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Need-ignited dreams had brought him back to the city, the result of months of curious work in the other place, drifting on docile tides which had seemed to lead nowhere but eventually converged, as ever, at the heart of Moscow. The obsession had a gentle grip, light as the touch of a lover, but insistent. Sören's peripheral life faded to shades of grey when its beckoning sounded strongest, the magnitude of the taunt unbearable. Ever the consummate wanderer, he answered the call.

The girl lay quite still when he stepped out from the shadows, her attackers fled into the maze of alleyways. A few feet away spilled the neon lights and noise of a busy main street, and yet sheltered by the black canopy of roofs above, hidden in shadows pooling inky dark, they might as well have had the privacy of walls. No-one came. One of his hands curled into a fist, raging his senses, while the other replaced a slim Wallet back in his pocket. Five minutes. By which time he did not plan to still be here.

He bent by her body. A bed of snow sucked the warmth from her skin, chilling it blue and freezing the darkness of her hair in a halo round her head. One heel had snapped when she fell, the ankle torn at an unnatural angle. She was not dead; he could hear, barely, the shallowness of her breaths, the sluggish beat of her heart as the wound spilled crimson from the ragged hole in her stomach. Sören placed a hand in the snow, palm flat, spiralling runes that unfurled like petals around them. Then he plucked the necklace round her neck.

With a weak flame of life, she pawed at his hands, fingertips slipping off in her own blood, trying desperately to reclaim the small charm he cradled in his palm. An antique ring, it turned out to be, looped on a cheap silver-plated chain. One yank and it would snap off, but he refrained. "Curious trinket for a whore."
The words were soft, not accusatory so much as thoughtful. Vibrations shuddered against his fingertips, a hum of recognition. He'd been chasing this epiphany for a long time.

His brows drew low as the crunch of footsteps sounded behind. Moments later he felt the perimeter breached. The irritation soured his expression; he'd timed it perfectly, only for chance to frame him as a criminal. Her blood was on his hands, her fingers still clawing at his, the distress palpable in the staring whites of her eyes. He laid the ring down carefully into the tomb of her hands, and turned his head to see who had interrupted.
Ivan walked around his car to the street, snow crunching beneath his work shoes. He still longer limped from the scratches in his calves- and, he laughed at the memory, from the way they had smacked against the ground while he had been sledding with Zoya on their date. That had been a genius move. Hey dumbass! You just got tore up in the leg from a monster in the tunnels? What are you going to do? I'm going sledding, duh! At least the sympathy points had been worth it, though. He'd hoped. He laughed at that, remembering the rest of the date.

So here he was, walking along the street. He'd just gotten off duty and had decided to take a walk in his old neighborhood. Part of him felt a bit bad for abandoning them. Course he knew that was a bunch of crap. The guys who'd taken over his rounds were good guys. They'd gotten drunk together a time or six. Good fellas and he trusted them.

And he loved actually doing something more than breaking up the occasional fight or getting called in on a domestic disturbance. Big Mikhail- a man who came up to Ivan's shoulder- was always getting into it with his wife Olga. Talk about your monsters! Holy Shit, she was big- and ugly! He shook his head, once again trying to get the image of them together out of his mind. More than one neighbor called about the loud make-up sex they would have right after one of their epic fights. yuck. He shuddered, glad he hadn't eaten in a while.

Course maybe it was the chill. It was cold tonight. The wind wasn't blowing at least. The street was busy with the sounds of traffic and such. These were the nights he loved. heavy jacket over his coat, scarf around his next, breath feathering his lips. He felt invigorated. He went past an alley and happened to look into its depths when something glinted in the light. He stopped, focusing. Underneath the overhand of balconies and shadows of building, it was dark, but he did see a bit of movement. He walked into the alley slowly, careful to crunch as little snow as possible. It was mostly solid ice anyway. He wasn't scared, though, and so the power wasn't with him, mores-the-pity.

As he got deeper and his eyes adjusted he could see a larger shape bent over a smaller one, doing something to it. His lip curled in disgust and he pulled his gun. "Stop right there! Put your hands up and turn around slowly."

He waited for the shape to comply.
Sören's jaw twitched anger as a voice joined the breach in his senses. A short sigh blew frustration, ghosting his breath into the night, his glare angled down at the woman but not seeing her. The tendons in his wrist ached from the tight grip of his fist, but though power raged at his core it stayed in the prison of his body. He was not a needlessly violent man, and the patterns would take too long to draw if the intruder turned out to have a gun. Still, his eyes remained glued a second longer to the woman's bloody hand; the necklace within and its siren call. He could still feel it.

He stood slowly as bid, every limb reluctant and rigid as he unfurled to a terrible height. Though his expression remained grim, his hands splayed compliantly; one slick and bloody, the other clean, one finger releasing at a time from its closed fist. The current within him quietened, chasing his vision with shadows. The stranger was a black silhouette lit by the busy street beyond, a mystery.

For his own part Sören was well dressed; his coat finely cut, pristinely blended of navy wool, one cuff now irretrievably darkened. He was clean, not a vagrant; his hair short, his beard trimmed. Placidity marked his manner, but gauntness touched his face, creating diamond ridges of his cheekbones, the only anomaly in an otherwise unremarkable appearance. His gaze was mild and unsquinting, accepting the blindness of his position, but it was a lie; within he drew calculating. "She's dying. Officer."
The title was a guess, though not a difficult one. He didn't back away from the body, and he didn't plead his innocence; just watched until shadow receded into details of the man's face.
Ivan watched carefully as the shadow resolved into a man crouched over a woman. The shadows of the night cut planes and angles on his face as he looked up at him placidly. The man's hands went up and he seemed to....unfold himself to a height taller than him. Not by much, but the gaunt expression and way his coat hung off him made him appear unnaturally tall and skinny. He had short styled hair and a trimmed beard.

He flipped his wallet out and hit the emergency dispatch button. "This is Sarkozy. Mack-Alpha-Alpha-Charlie. I've got a female appears to be bleeding in an alley. Location embedded in comm. Copy?"
The voice on the other end radioed a confirmation and he knew that an ambulance was on its way.

Curiously, the man hadn't moved back or said anything other than to tell him that the woman was dying. The guy's reaction was odd. Ivan didn't like it. "Turn around and put your hands behind your head."
He waited for the guy to comply.

For some reason, though, his eyes kept shifting to the body, to the woman's chest. He wasn't one of those jacked up guys who enjoyed checking out women in states of injury. He'd known one or two- an ambulance driver in one case- and busting them had been pretty embarrassing for the entire force. He had been one their own, after all. But for some reason, though he kept his eye on the man, his eyes kept being drawn downward toward the woman.

He was starting to get pissed off. She was bleeding out. He wasn't going to wait for the man to take his sweet time. He strode forward, gun at the ready."I said move it!! Now!"
Sören was grimly patient while the officer rang through, hands still offered in mild surrender. He watched quietly, unaggressive, but unmoving either. "Tell me. What exactly do you think I stabbed her with?"
His brows rose in question, curious but not demanding of an answer. Swathed in the alley's concealing shadows he was robbed the chance of easily showing innocence, but certainty of it made him bold. Beneath the heavy wool coat, Sören was clean. He was also sure he would not die here, knowledge secured facing the heart of the abyss, but that did not mean he wished to get shot in the process. He was heedful, yet despite the demand, he held his stance.

The man kept glancing at the girl, and the curious set of the look - like a moth to flame - tightened Sören's jaw. A tendril of paranoia curled in his brain and his fingers itched to curl, to feel the storm build with each closed digit until he forced the power into submission and shaped it to will. But to do so would warrant unwanted attention, and he did not need a supernatural gift to wrestle control of the situation - though his gaze did dip warily to the muzzle of the gun pointed in his direction. His feet remained firmly planted, the ice creeping up through the soles of his shoes. He was unwilling to relinquish proximity to what he already considered his property, so he forced a decision.

"So. Are you going to shoot me? Or are you going to let me help?"
"Tell me. What exactly do you think I stabbed her with?"
The man spoke calmly, as if only mildly interested, eyebrows raising slightly. Ivan didn't have time for this. The woman was bleeding out and the man wanted to fucking argue his innocence like he was some TV-ah HAH!-see?-It-couldn't-be-me!-type lawyer? And he refused to move as Ivan got closer. "So. Are you going to shoot me? Or are you going to let me help?"

Ivan knew proper procedure. He had to help the woman until the ambulance arrived. But the suspected perp was just standing there, as if daring him to move him. His own safety was a consideration. And he kept feeling something pull his eyes to the woman. Alright, this is fucking ridiculous, he thought with finality.

His anger started had to rise, anger mixed with fear at what was going to happen to the woman, and the weirdness of the strange resonance. His voice became harder and his look became stone. "Step.back.NOW! I will not tell you again."
He stepped forward, and as he did he felt that familiar light in the distance. For some reason, especially now it called to him. He grasped it and brought it under his control. As he did so, he felt that resonance in the area strengthen, pulsing in time with the power he know held. He felt confused but pushed it away.

At the same time, the man's words came to him. "How can you help her?"
he said curiously. Come on! he thought to the wagon. His eyes flicked to the woman and then to the man. There was a lot of blood. He made a decision. With the power coursing through him, the gun was unnecessary.

He'd take his chance and help the woman. If he didn't she'd die right then and there. He rushed to her and tried to find the wound. With all the blood staining her clothes, it took a moment, but he found it and compressed his hands to staunch the flow. All the while his eyes were flicking back and forth between her and the man. He wove air, in case the man tried anything.

But every once in a while, between going from man to woman, they would flit quickly to her chest, where he felt that resonance. He didn't understand it, but he had a job to do.
His face hardened at the threat, every muscle tense in anticipation of a bullet through his flesh. He'd held his hands aloft peacefully when asked and made no move towards aggression, and yet suspicion cast him an enemy, the vitriol blatant in every line of this man's expression. The frustration rolled sour in Sören's gut. Five minutes. He should have had five minutes before any cops showed up. The fingers on his left hand twitched, but he blanketed the urge to fold them tight. Then menace clouded his senses, set fire to them, and he regretted the absence of power. Little good it may have done him anyway, given the circumstances.

Others like him were not new, but the complication now was unwelcome. A gaze suddenly sharp reassessed the man in front of him, displeased. He lowered his hands slowly, tugged his cuffs back into place, and bent back down as the man dived to aid the dying woman. For a moment his fingers rested on the sleeve of his forearm, but he abandoned the notion of protection. This man, he could feel it, Sören was sure; his gaze was returned too readily to where the woman cupped the necklace to be coincidence. Possession heated his blood, but he rallied his self-control, and instead placed his already bloodied hand over the woman's like the offer of comfort. Her skin was glacial, the pulse where his thumb touched her wrist feeble.

Her life was inconsequential; Sören wanted to snap the chain around her neck more than he wanted to help staunch the flow of blood. But though callousness warped his need, he had not wanted to see her die. After a second he flipped the buttons at his throat, and shrugged the coat from his shoulders. Her thighs were tinged blue beneath the tight skirt, as was the flesh of her bare arms. Clothes made for car backseats and cheap motels rather than a Russian winter. Whatever colour her shirt had once been, now it was crimson, flooding over the cop's hands. Beneath her, the snow was seeping dark.

He had the foreboding sense of too late as he tried to coax the coat about her shoulders. She was shivering, in shock, gasping pain, frigid fingers still clasping the ring like a prayer. His finger touched the chain at the back of her neck, stroked the cheap metal. Police. An ambulance. He would lose his quarry, and the defeat of it rankled, but he could accept it. So long as he did not lose the ring to another.

"Whatever you're doing. Whatever you're thinking of doing. Don't."
The power raged a black threat in the other man, and Sören was at least aware he drew on it. He was not apt to reveal himself to strangers, particularly those tied deeply to the CCD, but made a primordial exception now. His hand squeezed shut, and the gift vortexed free of its prison.
Ivan kept his hand on the woman's wound while looking for something to bind it with. He also kept an eye on the man, ready to snag him with air if he tried anything. He didn't understand the man's cluelessness. It wasn't rocket science. His job was to secure the scene and keep the girl alive. He had no proof that the man wasn't involved, though he did note the lack of any weapon. Why couldn't the guy understand that he needed everyone in a manageable place- the man secure just in case and the girl's wound attended to. It wasn't personal. Jeez, anyone who watched TV should have been able to see this was normal procedure.

His heightened senses made the smell of the blood permeate his nostrils, the scent of iron overpowering. The alley suddenly seemed lighted and he noted the man's face- he was torn, it seemed, about the woman. Ivan could feel the weak pulse ebb under his palms.

The man came to a decision and bent down to take the woman's hand for a moment. It was a tender gesture, though that did not absolve him of the crime. Murderers often had a feeling of remorse after their blood cooled. Then the man took his jacket off and tried to put it around the woman. She was lying in the snow. He would've liked to get her off the snow as well but moving her was not something he could do. She had already lost a lot of blood and moving would only make it worse.

So of course this genius decides to try to lift her up a bit to put the coat on her and succeeded partly before Ivan stopped him and snapped, "STOP! Don't move her! She'll lose more blood."
The man seemed taken aback by his words.

"Whatever you're doing. Whatever you're thinking of doing. Don't."
Ivan looked at the guy strangely, not sure what he was talking about.

Ivan's forced his voice to calm. "What I am doing is keeping her alive. The ambulance will have synthetic plasma and RBC for her. Until then, she won't die of cold."
He glared at the man when suddenly he felt that familiar sense of menace and breathed in sharply. Another one, like him and Ascendancy.

The man had changed from a possible perp he could handle with ease into a dangerous snake. But years of police training took over, along with the weeks he'd had with Ascendancy practicing the power. He still had control of the situation. His weave of air was at the ready, able to be flicked out in less time it took to think. He looked the man in the eye, feeling that stillness in the air he'd had when confronting that guy with his gun drawn. Because this was exactly the same situation. More than anything, he needed to keep the situation from escalating.

His voice was calm but firm. "Be calm. You don't want to let this get out of hand."
His words were slow and measured, but behind them was steel. He would not lose control of this situation. "My first priority is taking care of the girl. So that is what I am going to do."
No threats, no promises. A simple statement of goals so that the man wouldn't feel threatened.

Deescalation was standard training.

But he was going to have to do some thinking. They really needed to have a procedure for dealing with people who could use the power. It was the equivalent of a person walking about with a drawn and loaded gun. Perhaps they could come up with tactics unique to the situation. He'd talk to the Cap about it.

As it was, he watched the man warily, ready to act at a moment's notice. The girl's pulse throbbed weakly under his hands. Thankfully, in the distance, he heard the sirens approach. Of course, when they got here, that just would just create a new set of circumstances to deal with. But he wouldn't let his attention on the man waver for an instant.

Edited by Ivan Sarkozy, Sep 16 2014, 05:44 PM.
The cold might not kill her, but the blood loss would. He was only thinking of comfort in those last glacial moments, but apparently the cop wasn't ready to give up hope. Sören abandoned his efforts without fuss; worsening the situation had not been his intention. Instead he rested his forearms on his knees, one hand cradling his fist, still resting in a crouch on the balls of his feet. He assumed the man had a ready offense. Given time Sören might be able to design protection, but he was unwilling to dispense the effort, choosing instead to trust to the sanctity of the law. Without a reason, he didn't think the cop would attack. Sören didn't mean to provide him one.

"I felt the moment you came close. And I could have stopped you then. I didn't."
It wasn't intended as either a boast or threat, just a statement of fact that he presumed would now be understood. The man watched him with the wariness of a viper in the grass, barely taking a blink from his eyes. The power rippled like electricity between them, pure menace in the air. Even simply holding it was like cradling the sun, but he would not release it until the other man did, or he was forced.

As sirens pricked the edge of his hearing, Sören considered his options. He could leave; the cop had his hands full with the dying woman, but it would be a gamble as to whether or not he could divide his attention enough to stop him. He did not fear the law. He had no weapon. And his Wallet showed he'd reported the incident seconds before interruption. But an interrogation as to his presence at the scene would be tedious, and he'd rather not waste such precious time while the ring slipped away from his grasp. Of the two options, though, it was the one with which he'd have to take his chances. By the time flashes brightened the end of their dark alley, he had not moved.
Ivan watched the man warily, who, in turn, sat back on his heels, watching him. After a moment the man said, "I felt the moment you came close. And I could have stopped you then. I didn't."
Ivan understood the man's comment. He didn't completely trust the man, but it was a point in his favor. If he had been the killer he would no doubt have been ready to lash out at him. Then again, it's not like being a killer required intelligence or that you were rational. People did all kinds of crazy contradictory things. And yet...still Ivan suspected him less then he had a moment ago. Not enough to drop his guard, no. Just enough, though.

Truth was they had no real evidence. Standing over a dying girl was circumstantial at best, especially if, as he said, he had no weapon on him. Course he knew that meant jack-shit with the power. Easy enough thing to fashion air into a knife and then dissolve it.

And then there was the girl's chest that kept drawing their eyes. Not that way, of course. It wasn't his MO to check out a dying girl. He liked them alive with plenty of energy. Much more fun that way. But there was something there. He didn't take his hands away from the girl but he did look closely at her to see where the draw was coming from. He saw a ring on a necklace. It seemed to...not glow. But something. There was a...something. Dumb, but he just couldn't think of a word to describe it.

He looked at the man again. There was a definite hunger in the his eyes. The ring could be motive. Means, motive, opportunity. The big three. The guy had all of that. It might not be such a hard case after all. Well, except for a provable weapon. Then again, from the man's clothing, he wasn't a bum either. Probably had lawyers and such. Well, that wasn't his purview anyway. He was a detective not a prosecutor.

The sounds of sirens and doors sliding open, the crunch of boots behind him let him know the ambulance had arrived. The medic came up behind him and took over, putting his bag down and taking care of the girl. Ivan stood up and wiped his hands on the disinfectant towel he was given. Blood was a carrier for all kinds of things.

He looked at the now standing man. He still held the power and his fist was clenched. The situation was still volatile. "Alright. Sir, I'm going to need you to come with me. I have some questions to ask you down at the station. I'm not arresting you for now but it would be in your best interests to make this as easy as possible."
He was ready in case the man tried anything. He wasn't gonna let this guy go even if he did turn out to be innocent. You don't let a guy who's found with a dying girl go just because he says he's innocent. Or because he had the power. Especially not the way that ring had called to him, to both of them. He lowered his voice so only the man could hear. "You and I know that there is more going on here than just a dead girl. Let's not let this get ugly. I promise you I'm a fair guy."

He gestured for the man to come to his car, making sure he walked slightly behind the man.

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