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A New Day
#11
These two knew how to stick to a story. If it weren’t for that nagging feeling like he was being taken for all he was worth, Jaxen would have lifted his glass in recognition of fellow con-artists. Course, this was Jaxen, he wasn’t exactly the most trusting guy in the world, and as soon as Tony mentioned meditation, resentment shot through his imagination.

“Let’s get one thing one thing straight, boys.”
He sat up in the chair and swiped his own bottle from the side-table in a single, smooth motion. He devoted a considerable moment to swirling the rich liquid within then poured it carefully. Whatever animus whirlpooled behind his cold expression, he was unafraid of revealing it to the likes of these two.

Rivers of amber trickled between the ice cubes, and the tantalizing scent of liquid money curled upward. Not that money meant a thing in the world, but power did, and with power, came control, and when a man is in control, nothing can get under his skin.

Jaxen sat the bottle aside once more and fixed Tony with an unintimidated stare. It was a bit of his own show: the leading comment followed by a long pause. Jaxen was very much aware of who he thought was in charge.

”I bend knee to nobody. I pray to no god, and I take orders from no god.”
Deep down, a stewing sense of rage churned, deep in his gut. This was who he was. Independent, free, and cut loose. Shackling himself to hierarchy simply wasn’t in the cards, but at the moment, his indignation was little more than annoyance at their implications: that he depended on them.

”The higher power, yahweh, creator, devil, or the whatever great spirit that binds and animates all things hippie--they can all suck my dick for all I care. So call me a priest one more time, and I will rip your fucking balls off and feed them to the same Sickos that gnawed on your little girlfriend, and believe me, you will bitch louder than she did.”


He shot Michael a daring glance. He hadn't technically mentioned Katalina, but the threat was there. Push him, and he’d tell Tony everything. That their little girl was alive and well, but Mickey got off on crushing her bones to powder. Jax held the man’s gaze, conveying the lie with every flicker of his clenched jaw until he was sure they had an understanding.

In that last speech, his grip on the glass had tightened unawares, just as every muscle in his body had tensed. In that moment, Jaxen felt invincible. Through the rush, he smiled, amused by the whole ordeal. Something felt very, very right about all this.
"So?" said Loki impatiently.  "This isn't the first time the world has come to an end, and it won't be the last either."
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#12
Jaxen's anger was palpable, Tony had hit a sore point. Michael sympathised with him.

Until he mentioned Katalina. Oh, he hadn't mentioned her by name, and the look the man shot him told him he would reveal everything, but Michael's rage flared and turned to ice as he filled himself with the power to bursting.

The warning was a foolish move. He would not be able to talk when he was dead. Michael meant what he said.

He struggled to control the raging fury held by a thin veneer of ice-cold control. He knew Jaxen was simply angry and afraid. They had pushed him too far, but a part of him screamed at him to rip the traitor apart.

Traitor

The word haunted him and set his heart on fire.

Michael didn't bother moving as he wove Fire and Spirit. Jaxen - a part of him recognized the irony of the situation - held the power as well, but it was a mere trickle compared to Michael's raging torrent of death.

The weave touched Jaxen's brain and he fell to the floor, clutching his head, back arched in reflexive convulsion. He would be in pain, he would feel fire burning through his very veins, his head would feel like it was about to burst like an overripe melon.

Traitor

The thought screamed at him an he amplified the weave, the pain tripling. Michael was in a daze, he loathed what he did to the poor man, but at the same time he revelled in his pain. He deserved it, he would pay!

Tony was shouting something, holding the power, but he could do nothing. Michael was too strong. Nobody could keep him from his vengeance.

He saw the complex weave form before his eyes and explode like a firecracker, blinding him. Jaxen fought with his meagre strength and lashed out while he was blinded - intentionally or not, he did not know - and the weave trembled and disappeared, stinging him like a snake-bite.

Tony stood in front of him now, holding his shoulders in a vice-grip. "Control yourself,"
he said in a voice like steel. "I will not allow you to do this."


Suddenly, the rage bled out of him and he slumped in the chair, his hands shaking with adrenaline. He flung the power away from him like it was a deadly poison.

What the hell was that...

He stared at his hands, numb. It was as if he were possessed, his body taken by madness. Was this what happened to people like him? Did the power drive him insane?

Is this what you are truly like...?

When he looked up, his gaze was impassive, his emotions hidden behind a cage of impenetrable will. He turned to Tony who looked at him with concern. "Sorry."
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#13
Tony relaxed, but did not let go of the power as Michael made his apologies.

Well, I thoroughly fucked that up.

It had been a lesson of sorts. Michael was willing to put up with his moods - he had no idea why - and his bitterness had grown over the years and it was clear he had forgotten how to interact with people.

He had pushed the kid too far. Of course he was scared. He should have known what would happen. Although Michael's outburst...

He had sensed it in the young man before now. Something... tore at him. Something drove his rage to unnatural heights. Tony did not believe that was his true nature. Michael could be cold, but he was not cruel.

Get yourself together Tony, you fucking moron.

Taking a deep breath, he moved to help the poor up and laid him down on the couch. He used a weave of Healing. As it touched, he bruises and scars vanished and the kid gasped in shock.

Tony's voice was tired but he felt alive now more than he had in years. "Forgive me, Jaxen."
He slumped down in the chair the kid had vacated. "You... you don't know how dangerous it is... I have seen dozens die or taken never to be seen again because of this."


He picked up the vodka bottle that had dropped. Miraculously, it was not broken, and had spilled relatively little of the amber liquid. He placed it on the table.

"Nobody can force you to do this. You can walk out the door right now, I will not stop you. But I know you feel it. You may not believe what I say, but you feel something is different. If you want to take your chances - you may survive, after all - you will hear nothing more from us."


Tony rubbed his temples, the alcohol an irritant now more than ever. "I will leave you with one more thing. You know where to find us, if you ever need help."


Edited by Tony Soloyov, Aug 19 2013, 10:04 AM.
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#14
The thin ice shielding the two men from one another shattered.

Jax pushed too hard. He’d pay for it, but he’d never regret it. He bends knee to nobody.

As though in defiance, he shoved himself to his feet, ready to confront whatever Michael was about to serve, but a shadow fell across the room. Not literally, but the fury of a thousand demons gripped Jaxen’s spine and tried to wrench it out his chest.

A second later, he was on the floor.

Writhing.

He tore at his hair. He dug into his scalp. Whatever burst in his head, it dazed him of all recognition of the present; there was nothing but the compound forcing his soul out through his eye sockets. The wailing of harpies screamed inside his head, and Jaxen threw his arms across his face, howling silently, or perhaps screaming at the top of his lungs but unable to hear his own roar above the symphony of horrors. He knew what this was. Knew but could not escape it. He wasn't strong enough. Not yet.

Milliseconds stretched to eons.

There was no thought for terror. No consideration of reason. Just unendurable pain.

But something crept in. A parasitic weapon that latched itself onto his soul. He flung it away, lashing out aimlessly, instinctively, but nothing happened. He tried again, and again. Too furious and defiant to give up, but his grip weakened, and the weapon diminished, rushing from his grip until there was nothing but a mortal man.

Next thing he knew, it stopped. The roar. The pressure. The devils boiling his blood within. Jaxen's shirt was pasted to his chest with sweat but the convulsions left him too exhausted to move. When he brought himself to open his eyes, he saw a ceiling, not the inside of a casket, and some relief cooled the reality of what just happened.

Was that the Sickness?

No. That was something else. He rolled his eyes toward Michael, knowing, somehow knowing, he'd done it.

He rolled to his side, groaning, and spit the bile that’d lumped to the back his throat on their worthless floor.

Just when he thought it was over. A new fist of flame reached up and seized hold of his skeleton, and with the death-defying grip, Tony chucked him back to the seventh circle of hell.

When it was over. Moments or years later, he collapsed to the floor, painless, but too weak to move. Every fiber of his being was cleansed of wounds. The skin of his wrists were purified. The bruises to his face and ribs were smoothed. Yet he could barely sit up. Could barely make out what Tony was saying.

Yet he forced himself to listen.

”Okay. You have my attention,”
he said, thin acceptance in his voice.

He crawled to the front of the couch, but remained on the floor, simply glad to summon the strength enough to lean against it. Michael was impassive. Tony was stewing on morbid excitement. He pressed a weak hand to his stomach surprised to find his abdomen wasn’t replaced by an empty pit.

They did this. How? His thoughts were interrupted by a lion’s growl of hunger.

”Seriously. Food?”
He winced, not feeling--actually, he felt great--except for the starving animal gnawing on his innards. And the determined memory of not wanting to go through that again.
"So?" said Loki impatiently.  "This isn't the first time the world has come to an end, and it won't be the last either."
Reply
#15
Tony was glad Jaxen wasn't too damaged. For someone who had been a prisoner to a bunch of cannibals the day before then thrust into a world of magic bullshit, he held up surprisingly well.

When he asked for food, Tony sent Michael to get something. He needed to get...whatever happened of his mind, any task would do.

While Michael prepared some food, Tony spoke to Jaxen. "You said you bow to nobody. Good, you will need that. Right now, you are in chains, helpless to the power and the Sickness. When the CCD found out about what I had done, they hunted my entire family down, one by one. They disappeared, and I ran. Michael - I doubt he will tell you himself any time soon - fled from his home; hunted because of the power he possessed. A power he didn't want, he didn't believe in. As much as we both struggled against our fate, it did not go away."


He paused as Michael placed a bowl of cereal on the table for Jaxen. His face was still a mask of iron, but he was no longer angry. "Since this power did not go away; we embraced it. Seized it to do with what we will. You can learn to control it, and nothing will hold you down again."
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#16
Jaxen was too tired to interrupt Tony's soap opera. The CCD hunted down his family? One by one? Then he and Michael kumbaya'd into each other's lives at some point, decided to shack up and been crying themselves to sleep every night since?

But the familiar sound of a bowl landing nearby, now that was enough to rouse Jaxen upright. Whether it was filled with cereal or chocolate-covered shit, he wouldn't have cared too much at that point. He'd never been so hungry in his entire life.

Under the glare of low-drawn brows, Jax glanced between spooning mouthfuls of 'food' in his pie hole and entertaining the debbie downer drama Tony seemed to love so much. Smothered in all that whining was a point, though. Right now--and Jaxen couldn't believe he was really considering this--he was an infant in the lion's den.

The sugary puffs ground loud between his molars, but Jaxen was keeping a wary eye on Michael as he did. The guy was probably about his age. Close to Jaxen's build, but Jax was lean and wirey where Michael looked thick and slow. Tony now, that guy was not so intimidating. Run into him on the street and Jax was liable to overlook him altogether. Yet he was the one operating this little circus. There was an angle to play between the two men. Jaxen only needed to figure out what it was.

"Alright, Obi-wan."
Jaxen's suspicious gaze narrowed upon Tony. "I'm on board with your little wolf-pack."
He spooned another gulp of cereal, already nearly done with the bowl, but that vicious little animal was still gnawing away on his insides. Cereal just wasn't going to cut it. They were going to have to send for real food, and Mickey didn't look like the type to spend much time in an apron.

Done, he shoved the bowl away and caught a glimpse of his healed wrists. If he hadn't just gone through it, he'd swear he was tripping. Though maybe he still was. Who knew? He thoughtfully rubbed the spot where the wounds once flamed bright red marks. Healed. That was hard evidence to argue.

The frustration with his own ignorance anchored his expression deep and thoughtful. Jaxen sensed a bad moon rising out of this, but there was a touch of excitement to the way he looked at his own skin. Prospects. Questions.

Assuming this wasn't an elaborate hallucination and short of waking up in a padded room, this whole power thing could be a very, very good thing.
"So?" said Loki impatiently.  "This isn't the first time the world has come to an end, and it won't be the last either."
Reply
#17
Michael sat back down as Tony finished his speech. Far too dramatic again, it was clear that Jaxen didn't care about it. He wanted to know how it affected him directly, unless Michael had missed his mark.

He watched as Jaxen processed Tony's theatrics - perhaps he was a play-write before he became a drunkard, he never spoke much of his past - he thought he had a good idea of Jaxen's character by now.

Smart, cynical and selfish.

After he had finished his food, he accepted, looking very thoughtful.

Before Tony could bore him with more stories - it may work with others, but Michael doubted Jaxen would be affected, it was better to take his own direct approach now that he had accepted - Michael spoke.

"Good. Let's not waste any more time then, the faster you figure this out, the faster you can control and use it. Clear your mind of everything. Focus on a single point - imagine what you will - as a focus. Then, you will feel the power. Do nothing, Tony can guide you from there."


As he spoke, he wondered at the expression on Jaxen's face as he thought. He saw the use of this power. Michael wondered whether he was thinking of the pain or healing.

He may not want to kill the man any more, but he did not trust him. This could be a very bad idea, but he would not leave him to die just because of what may happen.

Edited by Michael Vellas, Aug 19 2013, 09:30 PM.
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#18
Well these two sure didn't waste any time. They might as well strap on some gear and tell him to climb Everest at the end of a two-week bender. He'd do it, just to not wimp out.

He ignored the pit of unalleviated hunger for now. No big deal. It was only like jaws of death were shredding his guts to ribbons. Totally easy to ignore that kind of thing. Again, though, the guy had a point. The sooner this was over with, the sooner he could get out of here.

Jax eyed one of Tony's discarded bottles, shook his head and muttered something under his breath. Then he leaned back and attempted to do as suggested. Some streak told him to flip these guys the bird and bolt. That pivotal day in Mumbai he'd been on his own. He watched, learned and practiced without someone holding his hand. But dammit, if he could do this, really do this, it was worth a few hours of humiliation. Even if he was pretty much ready to pass out in exhaustion.

The room hushed. Even the fluid sound of Tony's clogged breathing disappeared. But it was hardly quiet inside Jaxen's head. It started with that girl's thin voice, Is someone there? and ended with her screaming for help; by then Jaxen would have run to her aid just to stop the wailing sure to be branded in his brain forever; he may be a selfish bastard, but he wasn't a psychopath. But dwelling on her wasn't helping this cause. A tall drink, on the other hand, could definitely speed things along. But he mostly didn't want to get up to fetch the bottle.

He quickly grew frustrated with this seemingly slow progress. Which was probably more testament to a short fuse, no sleep, and hunger than his actual character. Normally, Jaxen was the epitome of patience--at least when it came to achieving his own ends. Clear his mind of everything? Focus on a single point?

Fine.

He cleared his chest of air, drew a fresh new breath, and closed his eyes. He fought the temptation to fall asleep, but the lure of his own steady breathing occupied his attention for the time being. Mind clear, he conjured up a single point onto which to focus. The red dot of a laser sight. Pretty much the exact same thing that landed on his chest when those Red Square devils came barreling in that Nikolskaya street bookshop. The kid he'd tried to help in there screwed him over. White tapped out his little dance routine--shit that was funny. The look on that guy's face--No. Focus.

A single red point streaking through the void of night. Eyes closed still, breathing calm and steady, he erased all the other distractions of body and mind and let the light burn his retinas. Though he saw nothing, he was sure he was about to go blind. Yet on he stared, drawing close enough, so close he could almost reach out and capture it.

He couldn't resist. The temptation was free and clear in front of him. He reached out to take it, a clean, smooth motion. Practiced and steady. If he could simply swipe the light and draw it to his control---but his fist drew clean through the laser. Right at it, yet missing it by a mile.

He winced, but quickly swallowed his frustration. This was no different than those early days of practicing the art of a con, he told himself. Back to the previous calm, he zeroed on the dot once more, but this time stayed his mind from grabbing at it, hoping Tony was about to share the trick to capturing it successfully.
"So?" said Loki impatiently.  "This isn't the first time the world has come to an end, and it won't be the last either."
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#19
Tony sat in silence as Michael spoke. He was about to say something, but then man - he was no kid, Tony realised, he had been caught off guard by his flippant behaviour - complied.

Well, that was good.

He shot a look at Michael, who looked back at him, cool and controlled. He thought Michael had done it simply to spite the man, but he doubted it now.

Besides,he thought ruefully.Michael didn't fuck around. If he wanted to hurt the man, he would have continued where he left off.

It was a more dangerous approach, but if Jaxen could learn now, it would be far easier in the future.

He turned his attention the man in question, who took a deep breath and set his mind to focus.

Tony watched as he struggled, but he was persistent. He would probably have made a better student than Michael, but he didn't seem the type to stay and learn much.

There.He could not see or feel it, but Tony knew the moment when Jaxen had tried and failed to capture the power. He smiled to himself. Nobody could resist the lure of the power, despite Michael's words.

"When you feel the warmth - like a burning light, a moth drawn to a flame - do not immediately try to grasp it."
He wouldn't point out that he knew that is what he had done, he had suffered enough humiliation for a year. "Right now, it will be illusive, you have not made stable contact. In the future, it will be much easier."


He drew on the power himself, only a trickle, but he did not want any accidents happening. "To break through, you must draw as close as you can to the warmth, the light. Resist the urge to grab for it, you will only miss, but do not hold back. Stay steady and inch as close as possible. There will come a point when you see the light clearly, and the veil is lifted on the power. You will then feel it in it's full force. A raging river of molten lava and glacial ice. Here things become extremely dangerous. If you are swept away by the river of power, your mind will be scoured and lost. Again, resist the urge to reach out. To control it, you need control in yourself. Snatch at it and you will miss and fall, if you try and slowly guide it, it will sweep you away. You must grasp it firmly - dominate it and direct it to your will. Steady and firm. That is the key. Strong, steady, firm."


He was ready with a weave that would hopefully stop Jaxen from being destroyed if he screwed up, but Tony did not want to risk it. He hoped the man was listening now more than ever.


Edited by Tony Soloyov, Aug 20 2013, 08:10 AM.
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#20
'Resist the urge to grab for it, but do not hold back.'

Okay. What?

A frustrated groan rumbled from the back of Jaxen's throat as he resisted the urge to point out the contradiction to Tony's instruction. How the hell does someone grasp something firmly without snatching at it? Again, Jaxen resisted the urge to break the view of the inside of his eyelids just to fix Tony with an eyeroll. Did anyone else think he was a puny pre-pubescent toke getting jackoff instructions? Strong, steady and firm? Suppose Tony's voyeuristic talk through lent some explanation as to why Mickey V stuck around so long, because it wasn't for the cuisine.

Seriously. First thing after skipping this shithole, Jaxen was banging someone in the bathroom somewhere. Probably going to be a fatty. He didn't feel like committing the time necessary to score a hot chick. A guy's gotta keep the bar low when in a time crunch. And the chubbies were usually more into the fun stuff.

This line of thought was not helping his concentration. Okay. Focus.

A dark room. A single red dot on the wall. Jaxen steered every ounce of his brain toward it and approached with a steady pace. The dot itself was fixed at eye level, but the wall itself tried to retreat like some funhouse of mirrors warping his universe.

His expression deepened unknowingly, brows drawn low in determination. With every step forward, the anger and frustration, even his forsaken hunger were left behind. A light, Tony called it. A burning light.

When his face was inches from the wall, the red dot suddenly swelled though Jaxen did nothing to summon it so. It had jumped out, lept unbidden and Jaxen gasped. Within, everything was fuming and scorched. Having fallen into some pissy volcano ready to blow.

He grit his teeth. Unconsciously, both fists curled up in determination, trim nails dug deep into his palms. He felt like screaming and crying and laughing all at the same time. The greatest drug he'd ever known coursed his blood. Through the force of it, every vein in his arms surfaced to a spidery web of tense muscle. It was a fight. One of will and domination. So far, he was winning, but barely so.
"So?" said Loki impatiently.  "This isn't the first time the world has come to an end, and it won't be the last either."
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