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Tantalizing
#1
Continued from Cabaret & Candy

The directions to Jaxen’s building led the driver from the midtown cabaret theater all the way to Moscow City, the so-named business district that in and of itself operated like a miniature city within a city. Where the area around the Kremlin was steeped in history and antiquity, Moscow City was the mecca of modern civilization. Massive buildings, many world-record-holders for their size and luxury, towered glittering above Moscow River, the massive water that curled its way around the district. High-rises that belied the mind twisted and turned, art-pieces in and of themselves. The one that Jaxen called home was lost in the middle somewhere. A different sort of cat prowled these city streets. For Jaxen, the height was attractive; cats did like to claim to the highest peaks, after all. A building that sold-out in 6-hours after the design debuted was also attractive. He enjoyed his perks.

Jaxen owned a two-level chunk of the high-rise. The door itself recognized him as he approached, and the hefty security system was lifted momentarily. Of course, it made note of all his guests as well, signaled the building staff to prepare delicacies or any other manner of morsel Jaxen might order on a whim. Having enough historical instances of similar gatherings in its system, it already prompted him what he wanted. Liquor, of course, was aplenty within the apartment. Fresh food and catering, on the other hand, would arrive shortly. Perhaps also swimwear and offerings of other laundry services were on standby. One of the balconies, like the others of the building, was a cantilevered pool suspended over the edge of the building-face. It glowed an eerie blue through the windows beyond when they entered. The walls of the apartment rippled and shone like they were living entities suspecting his whim and catering to the atmosphere he was probably most likely to anticipate. In this case, it was one of intimacy, mystery and fun.

“Make yourselves at home,” he announced just before departing to change his own clothes. Maybe it was the quip about the pants, but the attire was suddenly wrong for the occasion.

The apartment was arranged such that the foyer and first level entertaining space greeted them. The style and decorations were sleek and modern, except for a display case housed a number of odd-antiques, many from India, but other cultures could be discerned among the pieces. A kitchen was nearby that appeared to be carved from a single, seamless unit. Smart technology was everywhere. No oven or refrigerator was apparent.

When he returned, he wore a black shirt with a crystal-adorned, horned-skull on the front. Electric blue pants that seemed to flicker along the seams like the points of fiberoptics glowed faintly. His hair was freshly coiffed sinister as the grin on his lips.

It was then that he scanned the members of the party, and what he found was indeed, too many members. A frown creased his forehead. “I’m breaking up the sausage fest, boys. No offense, but we have a severe shortage of girls,” he winked as he plopped into his favorite chair, legs crossed.

Oddly, it wasn’t Aiden that he was watching. It was Sage.

The guy’s head must literally be on fire right then. An addict dropped square into a heroin house and told not to touch the needles. He had a message for "Wicked Truth", but he would wait for Aiden to request the powder-room before sharing it with the hacker.
"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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#2
Aiden had been to Moscow City a few times since moving to Suzdal. His publisher, Tor, the largest name in Fantasy literature, had an office located somewhere in the maze of skyscrapers and high rises; not that he knew how to get there, Cooper did all the driving. They had an entire floor rented out in one of the modern monoliths, offering a breathtaking view of the skyline. He’d be popping in soon to drop off the manuscript for his latest novel… Whenever he actually got to finish that. Between Sage’s pants and practicing with Nox and the boys, there was little time to progress his story; he squeezed it in when he could though. Just a few chapters more and it would be all set for proofreading and revisions. The novel was set to be released in December followed by a publicity tour in the New Year. 

                Dimitri had already started letting the fans know about that one and even ran a contest for them all; a few would be flown out here to spend the day with Aiden. He loved that sort of thing, although he did not know what he’d be doing with the fans… Probably dinner, drinks, dancing, and answering their numerous questions. Literature fans were much more subdued than music fans… Sometimes…

                This area was not too far from Tverskaya, where Aiden owned a humble 10 story condominium that supplemented his income; the top floor of that building was entirely his and he called it a second home… Although he rarely used it. That would probably be changing very soon after tonight’s activities. No doubt his manager and publicist would be pushing him back into the spotlight, assuming that his impromptu performance at the Cabaret was a means to rejoin the world of the living. Siobhan and the rest of Blarney Stoned, sans Kyle, would be trying to contact him too in an effort to stage a reunion tour. They had been badgering him about that before moving to the CCD.

                Dorian’s mansion suited him fine for the time being, but there might come a time when Sage and he needed a little space from the others, depending on how their relationship progressed. He ached to go back to his Manor in Suzdal, but there were more and more commitments popping up in Aiden’s life that would require him to stay close to Moscow. Sage needed space for his computer systems and the like… Maybe he would want to set up a room or two for himself in the Condo, the Manor, or both. He’d have to ask him about that later.

                May you always live in interesting times, Aiden quoted in his head at the thought.

                After the ride, Aiden found himself being led into Jaxen’s private quarters. It was all high tech, sleek, and breathtaking. The man even had a pool for a balcony. Eyebrows shooting to his hairline, Aiden looked around at the splendor of his surroundings. Jaxen might have poor taste in pants, but it was clear that he knew how to live. The high life was not unfamiliar to Aiden, although his tastes were more in line with more retro styles… Although after seeing Jaxen’s pad, Aiden had found himself thinking of remodeling the Condo; the Manor was little more than half-finished, so there would be room to add to it if he so chose to.

                “You know, Jaxen, let me apologize for making fun of your pants. If you had any part in the décor of this pad… Well, you’ve got great taste,” Aiden said with a whistle on his lips.

                Their host departed almost immediately and signaled them to chill out. Jaxen disappeared into one of his rooms briefly, Aiden found a comfortable couch and pulled Sage down with him into the plush cushions. A display case sat not far off from them, ancient items on display within under the glow of soft lights. Aiden found himself wanting to get right up from the couch to inspect the case, but he resisted the urge. There would be time for that later.

                Aiden was about to open his mouth, ready to put Sage to the question about setting up his own personal space in the Condo or the Manor, but Jaxen had reappeared proclaiming their party to be a ‘sausage fest.’ Not a bad thing so far as Aiden was concerned, but Sage was all the sausage he needed; so if Jaxen wanted some ladies to come up, more power to him.

                With a chuckle, Aiden responded, “Straight then, Jax? I’m gay, myself; although I’ve always gotten along better with men of your persuasion. Not as much drama there… and more women for you, I guess. Where’s the little boy’s room? That whiskey went right through me and I’d rather not soil your lovely couch…”

                A less than eloquent way to ask the question, but everybody peed. No shame in that. Aiden shouldn’t have ‘broken the seal’ so early in the night; he’d be making a trip to the restroom every twenty minutes if he wasn’t careful.

                “Oh, and do you have any whiskey? Wine or beer would do too…”

Russian Dolls and Broken Gods, a new Fantasy novel by best-selling author, Aiden Finnegan, out this December! Preorder online and instore today!
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#3
Sage had never been to Moscow City, but he wasn't so much in awe of the skyscrapers as the tech the rich employed. He was in hacker heaven. The money in the place was extraordinary, but Sage could almost feel all the security cameras in the network here. All in the name of protecting the rich and the famous and their expensive toys. Sage stared out the window of Aiden's car while leaning against the man himself. He hadn't paid much attention to the conversation. And if anyone took offense Sage didn't notice as he wrote programs to infiltrate the weakest points. To find the hole in the security even as they drove. He had missed the ability much less the reason. Protecting the Vega's had been all he'd been doing. The information high was low but this, this was better than anything else he'd seen in ages. He missed his server and was hoping for a new one soon, but...

The thought brought him back to the present company exiting the limo into one of those skyscrapers. It was different being inside. The tech was glorious. Sage was more interested in his surroundings than the company. All the information at his finger tips, all the people to get information on. Sage didn't need to know a person to follow them. He never had before, he'd rarely left his house when he was younger, and had continued the practice as he got older and even after his parents died.

Aiden pulled Sage into the couch with him and Sage curled against him. The warmth was welcome as was Aiden's presence. But Sage was lost in learning about Jaxen Marveet. The display case caught his eye and Sage was busy scanning each item and finding out they had once been stolen and not recovered. He was smirking when Aiden excused himself to the bathroom and Sage looked over at their host watching him. He was nothing in comparison to Aiden, why watch him. But then Jaxen knew how he was or what he was. But that explained little unless he was angry about the wallet hack earlier. Not that he should be surprised since Jaxen had used the same device the last time they met.
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#4
He grinned at Aiden, “you’re only now realizing this?” The rock star’s compliment was not denied. Jaxen’s tastes were unapologetically his own, but it was nice to have the acknowledgment. Likewise, he appreciated his guests’ tastes – particularly in one another – though neither would be fit to his flare if the option was proposed. Sage was a little too pale and gangly for Jaxen, but the physique was difficult to fault. Jaxen was not exactly a lump of testosterone himself.

Still, his mind wandered toward various invitation lists. He may have had his choice of anyone from the lounge, but they were shallow arm candy. Oriena, on the other hand, while tantalizing, was too exhausting for his present mood. Jaxen didn’t exactly have girlfriends, he wasn’t his father after all, but company was not in short supply. He sent a message off as Aiden excused himself.

Finally, devices laid aside, he caught Sage’s eye. The man was unusually quiet; although Jaxen guessed he was typically introverted. He was quieter than one would expect of a rock star’s boyfriend. Such a committed word.

A glance over his shoulder and Jaxen hopped to sit next to Sage. When he leaned in close, it wasn’t friendly. No charm beckoned a taste of intimacy; such was left to Aiden. Jaxen clamped upon his guests’ eyes, but the daggers sharpening his own were nothing compared to the slit of a smile parting his lips with promise. “You hack my system, and I’ll kill you.”

A wink, pat on the knee and Jaxen hopped back to his previous perch.
"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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#5
Sage wasn't surprised by the words, but the venom spoken make him shy back. Though he didn't move physically. The playful banter was gone, there was nothing but the truth riding on his lips. And it only made Sage want to do what he said more. But this was a friend of Nox's and Sage had yet to meet someone Nox had that was not a threat in some way. Even Dorian was scary in his own right - specially when he got angry at you.

Jaxen was a hacker, a thief but more importantly he was like Nox and Aiden. Not someone Sage wanted to mess with. "I wouldn't dream of it, professional courtesy and all." And he was mostly right in that. He hadn't dreamt of it, there was no reason to hack another hackers system unless Sage thought he had information he wanted, but he was pretty sure Jaxen Marveet held very little information that Sage would find valuable. "Why hack you, when I can just ask what you are hiding?' Sage grinned at him. It was faked, but he was trying not to come off as scared as he could be. Aiden wasn't going to protect him in this. Aiden couldn't even control his own gift well enough to keep himself from producing fireballs above his head, though the tell-tale sign was endearing to Sage.

Sage turned back to the collection on the wall and continued his scans and his information gathering. Honestly he was surprised at being let into such a place, if Jaxen were truly worried he would have thought better than bringing him in, Sage had already proven his ease at getting into systems with a thought. Or had the man forgotten. This was all the information Sage needed, he smiled to himself. It was a good thing he wasn't malicious.
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#6
“Professional courtesy,” an accepting smile. “Nicely said.” A twirl and Jaxen was on his feet, pouring them drinks. Not because he was some kind of gracious host, but he didn’t intend on seeing his good vodka insulted by the pour of ignorant hands. Perfect amount. Sparkling sphere of ice molded to the shape of a crystal skull. Gentle spray of lime wrung from fresh twist. “The only way to drink vodka,” he said as the drink floated to Sage. His back was turned as the lines of ancient power did the work, but there was the barest reflection in the glass wall that guided his path. One for himself, then a third awaited Aiden upon his return.

He nestled the drink against his chest like a beloved keepsake. Such as those proudly displayed in his case. In fact, he followed Sage’s flickering line of sight toward the case, tipped the glass and nodded. “If you’re wondering if any of it is stolen, you’d be right. Not all of it though.” A grin and he’d let the hacker figure out which was which if his curiosity was really that intrigued.

The object of Jaxen’s most recent desires was mostly obscured in the confines of his own (unhackable) brain, but there was leg-work to such research that could be traced. Wicked Truth, with all his notorious skills, could probably figure it out given enough attention. “You are onto something, though. I’m going to tell you and your boyfriend exactly what I’m hiding.”

A notification and Jaxen’s most recent message found itself returned. Having been on both sides of client and hunted by Pervaya Security, Jaxen was fully aware of their fame, but he was only interested in one very specific bodyguard.

He returned the message silently while Sage was left to stew on the intriguing last comment for a bit.

Tell John White that the man I am hiring him to protect is likely to be assassinated by the CCD government, that is, if they can get past him. Tell him to bring his A-game, because the Custody will be sending theirs.

A wicked grin was silently born while the message was returned.
We will pass your message to White.



@Hood
"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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#7
The vodka floated his direction. Fucking floated! Jaxen was as much of a show off as Nox was. Must be nice to be a god! Though that was just a term Nox used he didn't believe any of them were gods. Just men with power, but Sage could see how that might come to be worshipped. Sage grinned at Jaxen's confession of stolen objects, he didn't need to be told. He'd already captured their images and was searching through the known sources of information already programmed into his computer. Sage really missed his server...

But the promise of other stories pulled Sage back into reality. Information he couldn't find on the information highway was even more a premium. Jaxen was a thief. A good one from the looks of his stash. Nox said the man had broke into the Atharim head quarters - was a hunted man. Though they thought him disappeared and that was how it remained the last time Nox had access. And what Nox knew, Sage knew - at least electronically, all that Atharim Knowledge was stored on a small drive that wasn't connected to the world. Even Nox didn't know he had it. It wasn't much more than what Nox had on his wallet. Things like monsters and gods and names. Things Sage really didn't understand. But Nox knew he had the information just not that he had a copy of it for safe keeping. Once he had his server up and running it would all be safe behind firewall after firewall and full time monitoring by his own code and himself. Soon... Sage kept thinking to himself.

Sage didn't bother pressing the matter any about this divulgence of information instead he waited for Aiden to return. The warmth had subsided even with the vodka he was sipping - not his favorite drink but he wasn't about to piss off his gracious host.
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#8
Aiden came out of the opulent restroom shaking the water from his hands. He had no patience for towels; it always took too much time to make sure your hands were truly dry. There had been a few minutes where he wove a few flows of Air around his hands, trying to speed up the process, but the ethereal Air only served to push the beads of moisture all over his hands… Perhaps if he had tried Water, gathering it up and off of his skin, but Aiden had no skill with that element yet. Just Air and Fire… Spirit was coming in a close third, but he really didn’t know what use Spirit had… So much to learn still.

                The rest of Jaxen’s pad was just as impressive as the sitting area and entryway. Aiden found himself admiring the art, the technology, and the furniture that was scattered about the various rooms; although he didn’t stray too far from his path. It would not be polite to wander Jaxen’s rooms without his approval. Oh, Aiden was definitely tempted too, but he opted for caution… Especially after staying at Dorian’s mansion and seeing just what other Channelers could do with magic. Nox laid out traps all over the lawn; there was no telling what Jaxen may have hidden in the rooms of this hyper-techno palace of a Condominium.

                Entering the living room, Aiden caught the tail end of something Jaxen was saying… Indeed, he was hiding something. Taking an internal sigh of relief, Aiden was suddenly thankful for his gut instinct and avoiding the whole snooping thing. Sage was where he had been, a glass of clear liquid and an ice cube in the shape of a skull nestled in his hands. Jaxen seemed to be enjoying the same.

                I thought I said whiskey… Aiden thought to himself.

                Aiden, once again, sighed internally. Vodka would do if that was the drink being offered. He preferred brown liquor, but being in Russia, one had no choice but to develop a taste for the potato-based spirit… A love for the vegetable was in Aiden’s blood, being Irish and all, so the shift wasn’t an unwelcome one; although he may very well end up blacking out before the night had finished. Mixing different types of booze always spelled trouble.

                With a tune on his lips, the infamous Lady GaGa’s Poker Face, Aiden embraced that strange light behind his shoulder and wove a thread of Air. The third glass, which he presumed to be his, floated across the room, carried by unseen hands. Any chance to practice his craft was a welcome one. Throwing back his head and releasing the magic, Aiden swallowed half of the glass and gave a satisfied sigh.

                “Good stuff, Jaxen… What’s the brand? I’ll have to have Dimitri pick up a case of this stuff…” Aiden purred as he moved back to the couch and plopped down next to his boyfriend. He put his right arm around Sage and sipped on more of the drink, cheeks flushing as the clear liquid hit his bloodstream.

                “So, what are we talking about again? What’d you steal? What’d you wanna show us?” With a nod towards the glass case, Aiden cocked an eyebrow at Jaxen, “Is it in that curio cabinet? I’m very curious as to what those artifacts are all about, though I haven’t taken much of a look at them…”

Russian Dolls and Broken Gods, a new Fantasy novel by best-selling author, Aiden Finnegan, out this December! Preorder online and instore today!
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#9
Jaxen was grinning at Sage like the two of them shared a secret that Aiden’s return snuffed into silence. Meanwhile, as Jaxen uncurled himself into his own seat, leather trimmed with velvet and not outrageous at all, he studied the couple before him. Such commitment as they wafted, it turned his stomach to toe such a line, they might as well pick out curtains at the beach house. An inward bet at how long it would last drifted through his imagination, especially if all came to fruition and Aiden journeyed west as Jaxen envisioned. Such thoughts toyed with the smirk on his face until something semi-serious eventually settled.

As Aiden pointed out, Jaxen was naturally drawn to the sparkling shelves set behind glass. A number of treasures were displayed. The topmost shelf once held the sharp steel of Archduke Franz Ferdinand’s coronation sword, an heirloom of the Habsburg dynasty, Jaxen picked that up on a spectacular tour through Austria. The Imperial Palace was short a handful of priceless relics after that trip; gone now, pilfered by Scion as some sort of punishment for Jaxen’s behavior.

A similar punishment might dole out following his display at the Cabaret. Scion could always die of a stroke when he saw the footage, but Jaxen wasn’t usually so lucky. His own system would flag him if such a messenger from father dearest decided to pay a visit. They were in for a surprise, if so. Someone he was expecting, however, should be along soon. He was in far too irreverent a mood to go to sleep alone tonight.

Thinking of it, he waggled a few nimble fingers in midair and the windows separating their space from the balcony-projected pool rippled to life. His own speech drove the display and bypassed the encryption.
“Dublin footage,” he said.

A map of Trinity College was revealed. The animation swirling toward the famous library. The view wafted by them like they were there in person.
“Aiden, I gather you recognize where we are. Sage, if you don’t recognize it yet, I trust you to follow along on your own.” He winked at the American and sprang to his feet.

His hands were the guide, movements and pointing showing off various aspects of the ancient library from within like some kind of tour guide.
“The back houses the oldest of manuscripts in an archival room. These items are publicly available,” a wry smirk. He met Sybaris in that room. A chill crept up his spine. It was a good thing that bitch was dead. Otherwise, he may not even entertain the idea of returning.

He virtually walked his audience to the archive room and finally placed themselves before an antique.
“This is the Book of Leinster.” A dismissive wave of the hand, “Fairy tales.” Then, gaze fixed on Aiden, “ever heard of it?”
"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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#10
Sage sat and watched. He had nothing really to contribue to the conversation. Though he knew Jaxen well enough by reputation to know that he planned on stealing the book - or had already. Either way this might not be the thing Aiden wanted to get involved in, but he said nothing. This wasn't his decision. Though Sage did start searching through the information out in the public on everything in front of him. He sort of zoned out and was only half listening to the conversation. Thankfully his processor picked up the signals and recorded it for later use if necessary.

He had so many processes to get back up and running on the new hardware, but he was thankful for the functionality of it, he was lost without it all.

[[ had nothing really to contribute so a short nothing post ]]
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