Hot Tub Confessional

Night time. It's, uh. Dark. The hot tubs on, and Marcus isn't on duty. At least, not visibly. The lights around the back of the house are on and it's easy enough for someone with heightened hearing to hear the bubbles and whatnot. Johan's there, his head lolled back looking up at the sky.

"Fee fi fo fum." He says, a chuckle coming in to his voice.

Minos says "Been drinking, Sam?"

"No. It would take far too much of the stuff I like, to get me drunk, for any good sense. I'm just trying to relax and put myself in a better fucking headspace. I'm all over the road like a old man at a farmers market."

Minos says "Rough day, hm?"

Johan nods, turning his features to look over to the Minotaur. "Yessir. Join me, or kick me in the head, but figure it out."

Minos strips and gets into the tub, and says, "Not going to kick you in the head, Sam. Known you too long for that. You screwed up a bit, and a part of me is pretty sure you actually *want* the catharsis involved in me kicking you in the head, but if I don't do make-up sex you can be bloody well sure I'm not going to do make-up ass kicking."

Johan chuckles quietly. "I didn't screw up. I did exactly what I needed to do to restore my perspective. I just don't like what I had to do. I put out an order I knew you would reject, restoring myself to the bad guy, you to the good guy. Well, I did screw up. I let myself entertain to many idle daydreams."

Minos says "I want to ask you something, because I'm uncertain, and I'm not usually that uncertain." He leans back. "Do you really think of me as someone who leads with his emotions, is led around by his carnal desires, etcetera, etcetera, starting wars with my invulnerability in mind?""

Johan glances to minos, a contemplative look on his features. "I think thats the face your showing the world, Alex. You flit seem to from ego-driven cause to cause, from insult to insult, and I think you sometimes forget that you're an area effect weapon. We're adjusting to new paradigms, and you're living very much in the now-thought, I will say certainly."

Minos says "Now there's an evasive psychologist's answer if I ever heard one." He lies back even further in the water, continuing, "I think that perhaps you and I need to converse more, and by ourselves, before these sorts of things go on. You need to understand what it is, and why it is, I want to do; and we need to have it out ourselves. Because what I don't think you understand is that I am as dedicated, and as cold about my dedication, as you are. I merely have the ability to put a much warmer facade on my expression thereof. Maybe I need to work on the image I present."

"It's not an evasive answer. Its the best one I have, because I know you're more than that, but it -is- what you're showing the world, and in the end, what we show the world is defacto reality. I show the world, in this case, my hard ass, comptroller and handler side because it's what I want them to see. I need them to be a little scared of me. A little respectful. I need them to never feel quite secure in just what I can do. Today was the first time in a long time I was caught off guard, and I like knowing things before other people do."

Minos says "True…and it really threw you, Sam." He pauses. "Marcus…opened his mouth. He shouldn't have. Even I didn't open my mouth when Kassandra asked about you…ah, well. You're unsettled. You let my name out, you don't do that. You need to be more adaptable, and I? I need to be more solid. We can't simply be diametric opposites, because we -aren't-. I won't relish it, mate, but I could turn off my emotions and strangle Lilith with my own hands if it were necessary to complete the goals of the Draco Foundation. You should know that…after everything that happened in the Machine. With Jaguar. And with you.""

Johan nods, rotating his neck in the water. "I know it. But they don't. They don't know us at all. They never will know us, not fully, not really. Most of them are going to be dead just as we're hitting our stride. It's one of the reasons I sent Viv to her family. She's just not going to understand and it's better that she have a nice, normal life, far away from all of this crap. Speaking of which. Wanna buy a house?"

Minos says "I couldn't afford Thistledown, Johan. Besides, I don't want to live in fucking Indian territory." He shakes his head. "Sell it and get money for it. I would love some property, but not here." He pauses for a bit, breathing in the steam, then says, "I need you to stop slamming me to the other members of this group, Samuel. I don't think it's a good idea for you to paint me as a sort of dangerous touchy-feely teddy bear with a giant cock, a Superman complex, and a distinct unconcern for anything except tilting at windmills.""

Johan nods to Minos. "Thistlewood. Thistledown is some greenhaired doctor who's working his way in to the shadows. As to slamming you, you're right. There's a fine line between empathizing and contrasting, and insulting and belittling. I'll watch that, moving forward. I don't think I could find someone to buy this place, sadly. I could sell it to myself across several SINs, leave it fallow a few years. Not like there's any more land being made."

Minos says "Mm, I don't know; there's a lot on offer here that people might enjoy. Why don't you put it up on the market and see what happens?" He pauses, then continues, "You need to find someone to love, Johan. Someone to soften you. It's obvious you hoped that would be Kassandra -Lord knows I hoped similar things for her- but that's not going to happen. I know you aren't like me, but I'm pretty sure you can handle being in love and still being a hardcase when necessary.""

Johan shakes his head. "You mistake me. I didn't want to fall in love with Kassandra. I.. was just caught very much off guard by her sudden shift in demeanor. It would be like, for example, Annie.. suddenly and completely revealing her heartfelt feelings for.. uh.. Mafen. Or Mafen's toaster. I had some attraction to her, no doubt, and I was jealous, but how much of that was her pheromones, how much of that was the fact that she's a hot fucking elf?"

Minos says "Hm." He closes his eyes and says, "You're a better man than I am, then. I wanted her not because she was sexy, and not because of her pheromone -though both are delicious- but because she's intelligent, hardcore, professional, dangerous, competent, independent, and not a fuckup.""

Johan mutters. "Yeah. There's that." He admits. "Rare, rare traits in this town. I admire them, still do. But I'm not in love with her or pinning my hopes on her. I believe every word I said; her being part of the team voided -any- possible liaisons between us so I didn't ever let it develop beyond respect and a healthy appreciation for the charms of her form."

Minos says "That's something I never considered, Sam." He sounds like he's just realized something. "Do you not get involved with people on the team because you think it would affect your ability to send them to their deaths if it were necessary, or to kill them yourself?""


Minos says "Hm. Then perhaps it's a good thing that they see me as the nice fluffy shiny one, and you as the bad cop, because if it were necessary, I'd kill every single one of them, regardless of how much I love them."

Johan nods to Minos. "I know that. They don't. It's good that they watch the left hand."

Minos lets out a sigh, and says, "We make too good of a team, sometimes."

Johan chuckles quietly. "It is true. If only one of us could cast spells, we'd be like the tao'ist karma symbol. Your black, I'm white. You're big, I'm small, I'm magic, you're magically delicious."

Minos laughs. "Ah, man. Neither of us is fucking stable lately, either." He glances sideways at you and says, "Did Mountainshadow tell you I hadn't been to visit him lately?"

Johan nods. "Yep. For pretty much the same reasons I don't exactly take him cake and cookies every weekend. He's a dragon. 7 thousand years removed from the dragon we met in passing."

Minos says "Welll…..that's not exactly why, Sam." He pauses. "I knew…studied with, talked with, spent a whole fuck-all lot of time with Dunkelzahn. Then he died and I spent eight years trying to live up to what he'd expected of me. And just recently I found that he'd bloody well killed himself, in his own sacrificial way…and that secret-envelope-list of people crap….well." He clears his throat. "It got me to thinking. Mountainshadow's a decent chap and all, but he does not know me the way that Dunkelzahn did. I could not bear to look on him without thinking him a bad copy of a man I knew and loved more than my own father." He is hesitant, hardly as eloquent as usual. "And I've been trying to live up to the measure of that man, when he wouldn't confide in me…that he had no need to, mind, but he wouldn't, in what he did…though I don't think he confided in anyone…although the Foundation knew, no one told me, because I wasn't cleared…and I know how clearances work but…" He takes a deep breath and says, "I'm babbling and not sure where I'm going with this.""

Johan listens to the other man as he rambles on. Luckly, there's an image overlay that looks something like a tag cloud, with a narrative line connecting, like connect the dots, the main themes. It's very helpful when talking to people who ramble. Like Aladriel. "I get it… It would be like having an AI programmed with my first wifes memories. It's close enough to mimic, to be eerie… but it's not the same thing and those little, and large, disturbences in what you knew, they hurt on a level you can't quite express. I'm lucky. I never met him. I was running around killing Ares and Company men during that phase of life. I don't have any expectations. I just don't like -false- things. My skin's false, my eyes are false, my ears are false. It's why I like to cook with real food, not soy. My taste and scent are my only unaltered senses."

Minos nods. "Right, that…but it's more than just that, mate. I mean Mountainshadow's just a small part of it, but the whole thing hit me like a ton of bricks. I'm still not over it. I have been operating, for many years, on a sense of what was right and wrong imprinted in me by a dead dragon and compounded by the fact that his will's bequest is why I'm alive today. First the vision of a knight imposed by the British Empire, then the vision of a knight imposed by a dragon. And then with the knowledge of his sacrifice I thought: I've been doing good things based not on my own personal realizations or motivations, but following someone else's instructions. Going to Mountainshadow is like…reinforcing that sensei-student thing, for me. I need to be my own man and do the good things I -want- to do because I see the need to do them. That's not to say I don't agree with the overall goal of the war against the Other…you know I do…but that I need…I need something that I am doing for -me-. Because -I- think it right."

Settling back in the water, Johan kills the bubbles, letting the water go silent. He's quiet, letting the sounds of the light forest fill the calm. "I can see what you mean. When it comes to purpose, it's an intensely personal thing. I'm doing this whole 'save the world from the scourge' thing for a variety of reasons. For one, it's pretty much what I've done my entire professional life; Working for a shadowy conspiracy for the supposed good of my people. Now, my people transcend borders and flags and sort of inhabit this globe, and my ideas of what that entails are shaped by my professional life before now; how to run a cell, how to keep it motivated, how to mitigate risk and manage threat."

Minos says "Yes. But what I am saying is…I was being consumed by the cause, Samuel. There's a reason I came back to Denver; I was all over the place, doing all sorts of things for reasons I thought I understood. I came back here to not only refocus those things but to do things for my *own* purposes. My *own* good. That's one of the reasons, if not the reason, for the gang thing."

"Ah. Yes. You want me to realize your ephinany so I'll go get laid now that Benedicte's back in Europe. I'm sorry man… I'm just too picky. Those who I would have, are better suited on the team. Those who I would not have on the team? Can't be trusted. It's just one of those sad weird little quirks about being part of the greatest conspiricy of heroism to ever grace our planet."

Minos cocks his head and says, "Sorry, mate, this epiphany wasn't about you. I was just talking about me, and why I'm trying to find myself by the direct application of slaughtering those who stand in the way of my crusade to bring some peace to the downtrodden in the Warrens."

Johan nods. "I was being a cynical bastard, Alex. I do that sometimes. I get what you're saying. But one thing to keep in mind, is the warrens have always existed. The social order there is a brutal one, but a needed one. It's a valve for the rest of the world. Once, when we had stronger nations, we had stronger, more robust prison and purgitorium systems. Now, we have stripping someones SIN and putting them in the warrens."

Minos nods. "I'm not looking for absolution, assurance, or even debate about the success or failure or righteousness of my mission; we've had that conversation and it's sufficiently been imprinted on me that the plan I have needs to be better developed. Mostly, I wanted to tell you that this is the war that I'm fighting to find some sort of meaning for -myself- in all of this. Subordinating myself to the greater good ninety percent of my life leaves precious little time for being and doing things for myself."

"Yes. I do understand that. In all, all seriousness, I do understand." He pauses a moment, sliding out of the water, to sit on the rim of the tub. He's a little warm. "What can I do to help you, alex? You've been charging headlong in to this for months, maybe years, and it's outside my realm of experience."

Minos says "Take us back to a nice simple…all right, it wasn't *simple*, but the sides were clear: we had ours, they had theirs, and we did what we did for our people…war between orks and elves."

"I can't… and won't… do that, Alex. That war wasn't real and didn't do a damn thing in the long run for the real world. That sort of simplicity died with drummer and fife battles of massed formations. Maybe World War Two. Clarity is where we find it these days. For a moment this morning, it was Kassandra's smile when I remembered she doesn't eat meat. For a moment, two weeks ago, it was putting Viv on a plane and sending her off to a life in Europe. Clarity comes from, and I'm gonna go fortune cookie here… within. Not without."

Minos says "Very Zen of you." He gets out of the water and starts to towel off, saying, "I know; life simply isn't that easy. But that's why I am doing what I am doing. What I need is a task that uses my strengths to make a good and decent change in the world not because Dunkelzahn would've wanted it or the King would've wanted it or because I think I need to live up to someone else, but because I personally think it to be a good thing—a positive change, something I can feel proud of doing on my own. Hence my initial reaction when Starks threatened Lilith's well-being and the reputation of the Foundation; hence my interest in the gangs; all that sort of thing. I may be choosing unwisely, but I wanted you to understand that my motivations go a tad deeper than 'Alex tilting at windmills again'; there's more to it: this is to the core of me, I must needs find something to keep me going for my own sake, and then I will be even more of an asset to do the other things what need doing."

Johan nods to Alex. "Thanks for explaining it to me, Alex. It helps me understand it and helps me rationalize. More, it lets me figure out a way to help you in some way." he stands up, stepping out of the tub. "I'd like to take a vaction, but shit keeps -happening-. I mean, seriously. Starks, Reaver, Pulse… can't fucking get a break."

Minos chuckles. "No doubt. The bit with Starks, though. That was something, wasn't it? We had our shite together, there. If nothing else, a good training exercise."

Johan nods to Minos. "That fucker put drones with heavy weapons… on the Draco Building. I think he was trying to snipe me. I sort of just called the police."

Minos shakes his head. "Man, I made a stupid mistake when I went in. I bought a fucking bloody jammer from Silk, top of the line, flux measured at ten, and I FORGOT TO TURN THE BLOODY THING ON. Two missiles for my troubles before I got around to it, and I *knew* I was going after a rigger."

Johan laughs, offering a grin to that. "I don't know how we missed that fucking chopper in the first place. How the fuck, I mean, the damn thing was less than a mile away, given how fast those missiles were on for effect. I tell you though… when those missles came in? I shit my fucking armor. If he targeted that van? Ally and Kass would be dead."

Minos says "I was almost dead. It might've LOOKED easy, but I've never taken an ATGM missile to the face before."

Johan nods to Minos… "I know. It was a close thing, and I don't relish ever having to act so out of scope again. I'm not designed for open confrontation save for limited, preselected formats. I'm a behind the scenes operator."

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