|Svetlana Sergievskaya causes lyrical chess wars (thegirlisme) wrote in wariscoming,
@ 2012-09-19 19:19:00
|anatoly sergievsky, svetlana sergievsky
Who: Anatoly and Svetlana Sergievsky
What: Talking about things that need to be talked about. And ghostly arrivals
When: BACKDATED to 13 into 14 September
Where: Their apartment
Status: Part one of two. COMPLETE
Svetlana was exhausted. She wasn’t sleeping as much again and she knew that it would only get worse in the upcoming days. There truly were days when she cursed her ability to memorize a date and what it held without even trying. And the week itself had been difficult. Between the mass disappearance of people on Sunday that led to a night of making sure Dick didn’t drink himself to death, to Anya disappearing and having to try help the girls understand... Fayina understood because of Andy, yet they were both upset and there was nothing the petite blond could do about it.
And then there was the Open House at the elementary school. It was what she had experienced the year before, just the girls had a better grasp of English now. But their teachers liked them and there were no serious concerns brought up. Which was good because it meant that Svetlana could get back to the complex. It wasn’t as if there were any major threats out right now. There was always the need to be on guard and well, being here over a year or not, Svetlana was always aware of her surroundings. Not that she had anyone to be wary of in specific. But one could never be too careful. She had already experienced that both here and in Moscow. Things weren’t as different as people thought, not at the human level.
Then there was the threat of people being tracked. She understood the reasoning, this place was so uncertain, knowing if someone was sent home automatically might be good. But Svetlana couldn’t shake the fear that it left in her. For someone to know where she was. What if someone hacked the system? Irrational, perhaps. But she also knew that had Molokov had the ability to do so, to track her, she never would have survived Bangkok after Anatoly won. And that wasn’t even going into what happened in the alternate Moscow. Which would have started a year ago in three days.
Arriving back at the complex, Svetlana led the girls to their room and helped Jelena get ready for bed as Fayina did the same and then once they were asleep, headed to the kitchen to make herself some tea. Even if Anatoly decided to go to bed, Svetlana planned to at least read up on the latest chapter she had to quiz Anatoly in, even though the words made no sense to her.
The lull in the mass chaos this place could unleash of late was welcomed. It at least allowed them to relax a little, move on with their lives without interference or interruption. Anatoly had used the lull to help catch up on the medical advances that had been made in the last thirty years. So far, things had been going well with that. He’d always had a good mind for memorizing and remembering things, so it wasn’t so difficult for him. He also enjoyed it because Svetlana helped him, so it was something they were able to do together, even if Svetlana more often than not found the medical terminology to be confusing and strange.
But then the Seal sending a large amount of people back to their own world had happened, which included Anya. It was difficult to help the girls understand, though Fayina was taking it a little easier because of her previous experience with Andy. But still, that was not exactly a problem he and Svetlana could fix. It would just take time.
Though what was worrying him more than that was the fact Svetlana wasn’t sleeping as well again. Of course, he knew what time of year it was. While he didn’t hold onto dates as firmly as Svetlana, he did remember the game the Seal had played last year. And given what he’d learned in that alternate version of their world, Anatoly had a good idea of why Svetlana was acting the way she had been. And then, of course, the talk of being able to track everyone and know instantly whether or not someone was still here or not, which didn’t help the situation at all given the state of Moscow and the government they’d lived under. So after returning from the Open House, Anatoly was wondering if he could get Svetlana to talk, to let go of some of the stress and tension she had. After all, he’d be damned if he let Svetlana get worse without trying to help. Because he knew how she was. So after the girls were asleep and Svetlana went to the kitchen, Anatoly followed a few minutes later. He grabbed a bottle of water from the fridge and looked at Svetlana.
“How are you feeling?” Yes he was fairly certain Svetlana would give him a look and deflect the question, but it wouldn’t deter him from his course of action. Because it was obvious that something was bothering her.
Okay, random question was random. It came out of nowhere, at least it did to Svetlana. Because there was no reason to ask. Nothing had happened. Nothing out of the ordinary. No attacks, or being sick or anything that required the question to be asked at all. So just what was her husband getting at?
Quirking a brow, the blond just shrugged.
“Fine... were you wanting to go over the next chapter tonight?”
And just as Anatoly predicted, a look and deflecting to a different topic at hand. The one thing she could do that made her feel she had some worth. She didn’t know how to help a lot of people, but if she could help Anatoly get caught up so he’d be better able to help in the medbay, especially once Jessica went on maternity leave, well that would be helping others as well. Right?
Nothing was making sense at the moment. Despite the progress they had made, there were still feelings from the defection and cheating that lingered. They weren’t feelings that really held her back as they were feelings she’d had on a subconscious level her entire life. They were just more prevalent as of late with everything that had happened.
With the water ready, the blond pulled out the tea choice she wanted and placed it in one of the glasses and poured the water, letting it steep while she waited for Anatoly’s answer. Yes, he had the determined look like he was going to get answers, but she would push it off if she could. Because really, there wasn’t much to say on the matter and she didn’t know how to verbalize it even if she were going to say what it was that was going on her mind.
Yes Anatoly was aware nothing drastic had happened, but considering Svetlana wasn’t sleeping as well of late was evidence enough that something was bothering her. So clearly he would try and head this off before it became a big issue. He wanted to try and diffuse whatever was welling up within her before it did start holding her back, before it started having a profound effect on her. Really, he would do his best to take care of this before it became an issue.
And, of course, there was the deflection. Now he did know he had to approach the topic carefully given what time of year it was, but he was still determined to get down to the bottom of this and try to help Svetlana work through whatever it was that was bothering her.
“You aren’t sleeping as well as you have been.” Well all right, that wasn’t exactly diving head first into the topic, but it was the next step in not letting this go. Perhaps he could have had a slightly more subtle approach, but there were times when the slightly less subtle approach was the better option. Taking a drink of water, he looked at Svetlana, taking in her body language because the nuances in that would tell him what she wasn’t saying. They never could lie to each other because the other always knew when they were lying. He was prepared for Svetlana to deflect again, but the reaction in her body language would at least give him an inkling on where she was mentally with the pressing question he’d asked.
It was very annoying how Anatoly could always read her body language. It had been one of the things that had terrified her when they had first gotten together, and the longer they were together, the more he learned how to read her body language and the less she was able to hide. And now hiding things was more or less impossible. Then again, she also knew that Anatoly had something he couldn’t talk to her about, either. She had known it for awhile. A year. It tied back to the alternate Moscow but with everything that had been going on, she had never pressed. And then he had gone to talk to Helena and now.. well, she was confused and worried and didn’t even know what to think.
“Perhaps I just have been unable to sleep.”
Shrugging, Svetlana quickly turned her attention to the cupboards to get something she needed. She was tired and cold and worried. She had seen the boards. Meg was back. Oh, the demon had done nothing to her, hadn’t harmed her family. But she had hurt others here during the future kids and Molokov. It wasn’t a lie nor was it an admission to anything. It was simply stating a fact. She was unable to sleep.
“Please tell me you’re not logging my sleeping patterns.” At that, she shot a look at her husband. Because she really wouldn’t put it past him. He got neurotic when he thought something was wrong with her. Which there wasn’t. Yes, the timing of all of this was draining on the blond. She was worried about the girls, about Dick... She was worried about what Anatoly was hiding from her, about him in general. Darcy and Jo as they had their children kidnapped by Meg, she was worried about Helena even though she was upset with her and really unable to talk to her yet.. She was worried. That was it. As always.
Finishing with prepping her tea, the blond sipped it and headed into the living room. She wasn’t certain on what she was going to do. The chess board was on the coffee table, there was a medical book marked for the next lesson they had to go through... There was plenty to do that didn’t involve her going into what was troubling her. Though if Anatoly pressed, she’d turn it around on him.
Oh Anatoly knew Svetlana was worried about what it was that he couldn’t talk to her about, and had instead gone to Helena about it. But he couldn’t exactly tell her what he’d done in that other world. He was afraid to. He really didn’t know how she would react to know that, and he didn’t want her to look at him differently. Would she be disappointed? Would she think any less of him? These were all things that went through his mind. Of course, using Helena as an example, it was certainly possible for someone to not be viewed differently when it was known that they’d murdered people. Though knowing Myka, she undoubtedly worried about that part of Helena, worried that it would happen again. He never wanted to put that kind of worry on Svetlana if he could help it. But with him, it wasn’t really a danger of ever happening again. Unless someone directly tried to hurt his family, then he might have a repeat of what happened in the alternate world.
And yet another deflection. And he knew that wasn’t exactly the truth. There was always a reason Svetlana didn’t sleep well, and it usually was because something was bothering her or because she was having nightmares. Or both.
“I have not kept detailed accounts, but I have noted some things when I have noticed them.” But of course he was worried so noting things when he saw them was more or less the same as keeping detailed accounts. Anatoly just had a different definition of what it was to keep detailed accounts. And really, at his core he was a doctor. It was ingrained in him to keep careful notes. So what if he used that on Svetlana? Sometimes he didn’t even intend that to happen, it just did because it had been built into his nature. And the fact he now was working as a doctor again only enhanced that part of him.
Of course she was worried about what he was keeping from her. Because he didn’t keep things from her and the times he did? Those had been when he was under Molokov’s tutelage. Working towards his fame and letting pride take over him. What had happened while she’d been in Moscow or with the wrong version of him? Because that was when it had started, whatever it was he was hiding from her.
But of course he was going to press them. Well, so far not really press them, just responding to the accusation that he was keeping detailed notes on her sleeping habits.
“This falls under our different definitions of something and you know it.”
There really needed to be a book to document how many of these existed. Hovering. Being fine. Detailed notes... But she really didn’t want to get into it. Into the feelings of inadequacy she’d been dealing with for years, that she was trying to overcome yet given how things were here it was harder to do so than it should have been. It was a feeling she’d had even before. And she knew Anatoly had made notes of the things she said as well. It was in the way he had worded some things after the drunken tirades at Helena’s when they had helped with cleaning rooms out.
“So. Are we studying tonight or not?”
And back to that to try and get his attention on something else that wasn’t her supposed bad mental state. She was fine. Three days away from when she’d been sent to Moscow or not.
There was a difference in what he was keeping from her now. It had nothing to do with pride. It didn’t hold him back. Well perhaps in a way it had held him back a little previously, but after talking with Helena, he did feel a bit better on the matter. That, however, still didn’t really ease him into wanting to talk to Svetlana about it because he really didn’t know how she’d react to that. He had become fairly good at predicting how she’d react to various types of news, but learning that your husband had killed an untold number of KGB officers, as well as Molokov and Katya? That was something he didn’t know if Svetlana could handle that. He may try to test the waters on that. And in this event, he couldn’t use her feelings about Helena to judge the reaction because Helena was a friend. Anatoly was her husband, someone she knew so well, and after all the history they shared? Who was to tell how she’d take hearing that her extremely docile husband had gone mass murderer in that alternate world?
“All right, point.”
Because Svetlana did have a point. They had different definitions on a lot of things. Even if keeping notes was part of his nature, the fact was that he still took them, even if he wasn’t completely aware of it.
And still with the deflecting. Which wasn’t surprising because Svetlana liked to insist she was completely fine when she wasn’t. So really, he wasn’t going to let her off the hook.
“Svetlana, you’re deflecting and we both know it. There is something that’s bothering you.” Pointed remarks. Because pointed remarks and questions were harder for her to deflect. Especially if they carried truth that they both knew what was happening. While they may have different definitions on a lot of things, deflecting wasn’t really one of those. Sometimes yes, but most of the time no. They both knew when they deflected and avoided things.
Would Svetlana be able to handle the knowledge that Anatoly had killed people? Especially because of her? She didn’t know, nor was it something she considered as she didn’t know to begin with and the idea never even entered her mind. Still, she didn’t like that he was hiding things. That Helena was hiding things. And it wasn’t just because of the latest issue in regards to being tracked that had come up. It was that they both were honest with one another and yet... But really, that was just one of the numerous things on Svetlana’s mind. It didn’t help the feelings that had become so very prevalent in her life, feelings she tried to ignore that were always there. But it wasn’t the most pressing in her mind. Then again, there was no one major thing, just many small ones that made the feeling worse.
And so he wasn’t even bothering to find a roundabout way to get information from her and he was just straight saying that she was deflecting. Well, that was new. Nor was this like after Pestilence, the talk in the bathroom because she had broken and he had pressed her for information, made her talk when she hadn’t wanted to because it was all in the past. Just memories tripped by everything that had gone on. The stress of Molokov. Of everything she had pushed to the side because it was how she was told to handle pain.
“And what is it you want me to say, Anatoly?”
Because it was obvious they weren’t getting any studying done that night. So she was exhausted and exasperated and not certain on what to really do. Because again, there wasn’t anything she could really do or say. There were things that were in the past that had no bearing on the here and now.
Perhaps that wasn’t the best thing to say given how the conversation in the bathroom had gone when she’d finally given up on hiding things but really, what did he want her to say? He knew she didn’t always have the words necessary to express herself. And he knew how to read into things she had said in vague terms. There was nothing to learn. At least, she didn’t think so.
Of course Anatoly found it weird to not talk about something with Svetlana, but he really didn’t know if it would be a good thing to talk to her about it or not. And he’d also needed to talk to someone who understood what it felt like to carry blood on their hands. But not just any blood, specific blood. Helena had killed, and, at least at the beginning, she’d killed out of vengeance for Christina. Anatoly had killed out of vengeance for Svetlana. They had that in common, and he knew Svetlana couldn’t quite understand that, not completely. It was much like he couldn’t completely understand the pain of losing Fayina and Jelena. Oh he could imagine it, but imagining what it felt like was so very different than actually knowing what it felt like. He hadn’t been here when their daughters had died, so that was a pain he couldn’t share with Svetlana. Likewise, he didn’t know if he could ever tell her about what he’d done. But he would continue to think it over, to test the waters and see if he could gauge what her reaction could be before he said anything on the matter.
“The truth, Svetlana. I know something is bothering you because you do not sleep well when there is something nagging at you.” And another pointed comment. Because really, he wasn’t going to dance around this, not tonight. Tonight he was going to get to the point and get Svetlana to give voice to what she kept silent. Oh he knew there were times when she couldn’t put her thoughts and emotions into words, but he doubted this was one of those times. On the contrary, he believed that she knew exactly what was bothering her, she was just choosing not to voice it because she believed it held no relevance currently. And, of course, the truth was very much the opposite. If something bothered someone, that meant it was relevant and it didn’t matter if it had happened moments before or decades earlier. As long as it was problematic, then it was relevant.
And Anatoly played that one well. Because she couldn’t pointedly lie, they would both know if she did. And she didn’t lie, not that way. Half truths, wording it as a way to say she wasn’t fine but didn’t want to talk about it would be fine, sure. But pointed lies? Not so much. But it also wasn’t an issue because it was the same thing that had always been in the back of her mind in all their years together. Oh sure, in time as they had grown to know one another, as they lived together, the thoughts weren’t as present and the years of Molokov had made them come back and this place made it worse, especially lately, but still.
“There’s nothing to say, Anatoly.”
Annoyed? Definitely. And so Svetlana just moved one of the pieces on the chessboard. Not like playing a solitary game of chess would get her anywhere, but it kept her mind focused as she sipped her tea. It was what had kept her sane during those years. Not last year when she’d been in the wrong Moscow, nothing had kept her calm in that, but that was irrelevant. If she wanted to avoid, she would. Or at least try. Because they had never discussed this even before. Not in depth.
“Now can we drop it and work on studying or something? At least that is something that good can come from.”
Anatoly well knew there were times when he would get more answers from the things Svetlana didn’t say. There were times he could read the answers in her body language. There were times when he could get the answers in the way she worded things. And right now, he heard the way she’d worded her response. And, of course, the way she said something good only further enhanced his drive to discover what was bothering her.
Looking down at the chessboard as she moved a piece, Anatoly sat down and moved a piece, directly challenging her, then he looked at her. “Which means that something bad is bothering you. What is it?” Now he was being extremely pointed. But there was good reason for this. He needed Svetlana to talk to him, be it through words or through the chess board.
“It means what it means. There’s nothing to say.”
Why was he pushing this? Really, why? Because she knew exactly what that move meant. It meant he was going to keep directly challenging her. Which okay, sometimes it was necessary but she didn’t have the energy to deal with this.
As for her body language? She was completely rigid. She wasn’t necessarily in full blown ice queen mode, but she was tense enough that it was clear her walls were up. Part of it was the stress of losing people and worrying about the affect it had on others, and the fact that she had to interact with a large group of people with the Open House. But the small comments had been building for awhile without her even realizing it.
With that, she moved to protect herself, her heart. She wasn’t going to be torn down by people just because she had no real purpose in this war, in any of this. She was a seamstress. A mother. A wife. Nothing more, and certainly nothing of importance.
Anatoly read that move, and read into it. He could tell her walls were up. Given recent events, he understood that. But there was something else, something more to this. Something that Svetlana obviously thought wasn’t important, but obviously it was. Because she was protecting herself. And she only protected herself in these types of situations. Svetlana lived in extremes, and it was because of that that she guarded herself. Keeping people out to protect herself. But clearly this was holding her back currently, and Anatoly was going to get her to open up about this.
“Why are you guarding yourself so closely? It is more than just the recent events.” He also made a move on the chessboard echoing what he’d just said. For some reason, he just felt like asking out loud as well as moving pieces on the board. At the very least, doing both would only reinforce this and hopefully get answers. Svetlana may not have the patience to deal with this, but the fact was that she needed to. She needed to give voice to whatever it was that she was keeping to herself because it was becoming an obstacle. And if she didn’t acknowledge it now, the obstacle would only get bigger, and he wasn’t about to allow it to get any bigger than it already was.
Svetlana really didn’t have the patience for this. She was already on edge thanks to the time of year it was. The nightmares and memories. Everything was uncertain and she was waiting for the next big thing to come along and send her and Anatoly back and given how much progress they had made? She didn’t know if she could handle being set back yet again. And given the first major setback occurred this time last year? They had finally gotten a chance to breathe. To live their lives and move forward. Which meant they were due to be sent spiraling down at some point. And Anatoly didn’t see it.
Clenching her jaw in annoyance, the blond just moved her piece to both avoid him and to try and get ahead. She already could tell that this was not a game of who would win. No. This was a press her into a corner and make her snap game and she really didn’t want to deal with that. Not when her nerves were already so frayed.
All the while, she was keeping a single pawn completely guarded because that pawn was her. That was all she ever truly had been to everyone. And while she knew the worth of a pawn was often misjudged because of its limited mobility and point count for being captured, they were the throwaway piece, seen as worthless.
“Clearly you’re imagining it. I didn’t know you were studying to be a psychiatrist as well.”
Just like she didn’t know what he was hiding from her. Just like she didn’t know when his eye would start to wander again and if it already had. If that was what was going on with Helena. She didn’t want to believe it, but the insecurities remained.
While Anatoly had never been able to read Svetlana’s chess game, he was able to read it now, because they weren’t playing a game. It was a conversation, a representation. Which is why he noticed the pawn that she kept guarded. The pawn that most people took for granted, the throw away piece. Pawns had their use, but many didn’t value them highly for one reason or another. And the fact that Svetlana was so obviously using the pawn to represent herself? That worried Anatoly. As such, he looked at the pawn, trying to understand what it was saying to him. This was so obviously another of those instances where he needed to read into what Svetlana wasn’t saying. Or rather in this instance, what piece she wasn’t actively using on the board.
All right. Well, that wasn’t exactly what he’d expected. Though as he thought about what that meant, he’d remembered some of those throw away comments she’d made lately. Alone, they seemed little more than that, but Anatoly had noted them because they would undoubtedly come up later. And now, if he attributed them and their meaning to how Svetlana was using the pawn, things started to fit together.
So as a response, he moved his rook next to her pawn. He was using the rook as himself. Even with the progress they’d made, he still didn’t quite feel he’d proved himself enough to be worthy of using the knight for himself again. But the rook did serve well given it was a protector, and Anatoly would do anything to protect his family. That included finding out what was really bothering Svetlana so he could fix it. Because damn it, he wasn’t going to let this become a larger issue that would set them back again.
While Svetlana knew that Anatoly would do anything to protect her and the girls, but that didn’t really mean much in regards to how she viewed herself. How he had made her feel for years, reinforcing her own beliefs she’d had before she had met him. Before he had made her think maybe there was more to her than she realized. And given he had both made her think so and then tore her down to where she’d been before? It was a lot. It wasn’t the alternate him that had done that. It was the man beside her that had. And while he had never used the words that tore her apart in a way she never thought possible, there had been arguments which tore her down. Which solidified that she wasn’t enough.
Oh, they were years in the past now. Two years, to be exact, but that didn’t make it any better. Because one of those years he was gone, solidifying it and then the past year or so in Lawrence where things were always so hectic that any small amount of progress was amazing and there wasn’t much time to fall back to those fights.
But did he see it? Really? He had figured out which piece represented her, yes. But did he truly understand? Could he? He thought he hadn’t proven himself to be the knight, but what was the point if she were nothing but a pawn. A pawn in Katya’s games, in Molokov’s. And there was no way to really show it beyond knocking the pawn down. So she did before looking to Anatoly, her voice tired. Not hard, not angry. Just tired.
“You have no idea how worthless you made me feel....”
It was a sad realization. Because Anatoly was the one who had made her think she did have worth. That she was more than the seamstress from the factory who never let people close because they always hurt you in the end. That she wasn’t just the only sister beneath three brothers who took turns raising her because their parents couldn’t be bothered. But the fact remained, that had always been an issue for her. How she was only a seamstress, nothing special. Not until Anatoly. And then he cast her aside for a new queen. One who was no longer his, one who had left him. The only one who had done so.
Shaking her head in resignation, Svetlana picked up her tea and moved to the window, staring out it in thought and memory.
So okay, Anatoly hadn’t exactly known what response to even try to anticipate, but he never would have thought her knocking the pawn over was going to be her response. He blinked, taken aback by that. Then he looked at Svetlana and her comment also took him by surprise. Her words carried so much weight, and oh he knew the depth of it. Because he’d known her issues, knew what she’d thought of herself back when they’d first met. He knew he’d given her belief in herself.
And then what had he done? Torn it all down when he’d let his pride take over, when he left her. So really, it wasn’t hard to understand what she was trying to say with that. This was something that went back further than what happened in the alternate world and he knew that. This was what had been bothering Svetlana. All those comments she’d made, now they all made perfect sense.
When she moved over to the window, he looked over at her, feeling guilt’s heavy weight settle on his shoulders yet again. Well, not that he’d ever stopped feeling guilt since he’d been here, but that was beside the point in this matter. He stood up and moved over to the window. He reached out and took her free hand in his and looked her in the eye.
“No words will make things instantly better, but I’m here, and we will get through this together, Svetochka.” His tone was gentle but strong, the tone it always was when he was comforting Svetlana and wanting to help her. But it wasn’t so much his choice of words that carried the weight of his intent. It was the way he held her hand in his, the way he looked at her, and the way he was standing close to her. He was showing her how he felt through his actions, which for them spoke louder than any words ever could. And through his actions, his love for her showed through brighter than the sun. Somehow, someway he would help her find her self-worth again.
And he still didn’t get it. She knew that he was there. She knew that he wanted to make things up to her for all he had done. But it wasn’t that. It was that he didn’t realize just how deep it went. That it went beyond the cheating, beyond the year he had deflected. It even went beyond Bangkok. The fights there, the fact that she barely had survived that trip. That she had used every single trick she knew to avoid Molokov when things were obvious he intended her to die after she failed him.
It wasn’t that he had to prove to her that he loved her. That he was sorry. It was just... he didn’t understand the depths his actions had truly hurt her, had left their mark on her even after a year and change of working towards fixing things. She lived in extremes. And they had been trying to fix this in half the time they had known one another before getting married.
“I know. And yes, apologies have long since lost their meaning...”
But she didn’t know how to say it. How to say what had happened in Bangkok. What his decision truly meant. Because they weren’t back in Moscow. They didn’t have to deal with Molokov here anymore. Even thinking of him caused the blond to shudder and wrap her arms around her. She hated how she still felt completely sick and full of self loathing because of what had happened a year ago. She knew she had no choice. Even if that was not her Moscow, the girls were still her daughters and she would always protect them.
As such, she pulled her hand away from Anatoly’s and went back to staring out the window, her mind going to darker places. Worrying about what awaited them back in Moscow. What Molokov had planned. She had gotten an idea from his duration here in Lawrence. Add in what had happened in the alternate world... Closing her eyes, Svetlana steadied her breathing before it could pick up in fear and memory.
She was so tired and they both knew it was going to get worse in the upcoming days.
Anatoly may not have realized the true depth of how badly he had hurt her, but he knew he’d done a horrible amount of damage. For a period of time, he had believed that the damage he’d done was more than they could ever overcome. But after the progress they had made, he knew it was possible that they could overcome it. They’d overcome so much to get to where they were, but he also knew that what they faced currently was more difficult to work through than anything else they had previously dealt with. After all, it wasn’t simple anymore. It was no longer simply getting to know each other and dealing with the wickedness of others. No, this time was rebuilding everything that Anatoly had single-handedly built and then destroyed. As such, words carried so little meaning, so he had to let actions carry the brunt of his meaning and intent. Actions spoke so much louder than words, they always had in their relationship, even before he’d started changing. He glanced out the window after Svetlana pulled her hand away, then looked down at his hands. He’d done so much damage that he wasn’t even truly aware of what he could do to make things better. He knew that before, his belief and always being there for Svetlana had helped her gain a belief that she was worth something. But this time, he knew it would take so much more than that. Anatoly was, however, willing to work at it, whatever it took to help Svetlana again because she truly was so much more than she perceived herself to be, despite what others did.
And oh, he knew the coming days were going to be difficult after what Svetlana had experienced with the alternate world last year. And the day that the girls had died. He sort of feared that day because he knew there was nothing he could really do to help. He hadn’t been here, he didn’t know what it felt like to experience that pain. Anatoly could imagine, but that wasn’t the same and he wouldn’t even try to pretend to understand. Even so, he would be there for her as much as he could through this.
Lifting his gaze from his hands, he looked at her. He wasn’t bothering to even mask the guilt he felt. Then again even if he did mask it, Svetlana would still be able to see it. She always saw through him no matter what he tried to pretend. Where to go from here? Because this wasn’t exactly a topic that could be discussed at length and fixed by that. This was one that was fixed with actions.
While it was not a topic they could discuss at length to fix, silence wasn’t necessarily the answer, either. It was so complicated. If everything they had been working on in the past year and three months could be considered easy, Svetlana really didn’t know what the complicated matters would entail. Because the ‘simple’ had nearly destroyed them. Getting past the barriers again, learning to trust again, dealing with the memories, the PTSD. Dealing with Molokov. They had made a lot of progress thanks to him and yet....
Watching Anatoly through the window and seeing his guilt in the reflection, the blond sighed. Of course. Silence. Anatoly had said he wanted to spend his life loving her, supporting her. There had been no promises, just a statement of facts that both knew to be true. That Anatoly always saved Svetlana and that she made him better, that they had a connection that transcended so much that it was terrifying. But that didn’t mean there weren’t hurdles. Sometimes they just took awhile to appear as Svetlana had issues talking about things and now Anatoly always just latched onto the guilt and went silent. Oh, he was right to feel the guilt this time, it wasn’t that... it wasn’t him taking on guilt that wasn’t his to shoulder. It was just... the silence.
“Is that how it is, then? You hear something you don’t like and go silent?”
Turning, Svetlana looked up at Anatoly.
“Is that what has been left of Molokov? Tune out what you don’t want to hear and shut down when you can’t? How are we supposed to even try to move forward if you don’t understand the depths of it all? I know that words and promises hold little meaning now, but really?”
Shaking her head, Svetlana didn’t notice that she had started to rub her throat.
“Is this what would have happened had you given me a chance to say what it was I needed to tell you before that last match? Had you not decided to just say you were winning despite me being the one to request the meeting?”
True, Svetlana had not gotten around to mentioning what had happened in Bangkok. It was one of the things they never really wanted to discuss. After all, wasn’t it all there on stage? But no. It wasn’t. And seeing how Anatoly responded even now to things he didn’t want to hear, or at least how it seemed, what would have happened back home had she gotten a chance to tell him what she needed to then?
Silence was a default, but Anatoly wasn’t fully understanding. He wasn’t exactly knowing if Svetlana could convey exactly how worthless he’d made her feel. Yes he had now pieced together all of those off-hand comments she’d made, but that didn’t tell him the exact depths of that feeling.
And then Svetlana was pointedly asking if that was left over from Molokov. All right so that’s how she’d interpreted his silence. He wasn’t overly surprised by that interpretation given how she’d been acting lately.
“You mistake my silence for figuring out a way that I can understand, Svetlana.” Though when she asked if that’s how he would’ve responded when she’d requested to meet him before the match in Bangkok, he wondered exactly if that was said because of the silence, or if there was something else poking at her on the subject. “What did you need to tell me in Bangkok?”
Really, the fact he asked that question should be more than enough for Svetlana to realize he didn’t have selective hearing. Yes Bangkok was a topic they typically avoided talking about but this was about overcoming hurdles and moving forward. And really, it was something they needed to talk about. This time, they weren’t forced into talking about things because Molokov was here. This time, they were talking because they needed to, even if Svetlana herself didn’t realize she needed to say things. Likewise, there were things Anatoly needed to hear and talk about.
Svetlana rarely ever acknowledged when she needed to talk about something, it usually just happened on it’s own. Molokov being here was the one time they had talked about something when they weren’t ready. So while she didn’t think it necessary that she bring up Bangkok, she still did, so subconsciously it was something she was ready for, at least in part. But really, was it so surprising that she would think he just shut out what he didn’t want to hear? They may have been making remarkable progress but there was still five years of avoidance and leaving to contend with.
While normally she would be annoyed at Anatoly correcting her in how she interpreted something, she wasn’t this time. Because he at least he wasn’t using the tone of voice he would during that time, when they would fight and argue on the times he bothered to respond to something she said that he didn’t want to hear. And he at least asked what she had wanted to say in Bangkok before he had taken over that conversation and left her stunned and trying to stay afloat so that all she could do was respond in anger.
“That if you won, I was not going to be leaving Bangkok... and we both know the only way I would return to Moscow would be if I were dead. And Molokov knew that as well.”
Oh, it was something that wasn’t shown in the concert version of their lives. But on a whim, Svetlana had looked up different versions, finding things that related more to her, to what had happened. And that conversation had happened in another version. Either way, they both knew that Svetlana would never betray her family, she would never willingly stay behind in Bangkok. The only way to keep her from her family, her daughters, was to die.
The tone Anatoly was using was a gentle one, one showing his concern. It wasn’t condescending, it wasn’t antagonistic. The last thing either of them needed right now was to get into an argument. Anatoly didn’t have it in him to want to fight, and really, what was the point? They were trying to have a conversation and he was trying to understand the depths of what he’d done to Svetlana when he left. When he’d avoided and neglected her during those five years.
Though the fact that Svetlana brought up Bangkok without previous provocation to do so told Anatoly that she was ready to talk about it, at least in part. So really, that was a good sign. She was opening up to that, and he would embrace it because it was something they needed to talk about.
Then as Svetlana told him of what she’d needed to tell him in Bangkok, his eyes went wide. For a moment, he saw the parallel to the alternate Bangkok he’d been thrown to almost a year prior. He also saw a parallel to that dream he’d had in Bangkok that motivated him to go back home to his family. And of course Molokov would’ve done that as well. What better way to ensure the KGB bastard won in the end by ensuring that one way or another, Anatoly would lose something.
“I should have listened to you in Bangkok, given you the chance to tell me what you needed to.” Of course, he couldn’t change that now, but he had made certain Svetlana got out of there alive. Yes it hadn’t been planned that they’d end up in Lawrence, Kansas in the year 2011, but there you go. This was just yet another reason he was glad that Molokov was dead and gone in this world. “When did Molokov give you his threat?” Oh he knew Molokov wouldn’t have outright stated his intention, but the meaning would’ve been known regardless. And really, if Molokov had been here at this moment, Anatoly would’ve gone after him and killed him. He’d all ready done so once, he could do it again.
As Anatoly acknowledged that he should have listened to her in Bangkok, Svetlana nodded. There was a lot that Anatoly should have done that was too late to really change now. All either of them could do was just... figure out where to go now. They had made all of this progress, so that was a good sign. Svetlana was ready to talk about things they normally would hold off on and so, it was good. It was painful, but in the end it would be worth it. At least, she hoped so. She knew Dmitri would tell her it would be.
“Right before the match that had you tied 5-5 with Viigand. I guess it was the day you spoke with Freddie....”
After all, if there was one thing that was good which came of watching their lives on stage, it was seeing what had prompted Anatoly to win in the end. It didn’t explain why he had made his choice. She didn’t know about his dream from then. She just knew he had won and and she had been forced to stay one step ahead of Molokov and his men.
“I had tried to meet with you after the match but you had disappeared.”
And while she had debated going after him, she hadn’t wanted to run into him with Florence given what she had seen, how they were a sham and neither realized it. How they held onto an idea that wasn’t real. Because it hurt too much, even as she had thrown it at him in that last fight in Bangkok before he won. And then the moment in the lobby. No words were spoken. She’d just been trying to get out when they caught one another’s gaze and he made the declaration that he was returning to Moscow.
Really, there was so much Anatoly should have done differently, but all they could do now was acknowledge that and move forward. It was just a matter of finding exactly where to go now. But as long as he and Svetlana stood together, they could weather any storm. He did still fully believe that. They always were stronger together, and if what they’d gotten through and been through here was any testament to that, then they most certainly could get through this.
Nodding a bit at when Molokov had told her that, Anatoly reflected back on that day, on what had transpired. The day he’d spoken with Freddie. So basically when Freddie had told him to win for the sake of chess. But of course after any conversation with that man, if one could call those conversations, always frustrated Anatoly. At that time, he didn’t like being told what he should do, and least of all from Freddie Trumper.
“I’d needed some time to myself, away from the press, away from people.” He’d somehow managed to find a quiet, private spot away from everyone. Though what it had been a manifestation of was running away from things. “Though what I was really doing was shutting out the world and staying in my own world.” Which he figured Svetlana would’ve known even if he hadn’t said as much, but he was saying it at least, which meant something didn’t it? Admitting to things?
Of course Svetlana knew that. She had accused him of doing just that before he had left for Merano yet he had refused to acknowledge he was doing that. Refused to listen to anything she said that went against what Molokov had drilled in his head. That went against chess and prestige and his stupid pride. There had been a lot of angry words spoken in Bangkok after that, though they weren’t lies. They were truth. Because Anatoly was hiding behind lies and pride and didn’t care. He had become cruel. And the Anatoly from the alternate world? He was even crueler. Because she was his competition. Because he felt she betrayed him while she’d been trying to protect their daughters. Or at least the alternate her. But even so, Svetlana knew she would have made the same decision in her place. Had made the decision when she realized the cost.
“And by running you ended up talking with Freddie.”
She didn’t hate the American. There might have been a time where she did. Well, not hate, but strongly dislike. But he was one of the first people in this place she could consider a friend, strange as that was. She didn’t understand his motivation for telling her husband to win, nor would she ask because it didn’t matter. It was Anatoly’s choice in the end. Just like she would never tell Freddie about the bar that night. Because while it had saved her life, she didn’t need him holding that over Anatoly as well.
“Just... was it truly a last minute decision? You were throwing the match up until that point. And I understood that it couldn’t be an obvious throw but... did you know before talking with him that you were going to win? Because Viigand’s game did not change so drastically in a year for you to be 5-5 with him.”
Perhaps that was what she needed, Svetlana didn’t know. To have an answer for what she hadn’t known in Bangkok. She knew he’d been throwing the match, but that last conversation, the declaration of winning and not listening... of being so angry... she never did figure out if he’d been playing her the entire time or if he truly had been conflicted. She recalled the lyrics from the stage performance, she knew what happened, but even so... she didn’t have all the answers she needed. And once she knew that, she could figure out why he decided to come back to Moscow.
While Svetlana didn’t really hate Freddie, Anatoly did. He thought the man was brash and childish and needed a good round of discipline more times than not. But even with that, he knew Svetlana and Freddie talked, and as long as the American didn’t upset Svetlana, he wouldn’t say anything on the matter. His issues with Freddie were his own, and he kept it that way. Of course, things were better now and there was a truce. But he still didn’t like Freddie and the two men did keep their distance when they could.
“No, I didn’t know I was going to win when I talked to Freddie. I was still wavering.” He had, of course, been throwing the match because Anatoly hadn’t exactly known what it was he wanted to do. He had wanted to pull one over on Molokov, but he hadn’t really been throwing the match because of that. Had Freddie’s talk convinced him to win? Not really. Even though Freddie had told him to win for the sake of the game, Anatoly wasn’t about to do that just because Freddie had told him to.
And so Svetlana at least knew that he wasn’t purposefully playing her at the time, purposefully letting her believe he would lose only to win. That was something. Because when she got irrational and upset, when she got paranoid, she wondered if it was still a game to him. All of this. They had worked through that belief mostly. But there were times, even now when they had renewed their vows and were working on things, where she wondered. Especially now that he was keeping something from her. That he and Helena had talks that she knew nothing about. And despite the fact she trusted them both, she knew that her trusting someone didn’t make them incapable of breaking it and she was terrified of feeling that pain again.
“I see....” Because it was something to think over. She knew that Anatoly would never do anything just because Freddie told him to. Please. If anything, he would have done the exact opposite. But something must have clicked.
“And your return to Moscow? Was that a sudden decision as well?”
Because she remembered the look across the hall before she ducked out into the streets to find a way to survive. She remembered the silence and awkwardness after they met up at his hotel. When she had been hoping to avoid Molokov but he had gotten there before her husband had shown up.
“Because if we’re to go off your conversation with Florence, you didn’t know then either what you were going to do before you decided to come home... Because it certainly wasn’t me as you had won despite the initial plea I made with you to lose for the sake of the girls and myself.”
It was a subtle reference that Svetlana did see there was truth between them. If she was still completely wary of Anatoly and his decisions, she would have said back to Moscow. But with the progress they had made, where they were, it was home even if she wondered and worried and felt worthless. If the fact that he hadn’t felt she was enough reason to lose, his family. She needed to understand because she worried that maybe she would never truly grasp it any other way. She needed the answers, just like Anatoly needed to know how deep the wounds went and how they went so far back, beyond the alternate Moscow, beyond Bangkok.
As always, it was sometimes in the things Svetlana didn’t say, how she held herself, how she worded things, where the true meaning of her words could be seen.
This conversation was surprisingly being straight forward, but Anatoly knew Svetlana was like that when she was tired. And she needed answers, and so he gave them. So far his answers hadn’t required much explanation. But then when she asked about his decision to return to Moscow, that is where things got complicated. Because really, things were a little strange when it came to how he got to that decision.
“My decision to return to Moscow is a slightly intricate one. It was partially a sudden decision, but it was also the culmination of realizations.” He took a breath and looked at Svetlana. “The last night in Bangkok before the final game, I had a dream. It was set about ten years after Bangkok and was a what would have happened if I didn’t return.” He lowered his gaze for a moment, some pain crossing his eyes as he remembered every detail of that dream. He quickly looked back up at Svetlana. “Somehow in the dream, someone turned me back into my 20 year old self and sent me back to Moscow. I saw what happened to you, to our daughters. Molokov was still there, obviously controlling you. Little by little I let go of the man Molokov had made me into and, with Jelena’s help, I tried to help all three of you. In the end, you became ill and had to go in the hospital. It was there that I became my right age again, but you...you died...”
Even as he spoke there were tears in his eyes. That dream had been so vivid, so very real to him and it did haunt him. Even now it haunted him to remind him of who he was, who he should be and where he belonged. And given everything that had happened in Lawrence, it really wasn’t a stretch of the imagination to wonder why it haunted him.
“As much as the dream affected me, it wasn’t until I saw you across the room after the match that I realized where it began. And I couldn’t let it happen. I couldn’t put you or our daughters through that. So that is when I decided to return home. Because I belong with you and our daughters.” And there was nothing but truth within that. And he had given Svetlana the answer she’d asked for.
Svetlana remained silent as Anatoly explained the dream. The fact that it had happened in Bangkok was startling. Something like that happening in Lawrence? It made sense because well, Lawrence. But it didn’t. And it made sense of some of his reactions to things that had happened since being here. But really, how was she supposed to respond to that? To know what he had seen? She couldn’t really reassure him of anything. She didn’t know what would have happened had Anatoly not returned but between what Molokov had said while here, what had happened in the alternate Moscow, well, it was believeable.
And it seemed that even then, there was a part of him that did care. If he hadn’t, if he truly had stopped loving her, he wouldn’t have cared about what would happen to her. They wouldn’t have had that connection with just a look.
But she didn’t really have a chance to finish the comment, even if she didn’t know what she’d say. Because she suddenly found herself being held from behind and saw her husband stumble back as though being punched.
And her voice changed from stunned and moved and upset to...shocked and confused. And feeling a body terrified her, so she spun and nearly fainted on the spot.