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Just Business
Hard-hat on his head, Adrian walked the construction site in company of an architect, engineer, a Marveet-steel representative, and the site manager. The walk-through was informative; as thorough as Adrian demanded until he was satisfied with the progress.

When the tour concluded, Adrian shook hands all around and climbed into the back of his car, signaling the driver. He worked off the Wallet screens while stuck in the mire of traffic, and an hour later, he climbed out of the car to endure the exact same tour at a new location before moving on to the next. All four club locations endured the same scrutiny as before. It was his land upon which they were being built, after all, even if the structure wasn’t his venture, he was invested in its success.

Just as he was about to conclude the fourth and final visit, a pair of men approached. Japanese, they wore black suits with black shirts open at the collar. Their expressions were serious, posture imposing.

Adrian raised a brow and waited by the open door of his car.

“Mister Kane?” The first asked. He seemed about 40, though Adrian had difficulty gauging the smooth skin of his face. There was no white flecked in his hair, but his eyes brooked no nonsense.

“M’hmm.” he acknowledged.

“Mister Hayashi requests to speak with you. Come with us please.” Adrian looked from one to the other, understanding the implied expectation. If he did not go, they would make him. Or try to.

“I am busy at the moment. He can schedule a meeting with my assistant,” he said in dismissal and started to climb into the car just as the Yakuza’s hand halted the door from closing.

“Now. Mister Kane.” And his gaze diverted to a limousine some distance from the construction site.

Adrian straightened, gaze flat. His schedule could endure as much, but the intrusive nature of their threats bothered him on principle. To date, his correspondence with Hayashi was purely business. He deserved to be treated as such. Treated better.

Which was with an inward grumble that he assented to the escort.

Yuta Hayashi’s car was dimmed by the black-shaded windows wrapping the Yakuza boss in privacy. It was without any trepidation that Adrian joined him, nor even when the door slammed on his heels, sealing him to whatever fate waited.

It was then that he recognized they were not alone. The sugary smile of Yasmine Amengual greeted him. 

Which was... unexpected.
"Of all men's miseries the bitterest is this: to know so much and to have control over nothing."
+ Adrian +


Now Adrian looked properly, Yasmine looked rough. She wore the same clothes she’d been in last he saw her. Dirt smudged her hands, sweat lines ran down her throat, and her hair and makeup were worn. Even the infamous purse was damaged. Her smile was dangerous, though, leering back at him with an accusation Adrian was ignorant to understand. He’d not known what happened to her; he expected her to meet him at the champagne bar and hadn't heard from her since. 

His gaze passed to Yuta next, seated out of Yasmine’s reach, but wary and watchful. Adrian easily had forty pounds on the older man, but he was not so stupid to think Yuta to be harmless nor himself completely safe.

Yuta’s accent was muted, his English perfect, but his voice was grim. “Mister Kane. You know this woman?”

Adrian sighed, “Yasmine Amengual?”

Yuta’s lips were a thin line with the affirmation. “The late wife of Zacarías Amengual, the head of the El Tiburón cartel, whose untimely death left a large debt unpaid to me.”

Adrian could only imagine, but his expression was blank. “Maybe you can hawk that bag of hers and get some of your money back.” Yuta didn’t find the joke funny.

“She claims she’s been working with you, Mister Kane. You must understand how this appears.” Yuta’s eyes held Adrian’s like one gripped the flat edge of a knife, ready to throw it.

It was then that the limousine began to move. Adrian glanced out the shaded window, contemplating their destination. Yuta believed him to be colluding with Yasmine behind the Yakuza’s back, or so Yasmine must have alleged upon her capture. Their deal had nothing to do with the Yakuza’s clubs, nor any of the illicit dealings that were underwriting their opening, but he understood that’s not how it looked to the proud man across from him. And the Amenguals and the Edenokōji-gumi were known to have been working together, at least until the cartel fell apart.

Did they know about the prototype?

He searched Yasmine’s face for hints of an answer, before his gaze fell to the bag at her side. Was it within the Birkin this whole time?

“We met once. She wants me to help her kill the man that killed her family.” He decided the truth was the best road forward. Yasmine glared, but it seemed she had learned the hard way to speak only when spoken to. Yuta glanced at her, reading into the same.

“In exchange for what? You’re no murderer, Mister Kane. Are you?”

Adrian felt his expression flatten dangerously. Whatever he was, it was none of Yuta Hayashi’s goddamn business.

Suddenly, he grabbed her bag and upturned the contents on the floor. Wallet, makeup, money. There was no oculus protoype, and the sugary smile returned to her lips in victory.

“She promised me something, something she clearly has hidden away.” Smart girl.

Yuta leaned forward, arms on his knees, eyes shining with demand. “And that is?”

Adrian considered his options. He did not want to lose this device, but neither was he willing to risk his life to protect it. However, he never intended on handing Jay over to her, head notwithstanding, since the man was his best chance at learning how to use this god-forsaken power.

But if he explained what it was now, to Yuta, he knew it was as good as gone. It was then that the limo rolled to a stop, having pulled into the shade of an old warehouse. The doors were opened and Yuta climbed out. Yasmine followed. Adrian emerged last.

The Yakuza man that confronted him at the construction site rounded on Yasmine, suddenly dragging her, kicking and yelling, several paces away, and tossed her to her knees. Yuta produced a pistol, which he studied in his hands a moment before approaching Adrian, who was otherwise silent and still.

“If you’re not working with her, you will have no problem with this.” He said, and offered him the gun. “There’s only one shot. Do not get any ideas.” And in that moment, the second Yakuza retrieved a gun and aimed it at Adrian. Protection, he assumed, for his master.

Adrian checked his surroundings one last time. There was unlikely to be any recording if he did it, but neither could he risk blackmail in perpetuity. Then he glared at the top of Yasmine’s head. Well fuck me, he thought, and scrubbed his chin.

In one smooth motion, he took the gun and immediately fired it straight overhead. The sound of it rang painfully in their ears as he returned it to its owner.
“Give me until sunrise to find out where she hid it.”

Yuta thought a moment, and opted to accept the deal. They shook on it, and Yasmine was taken away. 

Just before the limo rolled away, he knocked on the window. When it opened, he leaned down to say one last thing. “Give her a comfortable bed. She needs her rest.” His eyes, empty as they were gray, glanced at her face, frightened for the first time since he met her, and Yuta nodded.

Adrian was left alone to call for a car.
"Of all men's miseries the bitterest is this: to know so much and to have control over nothing."
+ Adrian +

[Image: Adr.kan_-scaled.jpg?strip=info&w=2000][Image: Yasmine-e1593657886143.jpg]
Adrian | Yasmine

Nine pm.

The sole source of light was from a final, lingering wallet screen. A feed of messages rolled endlessly back through time as Adrian entered the most recent.
Tentative on gym in the morning.
He didn’t intend on taking the whole of the night to extract a confession out of Yasmine, but there were a shit ton of factors out of his control at present.

Sleep always came easily to Adrian; however, tonight, he was tense beneath the sheets. He hated that he was put in this position, but the cold grip of his will was the stronger emotion. Even then, he willed himself to relax, and the wings of sleep folded around his mind.

The endlessness of stars filled his view. They blurred to white lines as he flew among them, weaving in and out of the blackness, biding his time until she appeared.

And then she did, and falling into that light was on the sound of folded wings carrying him down.

The air was filled with dust. Scents and heat met him. Adrian looked down at himself to find he was wearing sturdy pants, boots and a shirt that clung to skin dripping with sweat. He was holding an axe and a pile of split logs made a mound off to the side. Despite the urge to look around, he wiped the sweat pouring off his brow, hefted the axe and slammed it down upon the log perched in front of him. The thud of it splintered into the severed tree-trunk beneath, and he grabbed another to repeat the chore. Yet while he worked, he watched. Giggles snared him upright, twisting around to find a trio of women. They all wore embroidered cotton dresses, cuffed at the shoulder, though Yasmine’s girlishly fell over the side of her arm. Her hair flowed behind her in black currents, and when the women passed him, they all smiled seductively and whispered behind their hands. Yasmine seemed no more than a teenager.

Adrian might have sighed if he wasn’t beholden to the whim of her dream. Instead, he laid the axe aside and approached, wringing his hands on his pants as he did. Out of no where, a cup manifested in Yasmine’s hand, cold dripping down the globe in promise of the refreshing liquid inside. She offered it, speaking in Spanish as he approached.

He wanted to take it. He wanted to smile at her and speak back words of seduction, but Adrian knew he was not the man she dreamed about. He carried the intensity of his purpose in his eyes, and when he reached for the cup, he broke the threatening trance and said something else entirely. “Where did you hide the oculus?” The shock of the unexpected question blurred the world around them as he held dominance over the moment, but this was her dream, and he even the master of dreams held little sway here.

A jolt of electricity shivered through his body, and the dream faded to black.


The sound of rushing wings filled his ears as Adrian’s feet landed upon a hard floor.

Above, the grandiosity of an enormous ceiling filled the view. Ornate paintings and architecture surrounded them. Rows and rows of seats stretched out in front of him, and at his back, a beautiful altar gleamed. A face was waiting in front of him, a face of nobody, its features smooth and generic. Yet he thought it to be a feminine face when her mouth parted expectantly. That was when he realized he was holding a wafer, and although not knowing what to do with it, he placed it on the landing pad of her tongue and spoke words he cared nothing about.

“Corpus Christi,” he said. She closed her mouth as soon as his hand was away, made the sign of the cross over her chest, and stepped aside for the next parishioner.

Adrian sighed, accepting this new dream with the same flatness as he had the previous. Despite a small head shake for the strangeness of being a catholic priest, he continued through the ritual as though he knew exactly what he was doing. Woman after woman approached. Every face smoothed by the same nothingness that was Yasmine’s dream people, until Yasmine herself appeared. She wore a dark veil made of lace over her eyes. Her hands, gloved in black, gripped a rosary that she placed to her lips in reverence. He might have rolled his eyes. He had no idea Yasmine even had a soul to worry about.

When she looked up, she found Adrian’s gaze boring into hers. Yet she opened her mouth as had all the others and Adrian stepped nearer to lay the wafer on her tongue, exerting all of his will to repeat the words that came before.
“Where did you hide the oculus?” There was a flicker of fear, and the jolt of electricity shivered through his body as the dream faded once again, to the void.


The rumble of an engine drowned the fresh folding of wings. A panel of instrumentation spread out before him. Dials, numbers, and lights that were utterly meaningless to his understanding. Yet the windows above explained the scene. A cockpit. The vast expanse of blue sky above was mirrored by blue water below. At his side sat another pilot. His face blurred above a uniform that Adrian himself was also wearing.

He hurriedly unbuckled himself and exited, and he soon understood why the jet rumbled so hard. The cabin door was thrown open. Yasmine stood at the threshold, wind whipping her hair to shreds. Clutched in her outstretched arm was the oculus.

He hurried to her side. “Where did you hide it, Yasmine!” he demanded into her profile, tired of this game. When she turned to look at him, her face was wrenched with agony, and he knew what pained her. Her grip on the dream was unraveling; the surety of her identity failing.

Then she let the oculus drop. Adrian tensed and dived after it. The air rushed against his face as the ocean swarmed up to meet him. As his fingers brushed the device, they both slammed into the water, and darkness drowned his senses.


When next he opened his eyes, he recognized being in one of the guest rooms at Radiance. Yasmine was standing in the middle of the floor. A silky robe flowed over the elegance of her nightgown, and she did not know he was there.

Show me where you hid it. He spoke without speaking, pushing all his thought and will into her mind until she took the barest step.

Another. And another.

She knelt at the side of the bed and plunged her arm deep into the slot between the mattress and the frame. When she retrieved the oculus, Adrian smiled to himself. Wings rushed, wiping the dream of its place, and he jumped out.

2:35 AM

It was to darkness that Adrian opened his eyes. That barest moment between stillness and action passed, and he threw back the blanket and snatched the Wallet, dialing hotel security.

“Meet me at the front desk. Five minutes. Bring the master key.”

He dressed in a hurry. A jacket over a plain shirt. Pants without a belt. Shoes that he slipped on. A hand passed over his hair, and the door slammed on his heels.

Middle of the night at The Radiance lobby did not mean it was empty. Not in Moscow.

Through those that remained, Adrian was an arrow that strode with the heat of his purpose to the front desk. The staffer greeted him. At her side waited the security personnel he requested.
“Yasmine Amengual has abandoned her room, and will not be paying her bill.” The words activated a rare protocol. The staffer immediately began to issue commands through their system, and with a deferential gaze, looked up after a few moments.
“Room 422.”

Adrian signaled the security officer to follow him.

“Wait here,” he ordered once the room was unlocked. Her room was frozen with the vibe of abandonment. Her suitcase was in the corner. Things were strewn around, but it was to the bed that Adrian stalked. He bent, grabbed, and flung the top mattress off with a grunt for its weight. Heavy, even for him. As it had been in her dream, he found the oculus waiting there. The flicker of victory touched his lips, but the moment dulled swiftly to action. He stuffed it into his jacket pocket and returned to the hall.

“Trash it all. Nobody's coming back for it," he said to housekeeping as they rolled into view. The elevator opened, and he climbed inside.

There was one last task to accomplish.

3:15 AM

He left the oculus prototype in his safe before sliding back into bed. This time, when the rush of stars blurred around him, it was Adrian who seized its light in his palm and pulled her into his kingdom.

In his arms rest Yasmine. Her hair lay against his chest as though she was slumbering still. When the press of his feet sank into sand, wings folded behind his shoulders. Their soft tips dragged through the sand like a royal cloak behind him.

They stood upon one of endless dunes as the realm settled into a scene of his own concoction. Amid this vast desert was a bed made of a simple, wooden frame, upon which he laid her. Gently placing her on the solitary pillow.

She opened her eyes to behold her dream weaver, basked in a glow of power and light. His face was impassive as the desert itself, and she seemed to trust to this moment for all the pressure of his will that she do so.

Then, an axe appeared in his hand, and the bed transformed to a tree stump. The pillow was an anvil.

And he swung.

4:30 AM

The alarm roused Adrian from what little sleep of the night he had. It took him a moment to blink through the sounds before he silenced it with a slap of the hand.

It was discipline and accomplishment that put his feet to the floor. A cold shower washed away the remnants of fatigue, and as he was downing a pre-workout, he messaged his trainer he was on his way, after all.
"Of all men's miseries the bitterest is this: to know so much and to have control over nothing."
+ Adrian +


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