2007-09-11: What You Thought You Came For


Felix_icon.gif Mariska_icon.gif

Summary: After their rendezvous with Church at the Fly by Night, Felix and Mariska head home and have their first domestic dispute.

Date It Happened: September 11th, 2007

What You Thought you Came For

Queens, NYC - Felix's Apartment

—. And what you thought you came for
Is only a shell, a husk of meaning
From which the purpose breaks only when it is fulfilled
If at all. Either you had no purpose
Or the purpose is beyond the end you figured
And is altered in fulfillment.

- T.S. Eliot, excerpt from Little Gidding

Fel is… not a gentleman. Not really. But he's a decent host. There's an extra bedroom, though it's more of a storage room than anything else. It has a weight bench in it, his desk, and more bookshelves. There's privacy, if she wants it - he does whatever work his brings home on the laptop in the tiny kitchen. The apartment is crammed with books, and those few personal mementos - kept scrupulously clean. It's…odd. He tends to sort of orbit around her, as if fearful of setting off further strife. Physical attraction aside, the rest of it is still being sussed out. So, that's where he is, at the moment - the kitchen, the sound of the keyboard soft in the quiet. The lamp is burning before the icon, as it always does.

Despite her previous performance a few days ago, Mariska is actually the sort of person who prefers to take their showers in the evening and so, that's what she's done about half an hour earlier. Now, she's seated cross-legged on the couch in the living room, bare-footed and clad in a pair of loose-fitting yoga pants accompanied by the trusty tank-top that Felix has now more likely come to recognize at the article of clothing seen more often on the floor by the edge of the bed — it's the shirt she sleeps in. There's an oversized book opened before her on the coffee table - an atlas taken from one of the many bookshelves - and Mariska appears to be diligently skimming through, country by country, and making a list of… something. Taking a moment's pause, she lifts her head and asks in a voice meant to carry into the kitchen: «Are you hungry? Would you like something to eat??»

«I'm not all that hungry myself, but there's a vegetable pizza in the freezer.» Hey, it seemed like a safe bet, right? HE shuts down the applications, and rises to wander out in to the living room. "What're you doing?" he wonders, scratching an ear lazily.

«Making a list of places I need to visit,» replies the teleporter, lifting her head and craning her neck all the way back to look up at the man standing over her. The tone she uses suggests that it's probably not recreational travel that's being planned. Quietly, she adds, «I could fix you something, if you wanted…?» That's right. She's domesticated enough to know her way around a kitchen - even one as small as Felix's.

Felix actually… blushes, is it? «I mean… if it's no trouble.» Not into the usual macho BS Russian men are supposed to keep up with. Thoroughly Americanized. «You… can you go places you've never been before?»

«Not yet,» Mariska says in response to her 'going places'. She sets her somewhat extensive list aside and effortlessly untangles her legs to put bare feet to hardwood floor and pad around not unlike Glock and Ingram; with only the slightest noise and a resolute, languid grace that comes somewhere between practiced and naturally. Her approach to the kitchen is made wordlessly and it's only once she's beyond the threshold and inspecting the contents of the man's refrigerator does she ask, «Something light?» How vague. Of course, the bigger mystery is… why is she being so nice to him? Is the sex so good that she's somehow managed to overcome the substantial stumbling block of his previously poor behavior upon their initial reacquaintance??

It's fairly well stocked. He tends to eat fairly close to vegetarian as it is, so it's definitely not bachelor fridge. «Whatever you like,» he says, gesturing rather lamely at the fridge. Much as he'd like to believe that, well… suffice to say, he's dubious.

Milk. Cheese. Sour cream. Mariska retrieves these three items from the fridge before beginning a brief hunt through cabinets, over and under. Someone's clearly not a vegan. Ah ha! There they are! Potatoes. And then it's on to riffling through draws until… knife, fork, spoon. «Do you have a cutting board?» she asks before beginning her cute culinary task. Dubious enough not to trust her cooking, perhaps? Time will tell as with all things, no doubt.

HE gets it down from the cabinet it's stored in, and offers it to her. Plastic, the kind that can be put in the dishwasher. «Do you need any help?»

Mariska makes a little 'ah' noise as the item is handed over and she even says, «Thank you.» She's already cradling two potatoes in one hand, fingers stretches at awkward intervals around the, while her other hand turns on the tap. His question causes her to pause and she considers it sincerely before letting him off the helpful hook with a gentle, «No…» That pretty much seems to apply both in and out of the kitchen. She isn't helpless. «Sit down. Relax. Let me cook for you.» She almost makes it sound as if she feels simultaneously obligated and thankful.

He obediently sits down at the kitchen table, and watches her, brows arched hopefully.

After about twenty minutes of diligent preparation, Mariska whips up a pair of rather tasty twice-baked potatoes topped with cheese. It's going to be another twenty or so before they come out of the oven, however, so that gives the not-so-odd-but-very-awkward couple the opportunity to enjoy each other's company without one of them wielding a knife. Of course, when Mariska sits down at the tiny table, she looks over at Felix and seems somehow overcome with quiet.

«Thank you,» he says, gently. «Have they let you see her again?» he wonders, reaching across the table for her hand.

Aw. How… cute? Touching? (Literally.) Something. As always, her approach to reciprocation is slow and calculated, fingers first before palm. «No.» Of course, she also fails to mention that she hasn't asked, either. Mariska is still painfully conflicted about what's become of her sweet, beautiful baby girl who no longer has any idea who she is.

Fel squeezes her hand, gently. «I see,» he murmurs, biting his lip.

Mariska is about >< close to getting all misty-eyed when — DING! Timely oven intervention! She escapes the uncomfortable silence and Felix's affectionate grasp, and seems to be in quite a hurry to injure herself because, without thinking, she opens the oven door and then reaches in with her bare hand to withdraw the cookie sheet hosting the potatoes and «DAMMIT!» Guess what? Hot metal hurts.

He winces in sympathy, hastily gets an oven mitt, and pulls out the potatoes. And then gets ice for her hand. «Let me see?» he urges.

She's making a fine fit, holding her hand to her chest and hissing through tightly-grit teeth. Ow. Ow ow ow! Reluctant at first, Mariska eventually consents to let Felix have a look at the hand he had just been holding. There's an angry pink swath of skin cutting across the pad of her thumb but nothing that looks like it's going to cause any permanent scarring or injury. She looks… embarrassed. And, you know, pained.

He's only got rudimentary first aid training….but once upon a time, Fel was an eagle scout. No kidding. So he wraps ice in a paper towel for her to put on the burn.
There's another taboo gay stereotype to burn… not that Mariska's much the wiser. She stands there, awkward and embarrassed, clutching the little makeshift ice pack and avoiding Felix's direct gaze. «Well, uh… I think they're done.»

«Yes,» Fel agrees, before hastily moving to get plates and flatware. «That looks really painful,» he says, wincing in sympathy.

«I'll live,» she replies, butching it up a bit and trying to help the man however she can. Utensils? No, he's got those already. Damn. Okay, um, napkins? Paper towels? How about beverages? «What did you want to drink?» Looks like Mariska's inclined to get a jump on the nightcap, going for the bottle of vodka that lubricated them into their initial interlude.

Napkins. «I'll have one of those decaf Cokes,» he says, though he eyes that vodka bottle thoughtfully.

It'll kill the pain, right? The ice wrap is set aside as she unfastens the cap from the bottle of booze, injured thumb jutting out stiffly, and in a shockingly uncharacteristic turn, Mariska takes her first sip direct from the mouth of the bottle. Oh, and she fetches Felix's caffeine-free Coke. Ahhhh! Cold can on fiery flesh coupled with the numbing burn of vodka down the back of her throat makes for an oddly provocative expression.

Oh, hell, they're both Russian. Who needs manners? Fel waits until she's had her share, and then holds out a hand, expectantly. Man. He's been doing more drinking lately than he has in, oh, ever……but that's sort of what they baptize you in, when you become a spook. Raw booze.

Mariska, too. In fact, it's pretty safe to say that, barring a year or two of her misspent youth, Mariska hasn't had a drink this frequently in… pretty much ever. She still does the little gasp-wince-hiss thing after every go; lightweight mating call. She readily offers the bottle to the man, still clutching his condensating Coke in her injured hand for cold, wet comfort. «I swear I'm not normally like this.» Like what, exactly, she doesn't specify.

Which is why he asks. He takes a healthy swig of the vodka. Oh, that's gonna go so well with the lithium already in his system. «Like what?» he wonders, gently, handing it back.

Instead of being treated to another swig, Mariska manages to assert some form of self-control and sets the bottle aside on the tiny kitchen table before then relinquishing possession of the man's soda can, too. She then jerks her injured thumb as evidence to the neck of the bottle and says, «Like… this. I don't — I mean, I'm not…» Why are her words failing her all of a sudden? «I'm a lot more together than this!»

«I'm sure,» he agrees, gently, expression suddenly almost good-humored. «I know I was, before all this came down. It'll work out. We'll find a way to get along, you know?»

Were they not getting along? Mariska slumps slightly into her seat, leaning her head back against the kitchen wall with a gentle thump and staring up at the icon above the doorframe as if searching for strength or peace or some sort of spiritual residue in the vigil flame. Quietly, she adds, «…I know this isn't really anything you wanted.» Oh, is she psychic now?

He meant more with the Company. «It is what it is,» he says, quietly. And then he drops back into English, quoting, "And what you thought you came for / Is only a shell, a husk of meaning / From which the purpose breaks only when it is fulfilled / If at all. Either you had no purpose / Or the purpose is beyond the end you figured / And is altered in fulfillment," Yeah, it's obscure of him.

Seven years ago, when Felix quoted Ahkmatova, Mariska had heard those familiar words before and kept them close to her heart. But now, when he spouts Eliot, she doesn't recognize it… maybe because he's speaking English, maybe because she just isn't familiar with the poet in question — either way, it earns the man a curious look and a weary query, «Who said that?»

"A man named T.S. Eliot. Pretty much one of the great English language poets," he says, offering her the potato, before it gets cold.

Mariska barely seems much in the mood to eat now; something about the combination of brief agony with getting burned. But, she did go through the effort and so she tries to divert Felix's concern by gesturing to his own potato. «Eat,» she says, resituating herself in the chair so as to at least make it look like she might consider following her own advice.

He's hungry enough now to devour it with no real hesitation. «It's very good,» he says, after the first few bites. It'll be interesting to see how long these two can tiptoe around each other before something breaks.

Of course it is! The kitchen is yet another room in which Mariska is no slouch. Petersburg didn't have a pair of Golden Arches on every corner when she lived there and eating out was more expensive than she could often afford — or, at the very least, more expensive than she was willing to pay — and, thus, some passable culinary skill was acquired. That's a check in the 'plus' column, eh? She makes a token effort at eating, using her fork with her left hand so as to spare her injured thumb from any avoidable distress. Mostly, though, she's just poking at the melted cheese and stabbing the baked, brown skin of the tiny carbohydrate beast.

«You gotta eat, too,» he says, very gently, with the air of a parent coaxing a recalcitrant child with her dinner. «Listen, you want some Tylenol to help with the pain? Anything I can do?» He's apparently decided to deal with her as if she were made of cut crystal. Nevermind that she could likely kill him with her thighs like a Bond villainess, if the whim came on her.

If only that were true… unfortunately, Mariska's only resemblance to a Bond villainess lies in her thick accent (and possibly her keen fashion sense). She isn't secretly a ninja or plotting to take over the government. Her name isn't even close to any sort of sexual innuendo. She's just… some woman. Some woman Felix barely knows outside of a biblical context. But, at least he's playing nice, trying to help. She has a hard time rebuffing him when he's not being a complete jackass. «Sure,» she consents, putting a forkful of cheesy stuff in her mouth to placate him before he makes the journey to the medicine cabinet. See? She's eating.

Amazing, isn't it? How you can tame the hopeful suitor, as it were. Because he really has been trying to take the edges off. «Good,» he says, rising to go get the little bottle of Tylenol.

And, believe it or not, he's been doing a pretty decent job. It's safe to say that if Mariska had been on her own since Hartsdale, there very likely would have been fire, brimstone, and bloodshed by now. Coming to terms with the discovery and subsequent loss of her daughter has been, in a word, difficult. Almost overwhelming. For now Felix is a distraction, but a necessary one; he's the driftwood she's clinging to so as not to sink below the surface of the waves. And, in the process, look what's become of them both? If things keep up like this, they might end up as… friends. It's a feat some parents never accomplish.

He returns with the Tylenol. And that, no doubt, is what the Company has hoped to accomplish with the both of them. Someone once said that he who has a wife and child gives hostages to Fortune. And Fel is slowly yielding. Because the same ferocious curiosity that makes him an investigator won't let him leave this alone. «Here,» he murmurs. «Listen. I have a question for you. What do you want, ultimately? What do you hope for, now?»

Francis Bacon was a wise man. Mariska tilts her chin downward, regarding Felix now slightly askance. Is this a trick? Some sort of spook tactic meant to wear down her resistance until she confesses to crimes she's yet to commit? Not that the answers aren't something he's easily owed. She just — well, honestly, she doesn't really know what to tell him… because the future she wants seems to change from day to day. Okay then. We'll start with that. «I don't know.» Good, there. See? Probably not the sort of answer Felix was looking for, though. Give him something else to chew on, Misha. «I hope for… I mean, ideally? I want to get my little girl and go back home. I want my life back.» The lament of impressed Company freaks everywhere, no doubt (and probably no small number of unEvolved human agents, too).

There's an odd distance in his face, as if he were withdrawing, though physically he only gets nearer, reseating himself across from her. «Yeah,» he says, very quietly. «But, we're at their mercy. I….» he hesitates, runs a hand through his hair in a way that leaves it comically disarranged, what there is of it. «I'll do what I can. But if they let you have her, let me help?»

«How?» she asks, her tone suggesting she's almost disbelieving in his ability to actually aid any given situation instead of making it worse. «How would you help?»

Fel bites his lip, and then says, gently, «I don't know what you want from me. Or what you'd accept from me, for that matter? Support? Are they getting you citizenship here?»

Mariska draws her pale eyes up from her hot potato mess and examines the man seated across from her as if he were a piece of art; some rare portrait on display or a new sculpture - so lifelike yet so fake. «Benjamin mentioned I should probably speak to management about that…» Immediately. Felix may or may not realize that she's a less than legal visitor right now. «But, you tell me… what do you want? What is it you hope for out of all this?»

Well, some day he may yet meet the Wizard and get issued his heart. He makes a face. «Yeah. They'll want to work on that ASAP. You'll need ID, paperwork, all that. I'm sure they can get it easily, knowing them… I… I want this to be made right. As much as it can be. I can't undo what's done, but I'm more than willing to do what you need to get her.»

Someday not soon enough, perhaps. «Do you want to marry me?» Why beat around the bush about it? Let's just call a Soviet spade a spade. With both eyebrows raised and both forearms now rested against the surface of the small kitchen table, Mariska presses the point in an almost provocative tone. «Do you think you'd be doing right by me if my last name was Ivanova? Tell me something… would that make it easier or harder for you to fuck me if a piece of paper said you had a husband's right?» That has GOT to be the alcohol talking… right?! What the hell has gotten into her tonight?!

He doesn't blush - it's not the slow flush starting at the collar. Instead, he goes white at her tone, though there are abruptly blotches of color on his cheekbones. That sort of contempt flays. «Would it help you if you got your citizenship that way?» he asks. His lips part as if he were going to say more, but instead he pushes away from the table, rises, and turns away to look out the kitchen window. There's nothing to see but the little bare courtyard below, and the windows of the apartments across the way. The line of his back is rigid. Might be anger, might be shame.

There are few things in this world that Mariska can't stand more than having someone literally turn their back on her… even if, well, it might be a little bit justified. All of the anger and frustration and distress and despair that has been welling up inside of her since she first signed her name on the line at Hartsdale erupts to the surface in a single magnificently anguished moment wherein she takes up the vodka bottle in her right hand, ignoring the pinching protests of her wounded thumb, and abruptly chucks it at the wall next to the window where Felix is standing. The noise of shattering glass only partially disguises the pop that signals her departure from the room via folded space. She's no longer in the kitchen. Indeed, she's no longer in the apartment at all. She's just… gone.

And that was some excellent vodka. Brilliant, Felix Nikolaievich! That was your first domestic dispute. The shattering glass arcs away from him like water parted by a blade. He runs his palm over his jaw, thoughtfully, and then sets about cleaning up the mess, methodically, lips still pressed into that thin line. The room reeks of booze, and the Madonna in the corner continues to gaze benignly down.

A few hours later…

It's just after two in the morning and there's a muffled noise in the living room. Oh, wait. It's just one of the cats, as feline paws make audible contact with the hardwood floor and then scramble into the kitchen. Someone must have been dozing on the bookshelf again.

Usually, he's a light sleeper, and the sound of paws skittering on the hardwood would have him up. But at the moment - well, dosing himself with vodka to better help him sleep was not a wise idea. Because he's in the depths of nightmare, sprawled out atop the sheets in no more than t shirt and boxers, twitching occasionally. It's like watching a cat sleep. Only presumably he's not catching mice.

In the shadows of the room, with shoulders and head ducked and hung, a cried-out and defeated Mariska strips out of all but her underclothes and attempts to make a silent return to the bed she had earlier blasphemed. She very nearly pities the man now spilt atop the linens, struggling with whatever unseen foe. She knows how he feels… or, at least, how he looks. With repentant grace, she takes a seat on the edge of the bed by his side and reaches out a hand to rest lightly against his chest before literally crawling back into his arms.

That brings him out of sleep, though he makes a confused noise as she does. But he turns towards her. It may be only for the comfort of another body there, but that's not to be dismissed, lightly. He murmurs something incoherent as he does.

Mariska breathes in sharply, almost as if she'd been the one suddenly startled, and lays her head against his unscarred shoulder. «What?» she whispers to him in his sleep, voice small and no longer demanding.

«There you are,» he mutters, wrapping an arm around her, reflexively. The room is cool - there's an A/C unit in the window. He gives a contented sigh, that nightmare terror draining out of his body.

«Here I am,» she murmurs back, closing her eyes and settling in to a comfortable cling, doing her damnedest to forget about… everything. For the next few hours, at least.

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