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Celebration Time
Adam loved listening to the excitement of their female guest. She was bubbly energy and full of life and her excitement was contagious. It was something everyone wanted and needed and it was a shame that they couldn't bottle it up and sell it.

Her final comment as they arrived at the Ritz made Methos smile. "It does have a nice ring to it."

The door man opened the door and Methos got out first and offered his hand to the lovely Ms. Danika. There were of course cameras and entertainment news crews mixed in with the paparazzi. But none of it mattered, Adam had pulled the guise of Methos around him and he was ready to be the showman.

Bradley followed as they walked through the glass doors of the hotel into cool fresh air. But the electricity was still in the air as they made their way up to the floor they had taken. It wasn't the most expensive rooms but when you take the entire floor does it need to be. The grand suite was their final stop, there was already music playing in the room, it could be barely heard from outside the open door. Bev must be hard at work.

Once they past the open door the music blared and the light display on the ceiling was apparent. Troy seemed to be playing with his tricks again as well. Shimmering lights of red and blue and green much like the Aurora Borealis skirted the ceiling and the walls. It was always a wonder when the crew set their parties going. Bradley had snuck off to their own room down the other end of the hall - possibly to change, possibly to slip into the satiny sheets to sleep off the alcohol he'd consumed too much of. Maybe he'd be waiting up - doubtful. Adam knew better, he was slipping himself in next to their son as always when Methos entertained guests.

It was not an easy life living with Methos. But the three of them managed and Adam did love this life. Loved being Methos.

Methos presented Danika to the party. "My darling. This is now your celebration. "
Bev and Troy stood off to the side of the room whispering as Methos appraised the room. "Whatever you like my darling Danika. Call whom ever you like, invite them. Show them what your diligence has brought you. The more the merrier."
It wasn't unusual for contracts for Pervaya Iiniya Securities to come with requirements that certain employees receive them. Past clients tended to prefer using the same operators. The contract from Mr Talanov was received without complaint on White's part. The man had, unwittingly, set White on a most fulfilling hunt; Scion Marveet's mistake of sending that hit team after Talanov, a team that had blundered onto White and Spectra instead.

The Talanov family was an old one; they had survived the rule of Ivan the Terrible and his purges of the nobility. They had flourished under the Romanov's rule. And they had suffered under the opening days of the Soviet Union, but regained its footing and began regrowing their influence in the latter-days of the USSR, emerging into the post Soviet era as a once-more successful organization.

The modern Talanov family drew its wealth, openly, from coal and, more importantly, coke production, a coal residue widely used in the production of steel. In recent years, they have begun to form an unofficial monopoly on the production of coal and coke in the CCD.

Mr Talanov's daughter, Nadejda Talanov, had spent time in White's company before. Namely, the short and quiet ride from the den of her kidnappers, to a waiting private jet to whisk her off to the family's Italian estate. That had been only nine months ago, although it felt like far longer. And those nine months had seen quite a bit of growth in the young Talanov princess.

It was her public return to Moscow, although she had been active on the social circuit DVII within weeks of her rescue. Although technically her father had contracted a full security detail, White had been forced to take the brunt of the young woman's day-to-day schedule himself; on her own demand. If she were to be seen in public with a bodyguard, it would be the one most likely to piss her family's enemies off.

What could he say, she had good taste.

They arrived at the Ritz Carlton hotel in one of the company's chartered luxury vehicles, and White emerged first, rounding the car to hold open Nadejda's door for her. A perfectly fitted black suit, bespoke cuffs in a 'surgeon' style. A simple term to mean, the suit sleeves could be unbuttoned and rolled, implying the suit wearer was one prone to do labor. A subtle hint of White's role as security, not mere party-goer.

Matching black vest and dark grey tie over a white silk shirt. Of course, under that was one of his expensive ballistic vests. And beneath the jacket, a shoulder-holstered pistol. Without that, he always felt a little naked. A simple grey trench and scarf, made of photography-fouling fabric to ward off the chill.

Nadejda stepped from the vehicle, wrapped in a fine full length red jacket, which concealed a pleasantly simple red cocktail dress, light on accessories. Naturally, once at the party the pair went their separate ways; it was her opportunity to begin bringing the Talanov name and presence back to DI social circles, and the likelihood of kidnappers and assassins in the middle of a fancy-pants shindig, even with someone as bull-handed as Scion could be. The man thought himself untouchable.

As was always the case at such fanciful events, White made for a captivating contrast. Perhaps at first glance, he fit right in. Well dressed, well carried. A second glance revealed the eyes, the way he would watch the room, a confidence founded on self assurance and experience, not wealth and daddy-granted power.

He was, of course, content to ride the whole trying evening through ghosting in Nadejda's shadow. At least until something worthy of his attention came up, of course.
Danika absorbed the suite in awe. This was the kind of thing someone saw in the movies, not real life. Of course having arrived with Methos, she was instantly accepted as one of them.

She soon found herself enveloped by people, like dozens of arms reached out and absorbed her into the throng. It was almost impossible to carry on a conversation over the volume of music, and she soon found her throat parched and her voice exhausted.

She went in search of water. She'd had a lot to drink that night and no water.

She waited for the man making drinks to notice her, but his eyes kept darting to every other person instead. It was like he sensed she only wanted water.

"Excuse me,"

she raised her hand, but again, he missed the wave. A thoughtful frown flattened her lips. Maybe she could reach the water herself ...
Methos watched at first, letting the new bird fly in this strange new world of his, but he lost Danika in the crowd. Or lost her to the distraction of Troy coming to him anyway. "Bev says the sound should stay well with in tolerable levels. Is there anything you want me to do Methos. I hear we missed a grand A Capella."

Methos smiled. "You did my boy. You did. But no, everything is grand. I love the Aurora Borealis, we will need to do this at a show sometime."

Troy nodded and excused himself to go back and linger with the rest of the crew who were drinking by the bar.

Methos found his couch and shooed away the couple that had taken to making out on it. "There are plenty of rooms. No one wants to watch. Shoo."

Methos sat down and draped his arms over the back of it and surveyed his kingdom. He enjoyed this almost as much as being on stage.
Dane hands were warm, nestled beneath a blanket of hair, as he curled his fingers up and down the bony knots of a spine, then pinching the slender muscle of a shoulder, cupping the soft flesh of an ear lobe. His mouth was distastefully wet. A sickening haze of perfume clogged his nostrils, threatening to reach into his throat and choke him to death from inside out. Music blared loud in his ears, a pounding he was certain would never cease echoed inside his skull. His head was going to ache tomorrow, he would need Advil before the night was over. Or perhaps a larger glass of wine. Maybe both. Yes, both.

"There are plenty of rooms. No one wants to watch. Shoo."

He peeled his lips away with a quiet smacking sound at the sudden parting. The waif of a girl in his arms scoffed, and cursed as she jumped to her feet in hasty, albeit drunken, departure. Dane's gaze lingered as he watched her leave. She was skeletal in her size, almost like a child in his arms, with a mass of black hair and bright green eyes that glowed in the galactic lighting of the party.

He was slower to stand, but when he did, he dipped his head in apologetic bow for their host. He noted the bright red suit of the man that confiscated his sofa. It was sinfully ugly and nigh abhorrent. Of course he made sure his smile widened at the thought. Methos was asking, begging for a red suit? Dane could give him a better one.

"Pardon us, sir."

Dane smoothed the wrinkles of his slacks, and adjusted the way his cashmere sweater sat on his shoulders. His partner had been rather animated. Dane exuded a smart, sophisticated style, and within a moment of rearranging, was once more the gentlemen of a great and ancient family.

Eventually, he followed after his prize, but it seemed she was lost to him.

Sören was adept at blending in. A shower and shave cleaned the dust from his bones, erasing the weary and ragged traveller. The suit he donned was a deep and luxurious royal blue atop a stark white shirt. It was all clean tailored lines and simplicity; crisp, and like most things about Sören, mostly inoffensive. Of course, the eye rather ruined the image. The skin around it was no longer an angry red, just its normal colour thanks to Morven's skills, but the eye within its socket filmed milky and blind. He could have worn the patch, but it was a threadbare thing that had seen him from India. If he was vain he would not have shown his face in public at all, but it did not go with the suit.

Business dug him out from his suite on one of the floors below. Someone else had formally imparted the tragic news of Declan's death to his family; Sören was not sure words admitting his own failure to protect could quite leave his lips, and certainly not with any sincerity. Declan had a daughter. A small one. He had a wife too, who would no doubt be devastated, and even the thought of women's tears shivered him with discomfort. The British Museum had credited Roopkund's find to Declan's name. A later expedition would be funded and carried out in his honour. Those were small things Sören did without thought; distant gestures that did not involve the awkwardness of weeping.

But Declan had a brother, and when he'd discovered that Dane was currently in the same city, he was not so cold as to ignore the fact. He had offered to meet and share condolences over a drink. They had been friends a long time, he and Dane's brother. It was the honourable thing to do. That, and admittedly, Sören was a bit curious.

Because Declan had always been reticent about his brother, and Sören knew little about the man; just a summation that the two had not seen eye to eye.

Originally he had suggested meeting in the hotel's ground floor bar, but had changed that plan when his senses had been tugged to the uppermost floor, where it seemed the doors were open. He'd taken up quiet residence by the bar, next to a woman plaintively gesturing for a server's attention. Sören was turned outward, keeping an eye on the shifting crowds, until a man in a cashmere sweater and disturbingly familiar features swept by.

"Dane Gregory, I take it."

The call of his name yanked his attention to the bar. Dane had not intended to stop for a drink, but now that his gaze was pulled there by force of curiosity, he changed his mind.

The man that called to him was lanky and tall, light colored hair and smartly dressed. Dane liked him instantly, but made no secret of studying the disturbingly milky eye. How had the man come to injure it? Would be an interesting tale, no doubt.

"Yes, 'tis I."
a wide, congenial smile split his face as he strode to offer greetings. "You must be Sören. A pleasure, sir."
he glanced briefly at the woman in the short blue dress before turning back to Soren. The way he lounged so lazily reminded him of a king lion sleepily surveying his prairie domain.

He had only agreed to this meeting out of pure curiosity over the circumstances of Declan's death. Investigating his older brother's friendships was hardly the motive. Dane had been told the man died on excavation in some mountain cave, but the details were obscured. He wanted to know how Declan died. And whether he suffered.

Hopefully so.

He lifted a hand and ordered a globe of red wine.
White had found himself a piece of wall against which he stood for a time, simply watching the individuals that made up the crowd; the worst mistake was seeing the crowd and not the people; the tree instead of the forest was a similar saying, although far too hippy for his liking.

It was a game of sorts, which made for a means to keep himself sharp. Attention to detail, reading the crowd, forecasting movement and interactions. Who watched who openly or furtively, placement of hands or the way people tended to carry things. Those with military training tended to keep their right hands free. Police tended to rest a hand at their hip where a pistol might be holstered. Of course, none in a crowd of musicians and sycophants stood out.

His gaze analyzed and dismissed most in the crowd in short order; he made a point of knowing politicians and business icons. Pop culture wasn't his forte. They didn't carry the same political weight. They were money, not power. There were some that stood out, but most were just other body guards. No shortage of whom screamed 'fakes.' No one ever bothered actually checking if their 'ex-special forces' bodyguard was even ex-military.

Most of those ones had learned quickly not to actually approach someone like White. They would eventually find some room to gather in and circle-jerk each other's egos with their fake stories and attempts to one-up each other. The fact that they were, deep down inside, terrified of being alone in the same room as White was a point of much amusement for him.

Satisfied that there was little in the room worth his attention, and that as such his charge for the evening was safe, he made his way over to the little bar, crowded with party-goers. A few glanced his way as he approached, and unconsciously gave way to his approach, until he found himself close enough to the bar to catch the bartender's attention.

Which he then left hanging as White perused the bottles. The young man stood quietly until White pointed out a near-empty bottle of Ballantines whiskey, a 'common' brand for such rich and ritzy types. Without hesitation the bottle and a glass was handed over, and the bar tender almost turned towards other waiting patrons before White tapped Danika's head with a lone finger, indicating she be served next. The girl would never get a drink the way she had been going about things.

Bottle in hand, White turned and made his way to where he had been standing, pouring a bit of whiskey into his glass as he went, then deposited the bottle, holding hardly enough for another glass or two, onto an adjacent shelf. It was going to be, he suspected, a long and very boring night.
Danika continued her little waves to get the bartender's attention, but after so long she began to wonder whether he actually knew she only wanted water. She was about to give up when a shadow stretched close.

He was taller than her, and she saw only the stern line of his jaw since he kept his face angled forward the whole time. But he was handsome, seemingly more so because he all but ignored her.

The bartender gave him an entire bottle of whiskey and Danika's jaw dropped. She felt the little tap on the top of her head and winced in surprise. When she realized it had been the stranger directing the bartender to serve her, a smile broke through the frustration.

He promptly delivered water and Danika guzzled it down greedily. She carried a refill away and went in search of her rescuer, if only to thank him. But also she was curious to know just how it was he managed to do with a glance what she'd been attempting for ten minutes.

It was only by virtue of the whiskey bottle that she was able to spot him. Now she thought about it, she hadn't really gotten a good look at his face before. There were many dark handsome and mysterious strangers present. It would have been easy to miss him otherwise.

She leaned against the wall alongside him like it was the only thing holding her up.

"Oh my gosh thank you! I was parched! You'd think this was Mars!"

She eased a shoe off then, and actually dropped four inches in height, lowering herself even further away from the level of his gaze.
Just as Sören's deformity was studied, so too was Dane studied in return. The appraisal was a mile and lazy one, but snapped a judgement all the same. He certainly did not look to be a man in mourning. The smile did not have a flush of grief. No tell tale redness dampened the edges of his eyes. The two might not have been close, but surely there should have been some sign of Declan's passing.

"A pleasure under different circumstances, perhaps."
The words had no bite; it was only an observation. It was a strange reaction, to be sure, but Sören was also relieved not to have to burden the weight of unrestrained sorrow. Nor even the tension of pain that simmered controlled beneath the surface. He was content with that.

He turned to indicate to the bar man that the wine be added to his tab, and waited for the blood red liquid to be poured. Afterwards he held up his own glass. "To Declan."

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