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No Destination
From The Voodoo Queen (@"Ashavari")

Asha trusted his instincts.  That wasn't a first, but for some reason that felt warm and comforting.  He hadn't come here with a con in mind and certainly Rowan Finnegan had been interesting, but there was nothing here worth getting in on as either Tobias and certainly not Alexis.  The french man saw nothing to profit from in there, and the dutch junkie well he wanted to no part of the crazy witch.  

But Xander had found a woman who could read emotions and he had been a mess and she trusted him.  That was new.  He smiled as she left the building all together, still holding his hand.  Xander followed and walked unsure where they were going or if they even had a destination other than to get away.  Each step felt better, than the one before unit he was breathing easier.

"I should walk you home.  Make sure no one is following us."  Xander said cautiously.  Not that he could do much beyond call the police or try to fight the offender, but still he felt chivalrous around Asha, like she needed to be protected.  Very uncharacteristic.  To change the subject, "Are you really going to send your 'good' snake friend to the voodoo queen?"  Xander smirked, "I think she is getting more than she bargained for now."
"The greatest friend to a con artist is lack of knowledge." ~ Jane King

Asha’s lips quirked an amused smile, though not unkind. Caution flushed from him, stilted like a strange question. But that sense of protection wasn’t unfamiliar to her; both Elias and Nox had watched over her like a little sister. And it made her feel safe. She squeezed his hand like she could tap into his uncertainty and console it somehow.

“Home.” She laughed, all the relief at their uneventful escape sweeping out of her. “I’ve lived most of my life on the road. Home was my car until it got stolen. Now … it’s a little complicated, but I kinda drift between places.” Tony’s was stifling and full of too many bodies (and all of them male), El outright refused Damien’s hospitality no matter how genially offered (though they still needed his help), and he still hated that she retreated to the quiet of Aria’s apartment (despite that the threat of Aria’s ex had never materialised).

That sense of rootlessness never bothered her, of course. She still missed the road and the freedoms of it. But there were things worth staying in Moscow for, too.

She twisted, chewing on her lip to scour the empty street behind them. “I’d feel them if they were. Well, probably. Definitely if they were anything like the ones back there.” Nothing piqued her senses, but then the anchor of Tobias’s grip muffled the sharpness of her awareness. His kindness meant something to her. And she didn’t want that kindness repaid by the sharp edges of Elias’s tongue. “I’m not sure you’d get a nice welcome. My friend, well… he’s a little abrasive.” She winced at the term; it wasn’t really how she’d describe El, not the swell of feeling that banked and crashed under the surface, but she knew it was how he was perceived. On a good day.

The distraction of the question was welcome.

“I said I’d pass along the information. It’s up to him what he does with it,” she answered honestly. Doubt pinched the word ‘good’, enough that her head tilted in consideration. It was a curious little tickle of feeling. “Nox sorted me somewhere to stay when I lost my home, and he checks in from time to time to make sure I’m okay. He didn’t have to do any of that -- and he knows what I am. If he was a simple snake he’d have killed me; no one would have missed me, believe me. And if he was a snake with a conscience he could have just asked someone else to do it. But I’m still here. He might not be ‘good’ in the sense you mean, but he was good to me.” Away from the oppressiveness of Rowan’s cafe, the words spilled out more freely. She hated to think what Tobias must see around those who killed for a living. Certainly, she didn't blame his outright dislike of them.

She nudged him with her elbow, grinning.

“El says I’m too trusting. Maybe I am.”

Then, after a moment, the weight of her own conscience bearing down and softening the edges of her smile, she added. “Do you think she’ll be okay? I know she was … well, however she was, she still doesn’t deserve to die.”
Xander shook his head, he wasn't going to let her walk home alone, abrasive friend or not. "I'll walk you home anyway. I won't walk you to the door, just make sure you get home alright." Not that he was overly chivalrous, but then he wasn't going to let a perfectly innocent girl walk home alone anyway in any guise. Tobais or Alexis didn't matter who he was Xander Mitchell wasn't going to let the girl walk home alone. It was in his principles. And he only had a few of them.

The farther they got from the snakes the better Xander felt. And apparently the more open Asha became. She rattled off information she'd previously not said. How her good snake was good to her. He guess there had to be morality somewhere in them, but still every snake he'd ever seen had no problem killing. Most of them even liked it. Xander didnt' like the idea of Asha talking to the snake even if he was good to her. He was a snake, evil things that they were. Always had been if you took anything from the bible, snakes and women. Which made Xander smirk. Two evils yet one he could tolerate far more than the other.

"You're friend might be right." Xander gave Asha his award winning smile, "You are trusting me, you don't even know me." No one knew him. That was a fact Xander intended on keeping.

But Asha's concern stabbed at Xander, he'd let another woman stay in the grips of the snakes. "I'll check on her tomorrow. I couldn't stay there..." Xander's words trailed off. He knew why. They were suffocating images. The colors drowning him in their horrors. Horrors he didn't want to see. He didn't know if any of the images were past or present or even future. The images of death were too great. So many images of death around the man. And the woman... He shuddered he didn't want to think what she'd seen in her life time.

Xander wanted to change the subject. "How did you lose your home?" Xander grinned. "Is it like a hermit shell? Did it get up and walk away?"
"The greatest friend to a con artist is lack of knowledge." ~ Jane King

Asha didn’t argue, though inwardly she hoped any potential fall-out would be minimal. Anchored to another, the creeping anxiety was easily dismissed for now.

Doubt washed through Tobias as they spoke of Nox, but she hadn’t been trying to convince him; just offer her own experience. Self-preservation had been pinioned to her very soul by her uncle, but the moment Asha felt safe that soul was utterly transparent. She shrugged off what might have been a warning. Tobias was right, of course, but her gift was like an extra sense; one she always trusted. Had he meant her harm she’d have known, particularly with the skin contact, and while she could not explain the little bubbles of conflict risen from time to time within him it did not worry her either.

“I know all the things I need to know, though.” She grinned. “The rest is just window dressing.” She said it lightly and easily as truth, unselfconscious of her certainty. She was quite used to others misunderstanding it for naivety.

“Rowan’s not defenceless,” she reminded, spurred by the depth of feeling that settled uncomfortably in him. The guilt stabbed down deep, an echo of her own conscience. “But we were. We did the right thing. Rowan’s heart is in the right place, I think. Her emotions were so loud! But she believes so zealously in what she says that I think it could have been dangerous for us to stay, even without all the other stuff. I don’t think you should go back there. We can make sure she’s okay another way.”

She squeezed his hand but said nothing about the emotion he was sharing down that link, though it twitched the smile a little from her face. “Stolen while I was at the market browsing goods I couldn’t afford to buy anyway.” She laughed, though at the time she had been utterly devastated. It probably sounded stupid, but it had been the last link to her old life, and some small part of her clutched at the idea it meant her uncle might come back one day. “Everything I had was in that car so I guess hermit shell is an accurate description. I came to Moscow chasing stories. What brought you here?”
She was obviously right about Rowan. The woman was a channeler - one of these ascendants. Like the great and powerful Oz Xander thought to himself. The Wizard was just a man behind a curtain. Xander wondered how much hide behind a curtain. Xander smiled at her concern for him. It was endearing. He wasn't sure what other way he would trust - other than his own two eyes. But he let it go. He'd figure something out.

A house stolen? He'd been confused up to the point that she said her home was a car. Now he saw... "Your car was stole, and your snake friend, this Nox. He helped you find a new place. But he's not your brusk friend I need to be wary of. You make some very interesting friends Asha." Xander grinned. Though he wasn't sure how to answer her question.

The answer was the same for both guises he'd taken today, and for himself it was always the same. So it was neither truth or lie, and yet it was both. "I came chasing the next job." Tobias was a drifter, he bored easily. "Currently working a late shift at the docks. Tomorrow who knows." And it wasn't a truth, but it wasn't a lie either. He didn't really know what tomorrow would bring. Rowan's place might speak to Alexis still, though Americana was not something Xander missed. The wealth of the CCD was far more hefty.
"The greatest friend to a con artist is lack of knowledge." ~ Jane King

“Including you, Tobias.” She grinned, lighthearted and yet somehow heartfelt. It was that simple for her, the mantle of friendship.

Tony’s place was closest, and it was in that direction Asha had led them. Her grip of Tobias’s hand finally slipped free when it came into view, senses already reaching out to try and ascertain who might be home. Elias’s general demeanor aside, the welcome would be warm enough if Tobias chose to stick around. Despite her warning she wasn’t about to ditch him rudely at the door. She might have drifted her entire life, but her uncle had bought her up with manners.

“You work at the docks?” That captured her attention somewhat, the words tinged with a little surprise, like a gentle nudge of serendipity.
There might have been a little color to Xander's cheeks at the semi-compliment and friendship. It wasn't often people were nice to him for the sake of being nice. That wasn't Xander. He was always playing the game, and he thought of everyone as a pawn, but Asha was nothing more than a woman he'd met. And had no real intention to get in her pants. Not that he wouldn't he just wasn't trying and... he stopped his train of thought when she asked about the docks.

"For now. Until they fire me, or I get bored. Or find something else to do." He was a drifter, and it was the complete truth. "It's hard work, just loading ships, but it's money for the next thrill." That was a lie.

[[ @"Elias Donovan" come play with us ]]
"The greatest friend to a con artist is lack of knowledge." ~ Jane King

Elias dragged a trash can half way across the room before he stopped, called himself an idiot and seized the power. The chore of cleaning carried on at double pace as he practiced weaving tentacles around the kitchen. When the last beer bottle dropped, he was content to abandon the bulging bags at the back door. Their great leader, Tony could take them out himself, though he was more likely to set it on fire and trip the sprinkler system instead. Elias would be the one to clean up a flood. None of the other guys could handle water for shit.

A gleaming counter top told him the work was finished. For all his appearance, people usually assumed Elias a slob. Closer looks hinted the opposite though. His nails were carefully painted black. A lion’s mane of hair was clean although erratic. His bulky overcoat was dirtied at the hem, but only due to its length trailing his ankles.  At present, it was hung in a closet and he cleaned up the guys’ fucking mess in skinny jeans and a mesh top. Black, but orderly and tucked in snug at the waist, at least he wasn’t in an apron. 

“I’m not cleaning the bathroom again, assholes,” he called out when the door opened, expecting the guys.
Something like awkwardness flushed from the compliment, though she hadn't meant to embarrass him with her open nature. Already her senses quested out towards the building, despite that it was so often a blindspot (given its usual occupants). If he was home, Elias might want to meet someone who worked at the docks. Maybe the welcome wouldn't be so bad after all.

She didn't knock, though this place had never really felt like a home. The guys were friendly enough, and Tony was okay, but so much activity unsettled her. She peeked back at Tobias as she crossed the threshold (it wasn't like she'd force him to come in, but a wave of the hand suggested he was welcome), and then she spied Elias. A beam lit her expression. She hadn't felt a hint of him beyond the door, which meant he was using the power that cut off her senses. The dry cut of his tone made her laugh anyway.

"Hi El."
Xander followed though he wasn't sure he wanted to meet this gruff friend of hers. But he wanted to make sure she was safely inside before he left. They were greeted with a growl and Xander saw flashes of images as he looked upon the man, that Asha greeted happily.

His aura was mostly reds and muddy greens. But it was the images that truly struck Xander. Water, and monsters, and in those flashes he knew that this man was like Mik and Rowan. This town was full of them. If Moscow wasn't the heart of things Xander might leave - he still might.

Xander looked at Asha, "You are home safely." He laughed. "I should get home get some sleep." Xander turned to the stranger and tried not to wince at the vivid images he saw in his aura. "Be watchful, the snakes might come knocking. And I hope you find what you are looking for." That was the only image Xander understood - that he was searching for something. Everything else was a jumble and he didn't have the words to describe it all. But he knew without a doubt this man was searching for something.
"The greatest friend to a con artist is lack of knowledge." ~ Jane King


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