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Times Like These
<small>[[continued from Concerning the meaning of dreams]]

Connor looked out the window as the Russian countryside rushed by. It didn’t seem like they were going nearly 300 miles per hour. He leaned his head back and closed his eyes, the lulling sway of the train, its mag-lev drive barely audible, relaxing him. He had his arm around Ayden and she slept against him. It wasn’t going to be too much longer. It only took 2 hours to get from Moscow to St. Petersberg. He was looking forward to the weekend for a number of reasons. He gave Ayden a squeeze and smiled. She’d said ‘yes’. His heart was content.

The Pushka Inn Hotel looked like a mansion from the pictures he’d looked at online. And it was centrally located in the once imperial capital of Peter the Great. The city was filled with places to explore, things to see and places to eat. He’d made reservations at a very nice Thai restaurant once he’d learned it was Ayden’s favorite.

And, of course, there was the Ice Palace sports arena. No, he wasn’t taking her to a sporting event. The Foo Fighters were on their Wheels of Time farewell tour. He couldn’t believe that after recording music and touring for his entire life, they were hanging it up. He couldn’t blame them, of course. Dave Grohl was in his mid-70s now and the only other original surviving member, Taylor Hawkins, was close behind him. They’d spent most of their life touring and recording one album after another. He felt old thinking about that. It was an end of an era.

Connor thought of his dad, remembered those long drives in his truck, listening to music and talking. And then when dad died, he’d continued to listen and to learn. Somehow, it just made him feel connected to his father- and his youth. But one by one, over the years, those bands and artists they had shared together had gone on to other things, broke up, or died. They were the last of that era. It made him nostalgic for all that had already gone.

He’d known they were winding things down as they had gotten up there in age. But they kept coming out with new stuff at least once a decade, and they still toured, though not as aggressively as they once had. Well, at least this was their first farewell tour. He smiled. He was just glad that he’d seen that they’d be in St. Petersberg this weekend. He might have missed it. The promotions also mentioned appearances by number of other bands as well. Red Hot Chili Peppers, Pearl Jam, Beastie Boys, Garbage, Jane’s Addiction, Soundgarden, Stone Temple Pilots, Veruca Salt, Weezer. He wondered if they had found cover bands for all of them or had found a brother or sister or son or daughter of the original artists to carry on the torch since most or all of the original members were gone.

Whatever was, it was going to be awesome and something that he had to see. For himself. For his dad. He thought of Hayden and wished he could’ve brought him, could have shared this with him. That would have been fun. He looked down at Ayden. At least she was going with him. Most of this music was way before her time. Some of it before his, really, if not for his dad, anyway. Well, that wasn’t strictly true. Many of them had reformed during his teenage years and early 20’s. So lots of people his age had listened to them along with the newer stuff. At least where he’d lived.

When he was in his early 20’s America had been in a 90’s redux. He wasn’t really sure why, exactly. It was the 2020’s after all. But American influence in the world was on the decline, especially with the CCD- it was called the ASU back then, he remembered- on the rise. There had been a lot of natural disasters that had devastated the country too. He remembered the strain it put everyone under, the near collapse of the economy and infrastructure while the two big parties continued to polarize the nation.

Where he had grown up, which had been comfortably populated, suddenly saw a huge influx of people. Things changed almost overnight until the four states of Colorado, Utah, Arizona and New Mexico became this new energy and financial powerhouse like California used to be. Their natural resources and lack of any major environmental threats made it relatively secure. But the environmental disasters coupled with a string of terrible presidencies and policies had already weakened the country enough, economically and politically, that they country wasn’t able to recover despite that. The US lost its once proud position as the world’s only superpower and the strongest economy.

If he had to guess, the 90’s nostalgia of the 20’s was an attempt to remember and maybe return to when America was at its peak. Unparalleled power and position in the world. No major military actions, and certainly not any sustained wars against terror. Unparalleled economic growth. No government debt. Rapid technological improvement. Social change. It seemed like everything was looking up. It was a Golden Gge. So many things from that era were resurrected, from music to fashion, from remakes of movies and TV to national heroes. He’d certainly enjoyed it, since it felt a way to connect with his dad.

Funny to think about that. It was a long time ago. He was only in his 20’s. Just married, newly a father. A lifetime ago. And now…now that era was coming to an end. Well, that was ok. He was starting a new life. His life hadn’t been perfect. He’d lost so much and would do almost anything to have them back. But life didn’t work that way. You had to accept what happened and move on. And he was doing that, here in Moscow with Ayden. It seemed almost fitting to be going to this farewell concert after having asked her to marry him. It felt like he was closing one chapter on his life and starting a new one. That was life. Sometimes hard, sometimes great, but always life. The chorus from “Times Like These” came to his mind. “It's times like these you learn to live again. It's times like these you give and give again. It's times like these you learn to love again. It's times like these, time and time again”

He felt Ayden shift contentedly and looked at her smiling. Yeah, it’s times like these. He closed his eyes and drifted off.
Edited by Connor Kent, Aug 27 2014, 04:12 PM.
Ever since she'd meet Zoya and saved those kids Ayden had a funny feeling, like someone was following her. But there was no one ever behind her, nothing even remotely suspicious, but the feeling never went away.

The day Connor had proposed was a shock, a wonderful, happy moment, but still a shock. It had never been her life's dream to get married have kids etc. But now, it all seemed so real. Ayden had given up one life, to start another, one that could have been very hard and very lonely if Connor hadn't accepted her. It still hurt in some ways, that it took that much to be with him, but there was little regret and any doubts she had were always swept away when she was with Connor.

Ayden had almost forgotten the nagging feeling until they'd gotten to the train station and she started to feel it again. The station was too busy and she had other priorities. Connor was taking her out to celebrate the occasion. A weekend away. Packing had been a disaster, Ayden had packed and repacked, and then over-packed again. She couldn't decide what she needed to take with her. This wasn't their honeymoon or anything like that but it was just as special.

She wasn't quite too sure about the concert, the music was old and the musicians even older. But Connor was excited and Ayden was happy to share this one last memory he could make with his father even if she didn't know half the bands playing.

Ayden had fallen asleep on the train, it wasn't hard when Connor held her close, she drifted to sleep, and for the moment her dreams didn't plague her. And she hoped that when a more restful and comfortable sleep came, they would stay away, but she didn't keep her hopes up.

The train lurched to a stop and Ayden woke from her half slumber. She rubbed her eyes and looked out the car window. They had arrived at the station in Saint Petersburgh. It looked even colder out there than it did in Moscow. Ayden wondered if a front was pushing in or just leaving. She hoped it would warm up, but then again a cold day would mean staying in bed all day too. Ayden kinda liked that idea just as much as going out to see the sights, probably even better.

Connor had shown Ayden the hotel they were going to stay at, it was gorgeous. Inside was quaint, but the outside was purely magnificent. And the view was even better. Once they'd gotten their key and their bags up to their by the bell boy, Ayden handed the lad a tip. She had traveled much and while she was still technically poor by her job standards, she had money and she didn't skimp on the tip. This is how the boy made his living. And usually a bigger tip meant better service in the long run.A Gift

Ayden smiled and wrapped her arms around Connor's neck. "What's first?
He'd done all the planning and she hadn't bothered with knowing anything other than where they were going and what places. She tried not to take control, but she had to know those things, or traveling would have cause a lot of anxiety. And that was good for neither of them. Some of her past career habits were very hard to break.
Thomas has been descreetely following the red head. She had quite a boring life. She worked at a bar, he even went in and watched her for a while, but he didn't see any more strange occurances like he had at the river, even when two addle brained men came in and gave her a hard time. She was polite to them despite the fact that she clearly didn't like them much.

After work she would head to the university library and study, or to her flat. He never actually went into the building. He would wait for her outside to start the day again. He had learned her name, and was able to track her movements on her phone. Slightly illegal, but he was Atharim, they were above the law!

It was only a few days in and she and man left the building with luggage. It would be difficult and he needed to move quickly. He followed them closely, hoping to discern their location. But it wasn't until he reached the train station that he found out they were heading to Saint Petersburg. He booked himself a seat and followed them to their destination.

[Image: kirkacevado.jpg]

Edited by Ayden, Aug 20 2014, 10:06 AM.
After they got checked into their rooms they had a bit of fun playing before showering and getting ready for the Thai restaurant. They both decided on casual dress up clothes for the dinner and concert. Connor wore a pair of tan khakis, brown shoes, a blue button down shirt, thin black sweater, and brown hound’s tooth blazer. Ayden went with a tight open v-neck dark gray sweater, cream scarf, gray pants with knitted belt, gray knitted cap, gray heeled boots, and tan overcoat. The restaurant was nice and the food was great and they enjoyed a bottle of wine with it.

Afterward, they took a cab to the Ice Stadium. The wait was long as the tickets had sold out. Connor looked around and saw mostly people his own age or a bit older, though scattered among them were a few younger folk as well. He laughed to himself. He wasn’t the only one here to say good-bye to an era. There was a lot of nostalgia here- happiness and wistfulness all mixed into one. He leaned in to whisper to Ayden, ”Hehe…Bet you more than a few little blue pills get taken tonight. And hangover meds too.”

Once they got inside the stadium they found their seats. The place was crowded. He estimated maybe 9000 people. And this was just St Petersberg. There were other CCD dominances and cities in the tour, not to mention the final US leg of the tour. But when you thought about it, it made sense. The music trend that Foo Fighters had been part of, alternative and post alternative, had come to Russia and the ASU in the early to mid-2010's. That coupled with the 90's renaissance of the 2020's ensured that there were a lot of people who'd turned out to see their farewell.

They sat down and he looked at Ayden. ”I know this is probably not your thing, but thank you for coming with me. It means a lot to me. I promise, after this, the rest of the weekend is yours. Anything you want.”
He kissed her and then smiled. ”I'll even go to a ballet or the opera.”
He winked.

She laughed. "I'm sure I could think of a few things you could do with me."

After a little while the lights got low and the stage was lighted up. There was an excitement in his chest. This was it. He looked over at Ayden and then back to the stage. He was still curious about the other bands. The idea of a cover band left a distaste in his mouth, especially with them playing with an original band. But there really wasn't much they could do. It was what it was, a music festival. He'd been to a few in his youth. Lollapalooza 2021 had been the 30th anniversary and he'd gone with a bunch of buddies when he was 22. It had been pure awesome. He'd loved every minute of it- the music, the people, the atmosphere, the girls- everything. Of course a lot of the people who'd gone to the original festivals 30 years earlier had decried it as a cynical capitalization of the name Lollapalooza and what it had meant originally or whatever. He hadn't cared. It was just a lot of fun. Bunch of pretentious old blowhards always tried to ruin things. me and these cover bands? He resolved not to be that old guy at the concert- though truthfully he was solidly in the middle of this crowd, age-wise.

As if that had been the cue, the lights came up on the stage to the opening bars of “Walk”, slow at first, and then building and building until the guitar riffs kicked off. The lights switched on high and there they were. It was glorious and beautiful and painful. Dave stood there, long hair and goatee streaked with white visible from where they were sitting. His voice wasn't as powerful as it used to be, of course, but they still killed it, Taylor attacking the drums like a wild man despite being in his 70s. From there they went into “Hero”, “Everlong”, “Run to me”, and “Take it down”. Connor's heart soared at the music, the guitar and bass echoing through him.

After those songs Dave addressed the crowd, welcoming them, the joy and energy palpable in his words and the mood of the crowd. “You all have no idea what this means to us, to you see you here tonight. No one could ask for a better goodbye than this.”
He raised his drink into the air and looked back at the rest of the band. ”Right guys?”

The rest of the band cheered and Taylor yelled into his mic ”We love you guys!”

”Yeah we do! We wanted to make this special for you. This is our goodbye. But we were never alone in what we did. We've had so many friends over the years. Nearly all of them are gone.”
He raised his voice. ”But dammit we are not fucking going out like this! We will not go out silent, the last of our generation. Am I right!!!!”
Connor found himself wildly cheering with the rest of the crowd. He had no idea what they were going to do but he was excited. ”We are going to play with them tonight. We're bringing them back!!! Fuck yeah!!!”
The audience went wild and cheered and the lights went out.

Connor looked at Ayden and hugged her to him. ”Hahaha! This is awesome right? I feel like I'm 20 again!. God I wish my dad was here to see this.”
The lights started to swirl around the stage and the crowd grew hushed.

A familiar baseline and riff started playing. “How long, how long will I slide, Separate my side I don't, I don't believe it's bad, Slit my throat, It's all I ever...” The lights came up and there they were. Somehow the Red Hot Chili Peppers were there playing “Otherside”. It wasn't a cover band at all. They were AI holo-artists! Connor was smiling like an idot and looked at Ayden- ”Can you believe it?!?!”
he yelled- and then back at the band. It was amazing. From there they launched into staples of their career. “Scar Tissue”, “Soul to Squeeze”, “Danni California”, “Give it away now” and “Under the bridge”. It was more than he had expected.

Now that he knew, he wasn't surprised at the other bands that Dave introduced. He didn't feel ripped off in the slightest. This was more than just about the Foo Fighters. This was the entire music of that specific era making one last appearance. One by one, bands made their appearance to play as holo-artists, the best of their live performances recreated in full 3-dimensional detail. Garbage was there, which surprised him until he remembered that Butch Vig was behind the band and he'd produced Nirvana's Nevermind as well as Foo Fighters' Wasting Light. He wasn't a big fan though “Stupid girl”, “Queer” and “Special” were good. Veruca Salt came on and he wondered what the connection was until Dave mentioned one of the girls-Louise, he thought it was- as being an old flame. He seemed somewhat wistful about her, like he had been such a fool when a youth. Connor knew the feeling. When they launched into “Seether” and “Volcano girls” he remembered them. God they had rocked.

When the Beastie Boys came on he shook his head sadly. This end had started early on. They were the first to hang it up after MCA died when he was just a teenager. His dad had taken it pretty hard, that. They played “To the five boroughs”, “Intergalactic”, “Sabotage”, “Pass the mic”, and “So what'cha want”.

He was surprised to hear Soungarden and “Burden in my hand”, “Fell on Black Days”. “Black hole sun”. They were going back in time. The whole night continued with Pearl Jam and Jane's Addiction, along with Smashing Pumpkins singing “Disarm”, “Tonight Tonight”, and “Eva Adore”. They were hitting all of it. The holo-bands had each been lovingly introduced and talked to as if they were really there and Dave was acknowledging them, their influences, and saying goodbye. It was a long glorious night.

The Foo Fighters remounted the stage and Connor watched how Dave walked. He was in his mid 70's and while he was still energetic, age was age. The holo-bands had also given them an opportunity to rest too. He didn't begrudge them that. It made him feel sad, though, an ache of nostalgia spreading across his chest. He looked at Ayden. He was starting a new life with her. He didn't know what that meant. Would they have kids? Would he be a dad again? Those thoughts played through his mind as they went through another set of songs.

Finally Dave said, voice somber, ”Now I want to take this moment and bring back three friends.”
The crowd started to cheer and he raised his hands for silence. ”Please! Please. Hold on. These were my friends. Kurt left us a long time ago. It seems like a lifetime ago, really. He was my friend and we loved him. But he was also tortured and wouldn't let anyone help him. I miss him.”
He stopped, clearly saddened more than anything at the colossal waste that Kurt's death had been. ”And Krist Novacelic, my friend. We had so many good times, even after Kurt was gone. Most of all, though, my brother Pat. Pat Smear.”
A cheer rose in the air and Connor felt choked for a moment. This was going back to the beginning. ”Pat was one of the first to join me in the Foo Fighters. And even when he left, he was part of it. He couldn't stay away from us.”
He laughed, as did the audience. ”I miss him a lot.”

Taylor added, ”I do too, man. God I miss him.”

Dave went on. ”Well I want to bring them all back for tonight. Nirvana!”
On the stage three stools appeared in front of Taylor's drums. On the back left in a green-gray shirt with button collar was Krist sitting on his stool, while on the back right in a purple shirt dark pants, plain white socks, and red-white-and blue guitar was Pat Smear. And sitting in the front, vintage light green sweater, shoulder length dirty blonde hair and scruffy face was Kurt Cobain. Dave walked over to the drums and sat down. Everyone's breath caught at the iconic image they were beholding.

A familiar echoing riff began and Kurt began to wail “Come as you are”. Shivers ran up his spine. Dave played simply and subdued in the background, seeming to enjoy jamming with his friends, softly singing backup. After than they launched into “The man who ruled the world”. When they were done they faded off the scene except for Pat. Dave got up and picked up his guitar and Taylor took his place at the drums. Two other now dead members appeared- Nate Mendel and Chris Shiflett. It was the band from his youth, the band he saw at the festival in 2021. ”But these guys here, this is the Foo Fighters we forged. We went through a lot together. They are and will always remain my brothers.”
He raised his beer bottle in a toast. ”Thank you all for coming out to see us, for sharing this moment with us. We hope that it meant as much to as it did to us!”

They launched into “Best of you” and “Times like these.” Then “heart attacks” and “2033 is the end”. They played out the evening, the band that he remembered. Memories of his dad and his friends and his youth and Hayden and everything about his life flooded him. It was his life, this era, and it was coming to an end. He was saying goodbye too.

It was beautiful and glorious and powerful and he felt emotionally spent when the lights came up. He wasn't the only one. People stood around seeming to wonder where to go from here. He didn't know. How do you move on?

Ayden took his hand and pulled him closed and kissed him softly. "Now you are mine."
He looked at her smiling face. He couldn't live the past. She was his future. She was his life.

”You ready to leave this place?”
At her nod they made their way through the still standing crowd to the outside. Frozen snow covered everything and it was cold. He pulled her to him and they walked. Silver clouds limned the floating moon. After the heat of the concert, it was refreshing to be outside in the air.

They walked along the sidewalk, shoes crunching the ice. ”Well, the rest of the weekend is yours. What do you want to do babe?”
There was a certain air about Connor this night, not only where they celebrating, but he was saying good-bye too. Ayden was happy to share this moment with him. It was a special night.

Connor said he'd do anything, there wasn't anything really that Ayden could think of that she wanted to do, not really. Staying in bed, or luxuriating by an indoor pool sounded fabulous to her, particularly with Connor around. But she'd been to Saint Petersburgh before and was sure she could find something to do with their time despite the chilly weather.

The music was not her favorite, but she could feel the vibe all around her. Everyone seemed to radiate the same thing. Ayden felt like a stranger in a strange land. And she was, most of the people here were several years older than her. Not that she was a spring chicken by any standards, but she felt out of place. But Connor, he was mesmerized by everything

Ayden enjoyed the music, and the holo acts were pretty impressive. From what she could tell, everyone was happy with that little surprise.

At the end everyone was in a daze. Hung over from the memories. It was an interesting phenomenon to view for Ayden. Connor was much the same. But now he said good-bye, he was all hers. Their life could begin fresh, for both of them. It was a good thing.

They left the stadium as quickly as the crowd would let them, by which was at a snails pace. Ayden didn't mind. She got to hold Connor's hand and snuggle up to him as everyone left the building.

They walked back to their hotel. It was cold, Ayden had wanted to walk. It was quiet in the streets, the lights making the falling snow sparkle. Ayden walked with Connor's arm wrapped around her shoulders. She liked being close to him.

The shadows moved in front of them, it was pure instinct when Ayden embraced her gift. The night grew clear, the alleys wreaked of the days garbage, Ayden could almost see every detail in every snow flake that fell from the clouds above. The shadow became a man with a gun just before he jumped out in front of them waving his gun and shouting. "Money and valuables."

Instinct was all that Ayden had, she quickly wove fire. The ball of fire built into her hands, but Ayden blinked at what she was about to do and released the ball and instead wove air and thrust the man backwards with it. He gasped for air and looked at Ayden with fear. She smiled at him. It had felt good! She missed the violence of her job. The fear she had instilled in men. But those days were gone. She looked at Connor as the man fled the scene. "You okay?"

Edited by Ayden, Aug 25 2014, 12:22 PM.
Thomas followed them with care. He was sure they did not know he was following them. Civilians were like that, they didn't know. But even if they weren't civlians, he had learned to tail someone from the best. It was his job to hunt monsters of all kinds, this was his first god.

Their dinner bored Thomas. The concert was nothing to snore at, but Thomas could barely hear it from outside where he waited across the street at a small coffee shop.

Instead of hailing a cab like he expected they started strolling down the street hand in hand. Thomas rolled his eyes at the love birds. Thomas wondered if he knew if the man knew what his girlfriend was.

As if the thought conjured the fireball and then a man flying through the street with noone touching him, Thomas had his confirmation. This redheaded woman was a reborn goddess. He had found the one thing that he had yet to kill, and it would bring him much needed pay raise - Thomas Neustadt, Slayer of Gods! It had a nice ring to it.

Thomas let them go, he got what he needed to know. Now was the time to make his report. Just in case the bitch got the upper hand. Thomas used his wallet in the shadows and sent a quick message to his boss at HQ. "Found a God. Going to take action. Marks name: Ayden Hayes." He sent his GPS coordinates as well. They'd get the basic jist of it.

Thomas now needed to make a plan and take this girl down. Tomorrow while they were on their little vacation would be best. A bullet to the brain should take her down without too much issue. Just to find the right time!

[Image: kirkacevado.jpg]
Ayden snuggled up to him as they walked. He was content. A bit sad, too. It always hurt to say goodbye, to accept that a part of your life was over. But whether you accepted it or not, life moved on. Fighting it only made it harder to find happiness in that new life. He knew that the hard way.

This time he would accept it. Of course with Ayden it was much easier. He loved her. It was that simple. And she loved him. And they would marry and maybe even have children some day. There was no rush. A lifetime of possibility stretched before them.

And suddenly there was a man in front of them with a gun. Connor's first instinct was to step in front of Ayden to shield her. Indeed, he had already moved when suddenly there was a flash of light and then the man flew back as if struck. The man's face contorted in fear and he ran. Connor looked at Ayden and saw a satisfied smile on her face. She'd done that.

It was one thing to know about her and her abilities. But he had only seen it one other time, the first night they had slept together. And she said she'd tried to heal him at that house that night, though he hadn't been conscious for that. But to see those abilities in action was something else. A part of him felt ashamed that he had not been able to stop the man, that she had to do. Idiot! It was just the primitive part of his mind asserting itself. It didn't matter that it had been her. They were safe. That was all that mattered.

"You ok?"
she asked?

"Yeah, I'm good. Are you?"
Stupid question. She was the one who drove the guy off. He really didn't know what to say. He noticed how very exposed they were. Anyone could have seen her. "I guess we should get out of here. I don't want anyone to see you. Those Atharim bastards hunt people like you."

"Yeah, I'm good. Are you? I guess we should get out of here. I don't want anyone to see you. Those Atharim bastards hunt people like you."

Ayden had only heard Connor speak of this organization once before. He was afraid for her. She wasn't exactly sure she was afraid of them. She was the one with the gift, and the chances of these people having someone like her was small. Why keep one alive to hunt another? Maybe but Ayden doubted it. But she didn't exactly want to have to explain her self either.

The hailed a cab and went back to their hotel. Ayden was glad that they were safe, things could have gotten bad very quickly. But Ayden was more concerned about her reaction to what she'd done. She hadn't thought much about what she did as an assassin. To kill was just part of the job. Never once did she enjoy the kill, not as she had actually scaring that man who had tried to rob them.

She wanted to be alone with her thoughts, at least for a while, but they were on vacation together, she didn't want to leave him and make him worry anymore than necessary.

They curled up in the bed and Connor flipped on the TV, Ayden laid her head against his chest and closed her eyes. She got lost in her thoughts.

Ayden couldn't remember what she'd felt on any mission. Everything was lost in her memories. The dreams were the only thing she remembered. There was blood and sacrifice, and violence. She'd done most of it. Those were her dreams from before. Now she did nothing, and they were filled with the same things, except worse. They had to be linked to her new way of life, but Ayden couldn't imagine what she could do about it. An assassin's job was to kill, to kill meant to lose Connor, and Ayden didn't think she could do that. First time in a very long time she had someone, had family. It was her highest dream and now it was hers, she wasn't about to let it go.

Ayden drifted off to sleep laying against Connor's chest. Her dreams came, but they weren't her family dripping with blood. Just dreams of doing what needed to be done.


Ayden woke in the sheets next to Connor. She rolled over and watched Connor sleep. He was peaceful. When Connor stirred Ayden kissed him softly. "Get up, time to go sight seeing."
Ayden had not actually seen any of the Museums or palaces or anything here in this city. She never really had the desire to either. But today, today she would. They'd go to the Winter Palace first, and if Connor was up for it a museum or two. Just anything to get out of the room. Not that staying in was a bad thing. She could think of many things to do if they stayed in, but they had a whole lifetime of that a head to look forward to, how often would they be in Saint Petersburg.

Edited by Ayden, Aug 26 2014, 08:58 AM.
The mugging soured the mood for the evening. Or at least it put a damper on it. Instead of going home after a romantic walk and enjoying the evening together Ayden was preoccupied. He tried to talk to her about it but she really didn't have much to say. And the truth was, he didn't press it. She wanted to be with her thoughts and he'd let her have them. She'd bring it up when she was ready.

They got ready for bed and then settled in. He watched TV for a while and she dozed off against him. All in all it was not a bad evening, even with the mugging. He smiled at memory of the concert. Yeah, it had been a nice night. And with Ayden next to him sleeping he felt content. It got late and he looked down at her and kissed her head, switched off the light, and fell asleep too.


Ayden woke him up the next morning but at that moment he couldn't care less about sight-seeing. He just wanted to sleep But she made him laugh by trying to tickle and wrestle him at the same time, and then helped him get up. They left the room and had breakfast, after which they wondered the streets of Saint Petersberg. It was pretty city despite being in the deep of winter. They hit a couple museums, though by the end he was museumed out. They also went to the Winter Palace, which he actually enjoyed. Mostly, though, he just liked being with Ayden talking and experiencing this place together.

That afternoon, they walked in a park covered in white snow. It was beautiful. Russia was not what he remembered hearing about as a child. All in all, he was coming to love his new home. Maybe one day he'd get back to the States. It would nice to show Ayden where he grew up.

But she was from Texas. He couldn't remember if she'd told him that or he had assumed it from the slight accent she sometimes dropped. And her name wasn't Ayden. At least it hadn't always been Ayden. He cast his mind back through the haze- he'd drank a lot after she'd told him the truth. Not to mention the blows to the head at the gym and the club.- and a name floated up. Anne Lowe. She had been born Anne Lowe and had a family. He wondered what it must be like for them to believe their daughter was dead. What it was like for her to have family and not have any contact with them.

A funny thought occurred to him. Should he talk to her father before marrying her? It was an custom that was old even when he was a kid. No one did that anymore. But it did make him think. Now that she was no longer in her old line of work did she want to reconnect with them? The issue was probably complicated, since she'd started doing it to save them. He frowned, unsure.

"So...can I ask you something? Do you ever think about contacting your family? Of going home to see them?"
Thomas had set an alert for when the red-head started moving. It seemed her and her boyfriend were sight seeing after a night of god only knows what. The man clearly knew what she was, he wasn't overly shocked, and he hadn't run off without her. Sadly his knowledge meant he had to go as well. Couldn't have a vengeful boyfriend out there trying to take the Atharim down.

Thomas followed them descretely through the museums. If it weren't for keeping up with the couple he'd have not enjoyed the museums at all. It became a game of cat and mouse as they flitted through from exibit to exhibit and museum to museum.

They would stop and chat about a peice and Thomas would roll his eyes. They truly were sight-seeing and being all lovey-dovey. It was sickening. How could a man love a monster like her.

Every where they went was a challenge, nothing was an acceptable place, too many witnesses, too many potential casualties. Thomas sighed. Eventually he told himself. Eventually he'd get his glory, he'd make his mark.

And then they strolled through a park. They stopped to talk and Thomas looked around, looking for a perfect place to take them out with out being seen.

[Image: kirkacevado.jpg]

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