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Jensen hid a yawn behind his hand. It was late afternoon, but he'd been awake less than an hour. He'd overslept the alarm that should have seen him arrive to the cafe on time. Instead, he'd scrambled about John's loft like a frantic college student and barely had time to shower before running out the door. The building doorman jumped none too pleased from the path of an extremely apologetic Jensen, who was more of a blurred blaze of an unbuttoned coat and flapping scarf.

Somehow, he made it to the cafe in the nick of time. God bless the Moscow metro system for operating with military precision. Once he gained his bearings after falling in the door, he realized nothing had changed about the place. It was on the same stop as where he hailed the bus that carried him to his old forklift job. Around the corner was a decent food market, too. The Tulskaya metro stop just shy of the third ring road in southern Moscow had some fantastic food carts, and his stomach rumbled just thinking about his usual fare on the way to work. One pirozhki stand in particular sold these individually sized baked buns stuffed with meats, mushrooms, rice and onions to die for, and were easy to eat and walk at the same time. On a cold winter's day like today, a steamy hot breakfast sounded fantastic. Tony probably was less enamored with them than Jensen, but when Jensen bought a biscuit from the counter, his stomach ached for pirozhki.

He went ahead and also purchased two cups of coffee for himself and Tony, who had been kind enough to meet him here, and was the reason Jensen hurried to arrive on time. His mother always said punctuality meant being early, but she would cringe to see her son arriving at the stroke of the clock as he had today.

Impolite as it appeared, he kept his coat on while seated. Not because he wanted to be prepared for the event of a quick getaway, but because the shop was rather drafty. The recent cold plunge seeped around the old windows and blew in his face every time the door opened.

Jensen was pushing disheveled hair from his eyes and nursing a creamy cup of coffee when he finally caught his breath at a table.

Edited by Jensen James, Jan 27 2014, 05:20 PM.
Tony waited and watched as a flustered Jensen seated himself. It was a stroke of luck really - although he supposed Claire had tried to tell him - finding out about Jensen.

Marco had received word from the Guardian of a certain Mr. James incarcerated for suspected homicide. And released soon after.

Of course, Tony did not believe the Jensen was guilty. Unless he had changed thoroughly from their last meeting, he wouldn't believe the man would hurt a fly. However, associating with such a well known man could be extremely dangerous.

For now, at least, it seemed Jensen was still in a manner of hiding.

Heaving himself off of the cool brick wall that gave him a perfect view of the man, he made his way towards the busy little cafe and donned a cheerful smile.

As he approached, he examined Jensen closely. Despite his fluster, he looked far better than he did last time, which made his smile genuine. "You look well, Jensen,"
he said, slipping into the seat opposite him. "How have you been?"
The coffee warmed him from the inside out. Despite the turbulent path that carried him to Moscow in the first place, Jensen had to assume he'd never get used to the weather. When he left Texas for crying out loud, he didn't even own a coat.

Tony strolled in with a smile that was contagious in a way. What it elicited from Jensen was more of the awkward chuckle of embarrassment than one of joy. He scratched his temple thoughtfully. "Its been an interesting couple of days. So I suppose I could say I've been turbulent."
There was that pastoral flair for the dramatic. "But its all likely for the best."

He pushed the second cup forward in case Tony was interested in it. Curls of steam wafted from the dark surface, untainted by additives - quite unlike his own. Jensen had no clue how Tony liked his coffee, but once and if he learned, it was the kind of detail he would remember in a future friend.

"Thank-you for coming like this. After the way we met before,"
his cheeks tingled warm, "-well, you're a good man, Tony."

He dug the old iScreen out of his pocket and pushed it over alongside the cup of coffee. It was already programmed to show a very short paragraph in the local news about the incident with the gangs' shootout. It'd been hard enough to find any article about the event, as catastrophic as it was personally. Tony seemed connected in a way, but he may very easily have no clue it had ever happened.

"I was there for that,"
Jensen thumbed his cup uneasily, "and was part of what really happened. And now, I don't know what to do with myself."
He glanced around quickly. If someone was listening, so far there was nothing particularly incriminating about his words, but whether its paranoia or simply being mindful, Jensen was determined to be more careful in the future. Hopefully that works out.

"I was hoping you could help,"
he said.
Tony put the cup of coffee to his lips and absently took a sip. It was bitter, in dire need of sugar, but his attention was fixed on Jensen James.

The man was still reserved, but his voice and gestures had grown stronger and more self-assured. Tony doubted it had much to do with his own brief encounter. He wondered what had changed. Could it have been the 'event' Marco told him about?

It was then that Jensen showed him the snippet of a local article, something about a shooting.

"I was there for that,"
Jensen thumbed his cup uneasily, "and was part of what really happened. And now, I don't know what to do with myself."

Tony's brows rose. Marco had not mentioned any gangs. He spoke of torn bodies and mysterious death - unnatural.

"I was hoping you could help,"

Jensen said.

Tony lifted the cup again, tapping his fingers along the underside of the table as he thought for a moment. Chelka had tracked him to the University, but knew little of his actions. Nothing strange - at least nothing that Tony did not account for - but... Jensen James...

Could he afford to entangle himself with such a man? True, his fame counted for nothing in Moscow, he doubted many had even heard of him. The government though...they could find out if it came to it.

And do what?

Finally, Tony's empathy mastered his caution. He could not leave one like himself alone. Still, he had not abandoned all care. "I will do what I can,"
he said, ambiguous, but the truth. "But you will have to tell me what really happened."

He did not ask the question. Jensen was uncomfortable as it was. He merely waited, allowing the man to advance at his own pace.
Tony had to think about it. Jensen didn't hold it against him for a second. Men had to be smart when it came to deciding whether or not to jump into strange, dark waters. Even if to help someone already drowning in them. Men had to charitable, but they also had to be wise.

Jensen prepared himself for rejection, so was a good deal relieved when Tony said he'd do what he could. A weight lifted, and Jensen nodded thankfully. The terms attached to Tony's aid were not entirely unexpected, especially after having met Jon Little Bird - the lawyer that helped him out of the legal trouble following him around like a shadow. He'd demanded similar explanations.

A weary look around the cafe demonstrated his hesitation to talk about it so openly. Nobody was in earshot, but these days, that meant little. He slid from one chair to the next one over so to put their heads together. He was going to lower his voice quite a bit, but there was no point in making Tony strain to hear what was said. He was going to have a hard enough time believing the tale to start with.

"I saw some kids I thought were going to rob - or worse - an old woman. When there was gunfire, I ran."
Tension tightened his voice, and he thumbed the cup again. The ceramic held a lot of heat and warmed his palms nicely. It reminded him of a diner near seminary where he liked to read on Saturday mornings.

He scratched at his collar. Then his poorly shaved throat. And the back of his hair. He rubbed his hands together and took another drink. Pitiful, really, the way he was stalling, but some things were just plain hard to spit out. "When I got there, it was the old woman - not the kids. They were all dead but the last one. His feet twitched beneath her."
He swallowed hard, looking aside. There were other, more gruesome details he didn't wish to remember.

Jensen looked up, hopelessly lost for words to explain the rest. "I did something that scared her off. Then something - miraculous - happened. The kid.. I went to him and prayed - his throat looked like ground meat, but something stirred in me. And I.., I don't know,"
he stopped talking, eyes misted with emotion, but he steadied himself with a long breath and heavy lids.

"Then he was fine. He ran away after that. I don't blame him."
The gift was a burden, not because he sought to discard it, but because he didn't know where to even start. Nor whether he could do it again when the need arose. Perhaps he should trust more in the Holy Father's blessing, but it wasn't the Lord Jensen doubted, it was himself.

There were a few other details he hadn't disclosed, but to a man like Tony, they were probably unimportant anyway.

"Like I said, I don't know what to do with myself now."
As Jensen shuffled into the seat beside him, Tony bent his ear to listen. It was clear Jensen did not want anyone to overhear, and Tony understood the feeling all too well.

Tony listened, his smile never wavering. A man like Jensen was vulnerable. He was shoved headlong into a world he knew nothing about with the burden of religious misgivings and a painful past. Any sign that Tony was perturbed could scare him away. An unworthy thought - but Tony did not like to take chances with people's lives.

As it was, the more Jensen revealed, the less Tony needed to fake his smile. Jensen seemed unsure, but Tony marvelled at the man's skill. To bring the child back from the brink of death so easily!

He doubted he could achieve it without straining himself to his absolute limit. Perhaps not even then. The good Pastor may indeed be favoured by his God. At the very least, it confirmed his good nature. While most people could learn how to heal, it was telling that it came instinctively for Jensen.

When he had finished, Tony laughed aloud. It was not altogether careless. If anyone was watching, it would seem as if Jensen had told him a particularly fine joke. However, it was genuine.

"You have a great talent, Jensen. Something you should be proud of, despite the unfortunate circumstances,"
he said, leaning back with an arm folded over the back of the steel chair. "Have you come to terms with it yet? I can help you learn to control it, if you wish."
Tony's laughter disturbed Jensen's meager serenity. He sat back, blinking and confused. "A great talent?" He couldn't quite speak to that. As it were, he felt like he were cradling a newborn infant and was too afraid to divert a single shred of attention for fear of dropping him. Gabriel, his oldest, had slept snug and content in his swaddling blanket, but Malachi, on the other hand, shifted and squirmed until his arms and legs were freed. Thank the Lord Gabe came first to give him a chance to practice. A wormy thing like Malachi would have scared Jensen off from ever holding him. At least not on his own.

Jensen shifted in his seat. At least we knew where Malachi got his squirming. It wasn't from his mother. "It's not me,"
he said soberly, but he knew what Tony meant. He had to wonder if this thing intrinsic to his identity was the same that led him to Pastoral Service to begin with. It was a valid question, and for Jensen, who questioned everything, was one he would not soon release.

"I think I'm accepting."
The memory of a soothing light crossed his face, filling him with faith. "Or will in time at least, but I need to do something with myself. I don't want to waste whatever this is. There's not much time anyway."
His breastbone wanted to cave in like a sinkhole. To think, talking about the apocalypse over coffee.

"I just want to help people. While I can."
Jensen's reluctance did not grate as much as it had at their first meeting. He would have said that no matter the source of the power, it was Jensen who used it for good or ill. However, Tony refrained and merely nodded in acceptance.

That he wished to help was enough for the moment, and he would not push the man further.

"I can help you control it, help you learn to use it how and when you wish,"
he said in a brisk tone, taking another sip of the bitter brew, propping his left foot up on the other knee and relaxed his tensed shoulders. "Privately of course, but that aside I will endeavour to help any way I can."

However, something in Jensen's speech piqued a curiosity that he would not let past. He knew there was more to Jensen than it seemed, and he wanted to know before it was potentially too late. Something between Marco and Chelka's research bugged him. "Not much time?"
he asked with a raised brow. He did not hide his interest. Acting too casual would be just as suspicious as a gun to the head, but he made his inquiry mild. Balance was key. "Has something come up?"
Privately. The word echoed in Jensen's mind. He had no issue with taking his education away from the public eye. The thing was, "I think I can control it for the most part. Its the healing I am unsure about."
His lips formed a thin line. "Thank-you, Tony. I'll take you up on that."

Looking back, the way Jensen put it must have sounded cryptic. He probably should have phrased it differently, but now the cat was out of the bag.

Why keep quiet about the news? When he'd been so eager to tell Jon, it made no sense to hide it from Tony. There was something he wanted to hold back, however. The only explanation was fear of ridicule. It did sound preposterous, even to a Pastor, but Jessika had believed in him, and her faith gave him confidence.

He took a breath. "I've encountered some people"
and angels, "recently, like us, and not,"
he pictured John Smith's burnished eyes, "that have led me to believe things are coming together for the apocalypse, and Moscow is at its center."

Alright. Bring on the shame. Jensen was ready for it. He hoped.
Tony did not hide his surprise at the notion of yet another apocalypse theory, but his expression was not tinged with scorn. He knew the scorn all to well, and it did little good, even if the man was mad.

He allowed himself to imagine it were true if only to prepare himself. What would he do? Was there anything he could do?

He found a lack of concern in his mind, which perturbed him. He did not feel a sense of impending doom or depression. Certainly, he wished no harm on the billions of innocent lives that could be destroyed, but found the thought of 'the end' was met with apathy. It seemed that his world had already ended once, what was a second time to him?

After a moment he leaned forward, taking the still-warm cup of coffee into both hands, knitting his fingers around it. There were always apocalyptic theories, particularly around religious groups, and Jensen James had had enough stress in his life to crack him. However, Tony did not dismiss it out of hand. He was far from convinced, but the emergence of the 'Sickness' and strange creatures such as Michael and Jensen had told him about certainly deserved his attention.

Jensen looked ready to be scoffed at - as well he might, Tony supposed - but when he replied it was sceptical but thoughtful. "Many have claimed such things before,"
it was redundant, but Tony wanted more information, and to do that meant expressing his doubt. "What makes you so certain? These...abilities... are certainly something new, but there must be more, surely?"

Jensen had been on the verge of suicide not weeks ago, cursing his power as that of evil, something had happened to change his mind. Something big, and Tony intended to find out.

Edited by Tony Soloyov, Feb 6 2014, 07:42 AM.

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