Learn Something

Participants:

ethan_icon.gif logan_icon.gif muldoon_icon.gif tavisha_icon.gif teo_icon.gif

Also featuring:

wu-long_icon.gif

Scene Title Learn Something
Synopsis Tavisha gets a shot back at Ethan. Some people watch.
Date March 11, 2009

Pancratium

Cover charge. Security guards. Big damn cage with packed-dirt floor, signs of use marring the bars - burn marks, ice marks, dents. Hooks curve wickedly, a few from each cage wall, sometimes bare, sometimes holding rudimentary weapons.

First front row shows sign of similar ruin, often empty of people, crowd pushed back and around the cage. They cheer, they pass money back and forth, they call out requests like CRUSH or KILL or DECAPITATE. A surrounding balcony is filled with those who don't wish to rub elbows with the lower class of gamblers down below, safely away from the danger.

Welcome to the Pancratium.


Same shit, different day.

Except maybe, even down here, prisoners can sense from the basement that this place is packed. As if all of the Rookery decided that at 9 PM, the Pancratium was the place to be. And it's mostly true, but far more complicated than word-of-mouth rumours, posters and barkers could ever convey.

Tavisha hasn't been down here before, which, he can admit, was a stupid oversight on his part. Or perhaps something subconsciously deliberate. Regardless, he moves down wooden stairs for the first time, and the guards don't turn him away, despite nervous glances to their colleagues but ultimately, no one is willing to stop the Midtown Man from roaming where he chooses, for whatever purpose. Down to, apparently, meet his opponent.

He moves slowly, gaze running over the metal bars as whimsically as he might run his fingers across them too, detecting rust and flaws of long use. Light is cast from dirty fluorescent lightbulbs, and shafts of bright beams work through the gaps in the wooden ceiling, and dust dances in the illumination. When he comes to the pen that Ethan is held in, he approaches almost nervously, of all emotions, a hand reaching out to grip one of the bars now as if to confirm that it feels as it looks.

"Ethan," he says. "Ethan Holden?"

"About time." Comes the response from inside the cell.

Two hands slide up the rods of the cell as the man emerges into the dim light. His eyes go down to the other hand securing its hold on the pole like object. Flicking his gaze up to the man, Ethan's face is mostly cast in shadow, though his eyes penetrate through the darkness to take in the man opposite him. "You gonna tell me wot the fucks goin' on jus' yet, or are y'appy playin' your little game?" His words practically ejaculate from his mouth as if they were an accusation.

"Where is Eileen?" Ethan growls, the first question not important at all compared to the one that is just now asked. Leaning against the restraints, the man is shirtless and shoeless as is common these days that he has been spending rotting away in this little cell. A light sheen of perspiration covers him, a bead of sweat sliding down his brow as he looks upon the younger man.

Perhaps sensing what matters more than the other, Tavisha's answers come in order of priority. "Eileen lives nearby," he says, an eyebrow raising. "Where she is now, I don't know. She's not my responsibility." He's not quite dressed for the fight, a coat still draped from his shoulders, but beneath that, he wears much the same as he did last they saw each other. "But she's safe."

Little does he know.

"I don't remember anything, not since the start of February," he states, a little flatly. It's a simple explanation, and he offers it as such. "So you were right, I don't know who you are. I know what you are to Eileen, though." Jealousy? Maybe. Detectable in the way he glances down towards the grimy floor of cement and wood, hand fisting a little tighter around the metal shaft. "Who is she to you?"

Safe.

Taking a deep breath, relief seeps out of him as easily as the sweat does once this information is processed. She's close, and she's safe. His eyes lower for a moment. He takes a deep breath, and smiles. A calm and comfortable smile, the type of smile that does not belong in the cells here. His eyes drift back up to Sylar, or whoever this man thinks he is. "I need to go to her."

The next tidbit of information brings a different type of smile to Ethan's features. An amused smirk curls up. "The man who can't forget, did just that. It's a bit funny, isn't it? Amnesia. Is that it?" Must be something more than that. Powers don't just go on the fritz like that, do they? "I'm your old boss." He delivers with a little grin. "But after the last office meeting, I think we're both out a job. Eileen, is my family." Releasing the shafts, Ethan takes a step back his eyes moving this way then that.

"Anyone within 'earing distance of us?"

Tavisha just nods once, mutely, at the question of amnesia. Never something he'd been suspicious about, nor anyone else, for that matter, although those words, the man who can't forget, strike a chord. Gillian had mentioned something like that too, and whatever it is he's thinking, he keeps it to himself, gaze going a little distant even as he listens. He seems as guarded as ever, even as Ethan explains the nature of their relationship, of his own with Eileen.

It's the direct, practical nature of the next question that draws him back down to earth. Looking towards the door, as if perhaps his ears were fooling him, Tavisha just shakes his head.

No one's listening. "Do me a favor, Sylar." Ethan says quietly as he comes back to the bars. "Get me a knife. Something small, so I can conceal it. Get me a knife, and I'll get myself out of 'ere, and get Eileen. We'll figure out this amnesia thing. We can figure out 'oo is left. Get everyone together." Odessa, Wu-Long, Elias. All dark fates, and none of which he is aware of.

"We'll get this 'ole fucking mess sorted out, bruv. Get me a knife." Ethan repeats one hand going to rest on the bar there as his eyes raise up to the other man's gaze, or at least where it should be. His features maintain a somewhat amicable yet confident expression, waiting for Sylar's confirmation, and only his confirmation.

Cover charge. Security guards. Big damn cage with packed-dirt floor, signs of use marring the bars - burn marks, ice marks, dents. Hooks curve wickedly, a few from each cage wall, sometimes bare, sometimes holding rudimentary weapons.

First front row shows sign of similar ruin, often empty of people, crowd pushed back and around the cage. They cheer, they pass money back and forth, they call out requests like CRUSH or KILL or DECAPITATE. A surrounding balcony is filled with those who don't wish to rub elbows with the lower class of gamblers down below, safely away from the danger.

There's a long silence - too long. The second-nature dynamic of Ethan's orders and Sylar's— at least, usual— acceptance of such orders is dashed upon the rocks with so much memory loss. No militant hierarchy, no earned respect. There's only doubt in Tavisha's face, suspicion and the brink of refusal, but it never makes it to words. It's just not that simple anymore.

"Fine," he murmurs, just as quietly, matching Ethan's gaze. "But not now, and only if you fight me tonight. It can be the last one you do, here, but— it needs to happen, at least. I owe it to… friends. After the fight, they'll let me down here again before they take you… wherever it is they take you." The offer to help without putting himnself in jeopardy of ruining what he's worked for here is appreciated, and despite the barbs Eileen had flung his way… perhaps he can do this last thing for her.

"Wha'ever." Ethan concedes with a nod. "I expect you don't want me to win this one?" The Brit asks, tilting his head at the other man. "We do enough to make it convincing, then I take a dive, is that it?" Sliding his hands down the metal rods he leans forward to rest his forehead against the bars that divide him from the cell and the rest of the world.

"So you really don't remember anything. 'ow much 'as Eileen told you?" He asks, his eyes moving past the other man as if searching the warehouse for something. "You don't even remember the bridge?"

"The bridge," Tavisha repeats, eyes narrowing a little, then tips his head a little. "I don't… no, not really. I remember it collapsing, and nothing else. Just nothing." 'Nothing' doesn't seem to adequately describe the vast amounts of blankness he has to wrestle with, but it's all he has. He doesn't explain the ghosts of memories in his head, it seems too complicated for here and now. Another time, perhaps. "But that's why I'm here. The people I'm working for think they can help me. So, we'll see."

Unstoppably, a smirk twists Tavisha's mouth. "And considering I'm not going to let you win this time, that's probably how it's going to go down," he says, pushing himself away from the bars and stepping back.

Watching Tavisha step back, Ethan hums lightly. Tilting his head back as he takes a few steps to the side. Landing his shoulder into the wall, he lets his head rest against it as he watches his former 'friend' walk away. Bringing up his arms he folds them across his chest. His eyes slowly drift closed as he listens to the soft steps of the man lead away… And different steps coming back in.

A cage is opened, cuffs are brought out, a rope is slid around his neck. He remains still and silent through the entirity, until the roars start penetrating his ears. Once again he is led out into the arena, his hands held behind him. When his eyes open again…

The cuffs are undone, the rope is slid off his neck as the gate is lifted. Ethan's bare foot rests softly against the dirty surface. His eyes finally open again, to take in the cheering masses, and the lone man standing before him.

"Ladies and gentlemen!"

A barker, not of the storytelling stylings of the elusive Vasya, does his best to raise his voice above the roaring crowd. He stands on the outside of the cage, an arm wrapped around a bar and his other raising a hand almost in a salute. The cheering quiets enough to allow him to be heard.

"Tonight you will witness a clash of titans unlike you've ever seen before."

Stripped of his coat, the black wife beater and matching pants are Tavisha's usual uniform for the ring, nothing protective, circular tribal tattoo exposed on his arm. He stands side on, watching Ethan's approach and the manhandling of the cuffs from his wrists, the loop of rope from his neck, and the hurried way his handlers get the hell out of the way once he's released. At the words of the barker, Tavisha raises his eyebrows as he meets Ethan's eyes - perhaps to try and share some humour.

"The Midtown Man clashed with the human known as the Wolf nights before, and for all his power, he was defeated at this man's hands. Tonight… he's after blood!"

A roar from the crowd punctuates this sentiment, a raising of fists. They're after blood too.

"Revenge! DEATH!"

Feet stamp against the ground in a way that makes the bars shake in their fixtures, Tavisha now looking out towards the crowd as if trying to pick out someone. His gaze drifts up towards where the wealthier spectators seat in the higher boxes, eyes narrowed, before back to Ethan. He rolls his shoulders. Show time.

"Can the Wolf save himself from Sylar's wrath?" The barker tosses a glance over his shoulder as the crowd roars its opinion. The cage door swings shut with a clang, just as the order is given: "FIGHT!"

Sylar's gaze is met for a moment, a slight smirk rolling up his lips. He rolls his shoulders as well, glancing over his shoulder. Stepping over to his own personal arsenal, a few weapons are picked out and tossed to the ground before him as if he were grocery shopping. A chipped machete, a pipe wrench, a long chain, and a lead pipe. They are all lined out on the ground in front of him. And finally, a wooden baseball bat is picked up and hefted into both hands as he turns to face his opponent.

Taking a few steps away from the wall, Ethan lets the bat swing beside his legs as he waits patiently. Finally he gives a hefty nod towards the other man. Show time, indeed.

Up in the bleachers, separated from the rest of the masses by an elevated observation box, James Muldoon observes the proceedings from the perch he shares with Teodoro Laudani. There are no armed guards accompanying them, which may give the latter of the two men some peace of mind, but a keen eye may detect an increased amount of security covering the cage below and the doors leading in and out of the Pancratium itself.

Muldoon's business partner, on the other hand, is conspicuously absent. Then again, Logan may not be the type of person who wants his face publicly associated with spectacles such as this. Blood, guts and gore, sweat and dirt — all of it's too base to belong to his scene, even if his scene caters to desires that belong in the same category.

"Kill?" The single word falls out of Teo, with something that approximates delicacy. It fails entirely to disturb the chaos of the teeming bleachers below, less than a pebble in the rapids. Nevertheless, the sidelong gaze he shifts at the Englishman is as hard to ignore as any physical weight of ice, his pallid eyes sharp with query despite that he undoubtedly knows the answer already.

'S just a word. Slogan thing. Like so much blood flung to the seawater, a red cloud out of which fish and sharks alike burst, ravening, crazed despite the lack of anything tangible or edible in the mix, exhaling vivid particle matter out of their gills, frenzied with hunger. Teo keeps his face still, shielding himself from the sight and the heat, masking the spectacle from his own morbid curiosity. He might be the shabbiest visitor this box has ever held, but no less guarded in his own way. Nervous. Short of terrified, if not by much.

It's the first time he's ever seen Ethan Holden in his life, and he barely remembers to give a fuck.

The cheering has dimmed to a continual buzz of activity around them, now, individual urges yelled out, last minute bets placed. Tavisha watches Ethan's systematic lining up on his weapons in silence, casts a glance towards where the ones nearest him hang from the hooks. In theory, he has his own weapons lined up inside him, ready to pick up and wield as casually as the baseball bat in Ethan's hand, which gets a slightly cynical glance from Tavisha, before lifting a hand. Two fingers pointed, not unlike a gun, thumb seeming to pull an invisible hammer.

Crack!

The baseball bat explodes into a cloud of wooden shards, to cheers of approval of approximately half the crowd, and Tavisha gives Ethan a smile, as if to imply he deserves a better class of weaponry. And by way of example— three identical beams of laser light flicker from his fingers, and makr the ground, sweeping towards the Wolf.

Ethan's hand releases the bat as it explodes, pulling up one beefy arm to protect his head from shards of wood that would threaten to penetrate his skin. His eyes follow the lasers and though he wears a slight scowl at the exploding baseball bat, he doesn't lose track of the match. Bending his knees the man propels himself off his feet and over the lasers, dipping his shoulder into a roll, two of the weapons are grabbed in this process. The lead pipe is thrown as if it were a throwing knife towards Tavisha's head, the pipe wrench thrown at the man's lower body in a similar fashion.

He will lose, certainly. But no way in hell is he going to make it easy for the man. The coils of chain is flung up over his shoulder, as the machete is picked up with his right hand. He starts rushing in.

Discarded one weapon, and he gets four. The spiralling lead pipe arc towards his head is batted away with a jerk of telekinesis, clanging against the bars and falling onto the ground of packed earth. The wrench is avoided with a twist of his body, Tavisha moving to face— a charging man with a machete.

Lasers flare up again. They miss.

Instead, one strikes upwards beyond the cage, penetrating a spotlight illuminating the cage. The glass promptly shattered, raining down upon a section of audience, an electrical spray of sparks, and it goes dead - just one dead out of many, and does little to darken the place save for one, now hazier corner.

Tavisha extends a hand, the lead pipe formerly thrown now whipping back through the air, smacking into his palm and he curls a strong grip around it, bringing it up to fend off the attack of a machete.

The chain is gathered up and thrown, a loop sailing through the air over and behind Sylar as Ethan advances with the distraction. One hand remaining on the chain, a sweeping kick is thrown forward at Tavisha's back foot, aiming to take him off balance and drive him forward. Moving as if sparks and lighting problems were in a different world, Ethan continues his assault.

The butt end of the machete is thrusted forward in a quick jab at Tavisha's throat. Meanwhile, his grip on the loosened chain is gathered up and tightened.

The Englishman is quicker. Stronger. The math cycles out in multiple parts of Tavisha's brain, from his motor cortex to the branching thickness of gray matter along which the bio-electric circuitry of his perceptions are keyed, to the simple, intellectual awareness that Ethan has had far more military training than his counterpart could hope to amass in the few short months of his Pancratium career. What Ethan has in experience, Tavisha must balance out with raw talent.

Fortunate, that he has so much of that.

This new voice in Tavisha's mind is a quiet one. Simple, in its animalistic approach to intelligence. There's no immediate image spattered and slashed out in an impressionistic palette, no figure in the crowd, nor symbols etched in fire, or rolling, rankling, crescendo clamor of visceral urges either sapien or supernatural. There's is only the conclusion, clinical. Factual. Wo jiu yinguo ta.

I will beat him.

Not even this optimistic flicker of dark sentience is entirely without its biases, however. No. It is decidedly dismissive about this final evaluation, really. As coldly, restlessly unenthusiastic about this over-hyped, extravagant dog-and-pony show as it would be a show exhibiting actual dogs and ponies with their idiotic pedigrees and balancing acts.

Give you both a challenge. Finally, a flash of insight lances the back of Tavisha's mind, parodied by actual sight. A blink of black-on-black eyes, sharp white teeth. Monster, monster. The quiescent kind. Limit yourself. Learn something.

Clang.

The lead pipe comes up to steer the machete back and away as he jerks his head back, at the detriment to his own loss of weapon which slips out of his fingers. The pipe lands, rolls away. A shock of black eyes in contrast to shining white teeth, a fleeting mirage between blinks like a trick of the light, but the voice, and the colder calculation behind it. The entity's appearance, unexpected and yet somehow inherent, like discovering one can still ride a bicycle years later.

Learn something.

Maybe later, because Tavisha pauses in bewildered silence and stillness, as if completely unaware of the roaring crowd, of the machete in Ethan's hand and the snaky presence of the dormant chain in his opponent's hand. Preoccupied with trying to detect what that was, what was trying to be communicated, and failing to do, for the next critical two seconds, anything else.

Wrapping his arm in the slack of the chain, the metal is pulled tight in a makeshift noose. The machete flies again, the handle swinging at Tavisha's cheek. In the same motion, Ethan pulls hard on the chain, trying to direct Tavisha in the other direction. His leg flies out as a lever aiming to send Tavisha toppling over it, sending an elbow at the man's back to aid in that endeavor.

Later — hadn't been the idea, if the sudden narrowing of that lightless stare is any indication. And it's meant to be an indication, just as the sudden dilation of pupils betrays a coming strike even before the telegraph of a turning fist. Disapproval.

Obvious, despite the background and undercurrent of wry humor reserved only for those supremely confident in their own place and competence in the mad glory and elegant brutality of war's amoral culture. There's a craft involved here, somewhere, and Tavisha is doing it profound disservice. The stranger reemerges briefly, curtly, harsh, a brusque jab of instruction. Familiar, distorted, an echo.

Qilai.

Talk about stimulus. Everything happens all at once. The rough chain clinging to him like a tentacle, and Tavisha meets the floor harder than he intended, breathing in a lungful of loose dirt than makes him give one jerking, choking cough. A groan of disappointing seethes from the crowd. If he shuts his eyes, maybe he can understand this ghost a little easier, decipher the configuration of eyes and teeth and darkness into a face. Of course, if he shuts his eyes, Tavisha can kiss this fight goodbye, predetermined outcome or not.

And the disapproval from this entity is a sharp and splintering knife into his psyche. Get up, it said.

With a snarl, Tavisha twists onto his back with a sudden livid ferocity, like a wild animal frantically getting to his feet. A hand grips the chain that had looped around his neck, keeping it taut in his own direction so that he might not choke as he raises his hand and quiet familiarly—

Ethan will feel a slamming, internal force of pressure in his chest, propelling him back until he hits the bars.

The grip on the chain is tightened, until it is released altogether. He lets out a grunt as his back hits the wall hard, the back of his head crashing against the surface as well. His body crumples into a heap, arms bracing the fall, knees spreading out to minimize damage taken in the fall. Snapping his neck up at the other man, a little growl reverberating in his throat. Placing his hands against the ground, he stands up, hands brushing his chest off briefly.

Machete dropped when the man crashed against the fall, he goes to lean down and pick up the weapon once again. Swinging it once in his hand, the man takes a few steps forward, watching Tavisha. Then without warning, the man starts his charge again. Rushing at him to overtake him before he can fully recover.

Tavisha's gotten one and a half legs under him, getting back to his feet by the time Ethan is already charging him, the rusted, knotted machete arcing towards, threatening to bite into whatever flesh is available. The chain formerly tangled about his throat and shoulders hangs loose, now, in his hands, and he freezes much like a stunned deer on the road as Ethan brings the weapon about, and down, into—

…an inky, cloud-like entity that Tavisha implodes into, material form collapsing into the familiar, shadow-like entity Ethan knows all too well. The machete does nothing much, the inkiness shifting around the weapon when it takes its slice, before the shadow darts between Ethan's legs as if suddenly vacuumed away, skimming along the dirt ground towards the edge of the cage before it finds bars in the way. All at once, Tavisha reappears, disoriented, landing in a crouch that tips him forward, still clutching the rusty length of chain.

A second's moment is taken to glance around, recover from the shock, before three beams of blue-green light lance out to penetrate whatever of Ethan comes within range, a panicky sweeping of his hand as Tavisha scrambles back to his feet.

As the blade lands on a whole lot of nothing, Ethan's head jerks around to follow the path of smoke. His lips tug downward. Wu-Long. Whipping his body around the machete is swung upward, moving to intercept two of the lasers. The third however goes unchecked, and graces across the skin of Ethan's neck. Blood flicks out in an arc from the wound as Ethan instinctively jerks his head the other away from the beam. Snarling at the flesh wound, his eyes flick to Tavisha's form.

And just like that, the man is rushing once again, penetrating through the distance to reach the other man. Usually his attacks are disciplined, quick, and effective. Never wild, or uneconomic. But for some reason, Ethan abandons his usual gameplan. One hand flies out at each of Tavisha's arms looking to pin them back agains the wall, as he launches his head forward at Tavisha's face.

Tavisha grunts as his back meets the bars, vertical bruises flaring red beenath his clothing, trying to keep himself in check. The back of his head smacks against metal a split second after Ethan executes the headbutt, making Tavisha's vision go white for a moment.

And everything else goes black and silent. Everything. The entirety of the Pancratium suddenly goes dead, it seems, no light, no sound. It lasts only a moment before it lifts again, an uneasy murmur rippling through the crowd when they can see and hear once more. A handful trickle out, make hasty exits, but most… well, this is just another evening at the Pancratium. The cheers resume once more.

Fresh blood shines on Tavisha's mouth from where it leaked from a broken nose, meeting Ethan's eyes. Anger is present, confusion, realisation that things have shifted even if he doesn't comprehend why. He doesn't struggle out from where he was pinned, hands moving to grip Ethan's arms. Lasers pierce through skin, through muscle and bone, needle-fine lines of light that burn for a moment in delayed, and then immense pain.

A caustic feeling in the air rubs over Ethan's skin, prickles the hair to stand on end, penetrates enough to make his throat go dry and rasping, before he's shoved back with force not within Tavisha's scope of strength, sent tumbling back against the packed earth. Kazimir's power, a familiar touch, and it goes as quickly as it came. Bending down, Tavisha picks up the chain, approaches Ethan, spins the weapon once.

A muted roar is let out from the man as the silence reigns over him. A sensation he is familiar with, but only from another man. The lasers through his arms though, he is not as acquainted with. Once the sound comes back into full force, the tail end of his cry is heard dying out. His yell is ended abruptly as he is flung backwards, his back bouncing a few times before he skids to a halt, his head tilting back as he gasps for breath. He could stop this now.. Just lay there, let Sylar finish it. But he won't.

Learn something.

Bare feet press down on the ground as Ethan slowly gathers himself. Blood leaks from his arms, pain reverberates through him, though you wouldn't know it from looking at his face. His jaw set in determination, his brow lowered, and then he gives a little smirk.

Ta jiushi hao laoshi, Tavisha's dark passenger observes, a cackling murmur that resonates out of his inner-ear and tendrils around his sense of balance. Instead of throwing him off-center, his center seems oddly enough to expand, the precarious sway and coordination of mass subtly displaced by a certain sense of weightlessness.

Eye whites blink out of Ethan's shadow. Stare out, shut again. A scimitar coruscation of teeth, a fleeting smile, flashed and gone in the one same plummet back into oblivion. He is a good teacher, the stranger had said. Wu-Long closes his fists, digging lazer-edged nails into palms, retracting the subtle hooks and wheels of telekinesis back into the reel, a different shade of darkness to quell the ravenous cloud of Volken's gift.

There's conviction in Wu-Long's saying so, at odds with the growing alarm of the bettors on the stands; Teo most of all. You don't need these.

Tavisha tilts his head to the side, his eyes on Ethan even as he listens to the ghosts of memories— helping him, lending him a new kind of strength. Feet feel even against the ground, aware of the aches and pains in his body with a distant sort of cold calculation. A glance over Ethan's form, attempting to penetrate the facade of painlessness to see the weak points beyond what's bloody. The chain links clink together as he allows it to hang loose in his hand.

He doesn't need these

All at once, colours swamp Tavisha's body, of the bars, of the ground, of the people and shadows beyond it until his form, his clothing, even the chain, is nothing but a vague heatwave-like entity. Bending the light around him, like he'd practiced. His movement is a blur, foot prints detectable in the ground as he charges, the chain whipping around invisible to catch around Ethan's throat, or at least strike him.

He gives a slight nod of acknowledgment as Tavisha rushes forward with his chain, and his camoflauge. Thrusting himself forward, Ethan sprints at the invisible man in the same manner he is. The chain is undetected, and makes a sizeable gash on the opposite side of Ethan's neck. His pace is slowed as a grunt is let out, though he still charges forward at the oncoming footprints.

And at the last second, he does a barrel roll! Hurling himself at the ground, and twisting his body, Ethan goes to try and use his own body as an obstacle for the man he can't see to be tripped up in. At the end of this roll, his hand comes up to rest on his fresh wound as he once again pushes himself quickly to his feet.

The illusion breaks as Ethan's body rams into Tavisha's legs, proper colour flooding inkily back into place and restored by the time Tavisha hits the ground. This time, it's not the kind of knock that sends the wind out of his lungs and disorients him. His body uses the momentum, flowing back up into a crouch, the chain lying like a dead snake somewhere in between he and Ethan.

How many times he and Ethan can clash before someone ends up broken? Tavisha allows the moment of recovery to draw out as he glances, again, up towards the boxes, where he guesses Muldoon and the rest (or just Teo) must be watching. It's a struggle to penetrate the wash of spotlights, to see individual faces, and it's aborted a moment later. No time.

A pause, before he lifts his hand. As if with a life of its own, the chain leaps up from the ground and tumbles through the air, wrapping itself around Ethan's injured throat. And yanking him back, Tavisha slowly standing up from his crouch, hand raised, manipulating the chain. Dirty tactics, maybe, but they're the ones that see him victory.

Back on his feet, Ethan starts to charge forward until, the chain entangles itself around the man's throat. Pain floods through his body as he lowers his chin, tightening his neck muscles to resist the chain's grip. His face reddens with the strain as two hands fly up to grasp at the chain. Trying to burrow a finger in between the chain and his neck to rip it off his neck. Despite the pulling back, the pain, and the strangulation, Ethan still tries.

Lowering his shoulders while he wrestles with his noose the man tries to force himself forward back to the man who slowly strangles the life from him. Some strange gurgling noises penetrate the semi-silence that forms as Tavisha seems to be on his way to victory. Veins show on the man's head, neck and arms as he seems to be using everything he has to make his way closer to Tavisha.

Satisfaction flares through the periphery of Tavisha's consciousness like a match dragged lazily along the textured surface of his mind, too slow, too gentle, indolently lazy to start fire, but the heat's there, the caustic noise and scrape. This ghost has never been one to gloat. However, he had always been one to acknowledge a job well-done. Somewhere in the dislocated drift of Tavisha's memory, he remembers seeing a cigarette butt flare orange and a man's profile limned against the absence of color in natural night.

He's always liked cyanotic blue, too.

Here is an urge as real as lust or Hunger. Harder to explain. The odd desire to get up close, for the kill. To test the feel of another fighter's mettle, 'til the simplicity of strikes the complexity of skill blend and bleat together as helplessly as a living heart in one's bared teeth. It sounds a little morbid, maybe, cruel, either barbaric or glorified, but cats are the same way and it only increases their elegance. Finish it. Finish it.

Ethan continues to struggle against the chain, his face going very read as his hands grasp and grab at the chain impotently. Baring his teeth, his eyes settle firmly on Tavisha's gaze, not breaking eye contact for one second. He focuses, just staring at the man for a long moment as the chain tightens. Spit dribbles down Ethan's lip as he continues to struggle valiantly.

His eyes search the ground for weapons, tools, anything. After a moment he stops searching. Might as well let it go here. Slowly he drops to his knees, eye contact never failing. His hands drop away from the chain, simply allowing it to choke him. Signs of struggle vanish and soon, the strength leaves Ethan's body.

Before he slumps to the ground, one could almost think that his lips twitched into a smirk before the chain's hold relinquished and his body slumped to the ground.

The crowd suddenly goes quiet…Only to erupt in a roar moments later.

Perhaps customarily, the luxury box above the stadium is the one hankerchief of quiet in the stadium otherwise gone into a deafening cacophony of testosterone-fuelled enthusiasm. Teo is leaned forward, his fingers gripping the railing with enough strength to make the splay of metacarpal bones in his hands stand out like rebar through a demolished wall. He'd been worried there, a moment. That Ethan would die.

Would've been no skin off his nose, mind you, but there's this girl — because there's always a girl, and he wouldn't have wanted to have to tell her that. Teo extricates his hands from the edge of the padded eyrie with visible effort, finger by finger, shakes numbness out of his shoulders. Almost drowned out by the din below, his cellphone twitters. He doesn't reach for it. Nor when his phone twitters again; he ignores it twice.

"Good doing business with you," he tells Muldoon, returning his hands to his side and his person to his feet.

The expression on Muldoon's face is impossible to read. Blue eyes scrutinize the scene below from beneath fair blond brows, though there is no mirth contained in them, no indication he's thinking about anything beyond what he can immediately see. His gaze is cool, focused — studying Ethan's collapsed form on the floor of the cage like a big cat might regard a mouse caught between the toes of its paw.

When he rises alongside Teo, he does so smoothly, long legs unfolding to erect the rest of his lithe, suited form. If he's disappointed — and he almost certainly is — then he doesn't give Teo the gratification of letting it show. "Indeed," he agrees, tone mild, almost subdued. "Congratulations, Mr. Laudani."

"Did I miss anything?"

Logan's light question drifts beneath the roaring crowd, the lanky man leaning a shoulder against the door frame as he looks between Teo, then to Muldoon, then beyond them out towards where handlers are trooping into the cage, circling around Ethan to collect him up. "Oh," the Englishman says, brow lowering, not quite masking his disappointment as Muldoon does, but for all intents and purposes, it's fleeting.

His overcoat, hiding more expensive clothing, is damp from the rain outside, hair slicked back from it and face clean. The silver of his sword-cane has a polished sheen to it, one long finger resting across the snarling snout of the wolf head, fingernail digging into a ridge of it before he takes his weight off the doorframe. "Better luck next time, mm?" he says, directed to Muldoon, not quite removing himself utterly from the equation but drawing a sand-line in between, at least, before he glances at Teo. The winner of the bet is rewarded with a rather unstoppable, brief smile, cane tapping once against the ground in a fidgety manner.

The younger Enlighsman's query warrants a glance, but not one of particular significance. It's already brimming up, this ludicrous, stomach-knotting, slightly deranged relief that it's done. Tavisha won — at the expense of no one to his personal interest. Sergei and Abby are going home. On-schedule, too, judging from the now-dead ring in his pocket. He doesn't reach to read it, nor for the panic button; certainly not for weapons.

For the moment, Teo is permitted to remain empty-handed, suppressing a foolish grin, blissfully oblivious to everything else by some perverse farce of coincidence. "Where's the warehouse, please?" he inquires presently. He turns his head from Logan's immaculately cut figure, returns to regarding Muldoon with a surprisingly convincing facsimile of patience.

Wordlessly, Muldoon reaches into the breast pocket of his jacket, producing a small scrap of paper that's been folded in half — that he came prepared in the event of the loss points toward him being a man of his word, if nothing else. He offers it to Teo, though not without glancing in Logan's direction first, a vaguely perplexed expression settling over his features in the time it takes him to blink. "I'll call ahead," he says, voice adopting a smoother, more agreeable tone, "and inform my people that they should prepare for your imminent arrival. I don't expect you'll encounter any difficulties, but in the event that you do — I'll take care of it personally. The agreement stands."

"Thanks." A long forefinger and thumb close on the scrap of paper, and Teo lowers his head fractionally in deference to the contract. There's a crinkle of grain and pulp folding, shunted away into the fold of his jacket. Not even he can quite muster actual guilt at the high probability of the smoking carcass of a wreck that Fedor and the small army they'd mustered probably left behind or the likely corpses among. Not yet, anyway.

And though that, too, was well within the demarcations of the contract, he doesn't pause to look down at Ethan's figure being towed off the grime and soot of the ring floor under Filatov's impatient instruction. "I'll pass this along," he assures both men, politely. His shoe scrapes the floor, and he hangs a sharp turn out of the ingress Logan had stepped through. His jacket brushes the velvet rope.

Wu-Long takes his eyes off the scattering trio long enough to glance sidelong at the broad man beside him. Tavisha had seen him once before, in that crowd, the last time the Englishman had felled him. The soldier's image is lifelike to the point of useless detail; he has to blink his furnace's glut of coal-black eyes once, twice, in order to squeedgee out the streaks that the pit's ceiling lights left him. His expression balances in the gray territory between boredom and wry serenity.

In English, this time. And a tone of apology. "Good dog."

And then he's gone.

Uncaring of any of the politics that just got battled out in the ring down below, Teo's journey away is tracked keenly by Logan, a sigh releasing once the Italian is out the door. Slanting a look back to his business partner, that smile sparks up once more. Logan tosses the cane up into the air, catching it smoothly around the black polished shaft as he takes his weight off the wall. "Never say I don't do anything for you, James."

And he leaves, a hand briefly gripping the frame of the door as he swings himself around with more energy than someone on the losing side of things should strictly have.

…..Penetrate.


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March 11th: Doing the Right Thing
Previously in this storyline…
Inventory

Next in this storyline…
Singing in the Rain

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March 11th: Singing in the Rain
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