2007-09-03: Nobody's Business but the Turks

Starring:

Felix_icon.gif Mariska_icon.gif

Summary: Some people just keep making the same mistakes…

Date It Happened: September 3rd, 2007

Nobody's Business but the Turks


Queens, NYC - Felix's Apartment

Well, they don't pass out maps to his apartment. But he is in the phone book, really. And he did tell Misha to look him up. He's actually the only Felix Ivanov in New York, other than some theatre guy. It's actually in Queens, at the moment, not a bad neighborhood. There are even trees, here and there.

Was it too soon? Was she making a(nother) mistake? Felix Ivanov had been missing for three weeks — a long time for anyone to drop off the face of the planet without notice, especially a Federal agent. Of course, Mariska Mikhailova (aka. Misha Dmitryeva) had suddenly gone missing, too. Only for a week or so but that her disappearance might be viewed less coincidentally in contrast to his… surely, someone would notice. And yet… she had to know. Had they taken his memories, too? Would he remember her? One three minute phone call was all it took to confirm — yes. Come over. We'll talk. Being released from captivity made for a refreshing change but, for some reason, the moment her feet met the stoop she found herself filled with an anxious sort of apprehension. Was it too soon?

Knock, knock.

Too late.

It's six floors up. That's the bad part. It's an otherwise nice building, with the spiral stairwell you see in every action movie ever. He opens the door only a moment after her knock, blinking at her. "Come in," he says, gently. The place is surprisingly large for NYC - two bedrooms, gleaming hardwood floors, and the high, high ceilings of a building built in the twenties. The decoration is more or less spartan - the prints on the walls are mostly landscape photos, though there's a poster from the Olympics in '96. Fencing, of course. Over one of the doorways is a cavalry sword of some kind, obviously an officer's.

Mariska's steps are tentative but ever inching forward. This is always an oddly intimate moment, right? The first time you get a glimpse at where (and how) someone else lives. The Olympics posture earns about a second more of her attention than anything else, but it comes and goes and soon enough she's back to taking the silent visual tour. «It's big,» she says, lingering politely in the living room. Her hands hardly seem to know what to do with themselves until they find the back pockets of her jeans. «Nice.» That's a safe, generic compliment.

«Welcome,» he says, quietly. «Listen, you want a drink, or something?» Man, the awkward. He glances around, as if seeing the place for the first time. «The landlord actually gives me a discount for being law enforcement. Likes the idea of someone who can legally have a gun on the premises.»

All the way up on the sixth floor… that way he can get in some spare sniper training on the weekend, perhaps? A drink? «Yes, please.» She doesn't even care what. Anything to lubricate the rapidly stiffening posture that's keeping her rigidly erect in the middle of the living room like a coffin nail just waiting to be hammered down. «So…» About all that crazy shit that happened in Hartsdale. «…how're you feeling?» It was nice to see him up and around and not blown up or otherwise incapacitated. How odd (and possibly ironic) that the majority of the time that Mariska's known Felix… he's been in a bed.

Cue many levels of ribald comment. Apparently the drink of choice is neat, cold vodka. Very good vodka, in generous amounts. He comes back out of the minuscule kitchen with a shot in each hand. «To your health,» he says, after handing her hers.

Mother's milk. «More to yours,» she toasts before tossing back the shot in a pair of gulps; she's still only capable of taking it half and half, apparently. Squint, gasp, knuckles to lips. It's like watching history repeat itself.

Yeah. That's just sort of struck him, and he regards her for a moment with a nearly unreadable expression, as if she were a changeling queen who'd just stepped out of his mirror. How did it all come to this? He takes his own back in one neat motion, and sighs.

With empty shot glass in hand, she gestures to the bruised, banana-skin shade that currently graces his left cheek and notes in a hopeful tone, «You've looked worse.» And she would know; eyewitness account. She goes for a repetitious query because, yeah, she really wants to know: «Are you feeling any better?»

«A lot for being a free man, relatively speaking,» He says, with that half-smile she'll remember. «What about you? How are you doing?» He waves at her empty glass. «More?»

More? «Oh, uh…» GOD YES. «…sure.» However, instead of standing sentinel in his living room, her feet seem to have finally unfastened from the floor and she follows along behind him back into the tiny kitchen (assuming he goes, that is). «I'm…» Obviously a helpless pawn in the middle of a giant game of crazy, conspiratorial chess. Just like him. «…alright. Looking for an apartment in Brighton Beach.» You know, Little Odessa.

He smiles, wryly. «That would be a good neighborhood. My parents live out there.» And then he freezes. Someday, he's going to have to introduce her to them. His confusion he covers by pouring out more vodka. The kitchen is small - t here's a tiny folding table against the opposite wall, but most of the space is taken up by the cabinetry, and fridge. Checkerboard linoleum, white paint with cherry red trim - really quite cheerful.

There's actually a genuine shade of surprise in her eyes when she replies to the mention of his parents with, «Really?» Meanwhile, her parents are some few thousand miles away, probably engaged in some sort of perverse and hellish reflection of this same scene — an alcohol-fueled 'conversation' being had at the top of their lungs that moves from room to room of their house with pauses only thrown in to flood more booze into both of their systems. Ah, wedded bliss. With her lips quirked into a partial smirk, she says, «They like it there, then? Maybe you could show me around later?» Hey, he said he'd help however he could, right?

«They do. And sure,» He says, gently, perhaps a bit surprised at the idea. «I grew up there, after we got here from Moscow,» He explains, sipping this second shot more deliberately. It's really not what you're supposed to do with vodka, but hey.

It's the only thing Mariska seems capable of doing with it. Each sip, no matter how small, earns a little hiss or some small parting of her lips to vent the burn of alcohol on her tongue. «So, you've lived here most of your life, then?» she asks, leaning a hip against some convenient, nearby countertop while still facing her host.

He finally knocks it back after a moment. «Barring a few years out on the West Coast, yes. Almost twenty five years,» he explains, gesturing her to a seat.

How bizarre, how bizarre. «You really are American,» she drawls with — wait, was that a wink? Huh. Humor's a new shade of emotion for her. Not wanting to be rude, she moves over to occupy the offered seat and finally finishes off her second shot with a sigh. Yeah. Wow. Thank God for booze. «I almost envy you.» Almost. «I spent most of my time in Moscow and Petersburg.» In fact, she's never rightly lived anywhere else. «This is my first time in this country…» No, really? Big shock there.

Fel actually blushes at that. <,Yeah. Got my citizenship and everything,» he says, wryly. «Petersburg is lovely. I used to have kin up there that we'd visit in the summers. I'm sorry your first time here was like this. It's an amazing place.»

«I'm sure it is,» she says without hint of malice. The vodka has begun to work its way into her blood and she leans back a bit in her seat, finally putting down her messenger bag, and then gives the little kitchen a once-over. «I have to admit… I'm a little bit homesick…»

«Not to sound stupid, but…..can't you just zap back there? Like, right now?» he wonders, peering at her over the rim of his glass.

Mariska makes a little non-committal sort of shrug, lifting her brows and momentarily pursing her lips. «I could,» she confesses. «But I wouldn't be able to stay there.» Not now. «…you know?» Hey, you know what would be awesome? More of that outstanding vodka. The Russian woman reaches over to pour herself another shot… right up to the rim. Last one, she promises herself. Better make it count.

He gives her a bright-eyed, boyish look. « Really? I mean, could we go? Just for a few minutes, if it doesn't take too much out of you?»

You'd trust an airline pilot two and a half shots, right? «Sure!» Why not. Felix's charmingly boyish look deserves some sort of reward. He's been sitting here with her for almost half an hour and hasn't managed to inadvertently stumble his way into jackassery yet. (Of course, the night is still young. There's time.) She stands up from her chair and makes a 'come get some' gesture with both hands, curling fingers to palms with butterfly wing efficiency. «Where do you want to go?»

«Where ever pleases you,» He says, simply, setting aside his glass and the bottle to take her hands.

Mariska seems inclined to let Felix ride first class and so instead of being content with hand-holding, she closes in and guides his hands around her waist while she wraps her arms loosely around his neck. With her chin rested on his shoulder, she whispers on vodka-scented breath, «Close your eyes… and don't let go. Breathe with me.» In. Out. In. Out. KRAK! The world compresses into two-dimensions for a disorientingly painful split second and then — KRAK! He can breathe again. In. Out. Spiced air. A warm wind. Where are they?

Felix opens his eyes, slowly, like a child on Christmas morning. Where, indeed?

Huh. That's weird. She was gunning for India but somehow ended up in… «Istanbul.» Not that she, uh, acknowledges the mix-up aloud. Still, the view is impressive — from the rooftop of the building she's brought them to, their afforded a breath-taking sight of the city just before dawn. Soon there'll be a call to prayer heralded in the air but, for right now, the former Constantinople sleeps restlessly.

istanbul.jpg

It is literally breathtaking. That and trying not to throw up on the roof. He coughs, gasps for air, and finally settles, gawking like the most ignorant of yokels.

Mariska is at least considerate enough to keep a one-armed grip on the man, lest he tumble forward over the edge… or fall backwards on his ass. In fact, it probably helps that she's at least a relatively stable object to lean on. Relatively. «Ready to go back??» Lest the klaxons in Primatech spook central begin to sound the alarm of their unapproved and abrupt departure from the city… country… continent.

«Sure,» He says, taking a last avid look.«Thank you for indulging me.»

Mariska makes preparations to re-engage the travelers' embrace but makes no effort at a reply before — KRAK! They're back in Felix's flat, returned to precisely the place they left. Thank God. WHOO! Even if she's used to the vertigo by now, the vodka has definitely hit her system and she wobbles a bit as she makes her first attempt to disengage and, uh, hey. Just… hang on (literally) for a moment or two more.

Like he minds. Don't you throw me in that briar patch. Somehow it's a little easier that second time, but he's still breathless when he steps away. To get real water, rather than 'little water' as it were.

Meanwhile, Mariska returns to the chair that she had previously occupied and exhales a heavy sigh. Talk about heavy lifting — she's technically carrying him for those trips back and forth. Someone needs to work out more if this is going to become a trend.

He brings her first real water, and then more vodka. Hey, it didn't even have time to get warm while they were away, and it's a shame to waste it.

«Thank you,» she says, blearily buzzed but not inebriated enough to have forgotten her manners. When she brings the 'real water' to her lips, she actually makes a cranky sort of face and opts to take in more of the 'little water' instead. She takes the smallest sip and then casts a grinning and green-eyed gaze over to Felix, expression unexplained.

She gets a very wide-eyed, innocent look. No, what, really?

No. You what. Really. «To future good tidings,» she toasts, once again right out of a flashback.

How…..was that sarcasm? He regards her warily, out of the corner of one blue eye. «To future good news,» he echoes, lifting his glass.

She'll drink to that. One, two, three times. The shot glass greets the table with a mildly jarring bang and Mariska's on her feet suddenly as if she'd just remembered she'd left the gas on. Mmm. Headrush. «Come on,» she coaxes. «Let's have the ruble tour.» Of… what?

«Of?» He prompts, having finished his own shot. He's flushed with it, now.

«The kitchen,» she says, her voice imbued for the first time in audible memory with the sly sting of sarcasm. Then, with arms extended out to the side she says, «This! This place. Where you live your very American life…»

Fel's lip curls at that, and he snorts. «I've a fridge that works, an oven, a microwave. And a very nice electric kettle?» he offers, sounding rather abashed. There is, in the corner of the kitchen, high up - an icon, with the dark-eyed Mother of God looking down at the infant in her lap. Each of them has a halo that glimmers with gold, and before it on a little shelf is a vigil lamp of deep blue glass. Unthinkingly, he takes it down and refills it - it's long since burned itself empty of its oil, and he refills it from a bottle taken from under the sink. The oil itself has a faint, pleasant scent, like incense.

Little notes of home. Mariska observes the mindless adherence to tradition with hint of warm satisfaction; as if the act itself somehow redeemed the man of a previous sin. She turns to tilt her head back and lay her eyes on the Mother and Child and murmurs with leanings to reverence, but nothing she says is easily intelligible.

It's a comforting ritual. Trim the wick, refill the oil, and relight it. "It was my grandmother's," he explains, as if she'd asked. "She hid it for many, many years, since they were outlawed. She gave it to me before she died - I was the only one of her grandchildren who lived to adulthood. The sabre over the door was my grandfather's." He holds the glimmering flame in his hand, the light playing over the planes of his face, for a moment, before replacing it on its shelf.

Oh, hey. There totally is a sword over the door. How did she miss that the first time? Oh, right. She was too busy being plagued by misapprehension. Mariska hovers quietly near Felix's shoulder for a moment before wandering back out into the living room to have another look around at things through intoxicated eyes. Her fingertips find fascination upon shelved spines and what few framed moments there are to be spied upon. She again finds herself in front of the Olympics poster and queries with a tilt of her head, «Did you…?»

The place is crammed with books, really. There's a plain entertainment center with TV and DVD player, a rack of movies, but mostly….books. «Yes. My father and I got to go. I don't know how, but he got us tickets to all of the fencing. We stayed with friends of his who live in Atlanta. It was fun. That was my souvenir.»

«I wish I could have gone,» she laments, sounding astoundingly morose for lack of being just another face in the crowd. «I came so close…»

"Yeah?" he says, standing in the doorway to the kitchen, with another shot in hand. One last one before sleep, apparently.

Mariska's eyes are still fixed on the poster as she reveals without any apparent thought to filter. «I should have. I was good! But, my father — » It's then, as she's turning her head to explain just how soundly ruined her young Olympic ambitions were, that she realizes where she is and who she's talking to. «Nevermind.» She would retreat into the kitchen to claim her bag and bolt but, there he is, lingering at the threshold, shot in hand, and she just… kinda… stares.

She gets proffered the full shot, by way of a peace offering. «You fence, too? Or would you have gone for another sport?» he asks, eyeing her legs. She doesn't have the uneven musculature of a dedicated fencer.

Where else would a fourth shot possibly put her but the floor? «No,» she says with a shake of her head. «I was a gymnast.» Big shock there, eh? Typical Russian athletic stereotype. She's so close now and so focused on keeping her eyes on his face. «I should… probably…»

«Listen. You can ….I mean, you could stay here. It's late, and you're tired from that trip earlier. Take the bed in the bedroom - the sheets are clean, and I'll take the couch here.» His voice is soft, as he reaches back to put the shot on the kitchen counter.

Yeah. About that. Really, Mariska's not an alien to logic and, given her current state of intoxication, traveling anywhere by nearly any means is likely to lead to calamity. She lays a hand on his chest and then turns her head to eye the doors left to be presented to her. The hand goes from open palm to curled fist grip as she then leeeeeeeans away from the kitchen and asks, «Which one is the bedroom…?» There's going to be movement here. A lot of it. Fast. To the floor. Because balance? No. There's none of that left.

«The furthest ba- oh, damn,» He says, clutching at her. It turns into an army-style arm over the shoulder carry. «Russian women are supposed to be tough! How can you be such a lightweight?» he teases, toting her towards the indicated room.

She refuses to drink her way into her mother's shoes, that's how. But, what comes out of her mouth is: «Whoa— hey!» And then a series of little 'oof oof' noises as she makes the journey over shoulder and half-hung at the gut.

Well, stronger than he looks. She's gently deposited on his bed, but the only thing he removes is her shoes, which are set at the foot.

With the departure of shoes from feet comes the inevitable stretching of legs and a little groan the somehow manages to express both a strain and a slight sadness. Mariska slowly sits up and reaches an arm out for Felix, rolling her wrist in a 'come hither' gesture.

The bedroom is mostly dark, but there are stripes of light coming through the blinds from the streetlights below. They catch in the pale eyes, which are momentarily wary. "Hm?"

«Come here,» she insists, head tilted all the way over to rest on the shoulder of the arm currently holding her up.

«Did you need more water?» he asks, inconsequentially, even as he edges over. Softly, as if she was already asleep and he might disturb her.

Is he hoping that she might suddenly pass out before he gets within arm's reach? No such luck. She'll help him take a seat, 'come hither' hand clasping his sleeve, if that's how slow it's going to go. Once he's in her grasp, however, she's quick to keep him there by repositioning herself from side-by-side to HELLO! lap-straddling. «I want to tell you something,» she says quietly.

Hand on his chest, she can feel his heart pounding. Not just the vodka, apparently. «You have my complete attention,» he assures her.

Mariska winds an arm around Felix's neck, as if to draw him even closer than he already is. They're temple to temple now as she imparts whatever bold secret she has to share: «I don't hate you.» And, uh, all things considered, that's probably a miracle.

He's fever-warm, at that distance. Blame the booze. Right? «I'm glad,» he says, somberly. «You have every reason to, I know.»

She withdraws her lips from so near his ear, grazing his cheek with hers, skin never really leaving skin. «Maybe it's time you started giving me reason not to…» Astoundingly logical for a woman who's supposed to be 'falling down' drunk. And then, there it is! Ladies and gentlemen, we have lip-to-lip contact!

Oh, man. Talk about repeating past mistakes. It's a lingering kiss, but he breaks it soon enough. «I'll try,» he says, taking a very slow breath. «But is this really what you want?»

In truth, this moment is less about 'want' and more about 'need' — the need to be touched, the need to be held, the need to connect, the need for solace, the need to be treated like a person and not a sideshow. Both of Mariska's hands have gathered themselves up to keep Felix's head held steady between her palms. After a long moment of pause, she responds with another, much more motivated kiss. If that isn't sufficiently articulate, give her half an hour or so and she'll make it a «YES GOD YES!»

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