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Swallowed by shadows
He liked it.
The attention.
It caught between the ribs, sending lead to his feet. He watched Mik watch him, and for a moment, wished he could see what Mik saw. Crawl inside him and look out from behind those eyes upon flesh worshipped. He smiled for the first time this godforsaken day, sliding past near enough that the heat from the shower could be felt wafting from his skin.

He selected a black tshirt in a forgiving athletic material. Same with a pair of gym pants, branded along the side in a popular eastern brand. They slid straight over the skin, elastic sinched at the waist. It was nothing personal, but he couldn’t wear another man’s underwear.

His hair would fizz without product, but like underwear, no borrowing another man’s.

“There better be hot food and plenty of liqueur. I want to forget today,” he announced as he returned to find the other two. He fell onto comfortable cushions, surveying the apartment for the first real time. Mik had a decent place. Andre (and his husband) had a house, but the inside wasn’t nearly as slick as this. Mik had some style to him and the money to paint it on, apparently.

“Don’t bother with the clothes. There’s no chemical on the planet that can wash away what’s on it. And I don’t think I’d bring myself to wear it again anyway.”

He put his bare feet up and smacked his lips like it was the most obvious thing in the world. “So. Anyone care to explain what the fuck is going on? And where in the fucking world you came from? Cuz honey, mad respect. That’s some serious ass you whooped today.”  He saluted the lady.
Tenzin was not embarrassed by nakedness, but she respected boundaries. When Andre retreated to the bathroom to clean, she settled herself on the floor of the room she had been left in, and tended to the bloodied urumi coiled about her waist. The work was precise and had a pleasing rhythm, broken only when her ears tuned to the sounds of movement. The weapon curled back in place and she stood, both motions fluid. Her limbs stretched like a beast roused from repose, and she glanced but did not linger attention on either man. A slim smile noted the scents, and she left them to the diversion of each other while she made brief use of the shower. 

She returned in far shorter time than Andre had, still slightly damp from where she had rinsed and rung out her simple black clothes before putting them back on. The two men might be content to swap skins, but Tenzin did not want a stranger’s scent on her. No offense to Mik intended. He just was not pack.

“Was working.” She shrugged. “Lucky for you. Stupid place for strolling, no?” Her lips quirked a wolfish smile for the compliment to her prowess, or perhaps for her general confusion as to what either of them had really been doing down there (beyond making a nuisance of themselves). Her dark eyes glanced at Mik then, mostly because at some point he was going to realise what she was, and the spirit-touched especially didn’t tend to care for the vocation. For obvious reasons. Though since he must also realise that she knew what he was, she did not seem concerned about the moment he put two and two together. Just watchful. “Monsters, was oni. And chupacabra. But wrong. Sick. Not normal.”
[Image: twolf.jpg]
If they stand behind you, protect them; if they stand beside you, respect them; if they stand against you, destroy them.
So yeah, Mik's heart didn't exactly race or nothing when Andre passed close enough that he could feel his body heat. Naw, he wasn't prone to palpitations and such. Then again, those lines called to him, the tips of his fingers itching to start tracing gently. Always starting with the gentle at the beginning.

But race? He didn't think so. He shook his head as he left the room, letting Andre dress. The girl was absorbed in cleaning...whatever the fuck that thing was. Pretty badass weapon. Not that he would get one. Like to put his own eye out trying to use it. At least now. Plus, fire was infinitely more fun, what with all the dancing colors and scents and the pure chaos and shit.

Where was he? Oh yeah. Chicky was cleaning her thing. He went to the freezer and pulled out a bottle of vodka, the thick liquid sloshing lazily through the clear glass. Oh yeah, nice and dense. After a moment, he got some glasses and then two beers. Whatever he had. He hadn't bought it. Jormund had, the last time they were there. He smiled at the memory.

He set them on the table as he heard the two switch places, with the sexy killer heading to the back. He was getting ice and some chips when he heard her return and glanced over and...forgot what he was doing. Jesus, she had rinsed out her clothes and put them back on. Not like they were form fitting or anything- at least by design- but damp, they did cling.

Yeah, ok. He knew what was up. And likely he wasn't gonna have that kind of fun with these two. But he was gonna have to scare up some here tonight, before too long. That is, unless the Lady provided him with some proper diversion. Jeez, but you can't just have all this beautiy around and not expect him to just sit there. It wasn't natural, is all.

Anyway, so, where was he again!?!? Right. Drinks. Chips. Andre with his feet up. No shoes so it was ok, or he'd have had words. That coffee table was nice. It was just stuff. But it was his stuff. And he liked it. He'd lose it one day. Or get something else. That was life. Everything was a lease, really.

So yeah, tray down, glasses clinked as he dropped them and the bottle, and then he fell into his couch sinking into his pillows- more than most had but hey, what could he say? He liked his comfort.

He nodded to the offering and took a sip from his glass, feeling the burn going down his throat. He eyed the woman with a smirk at Andre's words. "He's not kidding, doll." He frowned. "Working? What the hell kind of work are you in? Sewer extermination? Didn't know Moscow had such a thing," he laughed. He glanced at Andre. "You didn't do too bad yourself, bro. You moonlighting in her crew?" Just a joke. But you had to start somewhere.
"Good and ill. 
We're like the wind, 
we blows both ways."
- Mad Sweeney, American Gods
A brow rose, curious, but she didn’t answer that outright. Lies were akin to poison in Tenzin’s blood, and she wouldn’t speak them, but duplicity was second nature of necessity. She wouldn’t admit to anything she didn’t have to, particularly when it would put her and by extension Jacinda into danger. Mik was one of the spirit-touched after all, and while Tenzin respected that gift, she did not trust those who wielded it, nor wanted to draw the attention of a mercurial nature. “Close enough,” she shrugged. Then added, a little sternly. “But not always working. Stay up surface for next date, yes? Safer. Mostly.” The last was added with the hint of a frown, shrugged away, because if you stayed to the populated and well-lit places you were generally as safe as any other city. 

She glanced at Andre, then, to observe his reaction to Mik’s compliment. The hint of a roguish smile tipped her lips, because as far as she had seen, Andre’s finesse for the fight had begun and ended when he fell back on his arse. Not that she was about to say anything to that end. As she’d more-or-less told him in the underground, the best packs knew their strengths and weaknesses and worked accordingly. Being no fighter was nothing to be ashamed of. Rather, Tenzin's amusement now was at the buttery way Mik said the words.
[Image: twolf.jpg]
If they stand behind you, protect them; if they stand beside you, respect them; if they stand against you, destroy them.
“Onee?” he tried out the word but it tangled on the tongue.
“Chup-a-kab-ray” he tried also. He shut his trap afterward. It was a stupid word anyway.

“Workin?” Whatcha do? Do you get dental?” he smirked at Mik. Clearly not buying the girl’s bullshit. He’d heard enough whoppers in his day.
“Ain’t nothing about them that was normal, sweetheart,” he sniffed at that. The words tumbled out of her mouth like other people ordered coffee. Andre shook his head.

He laughed at the compliment.
“When I moonlight, it’s somewhere far fucking nicer than that ass-stink-hole. I’m going to pretend sewers don’t exist here on out and our turds end up floating in lake like proper logs. No fucking way,” he shivered.

But Tens was all kind of wrong about the reason they were there. Not going to lie, he saw the way MIk looked him over. It felt good. And Andre may have lingered in the towel just for that purpose. May have slipped it a little lower on the hip. Just to fuck with him.

“Not a date, darling. I’m married,” he held up his left hand. There was no ring, but he flicked his fingers anyway.

Dark gaze flicked to Mik briefly. Wondering how he would respond. Surprised? Probably.

“Alright you gotta tell me what that accent is. It’s like Indian or something, but I don’t know,” directed at the girl.
He wasn't gonna lie. Andre's response was disappointing. Not specifically that he was married. He could give two shits whether someone was married or not. That wasn't his problem. If they wanted to fuck around and play, whether they had an open thing, were poly, or just wanted something on the DL, it had nothing to do with him. 

He wasn't the one with the commitment disease and swearing and pledging and shit, hog tying himself up in bonds of obligation....well, he smiled to himself. Yeah, he was totally into that, though not the obligation part, at least not beyond the agreed upon time frame of the session or meet up or munch or orgy. 

No, but permanently (or even sort of seriously) restricting yourself to one or more people from then on? Fuuuuck that! Nothing was ever permanent. He knew this at his core. Everything and anything was temporary. Whether people left or they got sick or killed or whatever- or HE did- he did get bored pretty easy- nothing lasted. The lady was always waiting, ready to rip apart bonds and security whenever it suited her. Much easier to play along with her.

Which, trying to bring his mind back around to the subject at hand, was his point. Commitment meant nothing to him and if a person was committed but wanted to play, that wasn't his problem. That was between them and their leash holder (and this time he successfully fought going down that track). Jealous husbands, wives, partners or whatever didn't scare him. He knew how to take care of himself. 

So when Andre went to his ball and chain, that wasn't what deflated him. No. It was his immediate correction of ninja girl. 'Not a date. I'm married.' What a dork. He was a shop closed up tight and only one person- probably a guy, from the way Mik caught his appreciation of his appreciation- had that key. And more fool him, he was happy with that. Happy to be a captive.

More's the pity, he thought, as his eyes lingered on those lines that disappeared beckoningly beneath his clothing. An eye flicked to ninja girl for a moment before back to Andre. Yeah...such a pity. He could have had some fun with both of them.

But he might still have a bit of fun. "Good for you, man. But that kind of thing is not for me. I never became a commitment victim." His grin was evil and he winked. Then he held up his glass in salute. "Congrats, though." 

He turned to Chicky. "What about you, doll? You got anyone on a string?" He gestured at her badass weapon, letting some respect into his voice."That there says that you spend the majority of your time in tunnels and such, taking down whatever you called them. That something you can do with someone at home?"

Still, what she said reminded him. He paused, eying his drink for a moment, the clink of ice against the glass, and then went on, as if it was all a big lark. "You wouldn't believe the stuff I hear. Lot of things slinking around. Some in tunnels. And some in other places. People disappearing. Shit like that. That what you are here for? Boogeyman clean up crew?"

His playfulness was still there. It was never not there. But it hid a sharpening of his mind,  the warm fuzzing of the vodka strangely helping, as always. This was information. That was his bread and butter.
"Good and ill. 
We're like the wind, 
we blows both ways."
- Mad Sweeney, American Gods
Andre tested the strange words. His jokes were not met with much reaction on Tenzin’s part, else she just didn’t understand the humour. Mik’s scent shifted at the revelation, turned a little sour in the nose. Her gaze flicked between them, but she did not much care for their interplay; it wasn’t something she considered her business. Andre denied the implication, but the low dip of his towel had spoken otherwise. They might think the interested glances between them had been subtle, but Tenzin found the whole thing deafening. Wolves could be the same way. The tease and snap. Welcome and rejection. It was all part of the dance.

There was not even a ring on the finger he flashed.

“Should not have been down in sewers,” she pointed out. This time she was only blunt with the warning. Andre vowed against returning, but most people did not find themselves so lured in the first place. At least Mik had the protection of the spirits.

“Not darling. Have name, if either bothered in asking.” Too wrapped up in each other to even notice. She wasn’t offended, as the twitch of a smile suggested, but she didn’t care one iota for the pet names. Her intentions here had been brief, the only reason she had not offered it before now. She missed the respect afforded back home, where superstition still held sway and she felt less like a pariah. "Am Tenzin."

“From Ladakh. Is still India, these days.” Though Pakistan and China both lay claim; the land had been disputed for longer than Tenzin had been alive. Culturally, they probably had more in common with Tibet though. She wondered if he was well travelled, to be wondering at the specifics of her accent; most wouldn't notice those kinds of small differences. She didn't ask though. Whatever tourist adventuring he may have done was likely be a world away from her experiences.

“On a string?” she repeated blankly, before she caught Mik’s meaning. It was a strange way of putting it, and not an outlook she found particularly endearing, though it was an unsurprising attitude in a lone male. She considered it an empty existence. In India the land was expansive, and in the mountains of the north sparsely populated too. Rākṣasa hatyārā usually worked alone. Tenzin had lived that way a long time, with only her four-legged pack as company. Ephemeral encounters were utterly alien to her.

“Who says she stays home?”

She and Jacinda were braided tight as could be with the secrets Tenzin must also keep. Yet she had never noticed the hint of anything more. Tenzin accepted the closeness of pack like another night interpret romantic interest. Sharing space and skin and intimacy was entirely natural, like breathing, but she'd never scented attraction before the words Jacinda had spoken that evening.

There were no strings. The notion bristled. Tenzin would not pledge herself to something uncertain; it was why she fled in the first place. A mate held nothing back from a mate. But Jacinda's self revelations were yet too fragile to trust the secret of Tenzin's nature, and she worried at the detriment it would cause. That Jacinda would see strings no different than those that tied her once to Regan. Given that history the fear felt like it might easily become loss, or resentment. She valued Jacinda too much to rush.

The rest she considered carefully. Mik hunted carefully for answers, and someone with his extra gifts was a quarry any Athari would be wary of. But unless he gave her a reason, she would prefer for him to understand she presented no danger. So she only shrugged, and explained, “Don’t hunt spirit-touched.”
[Image: twolf.jpg]
If they stand behind you, protect them; if they stand beside you, respect them; if they stand against you, destroy them.
The girl, Tenzin, was spot on. They absolutely should not have been in the sewers. 
“You’d think a guy doens’t have to be told twice to not go in sewers, but I suppose I learned the lesson now,” he nodded firm and true. “Make you a promise, Tenz, can I call you Tenz? I’ll make you a promise, No more sewers for me.” he literally made an X over his heart followed by the universal sign of a dead guy, the noose around the neck. cross my heart and hope to die, they both got that. Right?

Soon, her muddled accent was explained. India was good enough an explanation for him. He had to assume the different bits of India meant things to different people. Hell, a matter of confusing someone from Englewood as coming from West Englewood could get you shot. They were only blocks apart.

Mik was getting under her skin, though. And not in the fun, flirty way he was trying. She might as well have puffed up. Then bedded down in the clip of her response was a pronoun that Andre didn’t miss. Not just because he was a detective, either.

“What’s her name? Your girl at home that doesn’t stay home?” he asked with a bit of a smile. Unlike Mik and his raucous teasing, Andre was genuinely curious. Especially after feeling bad having gone so long without asking Tenzin’s name herself.
“We are rarely proud when we are alone.”
The sweat beaded around Mik's glass as he listened. The girl- Tenzin- was a tough nut to crack but she had started opening up. Not shy, but not a lot to say. At least with a lot of words.

Well, Mik always had the words. More than enough. And while there would probably be no adventure tonight, that didn't mean there wasn't something for him to find. 

The Lady always had something to give, even if it wasn't something you expected or were looking for. His demeanor shifted slightly, withdrawing the overt flirtation for something a bit more real. "Tenzin. Cool. Long way from home, though. Like you, Andre. The city's growing." The CCD being what it was, Moscow being what IT was, and The Ascendency himself walking around and scratching his ass here, well, it drew all kinds of folks.

They swirled into town, streams of people sucked in, into this vortex, sucked down, down, down. He could see it the same way he saw the Lady, way back in his mind, now raising Oriena's eye as if to ask him if he saw what she was doing. 

All that pressure, all those people, coming in, getting absorbed, adding all their energy, their hopes and fears, dreams and nightmares...braids of fire swirling into the ground. Add all the magic users- jeez even the government was getting in on the action.

It would not last. Nope. No sir. Could not last. That pressure was building.

No wonder shit was coming out from underground. The wonder, instead, was that there was apparently someone- more than a someone- who were doing something about it.

He downed the last of his vodka before leaning forward to pour himself another. The rumor he'd heard from Pyotr- formerly in the "not too likely" bin had been moved to the "yeah, probably" one. As he prepped his drink, he went on . "Yeah, Ascendency has been busy setting up his own version of Hogwarts or something. Drawing them in, now, too. There's even a wizarding consul now. Dumble Ass or some such." He'd seen the pictures. Talk about a douche. "Be nice if him and Gandalf actually did something about the wierdness. Not right to leave it just to you." His met her eye. "That is you, right? You and your girl? This a legit club or something?"
"Good and ill. 
We're like the wind, 
we blows both ways."
- Mad Sweeney, American Gods
She made some small grumbling noise at the insistence of shortening her name, but said nothing, assuming he was going to anyway. Was two syllables so difficult? Jacinda did it too, but it was a different thing there; bred of familiarity that Tenzin never questioned, and thus had never protested.

Andre seemed openly curious, but Tenzin was wary with the details. Mik was mining, which she didn’t mind, but she wouldn’t offer anything that might risk future endangerment. The Apollyon outed the Atharim to the public, and this new world was in dangerous flux while it adjusted. Even the Atharim themselves were unravelling in alarming fashion. Tenzin came here to help. She came here because the wolves urged it was where she needed to be. But all she’d found was chaos.

“Jac,” she offered. Not a nickname she ever used, but it seemed appropriate. The smile when she said it was genuine though.

“Long way,” she agreed. She didn’t know what Hogwarts was, but she got the gist of what was meant. She bubbled into laughter for a moment before her expression stilled. “Secret handshake, everything,” she said solemnly. She was teasing, clearly. Her manner had relaxed some the moment Mik’s attitude had changed. But she was attentive to any shifts. Clearly he knew something of what he spoke. “Assumes spirit-touched aren’t also monsters, Mik.”
[Image: twolf.jpg]
If they stand behind you, protect them; if they stand beside you, respect them; if they stand against you, destroy them.

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