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Claire sighed. Both men at the bar were older, quite a bit older than she. And one of them, a stocky blonde who looked more a 'surfer dude' than a home-grown russian was watching here with quite a bit of fascination. That meant it was time to turn on the charm. If she were going to get a job as a server, she had to show off that she was good with patrons. She flashed him a smile and started to go over.

His friend's tumbling out of his seat stopped her. Her jaw dropped in shock and she looked around a few times. Should she go help? Or stay out of the way? Or better yet, leave altogether?!

The guy's friend waved her over. She was not expecting that. And for his attitude, she flashed the inattentive barman a daggering glare. In the US, it was illegal to let a man become dangerously intoxicated in an establishment. It opened the business up to lawsuits, a problem the Novak women were all too familiar. Perhaps it was different in the CCD? So many things were legal here.

She hefted her purse as the guy's friend checked him out. From her vantage, it looked like he'd smacked him on the face. Or maybe he was just trying to get him to snap out of it. She started to kneel.

Then the guy literally FREAKED OUT.

Claire gaped at his shuffling paranoia. She reached out a hand to soothe him, yet he scrambled away nonetheless, uttering apologies about who knew what kind of nonsense.

She exchanged a look with his friend and took a step back herself. If this was the kind of place that attracted skitzos and freaks at this time of day, she wasn't sure she was too interested in putting in an application anymore. Then again, in this part of the city a girl couldn't swing a dead cat without hitting some crazy S.O.B.

The fear in his eyes was real. The poor guy was obviously insane. Or soooo drunk that he was ... hallucinating? Her heart went out to him, and she thought through the contents of her bag. She had nothing on her capable of inducing peace of mind. Even if she did, she wasn't sure she could carry out the spell without practicing first. Like on a gerbil or something.

It was hard to tell whether the mumble of his speech was slurred with alcohol or was only incoherent to her ears. She hadn't heard a real Texan accent thick as his since ... never. Except on TV. Like that one guy her grannie used to go on and on about. Always talking crazy about revivals and moral codes and the 'End Times'. What was his name again? Gran nearly fainted when she heard what her fave preacher man did in his spare time.

She talked to the guy, "Look I don't think anyone wants to hurt you. Let's get you some water or something."
She turned to his friend, lowering her voice. "How much has he had?"

Edited by Claire, Sep 30 2013, 03:41 PM.
To say Jensen's reaction was odd was an understatement.

The man recoiled as if he had been bitten by a scorpion. The fear and disgust in the air almost palpable. His words were even more disturbing, like the ravings of a madman, except Tony knew exactly what he was talking about.

He had not expected that. He thought the poor bastard was simply struggling to come to terms with his sexual identity. But this on top of all that?

No wonder the guy is depressed...

The woman tried to sooth him, and then turned to Tony, perhaps thinking he was a friend of Jensen's. She had an American accent, different to Jensen's southern lilt, but unmistakably American.

What the fuck? Aren't these Yanks supposed to hate Russia and the CCD?

Not that it really mattered, he just found it odd. Perhaps this was some kind of American bar.

Tony was careful when he answered, the poor guy was already suffering enough, no need to add embarrassment. "He's had enough. I don't think it's life threatening though."
He turned from the woman - it was a surprise to see her so concerned, a young woman like that usually had to be callous to survive - and glared at the barman. "Hey ass-hole, get the man some water."

The man grumbled, but obeyed.

Meanwhile, Tony smiled at the woman. "Thank you, the name is Tony. That over there,"
he nodded towards Jensen, who was still wide-eyed with fear and loathing, "is Jensen. At least, that's what he calls himself. Don't know much about him, we only met this morning."

When the barman had delivered a glass of chilled water - he handed it to Tony, not willing to approach Jensen, it seemed - Tony returned his focus to Jensen. He did not move, just fixed the man with a stare, the Power flowing freely through him now. "You don't have to do anything, friend. Just relax."

He prepared a weave of sleep, in case Jensen lost control once more. Clearly, he was terrified of his power, and Tony had only exacerbated it. Very dangerous, for himself and others.
He could hardly bring himself to look at Tony, and yet it was all he wanted to do.

It wasn't the man he saw, however. It was the promise of distant violence he sensed. It conflicted with everything that held Jensen together. The very fibers of his being wanted to reject that power. Yet he needed it as strongly as men needed grace.

His arms fell in exhaustion, and he regarded the young lady that knelt alongside Tony. She was slender and young, yet at the same time stirred with the depth of antiquity. He locked onto her with an intense plea for assistance he was unwilling to actually request, only to look away in shame. He couldn't burden such an innocent face like that.

He snatched his coat and tried to stand in a manner that opened as much distance as possible between he and Tony. The man was larger in pretty much every sense of the word. Taller and broader than Jensen himself, who without the regime of his former life, was scrawnier than ever.

But physicality was hardly intimidating to Jensen these days. It was what was superimposed between the fabrics of the world that cautioned him to flee.

To clear the line of sight, he shoved away what hair fell across his eyes, squeezing his skull with his palms as he did, and tried to retreat as much as possible.
Claire wasn't too convinced of the man's safety, but it wasn't alcohol poisoning she was worried about. He was acting paranoid and out of touch with reality. It was kind of sad. He needed help, and luckily, there was someone who was apparently willing to provide it. Which was a good thing. She was not about to pick up a stray pet just because she felt sorry for it. I really should get a cat or something.

The bartender practically dumped a glass of water, and Claire was certain he was going to charge an arm and a leg for it. Mentioning free water in New York was bound to get a girl laughed out of the building. Or shown to a fire hydrant.

So his friend's name was Tony then. He had a nice smile touched with the vibe of bad boy danger. Tony would have been Cameron's type in a heart beat. It was like she had a magnet for attracting independent and willful men. Tony was scruffy looking, but carried a sense of danger about him. The only thing he was missing was a five o'clock shadow.

Which turned her back to Jensen. Now he had a gloriously unkempt shadow.

She nodded along with Tony, "Just take a breath and relax,"
but she was still thinking about Tony's admission. He'd only met the man that morning? And here he was going out of his way to help when the bartender seemed on the verge of bouncing their asses out the front door. Pay or no pay. Inner core Moscow was the last place Claire expected to witness an act of kindness. Had Tony not been there, she'd have turned tail and stalked on to the next bar without giving Jensen a second glance.

She inwardly rolled her eyes at her own pessimism and decided to offer Jensen a helping hand, but he retreated once more, if with less frenzy than previously.

With his hands compressing his hair, she caught a brief glimpse of a pointed look. Almost like some stern father urging them to do as he said.

With that single move, recognition clicked.

Her lips parted, both silently mouthing his name and sucking in a shocked breath of air. She looked Jensen up and down, eyes squinted as though trying to picture him as someone else.

Then a smile slowly pulled the corners of her mouth up. Now THIS was fortune. The hair. The accent. He didn't even offer a fake name for crying out loud!

Obviously, the sudden epiphany was an unexpected reaction to dealing with what she thought was a paranoid schizophrenic. Her fingers itched to toy with this discovery like winding threads of yarn into some chinese finger trap. Was the reward still available? Was the story too old to interest the press? So many options...

But no. The guy was a spooked puppy. There was no way she could kick a man when he was down. She may not stop someone else from doing it, but she was going to refrain from selling him out to the media.

She tucked a point of hair behind one ear, tilting her face playfully toward Tony. "Maybe someone should walk you home. Someone who knows the area. These streets are no place for a drunk preacher."
Emphasis on that final word an amused brow lifted while Tony processed the subtleties of her suggestion.

Claire may not kick the puppy while he wasn't looking, but that didn't mean she was interested in cradling one with sheltering arms either.
Jensen's reaction was not unexpected. As he backed away with his hands pressed against his head, Tony waited, poised to strike out with a weave that would bring sleep.

It was dangerous though, and he would rather avoid any displays. He could probably deflect suspicion because the man was drunk and looked exhausted, but still, if someone was looking for the signs, it would be a beacon pointing towards Tony, and he would not endanger his plans for the sake of one man.

The woman's reaction was perhaps more intriguing. She turned to him with a knowing smile, but did not give her name -probably a sensible precaution for someone who was still officially alive, he guessed. Being dead did have its perks.

"Maybe someone should walk you home. Someone who knows the area. These streets are no place for a drunk preacher."

A preacher? What the fuck is going on? How the hell does she know that? least it explains a few things...

She hadn't shown any sign of recognition when she had spotted them, nor did she seem overly willing to help him out as a friend would. Her smile was one of a cat toying with a mouse. She would play nice for now, but she knew she could finish the game when she wished. Very interesting.

The thoughts were fleeting, although he knew it was a good suggestion. At the moment, however, he was focused not on the man's past, but the potential to bring the entire building down upon their fucking heads.

Of course, it wasn't likely - he probably didn't have enough power to do something like that yet - but a desperate man with powers such as he had could be very dangerous.

Torn, he kept the weave steady, but finally decided to tread the fine line - after all, his plans were nothing if not ambtious. "The young lady is right,"
he said in a soft voice, fixing Jensen with a steady gaze. He would need to know the second the man thought of using the power. "You need to get home and have some rest. Come,"
Tony gestured towards the door, "I'll help you get back."

Edited by Tony Soloyov, Oct 1 2013, 09:14 AM.
Jensen paled like he were about to throw up, but it had nothing to do with alcohol. Maybe a little bit to do with alcohol. No more vodka. For at least an hour. That sounded like a reasonable span of time, but he wasn't an expert at such things.

One hand slapped to the bar, and he steadied himself, head swimming on the shores of panic-island. The young lady recognized him. He bowed his head and squeezed his eyes shut completely unable to look her in the eye. It was bound to happen eventually, but he hadn't expected recognition from someone so young. It meant she'd seen the video; she must have been a teenager when it hit the internet. How profoundly the youth of the world needed guidance, grace, and peace. His heart ached that he couldn't be the one to give that to them. Instead, he was worse than all of their profanity, disrespect, violence, and idolatry combined.

He licked his lips and cautiously met Tony's eye. He hadn't seemed to pick up on the girl's innuendo, and for that, Jensen said a silent prayer of thanks. Yes, thank you God for not allowing the sin I can't confess from coming to light. Such a hypocrite.

He dug some money from his jacket and left an uncounted amount as payment. It was enough to cover the bill, tip, and then some, and he didn't care how much it was.

He quietly thanked the girl while zipping up his jacket and stuffing his hands in his pockets. "Thank you for..." ...not crushing my soul. ...Not calling me 'cowboy'... Not calling the press, or a dozen other choices she might have made, but he couldn't bring himself to say any more.

He managed to avoid meeting her eye to eye and followed Tony outside.
Claire missed Tony's quizzical look being so focused on Jensen's every reaction to her toying. She'd never really found manipulation of people to be so entertaining before. It did seem rather harsh, but then again, she'd never found herself the sole insight into an immense truth enshrouding a trio of randomly encountered people before.

Poor Jensen. She did feel a smidge of sympathy for the man. Blinking, and thinking back, Claire pictured the flashes of rewards put forth by his family and friends seeking whereabouts after his disappearance. Didn't he have kids too? Just up and abandoned them? He had. The epiphany was so gut-wrenching, Claire frowned. Her father split when she was in kindergarten.

It was probably a good thing Jensen didn't look her in the eye again. She would have skewered him clean through the skull with her glare alone. If he weren't so self-punishing, she'd think it necessary to find a way to make sure he really regretted making his kids suffer like that.

She plopped her bag on a table and rummaged around for her wallet with half a mind to --

No. She'd spent her entire adult and semi-adult life studying philosophy and destiny, searching for meaning and deciding what was truth. Most religions were bullshit, but something she did come to appreciate with how infinitesimally tiny a single human's life really was in the great cosmos of all events in eternity. One person could cast a ripple that reached far, but those ripples eventually faded beyond convolution. Claire was not the person to mark out the individual steps of another's life. She was nearly overwhelmed simply pondering such a responsibility.

She was not a guidance counselor to mark the road of life. She would cross her arms - in fact, she actually did just that - and let others wallow in their own fate.

It didn't mean she was without curiosity though.

Jensen was half the tale too. Who was this second man? Tony? To encounter a stranger in the morning and go home with him an hour later? Knowing the good preacher, Claire had a cynical mindset to imagine their motives, but she did not think sex was the case here. Tony had smiled at her with near... fascination, before. So what else was it?

She smirked and waved when the two departed.

The bartender earned her glare long enough to decide she was not interested in applying for the open position anyway.

After she guessed it had been long enough, she emerged once more in the early morning light, and followed the two from a safe distance.
It was a relief when Jensen stumbled towards the door, murmuring thanks to the woman. Tony nodded his thanks and followed the man out.

They walked in silence for a time, Jensen entranced by his own misery. Tony had no idea where to start. From what he had gathered, the man had a lot of shit on his plate.

A gay ex-priest who could use a mysterious superpower...

By the sound of it, he was terrified of that power to make matters worse. A difficult challenge, but Tony felt he had a duty to help the man. He knew what it was to be alone with the power, his whole life taken away because of it.

Tony led them to the nearest metro station which was deserted at this time in the morning. The cold air and eerie stillness suited his the mood, with Jensen's eyes still downcast and lost in thought. Tony took a seat and looked up at the troubled man.

Well...I suppose I have to start somewhere...

"Which stop do we get off at?"
he asked, looking at the timetable. "It might be a while..."
He was not sure how to approach the issue after the man's reaction, but he had to try.
"You know...You are not alone. There are others like us, you don't need to feel ashamed of your...abilities."

(OOC: Sorry, didn't want to mod anything too much so it's a short one.)

Edited by Tony Soloyov, Oct 2 2013, 04:47 AM.
He walked fine; except for accidentally kneeing a chair on the way out. Jensen wasn't drunk, surely, just a little overwhelmed.

At least half a dozen times he considered asking Tony to leave. Twice Jensen took the hesitant breath to do so too, but the tension was palpable between them. For reasons he couldn't grasp, nor wanted to, he was morbidly fascinated with these powers. The nerve to remain scratched shallow in his heart, like chickens scraping at the dirt, but still digging deep enough to maintain his interest. Yeah, Pastor. Get yourself a good cabin on the Lake of Fire. You'll be there a while.

Lost in thought, and so he walked lazy and saturnine toward the nearest metro stop. One flight below street level and the sudden glory of ancient Russia met them in the tunnels below. Jensen barely saw it, just as he felt he was barely moving.

He peered down the tracks into darkness and acknowledged Tony's question. "Two stops, white line."

He finally pulled his hands from his pockets, but only to weakly sweep his hair from his eyes. The strands fell back to their former obscuring jobs almost immediately. "Shame," he scoffed, disbelieving. His conscience knew better. Hold it together, Jensen. He planted his feet.

He looked Tony in the eye, resolute with conviction as his mind fell into memory. His fists clenched. So aggressive of this certitude, it was about the only life sparked from Jensen in months, "There shall not be found among you anyone who practices divination or tells fortunes or interprets omens, or a sorcerer or a charmer or a medium or a necromancer or one who inquires of the dead, for whoever does these things is an abomination to the Lord."

Having studied the passage obsessively for years, it was with a heavy heart he quoted the Old Testament. Otherwise, the passage scrolled naturally from an accent crafted by God's hand to touch the hearts of those listening on his behalf.

He fixed Tony with a sad look. By that alone, they were both damned. But if the Old Testament weren't enough, the New complimented God's original covenant with Israel. If not for his own sake, perhaps Tony could still salvage his own soul. It was the closest to sharing the hope of the gospel Jensen had come in four dark years.

"Outside the kingdom of heaven are the dogs and sorcerers and the sexually immoral and murderers and idolaters." And the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord, but thoughts of redemption faded fast.

A shadow of shame fell across this second quote. If the original Hebrew translation for sorcery was a contested word -- even the Greek for pharmakeia might today refer to a pharmacist rather than a sorcerer -- those other condemnations hit their mark. Anger from betrayal, blackmailed for layers and layers of sin, adultery, idolatry, lust and prostitution, the penitent pastor had spiraled uncontrolled from the very blackness that gripped his heart. Impenetrable as that train tunnel. And a man died because of it.

"Shame is the least of what I deserve," he uttered soberly. That there were others damned as he was not a comforting revelation.

Edited by Jensen James, Oct 2 2013, 07:11 AM.
Tony listened to Jensen's list of condemnation with a calm resolve. Anger, bitterness and resentment flickered across the bubble of serenity that contained his awareness - and the power.

So, they were abominations? Yes, he had thought of that before, many times. Perhaps he was right, but even so... Nobody had made the choice to access this power, it had been forced on him like a disease. If he was an abomination - it was through no fault of his own.

He watched Jensen closely as he spoke, passion in his voice. It was as if he had awoken from a deep sleep; springing to life, the man's condemnation was almost musical. He should have expected such a reaction, it certainly made sense now that Jensen's accusations were spoken. Of course the religious types would react that way.

Or else think they were chosen by the Divine...

He had studied Christianity at school, but after he had awakened to his powers, he had little contact with the faithful, and had less desire to seek religion.

When Jensen had finished, his head once again bowed by the shame of his nature, Tony stood, a smile on his face. He felt no anger, just sharp focus and deadly resolve, which he turned on Jensen. He ran through all of the things he could say, selecting his words carefully.

"I see,"
he started, his tone soft and smooth. "you are a troubled man. You have my sympathies."
His words were genuine. He lamented the man's fate, although he doubted in the way Jensen believed. "I lost everything because of this power, it almost broke me. I cannot imagine the torture you put yourself through."
Tony paused a moment, his sorrow lingering in the air with practised precision, before raising an eyebrow. "When was it that you first gave yourself over to evil?"
he asked in a blithe voice. "Was it desire for power that seduced you? Did the chains of your God chafe so badly?"
Tony shook his head, his eyes lighting up in false fascination, weaving coils of Air that he slid around the man's feet and arms while he was distracted. "I have never met a man who has devoted himself to the devil, please, tell me, I am intrigued. Why did you give your soul to him? Why did you abandon your God?"

Edited by Tony Soloyov, Oct 2 2013, 08:13 AM.

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