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Cabaret & Candy (TONIGHT ONLY!)
The whole thing was highly political. Not Adam's thing, but Bradley was laughing along with the rest of the crowd. The use of the this so called channeling - what he'd been using was amazing. The effects stunning. Adam couldn't really tell what was where and wen but the stage performance was extraordinary.

And when the second part started. The political nature went even further. The ramifications of the performance was going to be far reaching. One did not insult the great and powerful and get away with it. But this Jaxen Marveet was ballsy if nothing else. Methos might offer him a job if he ever needed to find himself away from Custody domains. They could easily change tour dates around the world to accommodate the refugee.

But Methos was highly impressed. Despite the content the show was extraordinary! He wanted to meet this Jaxen and the producer of the show as well.
The performance was raucous and energetic in a frenzied way. It built upon itself, the humor and ever increasing mockery of Brandon. Almost as if building to a crescendo.

This performer knew what he was doing, Beto realized, as he studied the audience. The howls of laughter, the liberation of fear or weakness by daring to mock one who called himself Ascendancy in such blatant and pointed manner was intoxicating. The laughter that came from fear. In many ways, the audience was the real show, pulled along by a string.

And Beto sensed a trap. The criticism was too sharp, the drawing in of the crowds in too deliberate. He was taking them somewhere, a pied piper merrily leading the unsuspecting.

A smile played over his lips. The spring, when it came, would be explosive. And he wanted to watch the reactions.

It shifted, the darkness increased, the birth of the empire framed as the murder of innocent girls. The laughter took on an exaggerated tone, extreme and warped, as if egging Ass-candy on; as if the audience were now part of the performance, the enablers, the ones who had asked for this, begged for this, the tension growing tauter and tauter, the band stretching and stretching.

Ass-candy climbed over the bodies, the mountain on which he now stood, Ascendant over the world. Standing on the dead he killed. A signal and the simpering Desmond Du Marc led a sheep to the stage.

The smile widened and Beto's eyes looked at hit hungrily, flitting from Du Marc to Ass-candy to the sheep. He realized his heart beat was elevated. He could see, could feel the zenith being approached. He licked his lips, watched the crowd cheer, drunk on the spectacle.

The screams of the sheep were drowned out by the explosion of the crowd. Horror and shock and sweet glorious release of tension they had not realized they'd felt. Emotion, raw and pure, without definition or shape, too big for any label.

And Beto couldn't help the laugh that poured from his mouth. It had been so easily done.

He stood clapping with the others.

He liked this man.
Sage slid his wallet onto the table with a video of the speech that this ‘Ass-Candy’ man was mocking. Aiden was very tempted to snatch it up and watch it then and there. He had been hungry for information over the course of the last two days; that was all thanks to Nox and Cruz. The show had been incredible so far, however, so Aiden restrained the impulse and instead reached for the fluted glass of champagne and downed the last of it before pouring himself another glass, he topped Sage off before setting the bottle back into its ice bucket.

                Aiden leaned over and kissed Sage just because he felt like it. The night was moving along swimmingly… Until nine women dressed in distinctive cultural garb walked out onto the stage. The scene took on a maniacal tone swiftly as ‘Ass-Candy’ started cutting down, literally cutting down, the women on stage. Aiden leaped up from his seat, about ready to rush the stage to stop the carnage. He finally had a tiny modicum of control over his magical abilities, nothing to brag about at all, but someone had to do something!

                No one else moved. Sure. Some gasped, others vomited or fainted, and then there were those that laughed at the carnage. Aiden’s head whipped towards Sage. He whispered furiously at his boyfriend, “What the fuck kind of show is this, Sage?!” He looked around and no one did anything. Not a soul moved to stop the ‘performance.’

                Then it clicked.

                Aiden sat back down in his chair, brows furrowed. Out of curiosity, Aiden began to sing to himself, swaying slightly in his chair. Matthew Sweet's song, 'Dark Secret.' 

                “You are sickened by the weakness…” That ethereal light sprung up behind his shoulder as if on cue and Aiden kept singing quietly to himself, “Of a heart that’s filled with fear… And if the world won’t understand you… You can make it disappear…”

                Countless lights sprung up all over the stage. Ass-candy, the women being mowed down, even the lethal looking scythe had a bright shine to it.

                Channeling… Aiden thought to himself with a gasp.

                He stopped singing for an instant, every single phantom light of the Power winking out as Aiden shifted his focus back to Sage. He whispered to him, “Sorry for the outburst, babe… Sage. He’s Channeling! None of that is real! I’m sure of it! I didn’t know that we could do such a thing with magic! But… how!?” Aiden’s head whipped back around to survey the room, scanning the faces of the raucous crowd. It was too dark and there were far too many patrons for Aiden to find the man he had been looking for. Again, he whispered to Sage, “I fucking hope Nox is here. Has he ever done something like this before? Well… Not this precisely… But… Lord! If I knew how to do that, my movie career would have never tanked! Think of the possibilities, Sage! Not just with movies or special effects, but in real life! We need to figure out how he did that. It might be useful in defending against the… well… Our adversaries.”

                Aiden started singing to himself and swaying again, the lights springing back into his vision. Nox had said that you could figure out how to pull off certain tricks if you witnessed them, but Aiden couldn’t see shit from their table; nothing save the shining lights on stage.

                “Cause there’s a dark secret… Carry with you… Carry with you…” He sang as Ass-candy mounted the pile of ‘corpses,’ “And deep inside the way you hate them… On the outside doesn’t show…”

                Aiden was marveled at the spectacle. Had he not known that this was all fake, he might very well sick up. As it were, he watched every single move that this ‘Ass-Candy’ made. Part of him wanted to tell everyone there that there was nothing to fear, the ladies were fine, it was just some very realistic performance art. Why bother though? No one had called the authorities, as far as he had known, and still, no one made a move to stop the show.

                “And though they think that they will find you… They are slave to what you know,” Aiden sang as a lamb was slaughtered on stage. No light shone off the lamb, nor the blade that was used for the ‘offering.’ Aiden continued on in a shaky voice, not daring to look away, “And it’s a dark secret… Carry with you… Carry with you…”

                The song died on his lips as the lamb made one final cry as it walked into the arms of death. Astral lights winking out all across the stage and from behind his back. The curtain fell as the mock-Ascendancy fell into his vile throne, the rest of the actors bowing to him.

                Names were blared over the speakers and the cast and crew took their bows. Ass-Candy was the last one on stage, making a very dramatic sweep of a bow (one that Aiden’s twin-sister, Rowan, would have been jealous of.) The name ‘Jaxen Marveet’ echoed throughout the room as one final illusion dropped from the man, revealing a completely different man than the one they had been watching. Aiden shot up from his chair, clapping enthusiastically and wolf-whistling amidst the rest of the crowd. He grabbed his fluted glass and downed its contents before dropping back down into his chair.

                Aiden looked directly into Sage’s eyes and said, “Forget the Ascension’s speech. We need to find out more about this Jaxen character… How’s about a little hacking, later on, babe? I’d very much like to know what this man is about… Friend or Foe? Either way, the man has serious talent… Someone we should watch… Does Nox or Cruz know him, by chance?”

                Glancing back at the stage once more, Aiden uttered the word, “Fuck…”

Russian Dolls and Broken Gods, a new Fantasy novel by best-selling author, Aiden Finnegan, out this December! Preorder online and instore today!
Nox couldn't get the picture of Jay from his head as he watched Jaxen strutting around with Ascendancy's visage lit around him. The illusion weave was interesting. Nox studied it almost as much as he had the healing weave. He might not be able to replicate it perfectly but it was at least something to try.

And then the whole scene changed. The girls died and Nox watched the people gasp and some even got up and left. The display was so vulgar and violent. But that was exactly Brandon Nikolai. But the sheep it might have been too much. It's dying scream made Nox shudder. It reminded him of the noise the Ijiraq made as it scratched inside his head. His stomach felt weak.

Jaxen's performance was impeccable, but Nox could only feel the Ijiraq burning through the inside. One other patron fell to the floor. Nox stood up but his own world waivered and he sat back down. The searing pain from the Ijiraq radiated through is body like he was going to die again. Memories flooding his body. He hated when it happened and now it was even worse, now ever memory burned and scareed him. His father. His mother. His sister. All gone, his failure radiated through him.

Nox ordered a drink of water with lemon. He could use a stiff drink but anything that reminded him of his father wasn't going to make him feel better. Water - and keep it coming he thought to himself.

The crowd applauded Jaxen's performance when he revealed himself. But there were others who were sneering as their hands came together. Jaxen might find himself in a jail cell, or he might find himself at the bottom of a pit. Nox sighed and he pulled the strength of his power around him. It burned, but it was power - he wouldn't let Ascendancy take Jaxen if he could stop it.
Cheers of adoration or demands for his head: Jaxen would equally revel in either. Myriad reasons charged him with the risk of tonight. More than he could describe, honestly. He was scrubbing the stage-makeup from his cheeks when the door burst open. It was a great exhalation when the ancient power diffused from his grasp at the end of the show. Not to mention the physical exertion of the dance; his traceur’s physique bred endurance over raw power, but it was not to say that he didn’t take a breather at the end.

The ancient power was not in his grasp when the interruption broke the barricade of a neatly closed door. He dabbed fresh cheeks with a towel and looked in the mirror. If Brandon’s goons were already here, he doubted they’d let him finish the pampering.

Luckily for all involved, it was Boda Oszkar, the theatre’s owner. The 72-year old Boda was an old friend with a sordid past that Jaxen didn’t pry into out of respect. They’d met years before, when Jaxen was a sapling teenager and Boda someone that stood up to institutional injustice. That was to say, he told the CCD to fuck themselves and found ways of doing shows the way he wanted. It landed him in jail for 2-years, but given the specific tattoos that peeked from the wide-open collar of his shirt and curled around his knobby fingers, Jaxen wagered Boda’s experience with the correctional system was more extensive than anyone knew.

Boda slammed the door behind him, the wry old wizard could make noise when he wanted. Jaxen felt a brow quirk up as he stood erect. Water dripped from his chin, trailing beads down the throat in the motion. Still sweating from lights and pomposity, he welcomed their cool trickles upon his chest.

He half expected Boda to swing an arm despite everything Jaxen warned the man would play out on his stage. Instead, Boda tipped his head and laughed voraciously.

Jaxen grinned.

When the shared victory subsided, Jaxen swelled with a deep breath and set out to change his clothes. Modesty was not even considered.
“You sanctioned this spectacle, but it was my name they applauded. I’ll do what I can to shield you from Custody retaliation.”

Boda balked at that. “If I feared Custody retaliation, I would not have moved to Moscow and opened a cabaret at a time the Duma outlawed “our” propaganda.”

Jaxen gave him that. The city’s pink shade was bright these days but speaking against his holiness the Ascendancy was punishingly forbidden.

Black (vegan) leather slipped up his legs, a snake-skin pattern that buttoned low on the hips. Real leather was fucking hot and had no flexibility for movement. He slipped on a sheer shirt, long-sleeved with a deep collar at the throat. Chosen specifically to flaunt the serpentine tattoo coiled around his shoulder and chest, serpent’s twin fangs ready to punch their prongs upon meaty pecs.

“Boda, you are the ballsiest man in this city.” He grinned at the reflection as he put the finishing touches on the wild peaks of his hair.

The old fart shook his head,  “No my boy. I take second place. Why did you do this?”

Jaxen's lips twisted wry. His answer cryptic. “It's just time, Boda. Let’s get some fucking vodka,” they departed in one another’s company, destined for the theatre’s lounge.

The lounge flowed from the theatre’s plush lobby where guests were plunged into a semi-ironic anti-western atmosphere. Red script highlighted neon glow above the entrance: SANCTIONS BAR. Within were decorated oil-drums and oil-rigs across vast desert-landscapes. Dollar bills were the toilet paper. Menus featured faces of past American presidents crossed out with spray-paint and in the case of President Dawson, added horns, Ruby Red smudged lips, and long green hair.

Waltzing in with the owner of the cabaret was not unnoticed. Boda wore a long white coat that trailed the floor like a cape, white (vegan) leather pants and a white shirt. Jaxen was a black jewel alongside, but when Boda shoved him forward, he took another sweeping bow to the sound of applause.
"So?" said Loki impatiently.  "This isn't the first time the world has come to an end, and it won't be the last either."
Nox knew Sage and Aiden were here. But he had little interest in seeing the pair. He saw enough of them at home. Sage was enjoying his boy toy - Nox was certain he couldn't ever do that. Not with Sage. He hadn't enjoyed it with Elyse either. But for all Nox knew that was something else entirely. Nox was questioning everything as he stepped inside the bar to get a beer.

The decor was interesting. Very American yet very not. But it held to a Texas standard. And everything was anti-american. And here he was an american... Nox was pretty sure he didn't want to tell anyone that not in this joint.

Nox took a seat at the bar, he had to make his own spot, but it wasn't hard really the bar vacated as people got their drinks and left. The bartender came. "Whatever bottled beer you got." He said. It was far easier to fake drinking from a dark bottle than a clear mug where he had to actually color the water he'd fill in. It didn't work well to stick with his one beer.

His beer arrived and Nox took it and wandered around the lounge.
Sage hid his giggling behind his champagne glass. Aiden was a over zealous about the whole thing. Channeling. Sage could only shrug at it. He'd never seen anything like it. But Aiden wanted to know more about the man behind the mask. And if only Aiden actually knew who he was. Jaxen Marveet, son of Scion. A failure by his father's standards recently returned from a strange absence. Sage had dug into the man after he'd learned his name. He knew Voxel of course. They'd actually just worked together which was why he'd met him in the first place.

Sage leaned in a whispered into Aiden's ear, brushing his lips against them while he spoke softly. "I know him. So does Nox, but we don't need him." Sage took Aiden's hand after the show and headed into the lounge. They were sure to find Jaxen in there. Probably surrounded by a crowd of people wanting an autograph or to kill him. Either way...

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Beto found himself standing, as if ready to leave. Curious. The spectacle over, energy dispersed among the crowd, it was as if someone had switched the lights on. He had seen what he had wanted to see. 

His eyes roamed the environs, a gaudy sea with the occasional buoy of sedate bobbing gently among the waves. Himself one of them, he knew. Suddenly he was tired. The show had pulled him along and the pop of the bubble left little in him now.

Just as he turned to leave, a commotion caught his attention. Two men, twins peacocking in black and white, strode out into the crowd. After a moment, the one in white veered off after a few words. The man in black though...Beto found himself staring.

Then, as now, clearly the performer drew attention and interest. Without his costume and make-up (it had been make-up, hadn't it? The similarity to Brandon one moment, dissimilarity the next, until the end, the face revealed again something new.) he still commanded attention.

The man was quite good looking, though he himself felt no physical attraction. Men or women held little appeal in that way. Beto found himself studying the tattoo, the coiled serpent, fangs visible, ready to plunge into his chest. He rather enjoyed tattoos, sporting full sleeves himself, as well as others scattered all over his body, though, of course, they were rarely seen by anyone else.

For him, the pain had become...addictive. In those moments, Beto felt...almost human, as euphoria- a simple endorphin release, he knew- flooded him. Even now, he itched to go under the needle again. It always grounded him.

In others, they were windows into their soul. Well, they could be. He had often wondered what his choices would reveal to people. Perhaps that was why few saw them. Privacy and solitude were shields from prying eyes. Secrets did not need to be learned.

The man went to the bar and without a second thought, Beto went after him. He was sure others would soon join. Beto merely wanted to speak to him a moment. Competing for attention was not a thing he did.

He slid up to the bar, hand still holding his red. Eyes hooded with shadow, a hint of a smile on his face. "A courageous display, my friend. If this is not what you do for a living, it should be. There are far too many people in the world who deserve a bit of skewering."
Aiden’s face grew hot as Sage spoke softly into his ear. He felt the Power coming on because of that. Sure, he had more control over it now, but he still had his triggers. Aiden started humming softly to himself to control it all. No fairy fire manifested thankfully, the Light did pop up behind his shoulder, however. Aiden held the Power for a few moments before he stopped his humming and released it. Looking over at Sage with a wolfish grin and a wink, “Careful there, now, Love,” the grin turning into a rueful laugh, “And of course you would know him. I sometimes forget just how connected you are.”

                Sage lead Aiden into the lounge area, but not before he finished his champagne. It seemed most of the crowd from the show had stuck around to socialize, drink, and fawn over Jaxen. There was no mistaking where the man was, he was a beauty in black; a man Aiden didn’t know was currently speaking to the mysterious Jaxen.

                Taking the lead, Aiden tugged Sage over to the bar, although not towards Jaxen; not just yet anyway. Aiden needed a harder drink before they approached the Channeler. Signaling the bartender, Aiden ordered drinks for himself and Sage. While the server worked on the order, Aiden took a moment to scan the room.

                It was shockingly un-American, but then again, Aiden wasn’t sure why he was surprised. Russia and the States had never enjoyed warm relations. It didn’t make him uncomfortable if anything it was a laughable contrast to their first date at the BBQ joint that prided itself on being a caricature of Aiden’s home country. He could adopt an Irish accent if anyone here decided that they hated the ‘Yanks,’ but he doubted he would have to. It would have been futile anyway, Aiden was too well known to pretend he wasn’t from the states.

                The bartender came back with two glasses filled with expensive whiskey and ice. Aiden toasted the night once more with Sage before taking a deep pull of the amber liquid. Scanning the room once more, Aiden spotted Nox at the opposite end of the bar. The other man didn’t seem to notice that they were only yards away, but perhaps he didn’t want to… His loss.

                Aiden ignored Nox’s presence. If the man wanted to enjoy their company, then he could come up to them and socialize.

                “Sure is… interesting in here,” Aiden said to Sage with a smirk, “We need to do this more, babe, get out of the house every few nights. Training my ‘gifts’ is good an all, but I don’t want to forget what it’s like to be a normal person. You’ve kept me grounded throughout all of this. Thanks for that.” He leaned in and kissed Sage before taking another sip of the whiskey.

                “Do you know that other man Jaxen is talking to? I’d hate to interrupt, although in this place it’s gonna be hard not to… I wonder if he saw my train-wreck of a film… heh… The man seems like the type to give me shit over that, but I’m a big boy. I can take it. How’d you meet him? He seems to be quite the character…”

Russian Dolls and Broken Gods, a new Fantasy novel by best-selling author, Aiden Finnegan, out this December! Preorder online and instore today!
Sage grinned at Aiden. "I'm not connected. I'm a hacker." Though he guessed he was connected. It was just luck that he knew Jaxen. the man with him he didn't know but that hadn't stopped facial recognition nor Sage's other background process to work with just a mention of Aiden's curiosity.

Aiden ignored Nox as much as Nox ignored them. Sage was pretty sure Nox was more than moody and part if it had to do with the flirting they'd done before the ball. His feelings were hurt. But Sage didn't really care. He'd get over it. Not like they were a thing anyway.

When the results came back Sage shrugged. "The man in white owns the joint. The other is an american lawyer." For being the heart of the Custody there sure were a lot of Americans here. Four at present. At least until Sage spotted Methos lingering in the lounge too. He was surrounded by his own set of fans. Sage wondered why Aiden didn't have his own flock.

The prooffered drink Sage drank quickly and smiled at Aiden. He liked being here with him. And he was going to let the masses know. Sage wrapped his arm around Aiden's waist and kept him close. He wouldn't mind his own sugar daddy, though he didn't need the money he had his own.

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