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Swallowed by shadows
Some time passed before Andre drudged up the nerve to find his brother. The day he intended to walk into the Kremlin, flash his name, and hope for the best, something unexpected happened.

He was riding the subway to the central district, surrounded by mid-level wealth and mid-rung levels of power. It was the same in Chicago, kind of. Back home, he rode the subway toward the downtown district, where two stops ahead of his own would pour out money, power, ambition and corruption that would climb the steel skyscrapers and rule the rest of them.

Andre was never among that class. Though he was dressed suitably today in a purple button-down, black slacks, sensible shoes and a casual jacket. It was the kind of thing he wore on duty as a detective working cases: professional, but he knew he was sexy as fuck in purple.

Such was why he noticed an out of place poor dude stumble into his train. He was tall, brown-skinned, and wore a long trench-coat, stained and tattered around the lower hem and the hood drawn up. Others sneered and stepped aside. One actually pinched their nose and squeezed their way up the train.  Andre frowned. The guy was clearly homeless, or close to it in a city of golden bricks. For all he knew, the guy worked a 60-hour week and brought home barely nothing to live on. Regardless, he obviously didn’t shower. He did stink some strong ass.

Andre frowned and offered him his seat.

The guy didn’t look up beyond a passing nod and deposited himself into the plastic molding. Andre swayed as the car moved onward, creeping closer to the Kremlin, but along the way he checked on the guy. Just in case something unexpected happened. Nothing did. He assumed the fellow slept. Maybe he worked nights. It was the morning commute after all.

They were close to downtown when the guy suddenly got off. The hood fell back briefly, and Andre caught a glimpse of a bald scalp that seemed to shine oddly in the light.

Just as the doors closed, Andre thrust an arm to stop their full sealing, and squeezed onto the platform. The man in the trench coat had his hands thrust in his pockets, shoulders curled downward with the weight of a burden upon them, hurrying toward the stairs to the surface. Andre glanced over his shoulder as the train sped onward toward a destination that he was okay with procrastinating one more day. Besides, he wanted to make sure the poor man was okay. He could offer to buy him breakfast and hear his story. Just to learn about the life of people living in the city his brother practically ruled.

He followed him from a casual distance. The streets were busy with morning workers, but they weren’t quite at the Kremlin district. The blocks changed after a few minutes. The river crossed by an ornate pedestrian bridge.  They came to a park that Andre didn’t recognize the name, but it was mostly green space. On the other side, the scenery changed, and Andre assumed the neighborhood was transitioning into a poorer, more obscure one that the distant high-rises ignored.

He was about to give up and go elsewhere when the man suddenly, and quite energetically, hopped a short fence, traversed flower beds, and slithered into a water-run off system. Naturally surprised, Andre looked around as though wondering if this was normal behavior for the area, then followed carefully. When he arrived to the edge of the run-off, the man was gone. The only thing to be seen was a culvert that plunged into darkness. The safety bars crossing the hole were mangled to an opening.

“The hell?” He said to himself as he jumped down, entering a whole new world as the shadows swallowed him up.
So the underground facility was pretty cool, all things considered. I mean yeah, there was the cell and questions and shit. But it wasn't his first circus and wouldn't be his last either. The guys in black were not bad, really. At least one or two of them. Taichechski and Monserre seemed alright. It had been Taichechski who had put Ryker down. Which he got, totally.

The guy had been seriously out of it. Mik had tried to explain as best he could about those creatures, the way they had jumped on Ryker and Ivan and Li. Who knew how it affected them. Tried to help the guy out.

Anyway, Mik talked a storm and evidently there was footage and eyewitnesses and shit and pretty soon he wasn't really a prisoner. Yeah, they had questions and of course they tested him a bit.

Hot little number seemed to be in charge but despite the face and an ass that didn't quit she didn't have much in the way of personality. Or at least didn't respond to his charms, which ultimately meant the same for him. Not that he needed people to wanna fuck him. As long as they laughed along with him, got his jokes, and in general seemed laid back, they all got on well.

And if they did, well...pluses right?

So ANYWAY (again!) he and two of the Rods- that was how he knew they were cool. He called them that with all the filthy innuendo he could invest it with and they laughed, responding in ways that made it clear this was an old joke between them- so yeah, anyway, they all ended up sparring a bit.

Not like Mik was gonna join their program. He wasn't the joining kind. Nor was he a moron. But just like that, he had a couple new guys he could call on for a beer and the like. Not sure if they'd be able to go. But having connections to guys like them had to be worth something.

The Lady had made that night memorable. Connections. Fun with the Yakuza. Fighting those creatures. It was what he loved about her. Yeah, she'd kill you if you weren't careful.

But if you played well, she made sure it was worth your while.

So not a few days later he was blinking into the bright sun, the smell of fresh rain in the air, the distant clouds grey and moving on their way. He hoped Ryker would be OK. He did what he could for the guy. And he thought those guys below would make sure he was taken care of.

He could see about checking on Ori. But given her mood the last time, yeah no. He was itching for fun. Not the kind to bite him in the ass....well no, that wasn't true. He didn't mind that kind of danger, as long as it might lead to some real fun. She was a cat, he guessed. Playful only when it suited. And given her last experience, he doubted she would be smiling for a while- at least not in anyway he'd like.

Later, though.

So, what to do. He was antsy, feeling his oats. Being around those guys had amped his hunger. What they were doing was fucking awesome. If it didn't mean he'd have to suck Brandon's dick (Metaphorically speaking, anyway. He had no interest in being subservient to anyone, least of all the Ass-endancy), he might have even tried to spend more time training with them.

But freedom and the sky was better than the alternative.

Still, he felt a hunger. Killing those things had been a rush. Yeah, it was probably stupid. But fun was like that. Li had said there were things in the tunnels. And hey, it wasn't like he had lost.

Why not? He took a few lines and eventually was in one of the older neighborhoods. Kolo territory. Not too bad, really. Not as well kept as others. Didnt take long before he found a drainage system and followed it down. He kept a hand on his jacket pocket, feeling the lighter, as he slowly made his way into the tunnels. After a moment, he seized the power- and almost wished he didn't.

Shit but it stunk down here. Shit, of course. Garbage. Runoff. Unwashed bodies of people. They looked at him, the few he saw. A few made movements that might have been the beginnings of an attack. A small flame at his right hand put the kibosh on that.

He smirked as he walked passed. He supposed he better pay attention. He began to hum to himself, stringing together directions in a little song. Easy peasy, really. Musical breadcrumbs.

He hope the Lady was about. Could be fun.
"Good and ill. 
We're like the wind, 
we blows both ways."
- Mad Sweeney, American Gods
An ominous splash squeaked under his shoes. Andre cringed to wonder what he walked through. He’d been dressed for the Kremlin, and posh, brotherly reunions, not sewer trekking. Speaking of. Shit, but what was that smell? Oh yeah. Probably shit.

What a brilliant asshole he was.

He turned around to go back. As he reached the hole, he realized there was no way out. The drop down had no handholds with which to climb back out. The Force was no good to him here, unless he could levitate, which wasn’t a thing. With a frown, he sparked up a good beam of light to carry in his hand. At least he could try to avoid the worst of the muck seeing where he was going.

The sewer went on for what he assumed was a couple of blocks before meeting up with other drain waters. Over his head, smaller pipes constantly dripped a dark flow. Rats squeaked just outside the throw of his laser light. He held the beam like a sword, glowing hilt and all. It was all glow and show. Having tested it once or twice, he had yet to make the light actually slice anything like a proper lightsaber. Did look cool as shit, though.

Sometimes he saw sealed up manholes. There were stairs that ended at concrete walls. The whistle and rumble of distant subway trains thundered through the ground. He had to know he was trespassing somewhere irresponsible, but the curiosity (and lack of exit), pulled him ever-onward.

Finally, signs of civilization showed itself in the form of graffiti. He paused along the wall, holding up the beam of light. Most was in Russian, but there were shapes and symbols mixed in the design. There were older layers behind the newest.

He almost lost his balance on a swath of slimesickle, which would have really pissed him off to fall into the sewer water. That’d be the kind of funk that never washed out. After that, Andre was glad to hear noises echoing in the stony distance.
He made a light- dark green as it happened, so that it didn't bother his vision too much if he needed to drop it. He wasn't sure where that'd come from. Maybe videos of night vision or whatever. Not like he actually knew what he was talking about. And not like it really bothered him that much anyway.

The stank was the thing that kept his attention. Or rather, keeping it off his clothes. As in don't slip. Seriously, bro. As in he'd have to use a flame to burn off a layer of skin just to feel clean. And though he tried, he couldn't think of a way to make any of that sexy time. Smells had a way of hijacking hormones and ruining things. If he was smart, he might know why.

But he wasn't and chalked it up to yet another mystery.

So he was humming and avoiding any slips into funkitude, starting to wonder what the hell the Lady had him doing down here. Yeah, he chuckled to himself at that. Her fault, the bitch. Always leading him on.

He stopped and looked back. It was black, of course. With his mean green light he'd be fine, especially with his little trail song. Yeah, he was done.

In that moment, he heard a noise. Muttering or something. Was a fair distance away but the power brought the sound to him more clearly. Probably more tunnel dwellers. Idly, he wondered what kind of crazy made a person decide to stay down here permanently. Brandon and his "kingdom" he thought. What a fucking joke. Well, that was the big secret, right?

Still, he was curious. Why did people live here?

He moved in the direction of the sound. In the distance he saw a shape- nothing looming larger than life, not like at Li's dojo anyway. "Hey! If you're looking for the heart of good funk I'd say you found it, fella." He waited patiently, though the power was at hand if it turned out to be a mistake.

After all, he had to give the Lady her chance, didn't he?
"Good and ill. 
We're like the wind, 
we blows both ways."
- Mad Sweeney, American Gods
Andre was never so glad as to hear a normal voice in his life. He exhaled the tension, at least a little, and raised the Force lamp to shine farther ahead. The shape came into view. A man. Bulked at the shoulders and narrow at the waist. A mop of hair splashed from his brow.

“Full back?! That you!??” he called out just as Mikhail came into view.

“I am glad to see you. The fuck is going on down here?” he asked, navigating the narrow ledge along the tunnel to a wider platform where two tunnels intersected.

He stretched out an arm to shake hands, only to retract it with a sniff. “Speaking of funk. No offense, man,” he laughed nervously. “I saw some weirdo freak disappear in a hole a ways back, and my spidey-senses were tingled. I made the dumbfuck mistake of following, only to find myself trapped.”
A grin split Mik's face. Pretty boy with the arm tats he'd wanted to trace. He took in the clothes- much too fine for a place like this. Course anything was too nice for a place like this!- and barked a laugh. "You ain't kidding me, doll. Some royally fucked up funk down here. Gonna need an acid bath when I get home."

Whether Doll here was with him was another matter. He imagined he saw twinkling eyes in a dark face, her tight curly hair neatly razored into sharp lines. Ahh, his Lady was about that was for sure. Too much coincidence for anything else.

His light swung around to peer into the distance, as if trying to see what it had been that had peeked Dollface's attention. "Yeah," he said absently, thinking back to Li's dojo and that skull or whatever. What had he called it? Omni? "You're not wrong to be careful. Buddy of mine showed me a head of something he killed. Wasn't like anything you'd see at the museum. Living, I mean."

He snorted. "Claw marks across his torso was no joke neither. Not like Fluffy got a little carried away with the yarn." He looked back at Dollface, smirk deepening, one eyebrow waggling suggestively. "And not the fun kind you get from a visit to Cosette's dungeon either." The slow intricate process of Shibari binding, knots and rope so responsive to his struggles, turning him into a bound work of art, was stimulating, to say the least.

At least until the smells reminded him where he was. Still, the seed had been planted. Anyway, back to reality. "Yeah, some nasty things out there, it seems. Lady Luck has to keep it interesting, right?"

He swung his head back the way he'd come, jerking in that direction. "Still, I know the way out, if you wanna jet. Have map of sorts," he said, tapping his head.

Mostly, anyway. As he walked, he spoke idly. "You out looking for trouble? I am," he added quickly. "Guy I know, the one with the scar, said there were fun things to find down here. Figure it might be fun to see what's what."
"Good and ill. 
We're like the wind, 
we blows both ways."
- Mad Sweeney, American Gods
“I’ve seen some shit in Chicago, but a sliced off head ain’t one of them,” Andre said. “What the hell kind of people you call friends?” He laughed, exaggerating the nerves in his voice for humor. Completely for humor.

Drips and splashes in the dark made him swing the force light around and around, but he never saw anything except the scuttle of small shapes he hoped were just rats.

“Unless Cosette’s Dungeon is down here, I can’t imagine anything fun is waiting. It’s not down here, is it?” He looked a little hopeful at the prospect.

Andre just followed Mik, completely at the other guy’s mercy.
Mik's swung his head back with a grin and laughed. "Oh, you're not kidding, Doll. Lots'a shit here in Moscow. May the Assendancy draws 'em." He continued forward, but kept talking. "The guy with the skull said there are monsters down here. Stuff out of fairy tales. That's what I was looking for." He chuckled. "I mean it's the weekend, after all. Gotta have some fun."

He walked ahead and then stopped, speaking absently as he tried to figure out what the next turn should be. "Cute little thing from your neck of the woods showed up around here too. Real Voodoo type. Hot as fuck. She was legit too. Was all talking to spirits or whatever. Called me by name right out of the crowd." And a whole lot more. I remembered how she'd felt. He couldn't help the disappointment that crept into his voice. "Thought she was a sure thing too. Until this old geezer with a hot piece of ass showed up and...I don't know. Snaked her out from under me." A grunt of amusement came from his chest. "Bastard is probably nailing them both as we speak." He laughed again, not upset in the slightest. "Good for him, I say. Give that guy a memory before his heart explodes."

He peered ahead, flustered. Was it left not right where the pipe is all white? He thought so. But...damn! He let his light float up ahead to the left, looking for anything else familiar. Ok, so maybe the song wasn't the best way. He'd heard it in a story or something.

He looked back at Andre and smiled, faking confidence. "Yeah, this is the way, I think. If we can get out of here, I'll take you to Cosette's." His eyes drifted down to take in the man and he couldn't help the hungry grin on his face. Guy was built. The line of his tattoos were like obsidian against his shadowed skin. The light reflected off him so that he looked like a work of dark chiseled marble. Hard as marble too, he he bet. Definitely. "Pretty sure I could show you a good time in the Parlor." One kind of fun was as good as another.

The moment was punctuated with a scream in the distance. Not the kind he liked, either. His head swung to peer down the tunnel. "Aww Shit!" he said dryly. "Cosette's will have to wait."
"Good and ill. 
We're like the wind, 
we blows both ways."
- Mad Sweeney, American Gods
Locker room talk was good with Andre. Kept the mind distracted. He’d rather think about sexy voodoo houngan priests than the rats (or worse) scattering around the shadows. At one point, nervous laughter evolved into genuine humor.

“I once busted a psychic that worked out the back of a hair salon. Her sister leased the place and the psychic worked a folding table back by the sinks. Sold tea, spice, X, and bullshit. When I walked her out, she told me to eat Chinese food. Didn’t think anything about it until a few days later when I stopped for lunch at two food trucks. Side by side. Chinese and tacos. I ate the tacos and that night shit my pants with food poisoning. Turned out, she wasn’t full of shit, but she knew I was!” He barked a laugh without even realizing he just outted himself as police. Then again, he wasn’t a cop anymore. Detectives were a different flavor of street love.

Before he could ram his foot any further down his throat, a scream made his ass pucker. “What was that!” he asked, looking around frantically. The Force quivered. “I’m about to shit my pants again, Mik. What the hell?”
Mik barked a laugh, finding the fear in the other man cute. "Don't worry, doll. I'll be your knight in shining armor." Despite the danger, he peered back to give Andre a playful grin and wink. "You just save that fairy tale kiss at the end for me."

He might have said more but a roar- more like more than one- came from the darkness ahead. Despite his bravado, he gulped. Shit! The Lady was at it tonight. Hot guy behind him, trouble ahead, and no way of knowing how tonight was gonna end.

Out of the darkness and into the light cast by his weave came a...fuck if he knew what to call it. Big like a bear but all leathery, looked like. Tiny eyes that were made up for by massive horns or tusks. Hard to see in this light. He added more fire and the room lit up.

Ahh shit. One of the big things and what looked like zombies. Homeless, by the clothes, though these seemed more rotted than your normal tunnel fashion. The people were definitely rocking the rotting look too. They all seemed to move in an odd way. Like he could tell they were just waiting before they struck.

The fuck were they waiting for anyway?

Not like they should wait around and see. Cosette's dungeon was waiting. Weighted nipple clamps and a St. Andrew's Cross he wanted to try out on the guy. If he was down. If not, you could always find a sub at her place. Or be one, if he was in the mood.

He channeled and flaming arrows shot from his hand to hit the big leather bear thing. Despite the fighting he laughed. Leather bears were hawt! They seemed to do little but enrage it. Oh yeah, and set the zombie horde off on them.

Yeah, this was royally fucked.
"Good and ill. 
We're like the wind, 
we blows both ways."
- Mad Sweeney, American Gods

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