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Saving Cayli
Continued from The Grand Ball

The fervor with which Jensen gripped his hands surprised even Jay. Who, lets face it, tended to be the most dramatic in whatever group he found himself.  "Alright. I guess we'll take that as a yes." He grinned, pat Jensen on the hand and looked at Natalie. She looked bright eyed enough for the looming 17 hour journey in three planes.

It was the first time outside the walls of the Kremlin in longer than Jay wanted to think about. The fresh air filled his lungs in a way he hadn't appreciated before. Some of the others from among the Nine were below ground far longer than himself. Jay learned to work the power faster than most, if not all of them, according to Karim. Some of the others were as strong as Jensen, and in the case of Michael, stronger. But the speed at which Jay learned was remarked upon. Julian and Dominick reminded him almost hourly. 

So no wonder they were going batshit crazy down there. Men just weren't meant to be locked away in the dark. It did fucked up things to the mind; six months down there? Longer? Jay shivered to think about it. He'd be crawling the walls. Literally. Probably end up having conversations with the blank patches of canvas, scrawling out anything and everything to cross his mind, until the scribbles were incomprehensible. 

The fresh air felt great. A Kremlin employee approached, offering to drive them to their destination. The car was welcome cover. Windows blacked out, as soon as they rolled through the gates, tourists lined the barricade to get a closer look at the inhabitants. Media and paparazzi flashed. Jay stared above the heads of them all, though. The new triumphant arch loomed like a fortress. The power with which it was built was unbelievable. So much power. Jensen was a kitten next to Ascendancy. It really was hard to believe the man .. wasn't something more than a man. He swallowed and turned his gaze upon the city instead. They had three stops to make. The nearest was the former French embassy that the Legion now occupied. Jay had no idea if his stuff was still there. Though he had to assume when Jacques and Ascendancy struck their arrangement about his .. service.. that his belongings were accounted for.

The sprawling mansion was lined with flags of the Legion, but no other markings designated it as occupied by foreign officers. "You should probably stay here. I'll only be a few minutes."  He swallowed, catching Natalie's eye. It's not that she would be uncomfortable there. The Legion headquarters was her temporary home, after all. 

Jay didn't want her to see what the others would say the second he walked in.

The security code flashed green, the door unlocked. He faced two Legionnaires posted at the front. He set his jaw, let them see him. "Henri, Vernier," he looked from one to the other until their disbelief turned to utter confusion. His intuition wasn't wrong.  

"Jay, you're not dead."  Henri relaxed the worried stance gripping him tight. 

Vern's gaze was fixed upon the uniform. Jay didn't blame him.

"I've been reassigned."  He turned an arm. Showed the winged demon and sword stitched upon one shoulder. The patch of DI was on the other.

A former citizen of DIX, Henri's eyes flashed wide. Vern's expression turned to disgust. He was born Moroccan. To the man's credit, he held Jay's gaze tight as tension. And he half worried they wouldn’t let him in. So he called the power to grasp just in case. He'd be polite, talk. But they weren't going to slow him up more than a minute. There wasn't time. They were barely going to make the airport as it was. And the next option for a flight was another four hours delayed from the current plan. He eyed their weapons. Vern was alert. It would be easy to neutralize him. Though Jay heould hate to do it.

Jay stepped easy around them. But he didn't release the man's gaze until he was across the foyer. "I'm just here to get my stuff. I'll be gone soon enough." 

Henri waved him through, but Vernier made a move to intercept. If he was no longer a Legionnaire, it meant he wasn't cleared to wander the mansion alone, but they Henri didn’t care. Vern on the other hand.. He reluctantly returned to his post.

Jay was halfway up the stairs when he overheard Vern's comment: "traitre*." 

He grit his teeth and hurried. Vernier didn't know how right he was.

When he returned to the car minutes later, he was changed into jeans, undershirt and a short-jacket. He wore the same boots from the Dominion's uniform but otherwise, there was no other sign of it. He dumped a bag in the trunk and slipped into the front seat, but Jensen would know that he didn't release the power. 

The power built walls. Walls were useful.

A few minutes later, he released it, but didn't say anything about what happened inside.

Only darkness shows you the light.

Jensen waited in the back seat while Jay was inside. Alone with Natalie, he worked with his wallet for a few moments, but every time he began to send the note to Jessika, he deleted it and started over.  Finally, he returned the thing to a pocket completely dark. 

Another minute, he sighed and excused himself. "Pardon me, Miss Natalie. I'll be right here," and he left the car.

He dialed Jessika's number before he was three steps away. It would be early morning in Austin, although she could just as easily be in Dallas as in the governor's mansion. He smiled when her voice answered.

It was a long held breath he finally exhaled when returning to the car. He was inside only seconds before Jay slipped into the front seat. The power billowed from him like a dark cloud. 

He shared a concerned look with Natalie, but just as before, he didn't ask. 

The drive to John Doulou's loft was quiet, and he spent it fielding messages with Jessika and imagining what to pack and how quickly do to so.  The building doorman glanced him over oddly given his attire when Jensen stepped from the car. 

Inside, he hurried to change, leaving the tuxedo laid out across the bed. If John ever returned to Moscow, he'd find Jensen had taken to the loft quite well. His things were flung everywhere. 

He opted to wear a purple button-down shirt, one he liked and was recently laundered. He never realized how much he missed freshly pressed dress-shirts until re-adopting the habit. Years driving forklifts and night shifts at the docks did poor things to his closet. Slacks and a sports jacket were slipped on. A nice belt and loafers finished the look. Similar clothes went into a shoulder-bag, though he cringed at how wrinkled they'd be come tomorrow. 

Before leaving, he paused in the kitchen, eyes landing upon Doulou's antique Bible. The book was more meaningful than Jensen could describe and he hated to leave it behind, but this was a short trip, he promised himself. He laid a hand on the cover a moment, closed his eyes and vowed to return to Moscow - even if it was for this book.

When he returned to the car, he added his luggage to that of Jay's in the trunk and nodded that he was ready to go.
Jensen spent most of the drive communicating on his phone, and Jay's silence after returning from the Legion was palpable. Divided loyalties, the stranger had warned, like Jay was a creature not to be trusted, both fickle and dangerous. But it was loyalty that'd ripped him apart given half a chance, its claws digging too deep in his chest, demanding too much. Natalie closed her eyes, finding no comfort in the smear of city lights beyond the darkened windows, and tried to steer her mind away from the tangle of politics they had left behind. 

Her apartment was an exclusive highrise in the centre of the Moscow, on a floor that offered beautiful views of the city from a glass fronted balcony. Freshly purchased by the Northbrooks, since Eleanor avoided Russia with single-minded diligence, and when her grandfather visited it was usually at Nikolai Brandon's pleasure and expense. She opened the car door before the driver had a chance to, offering a wry smile as she caught a glimpse of his irritated glance in the rear view mirror. 

"I'll only be five minutes."

Automated security scanned her passage through the entrance, the foyer's lines all clean and modern. A swift elevator ride followed through the building's spine. Natalie had no purse with her, but needed no keys. She knew something was wrong when the lights did not automatically bloom the moment her ID registered at the threshold. Her gaze sketched the familiar shadows within, skin prickling cool before she planted her palm on the panel just inside the door. The lights responded, but the usual welcome of the AI failed to boot. Someone had been in here. 

Her stomach knotted, roiling sick. The pressing darkness of those tunnels was a memory too close, and they'd never found Pavlo. Irrational fear squeezed her insides until the gift rushed in welcome, though she still felt entirely too vulnerable. 

Everything inside seemed untouched. The apartment was like something out of a brochure, but it had never been a home and it was not the violation of trespass making her uneasy. Only the ornate piano had the design of personal touch, but even that had not been Natalie's. Her blanket still lay skewed half off the sofa, her wallet balanced on its arm. The suitcases her mother had sent from Aubagne piled against the wall, unpacked. Nothing had changed. 

But there was someone here. 

Her heart shuddered. 

It had been years since she'd seen him properly, longer still since it had been in more than brief snatches of him in court. Her expression stilled as the holo responded to her presence. The intensity of her father's gaze burned just a little off centre, the familiar press of his frown tugging his brow and flattening out his lips. More silver iced the pale strands of his hair than the last time she saw him in the flesh, dusting his neat beard like frost. New lines joined the old. He did not smile. 

Alistair had always been better with machines than with people. 

"You've been ignoring me, Natalie." 

She pressed the door closed softly until it clicked, unsure if there was an interface expecting her response. It looked like a recording, though it didn't mean he wasn't listening. She ought to have felt a measure of relief. There was no danger here, yet the power did not slip from her grip; the enhancement to her senses made him flicker and wisp, dividing the line between what was real. She did not smile either. 

"Eleanor thinks proximity to the Ascendancy will offer you protection. It will not. I would rather you stayed away from Moscow entirely, though it seems I am already too late with the advice. I'm not convinced you would listen anyway. Just like your damn mother." 

Her mouth opened, a retort hot on her tongue whether or not he could hear her, but the holo didn't pause. The irritation skittered like ice across his gaze, but the direction of that gaze had changed too, like he was focused on something outside the picture. 

"You did not come to see me--" the accusation was blunt "--and I can't speak freely here. I will not tell you what to think, but I will tell you to pick your side carefully. Don't allow it to be picked for you, Natalie. Choose friends and allies wisely." 

His attention returned forwards, glaring out. The cords of his jaw worked, like perhaps he had more to say, but then the image scrambled and faded. One of the sideboards held the projection device to which the holo vanished. Beneath lay a crisp white envelope. 

She took a breath, knowing time was short but needing it anyway. Her heart hammered so fast she thought it was going to swallow her up, and she counted seconds while she folded the emotions carefully away; a wound she thought she'd stitched a long time ago, but it all spilled out bloody. Christ, but she'd hardly been prepared for the ambush. 

The resultant anger was a small ball of flame, banked on long tended embers. For five years of silence.

"You left it a little late to care." The words whispered out like a grimace. She pinched the bridge of her nose, raked fingers through her hair, and pulled herself together. Time haemorrhaged every moment she lingered, and she'd already been gone longer than necessary. The buzz of her thoughts flattened, subdued; she slipped into autopilot. There'd be plenty of time to think on the flight. 

She would have liked a shower, but settled for distractedly wiping clean her makeup and washing the blood from her foot. She pinned the hair off her neck and folded the dress back in the box laid out on her bed, then changed into the comfort of jeans and an old shirt. She'd been living out of suitcases since she arrived, and she was used to living light; it was only a moment's attention to pack necessities into a bag and grab her passport. Hopefully Brandon had thought to organise visas. The wallet with Marcus's app nestled in a zipped up pocket, missed messages unread, and Azu's pocket bible rested on top of her clothes, the only thing of sentimental value she chose to bring. 

She paused before she left, staring down at the device her father's messenger had left. It was palm-size small and resembled a wallet, but not like one she'd ever seen before. Hesitation nipped her heels, uncertain it was wise to bring along when she did not entirely know what it was, but a moment later she shoved it into her jeans' pocket anyway and folded the envelope in with her luggage. Her stomach clenched again as she ran her fingers over the creamy paper, more concerned than curious. Paper meant something he expected her to burn once read. But it would have to wait. 

The driver tried to relieve her of the bag when she finally emerged, and though it irritated her to relinquish such an arbitrary task she let him slam it into the trunk if it made him happy. She sank back into the car, quiet.

[[Just fyi, Natalie will ask polite questions about Jensen's home and family while they drive to the airport. General chitchat stuff, nothing intrusive. There's probably not a lot of value rping it all out, but she would certainly try to make him feel less like he shared a car with complete strangers]]
Jay stuffed his bag into an overhead compartment, then offered to wedge Natalie's alongside. None of their seats were together, but Jay offered to take the one farthest to the back. He'd take the last row if it was available, just to be able to watch everyone in front of him. At least he could see wisps of golden hair. Jensen seemed at home on an airplane. Natalie likely was as well. But Jay rarely flew commercial. The last time was the flight to Morocco to interview with the Legion. He'd sat in the back row then. The instinct to do so now was no less strong. 

He watched the video of the call from Cayli on repeat, short as it was, teasing out every detail about her appearance. Skin pale, eyes frightened. He should have told her while he had the chance. She deserved to know her own fate. I'm going to save you, Cay. Just hold on a few more hours.

Jay and Jensen were both american citizens. Their return home would be uneventful, hopefully. Natalie's arrangements were only slightly more complicated given her status as a CCD member, but Ascendancy's promise was quickly fulfilled. They found her flagged as an Ambassador, with all the privileges attached. If anything, she would be welcomed, not hindered, despite the shadow of controversy following behind.

Darkness crept around the edges of his mind. He didn't intend to close his eyes, but by the time they reached cruising altitude, Jay was dead asleep.
Only darkness shows you the light.

She loved flying. She loved travelling. Easy steps forward on a road to anywhere and the promise of escape. Barely a week had passed since she'd last been in this airport and all its intersectional crossroads, and despite the crush of everything else it lightened her mood. She was hardly sad to leave Moscow behind, even if only for a while. Those were problems boxed for another day; she looked forward to an indeterminable future instead, despite past's reminders in her pocket. Her father's device, whatever it was (it did mostly resemble a wallet) didn't flag any security systems. Their passage through was painless.

In the plane they sat separately.

She worked on Marcus's app for a while; the theory, anyway. Earbuds blocked out the noise, the dulcet tones of Debussy drowning out the drone of aircon and chatter and distraction. A coffee balanced on the tray across her legs; then two, then three. At some point the crew dimmed the lights and she turned the glow of the wallet off. Covers were drawn over the windows, and it had been dark by the time they departed; by now it had to be the early hours. Given the stiffness in her legs they had been in the air for some time, and with the volume turned low she couldn't even hear a murmur of conversation.

The coffee had worn off. It was peaceful quiet. The music lulled as much as the hint of soft breathing, beckoning sleep. But she didn't want to drift off amongst a cabin full of strangers. How long until they landed for their connection? There wasn't room to stretch her legs without disturbing others, though at least she was in an isle. Her leg bounced, stopped. The weight felt like lead in her eyes.

The next thing she knew, Natalie jerked awake, and found herself tethered.

The passenger beside her snored gently, undisturbed. She gripped the back of the seat in front while her disjointed panic gathered in context, at least until she realised her body wasn't finished with its violent reaction. She slipped the offending seatbelt free in haste and managed to pull the door closed before she threw up in the toilet. Memories of the dream sucked out with the vacuum when she pulled the flush, her heart still skittering.

She washed her face, swilled her mouth out twice in the sink before she pressed her forehead against the mirror. That was worse than normal; but then she didn't normally wake from nightmares caught in any sort of restraint. Worse was the knowledge they were only halfway through the journey on a fucking red-eye. "Shit." She breathed the obscenity out on a cloud. Her eyes blurred with fatigue. She stumbled back to sit on the closed lid. It smelled like cheap sanitiser in here, hardly the most pleasant of refuges. But she wondered how long she could conceivably sit in here before one of the stewards roused her back to her seat.
A touch on his shoulder and Jensen lowered the article he'd been reading. An elderly woman stood stooped in the aisle. The cabin was dark, and most passengers were asleep but for the occasional pool of light indicating someone watched a movie or kept themselves busy with reading.

Small, kind eyes peered through the folds of skin fallen around her face. Lines etched deep in the weathering of her skin. But it was the achingly low way she stood, as though her back was too round to stand straight, that Jensen found most striking about her appearance. 

A shaky voice spoke softly so as not to disturb anyone. "Mister James, could you bless me like you did on tv?" 

Surprised, Jensen wondered how long she waited before coming to talk to him. At what point did she recognize him? 

He nodded, "of course, ma'am." She was so low, he was able to cup her cheeks in his palms without even standing.  Then, right there in the airplane, the flows of the gift, this powerful blessing, sank into her body. A startled gasp escaped when the warmth wrapped her. It was the wonder that brightened her eyes that followed that gave Jensen the knowledge that she would be restored. 

Silent tears wet her eyes as she peered around the plane with new vision. Glaucoma was beginning to set in, enough that Jensen assumed she had the corrective surgery already scheduled. She knuckled the small of her back, pushed her arms overhead and stretched straight for the first time in decades. Vitality seemed to be restored. While healing couldn't stop death, at least Jensen knew she would live out the remaining years in comfort.

She leaned and planted a warm kiss on his cheeks, tears smudging  upon his face as she did so.  "A miracle. Thank you thank you." She returned to her seat without a single stumble along the way. 

Jensen looked around, but nobody seemed aware of what happened. He smiled thoughtfully and resumed reading.
His first sight of the States were the spires of New York City. The plane glided into the airspace of JFK, but the airport was faded and aged. The city itself was darker. The spires lost their gleam. The buildings slathered with graffiti. The pride drained away. Maybe the contrast was all the sharper coming fresh from Moscow. The airport was no better.

They passed the plastic drapes and barricades of a recently closed terminal on the way to their next flight. The floors were old. The architecture of the once-famous landmark was outdated. Customs halted them only a few moments longer than others in the line, but those moments were infinite. Jay cast a diffusing smile at the woman behind the counter, enough that it distracted her from whatever she studied on the screen, then she shrugged, laid the stamps and returned his identity tags. 

He breathed a sigh of relief. 

The flight to Des Moines was only a few hours duration. The plane was half occupied, which made the few faces on board all the more heavily studied by Jay. The cost of fuel was outrageous the past few years. National travel was greatly diminished as a result. These people had to be wealthy, but none stood out. He didn't even bother to put his bag in an overhead bin this time, rather he dumped it in an empty seat, sank into one near Natalie, and rubbed his eyes. The remnants of a breakfast was wadded up and deposited in a trash receptacle.

Almost there. He thought, knee bouncing rhythmically as his foot tapped itself. He checked his wallet. Then fidgeted with the papers in the seatback. Fiddled with the fuzzy entertainment screen. Opened and lowered the window shade. Stretched. Looked around again. Then he scrubbed his hair, tapped fingers, and started the routine over again. Somehow, the pacing soothed the choppy waves in his gut.
Only darkness shows you the light.

Cinq choses que vous pouvez voir. She dragged herself through the routine, as much to urge herself awake as to calm her frayed emotions. Grey walls. A clouded mirror. A steady drip from the tap. Tissue thin toilet paper. Her father's wallet.

She ran the device over in her hands, as though its shiny black facets might hold answers. Why now, after five years? He'd be livid to know she'd stuffed that envelope unread in with her luggage, unattended right now in the overhead bin. Maybe she'd just burn it without opening it at all and relieve herself of whatever burdens the knowledge would bring. Choose your friends and allies carefully. The steady hum of the engines lulled her. Her father's warnings blurred with the stranger's friendly advice. She wanted no part in any of it.

Some time later a bang at the door roused her. "Ma'am, are you okay in there?"

It was almost midday by the time they landed; or would have been back in Moscow. They'd flown away from dawn's light and into a too stretched night; it made the darkness feel miserably endless. But the sun finally curled gold fingers into the sky on this side of the world. Three or four hours would mark the end of the journey, including the drive; it would still be early morning by the time they reached the hospital

Jay fidgeted something wicked, even if she understood why. Fatigue trimmed her nerves to sharp points, and the blossoming strength of Jensen's healing seemed an age away now. She'd picked up a paperback at the airport, but the words were already swimming. Her eyes burned with every blink. On the third repetition she leaned over him to open the window cover he kept fiddling with, streaming in soft light. Her hand captured his restless one and held it still in his lap, though she didn't look up from her book. The pad of her thumb grazed the callous of his palm.

'It is true, we shall be monsters, cut off from all the world; but on that account we shall be more attached to one another.' Her eyes skimmed the same line half a dozen times before she stifled a yawn. Blinked her eyes to clear them.

On the lap tray her wallet suddenly shuddered, vibrating against a half finished cup of coffee. She flicked the book shut and scooped it up, about to send the call to voicemail as soon as her mother's name flashed the screen. Until she noticed just how many calls had collected unnoticed since the early hours. Panic beat a hollow thud in her chest.

The cabin crew were readying for take off; she shouldn't be on the phone at all. One of them moved down the centre aisle as she pressed it to her ear.


Silence. Then the suck of breath over a contained sob. "Natalie! Are you okay? Where are you?"

Disapproval pinioned her down as the stewardess leaned over the seat. Natalie frowned, warding the woman and her plaintive calls of "Ma'am, you need to put your phone away for take-off" off with an impatient hand. Her skin prickled, hollowing out her breath shallow.

"Of course I'm okay."

She was unprepared for the sound of her mother's tears. Even when her father had been hauled into custody, before it had become clear precisely what he'd done to strike against the CCD, she had not seen her mother cry. Eleanor might be made of softer things, but she was not weak. Guilt burrowed in Natalie's chest at the breadth of emotion shared now. "Shh." Her voice softened around the word, trying to soothe its way through to sense. "Shh, please stop crying. I promise I'm okay."

"Where are you? I'm coming to get you." 

Natalie had planned to ask for forgiveness rather than permission. She'd also planned to defer the confession until necessity forced her hand. She missed calls all the time, particularly when she didn't want the contact. Given their fractious relationship over the past few years, a few hours silence was nothing -- and certainly not enough to warrant this kind of panic.

Something had happened back in Moscow.

"I left the party early. I'm now about to leave JFK." Overhead, the stewardess implored Jay or Jensen to intervene on her behalf. Flat silence echoed down the line as Eleanor translated the location, but she said nothing; certainly none of the fury Natalie had anticipated. Perhaps it was only shock. But she somehow seemed calmer, like she had finally managed to pull all her spilled pieces back under control.

"Then you're not in Moscow." It sounded like relief.

"No," she agreed carefully. "And I can't talk now. But'll I'll call you when I land, I promise."

She sank back in her seat, puzzling over the anomaly as the wallet powered down. They'd know when they landed, perhaps, but for now there was no point sharing her suspicions. One of the Nine and the world's greatest healer were now a world away from where they might be required, and neither needed the burden of guilt such knowledge would bring.

"I should have told her I was leaving," she said by way of explanation. Her head pressed back, brows low. She closed her eyes.

[[Ten points to anyone who knew the book line is from Frankenstein]]
The window shade slid on jagged edges, worn by age and millions of hands. The magazines were empty words. Their paper frayed and ripped around the edge. The lap tray had a ring on the plastic, remnant of another man's drink. The bouncing of Jay's knee yearned to run, or lift,  or kick. Anything other than being pent up in a box. A hurling cage in the shape of a tube plowing through the air at ungodly speeds. At least the cargo planes shipping him around the southern hemisphere felt more open. Packed in with people, definitely, but there was airspace overhead, cold flows on his face. Always something to talk about. This was torture. 

An anchor gripped his hand. The sudden weight may as well have been a bird landing on his finger, but it was crushing. Like a palm upon his soul willing it to ease. The sudden absence of movement was profound, he realized, and looked to her.

She was focused upon the pages in her lap. The steady graze of her thumb passing rhythmic like waves. His shoulders sank a little as his own fingers wrapped around hers, trying to catch a glimpse of what filled the pages occupying her attention when the phone rang.

Natalie's mom. He didn't have to overhear to sense the tension. Guilt dripped from Natalie like dual obligations attempted to tear her in half. She was needed somewhere. Missed by someone worried about her welfare. Was it undue worry? Or was there justification.  Jay turned off his own wallet, blocked from everyone except Cayli, like the world was too distracting to remain connected to it. He knew his own limits, and he had to focus singularly on Cayli. Otherwise, who knows what would happen.

He didn't ask when Natalie disconnected what the call was about. He already knew. No point dragging her through the mud of regret any more than she already endured. He didn't stay silent, though. "I should probably have to told my family we were coming." 

He searched her expression in case the comment elicited some sort of reaction, he was ready to flash a dark smirk. Dual errors in judgement. The despondent banded together, but at least he had some insight into her mood.

By the halfway point, probably somewhere over Indiana, a different kind of stillness settled. An empty plastic bottle rolled lazily between the fingers of his free hand, absently turning it over. Another one laid on the floor at his feet. But other than the slow motion, Jay was absolutely still. Fully awake. Eyes fixed on the seat back in front of him.

Though to be more accurate, they were fixed upon the cube of threads being constructed. They were invisible to any but him and Jensen, since the weave did nothing except grow more complicated. It turned and twisted like a Rubik's cube, a self-constructed puzzle that grew more complex even as he solved it in his mind. The exercise was distracting, or soothing in a way without being disruptive like the previous fidgeting. Other than the never-ending stare and intensity of concentration, the only other hint of the activity came from the barest narrowing of eyes, the purse of lips, the racing of a calculation being solved in his head. Rubik's cubes were all math. Specifically, it was math theory, but Jay was never interested enough in the process to study it in depth. Solving a Rubik's cube in front of the cheerleading squad counting down the time, now that was a worthwhile investment of effort. Shoving that same Rubik's cube into his pack filled the time during his early days in the marines. Being a soldier was boring more often than it was exciting. Everyone had their own methods to deal with stagnation. Jay was no exception.

The threads flipped or rotated. Colors spun in slices, then twisted in columns. The innermost portions of the cube were continuously buried by new ones, something he was doing to himself, but mostly for the challenge of solving it rather than an unique strategy from the start. But the idea was the same as the standard Rubik's cube. Memorize the pieces, assign the plots different values and sub-values, and monitor the cycles each passes through. 

Jay didn't even know if this knot of threads and power could be solved, but it passed the time to landing in Des Moines.

More importantly, it kept him from losing his mind until then.
Only darkness shows you the light.

The opening default on Jensen's device browsed headlines in the scroll. The plane's slow internet signal gave him little access, and there hadn't been time to connect to JFK's system before boarding.

He liked to stay aware of current events, particularly in the pre-subscribed topics closest to his heart. The attention from patheos was beginning to diminish, but similar gatherings came together. A moscow-based voodoo queen gathered attention in a city park. Jensen studied her picture, closely, curious about the things she practiced. Voodoo was a pagan sort of religion that edged upon the demonic, but Jensen read the article anyway, seeking signs to the contrary. it was not that long ago that he interpreted the presence of his gifts as demonic possession, powers unnatural for mankind to wield. Clearly this gift was not a supernatural curse, rather, it was a blessing. Others likely interpreted the gift according to their own backgrounds and experiences. Did a voodoo queen channel the power of the gift? Or was she a performer? Jensen was genuinely interested in knowing. Maybe even meeting her when he returned to Moscow.

For return to Moscow he intended. There was no doubt that he was meant to be in the city. The revelation of the Gift came to him in Moscow. The angel in his dream told him to stay there. But Jessika and the boys were too strong a connection, luring him back to Dallas. He had to set things right with them. Kiss them. Hug them. Share his love, even his love for Jessika, his best friend, and his regret that he couldn't stay.

Jay's channeling drew his attention. Jensen watched for a time as the cube twisted and turned. Jay was zoned out upon it. Indeed, it was mesmerizing to watch. It seemed harmless, and Jensen wouldn't interrupt the necessary concentration, but he intended to comment on it later.

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