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Strange Things
Jerry had spent hours upon hours scouring footage of the Vega house, sitting outside, reading files of known acquaintances, finding connections.  Where was the weakness, how could he exploit it.  What was the best place to go.

It seemed since coming to Moscow the boy god was friends with an missing girl.  Though recent reports suggested the girl was dead, a god killed her, and yet he wasn't sure it was that simple.  Too many coincidences, too many similarities.  

It was all a matter of finding the right information.  So today instead of sitting a stake out, Jerry made his way into a tattoo parlor.  A popular one from the recommendations he'd received around town.  The proprietor was dead - heart attack at a young age, but the catch here was the dead man was a former lover of the boy gods friend.  The dead one.  Coincidence?

The door jingled as he opened it and the man inside looked up from his current project, "I'll be with you when I'm done here."  Jerry didn't really care, he was here to look around.  He saw pictures on the wall and started browsing through them, there was one framed on the far wall which drew Jerry's attention, Lucas Andreff the metal plaque underneath said - the man who owned the shop - dead too young.  "Such a shame." he said to himself.
The air was crisp though with a touch of bite. Despite being early summer, Moscow was experiencing a cold snap. The collar of his soft wool overcoat brushed against his neck.

In truth, Beto was bored. What he could do here- at the Guardian, or anywhere really- was limited. But New York held no call to him either.

He was afloat, drifting. He was on that bridge again, the river below wide and deep and inviting. Its continuous endless flow singing to him, promising any and everything in its depths.

Fear kept him rooted on that ledge. The only thing he ever truly felt. Well, that and the hint of excitement at the prospect of plunging into those waters. Stalemate.

He needed to be grounded, to be busy. He'd scheduled to take the bar exam here so he could practice. The CCD contained the open optimism and promise of opportunity the US once had. At least, that was how it presented itself. The calculatedly superior version of what the United States had once been. Jack would be upset, he knew. Not that it mattered. The Attorney General wasn't his boss anymore.

But that was later this week. He felt the hungers now. He needed the familiar pain. So carefully controlled, exquisite in its detailed application. He luxuriated in it, in the feel of the needle going in and out, so sensual and glorious.

It was orgasmic, an experience unlike anything he'd ever known. In those moments, the bridge disappeared, the water disappeared- everything disappeared. The universe was gone and only he existed. It was the closest to the divine he could imagine.

It was his sacrament, his communion, the blood and flesh fresh upon his tongue.

The door jingled as he walked in. There was only one artist, just finishing up. Handsome, with a closely shaved head, he said he'd be with him in a moment. Another man was also in the shop, but after a brief glance Beto ignored him.

Instead, he looked at the art work on the walls, various patterns and drawings, pictures of satisfied customers and their newly minted work.

Beto had two full sleeves down to his wrist, as well as his upper chest and back. Not that anyone saw them, of course, outside of his doctor or those who might catch him in the locker room. Nothing peaked above his collar or below his wrists.

He still had room. Today he was interested in his calf. He had the image of what he wanted in his wallet. By his own estimate it would be at least a four hour job.

He hoped it could get done today. Though with only one artist and someone ahead of him, perhaps not. Then again, maybe the man was just curious. The shop wasn't large. "He does great work," Beto said, voice pitched a bit low. "What are you getting?"
Staring around the room he'd heard the door open but Jerry only caught a glimpse of the man in the suit. One of them he thought. All image, but underneath he was sure there were tattoos everywhere. He'd seen several men like that, oddly enough Dorian Vega who was now a traitor to the Atharim was one such man. Irony, Jerry thought to himself.

His own skin was only marred with the single tattoo of his career. No modification just simple and enticing - not anything you'd remember - not in a lifetime. They both looked at the wall covered in the pictures and when the man spoke presumably to him Jerry glanced back at him. "It is good." He agreed as he stretched a single finger to touch one of the photos to remove the glare as he leaned in to inspect it. "I'm not here to get a tattoo. I want to talk to him about his former business partner and some of his acquaintances. If he's amenable to the idea."

The tattoo on the wall Jerry was looking at was one he'd seen many times over. One he was studying, It was simple, but it was a family heirloom. Much like most Atharim tattoos passed down from generation to generation. Jerry had simplified his own - his father's too elaborate and recognizable. And Jerry did not want to stand out. That's not how he did the job. But the red and black dragon was an American hunter family. Digging up American records was rough, they had no centralized location and it was proving difficult. All the more reason to look into personal acquaintances.
Beto's eyebrow raised slightly and his lip curved up a hair. The man's air and manner matched his words. It was very familiar. His voice was pitched low, as he fingered one of the drawings. "Police?"

In the main, he got on well with law enforcement. At least the ones who didn't make his job harder. Those that did usually left his office dazed at the unexpected tongue lashing. They knew him go be a bulldog in the courts, ripping apart weak arguments and pathetic witnesses.

Why they thought he would go easy on them, he didn't understand. Sloppy police work, bad arrests, forced confessions, and incorrect paperwork had led him to drop charges many times. Either the case was not winnable or he himself didn't believe it.

And while technically he wasn't their boss, they did have to answer to him. Enough ripping and their superiors took him seriously. And they stopped bringing him shit cases.

It was funny. As bored as he was, just the hint of investigation nicked something in him. He definitely was looking forward to the bar exam. Sinking his teeth into a case.
Jerry chuckled at the assumption, even as he shook his head. "Nothing quite so formal. My sister fell in with a friend of his deceased business partner and rumor has it they were good friends. I was hoping he could tell me whether or not this guy was a douchebag or not before my sister got too far down that road." Jerry grinned. "Over protective brother - what can I say?" He finished off the lie with a shrugh of his shoulders as if he had told it a thousand times. In truth it was an on the spot decision. Nox Sétanta was a playboy - he already knew that one. His time in Moscow hadn't proven that, but he knew the time. The cocky men who got the girls and left them the next night. He hated guys like that...

But he didn't show his annoyance at the traitor he smiled at the other customer. "Though I might." Jerry said as he looked at several more photos on the wall. "What about you, you have something mind?" He gave the man a once over and couldn't really determine his particular tastes, nothing if any was visible. Again he knew the other traitorous Atharim hid his well too - looks can be deceiving - in so many ways Jerry thought to himself.
The man spoke and the corner of Beto's mouth twitched. Yes, the man was definitely snooping. But his story was a little too....pat. It was an interesting fact of interviewing. Few people had a completely logical, sequential and consistant explanation to a random question.

It was something that he'd learned over interviewing hundreds of witnesses. People gave information out of sequence. They mixed things up.They said things that made no sense until further information was given. They missed details.

It seemed counterintuitive. Why wouldn't someone telling the truth begin at A and proceed in a logical progression to Z, introducing relevant facts just as they were needed? Didn't the failure mean they were lying?

The answer was simple enough. The brain did not work that way. Logic and order and consistancy meant little to how the mind stored and recalled facts. Emotional weight of a specific element was far more important than when, what or even by whom something happened. Details were colored by feeling, by familiarity, by state.

A sister, in his words, who may have gone too far down a bad road. That should have been the first thing mentioned. His worry for her well being. No contact with her. Hence the need to track someone down. It wasn't. Instead he wanted to know if the man was a douchebag.

An actual parent or brother would have said she may have gotten involved with someone who might be dangerous and was missing. Worry would have dominated everything said, would have seeped out of even the simplest of expressions.

And he definitely would not be then also casually considering a tattoo, now that he happened to be here.

The man wanted information. But he was not personally attached to any girl. It was the man he wanted. Private investigator, he guessed.

Boredom indeed. Beto was intrigued. And at the moment, had nothing better to do. Time to see how the man reacted.

He touched one piece, also tribal- Maori, he guessed. "I like this. There is something to be said about ancient designs. They are more than decorative. They tell a story. Connect you to your past."

He paused. "You?"
Jerry was sure that he meant the ink he was currently looking at, but his tattoo underneath the sleeve of his shirt started to itch as if he knew about it. Which never really bode well, the Atharim mark was nothing but an piecie of ink that told him he was aligned with the group. His life was theirs. A constant reminder.

And yet there were some who would forsake that heritage. His thoughts wandered to why a man might choose to leave the life he knew. To be a god among the Atharim? Would he kill himself on principle? Was his life less because of some thing he had no control? Jerry thought the answer was yes. But case after case after case he'd seen that strong me - affiliated men, they turned from the path of the Atharim. Ran from their duty. And there were still others like this Nox, who stayed even in the face of his godhood and was Atharim. He only ran because of what? Jerry intended to find that answer before he killed the god. Why did he run?

Jerry had scoured his record in Moscow these past few months, his kills were high. His passion for the job was there. And the reason he was alerted to them was because he confessed to a murder. A murder done with channeling... Of a monster he claimed the report said. And upon further investigation it had been. At least the boy killed for the right reasons, but he didn't kill himself... more curious...

Jerry pulled himself from his thoughts as he looked at the image the man was indicating and stopped absently rubbing the spot where the Atharim tattoo lay inked on his skin. "Most people only get them because they look cool. They have no idea what they mean."

Jerry sighed and shook his head. "Tattoos make you distinguishable to others. I'd prefer to keep myself as unidentifiable as possible. I'm paranoid. The world is always watching, and who knows what lies in wait."
Beto chuckled. And at that moment he made a decision. "Most investigators are. Projection, you understand. We see the world the way we interact with it. You are always aware of those watching you. Waiting for you. Ergo, you watch and wait as a profession."

Only then did his eyes meet the man's, small smile on his face as he held out his hand. "Beto Trujillo. Former US Attorney."

He waved at the shop. "I honestly came in for some work. But I confess I was bored. I apologize for blowing up your game."
[Image: 1d355103cbbd2dedbaa733609b559f9a.jpg]

The door rang again through which entered a parka of average height.  She stalked past the men and offered a ‘Hey Sergei,’ to the surrounding airspace.  The jacket was peeled off to reveal a woman in a tank top and painted-on jeans with holes in strategic places.  She rounded the counter and threw the coat somewhere unseen, muttering about the cold.  The tank top also lost out to the divorce and it too was flung downward into the great unknown.  She bent out of sight and retrieved a bottle of soda, parked her ass in the tall chair and propped her boots up on the counter.  A long pull on the orange drink seemed to satisfy the need for a sugary fix and the woman’s gaze fell upon the men in the room.  Openly.  Topless.  Her mouth curled into a smile.  No bra.  “Well hell-oh.”  Another pull from her bottle.  “You two have an appointment?”  She was here to have the rest of a back tat filled in.  Hopefully...if Sergei didn’t get something easy in.  Gotta pay the bills and all.  Her long lashes seemed to brush her cheeks as she flipped open the appointment book and looked down at the day.  Lips made a suggestive sound.  “No, you do not.”  A cat-like smile.  “What’ll it be then, lovelies?  Couple art?”  They did not look like they were together, but it was always fun to throw that out there.

Ana Barič

[Image: wenttatread1.jpg]

The buzz of the gun drowned out everything in Sergei's mind. This was the best part, seeing the art form on living canvas, seeing more with his imagination than reality. The ink had to be wiped away constantly and it was mostly a testament to his experience and skill that he could see the shading at all.

While most people still went for dark colors- black or blue or green- some opted for brighter colors, yellows and orange. Not something easy to discern under the ink and blood. And then there were the ultraviolets, which no one saw unless under a specific light. And the metallics.

Ever changing. And so beautiful. Too bad Lucas wasn't around to enjoy it with him. That had hurt. Lucas had been like a brother to him. Valentin had never recovered, not really. The old man was broken.

Fucking sucked.

But life, eh? The two men waiting chatted or whatever. They were softspoken, which suited Sergei just find.

And wouldn't you know it, a storm rolled in. He had to laugh at Ana. Bitch. She always knew how to push buttons. And not an ounce of fear in her.

So it was two seconds before she's sitting there showing off her lovelies and what not. The guy he'd been inking almost broke his neck trying to get a peek. Idiot. Boobs were boobs. Whooped de doo. He didn't get the appeal.

"Put those away, Ana. No one wants to see that." He was smiling when he said it. Then glanced at the two men. Professional. One dude was all decked in a suit. Yeah. He knew the type. All image, that one. Other guy had a stick up his ass.

He doubted either could handle Ana. They'd be smitten with her almost at once, crazy as she was. And she'd get bored almost as quickly. Couple of dull geezers

Men could be stupid. "Don't mind her, fellas. I'm moving her to the back of the line."

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