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Painted Dreams
Nox couldn't help the sheepish smile that stayed on his lips, Thalia was totally disarming him and it wasn't even flirting necessarily. He needed the distraction. Even if the dream images had damaged his good will for a moment. She offered him first choice and Nox took a chocolate cake and hoped it was chocolate inside, he wasn't big on sweets but chocolate was his one weakness.

The banter of friends was always entertaining to watch. Nox had never really had friends until coming to Moscow and he understood it a little better now, being mean for loves sake. He wasn't sure he understood it completely, but then again Aurora had teased him constantly, and still did. You bet your ass..

Nox broke off a piece of cake for Nova and held it under the table. Aurora was chiding him about feeding the dog at the table but he didn't care. Nova was his now. And if he wanted to teach bad manners then he would. There might have been a mental image of sticking his tongue out at his sister childishly but no one had to know that part. But unlike his sister's worry Nova took the treat and then returned to Thalia for petting. "He's an attention whore too." Again he could see that being a reflection of the owner, and snickered softly.

He really didn't have much insight into what she was seeing. He wasn't an all seeing monster encyclopedia like his sister or Aurora. Nox sighed. "It's too bad Aria isn't alive to look at them and tell you more about it. She was a living encyclopedia of things weird. Same with Aurora." His voice was sad in remembrance, but he smiled. "If we can get them scanned in, I can have Sage run an analysis versus what's in the database we've been curating. But I find it hard to believe that one or two of your dreams mean something. Typically dreamers see a lot more than they remember, not all of it will have meaning, sometimes, like mine you just visit someone. But you have the arch Ascendancy built in the mix. If they are all dreams like I expect they are, then you had it before he did it. So you are seeing the future too. That could be useful, and people could exploit it."
After he made his pick she scooped up a slice for herself. Carrot, by the smell. She dipped a finger into the lemon frosting and melted at the taste, though her brief expression of satisfaction devolved into laughter for the comment, or more specifically the snicker than followed it. Well, he said it. She was still giggling when she broke off a piece of her own cake for the pup, then obligingly scratched the spot behind his ears to the steady thump of his tail.

Nox spoke of loss like an old friend. How many had he lost? Given his occupation (and his emancipation from said cult) she doubted much in his life was stable, let alone safe. She couldn’t quite imagine what that must be like. Were either of the women he named from the nightmare? She didn’t ask, though perhaps the curiosity was evident in her expression. The pain in his voice was too fresh.

“Sage was one of your friends at the cabaret?” Nox had been with Aiden Finnegan, she remembered that much, as well as starlet of the evening Jaxen Marveet. But there had been another man too. “I can do that. You can keep hold of these ones if you like. They only pile up in my apartment. I have plenty more, believe me.” Her head tilted, unsure of what to make of the notion that these were dreams she didn’t even remember having. Not that she had another explanation to offer. It wasn’t exactly something she could talk about with Aylin either, much as she loved her sister dearly. Did she want to know what any of it meant, if anything? It wouldn’t change anything. She’d never been able to stop the ink bleeding from her fingers.

She let Nova lick the last crumbs from her hands, then settled back in her chair, palms wrapped around her coffee. For someone who had just been accused of prescience, she was remarkably calm, though she supposed it was but one more drop in an ocean of weird. “So, you have any plans for the rest of your day?”
Nox nodded at her question. "Sage was the non-famous one." Though in some circles he had been more famous. But he lost that rep when he let his friend take the rap for what he did. But then again his friend did try to do worse under his name, so it was just deserts. Nox wondered what ever happened to Sage's friend - probably nothing good.

Her offer to scan them was going to pose a problem. Those didn't look like they could easily be carried and he had no way to scan them. Asha still had all of Aria's books. Nox thought he probably needed to check on her anyway even though he'd probably piss Elias off. "You can hold on to them for now. I'm kinda in between places and don't foresee having a safe place to keep them. A friend did some scanning work for Aria, I have nothing to pay her so might not work out so well but she has all the rest of the craft books Aria used to create the database to begin with." And when he said craft, he meant his not hers and hoped that it was not something he had to explain. Monster talk was never good in a public place.

Nova was in love with Thalia, and Nox was pretty sure anyone who ever met the her was too. She definitely made his day better. "My plans were to wallow in self pity for a few hours before I tried to find a night job so I could keep doing my hobbies in the tunnels during the day while normal people work so as not to draw attention to myself. Being hunted and all." Nox grinned. He needed money and the tunnels didn't care if you were day or night, but the Atharim did. Hunting at night was far more dangerous. If your mark can't see what's coming, neither can your mark. And monsters in general had better eye sight at night than we mere humans did.

"Why do you ask?" Nox grinned as he sat forward and winked. Though he had no intentions of more than simple flirting. "Whatever I do Nova has to be welcome. Or at least someplace safe to leave him so animal control doesn't whisk him away."
Between places?

“Your school for misfits not work out?”

Something drastic had changed if he was looking for work in order to supplement his lifestyle, though whatever had happened, she greatly doubted he didn’t have people he could lean on if he’d chosen to. Of course, sometimes the pity of others was the worst kind of crutch. He didn’t speak much about himself; she caught only glimpses, like small fish darting in a pool. Flashes of sadness rippled against the surface from time to time. Perhaps it was easier to be with someone who didn’t know his secrets, at least while he sorted out whatever it was in his head that needed sorting out. Aylin always said she missed her true vocation. Unlikely. Thalia just liked people.

She contemplated that over a second piece of cake, nodding to his suggestion about the sketchbooks.

She’d only been making idle conversation, but something in the way he sat forwards changed her mind about the whim of her intentions. Cute as he was, it wasn’t just the wink. “That’s a pretty full schedule you have there,” she teased. “Wallowing is an art. I’d hate to ruin it.” She couldn’t fix his problems, and neither did he ask her to. Aylin called the trust she placed in others naive, but Thalia had never claimed to be sensible. Her smile sparked into a beam. She laughed. “But see, I’m getting this premonition. Good god, I think there might even be dancing. But you definitely get to forget your problems for a while. Nova is welcome to hang out at mine, if he has no objections.”
"They worked out just fine, it's my benefactor who didn't. Trust goes both ways, he decided mine was worth losing." And that was the truth to everything. Nox had put his trust in Dorian and Dorian had taken it and broke it into a thousand little pieces. Nox wasn't above lying - god forbid he judge someone on that. Given the situation would he have done the same? It was a question to ask himself when he was alone doing said wallowing.

He enjoyed Thalia's company. She made him smile and that was all that mattered right now. "I can wallow any time. It's not often I have the pleasure of a pretty girl's company." At least not anymore, not that he'd ever thought of Aurora as pretty himself, though probably in the same sense that he was Thalia. His sister, maybe that was what it was about her, she reminded him of his sister. That naive nature but with eyes so wide she saw more than what you'd expect. Aurora was far from naive, but she was good at making you underestimate her. Which was why her death was so hard put out on him. Aurora should have been able to take care of herself. Maybe the plane crash had changed her, she wasn't the Atharim he knew and loved. He loved her none-the-less, but Aurora hadn't been the same.

Nox perked up at dancing - he could do that - loved that. "Dancing you say?" It was the one happy moment he always loved - no matter where it was - dancing was always warm and welcoming and home. The last vestige of his mother's love. "I think Nova can behave himself as a guest in your place. He has outgrown the chewing phase."
Thalia didn’t ask for details. It sounded like a shitty situation, and it was clearly still fresh. It would do Nox good to forget it for a little while. She’d joked about him finding time to be a real boy, but actually they’d mostly talked about the sorts of strange things that were his everyday job. It probably wasn’t the sort of vocation one could simply switch off from, but it didn’t mean he didn’t deserve a little happiness mixed in there too.

She snorted laughter for the compliment. It surprised her somewhat that he perked up at the prospect of dancing, though the reaction made her grin too. There was something so earnest and simple in it. “Yup. I’m afraid so.” She shrugged, laughing, though a slyness in the way she said it suggested she'd picked up on his enthusiasm. Aylin wasn’t one for Moscow’s nightlife, and Thalia’s friendships were often ephemeral things. She was content enough to go out on her own when the mood took her, but company was not unwelcome.

“Ah, well. If he does he does, it’s only stuff. How could I not forgive that face? No walls, though, ‘kay?” She scruffed Nova’s chest.
[[ I lied, I'm gonna post here, but start a new one a few hours a head ]]

There was no hurry. Nox continued to flip through the sketch books and ask questions. But there was nothing Thalia could really answer. She didn't think she was a dreamer. At least that was the impression Nox got from her. But he never pushed it, just like she never really asked the hard questions either. Nox told her stories about some of the images he knew. But most of the faces he didn't know. Though there was a man with wolves that he thought he'd recognized in one. The cop that had been with Ivan and Alex. The ones who walked away from them when Ivan was all too good to work his way. And yet when Ivan had called Nox was there.

His life was a mess. But at the moment it was the farthest thing from his mind. He liked the random chatting, and the talk of weird like it was nothing. To him it was, he'd grown up with it all. Wolfkin, Chupacobra, Oni, Reborn Gods. It was bed time stories, and school lessons.

Nova needed a walk and Nox suggested a getting Nova used to Thalia's apartment instead of just leaving him there. And then they could go wherever she wanted to take him - dancing was probably the only thing that made him smile. It felt like his mom was with him and that was the best feeling in the world.
Time keeping was not the foremost of Thalia’s skills, and since Nox seemed in no hurry she was even less inclined to measure the tick of time. She was a happy conversationalist, meandering in her own stories and rapt when she listened. Aylin would probably call such earnestness simply gullible (mental note: call your sister) but even if it was it hardly bothered her.

She squared the bill when prompted by the pup’s needs, ruffling his head with a grin. “I live near Filevsky Park,” she said to Nox. “Have you been before? Nova will love it.”

Thalia chattered most of the tube journey, abruptly remembering an older trip, when the carriages had ground to a stop in the darkness below, and Katya had died. The memory felt removed and strange, though that didn’t stop her sharing. Not for a diagnosis, though she did not doubt Nox’s mind would pull apart the detail for potential threat, but simply because she realised she would be believed.

As promised, her apartment block stood not far away from the park. Though she’d returned several times the past few weeks, she hadn’t slept here since the intruder broke in months before. It was modest within, though crammed with books and trinkets, an eclectic mix that didn’t really conform to fashion or style. She dumped her sketchbooks on a sideboard, unceremonious, and waved them in with a beam. “Home sweet home.”

[[continued here]]

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