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by: Matthew Cox
#8409
April 22nd 9:04pm

Matt slowly walked up the driveway to Kat's home. After a lot of thought and deliberation, he decided that he couldn't head back to the apartment just yet. The alibi he'd concocted for why he was missing for two days would give him an out AND protect Jon's involvement in the story.

Too bad it involves lying to his friends. Matt justified the lies by rationalizing that it kept them safe. The werecat thing could come back for him, could be someone he knew. If his friends knew too much about what happened, it was plausible they'd be targeted. Neither of them had a nifty healing power or a wizard-healer friend to keep them alive.

Matt slumped down next to Kat's car, leaning against the front passenger door. He braced himself and covered an ear, the. reached up and pulled the handle to trigger the alarm. Immediately he was hunched over and covering both ears in an attempt to block out the excruciatingly loud noise.
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by: Katarina Bauer
#8411
She tapped her finger on her forearm. She bit her fingernails--until she realized she'd tried to kick that nasty habit, and she decided to chew on her lip instead. Katarina had been pacing for a little bit, trying to call Matt every once in a while, still trying to tell herself to stop being the clingy girlfriend. He hadn't been to the office in a couple of days--even though the building was only on a voluntary shift for most weekends. Of course she'd opted in for more work but she spent half of the time worrying that Matt hadn't called her back or even sent a voice memo to let her know he was alright. Kat couldn't ask Klaus either, things were still...weird.

Instead of being a worrywart, Katarina just changed down into a sports bra and dri-fit pants. She laced up her shoes and threw the length of her blond hair into a ponytail, and made her way down to the garage to spar. Sadly, Wayne had cancelled on her since he had a hot date with one of the girls from IT he'd been nervously courting for the last three months, so she'd let it slide. She was actually proud her hermit of a cousin was getting out there in the world, and on a date no less. William was busy holed up in his room, studying for exams so she didn't bother asking him for help either. Her hands were wrapped with tape quickly, a technique she'd learned to complete in a timely fashion--quite possibly with her eyes closed now--since she'd been doing it for so long. Tony taught her, when he used to be her sparring partner.

For a little while, she stretched, practiced her form and then moved on to the punching bag, so she could feel resistance against her punches. She breathed out and exerted energy and a soft grunt as she landed each punch, focusing on two single points of the bag. Head. Head. Gut. Then again, Gut. Gut. Head. Katarina threw and elbow in there every once in a while for a variation combo, then moved on to kicks, front, side, spinning, jumping. She'd knocked the bag off its chain one night, and she was sure her combos were going to knock it off of there again, but she stopped just short of delivering a heavy punch when her car alarm started blaring. She sighed, grabbing her keys from the counter in the kitchen and opened the garage door, only to see the blinking lights of her car flashing at her, disorienting her some.

After a couple of failed attempts at hitting the button to turn off the alarm, she squinted in the dim light and saw a figure of someone slouched over beside the passenger door. "Hello?" She wandered closer. Unarmed. Oh, she could already hear Calloway yelling at her. "Hey..."

Dark glasses...dark hair--that face...

"Matt!? Oh my God, Matt..." She looked around, to see if anyone was with him, but he was alone, and in terrible shape. "Hey, hey--Matt, come on..." She put her hand on his cheek to see if he would respond, already working to get him to put his arm over her shoulder so she could help him inside.
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by: Matthew Cox
#8419
Matt groaned in relief when the alarm went off. Thank God she came running when she heard it. Then her voice...she sounded so surprised, panicked, relieved...

"Kat? Where am I? What time is it?"

She moved to his side and helped him up, leading him to the house. He gratefully took the assistance. After all, he had no cane to give him mobility, so he needed her help. Being close to her was an added bonus,but he was supposed to be the recovered missing boyfriend. Being too amorous wouldn't play well into that.

He'd had a whole rehearsed story planned. He'd been out for a walk, got jumped by someone or something (mostly true) and was rescued by the masked man (if you count saving yourself as being rescued) and then was in a safe house healing afterwards (true). The only real falsehood was the implication that the masked man had done the rescuing and healing and that Matt was separate from the Devil. Still a pretty big lie, but it was mostly based on truth and he was only lying to protect her from the thing that attacked him. And to protect Jon's identity. Excusable, right?
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by: Katarina Bauer
#8421
"It's...it's just after nine, what happened to you? Where have you been?"

Katarina led him inside, not worrying that her bare skin, slick with sweat would bother either of them at the moment. She walked him into the garage and tapped the button on the wall to shut the door, leading him further into the house. They passed the laundry area, the dining and kitchen area and living room. There was the staircase that lead up to the rooms, but she was steering him in a different direction. Kat took Matt into her home office, and shut the door.

She gently placed him on the couch and flicked the light on. Then, she saw the damage. He looked like he'd been through hell. His face looked scratched, his lips might have been busted too. He wasn't wearing his usual pair of shades either. And his pants...looked like he'd been in the forest, fighting animals or something. They were shredded, with stitched up wounds in the open areas.

"Oh my God, what happened to you?" She was back beside him instantly, with her hand on his cheeks, chest, arms, trying to assess the damage on by touch. She was gentle though, feather light touch, trying not to hurt him in the process.
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by: Matthew Cox
#8422
And here we go...

"Uhm...its Sunday, right? I went for a walk on Friday night and something attacked me. I don't know if it had claws or knives, but it hurt pretty bad."

Matt let Kat guide him, trying not to stumble over himself through the turns. How big was her house anyway? He continued when they got to what appeared to be an office.

"Your masked friend saved me and patched me up."

There. It was out. How would she react to that statement? He needed a shower, new pants, and food. By far, he'd had enough sleep recently, so that was good. Matt let himself be guided to a chair and he sat gratefully.
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by: Katarina Bauer
#8423
"Yes it's Sunday--" Katarina gasped, her eyes wide. "Attacked?! MATT. Did you not have your phone? I could've..."

Could've what ? She was still healing up from her own attack that happened not even a week ago, now she wanted to dash off into the field to save her boyfriend? ... Of course.

Fear and relief again. Whenever the Mask was involved, she felt them concurrently. He had that weird affect on her. "Jeez..." She clicked her tongue. "Well...he did pretty good, I'll have to thank him for that when I see him next. But--what can I do right now? What do you need me to do? You need to rest up or something. Here." Kat placed a pillow under his head for support. "I-I think Will is about your size--I could steal something of his out of the laundry."

Now this wasn't the way she'd think she'd get his pants off...
...Nope! now wasn't the time for that.
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by: Matthew Cox
#8425
Dithering...she was dithering over him. He pulled a face at the scolding, half sneering, half shrugging as a nonverbal excuse. Yes, he didn't have his cell phone, but he never carried it when he was out on patrol. And even if he did have it, he wouldn't have been able to use it with the way that werecat attacked him. It had been too fast, too savage, and too big. He'd been completely overwhelmed by it. Hell, did he even wound it or was he just a chew toy for the thing?

"Food and shower..I slept from Saturday morning until about four hours ago. Your friend gave me something that knocked me right out."

Jon would be her friend if she ever got a chance to meet him...another half truth for him to be crucified on later, wasn't it? He was making quite the minefield for himself.
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by: Katarina Bauer
#8426
He sounded so strained, like he was still in so much pain. Katarina ran her hand through his hair and curved it under his jaw, giving him one good look before leaning down to kiss him on the forehead. "Sure. Of course. We have a washroom down here, and I'll throw your clothes in the wash, get you some food, too, okay?" Katarina was ready to help him get washed up and changed, and as comfortable as possible.

Stripping him of his clothes and seeing him naked weren't even bothering her; she spent enough time in co-ed areas or ops where she had to change or strip down in front of officers or strangers even, if she was undercover. But she'd give him the privacy as best as she could, to ensure he was well enough to at least stand and get into the shower on his own. "Just tell me when you're ready."
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by: Matthew Cox
#8427
Was she...? She wouldn't possibly be suggesting that she 'helped'in the shower, was she? Nope. No, he'd pull out the stubborn jackass that he could be and refuse that help if needed.

"Just get me to the washroom and I'll be fine from there. Seriously. And, yes, Will and I are about the same size, so if he doesn't mind, I'll borrow some clothes."

It wasn't as if he couldn't feel the resonance off the pipes in the walls; he only had to act like he couldn't feel them. Thankfully, Jon's healing potions helped fade a lot of the cuts and bruises so they were less severe looking and much, much shallower than they had been. The scratch on his face looked more like a scratch and less like the lion-filleting-a-gazelle mark it had been.

When she led him to the wash room, he took off his shirt, but refused to go further until she left. He had modesty still, but promised to push the clothing out into the hall before getting into the shower.

"I'll be fine, I promise. I can follow my way along the sink and wall." He could almost feel her gaze on his torso and tried to not feel awkward or conceited. He kept in shape and was proud of the fact, but it wasn't often that he put himself on view for others.
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by: Katarina Bauer
#8428
Kat could have been mistaken, but he sounded a little put off by her willingness to help. She wasn't trying to get him naked 'for fun', she was merely wanting to help. Considering how she'd found him and how he looked--she just wanted to assist him as best as she could. Before she could speak out against his subtle stubbornness, Katarina heard his request. "Yeah." She moved quickly, taking his arm and leading him down the hall to the washroom. Will was going to have to deal with missing some of his clothes for a while, since it looked like it was all going to take a while to clean off. Maybe a couple loads if he would let her. All the blood she'd noticed, all the way down to his boots--Katarina let all of the questions quietly build up in her mind.

Once she led him through the threshold, she let him head into the washroom, and she lingered for a few moments to ensure he was really alright with handling himself in here. "Here's some towels and should be stocked with some soap, I'm..sorry if the floral scents aren't you but I can grab something else if you want, from one of the boys' bathrooms?" She suggested, noting that the lavender soap or hibiscus shampoo that she'd recently used or the other fragrances on the shelf in the shower would be his 'type'. When she turned around after setting the towel on the closed lid of the toilet, she almost gasped at his half-naked form as he shed himself of the shirt he'd had on.

She knew he was a marine and kept in shape like one--but it was a mixture of surprise to see his well-sculpted body, covered in cuts, bruises and scars over his skin. He'd dismissed her again, pushing her away from helping. Katarina didn't say another word, she just let him be, leaving the door closed but unlocked. She'd have to yell at Will if he tried to go in (even though he probably wouldn't since he had his own upstairs near his bedroom), but if either of the boys tried to gang up on Matt and give him the whole "take care of my family, or you're dead" speech, she'd have to swat them away. Not now. She had questions of her own and those took precedence over anything else.

Katarina waited in the hallway for the dirty clothing that she'd offered to wash for him. She leaned up against he wall, on the same side as the door so she'd be facing away when he opened it. She was trying to keep as much innocence this early on in their relationship even though personal space seemed to be growing lesser and lesser each day with them.
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by: Matthew Cox
#8429
He really appreciated the help she gave him...really, he did, but he was more sturdy than he seemed, so it shouldn't be a surprise that her surprise at his injuries inspired her to take even more care of him. After all, who would let their blind significant other look like he'd rolled down a set of particularly knobby stairs?

Matt let the smile fade from his expression when she closed the door. He needed to be more careful. He needed weapons, armor, a better plan...hell, he needed sanity, but that wasn't going to be in high supply, was it? He kicked his boots off and shed his tactical trousers and turned on the water to the shower, letting it warm up while he stripped fully. As a precaution, he wrapped the towel around his waist before opening the door slightly and pushing out the boots, socks, folded shirt, and folded trousers. He wasn't about to give her his underpants...it just didn't seem right to part with those.

He closed the door gently and made his way into the water. It stung, but the heat eased his tight muscles. Whether they were sore from the fight or from his long sleep, he wasn't sure. Either way, the soap washed off the blood, the water cleansed his aches, and the shampoo banished the grease from his hair. He needed a shave...Later...

He spent nearly half an hour under the water making sure that Jon's neat stitches didn't come undone and that his cuts didn't come open. Particularly important was the cut over his broken rib. Matt was pretty sure that, before Jon healed him, the break had been exposed. Now, it just felt ugly.

Eventually, he had no more excuses to stay under the warm water, so he got out and dried off, belatedly realizing that he wouldn't 'know' if Kat put new clothes into the washroom or not. To that end, he wrapped the towel around himself again and sat on the edge of the tub, waiting for her to give indication that she was back outside.
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by: Katarina Bauer
#8431
After the water had started to run and she was sure he was safe in the tub (no discernible thuds or bumps through the door), Katarina had padded down the hall, slowly and quietly. She wasn't trying to move stealthily on purpose; she wasn't hiding from anyone in her own home. The boys already had the words "need to know basis" so if they asked, that would be her go-to answer. Wayne might find out at some point, but Will didn't need to see any of this. She was in a trance, concern swarming in with the rest of the emotions swimming in her head. She held the dirty clothing to her chest in one hand, and had the tops of his boots clipped tightly in the other as she wandered towards the laundry room, wondering what exactly happened that would leave him this way.

Why hadn't Mask prevented any of this? Was he really the one who patched him up, or was Matt just trying to cover something else up?

She turned on the water, poured in the detergent, extra cleaner and dropped each article of clothing into the open mouth of the washer. The sweater looked untouched, and mismatched compared to the rest of it. There were small spots of blood that matched up where the stitching was when she'd seen him in the washroom just now. But this one smelled a bit like cigarette and was cleaner than the pants, trousers and socks. She studied it for a minute, holding it in her hands longer than she'd anticipated, and then tossed it in. She'd let the articles of clothing soak for a few minutes before letting the cycle run so she hit the button to pre-soak and walked off. She boots over to the sink here. She gave herself a few minutes to rinse them off, letting the stream drip over the treads. She used a cloth and old bristle brush to clean the tops of them, drying them promptly so the leather wouldn't wear or ruin under the water. Kat sat them down on a dark towel here, deciding to let them air dry. With a heavy sigh, she turned and began to gather the essentials from here: a pair of pants, a black t-shirt, a zip-up hoodie, socks--all of which had been conveniently cleaned. I'll have to both warn and thank Will for this later.

Katarina found one of her thin sweaters down in the laundry room as well, and found this to be a good time to throw that over her bare shoulders. She'd almost forgotten what she'd been doing before finding Matt there, until a draft hit her skin and gave her goosebumps.

The water had turned off and she didn't hear the door opening so when Katarina returned, she knocked. She stood again, facing away from the door with her back against the wall. Her arm was outstretched, the pile of clothing would be the only thing in the open doorway once he opened it. "Come out when you're ready, I'll be in the kitchen." Her tone seemed a little flat, distant even. Kat was so lost in thought, she wasn't aware of it.

Once the pile of clothing was retrieved, she would wander into the kitchen. After scrubbing her hands clean from handling the blood and dirt covered clothing, she started to pick through her fridge and pantry, wondering what she could throw together for him...
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by: Matthew Cox
#8433
It turned out that Will didn't have quite the bulk that Matt himself carried in his shoulders. Thankfully, there was a hoodie to help provide an extra layer for warmth. Maybe it was the residual blood loss, maybe it was a draft, but Matt felt a chill. He dressed quickly and padded out into the hallway, pausing. He wasn't familiar with the layout of the home that Kat shared with her brother and cousin. Still, there were small cues that he could use.

Sounds to his right. Matt turned and placed a hand on the wall, lightly tracing the drywall with his finger tips as he carefully padded towards the sounds. He kept the charade when he came to a corner. Carefully, Matt stopped and let his hand remain out as he carefully moved forward. Radar sense told him that the wall continued up ahead, but he couldn't move confidently towards it. Who would that make him look like? Someone who wore a mask and got into stupid fights, that's who. Once reconnected with the wall, he kept walking. Someone was coming up behind him...someone not Kat. He wasn't able to give away that he'd heard them because they were walking too quietly for normal ears. It wasn't until he was greeted that he turned.

"Oh...hello...I'm trying to find Kat..."

Hopefully her family had the warning that he was here. Otherwise, this was going to be an awkward boyfriend surprise.
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by: Katarina Bauer
#8437
The front door closed. Or did it? Kat peeked around the open fridge door to listen for anything else, shuffling through drawers, shifting items to the side, and pausing again because she heard someone talking. She assumed it was Will, maybe on the phone with one of his school mates.

Meanwhile, Wayne was beaming. He'd just dropped off his date Hilde from IT at her flat and considered the date a great success so cloud nine wasn't close to what he was feeling now. He was beyond that. He turned to lock the deadbolt and started towards the hall. He was going to check and see if Kat was in the garage, when he noticed a man emerging from the lower restroom and he stopped. Wayne walked a bit closer and pushed his glasses up. As he got a closer look, he noticed he'd been wearing familiar clothing that looked a lot like Will's but it most certainly wasn't him. He recognized him as someone from work. Wayne's raised his eyebrows in shock. "Uh...Agent Cox? I think I hear her in the kitchen." He gave a nervous laugh, "I was just about to ask what brings you by, but uh..." He cleared his throat and nodded. "Here, it's right this way."

Wayne had a cheeky little grin on his face when he entered the kitchen, which was just a little bit away from where he'd run into Agent Cox. "Oh Rina?" He guided Matt towards the stool that sat behind he granite countertop and offered him a seat.

The fridge door shut and a surprised Kat gulped as she watched her cousin walk in with a freshly showered and dressed Matt. She blinked twice, blowing a puff of air to move the stray strands that had fallen from her messy bun out of her face. "Wayne...you're...home early?"

"No, Hilde got home right on time, just had dinner this evening and well...you didn't tell me you had company?" Wayne gave her a full on smile now as he gave her the "ok" symbol. The rumors at the office were already circling, and rumors about Agent Schmidt not approving of this too--but Wayne had no part in it, mostly because of his bias but most definitely because he loved his cousin. In fact, he told off several people in the department who decided to dive into that nonsense and told them to leave them both alone. So, it was easy to say that he was a huge supporter of Matt and Katarina together.

She playfully glared. "Agent Cox here just stopped by, we were...sparring earlier, you know? Since you decided to ditch me for Hilde. We were just about to have a bite. That's all." Katarina went with the obvious cover, since she was still in her work-out clothes anyway, it seemed reasonable.

Wayne pursed his lips together with an 'I'm not a fool' look and shook his head. "Whatever you say. I'll just get out of your hair. You two have fun now. And thanks for taking my place today, Agent Cox. I'm sure Rina will just punch me extra-hard next chance I get to spar." He fetched a bottle of water from the fridge and playfully bumped Katarina on the hip as he made his exit. "Have a good night, Agents. See you tomorrow."

As her cousin left, Katarina let out a breath of relief. At least it wasn't Will. Wayne knew Matt from the office. They weren't best buds, but he'd probably save his obligatory, potentially embarrassing interrogation for later. She'd have 101 questions from him, that was for sure.
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by: Matthew Cox
#8438
Matt slid into the kitchen and found himself a seat. Listening to the interplay between Kat and Wayne, Matt found himself having to repress a grin at what he was implying. The added fact that he could see the gestures that were assumed hidden from him made the grin harder to repress. Eventually though, he and Kat were the only ones left in the kitchen. Matt cleared his throat and allowed the grin to bloom. He raised his eyebrows at her and began to tease.

"Rina? Is that family only or does 'Kit-Kat' get to have a rival finally?"

The grin grew a little more lop-sided at Kat's obvious frustration with her family member. The quip she'd given about them sparring was inspirational. Maybe, someday, if he ever was able to show her who he really was, they could spar together...for now, it was just a tease.

"And you'd fight a blind man? Tsk, tsk...I didn't think you'd cherry pick easy targets, Rina. Though, if you do want to work out together, I wouldn't say no. I could use a training partner who isn't mad at me right now."

He turned his head to where she was making sounds; the grin on his face had become a full on wicked tease. He DID miss this. Hopefully she'd relax and joke back.
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