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Home Again
It was a strange feeling, to have a place to call home again. Despite 6 people living under the same roof and all the trouble that came with it, Tony found it was home.

In the days after their fruitless expedition, Tony told the boys to relax for a while so he could think. He doubted Elias was happy about it, but it would have to do. In truth, Tony was the one who needed it most.

That was how he found himself spread out on his couch, bones aching as they did when he strained himself too much these days. Hans had taken the others three men out to one of his favourite haunts. When Yuri asked why they did not invite Claire along, Hans grinned and said it was a 'boys night out'.

That was a relationship that Tony found amusing. Claire had proved herself more interesting as the days went by. Whatever she thought of their living arrangements, she dealt with it well. Not that they caused her much trouble. Apart from Hans' regular flirtation, they all treated her as part of the 'team'. She had a similar power. She was one of them.

Tony could have wished they were a bit less 'respectful'. She had taken up his bed at their insistence, leaving Tony on the couch. That did his aching no good, and she was young. Never mind he was at most a decade older, his body had aged twice as fast.

However, such things were trivial. He would not change it for the world. He had found his place, and was content. The only thing that concerned him now was Michael's lack of communication.

With a groan, he heaved himself upright. "Claire? Are you still here?"
he called. He might just get his bed back for one night at least. "Are you out again tonight?"

After some banging thump and a muffled curse, Claire stumbled into the living room, wiping her eyes as she did. She'd slept in her clothes again. Her black velour pants and ice blue top were wrinkled and flat of their former sheen.

Tony was sprawled on the couch. She stumbled over and weaseled her way under his feet. Only to flop her head back and look at the ceiling. She ought to go wash her hair. "Damn I'm hung over. There any coffee made?"
Tony would have moved, but his stomach cramped and micro bolts of lightning seemed to strike his head. At least he was not coughing up blood this time, but it didn't make him feel much better.

He did managed to prop himself up on the couch's arm and smile. The woman was a mess, but somehow the unkempt, wild look suited her. Tony laughed, ignoring the pain it caused. "Big night, eh?" He shook his head, still amused. "Only that American shit that Veso likes,"
he said, knowing full well her origins. "You'll have to heat it up though."

The last was an opening, rather than a simple statement. It had pissed Michael off to no end, but it was ingrained. "Have you made any progress with your powers?"

It may very well make Claire angry that he kept an eye out. Nothing serious, certainly not enough to be 'spying' but he did take notice of anything that concerned their abilities, and the Kallisti had been on his radar for some time after Jaxen's exploits there. How or what, he did not know, but he had some suspicions.

Whether she would be angry or not, it did not matter. He was not worried about her specifically - she was capable of looking after herself - but he looked out for his own kind.
Claire snorted and shoved Tony's feet off her lap. If she was goin to have to heat up her own coffee, she might as well go pour it first. "I assume you want some. You look like shit, Tony."

As for the stuff that Veso liked, Claire actually agreed. She wasn't a huge fan of it either, yet she poured a big cup amid a satisfied smile.

Speaking of spell casting, there wasn't much of an update. "Oh yeah. It's going great."
Her tone implied otherwise as she clasped a palm around the bulb of a crystal pendant necklace. She closed her eyes and meditated, but her lips silently mouthed the words of the spell.
"Too much strain," was Tony's reply as Claire retrieved the horrid brew. Tony did not complain even so. He felt as bad as he looked, and his health was worse than both. Dr. Oborev had examined him thoroughly, and the results were not good.

"Well, hmmm?"
he commented as she returned, muttering her 'spell'. Tony was adept at reading nuances in every single word and he could tell that all was not well.

Resolving the issue would be much more difficult than identifying it. Claire was fiercely independent and capable, accepting help she thought she did not need would be out of the question.

He had his hands full enough with the boys who were willing, what could he do for Claire? She needed allies, of that he was certain. His conversation with Jensen James was foreboding, the patterns he had found rippling throughout the world even more so. Chaos had spread like wildfire and men like Nicholas Trano, Al-Hassan and Damien Oakland shook the foundations the world had rested safely upon for a long time.

He had not been convinced that Jensen's story was truth, but the world was changing, and with change came destruction and pain.

"You will have to introduce your friend to me one day,"
he decided on a casual approach with his usual smile marred only slightly by his condition. "If she can teach you, she must be a miracle worker."
Claire's expression quirked quizzical. She wasn't sure if Tony's strain had to do with how bad he looked or how much it would pain him to drink coffee. She brushed the thought off and sipped the coffee, and cringed. Actually, it was pretty bad. But like hell if she were admitting it to Tony.

The spell did its trick at least. The coffee burned her mouth as it passed her lips. Returning, she plopped into one of the side chairs and propped her feet on the table, cup nestled against her chest. Her feet ached from last night's high heels.

"Which friend is that?"
She blinked and swallowed the pain of the hot liquid. "Oh. That friend. Well yeah. Its not like she's a teacher. Just a chick."
Anyway, she rocked her head back against the cushions and wished one of their spells could conjure some pain-killers.

"What are you doing today? Any more treasure hunts with goth-boy?"
A casual 'just some chick' usually meant something more in his former world, but with Claire, it could mean just that. In any case, concerned though he may be, he was willing to leave the matter be for the moment.

Her own question thrown back at him produced a small, painful laugh. The two did not get along at all, and their performance was amusing. They were in turn similar and different in all the wrong ways. Both were independent and shared a unique flair but where Claire was casual and easygoing, Elias was reserved and stern.

They would make a great team if the time came when they had to work with each other, but Tony didn't think they would appreciate his thoughts on the matter.

"Treasure hunting? I wouldn't exactly call it that. There's no treasure, only conspiracy."
His smile faded. "Unfortunately, this conspiracy is very real, although I'll be damned if I know what or why."

His smile returned in sedated form. "I cannot keep up with those energetic bastards, so I have decided we need a break from playing the detective."

He did not wish to dwell on the matter any more than he had done already, so he did what came naturally. "Why? Did you want to invite me out on a date? You can breathe easy now, I am free. I might even pay. Half, at least."

Edited by Tony Soloyov, Nov 21 2014, 10:11 PM.
"One man's conspiracy is another man's treasure,"
Claire quipped under her breath before the ghost of her grin devolved into a grimace when she sipped her coffee. Whether the grimace was for the flavor of the drink or the headache that flashed hot was hard to say.

While Tony went on about the great conspiracy that they couldn't solve. Claire honestly wasn't paying a lot of attention. Seriously, she'd heard as much before, if not from Tony then from any of the other guys. You'd think they were a gaggle of cheerleaders the way they chattered all the time. At least Elias had a concrete reason to be in Moscow. That was more than Claire could say for herself. Since that horrible day in Brooklyn, she'd had no more visions for directions.

Always the flirt, Tony made Claire laugh. It was a quiet, tired chuckle, but sincere.

"You know better than that, Tony. I don't date old men with one foot in the much as death turns me on,"
she replied, voice smokey, smile morbid.

"For real, I could get food. Is your ass really laid up for the day? Or just being lazy?"

Tony shared the laugh freely despite the pain. It was one of Claire's most endearing traits. In the old world, his comments would have been met with a slap or a splash of liquid. Claire's flair was much more interesting.

Her fascination with death - real or otherwise - was not a surprise. Perhaps it should have been but he understood how, if not the reason why. Death surrounded people like them and it was rare to encounter one who had not changed through experience.

"You don't exactly look full of life yourself,"
he replied with a snort. His head spun a bit, but he ignored it. It would pass in time.

"I will be fine soon enough, it never lasts more than a few hours. Food does sound tempting. Do you know anywhere good?"

Edited by Tony Soloyov, Nov 26 2014, 12:21 AM.
Claire grunted. "Yeah. I'd say my life is hanging by a thread."
She set the cup aside in lieu of her off-brand wallet. It wasn't as tricked out as Eli's, or even Tony's, but it held her favorite take-out app.

"I'll cook,"
she mused, browsing the options. "What are you in the mood for? Thai? Korean? Sushi? Why is it take-out is always Asian foods? I'd kill for a Whopper and fries. Oh wait, Burger King delivers too. Here we go."

She checked out Tony through an opaque section of the screen. His gut was evidence of a take-out aficionado. A nod and she ordered for both of them and dropped the tech on the cushion alongside her leg. "Why I didn't think of it last night, I'll never know. Oh, hope you don't mind delivery here. I've been doing it all week."
The quirk of her lips said the apology was sincere enough, if not particularly remorseful.

"So Tony, have you ever told me who the hell you actually are? Or do you want to save the good conversation stuff for our date?"

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