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Choices to Make
Dorian watched as Ivan started trying to talk to Cruz about the events that lead to his sickness. Dorian understood the theory - a few days ago Cruz did something spectacular knowing or unknowingly and then he got sick... Dorian didn't know what he son had done, but this wasn't some ordinary cold, it didn't matter what Cruz had done. It only mattered that he did and that he was sick now and he needed to survive.

Dorian was about to speak but Cruz spoke weakly, "No. Not that I remember." Cruz's hand went to his head and he squinted his eyes shut. Dorian's heart sank. He was getting impatient.

"I know the symptoms. I've seen it too many times. Why does it matter if something strange happened? He had to do something even if he doesn' t know what it is. He's sick. I've killed boys like him for less reactions to the power of the gods."

Cruz's eyes were wide when his father spoke and he shrank away from the other man. "You've killed boys?"

Dorian sighed and shook his head. The cool calm and collected man that he was, was now unraveling in front of his son. "Not personally no. But other Atharim I've set on the right track have. If I were to compromise myself in the line of duty I would not be any good to the Atharim."

Cruz looked at his father with disgust "You need to leave." Cruz didn't look at Dorian again and Dorian obliged his son, as he was leaving the room Dorian heard Cruz tell Ivan. "Nothing weird has happened." (ooc: I'm going with a fatigue relief like Rand did with Bela on a friend during a big test they were studying all night for so he wouldn't know he did it.)

Dorian went down stairs and poured another glass of wine and paced from the bar in the sitting room to the front door - back and forth.

(ooc: rest will be from Cruz's pov)
Ivan felt a stab of anger at Vega's words. Did it matter that he had not done the killing? He'd condoned it; He'd known it would happen. He felt disgust in his stomach. The arrogance of these people.

And he felt pleasure at the look of pain that came to Vega's face at his son's words. Not that he felt proud of it, of course. But he couldn't help himself. You sign up with a group that did crap like deserved it. He was definitely not going to let things lie. He'd already warned Volodin's family. The guy had been a chump and his brother had a face that was even more punchable- if that was possible- but that didn't mean they deserved to get killed just because of blood association. This group though...they were on his radar. He'd be speaking to the LT and Cap about this. They thrived on moving in the shadows did they? Well he'd see how they liked being exposed for all the world to see. He wouldn't stand for that kind of thing.

But for now, Cruz was the focus, the person who needed his help. The kid didn't seem to remember anything weird. Did that matter? Did it make a difference?

The door clicked behind them as Vega left. Ivan thought about pulling a chair up. It felt weird, like he was some doctor or something. He was just a guy. But he would help if he could.

"I'm sorry about your dad."
There was really nothing more he could say. He was sure Cruz wouldn't want to talk about it. He knew he wouldn't. At least not then, to a stranger.

He seized the power- once again amazed at how easy it was now. Nox was the man! He would pay it forward. "So the reason you're sick as that you are touching a....I don't know really what it is. People call it the power. With it you can do things."
He wove a flame and tied it off, as he'd seen Nox do. Then he lifted the chair with air. "I know there's a ton more stuff you could do. I'm still just learning. But the thing is, this power fights you.It's like...."
words seemed to fail as he tried to imagine what it was like. He remembered wrestling in school. "'s like you are wrestling with someone bigger than you, arms and legs long- like really strong- and you just have to dominate. You have to fight to control him, get him in a hold, locked down, and just hold him there, refusing to let up. If he get's out even for a moment, you're in trouble. I think maybe this sickness is you learning to do that. It's not easy. But maybe if you know, if you are conscious of what you are doing, it will help."

He looked at Cruz. The kid wasn't scrawny. He hoped he got it, could relate it to something. Did he get it?
Cruz watched the look pass over this new man's face - judgement. He apologized for his father, he had no place. "My father is a good man. You don't get to pass judgement on him. He's done bad things for good people. And we may not understand the consequences or reasons but he does." Cruz didn't know what his father did, but he knew without a doubt his father was a good man. There were reasons and he'd learn them when he could walk again.

The pain decided as Ivan was talking to bury itself deep in his stomach and Cruz tried hard to listen but he could only focus on holding his stomach contents from leaving his stomach. He'd only managed a little water as it was. Even he knew that he needed to eat and drink most importantly.

He vaguely heard the explanation - the wrestling metaphor was probably lost on him, he'd never been physical in that sense, but the concept was familiar. He was doing that right now. Wrestling with the pain.

The pain lessened right around the time Ivan said "maybe" and "I think". Like he wasn't sure. Who had his father brought him to help. Confidence didn't seem to be this officers strong suit here. But what choice did he have, if his father thought it could help...

Cruz spoke though the pain was evident in his voice, "What do I have to do?"

The guy got all douchey all of a sudden, despite the look and tone when he kicked his dad our of the room not minutes ago, and then began to lecture Ivan. His jaw set and the sympathy fell from his face. "Yeah. You tell that to the families whose kids were murdered."
He remembered what Nox had said and was glad he had ordered protection for Volodin's mom and brother. So far nothing, but this only reinforced everything. "If your dad's people didn't kill them too."
He glared at the kid, partly wondering why he wanted to bother.

And yet...he was who he was. That wasn't gonna change. And Cruz was not Vega. And he might die. Ivan knew the statistics. was hard to crack his clenched jaw. It took a moment. And he wasn't feeling charitable at the moment. "Anyway. You're gonna have to wrestle it into submission. Dominate it."
He thought for a moment, then added. "Clear your mind. Let your mind be empty. I know it's hard but don't let it concentrate on anything."
He let go of the power and did so himself. The familiar warmth in the distance was a distant star but he knew he could reach for it whenever he wanted now. The tension he had felt melted away with the exercise. And the knowledge that it was at his beck and call now.

"You might not be able to get to it at first. But you should sense a light or warmth in the distance."
Cruz didn't want to talk about his father and was grateful that Ivan moved forward anyway. He didn't know why he'd help him now. Clearly he was pissed about the way he'd been spoken to. His father was a hard man but he was a good man. He didn't just kill people he was a cop. He had to believe it meant something. He would find the answers.

Cruz sat up and hung his legs over the side of the bed and closed his eyes. A light? What the fuck! Cruz tried to empty his mind. It worked at first, he was thinking of nothing but nothing was still something. How did one blank their mind?

Cruz sighed and tried again. Nothing... Still produced nothing. His mind wandered to all the things he was missing right now. He didn't know how long he'd been in bed sick. His head still hurt. The pain waxed and waned in the emptiness and Cruz really didn't know what he was supposed to be doing.

The dim light in his room faded into the darkness while Cruz sat on his bed with his eyes closed, the faint pink glow had grown dark and Cruz knew he'd been sitting her trying for hours. But he had nothing, saw nothing, felt nothing. He couldn't feel any warmth, or see any light. He had to be over thinking it.

Cruz flopped back in his bed. "I give up. Nothing is happening." He sighed. "Tell me what it's like." Cruz had no idea what was going on. "What was your first time like?" That sounded so wrong to be asking another guy.
Thankfully, the little prick decided to focus on what he was doing and Ivan could let go of the lingering irritation. He waited, feeling for the tell-tale sense of threat or whatever that meant that he had finally gotten hold of the power. But it never came after hours of trying.

The guy slumped in frustrated defeat. Ivan understood that, of course. Of course he did. "I get it man."
He tried to think of something that might help.

"For me, it was something that I couldn't do unless I was tense or whatever. For example, I was in the underground tunnels with your dad and felt claustrophobic. And suddenly I could feel this....warmth or light over my shoulder. I mean that wasn't the first time. The first time was raiding a house and out of the blue this woman came out with a knife. I didn't even know what I was doing. It took the help of another guy to bust through that need though. Now, I just..."
he trailed off, trying to think of how to describe it.

"I relax and try to empty my mind."
he paused, thinking about what he did. No. Not quite. It's not like you can just stop thinking about stuff. I focus on one thing. My breathing. Nothing exists but that. Anything else I push away and focus on just that. There's just the rhythm of my breathing. After a bit I can feel that light or warmth and I reach for it."

He smiled encouragingly. "Try that."
Cruz sat up and took a deep breathe. Breathing, focus on breathing? Like yoga... He'd never liked yoga much, but it was worth a shot.

Cruz closed his eyes and concentrated on nothing but his breathe in and his breathe out. A vague sense of calm surrounded him and he felt a warmth on his skin that he couldn't exactly pin point. He was going to reach for it, when the calm shattered as a knock on the door sounded. Fuck! He'd finally had something.


Dorian paced back and forth from his sitting room to the kitchen. He was making Pavlo nervous. The other man kept wringing his hands on his dish towel as he made dinner. It smelled glorious but it only took his mind off of the situation that was unfolding upstairs in Cruz' bedroom. What the hell was happening up there? It was getting late.

Pavlo interrupted Dorian's pacing. "Sir if you'll take a seat in the dinning room I'll have dinner served momentarily."

Dorian shook his head. "I'll fetch Cruz and our guest. Continue as planned."
. Dorian did just that, he went upstairs and he knocked on Cruz's door. He didn't enter, he didn't even wait for them to answer him. "Pavlo has made dinner. Come and eat. Whatever you are doing can wait. Cruz you need to eat son."

Dorian didn't wait he went down stairs and poured himself a glass of wine and sat down in a seat and waited for Pavlo to server dinner. Dorian never considered himself an anxious person but he was beginning to get very anxious. This was going to go to hell in a hand-basket.


Cruz listened to his father and sighed as his stomach rumbled in response. Now he had to make a choice - food or whatever this was. Food be damned. "I want to try again first before we go down stairs. I think I almost had it."
So Cruz seemed to take to the breathing idea much better. There wasn't much for Ivan to do but watch the guy breath, trying to attain a rhythm or whatever. After a while, he let his eyes wander- he still payed attention to the breathing. And more importantly, was waiting for the feeling that said that Cruz had found the power.- but watching some dude breath wasn't exactly exciting stuff and his eyes wandered the room. It was bigger than the apartment he'd grown up in and was filled with stuff that he couldn't even begin to put a price on but somehow screamed expensive. That must be nice, to have anything and everything you wanted.

Then again, given the dynamic between Cruz and Vega, perhaps not. Not like stuff can give you good memories memories anyway. He still had dinner every Sunday night with his family, the small apartment filled with smells that represented his entire life, Ma and Pops and Yegor and Valeriya at the table passing around large bowls of borscht and thick black bread slathered in bacon fat- and the piroshkis! It was his cheat day and boy did he cheat.

They were looking older these days, Ma and Pop. He didn't like seeing that, seeing them with wrinkles or moving around more slowly. But he couldn't do much other than help them out with money or do stuff around the house- when Pops would let him, of course, stubborn old cop that he was. Yegor would be at University studying engineering and Valeriya was off who knew where half the time. Ivan kept an eye out for her, of course. She was his little sister. But she had a wild streak and seemed to gravitate to friends just like her. Ivan wasn't above a bit of snooping to make sure she wasn't getting into real trouble. Come to think of it, she was a lot like Zo, though not necessarily all that altruistic in her trouble seeking. He doubted he'd see Valeriya- sweet as she was- trying to save a bunch of rabbits from a lab.

So anyway, where was he? Oh yeah. He tried to help out around the house with repairs and such, and looked out for his siblings. It was the best he could do for his family. It was what he wanted to do. They were the core of him, the bedrock. And yet they hadn't had money. It wasn't money that made the family.

Still, it was clear Vega loved his son. Obviously. If he was willing to betray a group like the one he described....well. Ivan was so back and forth on the guy. One minute understanding and sympathizing, the next minute ready to expose him and everyone with him. It made for a curious situation. At the end of the day, though, it was about what you did and why. And Vega was doing something out of love for his son. Something dangerous. And despite the irritation that Cruz showed, he had been quick to defend his father. There was love here. And that was a good thing.

Ivan suddenly realized that he had stopped paying attention- or rather, that Cruz's breathing had become so rhythmic as to be hypnotic. That was it! Ivan looked at him, his eyes still closed, and listened, not with his ears but with whatever sense it was that he used for the power, waited for the sign.

And then a knock. It was Vega with dinner. The guy did need to eat. But he had been SOO close! Cruz knew it too. He ignored his dad and wanted to go again.

"You were there, man. In the zone. You can do this. Just remember the wrestling. Once you get it, you have to dominate it. Tiger by the tail, right? Go head.
Cruz was happy to try again. He closed his eyes and found that peaceful rhythm he's found before. It was still a pain to get there, he felt like he'd been there for too long, that it was taking longer, but then the warm started to show. Cruz felt it. Felt something. It was a dark light. He didn't question the thought, though he wanted to. There was a time for that later. He focused on the warmth.

He reached for the power. In his minds eye he saw his hand grab hold of the reigns much like he had with a childhood horse. It hadn't like him doing it either, but this power it struggled, it reared back and fought. It was very much like trying to stay on to that horse who was having a bad day. It reared and Cruz held on forcing his will upon it.

It danced in his head, they danced together and before Cruz knew it there only the power, a bright pulsing power that felt like nothing he'd ever felt. He whispered, "Holy shit!" Cruz felt like he could do anything, could be anything, and he wanted to pull it to the very depths of his soul, but his father had taught moderation in everything, he didn't do anything else. He wasn't an idiot he remembered the Spiderman line.


Pavlo placed three plates, but he only served Dorian. It wasn't uncommon for Cruz to not listen, but today he felt feelings that he hadn't felt in a very long time - jealousy and anger neither really directed at his son. He was angry at himself, this could have gone better, he could have kept his mouth shut.

Pavlo finished with serving and left Dorian alone to brood with his feelings. The pasta smelled divine and it tasted it as well but Dorian was lost in his mind while he ate and sipped at the wine that never seemed to run dry. He could only wait. He could pray to whatever god might be listening, but Dorian didn't think that anyone was really listening anyway. He just wanted Cruz to be okay, he could live with any hatred he had for himself, It wouldn't be the first time Cruz would tell him he hated him.
Ivan watched the guy. The look of concentration was funny, like he was straining. "Relax. Let yourself relax."
His stomach rumbled and Ivan thought about Vega's announcement of dinner. He hadn't eaten since early that morning and realized he was starving.

Still, the guy was focused and this was important. If he got this then very likely the sickness would pass through him with him no worse for wear. After a while, he wondered if he should stop it and let the guy rest. Or eat.

And at the moment, Ivan felt that tell-tale sense of dread fill the room. The look on Cruz's face was....well it was something. Despite the sense, Ivan smiled broadly. "Dude! You got it! Ok. Now hold on to it. Make sure it's firm in your grip. Don't try to do anything yet. Trust me, getting it to do stuff is the hard part. You wanna keep practicing until you can grab the power whenever you want."

He felt a stab of jealousy. Up until that time in the tunnels with Nox, he hadn't been able to do that. Must be nice to be there from the very start. "Do that over and over again until it takes no time."

Thoughts of dinner vanished.

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