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Meeting Old Friends
Just as Torri was getting passed the invitation to avoid being alone, the waitress delivered a hand-written note, indicating it was from the same table. Quite taken aback, Torri opened the paper and read its contents, careful to avoid looking toward the individual that penned it. She had glanced at him briefly before, but picturing him now in her mind did not reveal any significant memory: mid thirties, average height, fit physique, black hair, light eyes, well-dressed. She didn't know him. Yet, clearly, he knew her.

A deep breath and logical thought steadied her nerves. She was on edge only because the past few weeks had been tense. She couldn't shake this feeling, though. Her mother would call it a woman's intuition, but Torri thought it was common sense, or, perhaps the type of sense common to the military trained. She'd never worked with such high-security government clearance before. The atmosphere clouding her daily life had made her paranoid. A question beckoned. Was it for good reason?

A cup of bitterly smelling tea was placed before her, no saucer. The limp string of a tea bag dangled over the edge, and Torri sighed. She attempted a taste when Drayson responded. The message made a faint smile touch the edges of her lips, but of course it flattened upon tasting the tea. The paper with Dorian's note was placed aside, but not yet discarded. If Drayson were coming, perhaps she would show it to him.

Since her wallet was in hand, she ran a name search on Dorian Vega. Her status as a medical officer in the CCD army gave the search no particular advantage, but it seemed she didn't need any. His name wasn't difficult to find. His father was even easier to identify, but Torri had never heard of him. There were thousands of corporations associated with the medical sciences, and Torri was well isolated beyond entrepreneurial reach. Most, but not all, of her work was classified. Perhaps he was aware of Torri from her time in Berlin? Perhaps the connection was totally innocuous.

Thankfully, others entered the restaurant. In particular, two men, one shortly after the other: eerily similar to the pattern of Dorian and his companion. Off these newcomers, however, Torri had zero odd vibes. The first, early thirties, average height, slim build, curly hair, was actually quite attractive. Wow. The second, early forties, solid build, blonde, carried himself confidently, but without that identifiable presence of threat in his steps.

Soon enough, someone entered that lifted a sense of relief throughout. He looked good. Less tired than he had on their date. Drier, certainly. As he approached, she wondered whether she should shake his hand or stand and hug him? Not knowing exactly how to classify their acquaintance, she opted to shake his hand, as it seemed more professional. Not that she was wanting to maintain only a professional relationship with him, but neither had he really given her a sign to suggest he wanted otherwise.

Thoughts of propriety dissolved when she realized the long look he gave the same pair of men that she had cause to worry over. Did he know them? He didn't gesture some sort of greeting in acknowledgment suggesting such knowledge was not of the best nature. Or maybe she was reading too much into a simple glance again. Either way, he was here. She offered to shake hands.

"Good afternoon, Drayson. A pleasure to see you. Thank you for coming."

As he arranged himself, she frantically thought about what to say next. Why did she always clam up around him? It's not as if they had nothing to talk about, but it was like pulling teeth sometimes. "So. Have you stayed dry since the last time we saw one another?"

Her eyes strayed to Dorian's note still sitting on the side of the table. Oh. What the hell?

She lowered her voice and angled herself so that Dorian and his companion would have a hard time reading her lips, if one were so inclined. It wasn't as though they were seated in immediate proximity to one another. "Do you know something about them? One gave me a wrong impression and the other sent me this note. I'm unaccustomed to strangers knowing my name."
She subtly gestured toward the note, but did not actually push it in front of Drayson.
Dorian was surprised by Martin's words, they stung a little but his friend wasn't exactly meaning it either. Dorian let it go, he wasn't going to make a big deal of it. Martin asked about Cruz.

"He's 19, and in his first year of University."
Dorian watched as people can and went, a man who looked all cop walked in. Dorian had of course done his own research and he gave a small laugh, Martin turned to look.

"Know him?"
Martin asked.

"Not exactly. My new boss it would seem. And he knows your doctor friend."
Oh the irony, Dorian wondered if that was the text she send. A call for rescue from the evil man who presumed too much. Dorian had to laugh. Martin didn't look amused.

The place was picking up. But it was still kinda slow. Dorian picked at the food in front of him, it didn't smell half as good as it had sounded. He would have to see what how well his new cook faired. He wasn't inclined to eat Russian quinine every night.

"With my new... squad, anything I should be doing differently for you?"

Connor laughed and handed the helmet to Jensen and sat down. "Thanks, man."
Greta came to their table and had a teasing smile.

"Hey Connor. I didn't expect to see you today, not with Ayden off." She winked at him. "I'da thought she'd roped you into looking at china patterns or something."

He groaned theatrically. " Yikes. I don't even want to think about that."
He shuddered. "Thank God Ayden's not into that kind of stuff."
He meant that with all his heart. He was starting a new life with her. That's all he wanted. They only had a few friends in Moscow anyway- some work buddies, Ayden's friend Emily, a couple of the girls here at Chesterfields. And of course his aunt was here. It would be small wedding, probably less than 10 people. He was just fine with that. What mattered was the new life they were making.

Though it nagged at him, at times. Ayden had made sacrifices for him- good ones, necessary ones. But along with the line of work she had been in, she had also been able to travel, to explore new places, to be her own master. Here, she was a waitress. He knew that it bothered her. He'd told her she didn't have to work. But what else would she do? School had bored her. She needed something. He wanted her to be happy. It ate at him. When she was asleep he'd sometimes lay there next to her, watching her. All thoughts and feelings looked up inside, as much a mystery as ever. He loved her for it, wanted to explore her and get to know her more and more. But if he was honest with himself, sometimes he was afraid that after enough time went by, she'd resent him and leave. It was the pattern of his life, after all. But he refused to focus on that, to think that way. He had to risk it, no matter the possible pain. Still, he tried to think of something else he could do that would give her the freedom she had before.

But that was for another time. He ordered his usual, rum on the rocks, splash of water, and turned to Jensen. Hard to believe that it was only a few months ago that they had met in such a...spectacular fashion. It was the day his life had changed forever. "It's good to see you Jensen. You look good."
His eyes glanced and the jacket with a grin. "Still got that biker thing going on I see."
He remembered the helmet, that night with those kids, the man he had killed. He stifled the turn of his stomach. He'd do it again, he knew that. But still.... His smiled faded and he leaned forward and lowered his voice. "Did the kids end up safe? Are they ok?"
Dorian didn't look happy with his food. The rich and the pampered Martin thought. As Dorian had asked about any new orders Martin saw a man walk into the establishment. He was wearing a long brown rain coat, that was dirty. Martin was surprised that the hostess had let him in. He had refused to take off his jacket rather, "No, I can't do that."

The man repeated looked behind him and around, he was afraid of something. Dorian wrinkled his nose as the man walked past him. Martin smelled it too, rotten eggs. He was sat two tables away from them at Martin's back. He disliked it but Dorian had a good view and he watched the strange behaving man.

Martin turned his attentions back to his friend with a shrug. "Nothing new for now. Same old, same old. We are particularly interested in the newly rising faction of terrorists."
Terrorist were what the CCDPD were calling the reborn gods. It was an apt name in Martin's opinion
Jensen waited patiently while Connor had a few words with the server. They seemed to know one another, and Jensen briefly wondered if Connor came here often.

Meantime, he placed his helmet on the chair on the other side of him. Maybe Connor had a preferred spot he liked to sit, too? Jensen didn't mind. It was easy enough to move it from one chair to the opposite. Jensen asked if they had iced tea, which of course earned him a strange look. So he requested a soda instead.

The question that hung in the air between them soon surfaced. How had the kids fared after that night? Jensen had an answer, but it was only partly positive.

"In the immediate, yes they were taken care of. Unfortunately, my friend didn't have the resources to care for them in the long-term, and some disappeared. Perhaps to be drawn back into the same world from which they escaped."

Sad silence reigned for a few moments. He should have anticipated that.
Drayson took her hand in both of his briefly, then moved to ease her chair in when she took her seat, before taking the one adjacent to her for himself, rather then sitting across the table from her. He chuckled quietly at her question; their first date had been a curiously pleasant disaster. Fancy restaurant, kitchen fires, and lots of water in the height of a Moscow winter had made for a shoe-ruining dart to the sidewalk and some delicious Chinese delivery. And perhaps more interestingly, a chance for the pair to 'let their hair down' a bit.

"Dry yes, warm however has proven elusive. Thank you for the invitation. I likely would have skipped lunch again."
It was a common thing for him; breakfast and dinner were often healthy and hearty meals, while lunch tended to be either forgotten entirely or little more then coffee and a bagel or the like. Something he could eat on the go.

She leaned in and whispered conspiratorially, and he just chuckled quietly and nodded in affirmation to her question. Her rather sudden invitation made more sense; some company to keep all those strange men from sniffing around too much. "The young one is Detective Dorian Vega. Rich family, good service record. The Vega family owns Jivana technologies, so he likely knows of you because of family responsibilities and connections. I believe he just arrived in Moscow today, actually, and is due to report to work in a few days, once he is settled in of course. The other, I assume, is an associate of the Vega family. Likely related to the family's security detail, judging by his bearing."

He spoke quietly, and leaned in so close had little trouble smelling the scent of her shampoo, and enjoyed a detailed view of how a few rogue strands of her otherwise neatly kept hair accentuated her ear and neck. But rather then loose himself to those delicate details, he leaned back again and flagged the waitress long enough to order a cup of coffee, black. He had toyed with the idea of tea, but a glance at her cup had dissuaded him.
A pall hung over the table for a moment at Jensen's answer. Connor winced as he clenched and unclenched his jaw, shaking his head. It just wasn't right. He was no fool. He knew that as one man, he couldn't save the world. But he'd hoped that he'd made a difference, at least for those kids. But the world was so big and the horrors so...large. It almost seemed He shook that thought off immediately. If even one of those kids had gotten away safe, it had been worth it. You can't just do nothing.

A memory floated up. He'd been shot! Strange how he hadn't thought about that in such a long time. It had been such a strange experience, especially there at the end. Cliche, but it couldn't be helped. All the important parts of his life coming to him, the realization that it was over. And had been as if he had hit the ground. He couldn't help but smile. Ayden. It had been Ayden. And Jensen. He leaned forward. "Listen, I don't know that I ever told you thank you for what you did for me. You saved my life."
He chuckled slightly, a quote coming to mind, although slightly modified. "That makes two I owe you, junior,"
he said, putting up two fingers for emphasis.

He took a sip of his drink. "So what have you been up to these days?"
Just then he noticed Charlie had walked in, dressed in a jacket, t-shirt and jeans. He passed a guy in a trenchcoat. Connor put his hand up to catch his attention. Charlie saw him and started for the table. Suddenly Connor realized something and started smiling. "So, uhh, my friend Charlie's comin' over here. You've actually met him though."

Connor slid over as he joined their table and sat down, running his hand over his buzzed head. "What's up man?" He made as if to look over Connor's face with a raised eyebrow and then . "No bruises, huh? Tomorrow at Gracie's I'll remedy that." He laughed and looked at Jensen and suddenly his face turned into a full fledged grin, which then turned into laughter. He turned to Connor. "Are you kidding me?"

Connor couldn't help but laugh himself. "Yeah, pure coincidence, I promise man. Seriously."
He looked at Jensen. "Sorry. You remember Charlie? He was all dolled up at the time and calling himself Charlene."
He grinned at Charlie and shook his head. "Ugly ass woman, if you ask me."

Charlie looked feigned offence. "Hah! You wish!" They bothed laughed at that.

"He's my trainer over at Gracie's."
Charlie was grinning at Jensen, a hint of playfulness in his eyes. Connor remembered that look. He wore it just after Charlie had knocked him to the ground their first session and then had said, "Don't call me ma'am!"

Charlie put out his hand. "How's it going?"

Edited by Connor Kent, Apr 15 2015, 12:56 PM.
Jensen was on the verge of explaining just how little he had been up to when Connor's attention diverted elsewhere. He seemed to recognize another person, and again, Jensen wondered whether this place was a regular spot for Connor. Perhaps they had arranged to meet beforehand and Connor had only joined Jensen out of politeness. Regardless, Jensen was smiling slightly, his gaze friendly, when the third man came within earshot. They'd apparently met before? Jensen was good with remembering faces and names, but he didn't recall where he'd met Charlie.

Then, Charlie recognized him! Jensen felt his eyes widen. He was purely baffled!

Connor's explanation froze his features like that, while the gears of his mind turned backward in time. His chest tightened, wholly embarrassed at his poor puzzle-solving skills. Amid shuffling in his seat, he scrubbed his hair awkwardly away from his face and turned blushing cheeks upward toward Charlene. He distinctly remembered Charlene teasing him the last they met.

He sprung to his feet and quickly offered a hand to shake. "Of course! I am so sorry for my momentary lapse of memory there."
After they greeted one another more properly, Jensen returned to his seat, gesturing also that Charlie join them. "So you're a trainer. What is Gracie's?"
He looked between the two men. Was Gracie another friend, also?

It came as no surprise when Drayson's Wallet chirped, and he flashed Victoria an apologetic smile as he drew it from a pocket to see what the pending message was. Even as he pulled out his Wallet, it chimed again, then twice more; a barrage of messages which caused his brow to furrow as he read through them.

"I'm sorry, Victoria. Something has come up."
He had barely had a moment to sit before it was already time for him to leave again. He stood and tucked the Wallet away, "Maybe next time?"

He waved off the waitress who had just brought his cup of coffee, and finally excused himself, striding out of the restaurant, his stride purposeful enough that the young lady rushed to hold the door open for him. A squad car pulled up moments after he reached the street, lights flashing but sirens off, and Drayson piled into the back seat with his Wallet pressed to his ear.
Torri was vaguely aware of a sketchy character wandering through the restaurant, but as a Chief Inspector didn't acknowledge him, Torri assumed he was benign.

Someone he did notice pricked her interest. Drayson knew the gentleman at the table after all. With his assurance that the note was coincidental, she was relieved. However she felt her privacy had been invaded; an unsettling feeling. For now, she dismissed the notion churning her gut ill-tempered. The tea did not help either.

"I've never heard of Jivana,"
she said flat. "But I am woefully ignorant of private enterprises,"
and men, apparently. All this time she thought he had not wanted a second date, yet she felt Drayson's gaze linger on her. The intuition was completely the opposite, now they were together again.

Just as she was getting a better sense of their burgeoning relationship, an alert from his Wallet gave her a dreadful foreboding. A doctor was poised to understand woes of living on the beck and call of situational need, so she was polite as he took his goodbye. "Next time."
Yet in his absence, she sighed and ordered a pale ale to sip in lieu of the wretched tea. Five o'clock somewhere. Alone, her gaze loitered about the room and randomly settled on the biker guy she noticed earlier. No man should be allowed to be that pretty.


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