Author: Regala Electra
Spoilers: Distractions (Episode 14)
Summary: Now you see him.
Word Count: 1,000
Author's Notes: The Claude story I've been dying to write. Because Claude doesn't like people and yet he is 11 flavors of awesome. "Hawley" and "Jack" are two of the first names assigned to the original Invisible Man, by Alan Moore in The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen and The Invisible Man movie (1933) starring Claude Rains, respectively. Feedback is love.
Call him Hawley or Jack if it suits you. Neither suits him and he’ll go by Claude before you’ve wasted your precious time figuring out his name and no, it isn’t as obvious as Rumpelstiltskin or anything quite like that. As you like. Pick a name and he'll say it's his.
So. He’s no Griffin (no mad scientist), nor a demented creature, worthy of your pity. Not like other people at all: bloody, arrogant, and pathetic.
What he does (and since doing is what makes you somethin’ after all) requires deft fingers and not a bloody care in this entire stupid world. He laughs as he pilfers the comic from a ruddy-nosed overgrown boy. Don’t worry, that boy’s a right pillock and what’s more, has enough gob for his little gang of miscreants, all slavering to read the grisly account of The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen.
It’s nuttin’ like the movie, one of the boys, gone all soft ‘round the middle, had exclaimed before he snatches the book away, into thin air.
Look at ‘em, seeing the precious comic book disappear. The ruddy-nosed boy busts out with a wail that’d do a slobbering baby proud.
Where’d it go? Where’d it go?
It’s nothing more than a magic trick, a sleight-of-hand and twist before the delicate book has its own taste of the vanishing act.
He’s doin’ the world a bloody favor, he is, sparing that spoilt mind more rubbish.
(Look, you better sort this straight out before you try to make him a hero or some such nonsense. He doesn’t care that his life’s nothing more than thievery and squatting, that peculiar American way of sayin’ a person’s got no right to find a place that’ll do for a night’s sleep. Nor does he care about tellin’ the truth, so if you’re expecting a real story, some lofty tale of a good person ground down to the gutter ‘until all he’s got left is stink and hurt all clinging to him like his soiled shirts and trousers, then you’re better off elsewhere.)
He finds the roof quite by accident or no, you believe in destiny, don’t you? Well then, he’s destined to feed pigeons and ignore the stink of their shit. They don’t complain about him, he’s got no right complaining about them. ‘Course, they can’t see him.
Too much to see when nobody notices him wandering about. As he wanders back towards a space he can’t call his own, but he’ll sleep there if he has to, he glimpses the ice cream just about to be handed out by the tired street vendor, just begging to be snatched up and away. It’s chocolate and there are caramel bits mixed in. No way it's worth two dollars and fifty cents. Not like he’s paying for it.
(Why steal money then? Right, that’d be a point, ‘cept money’s always the ends to the means, so even if he doesn’t have to use it most times, it’s still a good thing to have. Oh ho. Don’t start rumors that he’s giving out that precious money to some who deserve it more than others. He’d rather be accused of being a madman, only unlike so many of the madmen in New York, you’d pay him even less attention.)
He’s a quick reader and that’s nothing to be excited by, just means he cuts through the swill and the romance and all the bloody emotions. ‘Sides, a comic’s fast enough when you know where you’re going and it’s nothing to push your way through crowds of gawking tourists and impatient New Yorkers.
He swings past a chattering woman on her way out somewhere and enters the apartment, tossing the half-eaten cone on a pile of clothes that aren't his.
The man-boy’s still crashed out on the floor.
He briefly considers dropping the comic on Peter’s head, but he’s reading now about this version of the Invisible Man: a carnal thief with a bloody appetite.
He’s quite put out of any notions of poking the few remaining wounds left on Peter’s body, now that something else has caught his attention.
Some minutes pass and once he’s finished the first volume of The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, maybe that gets him thinkin’ about more of his type of folk appearing. Maybe it also gets him thinking about there bein' a whole lot 'em that can see him.
He’s always quiet, when he isn’t laughing, that is.
Look, signs are silly and there are no portents to the future. New York isn’t going to be destroyed due to an act of God. It’s people, bloody people, engineering all this destruction and maybe he knows this all too well.
Maybe he should say something.
There's a streak of dried blood on his ragged sleeve and the blood's not his. It's the blood of the mad bloke claiming that he sees where this will end if there's no way of stoppin' him.
Instead, when Peter stirs, opening one shadowed eye, all he can say (and for now, you can call him Claude, God knows this poor bastard Peter didn’t get the joke and thinks that’s his real name) is this:
“Now you see, there’s an easy way of stoppin’ you from blowing up the entire city, but maybe you ought to take a chance on the hard way.”
Peter scowls as if this is a joke, blowing that stupid, stupid hair off his face (and it bloody well falls back over his sharp face, as it always does). “You ever do that again...”
He – the Invisible Man, Claude Rains, Nobody, a damnable mentor all over again – smiles and laughs, “A threat. Best save that for someone who cares, mate.”
There’s too much blood already on his hands, like a ruined city (destroyed thanks to his lot) will make him see the light. No, he thinks if it comes to that, he might just die laughing.
Now, do you see him?
No. You don’t.