Summary: Toris abandons an easy life in Kaunas to work at an asylum plagued by desertion and rumors. He should've known his decisions would eventually lead him to a rather secretive history following a certain Russian.
Characters: Lithuania // Toris, Russia // Ivan, and America // Alfred.
- Lamentia -
- I -
"They say he strangled and stabbed his partner to death. The body was barely recognizable when the authorities found it."
"And the culprit himself?"
"Wailing and covered in the body's blood—a sick and twisted scene if you ask me. He was obviously deemed unfit for trial, so they sent him here."
"If that's the case… They may as well have put him on death row. Since… every person comes here to die."
"The pitiful thing."
"I know… So what is his name?"
"His name is…"
"His name is Ivan Braginsky."
With a low rolling sound, the metal drawers clamped shut and Toris Laurinaitis accepted the thin stack of records. He turned them upside down and read over the information curiously. A small, pixilated face stared back at him, his tired-looking eyes and mouth free of any emotion. His mussed-up hair partly shadowed his face, giving him an almost threatening sort of air despite the lack of detail from the photo.
Toris skimmed over the list of information as his instructor went on. "He's our youngest patient here. Just about three years older than you, isn't that right?"
Toris nodded and his eyes automatically hovered over the birth date. 12 JUNE 1985. He blinked, mildly surprised. "Er… How long as he been, um… unwell?"
"It's hard to say, but he's been kept at this facility for almost a whole year. You know, it's only your first day here, Toris. Are you sure you'd want to start now?"
The young man smiled, combing his dark hair back behind his ear with a finger. "Doctor Gordon back in Kaunas told me about the growing problem here—I have to try my best, Mr. Jones."
"I've already told you, it's Alfred." He shook his head, wheat strands swinging back and forth. "I can't believe you moved from Kaunas to a hellhole like here. Top grades at the Vytautas Magnus and you're working with criminals. Why in the world?"
Toris tucked the papers under his arm. "And I've told you. I'm not interested in medicine and nursing anymore. I've already decided to switch to psychology and Gordon said this place would be in trouble after one doctor left after another." He paused, shuffling his feet a bit uncomfortably now. "… People need help."
"The people here are messed up, Toris," Alfred said and the other frowned. "Once the week is over, I'll be flying back to America and you'll be pretty much alone."
"It's honestly not that bad, right?"
Alfred sighed and pressed his palms to the back of his head, stretching. "Thanks to drugs and the like, you're safe—they keep this guy heavily medicated. I've been here a little longer than you though, and I know the staff is far from friendly either. It's what happens when you've been cooped up in a place like this for too long—I miss New York already."
There was a pause in the conversation before Toris spoke up again. "So… what is it that I'm supposed to do?"
Alfred searched the surface of the work desk before taking out a single sheet of paper from its stack. He handed it to Toris who placed it over the files he already had.
"Well… make sure he takes his medicine once during lunch and once during dinner. Here are the drug details, but don't worry about them since every portion is labeled. Talk to him, try to make him open up and write down whatever you can. From what I've heard, the crazy Russian is as stubborn as ever. He refuses to say a word—except when he finds the need to be difficult and insult the workers." He made a face. "Yeah, good luck with him. Most people get sick after the first three days."
Amused, the younger one asked, "Are you one of those workers?" The American shook his head.
"Nah, but I've talked to him once and I couldn't understand a word. It's creepy if you ask me, but it was as if he could tell what would piss me off the moment he laid eyes on me. 'Spoke nothing but Russian, even though the others swore he could speak Lithuanian with a little decent English."
"Did you ever find out what he was saying to you?"
Alfred shook his head again. "No… Maybe he wasn't even talking to me. His eyes were off—like he wasn't there, if you know what I mean." He rubbed his arms, disturbed. "And when another guy called him out on it, he pretended he had no idea what he was talking about and acted innocent."
It sounded like something curious to him. "What is he diagnosed with?"
"Eh, you're asking the wrong person, Toris. I'm not his caretaker. The documents I've given you should have everything you need."
"I think I should see—"
The two turned to see who had cut into their conversation. The first thing Toris noticed was the salt-and-pepper hair that was pulled back in a tight, strict-looking bun, exposing a bony face. Thin, maroon lips were pursed into a straight line as beady eyes surveyed the young men slowly. "Alfred, your shift is over. I'll be watching our new intern from now on."
A heavy hand clapped Toris on the shoulder before the blond turned to leave. "Hey, it was nice meeting you. I'll see you around." He grit his teeth and his eyes darted to the old lady in warning. "Good luck."
"Y-yeah… bye, Alfred," he bid, his smile not as strong this time.
The woman didn't give him a chance to regain his composure when she leaned toward him, putting the intern back under her scrutinizing gaze again. Toris resisted fidgeting. She was so close that Toris could easily see the facial powder cake into the wrinkles of her crow's feet. It wasn't hard to catch the whiff of a foul-smelling perfume either.
Vulture eyes drifted to the files under Toris's arm and narrowed. He looked away uncomfortably.
"Well? What did Mr. Jones tell you?" She inquired sharply.
Toris gave up trying to get a name. "T-that I'm to take care of my patient's daily needs and provide therapy on occasion."
"Is that all?"
"Yes…" he confirmed. "Did he forget something?"
The woman visibly relaxed. "No, not at all." She held out a hand and Toris shook it reluctantly. "Forgive the belated introduction; I had matters to attend to. My name is Morta Lanka and I am the vice-principal of this facility. If you have a complaint dealing with the staff or the facility itself then you are to go to me. Understood?"
"You were going to start work today, correct?"
"Yes." He felt a bit redundant.
"Good, our receptionist down in the lobby has your card ID for you. You are to carry it around with you at all times as it is required, along with the respective key, to enter any of our patients' wards. And you have been assigned… ah… It's Mr. Braginsky. That's right."
There was a smirk and Toris instinctively gripped onto the papers tighter.
"I can handle it, ma'am."
The sharp smirk remained and Toris let his eyes wander to the far end of the door.
"I do not doubt your abilities—your professor put in a good word for you. Normally we do not accept applicants without a drop of professional experience but you are exceptional."
With this woman, Toris couldn't tell if he was being scrutinized or complimented. "Thank you… I'll try my best."
"Are you nervous, Laurinaitis?" She asked quite suddenly.
The woman laughed and Toris flinched, puzzled. "Go on, go get your ID. Your internship starts officially once you're ready.
After dropping off his load at the cubicle he was assigned, Toris retrieved a map and his personal identification from the front lobby. The lady who worked there cast him a look of pity after she had went over her record.
"Upstairs in the central wing should be the patient you are looking for. The room number is B-12. All doors lock automatically upon entering so keep the key close to you. You are to press the red button located on the key case if something is to happen."
Toris repeated this set of advice inside his head as he scaled the stair case and entered the respective wing like he was instructed.
He walked down the stretch of the hallway, gaze darting back and forth. Most rooms had open windows to the side of the door and from what he saw, most chambers of the central wing were stark white and promptly unoccupied.
"8…10… Here it is." Toris came to a stop before a room that was strangely more spaced out from the general arrangement of the hall.
The door had a slender window in it's center and the intern carefully had himself take a peek. However, the way the room was built made it impossible to see anything aside from a wardrobe that matched the walls of the room.
The door had a slot and Toris scanned his ID and card key, one after the other. The device flashed green and he heard a sharp click when it permitted the door to be unlocked. He stood to his manners and knocked before entering.
It was his job to tend to the patient and provide therapy, but now that Toris was here, he was thinking twice about whether he was actually ready or not.
Three steps in and he already felt his limbs stiffen in reluctance due to the impersonal feel of the room. He stood with his back facing the door, unsure if he were supposed to do something else.
"H-Hello?" The word was strained in his throat and he coughed, trying again. "Hello?"
He received no answer or form of acknowledgment. The lack of life in the room only seemed to contribute to its stifling air. Toris rested a hand against the corner of the wall and looked around it.
On the contrary, there did seem to be an inhabitant of this chamber. The man was laid back in bed, seemingly nonchalant. However, he noticed Toris's head that was poking around the corner and he sat up slowly.
Not saying a word, Toris was met with a lazy stare. The man's face remained unchanged compared to the photo in the files Toris was given. His ashen blonde hair remained the same length and even more untamed-looking. However, unlike in the photo, the violet of his foggy irises saturated with medication seemed to possess a much deeper depth in life, though they still lacked the sort of vitality Alfred possessed. Toris blinked to retain his focus.
He stepped out from the entranceway and the man made no move to greet him, nor did he raise a voice to shout at him. Instead, a curious smile crossed his lips and the man tilted his head, letting the uncomfortable silence settle over them.
"It's creepy if you ask me, but it was as if he could tell what would piss me off the moment he laid eyes on me. 'Spoke nothing but Russian…"
"Priv… privyet," Toris greeted, hoping his accent didn't ruin it too much.
The continuous stare was interrupted with the brief flash of the eyelid… Though his odd grin remained. Strangely enough, this sign of activity only seemed to unnerve Toris further but he didn't let his discomfort deter him.
"Vu govorite po ruski?" Toris was surprised to hear how soft-spoken his words were—the depth of his voice definitely did not match his large stature.
Beyond those two phrases, his knowledge of Russian escaped him and Toris reverted back to his original language. "I've studied the language, but I only speak a little Russian."
"This is fine." His Lithuanian retained a strongly defined accent but Toris found no trouble understanding him. "Shame, Russian is beautiful, da? From heaven… Now, what are you here for?" He shifted in his bed, pulling the covers over his arms.
The younger one extended a hand but the Russian only eyed it, his constant smile replaced by a look of wariness. "To talk to you," he answered, keeping his words even, "my name is Toris. What about yours?" He already knew this man's name but he thought it'd be reasonable of him to ask anyway.
"If you are new here, then I pity you." He brushed off his question like it was nothing, but took Toris's offered hand with his own larger and heavily-calloused one. They shook slowly and his hand fell back to his side.
Toris looked around before pulling up a rounded stool and taking a seat. "You don't like this place?" Well obviously.
Pale fingers dug into the sheets but quickly loosened. The cold smile returned. "Nyet. Trapped in a country that spits at the nature of my blood—why should I?"
"I don't know," the Lithuanian admitted, placing his hands on his knees. "You've lived in Russia, haven't you?"
"Da, it is my homeland." His gaze lowered but he did not change his expression. "It is where my family lives today."
"Same here I suppose. My own family is far." Toris put on a soft smile of his own and he looked up again. "Can you tell me about your home?"
Something crossed his face but Toris couldn't lay a finger on it—though he could compare it to something like amusement.
"It is beautiful. Russia has wide… free? Free land of the people. I love my homeland—there is no other that can compare to her."
He nodded. "Do you miss it?"
There was a crack in that unwavering smile and those large, white hands jerked. "…Very much so."
His heart pricked with pity. Toris wasn't stupid—locked in a country plagued with grudges and prejudice only added to the repressed feeling of isolation. "I'm sure you'll see her again—your homeland I mean."
Suddenly, sharp laughter burst from chapped lips in reply, startling him. "In death, Toris. I am held here; I will die here."
Toris gripped the edge of his seat, frowning at the statement of such a bleak outlook. He did not know enough about this man. He didn't know what he has done to earn such a place here—the severity of his crimes. "Have you stepped out of here even once?"
"Oh, da. In Russia, they say only a fool will stop fighting. Many times I have tried to leave." He lifted his hands, digging his palms into his eyes, rubbing them. His smile remained as he continued, "But then… only a fool smiles when he is not happy. Am I a fool, Toris…?" He hummed, his distant rambling was calm, yet it still brought down a level of unease. "Or am I beyond such sayings? I wonder."
Toris didn't have anything to say to that. It wasn't that the other had given him a dishonest word—quite the opposite in fact. Lies never cured an illness. "…You won't stay here forever." It was all he could provide.
It didn't seem to be enough. The other got on his knees and leaned from the edge of the bed.
"Do you think I am crazy, Toris?"
"Crazy…?" Toris contemplated his question, choosing his own words carefully. "… That's unfair. We've only just met but… I cannot say you're crazy—you've given me no reason to."
The smile in front of him wavered and vanished, replaced by a frown of confusion. Apparently, he did not expect the answer Toris had for him. "You are so strange."
Toris shrugged in response. "We are the same in a sense, aren't we? We're both people. I've no right to judge you."
"You are strange…" He repeated, shaking his head. "Does it not bother you?"
His frown deepened and Toris did not understand his increasing confusion. "You are from this country, yes? Do you not hate Russia?"
"What does that…?" He stopped, the thought hitting him. "Oh." Hate was an extreme word to use and Toris did not expect a question like that to come up. However, he did see where this man was coming from—he's seen this sort of a hate before, even in the best of them. "Like I've no reason to call you crazy, I've no reason to hate Russia. I still think my homeland, Lithuania, is beautiful. I love my home as much as you love yours, but I do not think one is better than the other. Both have their own appeal, I think."
"It is as you say—this country has beauty, but it has hate. Beauty means nothing if there is too much hate, and I cannot find any good here." His eyes wandered away from Toris to the window. "Trapped here, Toris, I cannot compare this place to my home."
He didn't like what he was saying. It wasn't because he thought it was all a lie—quite the opposite in fact—Toris knew he was telling the truth, and that's what bothered him the most. "There is hatred everywhere, but it's natural. I don't like it and I wish it didn't have to be this way, but after all these years, I think I know why people hold onto their hate for so long," he said thoughtfully. "But even grudges don't last forever; it will eventually pass."
The older one looked surprised at his answer. Something flickered in his eyes like a dying flame. "The hate will pass when the old die, da?"
"… Not all the time—I hope it won't have to come down to tha—" he was interrupted by his own startled cry when the Russian landed his hands on Toris's knees, pulling his face dangerously close to the other's. His orbs glinted like mirrors, reflecting malice deep into Toris's own eyes.
"Kill them, Toris." Ignoring personal space, a calloused finger tilted Toris's chin up when he paled, his blood running cold. "Kill, get rid of whatever bothers you."
"N-no." A thick chill descended upon the room and the smaller man struggled to distance himself. He tried to keep the reason within his words—fear only held one back. "That's… that's the easy way out. In the end, it will only inspire more death and hatred."
A sickly grin split those gray lips again and Toris cast his gaze away. "Not if it were your own people. This will make the hate pass faster, da?"
He shook his head, clearly disagreeing. "Hatred begets hatred. You can't solve problems of murder with murder."
"Murder," he whispered, hitting Toris's cheek with a cold breath. He leaned back down on the bed again, his weight no longer upon the brunette. When Toris looked back at him, the glint of madness was gone from his eyes.
No words passed between them until Toris mustered enough of his courage to start, "Are you…?"
"Forgive me." It was his turn to look away, his mouth bent and brows furrowed. "I say things I do not mean sometimes…"
Toris ignored his self-conscious and bent forward, gently taking one of those larger hands with his own. He gave it a soft squeeze and slowly, cold fingers curled around his own with a surprising gentleness. "… It happens."
Silence found them again but Toris felt at ease this time. He felt accepted and he didn't want to ruin the serenity they managed to establish. From his place on the chair, Toris looked outside at a darkening sky—evening was already falling upon them. He will have to serve the food and medication soon.
In the stillness, Toris let his thoughts go free and wander. He thought about his home in which he missed dearly. He thought about Kaunas and its timeless buildings. He thought about the people waiting for him—missing him. His choice to transfer was not without protest but Toris knew what was to become of him when he saw the arising problems with his own eyes. Though perhaps… He'll visit again one day…
A faint murmur pulled him from his languid thoughts.
"Hm?" Toris blinked, looking from the window back at him.
"My name is Ivan.." he said again, looking almost shy. His name rolled off his own tongue smoothly, merging perfectly with his accent.
Toris only smiled—his name willingly given to him at last. "Ivan… It's a nice name." It was certainly something different to hear the name come from its owner's mouth, rather than someone else's who only spoke of him in contempt.
Ivan hesitantly returned his smile but held onto his smooth hand with a new sort of confidence, having no more to say.
But that was fine… for him.
- - x - X - x - -
End of Chapter 1. Obviously, this is going to be my new project I'll be working on. Ahaha… Wish me luck, guys. I hope you'll like it :) I made a request with the same topic on LJ and it was filled by sephy_j_maxwell. Her take on it is absolutely wonderful so I recommend you guys go over to LJ to read it too.
Reviews, critiques, and suggestions are always immensely appreciated. Thank you in advance to any anonymous reviewers. Love to all--!