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Stranger than fiction
Continued from: Not that kind of help.

Despite the warm blanket tucked around his body, one arm flushed ice cold. A steady beep clicked a quiet beat of his heart. Machines whirred on the wall behind his head, the lights stung bright, and the air was motionless and cold. He was in a hospital.

The last thing he remembered was being in the alley. The kid who had been blessed with a full healing sprang to his feet, then a dark shape swung at Jensen's face. He'd thrown up his arms, but there was nothing after. Until now. For taking a hit to the head, he felt fine, but he had a feeling the state was drug-induced.

A pair of voices whispered at the edge of the room. He couldn't quite make out the words, but their tone was rushed and angry: argumentative. Jessika's shrill voice was one of the pair. The other Jensen didn't recognize as either a doctor or nurse. What was going on?

The scratchy freedom around his thighs told him he was in a gown beneath old blankets, but although covered to the foot of the bed, a chill shuddered nerves up and down his body. He started to move, but realized the arm that flushed cold with saline pouring in his veins was also rimmed with a metal bracelet. One that connected to the arm of the bed. He was in ... handcuffs?

He swallowed, growing tense, but tried to remain calm or else the beeping of his heart rate might spike and give him away. It was a dirty thing to do, but knowing it would give him an advantage, he took hold of the power and an explosion of sensations filled his head.

The whispered conversation became clear:

"...I already told you! Yes, he was beside the kid, but the kid was the one that got up and attacked him! Before that, he was with me and..."

The man that Jensen could now tell was in a wool coat bearing a badge pinned to his lapel, interrupted her. "Please stick to answering my question only ma'am. And what time did you hear the first gunshot?"

They were talking about what happened in that alley. Jessika likely called the police when Jensen didn't come back. Or maybe one of the boys had. They would have come across a gruesome scene. Three shells of skin and bone and Jensen splayed out in the middle of it with no sign of the old woman in sight.

Jessika scoffed, "I don't know! I told you, I was dropped off by my cab and we stood there talking for a couple of minutes before anything happened. And we saw the first kid come running..."

The detective pulled out his notes. "The Chinese-Russian male? Aged 14-16 years. Mullet hair cut, t-shirt, and drooped pants?"

Jessika nodded emphatically. The twang in her voice heightened as she grew more frustrated, "yes. That one. He ran inside. Then Jensen went to check on the other boys."

Did the detective not believe her? How many times had Jessika already told their story?

The detective tucked his notes away. "Of the four others, three are dead. Now why would two young men accuse an older white male of assault with if he were going 'to check on them'? Especially when that older white male has a history of corruption, embezzlement, and pornography?"

Jensen's chest collapsed deeper than the old woman's victims. He sat up, blankets falling hard to his lap. "They said I did WHAT!"
His face was white as his sheets.

He tugged on the handcuff. The clank of metallic ringing echoed through the hospital room. Jessika's white jacket was gone, leaving her only in the pink shell of a shirt and bright blonde curls laid on her shoulders. The detective stride forward. On the other side of a window, a CCD police officer stood guard.

Jessika sneaked around the detective, but he grabbed her on the shoulder and turned her back. "I'm done with you ma'am. Wait outside."

Jessika would have none of it. She shook him off. "Don't you dare touch me! Or I'll have you sued for --"
he shoved her toward the door, Moscow accent dropping deep. "You are not in the United States any more. Do as you are ordered."
The guard peeked in and fixed Jess with a glare. She sniffed and stalked off. Jensen breathed a sigh of relief and pointed at his arm.

"Why am I handcuffed?"
He asked, eyes large as the moon.

The detective stood at his bedside. "Because you're a murder suspect Mr. James. Now, I have a few questions to ask you.

Jensen licked his lips. The CCD did not treat murderers gently. Nobody was going to believe an old woman had taken down four armed gang kids then flew off when Jensen scared her with a ball of light. That was probably why they were quick to blame him. Were they going to claim a little old woman with a chihuahua took them down? Or a monster with giant leathery wings and glowing yellow eyes flew through the streets?

He collapsed his head on his pillow. How in the world was he going to explain what had happened without ending up in a psyche ward?
Jessika paced the hall outside his room. She looked in on every pass, but Jensen could offer her no relief no matter how earnestly he wished to ease her anxiety. A great reunion. 'Surprise! I'm alive. But, uh, I have to go to jail for murder now.'

Jensen swallowed and wished yet again that he was wearing more than a hospital gown. Somehow he managed to hold the detective's gaze throughout the duration of the questioning. He recognized he could keep silent or wait for legal representation, but he technically wasn't arrested yet, and he had nothing to hide. If anyone learned lessons about truth, it was definitely him. Except the white-haired bat-woman, the fact that he restored a dying kid's throat, and he was in CCD territory on an expired visa - apparently ten million dollars doesn't buy the extended program's version. Or, more likely, he was taken for all he was worth. They didn't teach black market negotiation skills in Sunday School. He'd had worse problems before - those things he intended to take to the grave.

The detective seemed satisfied, though Jensen was unable to guess which way that door swung; for good or for ill. The man called for the nurse, and a few minutes later, Jensen's bed was stretched flat, and his face covered with the shield of a brain scanner. The nurse injected some sort of bright tracer in his IV line and powered it up. Good luck explaining to the guys in jail why his urine was blue. Because that was the worst of his problems.

The scan was completed, and the nurse satisfied. She explained to the detective rather than Jensen that his clearance had to wait until the doctors read the results which could be - yes, it was back already. The recovery was complete, and he was discharged to go.

The detective called in the guard just as the nurse pulled out the catheter. From... down there. Jensen cringed like he'd never cringed before and when it was over, threw the blanket back across his legs. He couldn't bring himself to look at the cop. Suddenly, blue urine didn't seem so bad.

Pulling the IV line from his arm went much better. As did the release of the handcuff from the bed. He had just enough time to put feet to the cold floor and rub his freed arms before the looming mountain of the police officer filled him with the inevitable dread. It was too good to be true.

They officially put him in handcuffs and led him out. Jensen only prayed the gown was well tied back there. On the way, he threw Jessika an apologetic look, but she was already on the phone.
Continued from A friend in need

Jon strode up the steps of Precinct 16 and entered the building. A quick change of garb at home had been all that was needed to project the image of the powerful attorney who didn't expect to take flak from anyone. Coppertone suit and pearl striped tie, leather briefcase in one hand -- short or not, Jon was the epitome of a well-groomed force to be reckoned with.

The desk sergeant, a pretty little woman with blonde hair kept back with a simple braid and steel blue eyes that spoke of irritation that she was assigned to desk duty that day, looked up as Jon entered. "May I help you?"

Jon flashed her a smile. He could be charming when he wished. "I am here to see my client Jensen James which you are holding here."

The desk sergeant asked for identification, which Jon gladly supplied. The woman tapped a few keys at her computer, and frowned. "It seems the Mr. Jensen James you are here to see hasn't made a formal request for an attorney at this time."

Jon sighed. He should have expected some sort of nonsense from the CCD. Here it seemed that one did not have a fundamental right to speak with an attorney if he did not specifically request it; however, individuals charged with crimes could not be barred from representation, and if they didn't request it themselves, someone could request it on their behalf if they weren't capable of making the request. Additionally, the CCD did recognize spousal rights to some extent, and Jon should be able to push that.

"Mr. James' wife has requested my representation. Therefore I will speak with the accused. That means you must allow me to see my client in private."

The sergeant sighed. No doubt Jon had just made more paperwork for her. Not that it particularly bothered him, it was her duty after all, even if she didn't want to do it.

That didn't mean the sergeant didn't make Jon wait. It was almost two hours before Jon was allowed to see his client. Finally he was called into a sterile, concrete-blocked room with a table and two chairs, and allowed to sit. Jon put his briefcase on the desk and waited for the Custodians to bring out his client.

Fortunately he didn't have to wait long. The man looked a little leaner and perhaps more gaunt than the most recent pictures of him had shown. But certainly, it was the same man who'd been the famous evangelist. The custodians led him to the table. And handcuffed him there.

Jon cocked an eyebrow at the Custodians. "Release his handcuffs and leave us in private."
That earned him a dirty look, but at least they did what he was told.

Jon regarded his client. He didn't trust Custodians farther than he could kick them -- not very far as they weren't shaped like footballs -- so he seized hold of the Great Spirit and wove the same warding he'd used earlier to keep sound from traveling farther than the two of them. He highly doubted there would be anyone around able to break through the warding as Trano had done.

"Mr. James, my name is Jon Little Bird and at your wife's request I am appointed as your attorney, unless you have any objections to my representation on your behalf. I am an American as yourself and as such will do everything I can to get you the best defense I can on your behalf."

Jon took a breath. He didn't know much of the specifics of the case. Only that Jensen James was held on suspicion of murder -- and the report was infuriatingly vague on the specifics. Only that there were witnesses that seemed to be pinning Jensen of some horrid doings Jon found a hard time believing, now that he was face to face with his client. It all smacked of a framing, to him. Guy in the wrong place held accused of a gang slaying. But he had to hear from Jensen what had actually happened.

"Mr. James, at this time you may consider me your mother, your father, your guidance counselor and your priest. The writ of Habeus Corpus as we understand in the United States doesn't hold as much water here, but I still believe I can get you released until such time as charges are dropped or you face a trial. No one can hear what we are discussing aside from you and me. So I need two things from you if you want me to get you released. What did you tell the Custodians, and what really happened?"

Edited by Jon Little Bird, Nov 29 2013, 12:40 AM.
The door slammed shut behind him just after a pair of sweat pants was shoved in his arms. He couldn't have been happier if they had been kingly robes. He pulled them up and laced up the drawstring to keep them snug around his waist.

"You get pinched for stealing JELLO?"
He was greeted by the voice of the highly entertained man with whom Jensen would share the next four hours of his life. He looked down at himself, even with sweat pants he was still barefoot in a thin hospital gown. He probably was quite the sight to behold. Just wait until the guy saw blue urine.

"Something like that, my brother,"
his answer was laden with contemplation while still unburdened by fear. He'd been given the chance to speak with Jessika, and she assured him he would be looked after, but Jensen was not worried. His conscience was clear though his path was not. This was probably the worst legal trouble he could possibly be in, accused and arrested for three murders, but he trusted in the knowledge that he had a task to do, and God would keep him safe until it was accomplished. There was only one death on his heart, and while the blight was erased from the Lamb's Book of Life, Jensen's true submission to the Lord's will included a promise to make up for the sin's he had committed until now.

Jensen leaned his head against the wall. The bunk was thin and squeaky, but he tried to remain still and meditate his focus on singularity. "This is all just a mistake,"
he said. He was met with rolling laughter from the bunk above.

"Yeah! Mine's just a mistake too."

Jensen smiled to himself.

Their conversation filled the next two hours. When finally a booming mechanism unlocked the door and an officer entered, he found two men bedside and on their knees: the first face down against the mattress, the second alongside and one arm wrapped comfortingly around his shoulders. The second time the officer called his name, Jensen looked up and smiled. He pat Yakov on the back, whispered a few more words of encouragement and pushed to his feet.

"But I didn't request a lawyer,"
he answered, but the officer didn't seem interested. He was doing what he was told, and that included waving Jensen on down the hall. So Jensen offered his wrists without complaint and followed. The officer pulled handcuffs from his belt, and Jensen smiled. "You don't happen to have an extra pair of socks in one of those pouches, do you?"
Ah. Well, he didn't really expect him to.

He didn't recognize the man at the table. He was mid to late twenties, perhaps, and sharply dressed. Impressively dressed, actually. There was no way he could afford counsel like this, but he had a feeling this was Jessika's doing. She could conjure a palm tree in a snow storm.

He rubbed his wrists and sat with a grimace. The chill of a metal chair seeped through his pants.

So this was one of Jessika's miracles. Jensen shook his head, unobjecting to the representation. There was trusting in God, and then there was trusting in God. A man doesn't tred water in a rainstorm then ignore the life raft sent from upstream.

Then, a humid presence pressed in on the edge of his mind. A vice that gripped his heart and wanted to squeeze it from his ribcage. It came from Jon. And Jensen blinked in awe, and for the first time, he saw an addition to the room that seemed to emerge from him. It was beautiful and terrifying at the same time. Like a legion of angels bellowing praise across the horizon.

Likely Jon would assume his reaction to be a response to an aggressive monologue, but in fact, it was the opposite. Jensen wholeheartedly agreed. He was going to tell Jon the truth. Every last unbelievable ounce of it.

He shifted so to fold his hands on the table and lean forward. Trusting in God did not eliminate fear, but finally! acceptance poured through his veins, and love undeserved gave him courage.

"First I wish to express my gratitude, Mr. Little Bird, for your swift call to action. I will do what I can to ease your job, although I have a feeling the truth you seek will only complicate matters."
He spoke gently despite the confidence growing behind his eyes. Jon had a way about his oration that was moving and commanding, but Jensen's was hypnotic and harmonious and equally as compelling.

"First I will tell you what I told them.. which was entirely the truth. We were on the street when gunshots broke the night. I urged Jessika indoors while I ran toward it. They were young men. Children, really, and I feared the worst. Three were down, and one was yet alive. To him I knelt and prayed. Soon after, he got up, less injured and more rattled with shock, and next I knew I woke in the ER."

He took a breath and a tight, tired smile humbled his expression. It was now time for what really happened. "Would you believe me if I said an old woman killed those boys? That I scared her off the fourth one and she flew away?"
Cords, life, and God's very essence surrounded them like a beautiful globe of light. He tried to ignore it for now, but the power echoed on Jensen's soul. Somehow he refrained from touching it just yet.

"The boy's throat was largely ... gone. He was minutes from dying, and as I sat with him, I.. did.. something."
His lids slid low, and reverence softened his tone to barely a whisper. "And by the grace of God he walked away without a scratch on him."

He looked back up and tried to read Jon's expression, but the man was a stone wall. Meanwhile, Jensen looked to the ceiling. It was time.

He reached for the light, until it stretched his soul with brilliant pain.

Jensen praised, barely whispering the praise aloud. Though for what, for now, his praise was undefined.
Jon kept his face impassive as he listened to Jensen James recount his experience. He flipped through what little files had been released to him as Jensen spoke. Everything the man said checked out -- the gunshots, the dead boys, even the witness statement from one of the two survivors. The man was certainly in full possession of his mental faculties.

Jensen was right about one thing: the truth would certainly complicate things. But there were other ways to go about helping Jensen out of this mess.

"Would you believe me if I said an old woman killed those boys? That I scared her off the fourth one and she flew away?"

Indeed. The experience reminded Jon of the creature who'd attacked him at the gas station so long ago, before Jon had even an inkling of the things that lay hidden from everyday view. Then came Jensen's tale of...restoring the boy's life. This was not something Jon had ever heard of before. But old stories were indeed full of tales of miraculous healing -- it should be something possible with the power of the Great Spirit. Was Jensen yet another with the ability?

Jon didn't have to wait long for confirmation, for he soon felt the swelling of the power within the other man. The man looked to the ceiling, and ecstasy flooded his face. As far as Jon could tell, he was filling himself like a water skin stretched to bursting.

"You would be surprised what I would find believable, Mr. James,"
Jon finally said. "You have been blessed with a great gift. I would very much like to see how you performed your act of healing; however, if you are feeling any sensation of pain or headaches you are drawing too deeply and must consciously back off your grip. Release it at will, do not let it slip from your grasp."

Jon considered what should be done now that Jensen had told this story to the Custodians. It truthfully didn't matter whether they believed it or not. The only thing that mattered was whether the story found its way to the wrong ears.

"You are correct that your testimony of the actual events won't help you here. In fact it could endanger you if the wrong party were to hear of it. You were interrogated while under the influence of medical drugs and did not have an attorney present. Not exactly inadmissible in the CCD, but unreliable enough that I should be able to get the testimony squashed."

Jon leaned back. "Please take care not to give any additional testimony unless I am present."
Jensen's testimony shouldn't even be necessary. One only had to look at the facts presented thus far. "Aside from one potentially unreliable witness, the Custodians have no case whatsoever. Other witnesses did indeed hear the gunshots you described. When you were in the hospital they already had your hands tested for powder residue and it came up negative. They also tested you for DNA evidence that could link you to the boys' murder."

The only thing that should come up once DNA testing was complete was blood from the boy Jensen had claimed he'd healed. The three corpses were already at the morgue and Jon would immediately file to test them for powder residue and DNA sampling.

"You may rest easy, Mr. James. The facts simply don't tie you to the boys' murder, only that you arrived on scene too late to do anything and attempted to give one of the witnesses first aid. Even the CCD should recognize that. I can likely have you released by this evening, but you will have to remain in Moscow until charges are formally dropped. Now, do you have somewhere safe to go?"
Jensen was no lawyer, but he had to agree with Jon. Everything about his case was all circumstantial. "I won't say anything else without you present, but I don't hold against the Custodians. They were only doing their job, and things do look bad. I swear to you, though, I'd no sooner hurt my own children."

He looked to hands now withdrawn to his lap. Guilt waged a war inside, fighting against the power's ecstasy. If he didn't let go of one, the clashing wave of each would soon rip his mind apart, but he could no sooner release the guilt than free his own soul from the cage trapping it. Experience made him let go of the light. He'd waged this battle before, and as Jon said, it was easy to lose oneself to it.

So he released the light and the shadows held at bay collapsed around his soul. The transitions were always unnerving, a blind man suddenly seeing the sun and the subsequent eclipse of all light on the planet: both impossible, yet, both known to him off and on for four years.

He steadied himself with a deep breath. "I am resting easy, Jon."
He met the man's gaze. Jensen was tired, sure, and drawn from the stresses of the past few days - or, more accurately, the stresses of the last four years. Eh, technically, the last fourteen years - but there was a glimmer of trust. It was a hard one-eighty to suddenly trust himself around strangers when he wanted nothing but to keep all of them at bay.

"I do have somewhere to go,"
he reflected upon the loft and both the gift and frontlines it represented: a front row view of the apocalypse. Jensen wasn't born to be a shield for anyone else, but he intended to try nonetheless.

"But there's something else. I'm here illegally. My visa expired three months ago. If I'm not going to prison, I fear they will deport me back to the US. I can't go."
He shook his head, frowning. He Jon spoken with Jessika in person? How much did he know? Could Jon feel the heat in Jensen's eyes? He had to stay. "I have to stay here, Jon."

He took a breath. He'd told himself he would tell Jon every ounce of unbelievable truth. The man deserved to know they were in the epicenter of the coming war.

He started to explain, but the door opened without preamble and another stranger entered. He was a middle aged man with silvery hair and a hard gaze that softened apologetically for the interruption. This was no Custody police officer in a long coat cloaked from his shoulders. He wore tactical, utility style clothes beneath and shoes built for long nights on his feet.

"I apologize for the interruption,"
he quickly closed the door behind him and entered fully. He offered to shake hands with Jon and Jensen. "My name is Ömer Indyk, and I am from the Medical Examiner's office. May I sit?"
He pulled a chair next to Jon and showed them both images of the three bodies that arrived in the ME's office that evening. Just seeing them and Jensen's breath drew tight in his lungs. They were hollowed and collapsed: just sacks of skeleton seemingly drained for burial, but never refilled with embalming fluid. Their throats were likewise ripped open.

Ömer went on. "Again, I apologize. But as you can tell, these are highly unusual bodies, and I have a few questions. Such as..."
his gaze ricocheted off Jon and landed on Jensen, seeking a flicker of hesitation or other sign of withholding the truth. Jensen cringed, glad Jon was present. Did this new conversation count as 'testimony'? "Did you see anyone .... unusual ... in the area shortly before the gunfire? Someone perhaps ... highly out of place? Maybe an incredibly attractive young woman? Or a seemingly ... innocent ... old lady?"

Jensen was speechless. "Uhh-"
he started, but a look from Jon and he swallowed what he might have said. But, yeah. Ömer was pretty spot on. That's exactly what had happened. How did he know?

((FYI: The presence of someone from the medical examiner's office is a GM instruction from Ascendancy.))
Jon felt Jensen release his grasp on the power of the Great Spirit, and though he didn't allow any flicker of emotion cross his smooth face, inside he felt relief flood his bones. The man had been straining with the amount he'd held, nearly as much as Jon could safely hold, but as it seemed Jensen was able to release without too much effort it was unlikely he was so inexperienced as to be a real danger.

As Jon listened to Jensen's reply, he divided his attention between his new-found client and his Wallet. Several thousand miles away, Caroline was hurriedly banging out the final draft for the Petition for Declination of Prosecution in between filling her face with coffee, baking two pies and getting a twenty-six pound turkey stuffed and in the oven. Good girl. She hadn't even complained -- well, more than once -- that she had fourteen relatives due over that afternoon and was already behind on her preparation. Jon would have to find her something special in Moscow for an early Christmas gift.

It was good to hear Jensen had somewhere safe to go. There was little telling how safe his own place would be. Not only was this creature still allegedly alive and on the loose, but Jon had little idea who might have heard, or seen, Jensen's display of his abilities. His warning to Nick Trano about the Atharim rang loud in his own ears. Indeed, his client could be in even greater danger than he suspected.

And then Jensen brought up the issue of his legal status in the CCD. Now that was another concern entirely. There was simply no way Jon would be able to keep that buried, now that Jensen had been picked up by the authorities. Jon would have to act immediately to keep Jensen safe from deportation.

"I'll get working on clearing up your legal status,"
he said to Jensen. Which, at the moment, meant Caroline would get working on it. Sorry, mother dear. Pies might have to wait.
He tapped out another message on his Wallet.

And then the door to the small interrogation room opened. How interesting -- Jon hadn't felt a thing when the man who entered crossed through his sound barrier. He wondered how easy it would be to modify the warding so it alerted Jon to an intrusion. The newcomer was probably in his middle years with a full head of graying -- no, more silver -- hair. Dressed in a long coat and simple clothes, he had more the look of a quiet scientist than anything else. But there was something in his eyes that bespoke of...Jon wasn't sure what. He'd seen things, though.

Jon took the man's hand in greeting. Ömer Indyk, from the Medical Examiner's office. Jon motioned to the empty chair, and Ömer proceeded to show the two some...very gruesome images. Jon saw Jensen's face pull taught with tension and knew these were the same boys Jensen had described, throats torn out and left drained, like hollow water skins left unattended in the midday sun. That explained the man's hard stare. He likely filled his days examining the gruesome remains of what were once living humans.

And then Jon's interest rose to a whole new level. Why was Ömer asking if Jensen had seen an old woman? Obviously he hadn't gotten his hands on the now-quashed testimony or he wouldn't have to ask. Ömer certainly knew something. Likely he'd come across other corpses left in a similar fashion, especially if this creature had struck before. Perhaps he was attempting to connect the murders to find the culprit.

Or he could be hunting for something else.

Jensen opened his mouth as if to answer the man, but Jon shot him a stare that cut him off at once. Clearly Jensen wanted to be helpful. He did seem to be a good man, and anyone with a good heart who witnessed such carnage as Jensen had described would leap at the chance to assist. But the man was still in danger of prosecution, deportation and possibly his life.

And then an idea struck him. He could make Jensen a free man in Moscow and give him the opportunity to assist Mr. Indyk at the same time. He tapped out another message to Caroline. She was definitely going to need a raise after this.

Jon turned to the medical examiner. "Mr. Indyk, I'm sure my client is more than willing to assist you and as his attorney I have no objections. Unfortunately, as he is still in legal jeopardy at the moment, I've directed him not to answer any questions at this time. Please be patient, the necessary paperwork is being filed as we speak."
Jon wondered how anything got done in a timely manner before the digital age. At this moment, certified, encrypted court documents were whizzing through the telecommunications cloud, bouncing back and forth between prosecutor, judge and Jon. It was a good thing it wasn't a national holiday in the CCD, or they'd probably delay things on purpose just to answer for the irritation of being roused from their festivities. Unlike Caroline, the CCD legal bureaucracy didn't work for Jon -- except when they did, of course.

As Jon communicated over his Wallet, a few tense minutes passed where not a word was uttered, and the small interrogation room reverberated that ominous silence back at Jon. He used the silence to study the medical examiner from one corner of his eye. That coat -- fashioned like a lab jacket -- certainly fit the garb of someone prepared to spend long hours over an examination table. But those sleeves were suspiciously long. Wouldn't he want to wear long gloves and keep his sleeves out of the...examinee?

While Jon awaited the reply from the prosecutor and for Caroline to finish up his last two requested pieces of documentation, Jon did one other thing. Jensen had seemed so...unused to describing his experiences with the power of the Great Spirit. This probably meant he never discussed it, which was a good thing. But it also could mean he he might not know when to be silent about it, either. Now that Ömer was within the warding, Jon couldn't simply weave another without the man noticing. It'd look odd if no sound left his lips, even if Jon whispered into Jensen's ear. And anything written on paper could be potentially lost, and found.

But there was something Jon and Jensen could see that Ömer likely couldn't. And if he could, he'd have already known one of them, or both, had the ability. So Jon crafted a delicate weave of Air -- invisible, and certainly not intricate, it only existed to write a message in the space above his head. Don't speak of your ability,
the message read.

Confirmation finally came through, almost at the same time as the other pieces Jon had Caroline working through. She was definitely eager to get back to her Thanksgiving dinner preparations.

"Mr. James, the prosecutor and judge have signed off on our petition and are going to decline prosecution. As soon as the precinct here finishes up their end, you'll be released."
He turned to the medical examiner and opened up a screen on his Wallet. "Dr. Induk, I just need you to sign off on these two documents here and I'll be satisfied to let my client give you his full cooperation. The first is an agreement not to compel him to testify as a result of anything you might learn from your investigation. He may of course still do so if he wishes to."

As for the second...this should keep Jensen in Moscow for as long as he wished. "This here is an affidavit as an addendum for Mr. James' application for a visa extension, where you declare Mr. James is providing services to you of interest to the Custody for an unspecified length of time. Obviously he can't be of assistance to you if he can't remain in Moscow."
At worst, the man would have to file to affirm termination of services, which, even if he was trying to get Jensen removed from Moscow, would leave Jensen in no worse position than he was now. As written, it was Jensen's golden ticket to remain as he pleased.

Jon slid out a digital marker from the back of his Wallet. "Sign here, and here, and you may ask Mr. James whatever questions you wish."
The silence stretched on but for the steady breathing of the three men at the table. Jon pounded away at the commands on his Wallet without a trace of what he was doing. Ömer appeared settled in, but shifted impatiently every few minutes.

Jensen looked between the two until his mind had wandered across everything which filled the past few days. Since meeting John, his life fell out from under him: an avalanche of events that carried him powerlessly along.

He didn't mind so much. His promise had been solemn: he was willing, but somewhere in the building he assumed sat Jessika, the most uncommonly kind woman he'd ever known. Despite all he'd done to her, Malachi and Gabriel, she came to his rescue with barely an accusation. If not a slap to the cheek. Eh, well, no Southern Lady worth her salt could go long without dealing a good swing now and then.

A swelling of force broke Jensen of the trance. When he lifted his face from the inward toils of his conscience, his long gaze swept across the humming of strands written in light. 'Don't speak of your ability', it read. He blinked, and a frown tempered with confusion veiled his fragile expression.

Ömer was not oblivious to the exchange: not everything that passed between Jon and Jensen was invisible. The lawyer was already tuned to his work once more, but Jensen continued to stare contemplation at the space where the message had hovered, simultaneously contemplating its beauty and meaning. Although Jensen did as requested, Ömer's suspicious rose.

Jon's proposal eventually came, and it sat quite well with Jensen, whose relief flooded his expression with gratitude. Ömer of course signed the addendum, which was followed with Jensen's curvaceous signature. He hadn't been more excited to pen his name since autographing his first Best Seller.

"I would prefer to keep a low profile, gentlemen. Please."
His request was pleading, but not only for his sake. "For Jessika's sake."
He turned to Ömer and explained the unusual circumstances that kept him and Ms. Thrice apart; thankfully, she'd never taken Jensen's name for her own. She had an estate and campaign to manage. Not to mention bearing the guilt of withholding the truth from their sons. Malk and Gabe would be young men now, but still too young to understand the shame that sent their father running and the duty that kept him away. And it wasn't exactly the best message to teach young men: to flee responsibility rather than remorse. That, and, Jensen wanted them as far away from Moscow as humanly possible. He'd send them to Antartica if he could.

Ömer nodded his understanding, but he already held himself different than he had before. His eyes were more narrowed. His questions more weighty. His contemplation of the answers more profound.

"...and the old woman turned the corner..."
Jensen continued describing how he feared for her welfare when the gang of boys trailed after her. Only the arrival of Jessika's cab stopped him following.

He described shoving Jessika indoors and dashing headfirst in search of survivors after the first young man escaped the gunfire. The alley was darker than it ought to have been, and filled with the quiet noise of gulping hunger, he relayed. Jensen's fear surfaced briefly, shown in a tight shiver, but he continued the tale in detail.

He hadn't been able to see, he told them, but he eventually recognized shapes, and when he approached, the woman turned on him with lightning speed, clamped onto his arm, which Jensen now stretched out to show thin red bands of coming bruises from her grip, and how she then attacked him. Ömer sat forward in his seat, holding Jensen's gaze fierce as the grip of the old woman had on his wrist and willing him to continue. Not a second of the story so much as flickered his expression with surprise.

Jensen was about to relate how she screeched in pain and jumped away when Ömer interrupted, "How did you frighten her away?"
He shook his head in disbelief, ignoring Jon. "She would have been furious and strong. Far more capable of harming you than you her. How did you escape?"

Jensen's answer fell flat, choking back the lie he was tempted to create. He turned uncertain toward Jon. If he didn't speak quickly, he knew the lawyer would lie for him, but the deceit would still sting conviction. Romans 7 sprang to mind. 'For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh; for the willing is present in me, but the doing of the good is not. For the good that I want, I do not do, but I practice the very evil that I do not want.'

He sighed. "Light, my friend,"
and said soberly though perhaps cryptically. Light of YHWH. To Jon he begged silent apology, but there was no other way.

Sickening epiphany flashed across Ömer, whose chair scratched across the floor at his sudden rising. He looked between Jon and Jensen, then to the space which occupied the prisoner's attention so many minutes ago. His mouth formed a word, and though the whisper was too soft for Jensen to hear, a chill ran down his spine nonetheless.
Satisfied that Jensen would be protected -- at least in the legal sense -- Jon settled back in his chair and listened to Jensen recount his tale to Mr. Indyk. He did so in much greater detail than the summary he'd provided Jon. Sickening sounds of a thing feeding on bodies? This creature had truly been a thing of nightmares.

And then at Mr. Indyk's question: "How did you frighten her away?"
Not how did you get away. The man had not shown an inkling of surprise at Jensen's story; indeed, to Jon's enhanced hearing he couldn't even detect an elevated heartbeat from Mr. Indyk. Yes, the man already knew what sort of creature Jensen had encountered and was merely seeking confirmation, so it seemed. Perhaps more. He was certainly more than who he claimed to be.

Surely Jensen wouldn't be foolish enough to tell the man what he'd done to scare the creature away. The downcast preacher had certainly shown discomfort with lying or evasion, but there were other ways around that. Jon leaned forward, prepared to interrupt his client.

But Jensen didn't give him the chance. He sent Jon a chagrined look with soft eyes that begged apology and blurted out "Light, my friend."

Jon suppressed a sigh, but had no opportunity to react, for that answer had finally provoked a reaction in Mr. Indyk, who stood so quickly his chair slid backwards on the concrete floor, hands braced on the table top as he stared at Jon and Jensen. Eyes open, Mr. Indyk whispered a single word, barely even a whisper -- but Jon caught it.



Was that what the man had really been looking for?

It was enough to confirm Jon's suspicions. Noah's words came back to him: They hunt the things of the old world, the demons and gods of old myths. And perhaps that was what Jon and Jensen were. Not supreme omnipotent beings, of course, but Jon had deduced long ago that the gods of his people, those with true power of medicine, had been able to wield the force of the Great Spirit.

Yes. In Ömer Indyk, Jon could finally put a face to the mysterious Atharim he'd been warned of so long ago.

Jon put up a hand, remaining seated and his face devoid of emotion. "Mr. Indyk, my client has suffered a traumatic experience here. It is known that the mind is prone to creating fictitious memories in order to block out those that are even more traumatizing."
Not exactly a lie, but certainly the implication of one with his substitution of an alternate theory. But that, of course, was at the core of what a lawyer did in the courtroom: two adversaries, both with truth on their side that conflicted with the opponent's, fighting over which would come out on top. "For the sake of his own mental well-being, it's probably best to leave what must undoubtedly be a fantasy construction alone at the moment."

Even as the words left his mouth, Jon felt the suggested alternate truth he'd offered would fall flat to the man, even though without a doubt the Atharim had come across plenty of hoaxes and false witnesses in their time. After all, people were still faking Sasquatch sightings in the Pacific Northwest. His mind raced as he drew on the power of the Great Spirit. What else could he do to clean up this mess? The man could reveal Jensen to their hunters. Thoughts of altering the man's memories came and went. Jensen would know Jon was doing something to the man and he'd probably try and stop him, righteous person that he seemed who would not wish to see harm befall another, even one who presented a great danger. It would probably make the situation even worse.

Perhaps it would be best to just push the dialogue past that particular incident. "I take it you have encountered something like this thing before, Mr. Indyk, what do you think it was?"
As he spoke, he still prepared weaves to seize the man's mind and stop him in his tracks at the first indication of hostility.

The color drained from Jensen's face. But it was real. It was real? Wasn't it?

His eyes fell as though the answers he sought were hidden beneath the dull sheen of an otherwise ordinary table, and his heart pounded while the rest of Jon and Ömer's conversation flattened to words indiscernible darting back and forth.

A sort of cold panic soon grasped at his heels, and clawed its way slowly toward his heart, until he was fastened in place as securely as if the handcuffs still bolted him down. It had been real! He wanted to shake and shiver and scream with frustration for tossing his emotions back and forth these last few days. Ömer's pictures proved it was real! An old woman with a chihuahua - oh Lord Almighty, how he dread to know what happened to that chihuahua - had not a figment of his imagination.

But then there had been the heartbroken ache in Jessika's voice on the phone. 'We'll get you the help you need,' she'd promised. Jensen rubbed palms now wet with worry against his pant legs, and his brow furrowed painfully low. An angel in his dreams? Black demons in the basement? A kid running without a scratch on him? Was it all... in his head?

He scrubbed his hands through his hair, kneading his scalp, and silently begging for answers. But no matter how hard he tried to close that door on sanity, a window of doubt always blew open elsewhere in the house. He'd seen the words Jon wrote on the air. He felt a presence, daunting and merciless, even now. These things were real. No matter how nice it'd be to throw in the towel and claim crazy, Jensen unfortunately knew he was sane.

He sought out Jon's gaze, but the heat of doubt had dimmed it to a sole remaining question. Why craft this tale of woe for Ömer's sake? What was going on that Jensen did not realize?

Heartfelt interest in Ömer's answer for Jon's final inquiry returned his attention to the visitor. He'd seemed on the verge of sprinting a moment ago, nearly as horrified he'd encountered monsters as the street kids had been, but now he swallowed his unease, licked his lips, and returned to the table. But not to sit. He didn't appear to buy Jon's explanation either.

Ömer's palms pressed to the cold surface and he leaned in, somehow at a safe distance between both Jon and himself, but it was to Jensen he addressed, voice tight. "Do you think you could have killed her?"

The question pretty much smacked the remaining breath from Jensen's lungs. Which was alright. There wasn't that much left in there anyway. "Could I have killed her?"
He answered, horrified himself now.

"I.. I can't even..,"
he looked to Jon for help and scrubbed long hair once more from his face. Whatever that thing was, eating little kids was probably bad, and it's not like a guy sits around and ponders what he can and can't kill, but his lawyer would probably advise against saying either way. "Uh.. I don't know,"
he finally offered an olive branch. It was the best answer he had. And true as the day he was born. He had no idea what he could do.

Omer straightened, internalizing the reaction. A few moments later, he offered a thanks tightened by additional things he chose not to say, and took his leave.

Jensen watched the door close behind him and exhaled a breath he hadn't known he'd been holding. "Uhh. That was ... strange."
He shifted, unaware of his own naivety, toward Jon. And for the night Jensen had, strange was kind of an understatement.


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