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Window shopping
#1
As much as Jax hated the idea of going to Mumbai as a kid, something happened while he was there all those years ago. Probably had something to do with the timing; he had been a red-blooded sixteen year old at the time after all. The tragedy which occurred still haunted him to this day. An unyielding horror. One that crept up at the oddest of times and pretty much confiscated every ounce of his thoughts, at least for a good while. It had the power to stir him from a good night's sleep; or likewise help with a good night’s sleep.

That's right. He developed a thing for Indian women. God help him.

Such was how he came to be in this tragic set of circumstances: kept prisoner by the dark-haired exotic still asleep in the other room. They were like cats. Call and call and call and you're ignored. Then for inexplicable reasons, you can't peel the paws away. Actually, that wasn't so bad. But a bit of understanding as to what went on behind those fluttering black lashes would really help out.

A swig of coffee later, and Jaxen was powering up his Wallet. That of course being the brand name for the tech he carried at all times, the device which stored, well, everything. It was about the size of an old-fashioned billfold, which were still carried around by the 'regular joes' of the world. While the decryption programs were running, a glance out the windows revealed the sprawling skyline of Moscow City, the modern metropolis of skyscrapers in the business district a couple miles west of the Kremlin. The top of one such building being the location of his apartment. The glance also revealed the time: a sunny mid-morning. A fact which the Wallet confirmed-- now that it was awake. 10:45 AM; partly cloudy It was going to take a while to get used to the time change. It was almost midnight in California-time.

In the next room, he heard the sounds of the shower start. Which meant Aisha was up. He smirked for a second, wondering if he should put on pants or something. But the idea was forgotten by the time the electronic glow of the Wallet brought him back to the present.

First things first. Mail. He wasn't particularly fond of it, but it was a necessary evil in life. A quick swipe across the touchpad threw a larger version of the Wallet screen's contents in midair off to the right. He briefly glanced at the list of people awaiting contact and quickly returned attention back to the main screen. Nothing world-ending; they could wait. Market updates came next, even though he really didn't care about them. Jaxen was a small fish in a large pond when it came to the stock markets. Still, another swipe threw that image to the air off to the left. He pulled up his favorite tech news channel next, and sent it hovering to the field of view below the mail, sound muted for now; the shower was still running. Finally, a proper scene set, he pulled up the latest news about inner Moscow happenings, specifically the section on the Kremlin district, and started scanning for anything of note.

That's when he saw it. Baccarat Maison. The famous Parisian crystal maker opened a second mansion location. Out of the whole world, they chose Moscow. Out of all of Moscow, they landed on Nikolskaya street. Which was an excellent location. Jax needed a warm up before hitting the main event--the one that drew him back to Moscow in the first place.

A flick, and the Baccarat website overlaid the tickertape scroll of stocks. The place was opened recently. Three main floors. A show room filled the main level and a private residence sprawled the two floors above. Living quarters for a name Jaxen didn’t recognize: then again, he’d been out of touch for a while. Though clearly it'd have to be someone with ties to the Baccarat fortune. Who else would live there? The building itself was hundreds of years old, like every other structure on Nikolskaya street, which meant architects, construction crews, utilities upgrade, security installations, and Custody permits for the move-in: all the good stuff; all easily hackable.

He downed another swig of coffee as the rain of water silenced in the distance. He probably had a good twenty minutes before Aisha strolled out in search of coffee--assuming she was like every other woman on the planet. Therefore, he had plenty of time to work. At least to figure out which security system was installed. Though to do so quickly was going to require a keyboard, such as the laser outline the Wallet projected on the table in front of him. He had a full-sized system in an office for real research downstairs. But this was just messing around. He was still in his briefs for gods sake. More importantly, he was still waiting on breakfast to show up.

Completely focused on the task at hand, Jaxen never heard the soft-footed Aisha come in. Until she was practically standing right behind him.

“What are you doing?” She asked. He nearly jumped out of his shorts.

A rapidly punched keycode and pounding heartbeat later and all five screens collapsed simultaneously from midair. The view out the windows returned to his line of sight.

Jax twisted in time to see a surprised look cross Aisha’s face, but he was pretty sure she hadn’t seen anything. He leaned back nonchalantly, and ran a hand across his untamed hair.

“Not much, just getting a feel for what I’ve been missing lately.” He grinned and pat his knee as though summoning her. She looked amused by the idea, but tightened the belt on the robe she must have found in the bath and sauntered over to the windows instead. Her hair was wet from the recent shower and pulled back into a tight, jet-black bun to keep water from dripping down her back. Though clearly the concept wasn’t foolproof. The robe was sticking to the curves of her spine here and there. Her slim body seemed to drown in the robe otherwise meant for him. Not that he was a big guy, but by comparison.

“Beautiful view,” she commented, having only seen its nighttime parallel.
“Yep.” He answered playfully.

She turned, a coy smile parting her lips ever so slightly, greatly darkening the glint in her eyes. Yep. This was a problem. Such that when she sauntered back and swiped the hibernating Wallet from the table, he couldn’t bring himself to snatch it back from her. No more than feigning a playful attempt anyhow.

She powered it up, but Jax reached for his coffee cup without worry while she perused his recent log. That keycode decimated any trace of recent activity he’d prefer to remain private. Such was how she came across the Baccarat website.

“This is the Parisian crystal!” She exclaimed with that same breathless accent that pretty much steamrolled him last night.

“Oh? You’re a fan?” He replied.

She nodded quietly in answer, blinking in wonder at image after image of their stunning works of art just a few minutes away.

“There’s a thing going on tomorrow night,” he came close to retrieve the Wallet, catching her eye as he did, “I was thinking about going. But sadly, I don’t have a date.”

She smirked, “I’ll have to get something else to wear.”

Jax set the Wallet out of reach and hovered over her chair, not so subtly getting a glance down his robe folded ever-so loosely across her chest. She laughed. “Then you better get on that,” he whispered in her ear, pulling the belt as he did.

"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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