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Not terrible
#11
He didn't take the warning seriously; leaned in instead, all soft and playful. It didn't surprise her; they never took it seriously. Not until she left them bleeding in the gutter.

If Oriena recognised any of the names he spoke of, she gave little indication, and when he offered the fresh bottle she took it by the neck, smirking, and pressed it possessively to her lips for a long pull. Winding up Stanislav was akin to poking at a hornet's nest; an easy target, an easy victory, if that's what you wanted. Kolomov were already poised for the fall, whether they were pushed the last step or not. Even the Syndicate's crowned queen came to watch the show.

Ori wasn't interested; not in the minutiae of Family politics on so insignificant a level. Kolomov fell. The vultures fed. That was fucking life. Maybe she'd dance in those flames, and maybe she wouldn't. The smirk played on her lips, stinging the wound. The vodka burned; she could feel it spreading a luxurious warmth, a comforting numbness. It wasn't like she needed the excuse to be a little reckless.

Though if she joined this game, it wouldn't be with the distance of an invisible power.

Meanwhile, Scarface retreated from the bathroom with tail between legs. Ori watched him; the brutal height, the charged stalk. She thought about demanding recompense for the vodka he'd so carelessly wasted watering the bar, teasing out the flicker of that temper until it savaged her, but dismissed the urge when he hunched back over his beer bottle.

Then a familiar face walked in.

The last time she'd seen White he'd not been himself at all, and the memory ignited a wicked grin that paled out the other distractions. The furious lick of flame; the cloying smoke; the crunch of the little Atharim's face against her fist -- a delicious mercy, though as far as she knew, he had not taken advantage of the escape she'd offered. Maybe he'd even died in the fire. The snakes scattered when their nest burned, and not a single one yet snapped round to bite her. White didn't have the tattoo - at least she didn't think so - but it was his face that bought their passage into the Baccarat.

Mikhail grinned down at her, waiting for her reply, and Ori winked. Right before tendrils of air snatched the lighter from his grasp.

He'd said it himself. He was the game. And she was going to play him to her own fucking rules.

She left the vodka on the bar, threaded her way through the tables to join White with his pisswater and peanuts. The last time she'd seen the real him, he'd been at the bottom of the Almaz pits. The same night she'd crossed palms to purchase the right to pull Kasun into Kallisti's open embrace. After she'd unleashed him on the audience, anyhow, and White had beat him bloody.

She pulled a chair with full view of the stool she'd just vacated. "Long time no see, White."
The flame from Mikhail's lighter danced with a snap. Dance, snap. Dance, snap. Then she held it out on the flat of her palm for him to take, and it was only her gaze that was blazing. They'd only met in the briefest of circumstances, barely shared two words, but it didn't matter if he didn't remember her. She knew what he was. "Not quite the Zippo Jaxen stole."


Her gaze slipped to meet Mikhail's across the bar, mischievous. It wasn't like he couldn't demand it back if it was so important to him; White might radiate predator, but she'd never see him act needlessly confrontational. What she wanted to know was whether he'd bother. He'd flicked the damn thing alight several times since she'd met him, but she'd not seen a hint of a cigarette. Habit, maybe. Or something sentimental.
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#12
Dollface took the bottle and a deep slug of vodka. She was determined to enjoy tonight, it seemed. Her lips were all kinds of kissable, for all of their meanness. And he liked her cold eyes.

But a game was a game. And any game was fun when the stakes were high. Kolomov wasn't a high stakes game. It had been chance, really, to see them here. They were going down either way. Even Yun had showed. Sitting near the mook from the bar. Dick! He had hoped she'd be interested, tho. Oh well.

What was that saying he made up on the spot right then? "Getting a woman's interest to stay where you wanted was like getting a cat to come at your beck and call." Ha! He was rather proud of that. Maybe get a bumpersticker of it or something.

And as if a script of cat behavior had been handed her, she plopped the vodka down, snatched his lighter away with the power and drifted off into the crowd.

You little bitch, he thought with a half smile on his face.

So now....what did he do? Well get his fucking lighter back. No brainer there. Not that he couldn't get a new one. They all worked the same, really. Still. It was the principle of the thing.

More importantly, though, there was the fact she clearly wanted him to play. To follow. And he liked that. If she was bored or whatever, she'd be gone by now. Instead, she steals his lighter and then goes and sits with some mook, making sure to adjust her chair so she's looking right at him. She might as well have sent him a Valentine's day card. "Check Yes or No."

A smile spread across his face and into his eyes. She played the game alright. And he was the game. She was interested. Hehehe.... alright alright alright. He just looked at her for a moment with that smile, raising his eyebrow as if to say Seriously? Alright, I guess. Not that he minded in the slightest. A game with Oriena would be far more entertaining anyway.

Kolomov forgotten, he grabbed the bottle, looked at Gus and indicated he was heading over. Got another roll of the eyes. "You know what you are doing Mik?"

Mik laughed and took a long drink. "Nope! But whoever had fun playing it safe?"
Gus laughed and nodded.

Mik headed over, eyeing dollface with a smirk. You called me here. But when he sat, it was closer to the mook. "Hi. Names Mik. Dollface here, in case you don't know, is Oriena."
He looked at her, his own smile twisting to something a little more....wicked. "So my friend here would kinda like us to fight. You know. Hot girl. Two mooks. Fights over who gets her."


He waved his glass around as he spoke, the ice clincking. At one point he refilled- more for effect, though he did want a full glass. "Now I'm not against fighting. I rather enjoy it, actually. Always nice to see people underestimate you. Or to confuse muscle mass with endurance. Sure you know how it is. And God knows she is gorgeous. Sure no shortage of guys hoping to kiss those lips. But....well, I'm not in the mood to be her pawn. So I think rather than be enemies, we be friends."


He waved over the passing waitress. "For my friend here. Next round is on me."
Oriena, he acted like, was almost an afterthought. "Oh. Dollface here needs a drink too. Whatever she wants."


Oh.... his hand snaked out, grabbed the lighter in her palm. He apologized to the guy. "Sorry. Not hers to give away."


He hid the relief he felt holding it again. It would really suck to not be able to channel tonight. Call it a hunch.

And he smiled at her, ignoring the guy in the seat next to him.


Edited by Mikhail, Feb 10 2018, 09:31 PM.
"Good and ill. 
We're like the wind, 
we blows both ways."
- Mad Sweeney, American Gods
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#13
He barely waited a moment before bounding over like an abandoned puppy. Peering into the kaleidescope of her motivations, Mikhail got it wrong. Ori used her sexuality as indiscriminately as any other tool, but lining up competing males was about as yawn worthy as kicking hornet nests. Not to mention that the notion of being a prize churned all sorts of dark defiance in her chest; like her worth could be wrapped and boxed into something so fucking petty. Though she did not bother to correct his assessment, or to point out that if she wanted Mikhail to compete for her attention she wouldn't have picked stoical White of all people to play that game.

But he was only wrong on the combatants. It wasn't White she coaxed Mikhail into battle with.

He plucked the lighter from her palm, and she let him. Either it did mean something, or he was just leading by the dick -- certainly he hadn't paused long enough to consider why she'd chosen this table or why she thought to offer the lighter as a gift in the first place. She doubted White would be impressed with the trouble she brought to his table, or the mention of Jaxen's name. But it only hovered that knowing smile.

"You ought to pick better friends,"
she said to Mikhail. Then, to White. "Are you still running with the snakes, White, even after you let in the big bad wolf who blew their house down?"
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#14
There were two strange faces in the hole. One looked high end, too good for a shit hole like this, but he took to it like a fly to honey. He'd walked the world. But beyond that Yun didn't know who he was and she didn't like that. Yun leaned to Andre. "Find out who he is, and the man with the scar."
Andre was not usually with her, and he nodded with the breifest of movements and quickly snapped a picture of the two men discretely with his wallet - pretending he was making a call. Then he was off to the car to do his work. Andre wasn't a hacker so to speak. But he was her main go to guy when she wanted that kinda stuff done. He had contacts in the dark web. That's what made him useful.

But the two at the bar came to site with the man. She looked like she knew him. Her face Yun knew. Avoided, not useful to her. She caused more problems than she'd like. The boy was just that a boy - a thug trying to make up for the shamed name. Or a lack of it - whatever it didn't matter. No use to her.

The one sitting alone at his table though Yun saw differently. He was here on business and the scuffle at the bar had only made his ire even greater. A different vibe he gave off all together. He drew her attention more so than the imploding family. "Watch the fire for me Pierre."
She whispered as she leaned away and sipped at her drink. She needed to know more about the stranger. Why was he in Moscow? Andre needed to hurry.
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#15
Thiago Amengual buried his hands in the pockets of his wool coat and cursed the Moscow weather for what was not the last time. They called it spring, but the air was biting cold. it only deepened a scowl across the smooth youth of his face, but the scowl did its work when his dark eyes met those of a drunk stumbling out of the Hole.

The hole looked like a hole. He forced his own lip to not curl at the thought of descending into such a place, but this was the kind of dirty work that would earn his father's trust. The fourth and youngest son of a wealthy Latin family had a lot to prove if he was going to earn a place at his father's dangerous table. The Amenguals were scattered for years, a shadow of former glory. His father took over the business after his uncle was executed by American raiders. Revenge was name of their game, but first, they had to reclaim their place in the world, build back the business, then they could restore what was taken.

Thiago checked the time one last time and descended into the hole. He made certain to dress more plainly than he was accustomed. The family was wounded, but they weren't impoverished. He wore a t-shirt with an electric-colored icon of the Virgin Mary across the front, jeans and boots. He had a gold ring with a red jewel on one hand and his black locks swept back behind his ears in a fine haircut. He was more handsome than intimidating. No one was likely to think twice about him.

The bar was noisy. The smack of pool balls filled the distance. Music played from a box in the corner. The bar was filled with locals. Russian accents heavy with English plugged his ears. He grit his teeth and focused through the veiled tongues, pushed his way to the bar tender and ordered a Mexican beer, if they had any. The barman made him repeat himself. Thiago rolled his eyes and complied, only to find they didn't carry the lager.
"Then give me what ever beer is best."
He laid down some money and scanned the group for the one he sought. There was no way of knowing who the contact was, so he positioned himself near the music box, dug beneath the t-shirt, and pulled a chain out. From the gold links dangled an authentic shark's tooth, this one inlaid with gold.

He propped an elbow up on the drink-rail, smiled at a couple cute girls, and waited to be found.

***

Ryker sipped at his beer, and while he intended to ignore Chaos and Bravado, the way she pulled the little skinny shit along was fucking entertaining. He watched her openly, the way she moved, the tilt of her jaw, the lay of her hands. A small spike of jealousy arose when she joined another's table. He had military written all over him. Least ex-military, and Ryker didn't need to glimpse the hint of a holster under that jacket to know it.

Other than that guy, there was only one other person sitting solo tonight. She occupied an entire booth to herself. Fit, athletic, and resting bitch face written all over her, Ryker lazily studied the whispers she planted in younger men's ears only to see them scurry away to do her bidding. Someone important then. Someone powerful. He was almost disappointed that she didn't wear the shark tooth necklace.

The brown faced Mexican kid that did finally wander into the bar stood out like a sore thumb. He was the only person of color in sight, which was something to say in and of itself. Ryker barely needed confirmation from the necklace that it was Amengual, or at least, Amengual's representative.

He pushed up from his chair, stalked around the bar making sure to take a path that caught the eye of that black widow spider, and flicked the kid with her a very open fuck you as he passed. Otherwise, Ryker joined the Mexican at the music box, studied the necklace momentarily settled against the neon colors of the Virgin, leaned in and spoke one word of code.

"El Tiburón."
He offered to shake the kid's hand when the flash of recognition crossed his face.

"Take off the fucking coat, kid, you look ridiculous. Never wear it again. You can bury the necklace now."


He led him back to the table to talk.

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#16
He sat quietly, pondering what to do about Dimitri's boss. Technically, the job was wrapped up with the hit on the arrogant shitstain's pushers. Pervaya's investor had wanted revenge, of course, but there were limits to what the CDPS would turn a blind eye to, even with the important sort of people like Pervaya's investors waving them away.

So, a few dead pushers, the ones that had sold the bad product to the investor's son. The boss cleans up his act, and everyone's happy.

At the end of the day, White was a professional. And, as boring as it might have been, he'd leave it at that. No point going off the reservation just to deal with some ass-hat drug gang.

So he sipped his beer, tossed a few salty beer nuts down range, his gaze seemingly locked on one of the foggy television screens on the wall.

And, for the most part, seemed to be entirely unaware of the woman, and the boy-toy she was teasing, as the two fussed and danced around each other. Or well, Mik chomped at the bit and she led the carrot ever out of reach.

Another sip of his beer, a slight turn of the head as the Asian woman's lapdog slid from their table and stepped outside. That one was dangerous. No physically, no. But if wasn't far off the mark, she had connections. Probably some not so dissimilar to his employers. Big time movers and shakers.

Well, there was a chance if she had the right connections, something would come up on the ass-hat's little phone call. Something other then John White of Pervaya Iiniya Securities, at least.

The shit-stains at the pool table were probably what she was after. Well, if she was as well connected as he assumed, she'd probably be smart enough to leave him alone. Moscow was a big city, lots of big fish and predators in the pond. Figured he'd chose the one random crap watering hole that had so much going down in one night.

Hell, it would almost be amusing if the stains at the pool-table owned the idiots he'd taken out. Big pond, but small circles sometimes. Eh, probably not.

Another sip of his beer, a glance to scar-face at an isolated table. Flash burns, maybe. White phosphorous could do that to a face, he supposed. So could have a nasty normal fire. Or, fuck, magic, these days. Or some fucking lava-monster.

The two continued to ramble at his table; drinks were being ordered, posturing made. More goading comments meant to try and get a reaction out of him.

So he sipped his beer, fished a few more nuts from the bowl, and turned slightly to settle the gaze of a single eye on Oriena and Mikhail. That one eye was disinterested, bored. Oriena was easy to look at, sure, but the amount of drama she was likely to bring to any encounter wasn't worth the effort.

She had been with Jaxen. And the fool boy had been damned interested in showing off around her, so he could probably bet she was like him. One of those damn Atharim reborn-gods bullshit.

And if she was dragging some lump of meat like Mikhail around, well...fuck, may as well just assume everyone was one these days. Expect the worse, and you couldn't exactly be disappointed.

"Kid. Less words. Makes you look like you lack confidence. Talk too much, sounds like you're buying time to think. And she doesn't want us to fight. She ain't some pretty bauble to fight over."
A ghost of a smile; the situation was almost entertaining. If the whole situation in the bar wasn't so damn tiring.

Scar-face scooped up the Mexican kid from the bar; the idiot had actually tried ordering some of the piss-water White drank a time or two back in the day. In his enlisted days, of course, when the pay was so god-awful shit that malt-liquor and piss-water was about all the barracks could pool together for. And, apparently, scar-face was not terribly fond of Oriena and her little Mik.

"Can't say I agreed with most of their cult-crazy bullshit. But they paid well. Think it got their panties in a bunch I wasn't as interested huntin' people as they were."
He wasn't exactly upset about what happened at the Baccarat. The system he'd overseen the installation of was damnably comprehensive. But it was only as good as the people running it.

And, again, it had proven to him that the Atharim were out of their element in the modern age. Their days were over; there were plenty of other folks that could hunt the things that went bump in the night. They didn't have a head for hunting humans. Fighting humans. And besides, their last check had cleared well before the fire.

His gaze shifted back to the old television, and he sipped his beer. It was god-awful, but there could be an appeal to bad beer sometimes. He paused a moment to study the label,
then flashed a predatory smirk at an inside joke.
The same brand he'd used to gut Dmitri with,
actually. They made bad beer, but didn't cut corners on the quality of glass. "Now. Do you want something, Oriena?"
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#17
Mik leaned back and sipped his vodka, slipping his lighter into his pocket. It was in his possession and the fact that he could feel it meant he was good to go at a moment's notice.

He looked at the Mook with a small dismissive smile before letting his eyes wander the room again. Grandpa needs to get more batteries for his hearing aide, he was going to say. No one had said that Oriena was a bauble or whatever. Just that she was the one playing games with them- and that one was the oldest one in the book.

Not like she decided to go sit there with Old Man River and then shoot challenge at Mik from across the room for no reason, after all. Oh well.

He noticed the dickhead from the bar now sitting in a corner sulking. He smiled to himself, remembering how angry the guy was. Vodka running down his front. Looked like he pissed himself.

River, here, would probably look funny too. He was nursing that beer and all. Just a little push during a drink. Could happen to anyone, really. Even dickheads who needed hearing aide batteries.

Idly, he was aware of his lighter in his pocket. The power beckoned to him. He was fast. Really fast. One of his hobbies. Quick draw and shit. Zero to 60 in .5 seconds. Over and over. Draw. Release. Draw. Release.

Quick Draw McDraw, that's who he was. Fast enough to snatch a fly out of the air. Quick enough the cut the balls off a gnat. Speedy enough to smack the back of Ascendancy's head and not get caught. Hah ha! Alright. Relax man. You can't laugh. Even though the anticipation alone is so good and you can practically taste it, can see the whole scene play out in your mind. His eyes were cool. His breath slowed, he let the noise of the room wash over him....

....and he became aware of what they were saying. The laughter drained from him. He didn't move exactly, but his ears perked up. This was just like when he sat at any number of bars, Nobody Sergeyev, and listened and pocketed away any number of secrets.

Well, cept he wasn't a nobody here. At least not sitting here with Oriena and River. He looked at her, interested in her answer. Not about what game she was playing with River. He couldn't care less about that. Reading between the lines was essential. And they were talking about something- or someone- important.

Was there a new player in the game? A new group he needed to know about? Come on baby, let me see the cards.


Edited by Mikhail, Feb 12 2018, 03:09 PM.
"Good and ill. 
We're like the wind, 
we blows both ways."
- Mad Sweeney, American Gods
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#18
The hole was hoping with faces today. Mexican cartels, Russian families imploding, The table with the well dressed man who was drawing unsavory attention from locals.

Yun took it all in. She drained her drink and Andre was walking in with his hand to his ear like he had pressing information. Yun smiled as he poured another drink for himself and her then sat down and leaned in to whisper quietly in her ear. She had a name but nothing substantial on the man who approached the cartel man.

There were rumors about The Shark in Moscow - or his representation anyway. Yun was more interested in watching the pair across by the music than the imploding Russians. But Slav walked in with a nod in her direction and slid in next her her with a smile. "It's done."


Yun nodded. One snake in the bag. An Ascendant on the hook and the world was spinning right. But new players might be in the game. Only time would tell.

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#19
He didn't know.

Or he didn't care (and really, why would he?), but ignorance would explain something else. The Atharim were in disarray, but no hounds bayed at her door demanding vengeance. Disappointing, really, even if it played to her advantage to have more time to prepare -- or at least, it was an advantage to those who would be caught in her eventual crossfire. Because Oriena would only wait so long before frustration swayed her hand to make the next bloody move. She courted war, and she would have it.

She smirked at White's stone facade. He didn't ignore her to hook a reaction; he ignored her because she was unimportant, and that distinction pleased her contrary nature in ways even she couldn't explain. Didn't they say cats always curled up in the lap of those who liked them least? "Clearly not riveting conversation, anyway."
She rolled her eyes. "Considering I'm the big bad wolf, I'd thought it's obvious what I want."


There was no boast in her confession. She glanced at Mikhail as she said it, unsmiling. But there was a glint in her eye that said she knew precisely what she was doing.

Carmen would kill her for admitting it; she knew the woman suspected her involvement from how grim her expression had been the night Ori returned stinking of smoke and with a jack o'lantern smile slashing her face. That same night Ori had given her leave to access whatever resources she deemed necessary to protect the people she loved. Ironically enough, Pervaya Iiniya's card was among the first she fluttered beneath Ori's nose, though she had brushed away the details at the time -- all in favour of letting Carmen pull the strings. Yet things had gone awry after what happened to Manix and his men.

If he didn't know, would White care to learn Jaxen used his face to unravel every security measure he'd put in place at the Baccarat? She wanted an answer to that, but perhaps not tonight. An invitation burned a hole in her pocket. Some games could wait. So she took the path of opportunity instead.

"If you've parted ways, I'm glad to know I won't have to kill you."
She said it deadpan, though it was not without the ring of truth to it either; a bare flicker of the heat that burned at the Atharim's heart in Moscow, still unsatiated. Her gaze travelled from the grazes on his knuckles up the length of his arms. Her lips razored a smile. "Or try, anyway. Though it might have been fun; I've seen you at the Almaz. I have a job to offer you, White. Or Pervaya, anyway. But it's you I want."


Scarface made a point of passing through her eye line; made a point, too, of scowling daggers at Mikhail -- though apparently didn't have the balls to act on his apparent offence beyond a few fuzzy looks. She'd felt the crawl of his eyes these last minutes, but was unperturbed by a witness. Hungry or curious or otherwise. She indulged whatever motivation tugged for her attention by watching him in return as he scooped up a boy hanging at the duke box. It had an air of business transaction about it. Clearly Yun thought the same. He might regret coveting Ori's attentions.

Her gaze dropped back to Mikhail, shared a dark hum of laughter at the ire he had attracted from the scarred stranger. "Look at you, making all these friends tonight."
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#20
Thiago followed Ryker to the table like a lost puppy. Once there, he discarded the ugly wool coat on the back of a chair and sat, hands twiddling with the bottle of his beer. Ryker recognized the brand, a craft beer from Kiev, branded Favorite Uncle. The label grew in the last ten years, enough to be mainstream in a hole like this place. Ryker hooked an arm on the back of his own chair, meanwhile and studied the kid. He was not filling him with all kinds of confidence about this deal. He hadn't expected the head of Amengual cartel to show himself, but this kid? Were they fucking with him? Maybe.

"Well? You going to give me a name or am I going to just call you Pedro and be done with it."
Ryker's dark sense of humor prickled the kid's sensitivities. Not that he cared. He found the squirming laughable.

"Actually, I'm Thiago,"
he sat up like he was rather proud of that accomplishment.

Ryker nodded with a certain amount of surprise. "I hadn't known I had the pleasure of meeting Zacarías Secada Amengual's youngest offspring."
He tipped the beer at Thiago's direction, but there was no accompanying apology. One would think the cartel Lord's son would be more ballsy. Then again, technically, Zacarías only inherited the cartel after his older brother's murder. Rumor had it that Rigoberto was killed on his own property by American special forces. Someone not unlike Ryker himself put down the lord like a rabid dog. Not that American SF's could compare to Assault Team Vega.

To business then. He leaned forward, dropping his voice. Nothing would be said that could implicate either of them in any sort of illicit dealings, but he was rather aware of powers unknown surrounding them, and Ryker would rather not have to deal with swatting away another annoying interference. "Then tell me young Thiago, I understand it that business ventures have gone south for your group. I have something that might ease the transition into Moscow. An interested party has extended something of an offer. An inquiry, perhaps. What can you offer me in exchange for lending this hand?"
He doubted Thiago wielded any actual authority in the cartel, but Ryker needed to learn what the kid was after himself if he was going to use him to his fullest potential.

Thiago took a drink from the beer, but did a poor job at hiding his disapproval of the flavor. He pushed the mostly full bottle aside and swallowed his building nerves. "I will review your inquiry, and if I like it, I'll arrange a sort of 'finder's fee' with the right people."


Ryker lifted a brow. "I'm not a fucking recruiter, Thiago. Here are my stipulations. You deliver this message to Zacarías and he will handle my compensation personally."


He pulled the datastick from his pocket, pushed it across the table. Thiago gobbled it up. Ryker smiled a cold smile. "Call this a gesture of good faith."
Thiago's eyes were wide with shock that this was so easy. Ryker had no intention of letting this deal slip through his fingers, however. He stood. They were done. "Don't worry, kid. This is going to go well for you."
He watched him flatly. Thiago gathered his wool coat, although he didn't shrug it onto his shoulders, and promptly left. Good thing. Ryker was biting his tongue to keep from telliing the kid to fuck off. Not yet, anyway.

Ryker deposited the mostly full bottle of beer on Kat's tray and returned to his seat. As soon as his own was finished, he had every intention of ditching this hole himself.

Edited by Ryker, Feb 13 2018, 11:21 PM.
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