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Hunting Water Monsters
@"Elias Donovan" @"Ashavari"

Noah Preston was eccentric but he hadn't in prior scenes.  But that's okay pesonas were meant to evolve.  And Xander didn't actually even have to pull out the necessary costume for it.  Tobias worked for him, so he just took Noah's card and bought himself a boat.  And a crew.  Though that hadn't gone on the card.

The crew wasn't exactly the best he could afford, but they were discrete - smugglers by trade.  And the boat was theirs under a heafty price, but it was worth it in the end.  They'd not take a cut of whatever Elias found - that was why the Hefty price.

He did wonder once he got home why he was doing this.  There was no profit in it and the amount of money he just spent for nothing in return was very atypical of himself.  But Xander was 100% certain he had to do this.  The images were different - more steady as if something had flipped and as much as he hated the special folks that was the first time he'd seen it happen.  He wanted to see it play out.  

Tobias sent Asha the message with information on the boat, the dock and that Noah Preston sent his regards and wished them good hunting.  Now Tobias stood staring at his newly acquired crew and watched them load supplies.  It was a river not a sea voyage but you could never be unprepared.
"The greatest friend to a con artist is lack of knowledge." ~ Jane King

Asha assured him that Tobias was trustworthy. That was the very problem: she said everyone was trustworthy. Didn’t matter, he thought, tugging on his gloves after freshly washing his hands. The world was full of betrayal, judgement, and condemnation. He navigated it well-enough thus far and he would be capable of rowing this boat along whatever rapids awaited.

Speaking of boats, he had no idea whether or not to be impressed by Tobias’ acquisition. Asha was typically awed, but her joy was amusing, and he hung back while the affectionate woman made their greetings.

He wore his typical black slicker that dusted anchors of his boots. Hair was tamed with twin frizzy braids along his face yet rippled onyx rapids along his back. The only hint of color was the silver outline of a dead tree blazed on a black shirt on his chest.
A warm smile bloomed as she caught sight of Tobias, waving effusively to gain attention until they closed the distance. In as much as she relied on El to anchor her in more turbulent waters, she was happy to take the lead when he felt the need to linger back (at least when their company was not Damien). Scepticism shadowed those cooler waters, but their luck had run so dry of late she could not blame him. Her gaze drank the boat in curiously. She’d been stuck in Moscow so long now that the idea of journey - even if only along the river - lit her usually enthusiastic demeanor with something extra.

She watched the loading of supplies with wide eyes, warmth creeping into her cheeks when she realised how much such a favour might have cost Tobias to negotiate. “This is amazing,” she said, squeezing his arm in brief greeting. She did not need the touch to read him, but the familiarity soothed nonetheless. “Does she have a name? When can we leave?”
Asha waved furiously and energetically as Xander watched them walk towards him. The pair was odd, she was so empathetic and he was so dour. Elias wore nothing but black. Emo Goth kid for the win. His hair made Xander smile, it was ingenous way to keep his hair from his face, thought he'd never worn his hair that long before - must be a goth thing. Or an emo thing - added extra protection.

Xander smiled at Asha's greet and tried not to stare too hard at Elias' aura. The man might not understand and take it the wrong way. Still made him sick to his stomach if he looked for too long but Xander wanted to figure it all out. Why did he want to help so badly? It had to be written in those images.

Asha's question drew him from his thoughts and Xander pulled Tobias around him like a shroud. It wasn't home but it was close enough. "The Kelsie is her name and we can leave as soon as the crew has the supplies on board." Xander lead the way to the gang plank that was lowered for their arrival. As he passed by Elias Xander reached out and an a finger underneath a braid with a bright smile on his face. "It's good to see your face."

He let his hand drop but the smile never faded. There had to be some way to make the man smile or at the very least do something other than glower at life. Xander lead the way up the gang plank and met the captain. "Dimitri this is Asha and Elias. Elias here is the one who's doing the navigating. You go where he says."

Dimitri was a big burly man, reminded Xander of a lumberjack but instead on a boat minus the peg leg. A pirate to be sure but he spoke with a heavy russian accent not the burly pirate you'd think from his look. "Whatever you say Tobias. It's Preston's money you are putting in his hands." He nodded towards Elias.

The captain looked at Asha with a smile that probably said he'd like to bed her before talk to her, but he just smiled and Xander couldn't help that tug of protectiveness for the naive girl who'd he'd befriended for no reason what so ever. "A pleasure miss." Dimitri said offering his hand before he turned to Elias with the same hand. "Tell me about our plans." He put an arm around Elias and tugged him towards to captain house and Xander laughed a little but he smiled at Asha and followed in their wake.
"The greatest friend to a con artist is lack of knowledge." ~ Jane King

He still didn’t like the way Tobias was looking at him, but Elias threw his gaze aside just to avoid the uncomfortable eye-contact. Maybe the man was gay? Elias didn’t know – well, any gay people – growing up, nor be the subject of another man’s stare. More likely, he did know gay people in school, but they were probably terrified of coming out. Their religion wasn’t the most liberal. They wanted to exorcise Elias just because he liked the color black. Imagine the terror if he wore black and liked guys?

Which was why the arm around his shoulders practically froze his spine to steel. The discomfort of the situation stirred dark waters he didn’t want to surface, and he threw a pleading glance at Asha like she may be able to intervene.

His brow furrowed low as they were led to captain’s office. It seemed everyone was looking to him to lead this expedition, but in reality, Elias was grasping for minnows in shallow water. It was neigh impossible to know what to do.

“Sail west,” he finally said. Was that the right way to say it? It wasn’t like he rode a lot of boats in the desert. ”You’ll know what we’re looking for when you see it.”
Xander was sure he'd know what he was looking for? Really? He thought what he was looking for was that intuitive. But Xander just shrugged and nodded. The captain blew the horn and hollered 'All aboard' and soon they were setting off west like Elias had instructed.

Xander didn't much like boats. And he stayed inside the captain's house of the boat/ship whatever it was called as they got underway. He watched Asha with Elias and wondered how those two ever met. And wondered what circumstances lead a sweet girl like her to find comfort in the moody man who seemed to care about no one else, but he cared about Asha. There was a little green eyed streak pressing in on Xander and he was grateful no one could see his aura at the moment. The green and yellows probably would make people think he was more than sea sick. Though Xander was neither and jealousy turned his stomach despite the fact it was there.

Tobias didn't care. So that was the way it fell. Flirting with Elias had failed miserably each time. It seemed to only make the man more enclosed or angry or whatever, but the images danced still around him and Xander had to look away. It wasn't his endeavor. He was along for the ride. Fuck he didn't even have to be here. Noah Preston was paying for the expedition, Tobias didn't need to be here. Why was he even here? A cute girl? Who he didn't want to sleep with? That was such a strange thing to comprehend that Xander pushed it out. It was going to be a long voyage.
"The greatest friend to a con artist is lack of knowledge." ~ Jane King

“The Kelsie,” she repeated, grinning to herself. But she could feel the lightness of her mood being squashed down. This would likely be difficult for El, whoever his companions for the voyage. Tobias offended him less than Damien, but it hardly made them friends either. Discomfort spread in waves that peeked when the captain gathered him around the shoulders, but there was little Asha could do despite the look he flashed at her. She liked the man little better herself, and had shied away from the simple handshake. Her sense of his emotions were enough; she did not want to feel them any stronger.

She followed where Elias was led, intending to stick close. He was uneasy with the responsibility and she squeezed his hand in passing, hoping he would take some reassurance from the gesture. “I don’t like him.” she whispered once the captain was beyond earshot, wrinkling her nose a little, but left it at that.

By the time the boat was moving rhythmically beneath their feet, the itch to go out on deck stole her attention away, at least as far as the doorway. She smiled into the breeze beyond, fingers curled around the jamb. Her whole life had been spent on the road, and she realised now how much she missed it. Not that there weren't any reasons to stay. As they left the confines of the city she let her control inch a little away, unfurling her awareness a bit at a time. It wasn’t often she allowed herself to feel the breadth of human emotion rather than the detail.
[[ Assuming this mission is a failure. @"Elias Donovan" when you are ready we can pick up another one, Xander's resources are always available. ]]

They pulled back up to the docks having seen nothing other than bitter cold water sprayed into his face. Xander hated being cold and was grumbling as he walked across the gang plate. He tried to avoid adding to Mr. Grumpy pants' mood already so he avoided Elias and Asha as he left. He needed warmth and a warm body could help but that wasn't likely to happen smelling like saltwater and freezing his ass off. And the pretty girl he'd just spent the day with wasn't even remotely free to pursue even if he had wanted to.

Xander left Moscow docks in pursuit of hot drink and the comforts of his own home - though that wasn't even his, but it was as close as he was going to get right now.
"The greatest friend to a con artist is lack of knowledge." ~ Jane King


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