(1939-02-19) The Cat in the Box
Details for The Cat in the Box
Summary: Shelley comes to Takeshi's house to thank Rena. But she brings along an uninvited guest.
Date: 1939-02-19
Location: Takeshi's Home - "The Box"
Related: What Men Kill For plot

Takeshi is out of the house and off to work in St. Mungo's, leaving Rena to keep house for the time being. He puts up with an awful lot from his less-than-stellar housekeeper fiance, preferring to do the domestic chores himself. But, as he can't be here today while Shelley is meant to visit their home, he's just going to have to take Rena's word that she won't burn down the house or break anything while he's gone.
The young woman talks to herself while making tea and arranging small tea sweets on a plate with a sliver of bamboo (a skill that Takeshi undoubtedly painstakingly taught her) as she waits for Shelley to arrive. Since the hospital is seemingly no longer a safe haven in the world, at least she can guarantee her coworker some peace and quiet while she's here.

Shelley has been making the most of her time at home, relaxing on the couch or in her bed with some books, idly practicing spells. Vee and Ebony have both stayed nearby the injured woman - to the extent that when she tries to use the floo to travel to the Cauldron, Ebony repeatedly jumps in along with her. "No, Ebony, you're not-" she starts, but this is the fifth time she's tried to toss the cat out of the floo. "…fine," she mutters, dropping into a crouch to pick up the cat - bending over hurts to much, still.
She carries the cat out of the Cauldron, before stooping to set her back down. Ebony trots along behing her obediently as Shelley makes her way down the streets, towards Takeshi's home. A few people give her a second glance at the still sore-looking mark going down the right side of her face, but at least there's a thin layer of new skin growing. Reaching the stoop of the strange, square building, she raps.

Mere moments before Shelley's arrival, the kettle began to sing. Rena just barely had time to get the tea straightened away before running for the door to meet the woman. As she is in her stocking feet, she slides across the wooden floor when trying to come to a stop. Undoubtedly, Shelley will hear the slide and subsequent /Whump/ as an unstoppable force meets with an immovable object. However, Rena manages to look calm and collected when she opens the door.
"Shelley!" She smiles in her best, unflustered hostess way. "Come on in, and…" there is a pause as she glances down and sees the cat. Takeshi would have a fit. But Takeshi isn't here and well… kitty. "Oh! There's lovely. You brought another friend with you."

"We can keep him out if it's a problem," Shelley offers, making no comment on the 'whump' from a moment before. "But he kept jumping in the floo with me," she says wryly of the orange tabby tomcat. "This is Ebony."

Rena idly wonders to herself about cleanup when the cat has left the premises later. Would "Accio Fur" work?

"I can't leave Ebony out in the cold," she says accommodatingly, opening the door a little wider so that the kitty and its mistress might enter. "Ebony?" Rena asks after a moment, looking slightly puzzled. "Was 'e the victim of a transfiguration gone wrong?"

"No," Shelley responds. "I jokingly started calling him that when Alis couldn't think of a name - and then it just sort of stuck. She got her revenge by naming 'Vee,' though." She slips inside, with Ebony close on her heals, the tom letting out a loud 'meow!' as if to announce his presence to anyone in the house. He trots off ahead of Shelley, sniffing curiously here and there, before jumping up to test the nearest chair.

Rena laughs lightly at the story of how Ebony got his misaligned name, and then offers to take Shelley's coat off of her. She hasn't remarked anything about how the woman looks well or seems to be getting along alright… it's not that she lacks the manners; she just doesn't want to step on any toes.
A sidelong glance is given the cat now, and Rena smirks: "I'll 'ave to find something for 'im too. I've got some tea made, and some sweets to go with." Stopping a moment to think, the young woman adds thoughtfully: "Best keep 'im IN the 'ouse. Cats like fish, and I don't want 'im 'aving a go at Ichi and Ni."

"Mister Odori keeps fish outside?" Shelley remarks with surprise. She lets Rena help her with her coat this once - taking things off on her own involve contortions that tug at the fresh skin, and that's still a little painful. "I wouldn't worry about giving him anything, though - he's eaten. But if you balled up a bit of spare paper, he can keep himself entertained. Especially if you use a charm to move it about on him…"

"They're too big to keep in a bowl inside the 'ouse," Rena explains as she hangs up Shelley's coat. "They're a kind of fish called Koi. Very bright and splashy, they are. I can take things out to the garden if you want to talk there," she further offers. "It's always green and lovely. 'E's got a spell over it that keeps it that way all year."
To be perfectly frank, the back yard has become something of a playpen for Rena to stay out of trouble in. It gets her out from under foot within the house when Takeshi is working, and he can further keep an eye on her from the kitchen window.

"Are there chairs out there?" Shelley asks uncertainly. "A table? I still get a little tired and sore…" she admits in a wry tone.
Ebony is walking in circles on the chair he's chosen - as if getting ready to settle down. He abruptly decides differently, though, and jumps to the floor, twining with first Shelley's legs, and then Rena's.

"Oh yes. Takeshi likes to sketch out there. And well 'e can't sit on the ground." No, literally, he CAN'T sit on the ground. But… that's another matter entirely.

Rena can't help herself. She briefly scoops Ebony into her arms and gives the kitty a quick, fond snuggle: "You best stay in 'ere, lovely. Your mum and I are going out in the garden."

Leading the way into the wonderful, peace-filled green space, Rena takes Shelley to the back yard where everything seems to exude well organized serenity. As promised, too, there is a rock pool in which two very large and vibrantly coloured fish are languidly swimming.

Ebony is happy to rub his head against Rena as he's scooped up, and lean into the attention. This cat is everything Shelley isn't - he thrives on touch and open affection from /everyone/.
Shelley follows after Rena - one hand pressing briefly against the side of her stomach. Ebony trots at her heels - and Shelley has to physically block the cat's way outside with her foot as she hurriedly closes the door while the cat readies himself for a jump.
"That cat," she mutters quietly, as he meows from the other side of the door.

"Don't worry about 'im," Rena says airily, waving off Ebony's antics without another thought. She's not worried - even if she should be. "I'll manage when I go back for the tea."

Following Shelley's example, the young woman slips in and out of the door while doing the oh-so-fun dance of cat-blocking with her feet while she's at it. However, once the mischief is managed, she is able to set the tray on a small table in the garden between the seats. "I was surprised when Graham brought the message to me. I 'alfway expected to find 'im with a black eye or something since 'e'd been to see you." Rena jokes. She knows the man can get Shelley's back up.

Shelley settles into one of chairs as Rena is getting the tea, letting out a relieved sigh to slump back in her seat. Her eyes close for a moment, but open again when she hears the door.
"Nah," she answers. "He was actually pretty accomodating. He's got it into his fool head that it's /his/ fault I got attacked because he listened to me when I tossed him out of my room."

"Graham 'as a way of figuring out 'ow to make everything personal." Rena observes with a somewhat troubled expression. Pouring green tea into a cup for Shelley, she then offers her the drink and the wagashi beside. "Again…" the younger woman begins, looking somewhat pained and anxious now, "I'm terribly sorry I 'ad to arrest your friend. I couldn't just let it slide. Maybe I did the wrong thing or 'andled it badly. I don't know."
Both Rena's dark eyes and her shoulders drop simultaneously. Nervously, she begins twisting at her engagement ring to keep her hands occupied. It's all been pleasantries so far, but now Shelley might let her have it.

"Graham told me," Shelley responds as she takes the tea. The wagashi is eyed with quiet curiousity and puzzlement. It's a pretty little thing - it's food? She decides to leave it alone for a moment, and sips her tea instead.
"I can't remember anything after Narelle showed up at the foot of my bed. I dunno if Graham told you - she wanted to know what we knew about the case, and intended to torture it out of me. That didn't work out well for her." Her expression is a bit bitter. "The one case where my little curse comes in handy, so I didn't fight it. I don't think she got a single thing out of me, not that it much matters, thanks to you." She gives Rena a small smile.
"I came here to thank you, actually. You saved my life, Rena."

Rena listens to Shelley's every word; still with downcast eyes at first, and still nervously fiddling with the ring on her finger. At length however, she manages to bring her gaze up to meet the other woman's timidly. "I didn't do anything so special. I rather made a muck of everything like I always do," she says in a small voice. "I'm glad something good managed to come out of the mess. It's a life worth saving - if nobody's ever told you so." Here, she tries to offer a small, uncertain smile. She's not terribly good at taking compliments or accepting thanks, it would seem.

Shelley nods to Rena, giving her a small smile of her own. Yeah - she'd like to believe herself worth saving. "Anything I can ever do for you, Rena. I will." Of course, she rather expects Rena won't take untoward advantage of that particular offer.
The smile fades into a more serious expression before she adds, "Of course - I'd also appreciate it if you could share your memories of that night. I have /no/ recollection of what happened after she started torturing me, until I woke up to find Graham in my room later that morning." And herself hugging a damned hippogriff.

Again, Rena manages a smile in return. She wouldn't take advantage. She tends to not ask for favors until she's in dire need, anyway.
However, with regards to that horrible night, she can only take a long sip of her own tea and then stare down into the cup pensively for a long moment before speaking. "Jocunda was waiting to see you. I explained who I was to the nurses on duty and they said I could go on in. I went to the door and it was locked… just like when Abram was murdered. So, I panicked. Jocunda decided that I was off my rocker because I wouldn't stop what I was doing and explain everything in detail to her. I broke the lock, and she blasted me back about twenty feet for ignoring her. Then she stood in the doorway like an idiot, staring at /me/ because I tried to subdue her and get her out of 'arm's way. I told her to look IN the room, and Narelle tried to attack her." Pausing a moment for breath, Rena forces herself not to dwell on how angry Jocunda's actions make her.

"What - did she think /you/ were going to attack me?" Shelley asks, her eyebrows going up. "She /knows/ you're an auror." She lets out an annoyed sigh, before gesturing for Rena to continue.

Irritably, Rena can only shrug. She doesn't actually know what thoughts were going through Jocunda's mind when she decided to interfere. With a small sigh, she continues her narrative of the events.
"Narelle tried her usual tricks - a smoke screen this time, to try and get away after she'd been caught in the act of torturing you. Jocunda slashed into her with a spell and I bound her with another. She went down. But before I could get to her, Jocunda started to beat Narelle pretty brutally, by the sound of it." Hesitating, Rena glances sidelong and takes a sip of her tea before finishing. "I'd 'ad it up to 'ere with Ms. Sykes nonsense and disruption. So, I stupefied her to put an end to the mess. Orderlies arrived from the mental ward and 'elped me straighten things away before I incarcerated them both."

"If she was beating a helpless prisonner - you had every right to stupefy her," Shelley remarks. "…but I'm not at all sorry that Narelle got a few extra lumps," she adds in a cool tone. There's anger - perhaps even hints of hatred in Shelley's tone and gaze. Narelle got nothing more than she deserved.
"Makes a bit of a mess though, don't it?" she remarks, after another sip of her tea. "I hope her barrister can get her off without too much trouble. I mean, finding a friend being tortured by a dark witch, in the /hospital/… Hard to blame someone for that. Right?"

Shelley looks angry with regard to the situation… but Rena; she just looks downright sulky when Jocunda's predicament is mentioned. Now, she takes her own wagashi sweets on her tiny plate in hand and skewers one of the balls with her bamboo sliver. Of course that's the wrong way to eat them, but Rena is an uncouth cockney girl at heart, still. Taking a bite out of the sweet, she chews and swallows before saying stormily: "I've no doubt she'll get off without so much as a smack to the wrist. And last I 'eard, she was screaming and carrying on for my 'ead on the proverbial platter for what I'd done."

Shelley frowns. "Graham mentioned that. Rena… I'll do what I can to talk some sense into her.It's the least I can. But the way it sounds to me - and I didn't expect it to be any other way - you didn't do a damned thing wrong, and she doesn't have a leg to stand on."

The whole situation is enough to make anyone nervous and upset. Rena's career could, in theory, be on the line for taking the initiative to discipline a spoiled, entitled, high-society brat and make her toe the line of the law. If she loses her job… it doesn't really bear thinking.
"I appreciate you trying to talk to her, Shelley. I just don't 'old out much 'ope, by the way it sounded." She might say more, but her thoughts are interrupted by a sound coming from within the house. It is the distinct crash of porcelain on a smooth bamboo floor. Startled to her feet, Rena jumps up: "Oh hell!" She's already running for the door leading into the kitchen.

"Aw shit," Shelley echoes, pushing herself up just as abruptly - and stopping with a wince as a result. Right. Right. Not quite so fast, Shelley. "Ebony, you stupid cat!" she calls, trailing after the other auror. "I'm /so/ sorry, he's just been so anxious about me, since I disappeared for a day and came back injured…"

Rena is already in the house, looking frantically around for the broken item. Ebony greets her from the kitchen window with a cheerful meow, rubbing against the frame. On the counter and strewn onto the floor is a good deal of dirt and a porcelain bowl. One of the lovely Ikebana displays made so painstakingly by Takeshi has been obliterated in Ebony's quest to locate his mistress.
Frozen, Rena doesn't look angry. She just slaps her hand over her mouth and stands there looking absolutely horrified. If her fiance were here now, he'd probably faint.

"Oh… dear," Shelley remarks as she surveys the damage. She scoops up the cat, and sets him down on the floor to scowl at him. "I am /not/ happy, Ebony," she informs him sternly, letting out a sigh.
"I can fix the porcelin, but the /plant…/" She looks uncertain.

Once Rena remembers to start breathing again, she blinks and lowers her hand slowly. "I… uhm…" She casts about in her mind, but it is quite obvious that she has no clue how to fix the plant either. Biting her lower lip, she finally just gives a small shake of her head: "I don't see 'ow there's any way to fix it. Just going to 'ave to call it a loss and apologize and explain when he gets back tonight." A faint smile is given at the end of that sentence. Takeshi is very forgiving. It's something she can count on… he'd have to be to let her live in his house all this time.

"Anything I can do to make it up?" Shelley asks, while Ebony twines in an out of her feet. She shouldn't have brought him… "Was it yours, or Odori's?" she asks uncertainly.

"Lord love a duck!" Rena exclaims, looking up at Shelley now from the floor where she's knelt down to pick up the battered remains of the plant. "I 'aven't those kinds of skills, much as I've tried to learn. Takeshi does those - it's called Ikebana." She pauses and smiles a bit wistfully. "Lovely aren't they? I mean, not when they're like this, but…" Obviously, she doesn't see anything wrong with the fact that a man does beautiful flower arrangements.

"Lord love a duck?" Shelley repeats, amusement on her features. She pulls out her wand, giving it a brief wave, and gesturing to the shards. "Reparo." She watches as it mends itself back together - but doesn't stoop to pick it up. She'll let Rena do that - leaning over is still a bit painful.
"Well. I'll send him sort of apology gift, or at least a note. I'm not sure what would be… appropriate, though," she remarks uncertainly. Her gaze drops to her wand for a moment, before slipping it away again.

"Thanks," Rena smiles, taking the mended bowl in hand. Looking it over, there's not a mark to show the damage that Ebony just inflicted upon it.
Up on her knees briefly, she sets it onto the counter top before dropping down again. "I'm sure if Takeshi was 'ere, he would say not to worry about it," the younger woman replies, reaching for the nearby dustpan and broom. "The whole situation with Guy, you know - on a slightly related note - you know what he said when I told 'im I made a terrible mistake and felt absolutely dreadful for it?"

"When I ended up with yer hat?" Shelley asks in a mildly amused tone. "No. What did he say? He Grosvenor, or he Odori?"
Ebony twines around Shelley's legs one more time, then starts walking around Rena - since she's conveniently down at his level.

Rena pauses to pet Ebony in passing before sweeping dirt into the pan carefully. "Odori," she replies simply. Looking up at Shelley again, she tilts her head to one side thoughtfully and gives a hint of a half-smile: "He said: 'Even monkeys fall from trees.' Meaning that everybody makes mistakes; even when you're perfect and most suited to whatever it is that you're doing… you can still make mistakes. But it's alright. Just 'ave to climb back up in the tree again."

Shelley's eyebrows raise up. "That was… generous of him," she remarks. She lets out a quiet laugh. "I doubt I would have confessed, personally." But Rena was a almost certainly a better person than she was. Or at least, certainly a more honest and open one.

Rena probably didn't confess as much of what occurred as she could have done with regards to Guy. But things are quite different now, and the whole situation has been smoothed out in a good way. Nobody was ever really harmed by it. It was a near-miss.
"He is /very/ generous," Rena says brightly, finishing up the last of the dirt cleanup. "And forgiving. So, don't worry about the flower. It'll be alright."

"I'll send a note, at least," Shelley responds, before changing the subject. "Hey, Rena. I'm missing a wand - haven't heard anything about it, yet. Took my blackthorn and my back-up ivy wand with me to the cemetary. By the time I ended up at St. Mungo's, only had the blackthorn. You heard anything around the office about it?"

Carefully, Rena gets back up and onto her feet, cautiously moving so as not to spill any of the dustpan's contents while in motion. "Erm…" she says thoughtfully, walking to the dustbin. "Well, Graham found the bits and pieces of a wand out in the cemetery - that's what I 'eard anyway."
The pan is tipped over and then tapped on the bin's side. "I'm awfully sorry you lost a wand in that mess. If only they could be pieced back together with a spell as easily as that bowl."

"Pieces," Shelley repeats, before her jaw tightens. Her expression has taken on a carefully neutral expression. She takes a deep breath in through her nose and lets it out slowly, watching Ebony trail Rena to the trash can.
"If only," she agrees. "Were the pieces recovered as evidence?" she asks.

"I'd imagine it'd be kept aside and filed as evidence." Rena replies, cleaning the dustpan rather carefully. Probably foolishly, given how she's entirely missed any change in Shelley's demeanor with regards to the wand. "I can't see Graham making a bad mistake like pitching them. They ought to be with everything else 'aving to do with the case. The ring, the papers and all."
Now the mess is well and truly cleaned up and Rena can set aside the cleaning impliments. A sigh is directed at Ebony: "And now I know why the only animals Takeshi 'as are fish and Aeric." Aeric being the household owl - who fortunately was asleep in another room and went unnoticed by the errant cat.

Just thought of Graham /pitching/ them… Her stomach roils. "No. I don't imagine he'd make a mistake like that," Shelley agrees, her tone a touch cool.
She allows her attention to be drawn back to the cat. "I shouldn't have brought him with me. Thank you for having me over, Lee." She pauses a beat, then corrects herself. "Rena."

Rena laughs: "You'd better not call me by a last name. If you insist on calling Takeshi 'Odori' - you'll wind up 'aving to call me the same thing in a few months." And that would just get downright confusing for everyone involved.
"And it was nice 'aving you over. Place seemed a lot safer than any alternatives I could think of for a meeting." Rena replies somewhat somberly before bringing her smile back again. "You know you're welcome to drop in any time. I know it's strange for you 'ere, but at least it's peaceful."

"I appreciate that," Shelley agrees, managing a small smile. It's entirely forced, but it's the best she can do at the moment. "And thank you again, for what you did." Her gaze flicks to Ebony, who's looking entirely innocent and licking his paw. "Come on, you little beast. I better take you home before you break anything else."

"We're friends," Rena says simply, giving a little light shrug of her shoulders. "That's what people do. And besides, like I told you before - it was a life worth saving." For whatever it's worth, even if Shelley has difficulty believing it at the moment, she does genuinely mean every word she says.
Escorting the Auror and her kitty to the door, Rena opens it to let them out: "Take care of her, Ebony. That's your job when I'm not around." She calls out playfully.

"I'm sure he will," Shelley agrees, giving him another of those small, tight and forced smiles. "I'll see you around the office, soon enough," she promises, before turning to walk away, the cat trotting along with her - proceeding her, pausing to inspect something, and then loping along to catch up.
Once around the corner, Shelley would punch the nearest viable target. Probably the wall of some hapless building.

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