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Dance Party
[[ Bring anyone from anywhere this is just a fun distraction thread.  No plot, no real story unless something happens. And something might but nothing here affects the story ]]

The world was in chaos.  Earthquakes, secrets revealed, Atharim hunting him.  The world was always in chaos, this day was no different.  Nox needed a break.  To leave the pain and suffering behind.  A good drink, a lot of people, and a dance floor throbbing with loud music.  Memories be damned.

The rave was in a nice part of Moscow.  Hidden from view but within one of the richer neighborhoods.  The lights were dim, the music was loud and the people were drunk and having a good time.  The entry fee was minimal but it was more than Nox normally liked to pay for a good time.  The walk down the narrow hall grew darker with each step and the music pulsed in his veins.  And the world fell away from him.

The bar was off to the side and barely visible as Nox approached.  People crowded around the thing with their hands out waving down the bartenders.  Men and women wearing next to nothing walked around the outside of what had become the dance floor of the old building.  Nox didn't know what it had been in the day time, but it didn't matter now - now the lights strobed and the music played.  First a drink.

Nox waded up to the bar and took a seat a cute guy had vacated with a pretty girl on his arm heading for the dance floor.  Dancing later Nox thought to himself while he waited for the bartender to reach him so.
The dance floor was shoulder to shoulder. Nik long ago loosened his tie and rolled his sleeves above the elbows. Hands gripped at his waist and arms as the tide ebbed and flowed. Sweat glistened his brow beneath the hot floor lights, and he found his throat dry from attempting to yell conversation with the flowing dancers. He looked over his shoulder to no avail. He'd left his drink, and suddenly he realized, his jacket at the bar. Shit, he muttered and slipped between the crags of bodies slithering to the beat. Somewhere behind him followed groans of disappointment, but the maw of people swallowed up the anonymous noise. 

The entire swath of people had changed over since his previous attendance at the bar. He approached some guy, "hey, I need under there," he said before reaching into the darkness under the bar rail. He was relieved to find the jacket still on its hook. When he pulled it out, he tossed it over the back of the chair and slipped into the empty seat alongside him before someone else snagged the precious real estate. He waved for the bartender's attention and caught his breath in the meantime.
[Image: liam-liam-neeson-29022103-300-422.jpg]

Armande checked his wallet, confirming the location. He scanned the environs. Nik had always had the best hook ups. Back in the day, anyway. Still, it felt shady. He wore a black silk jacket over a black tshirt and black jeans.  His one concession to color were the dark grey suede shoes.

His hand rubbed his bare chin as he flashed his ID. The thumping behind the door was thunderous and he mostly had to go off of lip reading and guesses. It amused him that he was still carded. He did take care of himself, though.

Hand stamped, the door opened to a rush of music and despite his reserve, he felt a part of himself fall into a rhythm. His walk anyway, each step on the beat. He messaged Nik he was there, even as he went to one of the bars and decided to order. The bartender, a handsome man of about 25 with delicate features, handed him a menu. The man either had to have ear plugs or was deaf. He pointed to the Moscow Mule. He was not one to drink often. But he enjoyed the cool icy tang of ginger spiked pink grapefruit juice and vodka. It was a hit of sweet,  which was as much as he was willing to indulge.

The lights flashed and the music pulsed. A few people caught his eye. These clubs seemed to attract the most beautiful of forms. He wondered what Nik had in mind. One such caught his eye, smokey blue eyes that flashed up and down.

A memory sprung up. Italy, with Nik and Alex and Leonid. La Trattoria. Them young and full of piss and vinegar.  He couldnt help the smile. He waited for Nik. Mostly. But blue eyes seemed to have his number.
  “Yeah, I got it, Dimitri,” Aiden said dismissively to his assistant, fiddling with the head set he had to wear for this performance. It was annoying to wear the thing again after shunning it for so many years, but there was a strange comfort in donning it again. With a flourish, he had finally found the proper adjustment. “Just make sure Meera’s got the dancers ready and check in on Siobhan please. The wolves were temperamental this morning, I will not have them snapping at an audience member again. And tell her I don’t fucking care what the Wolves have to say on that matter.” Dimitri nodded at that last bit and ran off, disappearing behind a velvet curtain.

                “You ready for this?” Kyle Rice, Aiden’s ex-boyfriend and drummer of Blarney Stoned, asked as he appeared from behind to take Dimitri’s vacated spot.

                “Do you really care?” Aiden asked without looking in his direction.

                “Because of your fragile mental health? Nah. But if you fuck up, the band fucks up, so-“

                “Suck a chode, Kyle,” Aiden spat, “Make sure your shit is tuned. I don’t want a repeat of Glasgow.”

                Kyle scoffed and turned heel, walking off into the shadows. Aiden could hear him mumble to himself, “Fucking bitch.”

                Aiden allowed himself a smirk. This wasn’t a huge event they were playing, hell, the attendees didn’t even know they were going to be treated to the first live performance of the Blarney Stoned reunion tour. But Aiden had insisted they do it this way. This was how they started. Humble beginnings. Playing in bars and clubs, not stadiums. The timing seemed off, but why not now? The world was on fire and each member of Blarney Stoned seemed to be going through their own form of existential crisis. Aiden’s book had been a flop.

                There was nothing else for it. Now was the perfect time. So here they were, in a mediocre bar (which happened to have an equally mediocre dancefloor and stage) in the middle of Russia resurrecting their old career. There would be - what? one, maybe two hundred people, at best, out there? - they would have to do. The individual voice was a powerful thing in this age and a hundred individual voices (with the aid of the Net) would be enough power to give them the jump start they needed to relaunch their careers.

                Aiden gave himself one last look in the mirror and nodded. The DJ, whose name Aiden could never remember, started to fade out his bass-thumping song and a familiar tune began to emerge under the heavy beats.

                “You’re in for a real treat tonight, freaks!” The DJ shouted over his personal microphone, “Are you ready!?”

                Aiden strutted out onto the stage to all the pomp and cheer he had anticipated, decked out in full punk-rock splendor. His bandmates: Kyle Rice, Siobhan West, Niall Murphy, Maeve Walsh, and Liam Kelly appeared on different points of the stage and a moving platform slowly pushed the DJ to the back of the stage. The band started to play along with the track that the DJ spun. Aiden wasted no preamble and immediately launched into a punk-rock cover of one of his favorite songs from 2020.

                “I want your stupid love, love! I want your stupid love, love,” Aiden sang passionately, playing to the audience, “Now it’s time to free me from the chain, I gotta find that peace, is it too late!? Or could this love protect me from the pain? I would battle for you! Even if I break in two! Freak out, freak out, freak out, freak out! Look at me! Get down, get down, get down, get down! Look at me! Freak out, freak out, freak out, freak out! Look at me now! Cause all I ever wanted was love!”

                This was living. This was what he had been missing.

Russian Dolls and Broken Gods, a new Fantasy novel by best-selling author, Aiden Finnegan, out this December! Preorder online and instore today!
               “Places, places, boys! You know I will not suffer anything less than perfection!” Meera bellowed as she thrust an arm up into the air with a flourish; a gesture reminiscent of the old French hags that lived out their days as ballet instructors.
               Twenty-five young men – well-muscled and full-bodied, young men – were assembled around Meera, each wearing nothing more than a leather speedo, multi-colored mohawk, and a collective fifty pounds of body glitter. Despite her initial misgivings at the plan, it was quite the sight to behold. The wheelchair meant nothing, she was more than capable of physical love, and that fact was never more apparent than now. A crescendo of hormones seemed to swell in her nether regions. It was all just a little too much to bear. Blood rushed to her ebon-skinned cheeks and she pulled out a hand fan, unironically cooling herself in the moment.

               The music was already playing on stage and Aiden had launched into his personal rendition of Lady GaGa’s Stupid Love. Giggles and grunts sounded around Meera as the men got into position. They each struck a dramatic pose and held their breath as she wheeled herself to the back and off to stage right. She came to a halt just past the velvet curtains and raised her arm once more.

               “Ready boys!? Three, two…”

               Aiden finished the first chorus of the song and the thin, red curtain that separated the two halves of the stage was pulled back. The twenty-five bulging boys launched into their dance as Aiden moved into the next verse of the song; women and men alike in the crowd seemed to cheer all the louder at the tawdry back up dancers. Meera’s lips curved up into a cat-like smile.

               “Excellent work, my boys,” she said to herself as she tapped a finger to the beat of the song.

"She had tortured hundreds, maybe thousands, in the name of understanding and reason. Torture made sense. You truly saw what a person was made of, in more ways than one, when you began to slice into them. That was a phrase she'd used on numerous occasions. It usually made her smile." 
- The Wheel of Time, The Gathering Storm, Chapter 22, Robert Jordan
Rowan rolled her eyes when the curtain parted to reveal a bunch of near-naked men. Of course, Aiden would push the ‘art direction’ to the bold and horny. Oh, they were fun to look at, to be sure, but it was such a cheap move. Still, it was almost fitting considering the venue. Not that her opinion had mattered. Aiden had made it abundantly clear that she was only to tour with them to act as a ‘spiritual counselor.’ It was a farce of a role. None of the crew, nor the performers, had any wish to partake in a voodoo ceremony to ease their fragile worries. Typical.

                The One Power flooded her as she opened herself and wove a thread of Fire, lighting the cigar she held to her lips; it may have been excessive, but so was everything about this club. With a few puffs, the thing was going strong and she let go of the Power (if only to quiet the sudden intensification of Blarney Stoned’s music blaring over the speakers.)

                The bartender brought over another whiskey sour and Rowan paid him with a generous tip. She stole a sip of the noxious concoction and scanned the room. Nox, one of Aiden’s friends, was sitting on the opposite side of the bar, clearly waiting for his drink. She slipped the bartender another generous tip and yelled to him over the music, “Hey! Serve that guy over there next!” Rowan gestured to Nox, “I’ll give you double that next time I order!”

                With a vigorous nod, the bartender made a B-line towards Nox.

                Rowan made her own way over to the dark-haired man, sliding up into the empty seat next to him. They had met once before when Rowan had finally caught up to her brother. Hopefully, Nox remembered her. If not, there was little loss; she would shake the embarrassment, play it off, and then move back to her original perch. Rowan took a healthy puff of her cigar before speaking to Nox.

                “So. What do you think of all this?” Rowan made a grand, sweeping gesture towards the stage.

"The power Voodoo. Hoodoo? You do! Do what!?"
   “I want your stupid love, love!” Siobhan sang back up vocals to Aiden’s righteous rendition of GaGa’s hit single. She wailed on the bass as if her very life depended on it. In a way, it did. Her solo career seemed to be going well enough, but there had been quite a bit of backlash with her most recent album. The theme had been nuclear war and critics had lauded her as an insensitive artist, ignorant of the tragedies of the past and the threats of the future. It was all a crock of bull.

                Album and ticket sales tanked. She would have been just as fine falling into obscurity, but then Aiden came out of the woodwork, pleading for a Blarney Stoned reunion. She could hardly say no to that face. If she did, Ebony would certainly have a fit. The wolf loved Aiden beyond reason. It was strange and inexplicable, if only because Aiden was not wolf born and could not talk to her in the way that Siobhan could.

                “He gets me,” Eb sent out, telepathically, somewhere backstage.

                “I was thinking. I wasn’t talking to you,” Siobhan sent back through that odd connection they held. The song went on and the (mostly) naked male dancers appeared behind them. Siobhan loved that bit. She had slept with a few of the dancers (three at once the previous night,) and two of the female roadies that had turned up before they even got on to the road. There were certain perks that came with being a rock star instead of a pop star. The last few years were fun, but the clean image was not.

                Siobhan riffed all the harder on her bass guitar.

                “Get ready, guys,” Siobhan sent out to her wolf pack.

                “We come,” they sent back, which was nonsense since they were just backstage, behind the curtains.

                The song launched into its final chorus and the wolves came running out on stage, weaving between the dancers. A handful of them did backflips and the rest wove about the dancers’ legs, acting out some primal dance.

                “I want just to be loved, loved!” Siobhan bellowed into the microphone as the entire band jammed out, completely in synch, synergy rising amongst them.

                This was living.

"We are the sisters of the Moon." - Siobhan's hit single, 'Silver Skans'
A man reached under the bar near his leg and Nox nearly jumped out of his skin. What the fuck? He would have probably smacked the guy with his hand except that it was not attached any longer. The pain had diminished since it had happened. But his friends back at Kallisti were still pushing the pain killers when he winced in pain. Their mothering was part of the reason he'd slipped out of the club to find something where no one knew him.

The guy pulled out his jacket and sat down. The bartender came by and Nox smiled at him. "Sam Adam's Irish Red?" The guy had come across from the other side of the bar. Clearly not his own station as he had to walk back to the other side, but he also waited for the guys order next to me. Nice of him, good thing Nox wasn't in a hurry. "A good crowd out there?" He asked the other man just as the music died down and his voice rose way too loudly in the deafening silence. A small blush crept to his face that wasn't supposed to happen in a fucking crowded dance floor.

The DJ spoke and then Aiden was out on stage. Of course, he would be. What wasn't a good rave where Blarney Stone didn't play? Course they hadn't played any Rave Nox had ever been too he hadn't been brave enough to slip away from his father then. Not after the Methos concert. Crush or no crush on Aiden. And he performed well.

A very familiar face sat down on the other side of him. He gave her a smile as long as she didn't start in on her Voodoo preaching he'd entertain Aiden's sister. "I see the reason the rave popped up now, but I'm grateful for the entertainment." He grinned at Rowan, "I'm not sure you'll make a good wing man." Not that he was here to pick anyone up. At least that wasn't his goal. His beer arrived and Nox took a sip of it after passing the bartender a few extra credits. It was likely the only bottle Nox would buy this night. But no one needed to know that but him.
Jay plucked the olive from a martini glass before raising it high. “Congratulations, boys. This one is for you,” he said. The two men saluted before returning the praise.
“No way Carpenter, we wouldn’t have landed that commission if it wasn’t for you. Drinks are on us tonight, bitch.” Laughter and merriment circulated.
“Well, I won’t deny that!” he said and finished off the drink.

“Tell us your secret, Carp. How’d you know to sell before everyone else?” Jason said. The other man was almost as finely dressed as Jay, but where Jay wore a sleek blue suit, Jason wore black pinstripe and waist coat.

He just grinned, thinking through the algorithm that he invented for the case. “What can I say. I had a hunch,” he said.

Jason mocked him, “Hunch and a forecast model none of us have. You ever going to share with the rest of the firm?”

Jay punched him on the shoulder, perhaps a little too hard by the look of shock on Jason’s face. “Nope.”

“Bitch,” Jason said, rubbing his arm.

“Alright. I’ve seen enough of your ugly mugs. Catch you later,” he said and scanned the bar area for interesting persons up for a party.
Only darkness shows you the light.

The music vibrated through her being; a deafening cacophony, the rhythm heavy and frantic. Inside the club chaos roamed; naked flesh and, quite literally, the prowl of wolves. Pale eyes watched that indifferently, an effort of too much spectacle for her taste, but each to their own. Moscow was not her favourite place anyway; she recognised that it flavoured her mood -- which she had already softened with several shots. Hardly the venue to conduct business, but then it wasn’t her choice nor strictly her business. Her father wouldn’t have been seen dead in a place like this.

She smirked loosely as she squeezed her way through the squash of bodies, and though there were plenty of beautiful faces none snared more than passing interest. The alcohol flowed free, and probably more, but the vacuous glaze worn by most promised only annoyance -- and that at best. She was on her own, which so often seemed interpreted as an invitation. But if she was going to pass the time until the contact made themselves known she was at least going to enjoy the dancing, blemished by the slide of unwanted hands or not (and it was not like she was incapable of looking after herself, after all). 

Her skin sheened lightly from the dancing. Pale hair ribboned over one shoulder, loose and unadorned. She was clearly moneyed, as one tended to be in this part of the city, but it was a wealth only flaunted to a knowing eye; certainly not flashy. The bar as she approached was packed, but she was not in a hurry.

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