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Beauty in the Sewer

Treasure

Insert clever title here
Mentor
Claudius dragged his gaze away from the pictures reluctantly in time to see the chalk go rolling by. He followed one with his snout, appearing almost dog-like in his interest. Chalk, how unique! He would not have thought of chalk. It was far too moist down here, and no chalk ever survived the trip. Actually, would chalk survive on the wall?

He sniffed one of the pieces. The chalk dust tickled his nose, and he sneezed, sounding a bit like a broken pipe organ bellow. The piece of chalk went rolling back to Ingrid at a frantic pace like a lost pet.
 

bittersuite

creatively uncreative
The chalk piece's great escape was cut short not soon after it began, as Ingrid scooped it up and took to rolling it between her fingers. Having it in hand gave her a sense of scale; They were the biggest she could find, and yet the chalk was no bigger than three pencils bound together.

"I got this so you could get an idea of where you wanted to put things before I got the paint. See-" Scooting herself back, Ingrid glided the chalk across the concrete floor in front of her in zig-zags, then wiped a jacket sleeve over them to clear them away. A smudge remained where the patterns once were, and her sleeve had turned a striking shade of pink, but it was as good of an erasure she could manage. To buy an actual eraser would've costed extra.

"Can you hold them? Without using your mouth, ideally."
 

Treasure

Insert clever title here
Mentor
Claudius glanced at her sleeve and smiled to himself. Pink! She did not strike him as a pink person at all. What would happen if she inadvertently turned her entire jacket pink? Now that would be amusing.

He focused on the chalk and carefully reached out. His claws dwarfed her fingers, but years of picking valuables from the gutter came to his aid. The sharp tips of his claws delicately selected the chalk and drew it out of her hand. He turned it to and fro before his eyes. Hmm, yes. This was most definitely a large piece of pink chalk. He had proved he could hold it with only minimal damage to the chalk piece. Could he use it?

Awkwardly, he made his way to the wall in a three-legged hop and slowly sank back to sit on his tail. It was a strange position, but the easiest one in which to reach the wall. He reached out and carefully tried to make a line on the wall. He was a little too careful, and the powdery substance barely left a mark. He tried a little harder and created a substantial line down the wall. Ha! He could draw!

Sort of.
 

bittersuite

creatively uncreative
Once Claudius had taken the chalk from her, Ingrid pushed herself onto her feet to walk beside him as he hobbled. She wouldn't be able to do much in the event he did topple over, but the sentiment remained the same. That, and she wanted to make sure it didn't crumble to dust before they managed to even do anything with it.
Ingrid glanced down at her stained fingertips with dismay- Dismay that turned into an idea. Expecting big clunky claws to be gentle was unfair, so maybe---

Oh, wait.
She glanced up with raised eyebrows when Claud's artistic endeavours proved successful. There it was; A pink line, in all its glory.
"Hah! That's pretty impressive. I've seen people not able to draw a straight line for the life of them- And they had actual hands."

Ingrid walked backward with the intent to get more colours, wincing a little when she felt the soft crunch of an innocent chalk being slaughtered, via careless shoe. Right; She'd tipped the whole box out.
"You go ahead and get used to that," Making a mission out of picking up the stray art supplies left around, she turned back to her bag. Before she could start any clean up, however, she spotted something. Was that...Cardboard?
"Wait, Claud? What's with all those boxes? Are you building a fort or somethin'?"
Pointing over to the pile of miscellaneous, crumpled packaging, Ingrid turned her head to eye the reptile with a puzzled frown.
 

Treasure

Insert clever title here
Mentor
Claudius purred quietly, pleased that his efforts had not been for naught. While Ingrid turned to collect the fallen supplies, he tried adding another line. He tipped a little, unused to trying to balance himself like this, and the line ended up diagonal instead of straight. Oh well, maybe he could make a triangle.

At Ingrid's queation, he turned, all thoughts on lines forgotten as he remembered his surprise! He forced himself to remain calm and set the calk down at the base of the wall where the rounded edge would hold it secure. Only once the chalk was safe did he turn and walk over to join her, tail flicking energetically. No, the boxes were not a fort, merely a hiding place for something else.

When he reached the boxes, he flicked the empty cardboard away carelessly then hooked one strap in a claw, dragging it out of its hiding place and to Ingrid's feet. A single well-filled and rather heavy (to a human) backpack. He kept the other back to surprise her with it next.
 

bittersuite

creatively uncreative
A bag? Ingrid's look of confusion didn't cease but certainly lost its intensity. She could have figured he would do some material collecting of his own given how he was him. To have an entire bag full, though? Unless it was a magnitude of crayons found laying in sewer drains, she was sceptical about its artistic value.

"You know you don't have to worry about finding stuff, Claud," Ingrid kneeled and got to opening the bag, glancing up at Claudius occasionally with a smirk. It was a heavy bag-- Part of her was worried it was going to be another batch of watches. Not to say that was a bad thing; Those watches had saved her from potentially being evicted thanks to the cash they brought in. Getting it back to her apartment was the conundrum.

In a grand twist, the backpack did not contain watches...Primarily. It was chocked full of bits and bobs, ranging from worn down wallets, to key charms, to accessories that although they weren't ludicrously expensive could fetch a nice price.

Ingrid took no more than a minute to examine the loot. When she was done she sat back to look back up to Claudius with a face that was trying and failing at indifference. The smile gave it away.
"Quite a collection you have here. What's all this for?"
 

Treasure

Insert clever title here
Mentor
She liked it! Well, he thought she liked it. She seemed to appreciate it, though he could tell she was not quite certain what to make of it. He used his claw to push the bag toward her just a little more. It was for her. He pointed to the bag then at the chalk. This was for her to use to pay for the art stuff. The expense of art supplies was not lost on him. She was living on a tight enough budget as it was. He did not want to strain her funds even more.

Then he turned and caught another strap on his claw and pulled the second pack out from under the boxes. He pushed it toward her then lowered his head so they were eye to eye, giving her a stern look. He touched the bag with one claw then pointed to her. This was for her. For her to use for herself. He wanted her to know that.
 

bittersuite

creatively uncreative
Bag...Chalk......Payment. This was payment for the art supplies she was giving. Had it been anyone else, she would have reacted with a 'Is this it?' and maybe swindled for more, as distasteful as it would have been. Of course, that was far from what happened; Ingrid spared the bag another thoughtful stare then closed it back up. He didn't have to do this. He really, really didn't. Her reluctance to accept was ever-present as she watched a second bag being pulled in her direction.

Bag...Her? Ingrid, now being eye-level with Claudius sent him a wordless glare of protest that was quick to shift into resignation, once the sternness of his glare got to her.
This bag was smaller than the last one in contents but did little in the department of weighing less. Inside were various stashes of valuables from jewellery to sparse collections of change and notes. There were a lot of things she could sell here-- And it wouldn't be going for cheap, either.
Valuables didn't fall into the sewer as frequently as keys or wallets, which meant...This was amassed over a long period, most likely.

"Claud...I don't know what to say, I.."
Ingrid rubbed the back of her neck with a hum. It wasn't an expression of shock; She genuinely wasn't sure how to say thank you without potentially downplaying how much it meant. It meant a lot. Too much.
Letting her hands fall onto her lap, she looked to the floor with a sudden timidness.
"...Thank you. This means a lot to me. I...I hope you know that."
 

Treasure

Insert clever title here
Mentor
Claudius relaxed as Ingrid accepted his gift. Of course, he'd have to check to make certain she actually took it out with her, but he didn't mind that. Her words came quiet and sincere, touching his heart. This was a far better reaction than anything he could have ever hoped for! She appreciated it! And he could tell she saw how much work had gone into this collection. Giving it up had been a quick decision, but not an easy one, yet seeing her now made him want to do it all over again.

His cool muzzle touched her shoulder briefly and he purred. He wished he could tell her how much she meant to him. He didn't need gifts of art or chicken sandwiches, only her presence, and his meager existance felt fuller somehow. More complete. All he needed was her friendship. Everything else she brought with her was amazing extras that kept his spirits soaring every time. How could a few bits and baubles ever repay that?
 

bittersuite

creatively uncreative
Ingrid was content to remain silent for a few moments. In an almost instinctive motion, her head tilted to one side to lightly rest on Claudius's muzzle for a quick reciprocation. She couldn't purr, or make any sort of sound to vocalize how she felt, so she hoped the gesture would be enough. It was both a liability and a blessing how the majority of their interactions relied less on talking; In her opinion, it made her feel more understood.
It also helped, since she was bad with words.

"Looks like I've got a few trips to the pawnshop ahead of me then, huh? Like the time I sold all those watches---
Well, no."

Ingrid tugged the loose coil out of her shirt to display the tacky watch necklace she had, fiddling with it with a chuckle.
"Most of them. I feel bad just giving this stuff away, you know?"
 

Treasure

Insert clever title here
Mentor
Claudius chuffed softly. It made him happy that she liked the watch. She'd kept it. It was the first thing he'd ever given her, and she'd kept it. That meant a lot.

But all of this emotion and exchanging of gifts was starting to make him feel awkward. He turned away and started looking at the walls to give them both a different subject. Hmm... flowers and other nature things was certainly a good start. Was that enough to cover the walls? He looked down at the drains. Water. He should start with water! He found the chalk and awkwardly nudged out a bit of the blue. Water down here was usually any color but blue, but it would do for now. It was his dream, after all, not reality. Painstakingly, he started tracing a ragged line from the grate at the center of the room.
 

bittersuite

creatively uncreative
Pointedly clearing her throat, she was more than welcome to change the subject. Ingrid wiped her face with a sleeve (the one that was the unfortunate victim to pink coloring no less, leaving some faded smudges across her cheek) and stood up to see what Claudius was up to now. Blue line from the grate? That was an easy one.

"Rivers, right? Yeah, I've heard they're just as nice to look at as flowers. I don't get it, since...It's water, but," Ingrid scavenged for her own piece of blue to start a wavy line beside the one currently in progress. "To each their own."

She didn't get very far with her line, as a thought popped into her head, and refused to leave until it was resolved.
"I don't know how deep the water gets in the sewers, so you might not've even had the chance, but...Can you swim?"
 

Treasure

Insert clever title here
Mentor
Claudius let her join him, pleased she understood what he was doing. He slowly moved out in a spiral much like how his previous mosaic had looked. He paused at her question the shook his head like a dog dislodging water from its coat. Unless there was a sudden flood of water, the depth did not get too deep, and even if it did, most of these tunnels were too short for him to stand up properly in, let alone swim.
 

bittersuite

creatively uncreative
"Huh. Interesting."
Yes, Ingrid had long since put aside her theories and speculations on what Claudius was due to there being too much to process or even understand to begin with, but that didn't mean she ever stopped wondering. Her brief look into nature to find the flower pictures had led to one of her spiralling trails of thought.

He couldn't swim- Or at the very least hadn't tried- Which was understandable. Scales didn't automatically mean aquatic, after all. Just like how wings didn't mean avian. For one reason or another, Ingrid didn't want to ask about the possibility of flight; Such a thing would be downright impossible for him, and well...It felt like it was rubbing it in.

"So we have rivers, flowers, trees...I'd say we've got a whole forest on our hands! Minus the animals. Like rabbits, and deer- All that jazz."
Ingrid's attention had wavered from her river line back to the walls, surveying them with approval like she was already seeing the outcome.
"Of course it doesn't have to be a forest. It can just be a mishmash of what's on your mind."
 

Treasure

Insert clever title here
Mentor
Should he learn how to swim? Was he physically capable of swimming? He had not thought of that before. The idea had never really come up. He took a moment to look at his claws. Hmm, if he could swim, the paws likely were not helpful. Maybe he could swim like an eel? Or a crocodile. Crocodile seemed closer to his build, and a good deal more noble than an eel.

He set the blue chalk down and turned to look at where Ingrid was looking. Hmm, what did he want? He wanted... light and color. That was his only desire, really, and he had no idea what to do with the flowers even though he wanted them on the walls. Maybe he should start with what he knew: colors.

A quick check of the chalk box revealed the right color. He awkwardly extracted yellow and held it out to her. Yellow. he wanted yellow flowers.
 

bittersuite

creatively uncreative
It required two glances at the yellow chalk for her to realize it was being held out to her, with Ingrid swiping it once it clicked in her mind and rolling it between her fingers in an examination. Yellow? Did he want the sun? She was surprised he would even have an idea of what that was; Even with the very few days he above the sewer, the weather in the city rarely strayed from dreary.

If it wasn't the sun, that narrowed things down. Ingrid peered over her shoulder at the pile of paper she'd brought with her, and then moved her attention to Claudius, her head tilting in a small gesture towards the former.
"You want some flowers on the wall? Yellow ones, if yeah."
That was something she could do.
 

Treasure

Insert clever title here
Mentor
Claudius purred in confirmations and blew lightly on the papers, making them shift off of each other and scatter. He feared touching them in case he tore the pictures. Blowing on them to separate them was a little less dignified, but safer than scratching them with his claws. He examined the pictures until he found the right one. There!

Delicately, he placed a claw tip on the picture. Not on the big flower in the middle, but on the small group of tiny yellow flowers clumping in the background. Those types! That is what he wanted, but it was too small and delicate for him to draw. She could do it. He knew she could.
 
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