Perfect, save for one, dark skinned detail. No matter. This girl would just be more incentive for Alexi to give in. Perhaps this was the Gemma girl, and perhaps not. But, no matter. Fang had an entrance to make.
He walked up behind Alexi and tipped Kira a wink. He put his hand down on the boy's shoulder and greeted him.
"Alexi Antonovich! It has been so long since school! Vat are ze odds zat Kira, my new friend-" He changed his tone from jovial to almost suggestive "and potentially girlfriend if I am able to convince her to be keeping me-" his tone changed back to the exuberant tone "vould know someone from my past?"
He sat in the empty chair, smirking like a winner. His facial scarring made the expression far more predatory than normal, and Fang enjoyed the result. In Russian, he spoke several words quickly.
"I would advise against running, especially with these two here...stay and talk." His eyes and smile continued the unspoken or else.
"Ladies, please forgive me for lapsing into ze native tongue...English is not easy on my mouth."
Alexi had been having a good day. He was here, in relative safety (or so he thought), with two of his friends, about to have a peaceful lunch. No soldiers after him, not thoughts of death and sorrow in his mind. Unfortunately, even he knew it was too good to last, so when it did, he merely sighed internally after his initial surprise.
"Golovko.... how did I know I would be seeing you again?" His voice was soft, somehow hiding his fear and anger. He knew what the man was here for, and there was no way this could end well. Plus, he was making lewd remarks about Kira... in front of her, no less. What had happened during the time since the last time Alexi had seen Kira?... In Russian, he added, "Don't be silly. You know I never run, not without good reason, and you're not one..."
"Um.... Lex?" Sofi muttered; Alexi could see her spine going taut, as though she was preparing for action. He laid a hand on her arm warningly.
"Sofi... don't," he murmured softly to her, stilling her, for the moment. He turned to Kira, ignoring Golovko, his expression as neutral as he could make it. "Kira... what does he mean by you being his 'girlfriend'?" Kira blushed, and Alexi turned back to the young man he had known and despised at school.
"What did you do to her, Golovko?" he asked almost conversationally, "And since when were scars the fashion? I hadn't known you were in an accident... or was it more than that?" He eyed the collar around the man's neck with a sudden wary expression, waiting for his answer before making a judgment.
Mikhail spread his gloved hands wide and bowed his head in a seemingly submissive gesture, though his smile was still firmly in place. Perhaps it was the wolf being smug at having found the prey. Perhaps he was just giddy. He neither knew nor cared.
"You could say an accident....or zat my fazher pissed of Ivan the Bloody and I managed to get caught in ze crossfire." He referred to a well know (In Russia at least) mobster-turned-werewolf who extorted, stole, killed and bribed his way to the top (bottom?) of the vast underground society.
"Ze collar...yes, I saw you look at it...is a new way for the government to keep tabs on all of us registered verevolves...ve use a vand, do not take our volf's bane potion, piss off wrong person grztch! Dead verevolf. It is ugly death. and no, zey cannot track you through it...is vy I at lunch vith Kira...perhaps I didn't see you today, if you are villing to let my stupid days of childhood go..." His smile disappeared and a solemn expression took over his face. He leaned forward, very serious all of a sudden. Eye to scarred eye, he stared intently at Alexi.
"In school, I vas an asshole...zat is putting it kindly. I see zat now, after suffering through worse persecution zan I ever put you through. So...ve have lunch and not blow each ozer's heads off, yes?"
Alexi listened carefully to what his old school enemy had to say, trying to keep his thoughts orderly and without an early judgment. Malcolm was training him well in this art; the art of clarity of thought and judgment. At the end, he nodded once, accepting the man's words for consideration. "I will consent to try," he answered carefully, "Though I know perfectly well why you are here to see me; don't bother to hide that fact, please..."
After this comment, Sofi looked tenser than ever. "Wait.... werewolf, eh?" she commented suddenly, her hazel eyes narrowing, "I've met one before, but he didn't look like he'd tangoed with a lawn mower and been dipped too far... What caused... all that?" She gestured at Golovko's extensive scarring, and Kira stiffened.
"Don't mention it, Sofi," the blond girl murmured, "It's not important..." Sofi glanced at Kira, nodding to her and smiling slightly to show she wasn't upset with her, then turned back to the werewolf.
"I also wanna know why you didn't answer Lex's question," she went on, "What did you mean by saying Kira's your 'potential girlfriend'? When did you meet her?" Alexi knew why she wasn't asking Kira herself: the girl was still unsure of how the world worked, and therefore might not understand what Golovko had been talking about. He likewise turned to the man, therefore, raising his eyebrows questioningly.
"Not, true, Kira darling. It IS important vy I look like Death's dog...I fought for my life, girl. I fought, and won. For two years in the pits eating only moldy scraps thrown to ze vinners of death matches. Zat leaves quite a few scars, especially when you are viewed as not worth a healing spell."
He leveled his dark gaze on Sofi and took off a glove, reavealing his still clawed hands.
"Zey won't change back...It hurts. I live vith it."
He replaced the glove carefully and took a more relaxed posture. Putting his hand behind his head, he gave Kira a surreptitious glance and smile.
"As to Kira and I...vell...Before last night, 'love at first sight' was a myth to me. I believe now. She made me a believer. I zink, if I may be bold, zat I love her. So zere. Judge zat vith your distrustful glances, and I von't care. Already I risk imprisonment by getting her a vand, but it makes Kira happy, so I do zat for her."
Alexi and Sofi were both surprised by Golovko's answer, but Alexi found himself even more surprised by Kira's response to it: she flushed with pleasure and flung her arms around the scarred werewolf in utter pleasure.
"Thank you," she whispered, so softly Alexi almost couldn't hear her, "Thank you so much..." She sat up and kissed the man, and Alexi was more shocked than ever, for she did it with the air of one experienced with such attentions. Sofi, too, looked shocked; in fact, the dark-skinned girl, who had been looking mollified by Golovko's answer, now looked horrified.
"How did she..." she began, then looked at the werewolf, her hazel eyes burning with a fire of anger and curiosity. "How did she know to do that? And why last night?" she asked then, her one the same dangerous version her father used occasionally, "What happened last night that made you... fall in love... with Kira?" She paused before the words, her expression clearly indicating she thought they, in this case, meant something else.
"Last night was full moon. Kira took me in to prevent me from sleeping behind dumpster. Also, I smelled you on her shoes. I was interested in her in business sense, but...such empathy, such, tenderness....she has, how you say, melted my heart. And before you are zinking that I used potion or spell, I am not in possession of wand, so I would not be able to do zat."
He tented his hands and rested his chin on the outstrecthed thumbs. His dark eyes burned at Alexi. What would be the next move in this chess game? They obviously, and correctly, thought him a predator. Did they realize how easily they'd be prey?
Alexi listened to what Golovko had to say, but he could feel himself beginning to lose his focus. This was.... disturbing, at least to him. Kira was such an innocent, like a lovely lily with no torn edges or dark spots. Or at least she had been two days ago... Was she still so? Alexi was beginning to doubt it.
Apparently, so was Sofi, for the girl's eyes narrowed still more during the werewolf's explanation. Finally, she turned completely away from him and looked to Kira. "Kira... why don't you tell us what happened?" she said, surprisingly gently, Alexi thought, considering the fact that he could tell she was angry. Kira flushed again, glancing nervously between Sofi and Alexi.
"Well... erm... can I..?" She leaned over to Sofi and whispered something in the girl's ear. Alexi had never seen a dark-skinned person go pale before, but Sofi did, and it was obviously with rage. She got slowly to her feet, gesturing for Kira to do the same. Pointing at Golovko with one gently trembling finger, Sofi leveled the man with a gaze as hard as her last name.
"Kira and I are going to the loo," she stated firmly, "So I can make sure she's ok. If I find one... ONE... mark on this girl, you will pay. D'ya understand? C'mon, Kira..." Sofi led Kira away through the cafe; Kira looked rather confused, but she didn't resist. Alexi immediately turned to Golovko, lapsing into his native Russian in order to get out as much as he could in as short a time as possible.
"Please don't be angry with Sofia," he almost pleaded with the werewolf, "She is a very protective soul, who does her best to ensure the well-being of all in her sphere. This has come as a bit of a shock to her, I think... and I must say, it has for me, as well, as I have guessed what Kira just told Sofi."
He leaned across the table to Golovko, his blue eyes intent. "But that's not the reason you came here, is it? I can guess why you're here, but I'd rather hear it from you. Why have you come to see me, Mikhail?" He used the man's first name for the first time in his life, consciously trying to relate to the werewolf before him.
"Did you know the Chairman of Control and Disposal of Beasts has a carpet made of the skins of werewolves? He boasts, constantly, of how many of us 'animals' he's put down." A haunted, hunted look slowly welled up from the depths of Fang's soul. For once, the animal inside peered out into the world. The horrors that he had seen and done paled his face, elaving the scars stark on his skin and heart.
"I didn't know it was you, at first...honestly that wouldn't have stopped me, but Fate is just being cruel to us now...." He fingered the collar around his throat. He was rambling, not making much sense, he knew. He pressed on anyway.
"A new initiative has been pushed through the committees....all above average gifted wizards and witches are being rounded up...even werewolves are being tolerated under the new decrees. Thats why they still hunt you...you supposedly have some gift or another and they want to use that to further Russia." Fang shivered despite the warm sun and his leather coat. He'd seen, heard, and smelled things in the Department of Magic and Mysteries that he wished he could forget. Only in his nightmares did he ever remember them fully.
"If I succeed in convincing you or dragging you back alive, I too get life again...if I fail, or take too long, I fear that I shall be skinned alive and hung over the Chairman's fireplace."
His lip twitched in a silent snarl at the thought of the man with pale eyes. Fang's coat color was rare for a werewolf, and the Chairman had made it clear that it was coveted.
Alexi almost, but not quite, smiled. None of what Mikhail had said was humorous, but it struck Alexi as funny, nonetheless. "So... they've finally found a use for me, eh? After all those years of saying I was useless..." Deciding to share with Mikhail the reason he was now so "sought after," he glanced around the cafe, making sure no-one else was looking, before shifting his appearance into the one he'd been practicing so much recently: the young man whom he and Malcolm were passing off as a relative of the Steels.
"And, apparently, our glorious Chairman has found a use for all of those of us with unusual... afflictions," Alexi went on, sarcasm dripping from his words, before shifting back, "But, let me say this, Mikhail... they can only have your skin if we let them. By 'we' I mean me and the people here I have allied myself with."
He smirked, leaning back in his chair casually. "Do you really want to satisfy those people by bringing me back? Even at your worst, Golovko, I would never have said you were a killer. Perhaps that has changed, but still... by your description of your life, I would say that even if it has, it was not by your choice. Perhaps, if you are willing to trust, I may be the one bringing you somewhere... only I would be leading you to safety. Would you like to hear more? Or are you more changed... for the worse... than your words have led me to believe?"
Fang listened, and watched, with a growing incredulity. Where had this timid boy learned to be a predator in his own right? And a metamorphmagus! No wonder the boy was sought after...with the proper conditioning, he'd be the best assassin the world had ever seen. Now he was offering protection in turn. Fang was wary, almost scared. His eyes narrowed in a mix of fear and focus. His fingers dug into the tabletop and his jaws jerked in thought. He was silent for a long time. When he spoke again, it was hesitant.
"They'd find and kill both of us. Slowly. As slow as they could. I don't think that you could prefent the entire force of Russia coming down upon us..."
Mikhail was almost ashamed of how scared he was by the thought of defying his masters. Like a good tool, he what he was told. Now, to be told to think for himself again...could he? Dare he?
Alexi shrugged, playing casual, but inside he already knew he'd won. "You are right, to some extent. If they found us, we would be dead, for sure. But... BUT... they would have to find us, first." He smirked. "Be honest with yourself, Mikhail: if they had sent anyone else, would they have found me? I assume they sent you because you could smell me... the only way to catch one such as me, wouldn't you say?"
He leaned across the table towards Golovko, his expression burning with intensity. "But why would they come looking for us if they thought we were... perhaps... dead already?" He waited for the werewolf's response, the corners of his mouth quirking up slightly as he did so.
This wasn't the Alexi Fang had known. This wasn't the trembling victim. What had happened? How had this one been reborn with such a fire? And why, why in God's name was he trembling?
The collar felt hot and itchy on his neck. His thoughts buzzed, flies on the carrion of his dead dreams. Fang gripped the table tighter, trying to gain control of the panic springing up in him. His claws dug into the wood, gouging ten dots of fear. He had no answer at the moment. What could he do? He needed to think, and right now, he felt drawn into a corner. What, exactly, was this intense specter across the table offering? Could he do that? Was this a trap?
Emotion won out, and Mikhail pushed back from the table. He stood and strode off quickly. He needed to run, to escape, to hide, to think, to howl, to scream, to dare, to hope. Too late, he remembered Kira. She was with friends, so he kept his pace.
Melding into the crowds, Fang disappeared into the ebb and flow of humanity. He lost himself in the scents of a normal life. Ducking and weaving, he made his way through to muggle London. The district that the wizarding world exited into was old. Factories sprawled abandoned. Fang ascended a fire escape ladder and sat on the roof of one such building, brooding.
Kira wasn't exactly sure what to think, at the moment. Sofi had taken her into the bathroom and made her remove her clothes so that the dark-skinned girl could examine her for bruises or other injuries. Kira had allowed the search simply to please her friend, though she wasn't sure why Sofi was so sure Fang had hurt her.
"I told you," she murmured to Sofi as they started back to the table, "He was kind to me..." Sofi nodded, patting Kira's arm gently, but she still looked a bit disturbed. Kira took her hand comfortingly as they walked through the restaurant, but a moment later Kira was shocked to hear Alexi let out a loud cry of surprise. She released Sofi and ran to the table just in time to see Fang vanish out the door.
"What's going on?" Kira cried, her voice so high it was almost a squeak. Alexi looked to her, his expression incredulous and just as unsure as hers. Without waiting even one more moment for any sort of an explanation, Kira darted away after Fang with all the speed she could muster. She thought she heard Sofi calling after her, but she didn't heed the girl's words in the slightest: there were more important things on her mind.
She couldn't see Fang when she ran out of the cafe, but she could tell which way he'd gone: people were looking in that direction with confusion and, in some cases, fear. Kira ran as fast as she could that way, following her instincts as she wended her way through the crowds; even the press of people, which would normally have frightened her, did not deter her.
It took her a while, but finally she found herself alone, in what she suspected was now a Muggle section of the city. Her fear returned, for tall, empty buildings loomed around her, but she moved on, determined not to fail in her quest. "Mischa!" she called, her voice quivering slightly as she spun around, looking in all directions to try and find the man, the beginnings of tears in her eyes and tone, "Mischa.... where are you? Please... answer me..." Her voice broke, and she wept.
Kira was calling for him. She had followed him. Why? Why in God's name had the girl and Alexi allowed her after a werewolf on the edge? He looked down into the alleyway and saw his blonde girl wandering about, looking for him.
"Dorogoi! The ladder!" He pointed at the ladder he had used, and then went back to brooding. He heard her come up slowly, then walk over to him cautiously. What had they said to her? He began talking, in Russian, just to vent. He didn't want to speak in English, he just needed to talk.
"I'm so scared right now...I don't know what to do. If I go back I'm dead by the claws of other werewolves who would be jealous...If I don't go back, I'm dead by the government's hand. There is no answer to this that leaves me safe with you, and you safe with me. You're at risk just by staying near me. God, God what have I done?" He rocked back staring at the sky. An odd keening escaped his throat as he weighed all the options available to him. God had no answers, and Satan was too busy laughing. He felt trapped and alone, well...
Not alone. But she was muggleborn. She'd be outcast or killed in Russia. Here, she was barely tolerated. And the government here knew of him. He'd have to hide from them too. There was no escape. Perhaps if he were dead, Kira'd be free, Alexi could carry out his own plans, everything would work that way...
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