2292: The World Is Ours

Posted: March 1, 2014 by Kelly in stories, the world

Gershan is silent as a ghost when he enters the bedroom. It’s nearing 6am and behind the sheer curtains, the sky is lighting up with the promise of dawn, and he’s completely fucking exhausted, but he can’t afford to make a sound. Irina’s sleeping, and he doesn’t want to wake her up. Irina hardly ever sleeps. Even when she does, she is a light sleeper. She wakes up from the smallest things and even though she hides it like a champ, he knows it’s always with a racing heart and the taste of fear in her mouth.

Solchov has been dead for two months, but his influence can still be felt in everything Irina does, everything she says. There’s such a rift between what she thinks and what she finally says; he wouldn’t even have known it was there if he hadn’t known her for so long. It’s in the way she moves; that cautious way of walking and turning when she hears something behind her. In the angry red scars on her face and her shoulder. She refuses to pay for reconstructive surgery, even though the doctors offered and money is not the issue. He never asked her why; it’s not his business. She’s beautiful to him either way. The reminders though; they will stay forever. It’s not just the scars. Sometimes he watches her at work and it’s almost as if he can hear Alek Solchov issuing the orders in her voice. He never says anything about it. She probably knows.

He thoughtlessly watches her sleep as he braids his shower-wet hair out of his face. He needed that shower badly; Irina hates the sight of bloodied hands. Despite the fact that she orders him on these assignments and she knows damn well what he does, she can’t bear to watch him with other people’s blood on his skin. Gershan’s fine with it either way. A shower is a good occasion to let go of it and move on. And now he’s all warm and relaxed when getting into bed. It’s a win-win situation, really.

She’s beautiful when she sleeps. She lies on her side, her hands close to her face, fingers half-curled, face partly obscured by dark hair. The half-twilight of early dawn is forgiving to her scars. Gershan takes one more second to appreciate the view and then slips next to her between the covers, marveling over how easy it is now to just be with her. Lying in bed with her is still a precious commodity though, with her erratic sleep schedules. The biggest difference is that it’s not going to get them killed anymore. He’ll miss the excitement of it, but the peace that comes with just sleeping next to her without the fear of discovery is worth something as well.

He gently tries to tug some of the blankets in his direction, because she’s hogging them – and within one second and the next she’s awake and her green eyes are wide open, staring at them.

“It’s just me,” he whispers. “Go back to sleep, Irina.”

Her breath is gaspy, as if she’s just had a shock. “I dreamed…” she says, half-unseeing, half-asleep still.

“I know,” he says. “Do you want me to hold you?”

She shakes her head and hugs herself with a somewhat nauseated expression on her face. She takes a deep, shuddering sigh, but doesn’t speak. Just closes her eyes for a moment.

“I know, it’s always the worst when you wake up,” he reassures her, lying on his side and facing her. He’s close enough to share in her body heat, close enough to be there for her. “Take a moment. Just breathe.”

“How do you know?” she asks, her voice strangely unguarded. She’s still hugging herself, but she doesn’t seem to be shaking anymore.

He smiles at her in the twilight and shrugs. He won’t tell her about his father. About the violence, about the alcohol, about the spite, and how his father used to drag him out of his bed by the hair and drunkenly shout: “Fight me, you useless fuck! That’s what you’re good at, right?” and would just keep hitting them until Gershan would block and try to counter. Until one day he hit the old man with the money shot. That was when he was /just/ awake as well. “Everyone is most vulnerable when they just wake up. It’s like I told you, remember? Take a moment to gather your bearings before you face the world. That’s for the best.”

“Yeah,” she breathes, reaching out to him. She takes his hand in hers and smiles that broken smile at him. “You know what the worst thing is?”

He squeezes her hand softly and waits.

“The worst thing is that I haven’t killed him. I could have done it a thousand times and I didn’t. He slept here right next to me. I could have slit his throat, smothered him, poisoned him. Anything. Why didn’t I?”

/Yeah, why didn’t you?/ He’s offered her to take care of Solchov dozens of times. She’d always refused. “You said it wasn’t time.”

“I thought he wouldn’t hurt me. He said he loved me.” Her voice is full of sickness now. “I was so stupid. I keep walking into these things; I keep trusting in the wrong things. The wrong people. It always ends up in shit. No more.”

“I could dig him up and kill his corpse for you again, if you want,” he says with a slight smile.

She laughs softly, that bedroom laugh that she only saves for him. “What, Solchov? How would that work?”

“Stabbing, I suppose,” he says thoughtfully. “It’d be messy, but I’d do it for you. Or I could hold him, so you could stab him.”

She chuckles and then turns around, spooning up against him. She’s warm against his skin as he wraps his arms around her. “Tempting. I don’t think it would work, though.”

“I know,” he says, burying his face in her hair. It tickles. “I wish I would have had the time to let you watch him die. I wish you could have done it. It would have been sweet, to see you kill him.”

“Not sweet. Cathartic,” she says. “Now all I have is his asshole friends to dispose of. They’re poor substitutes.”

“Not really,” Gershan answers, laying his cheek on her hair and thinking back to earlier this evening. “Dobromir Bilius had a boy with him. It wasn’t his son. Thirteen, fourteen maybe. Boy told me ‘thank you’ when he fled. Asked me to make it hurt.”

“Did you?”

“Hmm?”

“Make it hurt?”

He smiles in the twilight. “Yeah, I did.”

They stay silent for a long time. He relaxes in their embrace and is on the cusp of nodding off when Irina asks: “Gershan?”

“Yeah?”

“Next time…” Her voice sounds resolute. The voice she uses for her clients. The voice of the young woman who has usurped Alek Solchov’s financial empire and who is well on the way to becoming the richest and most powerful person in the Black City. “Next time I want to watch.”

“Okay,” he says simply, hugging her tightly. As if he could ever refuse her anything.

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