Kate of Syberia by Erin
May 24 - Outside Romansbourg, Russia
The smell of salmon and cider woke Kate to the warmth surrounding her. Through sleep blurred eyes, she found herself wrapped tight in furs and thick, old blankets. Youki lay curled up beside her, his breath smelling of fish and some other dried meat.
"Ah, сладкий горох*, my dear Kate. Welcome back to the land of the living." A familiar Russian voice greeted her from somewhere on the other side of the room.
"Boris?" Kate weakly struggled against the warmth wrapping her. "Boris is that you?" She pushed at the layers to loosen them and blinked her eyes hard until they cleared to see the man near her bed.
"Be careful, you were almost taken by Siberia herself." Boris helped her sit up. "You must be hungry."
She nodded, looking around at the suddenly familiar cabin. It seemed like it had been years since she last saw it. It looked as though Boris had taken it over and made it livable.
"I made it to the cabin…outside of Romansbourg…?" Kate coughed hard, clearing out the cold that was trying to catch her off guard.
"Barely." Boris laughed with a soft huff. "Your… polar bear… dog-"
"Youki." She offered.
"Your Youki, it brought me to you just outside Han's tracks. Just in time, I wager." He left her side briefly to pour her a mug of cider before returning. "You really are a miracle, ma'am."
"Just Kate, Boris, really." Kate took the cider gratefully, sipping it as fast as she could without burning her taste buds off. "And I'm not, er – a miracle. Just lucky I guess."
Again, he laughed, this time his thinning frame shuddering against the bed. "You are my lucky charm then. You found me twice and not only helped me fly, but saved me from becoming part of the architecture out in Tunguska – and here you are again! Except, I will admit, I was surprised you would be manning the train alone on your way back."
Kate stopped drinking, suddenly aware that Hans was not there – and his body was outside in the cold. She had to rationalize with herself, remembering it would keep longer if it stayed outside in the cargo hatch instead of in the cabin.
"Hans is dead." She didn't look away at the pain that drifted into Boris' face. "And, in a way, so is Oscar." Suddenly, tears began to push at the space behind Kate's eyes, causing them to burn. "It's so good to see you again, Boris."
His older face was a mixture of grief and acceptance. She was sure he could grasp that a dear friend, after so many years of being apart, would have passed by now, but it didn't make it any easier. Boris nodded at his own thoughts, visibly dragging his mind back to her.
Without so much as a warning knock, the door into the bedroom swung open and in stomped a stocky, black haired man in his thirties, red in the face from frustration. He looked ready to throw chairs.
"Okay lady, you're up now, so call your boss!" He threw her cellphone onto the bed and made a b-line away from Boris.
Her friend sighed. This sort of thing appeared to be completely normal. "Kate Walker, I introduce to you, Detective Nick Cantin. I found him-"
Nick interrupted. "The guys who came to bring supplies and fix the tracks won't leave for another week! That whole trash heap of a town is moving up to the… castle! So no one could spot me a room-" He huffed angrily, almost flailing at them. "Call Marson and get me the hell out of here, lady! I've been looking for you for weeks now!"
Kate ignored the phone beside her. "Why would Marson be looking for me? I thought he would have fired me after I turned off my phone in Aralbad."
"Hell no! He's got that toy company hounding him about the contract and your mother threatening to sue!" He walked away from the bed and pulled at his hair. "They're going to fire me for sure if I don't get back to my other cases!"
At the mention of her mother and the contract, Kate let her face rest in her hands. "Oh no, mom. She must think I've frozen to death in the middle of Siberia."
She picked up the cellphone to check its signal. It didn't even give her one bar for reassurance. She would have to find a plug to charge it anyway, so the call would have to wait until she reached Barrockstadt to call out.
Kate stretched and groaned, laying her hand on Boris' arm. "Help me up."
Boris bent down and pulled her up easily, supporting almost all of her weight. "There's a pot by the fire you can use if you need."
Kate blushed, chuckling. "You read my mind." She wobbled as she stepped away from the bed.
Nick groaned at their slow pace. "So are we going now, or what?"
"We go when Kate is better." Boris snapped at him. "Bother her and you'll be walking back to Valadilène."
"Hmph." Nick grunted, coming up beside Kate to get past them.
With Boris as her crutch, she shoved the detective as hard as she could before making her way out of the room. "Don't you ever go through my stuff again."
It was early morning when Kate woke again, Boris watching her from his place by the fire. He reached a hand out to her and she managed to climb out of the warm bed and plant herself on the arm rest. She could hardly believe she was seeing the man again, and a part of her swelled at her luck. It had to be what was keeping them on each other's paths.
"You should be asleep, Boris. What could you possibly be thinking about at this hour?" She asked, leaning over to look him in the eye.
He avoided her face, studying the fire as if it would help him explain. She had never seen his face so serious, even at the prospect of entering space.
"I was thinking of the past, сладкий горох. I was giving Hans a proper memorial, if only in my mind." He looked up at her, ready to share everything with a certain hunger in his eyes. "At sixteen, I was recruited by the Russian Government after cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin became the first Russian in space. I was training for four years to be a soldier before I was surprised to be honored with my new position at the Komkolzgrad Cosmodome at eighteen. They needed a young recruit who they believed could take the strain of testing and space travel, and I was their candidate. I met Hans after he had already been staying in Komkolzgrad for sixteen years. He had been rebuilding the iron mines to accommodate his automatons before he transferred over to begin building the spring-loaded launcher.
"For eighteen years, we were lead to believe it was all for space, but we were wrong. When Hans left, they put me in charge of guarding the place, with barely any contact afterward. I was forgotten and so was my precious years spent fighting for a lost cause." Boris looked down at his rough hands, the sadness in his eyes telling her he still remembered how they looked at eighteen. Even after years of vodka. "I am an old man now, without wife or child. My best friend is dead and my country has forgotten me. You and my memories are all I have left, Kate. Please, let me come with you. I will follow behind you until my body gives out, even if that is tomorrow or forty years from now." Reaching over, he gently took Kate's hands in his and looked up at her. His eyes were glassy from holding back tears. "I had been alone for twenty-three years before you showed up and gave me my wings. Don't make me watch the only miracle I've ever had walk out that door. You followed Hans to the ends of Siberia; let someone follow after you now."
Kate felt her face flush, his warm hands giving her goose bumps. "That is probably the nicest thing anyone has ever said to me." She laughed softly to herself, feeling the weight on her shoulders lift at the thought of being someone else's miracle. Hadn't she been Hans and Oscar's? She had never been Dan's, obviously.
Slipping her hands from his, Kate slipped from the arm and leaned over him to kiss his forehead. Her lips lingered there long enough to make his ears flush redder than his face. She was surprised when he took her around the waist and brought her close. His still strong arms held her tightly as Boris buried his face into her shoulder and shuddered just a little. Twenty-three years was a long time to go without human contact.
Kate felt herself choke on the pain welling up behind her eyes. "You can come along for as long as you can stand me." She whispered in his ear.
She could hardly bite back her tears when he muttered into her neck. "Then you have me for life, сладкий горох."
* sweet pea
Author's Note: Sorry for the long wait for an update. If you're a regular reader of mine, you know that's pretty much the usual for my chapters. I write when I feel the inspiration. Oh and please let me know if the Russian is wrong, I pretty much threw it in a translator and I know they aren't perfect.