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The train was blessedly empty. Otherwise she never would have seen Jensen split. Luckily, she'd been hovering around the door every single stop only to snake out onto the platform at the last possible second.

She followed all the way to Jensen's building, and every single step, tried to memorize where she was to retrace her steps in the future. With the information, she didn't know what she'd do, if anything. But she was interested in having it anyway. Just in case.

From what she understood about the good pastor, she was surprised to see poor state of his neighborhood. Rumors circled his disappearance about bank accounts and embezzlement. She thought he'd run off with his cash and shame, betraying his family for greener pastures. Apparently not.

Tony split off, and Claire ducked out of sight. Although she was sorely tempted to step out in front of him as soon as he walked back by her hiding spot.

In fact after she counted down the seconds she'd estimated for Tony to cross her path, she reemerged, arms crossed and mischievously smiling.

((If Tony didn't walk back by "this way" - i'll just find the spot empty and shrug and go. if he did, well hopefully he isn't jumpy! I didnt know if you wanted to continue the thread))
Tony committed Jensen's address to memory. Of course, he had not followed him inside the apartment complex, so he did not know the number, but he was confident that, should anything happen that required intervention, he would be able to find Jensen quickly enough.

After a moment's pause to observe the area - a run down part of the City Tony had rarely frequented, the locale of any number of sordid rumours circulated amongst the upper classes of Moscow - he turned on his heels and headed back to the metro station.

The morning overcast seemed even more dull to his bleary eyes, devoid of the power of life as he was. He wouldn't try his luck though, falling asleep why using the power could be very dangerous. As such, he nearly fell on his back when a woman popped out from a side-street right in front of him.

It was not often he was surprised, usually he would have heard the footsteps with enhanced hearing. He stood staring for a moment, sightless, until his vision focused.

He mustered all of his remaining energy into a semblance of alertness, seizing the power with a shaky grip.

It was the woman from the bar, wearing an impish grin on her face. Had she followed him? Tony searched his memory for faces, but he did not remember anyone that looked like her, nor had any of the people he kept tabs on go to the US, not anyone that would fit her description.

Perhaps it was Jensen she followed. It would make more sense, but why did she approach him then?

Very bad, but he was nothing if not patient. Tony put on a smile - the one he used to use wooing an important businessman or politician with equal parts confidence and deference. "To what do I owe this pleasure? It's too much to hope it was love at first sight. So, what can I do for you?"
Claire was profoundly amused by Tony's reaction. One, she mentally pat herself on the back for timing the surprise jump out just right. Two, she was a little worried he might take her the wrong way. This was Moscow, after all, but even a Brooklyner might pull a gun.

One hip jut out, she smirked in time to point up at Jensen's building in the background. The bangles on her wrist slid down beneath the sleeve of her jacket. "I like to collect things,"
she rolled her eyes, correcting herself, "er, information really."

"And that was very valuable information."
She laughed and turned aside, gesturing that they were free to walk together, if he was into it.

"I take it you Rooskie don't know who that was,"
she shrugged, uninterested in teaching him anything he wasn't willing to ask for on his own. "And then I realized I forgot to introduce myself."
It was the sarcastically polite thing to do. Hefting her bag up one shoulder, she stuck out a hand. Her nails were painted a rich purple color. "Claire Novak."
Tony took Claire's hand in one fluid motion, his head turned down in an imitation of a bow. Her words screamed danger, but Tony did not have to fake the smile that spread across his face. "The pleasure is mine once more."

He released the woman's hand with perfect timing. He did not hold on too long, too eager, nor did he release it before time lest he appeared nervous. One of the utterly inane practises he was taught in his youth. Something the rich with too much time on their hands decided that most people would not even notice, but he could not be too careful.

Tony ignored the question dangling in front of him. To ask would be to dance to Claire's tune and he had yet to decide if he liked it. Instead, he turned the question upon her. "There are many foreigners in Moscow, what brings you here? And to this part of town. You must have a few tricks up your sleeve to walk around here alone at this hour."
Claire didn't look like the military type, but agents of the CCD were thorough. "If you need any help, I would be glad to offer my assistance."

The last was said with a raised eyebrow, and Tony watched Claire's face for her reaction, the power ready to strike at any moment.
She regarded her released hand suspiciously. New Yorkers weren't known for their trust. Then again, neither were Muscovites.

Tony was practiced and smooth. The fact that he'd turned the tables against her wasn't overlooked, and Claire smirked approvingly. June would have adored Tony. Which of course meant she'd fuck him just for asking for her number. The slut. Man, she missed that crazy girl.

"I'm looking for jobs, smartass."
The hint of a grin eased her sarcasm. Claire might talk a big game, and look pretty authentic, but if Tony looked closely enough, he'd see a safety pin wedged in the corner of her designer bag where the lining had ripped a hole clean through the side. It'd be a shame for a girl to lose her lip gloss. Her current blushed pink color was impossible to find over here.

"I grew up right between East New York and Brownsville. The kind of place where police officers get mugged at gunpoint."
She smiled a crooked smile. "We got a saying. That if you make it to be 25 years old, you're either dead, in jail, or already out again and done with gang life."

As they walked, Claire was keeping an eye on her surroundings. She wasn't paranoid, but simply staying aware. Besides, she did have a few tricks up her sleeve. Such as a black feather dangling from one of the many bracelets around her arm. She held it out and twisted her forearm upward so Tony could see it laid against her pale skin. "But this charm helps."

"Know any place hiring? I'm not without skills..."
She withdrew her arm, fiddling absently with the feather as they walked. At least the rain had paused. She'd been worried it was about to pour any second. "...I'm psychic,"
she winked.

Edited by Claire, Oct 21 2013, 06:20 PM.
Claire was certainly proving to be interesting. If he wasn't nearly falling asleep on his feet or concerned she was a CCD agent, it would have been a good start to the morning.

As it was, all he wanted was to go home and forget everything that had happened - at least long enough to get some fucking sleep.

Claire's reactions were not what he expected. He found no discernible goal in them. Which meant she was not interested in his...activities at all, or she was far more dangerous than he had thought.

It was best to assume the latter.

Her explanation of her past made sense - although it didn't explain why she chose to tempt fate - but it was her final words that grabbed his attention.

A psychic...

He glanced at the 'charm' on her wrist briefly, dismissing it. It wouldn't matter if she could use the power...

Tony halted that line of thinking. He was far too tired to think clearly and his mind was full of conspiracy. No. The woman's grin was sarcastic, perhaps a little mocking, it was unlikely she was being serious.

Tony gave himself a mental shake, but the suspicion lingered as he smiled and formed a reply. "I can't say I know anyone hiring a psychic."
He paused a moment, curiosity getting the better of him in his exhausted state. "What kind of psychic stuff can you do? I've always wanted to know my future."

He wasn't sure if it was a good idea at all, but he couldn't seem to think straight, even wrapped up in the power.
Though Claire was shorn quite close to her ears, she gave her head a shake and tossed wayward strands away from her eyes. It was half-habit and half-flirtatous; there wasn't a woman on the planet that didn't know just exactly when to toss her hair. Timed so playfully with a laugh, Claire even surprised herself at her mood. Perhaps the feeling of twining webs of destiny through her fingers that elevated her euphoria.

She turned and stopped Tony by brushing fingers across the side of his arm so he would turn her way. Where she looked him up and down, seemingly thoughtful. "One's future isn't so easy to discern," an ancient sort of voice corrected him gently as a wizened grandmother. There was something, however she could demonstrate. The fog lifted and the young woman that she was settled in her place.

"Turn out your pockets."
She put a hand on her hip, feigning impatience and speeding him along with a wave of the hand. "Come on, let's see."
Among the various general contents any man might carry, a patch of blue caught Claire's eye. The second she saw it, the glow of a bassinet rocked by a slender hand flickered in its shadow. Her eyes widened, and she looked up, meeting Tony's clear - if tired - blue gaze. "That belonged to your mom."

There were times when she saw images of great significance hovering like a shape in the fog around pieces, and Claire had no more guess as to their meaning than she could reach out and grab it. Those times drew on her creativity nurtured since birth to come up with a plausible story.

Other times, she knew exactly what it meant. Like now. It was kind of weird for a grown man to carry around a snippet of his mom's like it were some long-lost security blanket, but it had to mean something to him or else Claire wouldn't have seen its aura. So she refrained from teasing him about it.
Tony's smile at Claire's playful nature slipped only by an inch as she revealed her verdict.

Any hack would be able to make a reasonable guess at the piece of cloth's nature by simple logic and deduction, but as she looked into his eyes - her own neither mocking nor playful (at least compared to her earlier mood) - Tony could see the understanding.

It took him back more than a decade. Sifting through an empty room. A home scoured and devoid of anything human. The torn piece of cloth overlooked, fresh with the ever familiar scent.

"So it was,"

was all Tony could say, his smile turning sad and fond.

He did not feel the chill associated with a woman using the power, so it was not that. He had heard rumours of people like her among the underground information chain of misfits and outcasts, but nothing solid.

Whatever ability it was, it didn't use the power.

Still... He had spent the last decade and more around people like him and Claire acted like one who knew she could crush any assailant without lifting a finger.

Perhaps she was simply naive and arrogant, but Tony doubted that very much.

He pulled out his wallet and produced a dozen CCD notes and Dr. Oborev's card. "My thanks, Ms. Novak. For your services and the conversation."
He held up a hand before she had time to object, as most people did when given money like that. "Don't think I'm taking pity on you, whether you realise it or not, you have earned it."

That was not exactly true, he had only suppositions and circumstance to go on, but he felt he had been too bold already.

After the money, he handed her the card. "I'm afraid I can't offer you any work, but your talents are particularly intriguing. If you find yourself in need, use this. Dr. Oborev is a reliable man. Tell him you are an acquaintance of Tony."

It was an incredibly vague statement, but Claire was an intelligent woman, and if anything arose, he was sure she would understand his meaning. If she had nothing to do with recent events, then it would likely be dismissed as a man trying to impress an attractive woman.

Tony held out his hand, his smile widening to consolidate the impression. It was not entirely feigned either, she was an intriguing woman, after all. "May I escort you home?"
Tony was way too nice. Claire's gaze narrowed suspiciously as he produced a business card. She had no problems accepting either it or the money, but it didn't make her trust Tony any more or less than she already did. Maybe it was a russian thing. Its just, who knew russian guys were so chivalrous?

She studied the name and title on the card curiously. How in the world could some doctor be of use to her? Maybe he was some sort of psychotherapist or something? Someone like that would probably call her out for half her tricks. If only she could force the actual fortunetelling to coalesce at will.

Tony's offer was the final nail in the coffin, though. An escort home was code just like asking if a guy 'wanted to come up for coffee' when both people knew nobody drank coffee at midnight.

She shook her head. "I'm going to get back on my interview circuit. That first place, no offense, was a dive. I don't mind dumps, but I don't work with assholes."
She smiled a crooked smile, and gestured at the hole that led underground: a metro stairwell.

"I'll hop back on the train,"
she said, half turning to go.

She didn't have a card to offer in return, but rather than hopping straight home, she wouldn't mind offering a phone number.
It took him a moment to process the subtleties, his eyelids drooping momentarily, vision blurring before razor awareness reasserted itself.

Tony let out a laugh from the depths of his chest, an awkward but genuine sound, shoulders heaving with mirth unstained by weary cynicism.

I truly am out of touch...

His smile returned tenfold, his eyes sparkling with not just glimmers, but a reawakening of his youthful confident charm. He was surprised she was so understanding as it was.

"Oborev isn't a psychologist, Ms. Novak."
he said. His father would be turning in his grave to see his son make such a blunder. "I don't doubt your ability. I have seen a great many things stranger than that, it is refreshing to see."
Perhaps he was over-compensating, but an air of wizened mystery felt appropriate.

As he paused, a sliver of darkness crept across his line of sight, making him blink. He barely missed a step, although his smile quivered like a plucked string on the verge of snapping. As Claire made her half-turn to leave, Tony spoke up, nodding at her words about that shit-hole disguised as a bar. "I know how hard it is to survive on these streets, and I know a few decent places."
his language slipped slightly but he barely noticed. "Perhaps I could contact you after I have made a few inquiries? It pays to have friends here. Moscow can be dangerous - particularly for those with unique talents like yours, after all."

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