Writing an Arvo/OC fic is basically like inviting the fandom to figuratively stomp me in the face repeatedly, but I couldn't help myself. I was disappointed with how Arvo turned out to be a mindless plot device in canon when it seemed like the writers would do more with the character, and I've always wanted to write some OCs for TWDG universe; so this fic is what happens when I try to kill two birds with one stone. Also, I don't speak Russian so I had to use Google translate...I apologize in advance for that.
Prove to me, I'm not gonna die alone...
She was here, but she was the only one.
Her shoulder was bleeding again, the rift in her maroon sweater where the bullet had ripped through exposed the gash on her shoulder. Rowan couldn't bring herself to look at the wound in its entirety, sleeve rolled up only to her elbow serving as a testament to how far she'd gotten. However, the pain remained, constantly reminding her that nobody was there to help her, at least not anymore.
But that didn't stop her from wandering the ruins of the memorial as if her cousin would somehow appear out of thin air. It was Gale's idea to go to Parker's Run. Those men had probably captured him and took him back to that hardware store. It was a reasonable explanation, yet the nagging feeling that her cousin had just abandoned her like he kept saying he should have wouldn't let up. It had to have been a year since Fort Monroe fell, eventually Gale would make good on his promise, like he always did.
Rowan hid her face in her hands, long hair a dark shroud further obscuring her face, but nothing could hide her from the fact that she was on her own. The people she had traveled with over the past year were all dead now. Maybe her cousin wasn't dead, but he was gone all the same.
When she finally lifted her head and parted the curtain of hair, the first thing she looked to were the maps scattered across the walls advertising an observation deck. Better not knowing what to do in a safe place than not knowing what to do out here. It wasn't the best plan, but it was all she had.
The staircase leading up to the deck was blocked with a body, but bodies were common. What wasn't common, the roll of bandages and bottle of pills on the ground next to it, was what caught her eye. She picked them up and the capsules clattered against the walls of their container as if they were screaming at her to put them down, because nobody would leave supplies lying around like this. This stuff belonged to someone, and whoever it was left it here, leaving her with no excuse not to tend to her injury, even though the thought of staring at her shoulder for too long made her nauseous.
Rowan ascended the stairs deliberately slowly, pistol in one hand and medicine in the other, nudging the gate open further with her foot. As it screeched in protest, someone darted out from the room next to the gift shop, gun pointed directly at her.
The stranger couldn't have been any older than she was, his hand trembling so fervently she could have mistaken it for her own. It had been the second time someone had pointed a gun at her today, she didn't want to go through this, not again. The expression on her face must have conveyed as much to the boy, and he began to slowly lower his weapon, seemingly under the impression she'd do the same, and like a reflection she did not disappoint, following his lead until both of their weapons were tucked away.
"...Hello." He was the first to break the silence that followed, with a voice much deeper than she expected from such a scrawny guy.
Rowan attempted a smile, but felt too drained to be genuinely friendly and could only lift her lips into a partial grin, trying to come off as nonthreatening so she wouldn't startle him again. "Hi."
Another beat of silence passed as they observed one another, until his gaze flicked to her hand and he pointed at the medicine. "Where did you get that?"
"I found it on the ground." He must have been the one who dropped it!
The boy began to plead immediately, "That's mine, it's for my sestra, she needs it!"
He took a step towards her and instinctively she drew back, grip tightening on the medicine. "I need it too, I got shot."
He frowned at her but didn't move any closer, and she made herself look as pitiful as possible, biting her lip and gazing at him with wide, tired eyes. "Please."
The boy cursed, presumably in Russian, and began to limp across the deck, the brace around his leg squeaking with each step he took. "Wait."
Curious as to what he was doing, she ignored his request and followed him around the corner just in time to see him shove his arm deep into a trashcan and pull out a brown bottle. He's stashing supplies in there. Rowan didn't ask why, not wanting to piss off the only person who might be willing to help her.
Upon noticing her standing there, the stranger stood with the bottle in his hand. "Give me my things, then you can use this."
Disinfectant. He was offering a trade she'd be stupid to refuse, what she really needed was an antiseptic and he knew it. It was an easy decision. Rowan handed him the medicine and took the disinfectant, but did not move. The boy was staring at her expectantly and she turned away from him.
With her head titled down, long hair shielding her from whatever look of contempt she believed he had for her, she told him, "I don't know how to do it." To admit that she was scared to a complete stranger shouldn't have been as cathartic as it was in that moment.
It seemed like an eternity before he finally replied softly, "It's okay. I can help you, come."
Rowan followed him to the stairs and sat down, relieved that he actually offered to do it for her, but also surprised at his hospitality. The boy began tugging her sleeve up as if he were ripping off a band-aid, but this pain was worse. Or so she assumed, after all, she had always soaked band-aids.
"This is not so bad," he commented. "I thought I would have to take bullet out of you, it is just a cut."
"You've taken bullets out of people before?"
"Um...no." He grinned sheepishly. "Cannot be too hard though."
Rowan knew the antiseptic would sting, but she couldn't avoid crying out as he dabbed at her skin. Her curiosity sprung up at his claims of it not being serious, and now pardoned from actually having to fix the wound herself, she was feeling brave. Don't be a wimp. The laceration wasn't as large as she thought it would be, and she held her gaze until a rivulet of fresh blood began to trickle down her arm, then she had to look away. Five seconds is an improvement, at least.
"I am Arvo." He introduced himself as he began to wrap gauze around her arm despite her fidgeting.
Arvo finished with the bandages and got to his feet. "Okay Ryabina, is all good."
"Ryabina?" She questioned, giving him another confused half-smile.
"You are named after Ryabina tree, yes?" Arvo asked her, holding his hand out to help her up.
"...I guess? Thanks for helping me."
Rowan glanced outside at the snowflakes that were just beginning to fall. It wasn't exactly warm in here, but it was the only shelter she had. Until her cousin came back, this would have to be home. And if he didn't come back, she wasn't sure, but she'd have plenty of time to think about it.
She slid down into a sitting position against the wall, wrapping her arms around her knees. Her backpack was situated next to her and she leaned into it as if it were another person and closed her eyes. All day she had done nothing but blindly run through the woods hoping to reach a place that was somewhat secure based only off the hope that a familiar face would be there, and now all she wanted was curl up and recover from that disappointment.
When she opened her eyes again, Arvo was sitting next to her. Rowan didn't know how long she was out for, but she was relieved that he hadn't left yet, it had been so long since she'd met someone new who didn't have any ill intent, especially when that someone was her own age.
"You're still here?" Not the best way to start a conversation, but it was something.
"Yes. Do you not want me to be?" He teased, grinning.
"No! I don't like being alone." She admitted, brushing her hair back behind her ear.
"Where are your people? Daleko otsyuda?"
"I don't know. The people who shot me took my cousin. They might be after me, hell, I don't know." She repeated, unable to mention that just maybe, the people she met could have killed him.
"You should get out of here," He muttered. "There's no good in this place."
"I've got nowhere else to go."
"Tozhe samoye." Arvo responded glumly as he began to pick at his fingernail.
"Who are you with? Besides your sister?"
"I live with her and some friends." The way he said 'friends' made it seem like they were anything but. "I have to get back to them. I have long walk."
"Teach me Russian." She started, trying to change the subject to get him to stay longer.
He laughed at her request. "I don't have time."
Rowan ignored him, asking the translation of the first word that came to mind. "What's snow in Russian?"
"Okay...that's a funny word. What does-"
"Shh! My turn." Arvo interrupted, touching the silver shark charm on her bracelet. "What is this ryba called?"
"It's a shark. I got it at the beach a few years ago."
"I have never been there."
"I used to go a lot where I lived...before this stuff happened. Whenever I'd go swimming I'd always stay by other people because I thought if the sharks came they'd bite them instead of me."
He laughed again. "That is smart."
They continued to take turns pointing at whatever objects they could find and asking for translations until she began to nod off, her long walk from earlier finally catching up to her.
The girl had fallen asleep and made a pillow out of his shoulder, her face nestled into his neck. He wouldn't deny that it was relaxing to spend time with someone who was nice, but the longer he stayed the more time he wasted. Arvo didn't want to walk all the way back to the house, and yet he also didn't want to worry Natasha anymore than he probably already had. She could be in pain, and even though he couldn't really do anything for her besides fetch pills and water, he still had to be there soon.
Arvo reached over her and took her backpack to use as a replacement pillow, figuring it would an upgrade from his bony shoulder.
Once she was situated, he went to the trashcan. He had to bring back some of the stuff he'd scavenged, Buricko would get suspicious if he came back with nothing. It was only the first day that he had put his plan in action and it already felt like he was taking two steps back for every step forward. Arvo pocketed the antiseptic and a few more pill bottles. This isn't enough.
Reluctantly he turned back to Rowan, still sleeping soundly, and before his conscience could ward him off he had already pinched the zipper of her backpack and pulled it open. If Vitali was here he'd probably tell him to stop wasting time, slit her throat while she was vulnerable and steal all her stuff, and he'd snicker nervously while wringing his hands, unsure if the man was joking or not.
Just thinking about it made Arvo sick, sick because he knew that even though it was unlikely Vitali would suggest something that absurd, he'd would probably go along with it out of fear of what would happen if he were to refuse.
He settled on taking just one can of food from her. I helped her so she will help me, even if she doesn't know it.
"Stay safe, Ryabina." It felt wrong to leave her up here with nobody to watch as she slept, to just wish her well and be on his way, but Natasha was waiting for him. He couldn't stick around with a girl he had just met, but he made sure to close the gate to the deck as he left, figuring it was the least he could do.
It isn't exactly quality writing, but I tried. A genuine attempt was made. Oh, and quick note, when in Arvo's POV when he starts speaking Russian it is italicized.