I know, what the duce?! A sequel?! I don't know what came over me, but here I am, back to torture them again. I just couldn't leave them like they were in Fatal Flaws. I had to make one. Don't know how long it will be though.
Warnings; Boris, language, boy/boy stuff (no lemons), general suffering, lazy beta-reading.
Other; I'd advice you to read Fatal Flaws before this, if you're new, because otherwise you probably won't understand much. And I know I gave Bor' the wrong eye colour, but it would be weird if he changed all of a sudden. So I'm keeping it grey.
Disclaimer; Do I even have to do these?
All geographic mistakes I blame on google. I hold a grudge towards that search engine.
Small yet unpleasant tremors rattled his hands as a feeling of dread overpowered him. Along with its nasty cousin, fear, and their distant cousin twice removed, embarrassment, came the insane beating of his heart. Warmth sizzled in his face as he fought against a relentless blush, nausea shooting butterflies with bazooka in his stomach.
He wanted to run out of there. Wanted to get away from the penetrating, merciless looks of expectation that were directed at him. He wanted to throw up over his worn out shoes and throw the bunch of papers out of his grasp and into the air, creating a manoeuvre of diversion through which he could make his escape.
He could run away from there and when they looked at the place he had abandoned there would be nothing there but the feeling of shame and perhaps a few dapples of his sweat. He could make it to the airport on time, maybe fly to India and hide under a few rocks for…
Rei took a deep breath, in through his nose and out through his mouth as he steeled himself. This was silly. He couldn't chicken out so close to the finish line. There was a limit of every man's cowardice, even his own. What did he have to fear anyway? He just had to look them straight in the eye, keep his papers in order and speak with a steady and confident voice. He didn't even have to be sincerely confident.
After all, they were just people. They were there to hear him talk, not see him flee like a little child. Because really, what would that tell them? That fighting was stupid and only lead to certain doom? No, it didn't matter that he could hear a knell in his head, because the people didn't hear it and they expected something out of him.
They expected him to stand his ground and stick to his guns. Damn it, he could do this!
Rei opened his eyes to look at them, the people placed in ugly, old chairs of a depressing marine blue. Young women and elder ladies, boys and men and victims. All of them tensely waiting, watching, challenging him to step up to the podium and speak. As any other time in his messed up life, Rei swallowed down the thousandth lump in his throat and accepted.
''Hello'' his voice was shaking at the end but he ignored it, forcing his lips to move as his eyes swept across the audience. ''I'm glad to see so many of you here tonight. Or… not glad… I mean it's awful, I really wish you wouldn't be he… not that I… Uh… oh fuck it.''
Rei put the papers down, rubbing his forehead tiredly as the nervousness grew. Feeling the confusion from all the eyes set on him, he sighed. Looking up again, Rei shook his head.
''You know what? Let's keep it simple. My name is Rei Kon and I'm the son and boyfriend of alcoholics.''
He hated his life. Hated it because it had the nerve, the boldness to stand up each and every day and just spit him right in the face. A deep, large, snot-filled gob from the back of its throat. He hated it. He hated them as well. The people who were staring at him through the circle, curiously and a little bit impatient.
They had waited for him for a long, long, long time. They had waited and growing more flustered by each day he refused to meet their demands, their glares grew sharper and their yawns grew louder. He'd rather punch them all through the ground and right into hell. Twice. But this was far bigger than him.
Yeah, Boris couldn't believe it himself. That something, for the first time in his twenty-six years long life, wasn't about him or what he wanted. For the first time in forever, Boris was doing something, not for the sake of his own sadistic pleasure or forever hungry anger, or because he felt like it, or simply because he could. No, this time, it wasn't about him at all.
Or, perhaps in a way it was. In a way it was an act of selfishness, because in the end there would be a reward to show for it. He was going to get something for his displeasure and frustration, something he wanted more than he'd ever really wanted anything. Of course, if someone asked he would just snarl that it was all because he had nothing better to do.
Boris glared. This was it. This was the crossroad where he had to choose. This was when he had to make, perhaps the most important decision of his life. Whether he chose the long, winding, narrow but familiar road of selfishness, or the new unfamiliar, bumpy road of… well, something he couldn't really describe, was up to him now. No refunds, no rainchecks, no second guesses. It was now or never, and he had to decide without knowing the outcome.
The future was completely out of his control, perhaps it had always been but he had always lived under the belief that he decided more than anyone. He had been determined that no one was ever going to toss the dice for him again. But now the game had more than just one player, and the rules had been altered for all eternity. And he actually had to follow them this time.
Their stares were more intense now, the seconds ticking by as time was running out. Boris muttered. He really, really, really didn't want to do this.
He glared back at them, gritting his teeth and clenching his fists as a final sign that he was not going to be pitied. He was not as the rest of them and just because he was going to do something he had avoided for over a year, he was still better than any of them and he'd prove it to anyone who even had the stupidity to disagree. Finally, he sighed angrily.
''My name is Boris and I'm an alcoholic.''
Well, now he felt silly.
All his fears had been completely unfounded. As soon as he had started talking, his mind had just forgotten that all those people had been there and Rei had just been an unstoppable talking-machine. Everything, even things he hadn't even thought about writing down, just poured out of him like his mouth was a broken faucet. And they had clapped.
People, complete and perfect strangers who all in some way recognized themselves in him, had not only paid – really, with money – to hear him, a nobody, talk about his life and problems, but they had clapped. And they had liked what they had heard, they had thought he had a point. And a good one, to boot. Rei wasn't really sure just how he made it through that one hour alive, but he had showed up and he had left, victorious.
It was a complete and unbelievable rush he had never felt before. The adrenaline inside of him pumping to a new level of euphoria and for one single moment, the first one in years, he felt invincible. Like he actually amounted to something. It was like having a Blade in his hand all over again. The battlefield his to conquer and no matter how big or mean or threatening the opponent, Rei felt no fear. Even if he lost, he always left the stadium feeling like a king.
And that was exactly the feeling he got when he left the building. Walking towards the bus stop, Rei couldn't help but smile a little. And in the twilight, he actually felt kind of good. He couldn't even remember the last time that feeling had visited him, he almost didn't recognize it now. It had been a tough year, to say the least. His body had not liked being cut up and his liver had not been happy at him, and it was more than just a pain in the ass to have it heal.
Meeting Boris for the first time since the operation wasn't the easiest thing either. He couldn't really help dreading it. Not a day had passed without him thinking about the Russian, and not a thought had greeted him without making him beat himself up with anger and shame. The first few months had been hell, hating and loving a man at the same time. Wanting to touch him, or just see his face, and at the same time wanting him to rot in the deepest pits of hell… it wasn't an easy thing to do.
He felt bad that he was angry at Boris, and then he felt bad that he felt bad in the first place. He felt bad that it felt good when Yuriy updated them across the phone about how things were in London, it felt bad that he wished he could be there too. It felt bad that he was angry, and it felt bad that he wasn't angry enough. By the sixth month, he had driven himself half insane.
The real breakthrough for him, who hadn't spoken to anyone but Kai and the teacher at the Russian-for-beginners-class in half a year, was when he finally pushed out his chest and booked a ticket to England. Yuriy cheered and celebrated, in the amount that the uptight Ivanov could which wasn't really much to brag about, relieved that he could finally go home.
Yes, the redhead had stayed with Boris in London, keeping an eye on him and reprimanding him every given moment for the mistakes the Falcon had made. It was safe to say Boris' anger issues weren't getting better. Kai didn't even question the Wolf's broken nose when he picked him up at the airport that chilly day in April.
Rei had again, the very same day, found himself at the familiar Heathrow Airport. It had given him a funny feeling, lurking in his gut as he couldn't really put a finger on it. He guessed mostly it was fear, but there was something more to it as well. Perhaps, if he dared think it, it had been suspense. After all, the city held a lot of memories, both good and bad.
Taking a cab to his hotel, Rei was unpleasantly surprised. There, just a few steps away from him, something grey and mean had been walking. He recognized the back of the head as easily as if it had been tattooed into his retina. After all, the owner of it had been constantly muttering in his head for months.
Rei's first instinct had been to run away from there as fast as he could. But surprising himself, he had pushed the feeling aside. Instead he'd taken his bags, paid the driver and before he realized what the hell he was doing, run up to Boris. He was almost a little afraid that the Russian wouldn't recognize him at first, but as soon as their eyes met something familiar flashed through the grey.
Then they had stood there, staring. It hadn't been an awkward silence entirely, because deep down he guessed both of them were just glad that they didn't have to say anything. Both unsure of what was the best first word to utter, they had stared a little while longer until Rei finally said 'hey'. Boris had nodded, frowning but still not looking hostile enough to make Rei turn on his heels.
Then Boris had asked him what he was doing there. Rei wasn't entirely sure of that himself. But he answered with the main reason, mainly that he was going to hold some seminars in town. Boris hadn't asked why this town, of all the cities in the world. He hadn't said anything, just nodded, grunting somewhat to show he understood.
Not that he did. But Rei didn't entirely understand it himself so it was alright.
Then they had said goodbye and parted, Rei leaving Boris somewhat dumbstruck on the sidewalk. The first thing the Russian had done when he had gotten out of his haze, was calling Yuriy to threaten his life because he knew, he just felt it in the deepest core of his being, that somehow, in some way, the redhead was responsible for everything.
Yuriy just told him to grow up and hung up the phone.
Two weeks passed before Rei met Boris again. Their second encounter was just after the Tiger had introduced himself to the boss of the building where the seminars would be held, bumping into each other in the last place Rei ever thought he would find the Russian. That being the grocery store just around the corner of where the liquor store was. Rei had been a little anxious, since he didn't want to look at the Russian's bag to see if it contained bottles.
To his shameful surprise though, Boris had been holding a plastic bag from a clothing store. When they met each other in the register, Rei couldn't help but being proud when he noticed all liquid Boris bought was some milk and grapefruit juice. Rei had put his own groceries on the band, smiling a tired little smile at him. Boris had nodded, feeling unpleasant being so close to the other again. He wasn't sure just how to feel.
He had been beating himself up enough to go around since the operation. The scar above his liver a constant reminder of how he had fucked everything up, scorning him for the asshole and idiot he was. He had been angry, mostly at himself, to the point of wrecking his apartment twice a week. No matter how much it made him want to go Hulk on the entire country, he had swallowed his repulsive tasting pride and thrown every bottle and beer can out his window.
It took him a day before he had bought new ones. But he didn't get further than five drinks, before the fury kicked back in, yanking him by the collar like the furious mother he had never had. And so the rage made him throw it all out the window again. This time he injured someone who was just passing by. And so this procedure, this sick and deranged ritual he had invented went on for another month before Boris' mind, and his wallet, finally had enough.
The look on James' face when he showed up at the AA again was priceless. Boris had sat down in the circle, glaring hatefully at everyone that dared look at him, and kept silent. Sure, a few crude remarks always slipped through his lips, making someone cry or throw a raging tantrum. But he was human after all. Besides, it was making the meetings more fun. If he was lucky, maybe James would go insane.
But his pitiful little act of redemption hadn't been much to brag about when Yuriy knocked on his newly replaced door one morning. Throwing his bags on Boris the Wolf had waltzed into the apartment, wolfed down the fridge and moved in. No matter how many times Boris tried, he was just impossible to get rid of. And once again the fury kicked him in the crotch, sending him to the bar once more.
Yuriy didn't like that. He didn't like it at all. To prove how much he disliked it, he had quite so violently dragged the Falcon towards the second most hateful place Boris knew of. The Hospital. Dr. Dafoe ended up with a broken nose, Yuriy ended up with a migraine, and Boris ended up with his pills. London was just looking worse and worse by each passing day.
But life decided it couldn't be too hard on him, giving him a small break from all the insanity. Even if it was just for a few minutes, it was the best few minutes Boris had had in… well, since the day he ruined everything. It was on his way home from the AA when he had bumped into Rei again. The Tiger had greeted him first, telling him about his new apartment. Boris hadn't said much, and they had parted soon afterwards.
Since then, the Tiger hadn't seen much of him. On his way home now, he wasn't quite sure what to think of that. Maybe he was a bit afraid that if he'd admit his thoughts to himself, they would come true. But deep down he knew that they were, and no matter how much he wished he wouldn't, he did miss having the other bitter man beside him, missed him swearing about how the bus was a useless piece of junk and how he was going to murder every bus driver in the country if it didn't show up soon.
Rei sighed, digging his hands into his pockets. He wasn't hating the Russian as much anymore, time seemed to have brushed the worst of the pain away. But a part of it still lingered, like a shard of glass in his heart that stabbed him every time he breathed. And yes, he was still angry. But that could be mended, it wasn't that hard. The hard part was regaining his trust for Boris. He wasn't sure if it was even possible, but he knew that deep down he wanted to let Boris try.
A question asked by a woman in the audience, hollow face as she gave him a look that resembled glass, suddenly came to his mind. It was the way she said it, more than the question itself, that made him lose his sense of reality for a moment. And as he fought to answer her, he wondered slightly if she was asking herself the very same question.
'Why did you stay with him?'
Rei hadn't known what to answer. All he could really give her was a simple, easy yet truthful answer. An answer that felt ridiculously useless for taking so much time to process.
'Because I love…d him.'
He wasn't sure about how honest he had been, in the end. How much he was lying towards himself and if the truth he thought himself to know was simply just fabricated, artificial, fake. He didn't know if he had lied to her and he didn't know if she found it helpful. Probably not, at least he didn't. How was he supposed to answer their questions then, if he couldn't even answer his own?
Rei didn't know. Seeing Boris again had been bewildering, complicating everything further than he thought possible. He could sense something, something so vivid and mad inside of him he didn't dare look into it. He wanted to know how the Russian felt. Wanted to know what he was going to do, what he wanted to say, what he himself was supposed to do, what he wanted to hear.
Was it alright to go visit him, or was that just the stupidest thing he could do? He had been mad for so long, Rei didn't want to be mad anymore. It was tiresome, exhausting, draining and he wanted it to stop but somewhere in his heart he was still furious. Even if his wounds were healed the scars were still there, and it all made so little sense to him.
If all they had fought and suffered and hurt for through all that time was worth so little in the end… was Boris even worth crying for?
Was a man who couldn't even tell him he loved him, really worth all that pain? The more Rei thought about it the angrier he got, his good mood slipping further and further away. He wanted the thoughts to silence for a moment so he could breathe. Wanted someone to come and tell him what to do about everything so he could finally get some sleep.
He wanted someone to chase the ghosts away.
''Look what the cat dragged in''
The voice had come from nowhere, unexpected and cold with the unfamiliarity it carried. Rei flinched as he heard it, turning around with slight fear in his eyes, and Boris gave him a peculiar little look.
''Still know how to scare the ladies, I see''
Rei tried to look everywhere except into the grey pits that would undoubtedly be his demise. He could feel them pummelling into the side of his head as the other spoke, wanting him to turn around and face his fears. The Tiger tried to look at anything else, like the sky or the street or his own feet but it was useless, as if some magnetic force drew his eyes to look up at the other. And when their eyes met, a sudden wave of nausea suddenly hit him, much like it had done at the seminar.
''Looking a little pale there'' he said more as a statement than a mockery, which confused Rei further. ''You sniff something?''
''Really. I see. So you look half-past dead why, exactly?''
Rei suddenly got overwhelmed by the urge to get Boris to leave. It wad partially the anger he felt scorching through him, lack of sleep and mental dilemmas doing that to a person's mood. Partially, the longer the Russian stood there the sadder the Chinese felt. The longer he tried to avoid the grey eyes the more empty his chest seemed to grow and Rei knew, knew that somehow he was going to falter in the next minutes.
''Could you just…'' Rei waved his hands in exasperation, brow furrowing madly. ''… stop being you?''
''What the fuck do you mean by that?''
''I mean…'' he meant he missed him, meant he didn't want to but did so anyway, meant he wasn't sure who to hate the most for that. ''Could you for once just not go there?''
Gold met silver and a flash of anger struck between them, splitting their metaphoric ground into two, creating a rift that only grew with the anger. Miles and miles stretched out between them, and none of them dared to leap.
''What's your problem all of a sudden?''
It was a stupid question. He knew very well what the problem was. After all, if it hadn't been for him, there never would have been a problem in the first place. But he wouldn't admit that right then. Stupid enough, he couldn't control the vile poison that flooded through him, bursting out of him like an explosion. Rei just happened to be there, at the wrong time at the wrong place. Or maybe not. Maybe Boris had walked up there on purpose. Maybe he had wanted to fight. Maybe he just had worthless luck.
''What's my problem?!'' Rei couldn't believe his ears, all the anger inside of him swallowing the hurt and the longing, leaving him furious. ''You're my damn problem!''
''What did I do?!''
''What did you do?!''
And so, without warning, their argument escalated, grew and bloomed into what could be the worst fight they had ever had. Their yelling voices echoing down several streets, people casting frightened glances at them. The asphalt seemed to tremble, the wind seemed to shy away, the world itself just backing safely as far away from them as it could. But they didn't care, they didn't even notice.
''I hate you! I hate you, I hate you!''
''Why couldn't you just keep out of my life, huh?! What's so hard about that?''
''Fuck you! Just fuck you!''
''At least I'm not the cheat!''
''That's it, you're dead!''
All there were was the anger, the frustration, the hatred and fury that had bottled up inside of them for six months. Violent feelings that finally had enough, unleashing without mercy, torrid and foul. They were shoving, spitting, insulting, yelling, hissing, pushing to see just when the line was crossed. Blinded by their confusion, the fight amplified and not until their throats were sore and their heads hurting, their breath was knocked out of them by the silence that followed.
Rei stared, blinking, panting as if he wasn't sure what had just happened. Boris stared back, just as unsure as he was, wiping sweat out of his face as he muttered. The Russian shook his head, facing away from Rei as some strange feeling kept pounding in the back of his heart. Rei hid his face in shaking hands, taking deep breaths to calm himself. Not that it was working, but at least it was a distraction.
It took them ten minutes of silence, ten minutes that felt more like ten years, to finally look at each other. There was something sincere in the silver, reflecting in the exhaustion of the gold, which, if he squinted, looked a little less bright than Boris remembered. They didn't move, didn't blink, didn't breathe. Just staring, they tried to figure out something. Figure out the other, figure out their own selves, figure out their life.
But nothing came to mind. Boris muttered again, something in Russian Rei could have recognized if he'd only listened. It always seemed to be like that with them. Talking two entirely different languages, that they'd understand if only they would listen. Stop in their tracks for a moment, and look.
The awkward silence, much like the one on a bloodied battlefield after the last man has fallen, stretched on a little further before they had enough.
''Fuck it'' it was Boris who spoke, surprising Rei yet again. ''I'm hungry. I'm buying us lunch.''