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Kings of the castle
#51
Revenge? Of an after-school special variety, perhaps. Oriena wouldn’t have been so kind, whether the guy had saved her life or not: intention counted for shit. Dismissal itself could be a potent revenge, she supposed, but only when the apathy was genuine – and only when the other person actually cared; otherwise it simply looked weak. Jon had walked away – or escaped at any rate – but he still hated the guy, maybe even feared him, and every inch of that emotive reaction left a legacy of control. Ori would have severed those ties and twisted the knife while she was at it: made certain it was understood she was not to be fucked with. So her reaction to his “revenge in a sense” was equal parts pity and amusement. Jon had power at his fingertips, but he chose not to use it? Then he’d missed the point of being born different. Of being born better.

As it turned out keeping her mouth shut was worth it, to see the wicked grin ignite behind the splay of Jaxen’s fingers. An obnoxiously heavy thunk marked the return of his feet to the table, and this time he’d sprawled out completely, decadently smug. Ori presumed it meant he had understood Jon’s inference, that he now realised what exactly had knocked his feet off the table the first time, and if he wanted to play with the flames he’d discovered she was happy to oblige. Her instinctive reaction to the mischievous wiggle of his toes was a sly smile of her own. Of course she couldn’t resist the dare, and knowing what he was in kind only heaped extra fuel on that fire. It made things interesting. She leaned in to push the ice bucket with the flat of her palm, slow and deliberate until its winter chill lay flush with his bare soles. Petty retribution for the cold scoop dumped earlier on her knees. “Comfortable isn’t the point.”


Jaxen could admit defeat and remove his legs; he could be childish and inelegantly shove the ice bucket away; he could sit stubbornly regardless, or just shift his feet. Or he could move it. If he even could - and she suspected he would struggle. The glint in her eye extended playful challenge; it wasn’t a trap, and it wasn’t a trick; she was genuinely curious. Why could she sense nothing of either of them? Ori shrugged indifference to Jon’s sudden phonecall, though she paid more attention than she appeared. Her gaze flicked to him as he stood, then moved back. The power still thrummed through her faintly, though she could feel her control beginning to strain. One way or another, Jaxen’s feet were coming off her table. He’d made it a matter of principle now.
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#52
Here's hoping Jon never turned the frightful dish of cold revenge their way. Oh the horror! Jaxen laughed, entertained by the man's naivety, the sound free and rich as the diluted blood thrumming through his veins. He was warm with power and confidence -- not that he was ever without either -- and cradled between the posh hands of Oriena's service. In that very moment, things were pretty damn good.

Until a brisk of pain seized the soles of his feet. Already tense with chill, every hair on his body struck to attention, and he twitched just enough to satisfy Oriena's evil malice. The shock tried to knock his hold on the power free, and the more he grappled at maintaining control, the less he held. It felt like clutching for handholds on a crumbling rock wall but with less success.

Oriena's words fell flat. Jon might as well have retreated across the world for all Jaxen cared. His limbs slowly drew themselves from the table, taking advantage of their master's distraction to seek solace in the firmness of the floor underfoot. His body sat upright, drawn by the cords of instinct, and if the conscious entity that was Jaxen's soul realized his movement, he didn't care. His concentration was far from Kallisti's.

Seconds passed, but sheer determination slowly rose from the bubble of panic.

In that instant, the world snapped sharply back into place. The key to winning the battle of control lay in domination, he realized. Indeed, it was a battle. He had no idea what he was doing, but now that it was over, he hurled that matrix of strength forward.

Oriena's bucket soared off the table as sure as if he'd kicked it down field. Its crystalline contents fell from the arc of its trajectory.

It hit an adjacent booth, and his head tilted curiously to watch. The bucket clattered to the floor and rolled a few steps away. The noise of its ejection was drowned by that of the club. How very interesting.

He had no idea how he did it. Other than the volatile combination of strength and near panic erupted into some side effect he'd generally wanted to happen. At Baccarat, he wanted the lock broken, and it'd melted in his hands. In the undercity, he'd imagined cutting himself free of Mickey's ropes and so he fell. And now, the cold break in his former ease nearly knocked the power from his grasp. He was going to have to practice this. Good thing he was excellent at repetition.

Satisfied in the control, he went about the task of putting on socks and shoes. When he pushed to stand, he turned to Oriena, apologetically amused to have to close up the curtain on the ab-show. A wiry smile cut across his lips. However much of the last few moments she'd understood, he obviously didn't care about her judgement.

Somewhere from the gimmick of oblivion, Jaxen was cunningly excellent at illusionary acts -- of course he heard her, of course he knew how many steps Jon had paced while on the phone, thieves were ultimately masters of awareness after all; and not to brag, but Jaxen was probably the uncontested best in the world -- not that anyone knew his title, but fame wasn't the point. So without another delay, he summoned up a response to her earlier comment, a thoughtful hum born deep in his throat: Oriena definitely wanted to hear such an intoxicating sound nibbling her ear. He offered her a hand. Not because she needed help scrambling to her feet in those heels, but because he wanted to physically feel her acceptance to the forthcoming invitation. "You know, you're right. I have somewhere much more comfortable in mind. Get out of here?"
That of course being his apartment. He should probably check in on the place anyway.
"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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#53

Jon glanced at his Wallet as the phone call was cut off. Something in Nick Trano's voice set him on edge. Watch the news in the morning? What had happened that had made him so nervous?

And there was the chill again. Jon looked up from his wallet, back to the table Jaxen and Oriena occupied. Jaxen's legs moved again -- and then colored threads tinged yellow sprung from Jaxen and struck the ice bucket in the middle of the table, sending it careening across the room to clatter against another booth, ice spilling from it as it tumbled like sparkling diamonds tossed carelessly into the air.

Jon smirked to himself. Seems his presence had not only brought about the revelation of secrets the two harbored but also catalyzed some sort of mutual show of force between the two of them. There wasn't anything else for him there. Besides, he'd neglected things that needed to be taken care of by making his trip to Kallisti's.

He quietly slipped away and settled his tab at the front bar -- making sure to add an extra tip for that handy waitress who'd been able to scrounge up the materials for the game -- and walked outside to hail a taxicab.
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#54
She felt none of it. Saw none of it. Bar the consequences, of course. That, and the expression on Jaxen’s face. He withdrew, which at first plucked a chord of disappointment in her chest. A sigh swelled her lungs, igniting the first flames of disinterest. Beneath her veneer of spite was a playful nature, if not exactly harmless; she had scant patience for those who misunderstood her games for malice –which was most people. Ori expected retaliation; it was the point of provocation.

The fact Jaxen remained so oddly transfixed was the only thing that held her gaze the moment his feet inched off the table. It was like the cold touch had done more than make him jump; it had shaken something loose. Caution flashed then burned quickly away, soothed by the power coursing her own veins. Steeped in self-assurance, her posture relaxed, and she watched, unsure whether to be curious or unimpressed. He might have slipped from existence altogether, for all the attention he paid anything beyond the line of his gaze, but she had the distinct impression the battle was internal. Which meant, what?

Not the reaction she had been expecting

And then the bucket had flown, showering ice like diamonds.

It rearranged everything she thought she’d known - definitive proof of supernatural forces beyond her senses. A chill spiked her flesh, though it was a breath of anticipation rather than fear. The temptation of the unknown beckoned a finger she was hard pressed to ignore, particularly when it bore such a sinful face.

Jaxen looked far too interested in the consequences of his own actions to speak of familiarity with the forces he controlled. It meant he was unpredictable. Dangerous. Ori might habitually throw caution to the wind, but she did at least acknowledge it if necessary. When Cara had “sparked” - her words - she had killed a man. Her father, to be precise. Unintentionally, by her account. But dead was still dead, and Ori couldn’t even tell when Jaxen submitted to his gift, let alone what he tried to do with it. She’d done enough of her own experimenting to comprehend how easily intention went awry when manipulating those cords of power.

Really the sort of man she wanted to go home with?

Presented with the power offered in an open palm, she was apt to toy. A smile tugged a faint tease at her lips, like she was deliberating the temptation with devilish attention to imagination’s detail. He’d be wrong to expect docility. She didn’t take his hand, though she did stand. Long legs and decent heels brought her almost eye-level, and she hovered intimately close. Her thumb traced a trail against his hip, then snagged in a belt-loop not unlike on stage earlier. "Yeah."
One playful tug, and then she let go. Her proximity eased, and a smile curled like smoke as she turned to head for the door, whether he chose to follow or not.
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#55
[To A Blind Eye]
"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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#56
Jon stepped into the back seat of the taxi cab and leaned forward -- slowly, sitting down so quickly set his head swimming a bit -- to give the driver his address.

That's when he saw a black sedan pull up to the street curb in front of the club. Two men in suits stepped out. One entered Kallisti's and the other stood by the front door, watching the entrance and the road. Some sort of security detail, perhaps?

Jon kept his window halfway down and leaned back so he couldn't be seen. The other man came out of the club in a couple of minutes and the two started talking. They were just out of ear's reach. But maybe if -- Jon grabbed hold of the power of the Great Spirit. Now he could hear better, but it still wasn't quite enough to make out the conversation.

As a kid, he'd once fashioned a crude telephone by tying a string between two tin cans. The principle involved was just to create a better medium for the sound waves to travel through. Could he use the power and make a conduit for the sound?

He sent out invisible threads. The resulting weave took a shape not unlike an enlarged ear trumpet extended toward the two men. Well, he didn't need anything elegant. It just had to be invisible and be something that could channel the sound to his ears.

"...Trano's Wallet came from...," one of the men was saying to the other. It was still difficult to catch the words. "...not here either."

"...Let's check...to see if we missed him on the first sweep," the other said. "If we lost eyes on him... 's going to be pissed."

Jon let the weave drop and sat back. Agents, perhaps? Looking for Nick Trano? And they were here because...they traced my Wallet signal when I called him.
That took some serious hardware for an agency to have the capability to do that. CCD, most likely, then, since they were in the heart of Moscow. Nick had sounded stressed during the call. He must really be in some serious trouble. So might Jon, for that matter -- had he gotten caught up in something? -- but that really wasn't something he found to be a major concern. It wasn't as if the CCD didn't already have several reasons to dislike him.

The men got back in their vehicle and drove off straight down the road. Jon turned to the cab driver, who glared at him.

"Don't think I didn't start the meter the moment you got in, buddy. I said, where to?"

Jon gave the cab driver an apologetic shrug. "Just go straight. I'll give you the directions."
The cab sped off, following the black sedan.

Continued in A Friend in Need


Edited by Jon Little Bird, Nov 9 2013, 05:00 AM.
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