so bad off at the moment, but he must be feeling better. There was colour in his cheeks, and he was too lively to be sick now. "Sorry to hear that," she murmured sympathetically. "Are you still feeling sick today?"

The introduction was met with a friendly nod. Grell Sutcliffe. What a name. It sounded like something out of a fancy old book. And he'd called her 'love' - one of Charlie's old habits. It must be an English thing. "I'm Claire Littleton. I used to live in Sydney, but I've been on an island for a while now. So I guess it's not right to say I'm living in Australia anymore." Her lips drew together and she regarded Grell curiously. "Can I ask you something? Grell?"

It was so strange, Grell thought. She was so pure, so easily flattered and quick to warm up to those with a kind word, and yet she had such a bloodthirsty edge to her. Such innocence hiding such rage... It was appealing, more than appealing, it was alluring and Grell found himself not minding one bit as she reached out to touch his hair, admiring the color. "Oh, you'd be surprised, love. Red goes so well with so many," he purred, watching her with renewed interest. Perhaps she could be useful and perhaps he could be of use to her.

"I'm certain we could make due," Grell went on, fingers itching for a weapon to show this woman just what he could do. She didn't have quite the same air as the Madam, but she had her own reasons, her own hatred of a man who would attack his would-be savior. Such deviants did deserve to die, didn't they? Vampires were those who stole the souls of those they ate. It wouldn't be breaking the rules, hm? Just a little bending, twisting, maybe stretching. And to keep her interest, he added, "I make due."

But suddenly her concern focused on his off the cuff remark about his 'illness' last night and Grell raised an eyebrow. There was nothing but sincerity in her voice though. She really had taken a liking to him apparently. It was endearing in a way. "Oh, no, I'm quite well now. I suppose every girl requires her beauty sleep now and then, hm?" Claire Littleton of Sydney, lived on an island which explained her hair, and was the most innocent potential murderer he'd ever met. Grell liked her. He liked how he may be able to twist her later. "And of course, dear. Ask me anything."

"That's good to hear," Claire remarked. "They don't give us much to work with here. I got lucky enough to go to town one night. And I got my knife from another girl. Otherwise I'd be down and out pretty quick." A moment of thought was spared for Rika, who had lent her the knife. She'd told her she wanted it back someday, and then vanished into thin air. Hopefully meeting with that guy at lunch could clear up something about her disappearance. If not in evidence, then in theory. "And how are you making due? Find anything interesting?"

Grell was fun to talk to. He seemed...very excitable. Enthusiastic was a better word for it, maybe. Not to mention he was actually listening to what she was saying, and not shying away from her for it. Not like Andrew, or any number of others who she'd met. (There were a few exceptions, but not many.) And she had to admit - the accent helped. It wasn't quite like Charlie's, but she'd always liked how the English sounded. Even before the island. It was all very proper sounding.

The next remark, however, caught her a little off guard. Beauty sleep? Claire blinked. Did Grell just refer to himself as a girl? Or was he just particularly flamboyant? The details on that were dusty in her mind, much like most everything else she had known from before the island. It might be a better idea just to leave it be. They were having fun. She didn't want to spoil that.

"I guess so," was all she said in the end. She shrugged amicably and moved on.

"Um - this might be a stupid question, but have you ever heard of a band called Driveshaft?" She bit her lip. Knowing they had been a one hit wonder made the chances slim, but she wanted to ask anyway. "They're from England. Manchester."

So she had a knife, but nothing else? What a shame... If that thing (Grell refused to call a vampire anything else) came after her again, she'd be hard pressed to defend herself. Smiling, Grell pointed up and toward the west side of the Institute. "Upstairs, near the morgue there is room that holds scalpels, shears and all sorts of useful things. I found them useful at least."

There was no harm in telling Claire where he found his tools of the trade. If anything, Claire might even come with him should he need to find more and restock. The scalpels were running low and since he hadn't-- Wait. Hadn't he? Like a flash, Grell suddenly recalled the night Kenny had turned into that beast and attacked him. The door wouldn't break no matter how much he'd kicked and pushed and then a familiar surge, the feel of a revving motor, and the door had broken down.

The memory of it caused a sharp pain to rip through Grell's head and he winced, ducking. No...It was gone again. Whatever he'd recalled was gone from him. Reaching up to touch his forehead, Grell growled under his breath in frustration. So close and yet so far... What was it that was hiding from him?

"---band called Driveshaft? They're from England. Manchester." Oh, Claire was still speaking. Lifting his head, Grell brushed a few stray strands of hair from his face and thought for a moment. A band? With such an unusual name? "I'm afraid I haven't, but then..." Grell looked Claire over again - human, through and through. "...I'm more of a theatre girl rather than music."

"Upstairs?" Claire's eyes instinctively went to the balcony. She couldn't remember if she had the morgue marked down on her map or not, but it was interesting to know that there was one here. They had to put the bodies somewhere, she supposed. Her voice went soft, thoughtful. "That's good to know."

If she ever lost her ax or her knife, she might have to take a look up there.

Claire never was known for having a good poker face. While she was able to reign in her (at times) explosive moods, hardly anyone seemed to have trouble guessing what she was feeling at any given time. So as much as she wanted to hide her disappointment, Claire couldn't keep her face from falling at Grell's answer, eyes shifting to the ground. It was stupid, maybe - Charlie's band had supposedly never made it big, but now that she had rejoined the rest of the world she couldn't help her curiousity.

There was the music room. She could always try in there.

"No, that's fine. They're not that famous," she murmured. "I don't think I've been to many plays myself." She looked back up at the man and suddenly paused. There was something odd in his expression. Almost as if he had lost himself for a moment.

She tilted her head at him, curious. Her hand settled softly over his in a motherly touch. "Grell? Are you okay?"

The moment passed, but the irritation remained. There was something hiding from him and it was something important. More than important, it was vital to his continued survival and yet he couldn't recall what it was. The fact that something of his was being hidden from him simply didn't sit well at all and even as Grell returned his attention to Claire, half of his mind continued to run in circles reaching for the last wisps of whatever that thing had been.

"Yes, yes, I'm fine," he said, trying not to sound like he was brushing her off. It was simply that mortals would never understand what it was like to be missing one's deathscythe or the feeling of losing one's purpose. A death god had one mission in their so-called life and that was all they did. Grell rather enjoyed it, even, and to lose it so completely here and gain only pseudo-mortality was like being hit by a carriage and having the driver be ugly to boot. "A bit of a headache is all. Nothing to worry about."

Grell had to steer the conversation back to safer topics, however. Driving the focus back to Claire, he picked up the old conversation where it had left off. "And don't you worry, love. It's not a matter of fame, it's that I rarely listen to 'bands' or whatever they are called. You can hear them at pubs sometimes, but most of the people I know listen to orchestras and quartets or hires musicians privately for their balls. I suppose you wouldn't know of the Season down in Australia or do you? I'm afraid I don't keep up with the colonies as much as I do with the seat of the Empire."

She nodded slowly, unsure. "All right." It looked as if he was still a bit under the weather. Claire's eyes flicked from his eyes to the colour in his cheeks, and she frowned. He wasn't too pale. But that didn't mean anything when it came to headaches. (Did it?)

Regardless, it wasn't any of her business. Not really. If there was something worse going on, maybe Grell just wanted to keep the secret. Claire could understand that. She wasn't a particular fan of hiding things, or even lying in most cases. But sometimes you just held it in for manner's sake. Or for your life's. Hopefully in Grell's case, it was just the former.

Though it was somewhat baffling to hear that a person didn't listen to 'bands' - music was such a big part of everyone's life these days, it was hard to imagine avoiding it at all - Claire didn't get a chance to voice her misgivings until the whole thing got even more confusing. She couldn't help the slight drop of her jaw. Private balls? Like, as in fairy tale balls? Did anyone call dances balls anymore?

"...What?" Claire blinked up at the man, brows knotted as she tried to work through it. "Australia's not a colony. It's its own country now. It's still tied to Britain, but it's its own country. There's no 'empire'. What - what are you talking about, balls and quartets?"

Australia? Not a colony? Oh, please. It was merely the place they'd shipped off all the unwanted creatures of the British underbelly to slave away at wealthy landowners' ranches. People who wished to have the lawlessness of America without dealing with Americans tended to head off to Australia to 'seek their fortune' or whatever else they called it. Either way, when they left the British Isles, they were no longer Grell's concern as they were far from his jurisdiction.

But to have an Australian not know they were part of the--

"..."

Oh.

Oh, bloody hell. She was one of those, wasn't she? One of those future people that Grell kept butting up against. Why wasn't anyone from a proper time here? What was so terrible about the 19th century that Landel wouldn't pick a few more people from there?

"1888," he said, sighing out his answer with a casual shrug. Leaning back into the sofa cushions, Grell pressed the fingers of one hand lightly against his chest. "That is when I am from, which is without a doubt not when you are from. Enough to make your head spin, isn't it?"

LKASJDLKFJAaskjd I thought I had replied back when this was relevant, sorry bro...

"...1888?" she echoed.

Claire leaned back in her seat. She stared at the floor, wide eyed and blinking. No. No, there was no way. Nobody could travel through time like that. That was ridiculous.

Rather like a woman who peeled her way out of a rip in the air was. Which she had seen on her first night. Or how a shadow can come to life. How black smoke could form a man, how a vampire sunk his teeth in her arm and sucked the blood out.

No! This is too weird, it's not possible! Claire gave a little shake of her head, but her eyes remained on the floor. She still couldn't speak. What Grell was suggesting was completely insane, and yet...this place. It was so beyond what she could imagine. Even life on the island wasn't such a mystery. There, most things had science behind them. Hatches and strange men, messages, secret scientists and old ships and statues. But John existed. He couldn't explain himself, how he turned into a beast of pure smoke that could wreak as more havoc than any solid creature she met. And the things she was seeing here - it was just insane. Ludicrous.

But they were all here. In front of her eyes.

"I'm...I don't understand." Her lip fell from the grip of her teeth, and she came no closer to comprehending it. A step towards accepting, but shy of a cross over the finish line. "That doesn't make any sense. That's like something out of a movie..."

She fished for another explanation. It was a stupid trick to play on someone. No one would ever fall for that, and Grell didn't act like he was pranking her. And there was even less reason for someone to use it as a lie. On top of which, she already knew this 'asylum' cover was fake. There were no real crazy people here, just regular ones.

"Miss Greene? Mr. Burnette?"

A nurse had materialized before them. Claire snapped to attention and the intercom buzzed into life. She smiled at them. "It's dinner time. Shall we?"

The nurse drew upright, a clear invitation to follow. Claire spent two seconds more being frozen in shock, then she turned to the man beside her. "Um. Bye, Grell. It was good to meet you." She pursed her lips. "Honestly."

And with that, she was whisked away from one of her strangest conversations yet. It lingered in her mind. He has no reason to lie...

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