Date: 2010-02-20 11:14 pm (UTC)
Nika glanced down at the man's hand, at the bills he extended, carefully, under the line of scrutiny, as if he were offering a bribe.

Force of habit, thought Nika.

The man's hand was the hand of a thug, thick and punishing, with visible mounds of muscle in the palm. Given that, Nika was actually surprised at the light-fingered way he held the money, scissored between thumb and forefingers at a negligent angle.

There was physical awareness in this man which gave him a grace beyond the suggestion of his brutish form.

"You work with your hands a lot, don't you," he remarked, vaguely, studying them. "With your body. Something skilled. You have the kinetic intelligence of an artisan."

Nika shook his head forcefully, re-focusing on the matter at hand, smiling wryly as he did.

He took the bills from the man's fingers with equal finesse, careful not to disturb their poise.

"It's very thoughtful of you," he said, evenly, meeting his eyes. "To make such a gesture."

Nika understood the dynamic of the gift.

It wasn't about the money. Clearly any and all of the parties involved had money to spare, even to burn.

It was about accepting the good intentions of an old family friend, and allowing him to do what he could.

"Your suggestion is a good one. I think an evening out would be quite a balm to Lasha. He feels these matters very deeply. So deeply that he's entirely unaware."

Nika slid the cash into the pocket of his uniform jacket obliquely, aware of how such a transaction would be viewed by an uninvolved observer, and faintly amused by the idea.

Then he smiled, slowly, hesitantly. It was a wistful expression, with a tinge of aching in the corners.

"He's suffering more than he knows," Nika said, quietly, eyes flicking toward the softly lighted kitchen. "Lasha was always one to borrow heavily on his capital in fortitude. Rather than be incapacitated for a massive wound, he would prefer a slow bloodletting, many trickles over time."

His thoughts turned inward somewhat, though his mouth still spoke, almost trancelike, aware that the man still listened, but too fatigued to care about guarding the intimacies of his mind.

"He's struck his pact. He'll always bleed a little, for the rest of his days," he murmured, with an uncanny certainty. "All that I can do is stand beside him, and staunch those little rivers as best I can with my lips and fingertips."

It was at that moment that he heard the light, snapping cadence of boots and Lasha appeared quietly in the entryway.

He leaned briefly against the doorframe, crossing his arms and regarding them with subdued acknowledgment.

"Thanks for getting the door, Nikash," he said quietly. "Nice to see you, Uncle Slava."

He inclined his head in a minimal motion of beckoning.

"Come."

Then he turned and was gone, with an inexplicable flourish, as if the air around him had rearranged itself to accommodate his particular vortex, the silent storm that surrounded his person.

Nika returned his gaze to the man's.

"Uncle Slava," he said, slowly, with a touch of irony. "I'm Lieutenant Liadov."


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February 2010

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