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Walking A New Path
Since coming to Moscow the world had tumbled and tumbled until it was no longer what it once was. Nox hadn't even set food on Russian soil before the world upended.  His father would be furious to know he was going to Russia - the CCD he'd hated the other side of the ocean for years.  It was breed in him from his father.  But Aurora and Nox had thought differently when they decided.  They decided together that they would come to the homeland of their ancestry - they would come to Moscow and be named Atharim full fledged by the grace of the Pope himself.  Or so the story had gone after they'd become gods.  The most hated things on earth for the Atharim and he was one.

Thinking about it all made Nox want to hurl.  So instead of thinking about it and dwelling he thought about the future.  The future which brought him no hope.  He'd be hunted the remainder of his life.  Nox knew that now.  They'd come at him once, they'd come again.  There was no time to waste, yet he felt empty inside.  Devoid of all things, all hope.  Sage and Aiden didn't help any with their blissful love.  Fuck them. 

He didn't need to have a future, Cruz and Dorian, even Aiden and Sage deserved that.  Ana and Christian most of all they just got pulled into the unlucky situation.  Though Ana... she was the mother of a god.  Nox sighed as he pressed up on his hands into a high plank before moving into downward dog.  Yoga was becoming more and more required to get through a day.  To focus on his body and his body alone, drown in the calm cool serenity of the power lingering at the edge. 

But not touching it.  It no longer brought peace of mind.  It brought pain and memories and things Nox didn't want to feel, but he did every time he touched the power god had granted him.  God... no... he had nothing to do with it, even if Aria believed, Nox didn't.  This was science - genetic. Why else kill parents.  The perfect storm came and that storm came with Apolyon - Ascendancy.  Another man who probably wanted him dead and for what?  Because he was Atharim.  

That was the theme in all this misery.  The Atharim - if you got down to it his mother died because of the Atharim.  If she'd never met his father.... Nox knew he'd never have been born,but she'd never have died either... except she would have, his father saved her.  It was a well told story.  

Nox pushed it out of his head as he stood into Warrior 1.  So many reasons to leave the Atharim behind - to go find a hiding place and live and die there.  But there were still monsters out there.  Monsters that could devour the world whole and even the Ascendancy in all his grand glory could never win if they all came calling at once.  He barely survived the Ijiraq.  

Nox shuddered at the memory of the ball and yawned in response to the weariness of his body.  But he pushed harder. He needed a direction.  A life outside of the Atharim.  Warrior 2.  Nox knew that.  But he also knew that he had no skills.  Not a single one besides survival and killing monsters - that wasn't real world in the least.  So for now Nox pushed his body and his skills with the power.  He'd defend this family with his life.  Which meant he had to grab the power, it was painful -  more so than ever before as he reached into the dark light and pulled it to heart.  It struggled as it burned his soul.  It fought against his control as he wove the light show Methos' stage hand had used at the misshapen concert.  It danced in fury, in chaos and Nox let it eat at his very being, but he didn't let go.  It stung and burned and he felt the Ijiraq feeding on him.  It was all in his head - he knew it.  

The music in Nox's ears ceased as a text came over his wallet.  Nox touched his left earbud and  it read the text. Hey Nox. This is Ivan. I need your help. I need to learn this power

Why did Ivan always come to him when he needed to learn?  He knew exactly what he was, where he went in life, his beliefs, he'd left him to fucking die on his own because he couldn't stomach his truth.  The voice in his head, the one that sounded like his sister told him, he had to help him, the power was dangerous if you experimented.  "Remember how many times I had to heal you."

Nox sighed and headed for his make shift room for clean clothes and a shower as he pulled out his wallet and typed Ivan a reply.  "I'm free now.  Where do you want to meet?"
Novodevichy park was only a twenty minute walk to the metro. Normally, anyway. Ivan was walking a mite slower, though. Broken ribs did that to you. Not like you could do anything about them cept wait for them to heal on their own. Meds did make it quicker all but it was what it was.

And so Ivan wasn't meeting Nox in the tunnels. He wasn't up for any fighting. Not yet anyway. But he knew the power wasn't just for fighting.

He'd seen what James had done. No, he couldn't replicate it. His mom would sew up their clothes from time to time. And she did like to knit. What he did....was like having ten hands all weaving the most complicated thing imaginable at the same time. No. He wasn't gonna be able to do that anytime soon.

But it was like working out or building an engine. You needed to understand the principles, the parts. The various muscle groups, insertion points into the bone, muscle heads, agonist/antagonist pairings; nutrition and macronutrient needs, aminos and supplements. The timing belt and pistons, air intake, ratio of oxygen to fuel, crank shaft and differentials. All pieces and parts working together.

And Ivan had one tool. Only one. A hammer. And to a hammer everything was a nail. Well no more. If he was truly to be in charge of his life- and more importantly, to break free and claim the life he wanted- he needed control.

The park was large, the Convent visible over the tops of the trees. The cemetary contained the remains of many famous Russians over the centuries. Yeltsin, Krushchev, Gorvechev. In the distance Smolensk Cathedral dominated. The large pond nearby was peaceful, walkways circling it, leading off into the trees.

A nice place. Somewhere two men could sit and talk. Where Nox- the only other man other then Brandon who he knew and who knew the power well- could teach him.

The temparature was pleasant and he had a smile on his face. The air felt fresh and clean, the sweet smell of the grass and flowers. He'd bring Danya and Zara here next time. Likely Danya would teach them all kinds of stuff about this place. She was always interesting, that was for sure. Was one of the reasons he loved her.

Ivan sat on a stone bench, chess board lines and shading inlaid into the table. No pieces tho. You needed to bring those yourself. He wasn't great. He knew the rules but he didn't understand how to use them to create strategy and tactics. Well, to be fair, he didn't care enough to learn.

But it was still an appropriate analogy. Ivan needed to learn the rules. And then how to use then. Something tickled his mind. Ma's words. Yeah. He had done something stupid- what, he didn't remember.'Wisdom and knowledge aren't the same thing, Vanya. Knowledge tells you if you stand on a track, a train will hit and kill you. Wisdom tells you what to do with that knowledge.' He remembered her grin. He was all of 8 maybe. 'So move!!!'

Time to get me some knowledge. Then learn how to use it. Maybe I'll become wisdomous. He laughed at his dumb joke.
By the time Nox showered and got dressed he was not nearly so annoyed as he was when Ivan had texted him for help. At least getting out of the house was good away from Aiden and Sage and the drama they were making in his life. It was bad enough he was dealing with his fucking sexuality and his feelings for men. It was like every night he listened to those two giggling and having a grand old time and the memories flooded in. The memories of feelings Nox had of boys before Jaden. Of the one he had for Sage when he was with Aurora. And of Aiden in the band all of Aurora's luggage and it was a Methos concert that turned him off and on. What the fuck was that about.

The train was quick. The park was a quick walk. Nox walked the park once, he would be late, he didn't really care. If Ivan wanted to learn he'd let Nox get in the right mind. He was still annoyed the man thought he was wrong and offered help and then went his own way. But just like hunting monsters, Nox couldn't help stay away when someone needed his help.

Ivan sat at a chess table, there were no pieces. Nox sat down across from the cop. "Sorry I'm late, needed to get out of my head." It was an excuse, but it was all he had, "Though I am surprised to hear from you considering how you, your cop buddy and Aria's sister left. What exactly do you need help with?"
Ivan was surprised. Nox looked rough. Not in the way Ivan looked rough. Definitely as rough in the way he felt. Well, had felt. The fire in his gut was strong, now, desperation replaced with determination.

Nox looked beaten. Lost. They weren't friends, just acquaintances. Still.."No worries man. You doin alright? You look kinda lost."

He laughed wryly, scrubbing a hand through his hair. "Trust me, dude. I know you feel. Whole world seems to have gone to hell in a handbasket." What Nox said threw him as he tried to parse out who he was referring to. Last time they saw each other was at Vega's. Nox, Vega, Johnson and Alex. He had left with Johnson and Alex. Aria was a friend of Nox he had met once. Then saw her with Ascendancy that terrible. She had needed healing. What she was, Ivan didn't know, except that it must have been important for Ascendancy to want her healed.

And they were sisters? He guessed it made sense. Alex's abilities and all that. Of course Brandon would want one of them next to him. People were tools to him. Not like that was any surprise. At least, not anymore anyway.

Alex. He felt a twinge of guilt. They were friends. And they had fun together. No doubt about it. But Ivan was serious about Zara and Danya. So that aspect was over. And she wouldn't fall to pieces, he knew that. They had known it was just a thing. Still...he had liked her. Nothing too deep, but he had. And now he felt bad. Who used tools, now? he asked himself.

Nah. He didn't wan't to get into that right now.

"Well...truth is, someone has be over a barrel. Threatening me and my family. And I realize I have all this power, but don't know how to use it." He held up a fist. "My solution? Use it like a club. Blow things up." He smiled slightly, voice dropping to a whisper. 'But I've seen what people can do. The delicacy, the intricacy. It is so much more than raw strength. I need to master this. Understand what I am doing."

He looked at Nox, lopsided grin. "You're the go to guy. At least the only one I trust. Can you help me?"
Nox shrugged at the personal question. He wasn't going to explain his mood to a virtual stranger regardless of how much Ivan looked like he felt. They weren't friends. Hell, sometimes Nox was pretty sure even his friends weren't his friends. But that was things he was trying to ignore right now. The power called to him despite the fact it hurt like fuck right now to touch it. It was all in his head. Memories, nightmares come to life. Didn't matter that it was the same old same old, his mind played tricks on him, just like the voice of his sister sitting in his head when shit got hard, or when he needed to hear a pep talk, or to be put in his place. Either way Aurora was there to tame his inner feelings - whatever he needed - she was always there. Always had been and now he was lost without her. He'd never get that feeling back. That hope he found in his eight might older sister.

It seemed like they were both in the same boat. Except ... well except nothing. Someone was doing more than threatening Nox, they were really trying to kill him. He could sympathize, but that pushed things he didn't want to get into. Talking had never been his thing. At least not to him. He'd never understand. Ivan was a goodie goodie cop who believed the world was black and white.

Nox smirked at being the go-to-guy. "The go-to-guy. Apparently." How many was this now? Three? Yeah that's real go to. But hey he'd take it. Though Nox wasn't sure how he could help him. "I can try." He said simply. There wasn't always an easy way to teach someone. Ivan had control over the power, he didn't need to learn how to grab it at will. No, they'd already done that. Nox remembered that day in the tunnels with not so much fondness - fucking deadly monsters that he had no idea what they were. Dorian was looking into it now. He had a badge and everything. Made sense after seeing the dude with the labcoat . Nox frowned - he'd let Dane kill the man. Another failure...

Nox didn't really know how to start. "Tell me what you know about the power." There wasn't much really to it. Five elements, each one a distinct flavor, color, texture - however you saw it. It didn't matter how you interpreted it, but it was five distinct threads in a flow you could weave into just about anything if you could figure out how to do it.

Nox didn't want to grab the power. The pain wasn't something he looked forward to, but he knew in the long run he'd have to. For now, he sat back in the chair and studied the stone board in front of him while he waited for Ivan's response.
Ivan guffawed- and regretted it, his hand going to his ribs. Still, he grinned through the wince. "Yeah. What I know. Ascendancy taught me the basics about the five flavors of the power. He had his own names for them, but I liked air, fire, rock, tears, and ghost. So...let's see. I made air fists in the tunnels. Well, not fists. More like blocks around my arms, really. You were there. Then I punched with them."

He looked at his fists- the bruising and couple of busted knuckles, then back up at Nox with a guilty shrug. "So....I'm thinking that's a pattern of mine. Big dumb jock punching his way through life." He gave a lopsided grin. "You can see why I'm asking you. Uh....sooo....oh yeah, also in the tunnels I compressed the air filled it with fire, I guess, and threw it at them and it exploded. And..." he remembered the fight the other night. "...yeah, I used air to rip down some lights."

His grin had fallen and he looked at the table, the empty chess board. "You know, saying it out loud makes me feel really stupid. I mean it's clear the power can be used to hit and blow up. But it can do so much more." Maybe Nox would understand. "I understand finesse. Control. All the pieces working together. Like how an engine turns an explosion into controlled motion through the drive train. Something raw and chaotic becomes something else entirely. I want to learn how to do that with the power.""

He spread his hands. "So...that's what I know. Not a lot. Only that there is a lot to know."
Nox wasn't sure if he should be offended by the comment or not. He knew he wasn't a big dumb jock. He knew he wasn't big, but he could beat anyone in a fight but he'd have to cheat. It really was a rough not using your power to do those things when you knew he could. But with Nox's current insecurity what had been an innocent enough comment played with his head more than it should.

And all Ivan really did was confirm that he just knew destruction. Nox really couldn't say much more either. He was a living weapons. If Ivan wanted finesse he wasn't really looking in the right place. Nox was just a weapon. But if thought about it recently he'd been doing the opposite of that. He'd helped invent a weave that blocked a user from the source of their power. It had been one thing to be in a foggy state of mind and not being able to touch the source, but then to be clear of mind, though rattled that had been something else. Cruz and Aurora were teaching him finesse - even though he hadn't really understood. The directional flash bang had been all him. Aurora and Cruz's science but it had been all him. The trip wires him... Nox sighed inwardly. Maybe he was more than just a weapon sometimes...

"Everything I know, everything I do is based on the science of it. It's the only way I know how to do the complicated things. It might be wrong, I could be looking at it wrong, but that's how Aurora and I figured this all out." Nox frowned at the mention of his sister. He missed her too much, and life was only making that worse.

Nox seized the power inside and felt the sting of the memories. The ijiraq pulling him to the edge and over even though Nox was barely grabbing the power. He closed his eyes briefly before he glanced around and then held his hands over the table. To make it rain, you need heat, water, and particles. Science right?" Nox formed a small globe of air and heated it with water and earth mixed inside. It wasn't beautiful, but inside the globe it rained.

Nox let it go and the pooling water spilled over the table edges to the ground. The power ripped through his body and Nox adjusted in his seat as he held a finger over the chess board at A2 and started forming a solid piece of rock. "So what piece goes here? A pawn right?" Nox added heat and air and shaped the rock he'd formed of pure earth into the piece you expected. It wasn't perfect, there were jagged edges but Nox used the power to melt and shape the rock to form the well known sacrificial pawn piece. "It's all experimental for me, Ivan." Nox looked up to meet the cops eyes. "It doesn't always go right. Aurora patched me too many times to count. I can show you what I know, but really you have to see beyond the obvious and look for those hidden things. Like how did Jensen James ever figure out how to heal with his gift? No one taught him. He just knew. Figured it out."

Nox started on a second pawn in front of him. Now that he had some idea of what he needed to do it was quicker work. He did it a little slower for Ivan. "Sure it can have deadly effects, but it can be used for simple things too."
Ivan couldn't help the wide grin that split his face. Nor did he care that he felt his lip split open again. Nox's words called to something in him. It was so....elegant.

He watched in awe as nox created a terrareum out of the air, watched the raidrops fall to the bottom. He could see the weaves and their...simplicity. And yet, what he saw was not simple at all.

He was reminded of one of his projects in metal shop way back when. He and pops had been working on the car and had gotten to talking about their history. And pops had told him about the steam engine. The father of all engines, though it used steam for its fuel source and was an external combustion engine, rather than internal. And it didn't use explosions. Well.....not quite. Sometimes the pressure built up too fast or the welding hadnt been true. Those had been bad.

Anyway, it lit something in him. So for his final project he decided to build one from scratch. A small one, of course. What he wanted to see was the crankshaft begin turning as the pressure built.

Of course, it wasn't that simple. He still had the burn scar on his forearm from one accident, scalding steam doing what it was supposed to flesh. And yeah, he was cheating a bit since he used a modern design. The Rankin principle, of course, was the heart of it. But in the old days a lot of energy was wasted due to ineffecient vacuums or the seizing of the piston over time as heat was lost in each stroke. Modern designs took care of most of those ineffeciencies.

But still, it was Ivan that rolled the brass plate and welded it into a boiler housing, fitted the temperature guage, release valves, and heating element and flanges. He and the lathe had become best friends as he machined the parts he would need for the linkage and piston and drive wheel.

It took the better part of two months, but when the moment of truth came, he marvelled. The intricate machine before him was a wonder, all its parts working together, as the the stationary wheel began to turn, faster and faster.

Principles. Nox was saying you could apply the same method to the power. That you could create incredibly complex machines from the five elements.

When Nox created the pawn Ivan laughed out loud. He saw the weave that pulled strands of rock particles from the air or the ground. To anyone else, it appeared as if the pawn formed out of thin air.

But what he really liked was how tiny the threads were. These weren't the bulging massive threads of power that he used to rip the lights of the Almaz to the ground. No, these were thinner than spider webs.

It reminded him of when he had to tool some of the more intricate parts on the lathe, calipers carefully measuring and scoring the metal, him delicately controlling the mechanism so that only milimeters or tenths of millimeters of copper were shaved away with each pass.

He watched as Nox repeated the process, more slowly this time, for his sake. Ivan reached for the power, trying to ignore the pain he was more aware of. He focused, trying to recreate what he saw. The threads to pull the rock was easy enough. But it was like his vision wasn't fine enough, his fingers too fat. He couldn't get the threads thin enough to form the piece properly.

A lump of rock sat on the table. He shrugged with a smile. "Ha. Looks like I need a lot of practice." Just as with lifting, proper form and movement was key. And that came from practice. This was the equivalent of Danya's finger exercises that had let her play the piano with such dexterity.

He tried again and again, trying to create ever thinner threads of the power. Well at least my lumps have character, now.
Nox watched as Ivan played with the weaves refining and organizing them to suit his purpose. "Fire and earth, seem to be stronger in men. Aurora felt more ease with air and water. But Aurora could also heal. But from the other's I've taught, we all have our proficiencies. Cruz is much more adept with spirit, Aiden as much as it's annoying he's adept with fire if he could ever get his libido in check." Nox smirked, though Aiden was getting better. "Try something else first if this is not quite so easy."

Nox wove a complex array of all the elements that Ivan had seen before. Nox had done them in front of him when they last meet. He wondered if Ivan had paid any attention then. "Complexity comes with varying degrees of them, all of it needed to be right in order to not hurt yourself or others." Nox smiled as he split his flow and created an identical ones. "Power and finesse are good, but being able to do it all while taking a beating, that takes a lot of practice."Nox was sweating, this was the first time he'd done two flash bangs and held them at the same time. "But there are limits to all our power." Nox tried to divide the flow a third time, but they collapsed in on them selves. "No amount of practice can take you past your innate abilities. I can divide three times for simple weaves, but something this complex I can barely do two and not for long." Nox dropped the power and there was a rush of his own breath coming out of his body. The imagined pain was real to him, despite the knowledge he knew the power did nothing more than before. His own body playing tricks on him. "I'm sure you know not to draw too much, it feels like it's burning. You'll know when if you haven't done it yet, but you'll know. It's a pain you'll never want to feel again no matter how tempting the power might be." And there in lied the rub, Nox felt that ways now - always. Fucking Ijiraq!
Ivan listened. This time really listened, filing it all away. He remember his first fight in the tunnels. His default had been fire and rock. Most instinctual.

When he'd been at Yun's place it was fire that he was going to use to destroy the place.

Yun. The faces of Zara and Danya, of his family came to mind. Back on his final project, he'd scoured the internet, even learned about pressure calculations and Boyle's laws, puzzling out engineering diagrams and strange terminologirs. His teammates twitted him about that, but he was serious about it.

As he was now. He knew the chess piece would come eventually. Fine motor control wasn't learned in an afternoon.

You learned the exercises and their proper form and purpose and then did them regularly. So this time he followed Nox's lead, trying to copy the complex thread he weaved. No way was he gonna split it off. It took all he had to hold the pieces together. Like carrying a 100 differetly shaped boxes and trying to keep them all from slipping out and falling to the ground.

Sweat beaded his forehead, as if he were doing preacher curls, biceps screaming in that exquisite agony that came at the peak of the move.

Something slipped.

Next thing he knew, he was on the ground, his ears ringing, a tunnel of sound going in and out of clarity, vision just now coming into focus.

Despite himself, he laughed, mostly feeling the vibration.

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