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Lowered guard
#1
The only things chasing Jaxen the last couple of months were women dying to rip his clothes off. Some were actually a little too rough, a harsh judgement coming from Jaxen, but who could blame them? In that regard, they were kind of monstrous, but so far, no cannibals, no dungeons, and nobody with snake tattoos on their wrist. Although. That one Asian girl with the lizard thing on her back what was her name? - eh, who cared, Jaxen couldn't pronounce it anyway - she'd made him do a double take before taking her home. She was into some weird shit. Nobody would call Jax a goody two-shoes, but he had a particular disinterest in being tied down these days.

Oriena's warning about snaky hunters lurking in the shadows finally dulled to a back of the brain kind of memory. In short order, Jax's lifestyle returned in fits and starts. A quiet night out in low key bars - which explained quality finds like Lizard Lady - stretched into underground clubs which expanded into red carpet strolls and headliner parties.

He did hit a plateau with practicing this new skill he'd discovered. Tony was right, no more sickness. But the work was dangerous. After shocking himself to near blindness one night on his own, he decided to give Tony another call. He might have tracked down Jon, at least to brag about the night after they parted ways, and maybe buy the guy a beer for good wing-man work. But the guy was busy or out of the country or something. And Jaxen found Moscow suiting him quite nicely these days.
"So?" said Loki impatiently.  "This isn't the first time the world has come to an end, and it won't be the last either."
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#2
Tony wore the crisp black coat styled with the golden phoenix. It was ostentatious, arrogant and stylistically questionable. In short, it was perfect for blending in to this particular niche of society.

As he entered the gaudy high-rise, the concierge approached him hesitant deference. The poor bastard had likely been on the end of dozens of petty tantrums thrown by the rich clientele.

"Is there anything I can help you with, sir?"


Tony smiled and clapped the man on the back. "Can you direct me to Mr. Marveet's apartment."


Tony had recieved Jaxen's call. He was damn busy these days that he almost wished for the easy life of a drunkard. Claire, Jensen and now Jaxen again, it was a wonder he had time to do anything for himself!

Not that he minded. Claire was most interesting and Jensen was too sincere he could not bring himself to say no. Jaxen though... He was not sure why he had come. Perhaps it was curiosity.

Besides, despite how their last encounter ended, he wouldn't abandon the guy. It was hard to adjust, he knew all to well.

It did not take long to find the place. Jaxen was the son of that Marveet son of a bitch. Tony remembered talk of the troublesome youth, but they had never met. Rumour was that Jaxen didn't get along too well with his father either.

Well, that was even better. Tony had never liked that haughty prick.

When he arrived at the door, he seized the power. He wondered if Jaxen would realise.

After a moment, he knocked. "I hear you wanted to see me."
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#3
Considering that Claire's cost of living had decreased dramatically, she wasn't quite so desperate for a job, so she had time to accompany Tony to visit this guy, Jaxen. Weird name. She kept wanting to call him Jackson in her head, and part of her pictured he would be some Russian cowboy.

It wasn't that she was turning into a complete bum. She intended on paying Tony rent and contribute to all the other expenses that went along with life in Moscow. She may be a professional fraud, but she wasn't cheap.

But when she walked into the building's lobby, she suddenly felt very, very poor. Her coat, a deep plum purple, felt like an old afghan. Her hair, spiked and curling around her cheekbones felt limp and lifeless compared to the silken sheen of other women around her. Even Tony was at home surrounded by gaudy ornamentation.

Oh well. Claire wasn't intimidated for long. She shot the first long-legged model-type woman she saw a smirking little grin right before ducking on the elevator with Tony. The woman stared after Claire like she was trying to decide if she was someone she knew. It turned out, strangers simply don't smile at one another for no apparent reason. The fact that unhinging someone with a smile was thoroughly amusing.
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#4
A woman opened the door. She was about the size of a poodle, and just as fiesty. A waterfall of pitch black hair fell down her back. Dark lines rimmed tilted eyes, and everything about her sparkled with all the heat of an Indian summer. Mid-morning light streaming from the enormous windows inside the apartment caught the jewel dangling across her forehead.

She looked Tony up and down. "You wanted to see me?"
She asked with coy playfulness feathering her deep accent. Her lips parted a deep red. She'd carefully erased all evidence of a disheveled appearance from the night before.

She cast a brief glance at the woman in his company, "I imagine you wish to see him."
She waved them on into the interior of an extremely modern apartment that clashed horrendously with the seemingly traditional and rich woman exiting it. "I was just leaving. If you will pardon me."
She offered pleasantries but glided forward like she expected them to part from her path.

Jaxen was no where to be seen inside. The windows were untinted, so the Moscow skyline was a crisp decoration as backdrop to the clean lines and otherwise slick - and cold - style that he preferred. Coffee cups were abandoned, half drank, on a table. A gas-powered fire danced blue flames inside an onyx black firebox. A pair of leather shoes dyed plum purple were discarded. Clearly he was there. Somewhere.
"So?" said Loki impatiently.  "This isn't the first time the world has come to an end, and it won't be the last either."
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#5
Tony gave the woman a pleasant smile and stepped aside allowing her enough room to leave. She was certainly something. A priceless statue all liquid fire as cold as ice. If there was any heat - it came from the desire for luxury.

It did not surprise him, really. Only the heat of his own distaste. It was still hard to accept how much he had changed from the vain bastard he had been, just as he suspect Jaxen was.

He turned to Claire with a grin of amusement. He suspected she was not entirely comfortable in the golden halls of 'paradise'. "At least things won't get boring around here."


When he entered, Jaxen was nowhere to be found, which was somewhat amusing. "Perhaps he needed to change into something more appropriate, eh?"


After a quick glance around the room - it was actually quite sleek, similar to his own tastes; neither gaudy or ostentatiously extravagant - he settled down to take a seat. "It's Tony, in case you have forgotten,"
he called out. "And don't worry about Claire over here, she can be trusted."



In a low voice for Claire's ears only he gave a small laugh. "The same can't be said of Jaxen though, apparently he likes mischief."



Yes. He had been able to learn a lot about Jaxen and he suspected the truth of his own words. Exciting indeed.


Edited by Tony Soloyov, Mar 5 2014, 09:01 AM.
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#6
Fully dressed and quite prepared to greet the day, Jaxen sat, legs crossed and hands folded, at his work station on the apartment's second level office. Open before him were his usual screens. He had scrolls relating all the news in Moscow's Nouveau Riche gossip from the night before. There were the relevant - albeit slightly boring - financial markets tickering on another. Running were the ever-present algorithms chipping away at Baccarat's internal servers - he'd be flagged the moment progress was made.

But center most before him was the screen occupying his full attention. The feed was his home's own internal security system, and presently gave him a live bird's eye view of the main living area.

He watched Sachi make her departure with the thin hint of a smile on his lips. Damn Mumbai seeping under his skin. He could hardly resist them. Sachi in particular was spicy and warm, her tilted eyes dangerous and tempting, the graze of her fingers intoxicating as the aroma of incense in a smokey room.

He shook himself out of recent memory and focused on his current venture. He could always replay the recordings later, if he wanted. In fact, he planned on it.

Tony made himself at home. So to speak. Not surprising. He remembered hearing about the event that supposedly obliterated Antony Soloyov to dust, beyond the point of gathering enough of a corpse to even bury. It had happened during Jaxen's banishment to the far jungles of the DIII capital, but his father had practically shit himself over it. The Soloyov's were not a humble family, and their entire fucking mansion went up in a ball of fire. It was enough to make Scion Marveet hire a few extra platoons of mercs to beef up their household safety. At the time, Jaxen cared less. In fact, up until only recently, careless he remained. Until he began to question Tony's identity.

Suspicion didn't drive the question, but rather, plain fucking curiosity. The fact that Tony handled himself so easily to get in the building, and he was dressed as he were - Fantastic coat, my friend - the phoenix glittered on camera, and he handled Michael's virulent personality, Tony was clearly more than he presented himself to be.

His companion was interesting as well. Claire, Tony introduced to the ether, had a sharp look to her despite her age.

The minutes rolled on. Comfortable with the level of insight he'd gathered regarding his guests, he stood from his seat and powered down the workstation into a locked, hibernation mode.

He gave his shirt a sharp tug. A belt wrapped his waist at the outside, looped through a ring, and dangled down his hip. Silver threadwork capped both shoulders and a wide fur collar circled his neck. Pants and ankle boots, and all together, he might have sauntered straight off the GUM runway. All in black and silver. All recognizable labels. Like the purposeful disarray of his hair, his selection of clothing for the day was a subconscious play on a medieval suit of armor. The shoulders were like plated pauldrons. The belt wrapped as though mocking a sword and sheathe. Playful and mocking. And on Jaxen's lean lines, damn sexy.

A trifecta.

He rolled into the room with a pleased expression brightening his face. "Ah! Tony. So good of you to show up. No problems down stairs I take it."
He said, shaking hands, though knew full well the answer.

He turned to Claire, "And any friend of Tony's is a friend of mine."
He kissed her hand, closely studying her reaction. "Sorry to have kept you both waiting."


He took himself into his favorite chair: a low, white leather seat. It creaked as he unfolded onto the cold leather. Tony was someone to keep an eye on. And Jaxen clearly would continue to do so, but Claire's presence piqued his interest. To her he grinned, "So I know what he can do,"
he waved a hand at Tony's general direction, "but what about you my dear?"


Surely she knew exactly what he was talking about.
"So?" said Loki impatiently.  "This isn't the first time the world has come to an end, and it won't be the last either."
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#7
While Tony stepped aside to allow the Indian woman passage, Claire held her ground. She was there first, and there were no signs for rich bitch right-aways. The chick could walk around her. She matched the woman's glare with a grin that warmed considerably when it met swiveled around to meet Tony.

At first glance, Claire was dumbfounded by the interior of Jaxen's place. It looked like something from a magazine. Strikingly, much of what she saw reminded her of Tony's home, which was also quite a cocoon of luxury.

The shoes in the corner drew her eye for another reason, though. They were gorgeous! And the brand.. she couldn't help herself but walk over to peek inside. Yes, just what she thought. She'd only ever seen something like these behind window displays.

The scent of coffee lingered, and as the minutes rolled on, Claire could imagine herself drinking a cup. She was tempted to explore the apartment since they were left to their own wanderings, but in the end was drawn to the windows rather than venture off in search of a coffeepot.

The view was beautiful. The building's height was mountainous, but more than the stretch of the horizon, she studied the dots of cars and people far below. She felt like she was on top of the world, peering down at the mere mortals that would never know such an Olympian view. It was sobering in a way. The world was so large, and any one person filled but a speck of space. And time.

Bag and coat dropped aside, she ended up waiting in a seat across from the fire, watching the flames wave on, oblivious to their confinement. More symbolism.

The sound of footsteps pulled her own feet off the cushion she'd propped them upon. She was in no hurry to stand to greet Jaxen, but the handshake for Tony suggested he might want one for her.

Most definitely this was the man that belonged to the purple suede loafers in the corner. His style screamed a preference for the edge of what was normal, and the metal studs piercing Claire's shirt warmed with the heat that flushed her skin beneath. She was hardly the kind of girl to doodle his name on her notebook, but when he kissed her hand, she almost laughed out loud. Perhaps it was a European thing to do, or a rich guy thing to do, but the gesture was almost as ridiculous as if they'd offered to kiss cheek to cheek. The brief spell was broken, and Claire remembered who and what she was.

She retook her seat, clearly more comfortable to endure Jaxen's intensity. Besides, it was him that should be drooling over her. Claire was fabulous, after all. In all the ways that were completely opposite from the Indian broad.

His question prompted her to glance at Tony. She didn't need his permission, but he knew Jaxen better than she. There were no answers to be found, so Claire shrugged and rummaged through her bag briefly. From it, she retrieved a preserved chicken foot and a nub of chalk, and placed both before Jaxen.

"I'd show you, but I'll need some of your blood."
Her smile twisted with morbid fascination. She had a serious feeling he would not take her up on the offer. Jaxen wasn't the only one that could be playful.
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#8
Whatever Jaxen expected, it certainly wasn't a chicken foot. At least, he thought it belonged to a chicken. He'd never actually seen one in person before. Its not like the pool-house doubled as a chicken coop. Actually. That wasn't a half bad idea. Where does a guy order chickens, anyway? Eh. Thoughts for later.

There was a twist to Claire's humor that was not lost on Jaxen. In fact, he brightened in her presence like he'd found a long lost sister. Her suggestion broke the dam, and he laughed. But it was not to Claire his eyes rolled.

It was toward Tony. "I like her."
His approval was genuine.

The chuckling subsided, and Jaxen tossed his hands with an already dismissive shrug. "I'll take a rain check on that one."
His gaze lingered on her a moment longer, before getting to business, so to speak.

He included them both in the conversation, but he was blunt with the reason for the reunion. "I've hit a wall, so to speak. I want more. You taught Michael."
The rest seemed obvious.

His gaze flicked briefly at Claire. Did she recognize the name?
"So?" said Loki impatiently.  "This isn't the first time the world has come to an end, and it won't be the last either."
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#9
Tony's smile was fond as Claire produced a chicken's foot and replied to Jaxen's probing.

Tony did not fail to note Jaxen's awareness - or perhaps he simply guessed - of Claire's abilities either, but his thoughts on the matter remained his own.

Perhaps it was the memory of his own prejudices, perhaps the thought of the man's father but Tony felt little inclination to dance to Jaxen's tune.

It came as somewhat of a surprise when Jaxen made no attempt at dissembling. A part of Tony approved; the man certainly had a flare for the dramatic and knew when to elaborate or to be abrupt.

A man of my own taste.

The reflection was wry with no small amount of bitter irony. They could have been best of friends back in the day if things had been different.

"I seem to recall something along those lines,"
he replied. "I'm still not sure if it was a good idea."


A half-truth. He would not have done things any differently, nor would he refuse to help Jaxen. Michael was dangerous though. He was a good man, but he grimaced to think what he could do.

"What makes you think I care about you? Last time I recall you had no intention of cooperation. Michael saved my life, gave me a home. He earned my trust. Why should I help you?"



Edited by Tony Soloyov, Mar 14 2014, 12:56 PM.
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#10
The first time Jaxen saw Tony, the man was a slobbering, disgusting drunk half out of his mind with alcohol and fully unaware of his pathetical life. Of course, at the time, Jaxen was fresh out of hell on earth. The cuts still dug fresh red slits around his wrists and the echoes of womanly shrieking continued to echo in his mind. In such circumstances, Tony was easy to overlook. Especially after sharing his cereal and the minor little gesture that healed Jaxen of any and all wounds - including the headache left by White.

Michael was the far more intimidating man of the two of them. Jaxen also quite clearly remembered the moment where his young friend nearly obliterated everything in his path. Michael was also the stronger of the two men, and likely the more experienced, but as for Tony, Jaxen would also treat him with care and gentle coaxing. Michael was not the one to go to for help. Nor would he be intimidated by someone like Jaxen. They were too evenly matched, barring the transient detail that was Jaxen's lack of experience. It might be fun to go head to head against Michael someday, but not yet. In his state, Jaxen was an infant and Michael the gladiator. Today, the idea was ludicrous, but behind Jaxen's ever-present smile, he knew it wouldn't always be that way.

Tony brought up valid points. Jaxen raised his hands, signaling accession. "You'll have to forgive my mood at the time,"
his gaze rolled toward Claire. She didn't deserve an explanation, but it served Jaxen's purposes to elaborate. "I had been kidnapped - long story - and you might say Michael aided in my escape. Although I credit a Zippo more than Michael, but subtleties aside, it had been a long couple of days, and I was not as congenial a man as one normally finds me."
His smile charmed, and he waited to absorb Claire's reaction, expecting sympathy, before continuing to answer Tony.

The lure of Jaxen's magnetic smile evolved into something more bewitching then, more disquieting. "Why should you help me? I think you know who I am - and what that means - better than most of the idiots wasting space in this city."
For a moment, there was a sharpness to the cut of his voice, like a hint of the edge of a knife hidden inside a drawer, but Jaxen soon found himself laughing at the absurdity of making those kinds of threats. Clearly the attempt at coercion was a joke, albeit a crude one. Clearly.

His demeanor softened. Jaxen was no more violent than a fluffy pillow fight between drunk cheerleaders. "I think we'd make a good team, Tony. You and I."
He was serious, but the gleam did not leave the corner of his eye. "The question is, what do you want? What can I help you obtain. In exchange for such a friendship."


"It is a benefit to be my friend, after all."
His brows rose, awaiting agreement.
"So?" said Loki impatiently.  "This isn't the first time the world has come to an end, and it won't be the last either."
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