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A New Life
Nox had stayed out later than anticipated.  Nova was aching to go out and Nox mad sure to thank Thalia for a great day and told her they should do it again sometimes.  He was exactly looking to hook up but a friend that was something he needed.  Not that he didn't have those, but this was different.  His other friends wanted things from him, which included Sage - he'd always wanted the rush of information and the stranger the more Sage liked it.  Which is why he'd followed Aurora to begin with after meeting her.

After a quick run through the park with Nova Nox and the pup were back at the pet friendly rat hole he'd taken out so he'd have someplace to sleep.  He'd keep it one more night just to be safe.  At least until everything with Carmen panned out.  Which he did hope it did.  A place to stay was great.  And he'd keep looking for a job that did what he needed.  Soon as he got that situated it would be easier to look without Nova being an issue.

Nox had only been to Kallitsi once before.  And he didn't know if he should knock on the front door, or if he should go to the side.  But since Carmen didn't say Nox knocked on the front door and hoped it wasn't a bad idea.
Raffe yawned as he shuffled barefoot into the office, raking a hand through the haystack of his hair. Confusion knit his brow into a question. The lights were on; unusual at this time of the morning, even for Carmen. Her head was bowed over whatever had drawn her here, but he didn’t much pause to look at the flickering screens. “There’s knocking?” The barest thread of a whisper had returned if he really pushed. It hurt, honestly, but no so much as the fear he’d never speak again. He’d spent the last week racked by flu and the fever-dreams had been terrifying. Seemed his luck was in the shit house, though he felt normal now.

Carmen looked up from the desk. Her eyes took in the screen of her phone with a frown before she met his eye. “I asked someone to meet me this morning. You should stick around, actually. I want to know what you think of him.” Little flickered in her expression, but knowing Carmen she had not exactly been oblivious to the pound against the door. She’d been waiting for it to rouse him. Curiosity stirred, but mostly Raffe was still waking up, so he only nodded. “Do me a favour and let him in? Then perhaps you ought to consider getting dressed.”

A good-natured grin tipped his mouth. A dressing gown draped his shoulders, tied loose at the middle, but he wore pajama bottoms under that. Hardly indecent, but certainly not very professional. Maybe that was the greater sin in Carmen’s eyes.

The stranger waited at the main entrance, but it was a side door Raffe opened. Shouting wasn’t going to work given the scars at his throat so he whistled instead, and beckoned with a hand.
A sharp whistle came from the side and Nox sighed, he'd choosen wrong. One strike. Nox threw on a smile and patted Nova on the head. "Sit. Stay, I'll come get you in a little bit." Nox hung the other end of the leash on the door. Nova didn't need that but it was so people understood he wasn't just left there.

Nox looked up and saw a familiar face. Ironically he'd seen him the night he met Thalia. He'd been sick then - passed out or something and she had left a notebook with him. The scar at his neck looked nasty and Nox wondered if that was why he'd whistled instead of yelled. His eyes took in the bare chest and the robe and Nox didn't try to hide the interest as he meet the other man's eyes.

The other man waved Nox to follow him and Nox did as instructed. He hadn't been behind the scenes at many clubs and wasn't surprised by the blandness of 'back stage' compared to the decor outside. Of course you knew it was still a club but the vibe was different. Nox wondered if it was this quiet with the club open.

The door was open and Nox saw Carmen sitting at a desk. Nox grinned. "Good Morning. I'd have brought coffee if there was a decent shop between where I was and here, but sadly it was all shit." He wasn't a coffee snob but when you walked in and the coffee smelled burnt Nox immediately walked out. He was in need of a second cup, but he'd find it after he spoke to Carmen about this trial period.
The stranger had a dog with him, which was about as odd as anything else Raffe might have expected of Carmen's visitor. Curiosity livened his appraisal as he beckoned. The man's look in return tingled warmth across his skin. He hadn't thought to be self conscious, but he felt the hideous weight of the scarring now as he became aware that the other man saw that too. His fingers brushed against it like he could wipe it away. 

Despite any fleeting discomfort, Raffle grinned, warm in greeting. “Rafael,” he said once the guy was within reasonable earshot. “Or just Raffe. The only one you'd be wise to stand on ceremony with here is Carmen.” He winced afterwards, and cleared his throat like the strain lingered. It would take time to get used to that.

Raffe followed into the office, but hung back at the doorway, leaning against the jamb. Both brows rose in a look to Carmen, but she ignored the amusement in favour of assessing her guest. “Coffee,” he murmured in agreement. “I could go for that.”

He winked at his boss, and slipped from the room.

Carmen gestured a chair if Nox so desired to take it. A wave flattened the financial reports that had littered holoscreens around her, but the work was only to pass the time until he'd arrived.

“I thought you said you had a dog.” She was not overly interested in meeting said canine, but since he promised it was well behaved she at least wanted to see that for herself. It could wait though. That he'd not traipsed the animal through without asking earned favour at least.

“The rooms are basic. They weren't intended as such but from time to time people have needed the refuge. Rafael is the only one regularly here at the moment.” Her expression tightened as the guilt flared. She wasn't ecstatic to talk about it, but Nox needed to know the whole picture. Why the club's doors had closed for a start. “You saw his scar?”
Raffe left for coffee, Nox idly wondered if he'd get a cup. But it was Carmen who held his attention as she turned hers to him as he sat down across from her.

First thing Carmen did was ask about Nova. Though she seemed less than eager to meet him. "He's waiting outside. Like I said, well trained." But not as trained as Nox would like, but they were working on it. Soon Nova would be able to help take down some of the less formidable monsters. Nox would never send Nova against an Oni or Chupacabra though. He wouldn't risk his life anymore than another hunters.

"A bed and a shower are all I need." Nox stated, he could live out of his bags like he had his whole life that was his life and he was back to it - sorta.

But Carmen's attitude said she didn't really want to say what she was saying, but she was going to anyway. Bravery in words was still bravery. She asked about the scar that Nox had seen upon entering. Nox recognized it. "I'm surprised he's speaking, much less alive. I've seen scars like that, almost got one myself. Let me guess the guy had golden eyes, and his instincts were wolf like, he went straight for the throat." Nox nodded though he didn't need to have her confirmation, human teeth marks left a distinct sort of marker when used to tear out flesh where it wasn't supposed to. "I've had a wolfkin attack me in a similar manner before. But my question is why was one even here if he was that feral. Or was he surprised too?" Nox thought about it before he continued, "He's protector if I'm not mistaken - someone who would have stepped in even though he knew the odds were against him." Nox said of Raffe. He knew that all too well too. He was one such idiot himself.
Carmen nodded about the dog but didn’t mention it again. Her arms folded as she sat back in the chair, her face twisted with a grimace. The weight of it all was down to her own damn failings; for capitulating to Ori’s mad schemes against her better judgement. “To be honest I'm surprised he's still alive at all.”

Probably he would have been stone dead but for yet more of Oriena’s dubious connections. Carmen had never seen that much blood, or someone’s face drain so very grey. Even the memory made her quiet, despite Raffe’s blithe acceptance of the whole situation. 

Her gaze perked to attention at the description, the surprise piercing the dark of her thoughts. Little ever took her off guard, but his insight did it. She nodded despite that he didn’t pause for it. “It wasn't feral,” she said firmly. The blame was already heavy enough -- did he really think she’d have let Kas anywhere near the club’s clients and employees if she hadn’t thought it was safe? How wrong she had been bit down deep.

She breathed in, locking the feelings down. Continued ploughing down the path of honesty. “I run the club day to day, and I'm the one you'll answer to. But it's not mine. The owner has a penchant for waifs and strays and second chances -- half the girls here are channelers or something else. She rescued this one from a fight club. That's what she said anyway.” An eyeroll marked her internal thoughts on Oriena’s capability for truth. 

“He was learning. Changing. Eventually he started spending time downstairs, and it was fine. He was fine. Strange, sure. I’d even call him timid. Then one night someone got a little handsy with one of the girls. Nothing serious, but he flipped at the guy. Raffe tried to pull him back and got caught up in his teeth instead.” She paused, glancing at the open doorway. “Strange thing is Rafael forgave him after. Wouldn’t let me chuck him out. Even started visiting him in the room upstairs that used to be his. He wasn’t bad, whatever he was. He was just.” But she didn’t finished the sentence. 

“My point is that Kallisti is a powder keg, and if we open and it blows, I can’t do a damn thing to help the people I love. So, Nox, are you sure you want any of that on your shoulders?”
Nox listened carefully. He had a feeling Carmen had taken offense to something he'd said but he wasn't sure about what so he'd just let it go and be more careful. He'd pegged Raffe right, though if this wolfkin was here for business not a client well that was different, maybe that was the offense. Why else get upset?

But it was her comment about a powder keg that made Nox smile. "Swe..." Nox paused before finishing his term of endearment and changed his tactics. She didn't seem the woman to like a cocky asshole, and while he might be one, he was trying to make an impression regardless. "Carmen, things blowing up is my speciality." His smile turned to a smirk but Nox let is slide quickly with a serious nod of his head. "I'm Atharim, everything I know, everything I was taught was to subdue the 'monsters' of this world. Turns out despite my undying loyalty, the fact that I can do what the monsters do doesn't give me a bye - thus the reason I'm laying low. Nothing in your powder keg makes me afraid. I can shield a reborn go.... channeler, thanks to a new trick I helped invent a few weeks back. And what I can't keep from the power I can wrap up in air. I'll be honest. I'm nothing more than a weapon, but my goal in life is to protect the innocent. So even if you don't open the doors, and even if I don't work here to protect you for a pay, if it's my home, I'll do it anyway. Family is who you make it right?"

Nox laughed, "Besides, maybe your little birds will teach me a thing or two. God knows I miss my sister trying to get the better of me with her invisible weaves. It's good practice."
Her brows rose ready for sharp admonishment, but he caught himself. It was clear the reaction to her speech was to be judged carefully, so it was no bad thing that he cared enough about what she thought to rephrase himself in a more palatable way. Either that or he needed a roof and job very badly. Kallisti’s people erred towards women because that was apparently Oriena’s preference for collection, but there were a few men among the servers and performers. In all honesty, Carmen rarely turned anyone in need away. His words about family turned out to be the only thing she really needed to hear.

“No one is just a weapon, Nox. I don’t care who brought you up or what they taught you to believe. Don’t let me hear you say that again.” The words were no-nonsense, but they were not a telling off either. She considered it quietly in terms of his role here. His ability and willingness to deal with the more… unusual aspects of the club were beyond doubt his main draw for hire. But dropping the weight of security on his shoulders felt like a betrayal of what she suspected the kid really needed.

“Maybe they will,” she agreed, glancing up as Rafael pottered back in with one of the serving trays laden with coffee, milk and sugar. Carmen hadn’t asked him to play host, but it didn’t surprise her that he took it upon himself. He’d dressed in the interim, the folds of his sweater pulled high to obscure the scars, like he was ashamed. It hadn’t seemed to bother him before. She watched him set the tray down and pluck free his own cup with a crooked grin.

“What do you think about us opening the doors again, Rafael?”

His gaze swept to Nox, curious, but the light of his expression suggested the surprise of her question was a pleasant one. “Suits me fine,” he rasped.

Honestly, she knew what he’d say. There wasn’t a bad bone in that boy’s body, let alone enough to hold much of a grudge. But she’d wanted his blessing anyway, and she’d wanted the final word to be his. Carmen leaned to pour her own coffee, then filled up the last remaining cup too. She sat back, fingers wrapped around the warmth, and looked Nox in the eye. “You said dancing reminded you of your mother. Performing here isn’t the same as cutting moves in a club, but if you want the shot it’s yours.”
Nox let the comment that tickled his lips go. He was pretty sure Carmen wouldn't appreciate his Yes, mother. Though it would have been meant like a compliment and not anything more but he kept it shut and the coffee that Raffe brought with his fully clothed self made that easier as he picked up the black coffee and took a long sip before nodding.

Carmen made the offer and Nox grinned at the prospect. A roof over his head, and a job. He wasn't looking for more, now he could survive and hunt monsters. He didn't care if the Atharim hunted him, they weren't going to find him easily - unless they frequented places like Kallisti. And while they might, they weren't likely to come in guns a blazing. More like what they did at Methos' concert. They were probably after Jaxen and his crew too though Jaxen was already on their list. A failed mission even. Nox was happy about that. Nox laughed at the moves in a club comment. "It's probably not like classical ballet or ballroom dancing either. More improv than anything. Give me a few days I'm sure I can come up with something to show you. My mother believed the best thing to do if I was going to be sent into danger's hands was to keep me away from those hands with grace and agility." Nox glanced to Raffe and the sweater wrapped up around his neck - self conscious when he hadn't been before. He turned his attention back to Carmen with a smile. "Though I'm beginning to think she was trying to help me remember who I was."

Nox stood up and finished off the cup of coffee. "Show me where this goes, and I'll get out of your way until you need me for something. I have to teach a pup boundaries before you have guests all over." Nox smiled, "Thank you, Carmen, for both the roof over my head and a shot at making a few pennies. It means the world to me right now."
Nox grinned like she’d offered him the world tied with a pretty ribbon, and satisfaction burrowed into her chest for how simple a thing could light his face so. It wasn’t the first time such meagre crumbs turned a life around. Carmen had an instinct for it, and the spirit of a nurturer despite her caustic demeanour. Even Oriena had been one of those lost souls once. Of course some endeavours turned out better than others.

“I’ll leave you in Rafael’s capable hands. He can show you around. Keep the dog upstairs, okay? And don’t thank me, Nox. Earn your place.” The flicker of a smile lifted her lips, and she made a shooing motion. “Now get the fuck out of my office.”

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