2007-05-05: What Is Important

Starring:

Cass_icon.gif Lachlan_icon.gif

NPCs:

Cass' Bookshelf and Vent (<3 to Sero)

Summary:

After the events of Enlighten Me, Something Else and Seeing Red, Cass calls Lachlan to help her clean up the evidence that Peter was murdered in the back room. While doing so they find evidence that someone has been tampering with the store. Fighting, discoveries, declarations and more! All in this installment of 'What Has Jessica Wrought'.

May 5th, 2007:

What Is Important


Enlightenment Books

Almost immediately after Peter left the store, Cass went to the front to make sure that the cracked door was locked. Sure that it is, she heads back into the bloody back room and shuts the somewhat off it's hinges metal door before righting the store phone and hanging it up so that it's no longer making the annoying beeping noise to alert its owner that's off the hook. Once that's done, she immediately dials Lachlan's number and works on trying to wipe off some of the blood she's gotten on herself from helping Peter inside. Without the wet paper towels, she's mostly just rubbing it in and spreading it.

It takes some time for the other end of the line to pick up, and when Lachlan's voice comes over the line, it's muffled and groggy. Someone just woke up from a nap and is talking half into the cell, half into his pillow. "Cassie?" Someone's got caller ID. "Wha's up?"

The voice on the other end of the phone is a little shaken up. Something Cass can show Lachlan that she doesn't want to show Peter. "Hey. I…do you think you could come down to the store Lach? I've…there was some…I need some help. I don't know who else to call about it."

Even half-awake and dense as he usually is, Lachlan can detect that Something Is Wrong. There's the sound of movement on his end and a soft grunt. "Sure, yeah. Wha'ever ye need. Ever'thin' a'ri— ?" Clatterclunkthud oof! A soft curse far from the phone and a scramble to pick it back up again before his voice returns: "Bloody— ! Cass? Ever'thin' a'righ'?"

There certainly is something wrong and Cass isn't really hiding it. He'll see as soon as he gets to the store just how wrong that something is. "Thanks." The clattering of the phone makes her pull the receiver away from her ear for a second, but then she puts it back in place when she hears Lach's voice again. "No…it's really not. I'll…I'll just explain everything when you get here. Could you bring over an extra set of clothes for me?"

Once again, Lachlan's voice grows a bit muffled as he pins the phone to his cheek with one shoulder, needing both hands to pull on some jeans. "Extra set o'— ? Yeah, a'righ'." A pause as he locates a shirt and briefly moves the phone away from his ear to pull it on over his head. "'Re ye hurt?"

"Thanks." Cass sighs and runs a hand through her hair. Then, she realizes that's just spreading more blood around and stops, holding it out in front of her like she just shouldn't touch anything else until she's all clean. "Yeah. I'm fine. I'll be fine. I just…I don't want to be alone in here very much longer." Cass being unnerved in her own store is a very big thing. It's her place of serenity and second home.

Well, she's alone, at least, even if she doesn't consider it a good thing. That means no one's holding her hostage, right? Lachlan has soon located an extra set of clothing for Cass and strides out into the main area of the apartment. "'M headin' out the door now." The sentence is punctuated, indeed, by the sound of a door closing and the jangle of keys, and now the Scotsman is starting to sound very worried. This isn't normal. It is definitely not right. "Wha' happened? Tha' shocker girl come back?"

The only sound on Cass' end is her voice. It doesn't sound like there is anyone else moving around in the background and the woman herself is staying stationary. It's only the silence of an empty store. "No. It wasn't Elle. It was…I don't know who it was. Some woman named Jessica. She's either Niki's twin sister or something weird is going on. Though, I guess, the two aren't mutually exclusive." Finally, Cass starts to move around as much as she can while attached to non-cordless phone. The back room is a mess and she wants to clean up what she can.

A faint 'bing!' signals that Lachlan has entered the elevator. The signal gets a bit iffy, but he can still be heard: "Wh— ? Wha'd she do?" Another 'bing!' and Lachlan's out of the elevator. The signal gets clearer. In a few moments, he's out on the street. The rush of traffic can be heard, then the mouthpiece is covered, then there's a sharp whistle and a bellowed, "Oy!" "'Ve got a cab." Once again the mouthpiece is covered as he climbs in, giving directions before closing the partition between himself and the driver.

"I…look…you'll see when you get here. I don't want to talk about it." Cass picks up some of her strewn papers, trying to organize and put back together. The bookshelf is too heavy and she'll wait until Lachlan is here to pull it up. "Just…use the back door when you get here." Piling up books and notepads, she sighs. It looks like Jessica really did take her early Mendez. It's not that small, she should have seen it by now.

There's a pause before Lachlan concedes with a quiet, "A'righ', wha'ever." Only now he's starting to sound less worried and more annoyed. This is the second time in nearly as many weeks that something bad has happened to Cass in the bookstore, and with everything else that /could/ happen, he's starting to feel less and less that high-security measures are optional. He doesn't hang up the phone, but he goes silent, watching people and cars and buildings pass by as the cab makes its way to the East Village.

The bookstore, for some reason, has become a hotbed of activity. Probably because of the people that are working there. Or the type of people. Cass sighs and doesn't add anything to the conversation. It's enough to just know that Lachlan is there on the other line and on his way to help. By the time he reaches the store, Cass will have tidied up most of the papers, but only some of the books. The bookshelf is still toppled over the ground and the wall is bloody. There are still bits of flesh where they were dropped by Jessica when she eviscerated Peter.

There's nothing but traffic noises on the other end of the phone all the way to the bookstore. Then, Lachlan's voice speaking to the driver, the driver counting out change, and the Scotsman addresses Cass again: "'M here." It's followed shortly by a knock at the back door and the line goes dead.

Cradling the phone, Cass makes for the door. She's still bloodied, but it's certainly not as bad as Peter looked. Mostly just smeared on her clothes where she helped him to a chair and then on her hands. It takes a generous tug on the metal door to get it properly open again and when she does, she immediately just goes to hug and hold onto Lachlan. "Oh thank God. I can't do this by myself. It's just…I can't." There are many things Cass is capable of. Cleaning up the sight of what looks like a murder is not one of them.

When Lachlan spots the smears, his eyes go wide, but he doesn't get much chance to process it before he finds himself clung to. He instinctively returns the embrace, but it's a reflex more than anything as his brain runs through everything. "Wha'— ? Jesus." A quick glance over his shoulders before he inches himself and Cass back into the store and nudges the door shut behind them. "Though' ye said yer no' hurt," he grunts as he starts to examine her, frowning deeply. He doesn't attempt to push her away even the slightest — it doesn't feel like he would be able to /anyway/, not even with a crowbar.

"I'm not." Cass just sort of slumps against Lachlan. "This…it's not mine. I'm not sure what all happened." Now that he's here and they're not talking on the phone, she feels like she can go into more detail. "I came back to the store to grab some things to take care of. And then Niki - or I thought it was Niki - was back here. We started talking about the Mendez paintings. And then she just…grabbed me. Told me that she quit and I couldn't breathe. It was horrible. She was /so/ strong. I couldn't get away." Shivering, she tightens her grip on him. "Then I woke up and everything was torn apart and there was all…that was all there. I don't know when he got here, but Peter tried to help me and she…I think she tore him apart." Her voice cracks a little at that.

It's only now that Lachlan notes the state of the store and the … bits of Peter that he left behind. "Jesus," he breathes again, letting it all sink in. All this, and for what? It was bad enough that Elle and the rest wrecked the place earlier, now this? He doesn't know what to think about or do first, and so for a long while he just stands there holding Cass and staring in disbelief.

Taking a deep breath, Cass finally pulls away from Lachlan. "He's okay, though. Or will be. He regenerated…but…it looked so bad." She shivers and doesn't quite turn around again to see all the blood and pieces that was left behind. "But…this needs to be cleaned up. And I didn't know who else I could call to help. I don't want the police to start asking awkward questions of Peter." Frowning she looks to the knocked over bookshelf once again. "She stole that early Mendez the store used to have. I can't find it anywhere. It was right behind that bookshelf."

There's just more staring and more silence from Lachlan. His gaze goes where it's directed, considering everything, and once the tale ends, disbelief starts to turn into displeasure. His bewildered expression begins to harden and grow cold and after some seconds, he looks at Cass — or /past/ her, rather — and holds out the bundle of clothes. "Here." Once he's relieved of those, he'll start doing his part in cleaning up. He says nothing, but it's very obvious that he's miffed, even if the source of that ire is not exactly clear.

Stunned for a moment, Cass takes the bundle of clothes and just puts them in the bathroom. She'll change once all the cleaning up is done. While she's in there, she washes her hands pretty thoroughly and then comes back out to help. She can tell that he's angry, but she's not exactly sure how to approach the subject since she's not /totally/ sure what he's angry about. Stooping down, she starts scooping up books and righting things that she can. "Thanks, Lach. For helping with this."

"Sure." The response is short, terse, and less than sweet. Lachlan is very much unhappy, and after clearing away a few things, he sets about putting that anger into something productive, such as raising the bookshelf back up. He sets himself squarely, crouched with hands gripping the top of the shelf, then with a grunt he proceeds to lift. The first foot or so is the hardest; after that, he's able to get his hands and himself under the shelf and start to push it up that way.

As the whole bookshelf starts to become more and more upright, the less stable the middle shelf in it becomes. It took a hard fall earlier and one of the braces was jarred loose, it would seem, because the shelf starts to slant down. On the bright side, its contents are already on the floor, right? By the time Lachlan will get the whole thing up, the end of the middle shelf falls and hits the shelf beneath it. Something comes loose from its underside — something that's not part of it. A tiny, round black device, the size of a nickel, falls onto the floor beside Lachlan's feet.

Trying to stay out of Lachlan's way, Cass steps back so that should disaster happen, she doesn't get crushed by a bookshelf. As the end of the middles shelf falls off, she cringes. More things breaking. But, this isn't Lachlan's fault and she's not about to blame him for it. However, the black bouncing thing that falls by his feet, does indeed catch her attention. Leaning forward, she scoops it up and peers at it. "Hey, this dropped off the shelf." Frowning, she turns it over in her hand. "It's definitely not part of the bookshelf. It's not even wood. What /is/ it?"

Once the shelf is upright, Lachlan doesn't even seem to notice or care that the middle shelf is broken. He just put the damn thing up; Cass can worry about it being broken. When she picks up something that fell off the shelf, he glances first at her, then the little black thing, scowling all the while. He reaches out to take it, then examines it closely. "Dunno. Looks like somethin' computery." The question is: what was it doing on the shelf?

Never having been very adept at computers or other technology, Cass frowns at the 'something computery' resting in her hand, but then allows Lachlan to take it. She surely doesn't know what it is. But, the very nature of her not-computery-ness makes this very out of place in her store. Plus, what would it be doing attached to a bookshelf? This is…weird to say the very least. And unnerving. Especially due to earlier circumstances. "Computery? What is something computery doing in my store?" She looks around and then up. As if it could have mysteriously fallen there from the sky.

Where as Cass is confused and unnerved, Lachlan is now very suspicious. Little black computery things hidden in inconspicuous spots usually amount to one thing, in his experience, and that's spying. "Ye dunna know where it came from?" he asks, just to be sure. He examines the little black thing again, but now it's with disgust and even a bit of fear. It could be transmitting or recording or whatever-it-is computery things do under bookshelves /right now/.

"Uh, no," Cass replies, confused. "I mean, that bookshelves been there forever. Might have been something Tom…" she trails off and shakes her head. "No, he was even worse with computers than I am." Now she's suspicious of it, too. "But…what's it doing here? And why?" This is more of a rhetorical question, since she doesn't expect Lachlan to know why it's there if she doesn't know, either.

Barely has Cass finished her response when Lachlan promptly tosses the device down onto the floor and brings the heel of his boot down upon it as hard as he can. If that doesn't work in banishing the ugly little computery thing, he'll stomp on it again. And again. He wants it dead.

"I…/wait/!" Cass flings a hand forward to try and catch the device before Lachlan can stomp on it, but she's far too late. "/Lach/. We didn't know what it was. Now we never will." Unless there are more of them. That thought strikes Cass and she freezes. "If you were a computery device, where else would you be in an occult bookstore? If we find more of them, /do not smash them/. That way we can actually study it and figure out what the hell it is."

Now the ugly little computery thing is dead, and Lachlan is pleased, even if Cass is not. When he's chastised, he doesn't look appropriately disciplined. Nope. He looks /annoyed/. "Ye dunna know wha' the bloody thing does," he retorts, pointing at the bits of the ugly little computery thing. "Could be a bug. Ye wanna have it listenin' alla bloody time?" Yes. He just totally saved Cass' life just now. "Look inna vents an' up in the ligh's, b'hind the wall sockets." And then he looks up instinctively to peer at the vent above them.

The vent peers back. What did it ever do to you, Lachlan?

"A bug…but why would…" Cass stops that sentence. She's a smart girl. She knows /exactly/ why people might want to bug Enlightenment Books. People who work for a hyper-paranoid secret organization. Scowling, she doesn't head for the main room. Instead, she opens a cupboard, takes out a large mug, goes to the bathroom and fills it with water. "Here. Put anything you find in this. That should short circuit them without totally destroying them. That way we can look at them without worrying about them actually working." That decision made, she starts on her search, checking all those places Lachlan told her about as well as underneath bookshelves.

Since he's the taller of the two, Lachlan takes it upon himself to tackle the task of searching the light fixtures and higher vents (with the help of a step-ladder found in the back). The back room is the first to be scrutinized, and then he moves into the main room and begins to seek there. He doesn't bother with bookshelves and the like. Cass can handle that, since she's a good four inches shorter. Instead, he checks lights, then pops open the vent and — "/Fuck/." A little finagling and he comes away with a small triangular device, this one with an obvious antenna and a small lens, the latter of which he immediately covers with his thumb as he sets off for the mug of water.

It's not really a matter up for debate who will go searching the higher shelves and nooks and crannies. Lachlan is just taller than Cass and that makes him the logical choice. Already busy with searching the shelves, the swear from Lachlan makes her whirl around and her eyes widen when she sees what he extracts. There's no mistaking what that is. "I. That's." She's flabbergasted. And now kind of angry. There were people /spying/ on her. And they've been using Enlightenment for a place of safety for months now. Who knows how long those have been there. Who knows what they know now because of this.

SPLOOT! goes the little camera into the mug, and Lachlan takes a step back to grimace at it, disgusted and more than a little incensed. "Yeah," he snarls in response to Cass' broken sentence. And he knows that some rather sensitive things have been done in this place. He knows how important this building is to The Cause. "S'bloody fuckin' fantastic. /Real/ bloody fuckin' /fantastic/. Better sweep yer bloody 'partment too." And his. Oh, he is definitely going through his, even if it is only a few weeks old.

"Oh God." Cass puts a hand on her forehead. "Lachlan, I'm so sorry. I had no idea." Who knows what they know now. About him, about their work, about their friends…she's got to assume that anything ever said in the store is suspect now. It's not just how important the building is to The Cause…it's how important it is to her. This is like a violation of her person even more than just of a building. "It's…they could know…everything."

"Yeah," Lachlan adds helpfully in a very unhelpful, flustered tone. "Yeah, they could." And for once, he isn't worried about just himself — though it would be a mistake to say that he isn't /greatly/ worried about himself and what secrets have come to light about /him/ in these walls. It's too much to take, and after a second or two of opening and closing his mouth ineffectually, he finally settles for the best release he knows: violence. The step-ladder gets his wrath as he gives it a hard, violent kick, sending it toppling over with a loud clatter.

The violence shown by Lachlan still makes Cass jump. It's not just the sound, it's that she still has an aversion to such displays. Turning away from the main room and the now drenched little camera, she makes for the back room. There, she'll continue where she left off cleaning. However, her movements have a jerky edge to them. She's not sure what she can say right now. She's not sure if there is anything /to/ say.

There is apparently nothing more to say. Lachlan certainly doesn't say anything. He would very much like to crush the little camera into ittybitty bits and pieces, but no. He was told not to. So he settles for working his jaw hard, jerking his hand up to scratch irately at the back of his head, and other general signs of flailing. It takes him several minutes of this and quiet swearing under his breath before he actually starts to calm down enough to be rational and coherent — but boy would he like to brawl with someone. The answer to everything of this nature is to go out and pummel someone. Yes indeed. By the time he finally cools off, the Scotsman sees fit to make his own way to the back room, but he only stands in the doorway, arms crossed over his chest. "Now d'ye see why I dunna want ye ta be /anywhere/ alone? First yer 'partment's busted inta— " he starts ticking things off on his fingers "— an' then there's the bloody Company's after ye, an' then bloody Elle comes in an' zaps the dayligh's out o' ye, an' now ye've got some bloody Niki woman comin' in an' wreckin' the place an' rippin' Peter ta bits an' stranglin' ya an' stealin' yer paintin' — an' the place is /bugged/."

Putting books back onto the shelves that are not broken, Cass doesn't turn around when she hears Lachlan stand in the doorway. While he speaks, she doesn't speak, but she doesn't stop what she's doing, either. "I don't like any of this happening any more than you do, Lachlan, but what else is there? You can't be standing behind my shoulder all the time, day and night. And even if you could, I wouldn't want you to." Pulling out a book she already shelved, she slides it into a different spot. Might as well organize while she's doing this, too. "This is just the way things are right now. I'll be careful, keep a look out and hopefully that'll just be enough."

"Yeah, b'cause tha's werked /real/ bloody great so far," snipes Lachlan sarcastically. "'Ve seen how tha' werks out, an' s'/no'/ enough." Things like /this/ happen because Cass has been left too much on her own without some sort of advanced security measures. "Next thing I hear, yer gonna be the one's been ripped ta pieces an' left somewhere, an' ye canna regrow a bloody hand, Cass!" And that really, really, really agitates him. A lot.

With a smack, the last book Cass was shelving hits against the back of the bookcase. She's just as angry and she can be biting, too. "What else can I do, Lachlan?" she snaps, finally spinning around to face him. "I /know/ I can't regrow anything like Peter. But there is /nothing else/ I can do. I can't walk away from this and I can't suddenly manifest an ability to toss people across a room. What do you want me to do, Lach, run away? Hide? I can't /do/ that. This is too important."

Running away and hiding has been a good policy for /him/ in his life, and even if it's not the most dignified, he's at least still alive — which is more than he can say for others in his (mostly former) line of business. Cass is mad at him now, but Lachlan is now just as adamant on this point as she is, and it's going to take more than an angry Cass to make him back off. "Want ye ta use some bloody /sense/ b'fore ye wind up /dead/ somewhere!" he barks back. "/Yer/ too bloody important ta /me/ fer me ta let tha' happen, a'righ'? But ye dunna wanna stay with me, an' ye dunna wanna lemme stay with ye, but yanno wha', Cass? 'Ve seen wha' happens ta people tha're no' smart an' get mixed up in shit like this — an' now ye've seen a taste an' yer still actin' like a bloody pup. Ye've got plen'y o' book-smarts, baby, but this is fuckin' stupid."

Standing right where she is, Cass glares at Lachlan. There's very few people who would call her stupid. Klutzy, sometimes ditzy, yes, but never stupid. "So, what, because I'm not about to just run and dive my head under the pillows that makes me stupid? Even if I /did/ just stop researching, stop helping Peter, stop everything, it wouldn't change a damn thing! The Company would still be out there, the Tornado would still be a threat, and Sylar would still try and kill people." In the middle of the tirade, she stops, blinks, and redirects her argument. "Is /that/ what this is all about? The fact that I didn't want to move in with you? I don't see how me moving my stuff into your place makes me safer. You can't protect me from every little thing, Lachlan. Bad things happen. I might die, but it's not going to be while I'm running away."

"Nah, s'bout ye bein' too bloody stupid ta know when yer in deep!" retorts Lachlan heatedly, glaring right back. He used the S-word again, and he may not be considered intelligent in areas that people would normally gauge intelligence, but he does know what he's talking about in this case. Survival has been his cuppa for many years. "Just b'cause I canna protect ye from every little thing doesna mean I canna protect ye from /some/ things, an' tha' doesna mean ye should just keep goin' on like yer doin'. Ye dunna wanna stop? Fine! Then figure somethin' ta make yerself safer, b'cause this— " he gestures broadly with his hand, indicating the state of the shop "— s'/no' bloody werkin'/. S'like ye've walked inta a fuckin' gunfigh' with a butterknife."

"Of /course/ I know how deep I am into this," Cass growls at Lachlan. "/Stop/ calling me stupid." While she's not been as well-versed in the street ways of survival, she's got a few basic tenets that have done her pretty well so far. Him indicating the state of the shop is a bit of a low blow to her. She /already/ feels horrible for letting the shop get pulled into the battle as it has. The drenching of the books, Peter's death, now the bugging, they're all things she would love to have stopped if she could. "If you're so worried about it, then help me. Tell me, what you would do."

A moment's consideration during which he simply glowers at Cass (though the fact that gears are turning behind his eyes takes the edge off of that expression) before Lachlan starts firing off ideas: "First off, lemme stay with ye. Ye dunna have ta move in, an' I dunna have ta move in — we'll keep our 'partments just fine — but dunna spend a nigh' alone ever. 'll take some time off werk an' come stay with ye at the store 'til ye can hire someone an' schedule it so yer no' alone here — an' someone tha'd be able ta take care o' ye if shit happens like this again, no' just some scrawny filer. 'll walk ye ta werk an' come pick ye up at closin' an' mebbe ye should buy a gun an' learn ta use it. Hell, take some bloody defense courses. Can teach ye ta handle yerself in a scrap. Ye find some way ta send out a quick message ta anyone'd know ta drop ever'thin' an' come runnin' if ye get inta trouble. Dunno, mebbe a quick text 'r somethin' on yer phone." And this is all just off the top of his head.

The glowering goes both ways. While Lachlan is thinking and starting to talk about his ideas of what they can do to keep her safe, she stays silent and listens. At least she'll give him that much. "I'm fine with you staying over every night or me going to your place, but I'm not going to have you take off work just to escort me around. You're not my bodyguard, you're my boyfriend. I just hired Peter, so don't worry about someone being around the store. We'll work on some sort of signal, too. It's a good idea of everyone to have just in case." Frowning, she hugs herself. "I'll take some self-defense courses, but I'm not about to get a gun. That's the last thing I want anywhere near this store or my apartment." In her mind, having a gun just escalates violence. "Look, you're acting like people are /after/ me all the time. And that's not it. I just keep on being in the wrong place at the wrong time."

Lachlan just stares — /stares/ — in exasperated disbelief. His jaw works wordlessly for a few seconds before he finally half-turns and thrusts a finger in the direction of the mug containing the camera. "They're /no'/ after ye? Then wha' the /bloody hell/ d'ye call /tha'/?! Wha' d'ye call /this/?!— " he indicates the store again. "— 'F tha's no' people bein' after ye, then I dunno wha' the fuck is!" The other stuff, for the moment, is not addressed.

"I don't know." Cass, admittedly, has not rationally thought out the 'they're not after her' argument. It's just something she's been telling herself. And since she's made it without having to deal too much with any Company people, she figures it was working pretty well. Then, after a moment pause, it's back to anger. Anger is so much better than being frightened. "It's /not/ about me. They don't care about me. If anything this is all just to get /you/ and Alyssa and Niki and anyone else who comes in here who can do something special. I'm just the one that happens to own the store they congregate around. If they thought I was a threat, they would have done something a lot worse than just spy on us. I'm not saying that I'm not in this or that it's not dangerous for me just for being here…but it's not me they're after, Lachlan. I don't have anything they want." Unlike him. Or Alyssa. Or any of her other friends that are are Evolved. Her voice is a lot quieter and more /frustrated/ when she finishes, "They were just using me and the store to get to you all."

Cass may be quieter, but Lachlan is still roaring. "Yeah, they /dunna/ care 'bout ye," growls Lachlan, "an' tha' means they'll kill ye without thinkin' twice if it comes down ta tha'! But /I/ care 'bout ye, Cass, an' there's a lot o' others out there tha'd cut off an arm fer ye. Ye say they're after us, fine — but how d'ye think they'll /get/ ta us?" Inadvertently, it's about Cass, even if she'd only be a means to an end. "Ye've got plen'y tha' they want."

"/Don't/ yell at me, Lachlan." Cass' voice doesn't raise so much as get sharper. The thought of the Company trying to get her friends through her never really occurred to her. It's been her assumption that the would just go straight for their targets. When she speaks again, it's quieter and she pulls her arms up so she can rub at her face with bother her hands. "Look, just…don't yell at me. This is all happening too fast." Blood, gore and conspiracy is not exactly something she's used to having to deal with.

But Cass doesn't really need to shout anyway. Lachlan knows that tone, and he's never liked it. He stops yelling — in fact, he just stops talking period. He deflates a little, crossing his arms over his chest and scowling at nothing specific, though it's all in Cass' general direction (and never Cass herself; he's digressed to the "I am not looking at you" stage).

The very point of that tone of voice is for Lachlan to not like it. He's not supposed to want Cass to use it. When Lachlan stops talking, so does Cass. While he may just be scowling and not looking at her, she turns around and starts to clean up again. The last of the books go back on the shelf and there's just the cleaning up of all the blood on the wall. In the silence, she takes out a bucket from the bathroom, fills it with soapy water and grabs a sponge.

For some of the reigning silence, Lachlan simply stands in the doorway to the back room and sulks, watching Cass resume the cleaning. The more he watches, the more fidgety he gets. It reminds him that /he/ was supposed to be here to help clean up, and he hasn't done much aside from lift a shelf. After a few moments, he finally leaves the doorway to the back room, but he doesn't go far — just to the main area to retrieve the fallen step-ladder and put it away. He also picks up the bits of the first bug found under the shelf and drops them into the mug with the little camera. Mm. Bug coffee. He does various other things around the place to help tidy up, but keeps his work mostly out of Cass' way up until the point that she gets the bucket and sponge. Then, he moves to intercept, reaching out to take both. "Here, lemme." If he succeeds in taking them, he'll add, "Sponge's no' gonna do shit. Ye need rags." Has he done this before?

All the while she's cleaning, Cass doesn't really look over at Lachlan other than once in awhile to see if he's still standing in the doorway. Of course, she can't hear him moving so she can just mostly assume that he hasn't. However, he does start doing things and then she focuses on filling up her bucket. When she's intercepted, she allows him to take the bucket as well as the sponge with a curious look. /Has/ he done this before? For now, she doesn't ask the question. Instead, she just nods. "Okay. Thanks. I've never really done this before." Obviously.

Grunt. That's all Lachlan says on the matter. It sounds like it could've been a "sure", and at least it's not as snippy as his speech was several minutes ago. As he heads toward the nearest stained wall, one of this steps causes a squelching sound, and he pauses to glance down. He lifts up his foot to peer at the little blob of flesh that has now become affixed to the bottom of his boot — and he frowns as though he just stepped in gum rather than, say, human remains. "Ye got 'nother bucket 'r somethin'?" he asks as he unceremoniously scraaaaaaapes the bottom of his boot along the floor, trying to dislodge Peter from the treads.

Relieved of the bucket, Cass doesn't really have much else to do other than stand and watch Lachlan start to clean up. However, him stepping on what used to be a part of Peter and then scraping it off of his shoe as if it was nothing makes her pale and look nauseous again. For a moment it looks like she may faint, but she holds it together. It takes her a little while to answer his question, so she just shakes her head. Then, hoarsely, she adds, "I'll…get a trash bag."

Lachlan doesn't associate the blob with Peter. To him, it's just a squishy bit of meat, only marginally less disgusting than dog poop (because he /does/ associate that with its true origins). Cass' hoarse addendum causes him to glance up at her with a frown. Is she okay? Wow, she kinda doesn't look okay. But she said she'd get a bag, so he's not going to worry about it. At least she'll have something to puke in, if she goes that route. "A'righ'." Then he drops into a crouch near the wall and starts to apply soap, water, and a little old-fashioned elbow-grease to get the splatters off.

Unfortunately for Cass, she still does associate everything there with Peter. The blood, the bits, everything that was broken just reminds her of what he must have went through. How much it must have hurt. Moving helps her fight back the nausea again and while it's touch and go for a little while, she does not throw up again. Grabbing a trash bag, she gingerly steps back over to where Lachlan is scrubbing away and holds it out to him. It's the only thing she can really think of doing to help.

As he cleans, Lachlan remains entirely nonplussed about what exactly he is cleaning up, and he even whistles to himself as he progresses. Bits of Peter are picked up bare-handed without a care (hope he doesn't have SARS) and plopped into the trash bag. The sponge is soon tossed in there as well, as it's become rather crimson and useless, and rags start to follow as he empties and refills the bucket a few times. It takes some time, but the entire room is made quite spotless. Any murderer would be proud of the wipe-job. One last piece of Peter is dropped into the bag followed by a bloodied rag, and Lachlan lets out a low whistle as he examines the area, looking rathe rpleased with himself. "Tha's the last o' it," he states with finality.

Cass stays in the back room only as long as she can. But Lachlan's almost…cheerful manner in cleaning up blood and gore is a bit too much for her. Sure that he doesn't need any help, she heads into the bathroom to change and try and wipe the last of the blood off of herself with a good, firm scrubbing. She'll definitely want a shower later, but this will do for having to walk about without causing suspicion. Stepping outside, she starts pinning her hair up again and looking around at the room, now clear of any sign of the horror that befell it earlier and nods. "Looks like nothing ever happened," she says, though it's slightly monotone. It's not that she doesn't appreciate what just happened, but that it's strange how everything can just be cleaned up as if nothing happened. "Thanks. For doing that."

"Nah, s'nothin'. S'easy when ye— " But Lachlan cuts himself off. Mm. Reminding Cass that he wasn't exactly a wonderful person in the past is probably just not a good idea. "— when ye've got good help." Nice. He smiles, then glances down at himself. Himself which is a little bit, ah, messy. And bloodied a little. Hmm. He should've brought himself a change of clothes too. Then again, he hadn't thought he was going to be mopping up a murder scene. He unceremoniously starts to strip off his shirt. "Got a blanket 'r somethin'?" Why yes, Cass, he does intend to wear nothing but a blanket outdoors.

"Good help?" Cass gives Lachlan a skeptical look. "I changed my clothes in the bathroom while you scrubbed blood off my walls. That's not exactly good help." That's mostly goodnatured, but she's also telling the truth. Frowning at Lachlan and his bloody self, she sighs. "Sorry. I should have told you to bring something for you to wear. I forgot. Wasn't thinking." She had a couple of other things on her mind. While she has no qualms about him taking off his shirt, she frowns. "Uh, not really. And you couldn't just wear a blanket. You'll get arrested for indecent exposure."

In the middle of unbuttoning his jeans, Lachlan pauses, frowning as though Cass just shot down the one chance he ever had at succeeding in life. A brief moment's hesitation, then he grunts and down goes the zipper. "S'nothin' indecent 'bout me," he states with some sort of strange dignity. "'M still wearin' pants." See? He's still got his boxers on. Well, and the jeans too, but he bends down to undo the laces on his boots, so it's questionable how long the jeans will stay.

If walking around in a blanket is his one chance to succeed in life, Lachlan is in for a rude surprise. Cass raises an eyebrow. "Well. I may not think so. But the police officers and old ladies on the street may. Just…keep the pants on - your jeans, not just your boxers-" because she knows what /his/ definition extends to "-and we'll take a cab back. Hopefully no one will ask any questions."

B-but. But. /But/. Lachlan straightens and just stares a moment, jeans down around his ankles, one boot untied. He looks on the verge of a major protest, glancing between the rumbled jeans and Cass. "… but I just got 'em /down/," he finally manages to whine, as though it's some great and terrible sin to pull his pants back up after having dropped them. The whine turns into a /huff/ of indignant resignation as he bends to bring the waistband back up to its proper place, frowning deeper and grumbling something incoherent. /Women/ and their /indecent exposure/ morals. /Pff/!

Finally, Cass lets a smile seep through her mask of worry and anger and all the other emotions that have shown themselves and are still there. But, the dilemma of Lachlan wanting to walk around the streets in his underwear is probably the least dramatic of things that has happened today. And it's such a relief to be dealing with something like /this/ rather than mopping up blood or talking about people spying on them. Without any real sort of warning, she swoops forward to wrap Lachlan in her version of a crushing hug.

WHUFF! Lachlan is quite taken by surprise when he's suddenly squished like so much Peter-bits under his boot. He even takes a half-step back to accommodate the sudden shift in weight, but he doesn't even come close to toppling over, and he recovers from his shock after a few moments. Wh-what'd he do right? … who cares? He grins broadly and wraps his arms around Cass in turn, though he doesn't hold her nearly as tightly. "Jesus, baby," he snickers, "d'ye want 'em up 'r down? Make up yer mind." Funnily enough, it /is/ a joke. Sort of. Mostly.

Keeping her arms wrapped around Lachlan, Cass eases up on the crushing part of the hug so that it's just an embrace instead of a squeeze. Resting her head on her chest, she closes her eyes and takes a deep breath. Even if they were fighting, the man cleaned up a murder scene to help her and was willing to put aside time and energy to play bodyguard for her because he was worried about her safety. While she doesn't answer his joke about his pants, she does say something else, quietly and seriously, but with real warmth injected in there. "I just…I love you." It may seem like a nonsequitur, but makes sense in her head.

If the hug was a surprise, those words are even more so. Of all the things he expected to hear, /that/ was not high on Lachlan's list. His grin snaps off into a bewildered expression, though he tries desperately to hold onto it in some form. There's a pause, an awkward moment of absorption, and then the grin starts to flicker back on again. The brief panic that was evident before slowly starts to fade away. "Yeah?" he responds. "Ye do, really?"

It wasn't exactly planned on Cass' part, either. And though her cheeks flush slightly with color, she's not embarrassed about those words. They may have caught her by surprise, but that doesn't make them any less true. Opening her eyes and picking her head up off of his chest so that she can actually look at him, she nods. While she catches the look of panic, she tries to not let it affect her. "Yeah. I really do." Tthere's a mystified sort of smile on her face, too.

Normally, those words wouldn't have been five seconds old before Lachlan would be making his way to the nearest exit, and of course there was the initial die-hard panic when he heard them, but this is different. It's Cass. Cass is very different. And now the Scotsman starts to feel just plain giddy. His grin grows even more. "Really? Ye do? Really, really?" Each words causes him to lower his head just another inch until he's got his forehead against hers, almost on the verge of /giggling/. Yes. Giggling.

While the words aren't quite as scary to Cass, they are still pretty important ones. The fact that he isn't running screaming for the nearest exit is a good sign. She was pretty sure that he wouldn't…but Lachlan is nothing if he isn't unpredictable. However the giggling is making her a little uneasy. Is he making fun of her? She can't tell. Her smile fades just a bit, but she doesn't pull her head away from him. "Don't laugh at me," she pouts slightly.

But Lachlan isn't really laughing /at/ her. Not really. Or at least it's not mocking laughter. He's just really happy. At the pout, his grin broadens once more and he tightens his arms around Cass' waist — and he can't help it, he's snickering. But this time he /is/ laughing at her for misconstruing his /first/ bout of giggling. And because she's pouting. It's adorable. "Nah, I'm no' laughin' at ye," he assures. "'M just … 'M glad. I love ye too, Cassie."

It's not a full on pout. Cass' feelings aren't really hurt, it was just a sensitive moment and she was unsure of his response. When he tightens his arms around her waist, she allows herself to be pulled even more snugly against him. The face continues through his snickering, but his response brings about a beaming smile. "Really?" She's repeating him without even thinking about it.

"Yeah, really, I do." And that's just /weird/ to Lachlan, in a pleasant way. This is one of those things that just hasn't happened before. He can't stop grinning, even if he's stopped laughing, and even if the grin has become a little more subdued. "Yer m'girl." See? He's been saying it all along. Only in a different way.

Unlike Lachlan, Cass has had steady boyfriends before. It's not as weird to her as it may be to him, but, still, they are pretty Important Words. "Good," she grins at him. "Glad we have that settled." Her arms tighten around him for a moment and she moves in to kiss him. Then, she starts to extract herself. "Come on, we should get going. /With/ your pants up, please."

That kiss is quite readily accepted and returned, and Lachlan doesn't attempt to prevent Cass from getting away — or not /really/, anyway. He doesn't exactly let her /go/ either. She just happens to get out of his grasp, that's all. Up the jeans go with a quiet huff of playful contempt, the button fastened and the zipper drawn. "Fine, but they're comin' off when we get home," Lachlan mutters as he starts to follow Cass out. Whether or not he meant that as a euphemism is entirely up in the air.

"Fine. Deal." Cass laughs and quickly gathers up the things that she came into the store with. The bloody clothes are stuffed into her bag to hopefully be washed later and the trash bag with the bloody sponge and rags and bits is tied up, but she's unsure of what to do with it. Put it in the dumpster out back? The door up front is locked, so she starts to make her way for the back door.

There's no protest on Lachlan's part as to where the bag is tossed. It's not like anyone has reason to suspect that there be a bunch of bloodied rags and rotting people-bits in the bookstore, so why would they find the bag? Sometimes it pays to be a (mostly former) criminal — and that only reminds him that there's still the matter of sweeping apartments for bugs when they get back. And that just brings back the previous argument. "So Peter's werkin' fer ye, then? Full-time?"

As soon as the bag is tossed, Cass takes out a chain and lock from inside the store from when the door was broken before. Then, she shoulders the metal door close again. It's more difficult than it should be from the beating it took, but it does shut. Looping the chain around the handle and the frame, she clicks the lock into place and pulls on it as a test. That should hold it for now. As she's working, she answers Lachlan. "Not full-time. Part. He's basically taking over Niki's shifts. But he'll be here at four of the six days we're open. When we'll be open again."

"But no' all day." That's the important part. That's the part that has to do with Cass being alone in the store without adequate protection. While Lachlan could argue that Peter hasn't done a very good job being a bodyguard so far, he /can/ say that Cass at /least/ hasn't died. This is something that makes Peter adequate in the very least. "Ye need a gun." And some self-defense classes.

"No, not all day. But I'm not going to be in the store all the time." Now that the door is locked, Cass turns away from the store and the back door and starts to lead Lachlan down the alleyway to the main street so that can hail a cab. "The last thing I need is a gun. I've never even touched one before and I don't want to. A gun in my hands is more likely to hurt some poor passerby or myself than anyone trying to hurt me." It would be more prudent to go with the self-defense classes.

Lachlan is wholly unperturbed that he's walking around outside shirtless, except for the fact that it's a little cold. Whatever stares he gets are deftly ignored (or just plain not noted). "S'why ye learn ta use it. S'no' hard. Anyone tha' can throw a ball can shoot a gun." Without killing anyone they didn't mean to, that is. "An' s'easier'n karate 'r wha'ever it is." And more effective in his mind. When someone is shot, they don't tend to keep coming back for more, and guns allow for a safe distance between victim and attacker.

After the initial sigh of 'he really is going to do this' Cass doesn't seem to mind Lachlan running around without his shirt on. Anyone staring is ignored for her, too. They've got more important things to talk about. As they reach a more populous area, she automatically starts holding her arm out in order to flag down on of the available cabs. "I don't want to learn how to use one, Lach. The last thing I want to learn is how to shoot a gun." Waving an arm frantically when she sees a cab with it's sign lit, it starts to pull over. "There we go. I'll learn self defense and all that, but I'm drawing a line at gunplay." As soon as the cab pulls over, she opens the door and slides in, keeping the door open for him to get in after her.

Cass can draw lines all she wants, but that doesn't mean Lachlan won't cross them. He climbs in after, going mute on the matter save for one last ambiguous grunt. Whatever. He's getting her a gun, whether she wants it or not. Once directions are given to the cabby, the Scotsman is content to just sit quietly and enjoy the ride back home. Better than walking around New York shirtless, and this way he gets to be a nuisance by leaning on Cass halfway through the drive. SquishCass. Best game ever.

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