To Trust That Someone Else Will Catch My Fall

Belle Vista 
during the events of this thread
@"Yana Novik"

They moved into the bedroom, and Levka closed the door only halfway, to lend some illusion of privacy without shutting them off from the rest of the house. The familiar room, unsullied by vampire ash and blood, took a little of the tension out of his shoulders, and for the first time since they got back here, he actually slipped his shoes off.

Glancing towards the understandably unsettled cheetah, he wondered what to do with her beyond getting her out of there so Frank could work. Sitting on the edge of the bed, he opened the bag he'd brought up and pulled food out, a short two-note whistle given thoughtlessly to gain Yana's attention to the offering of sustenance.

Stop thinking about everything else for a moment, please.

 Once she had slunk past the threshold of the door, she'd turned back round and settled on the hardwood just to the side of the doorway. Her ears twitched, leaning against the wood to try to make out the slightest sound of pain or bit of conversation. Still in word mode, her eyes narrowed when he whistled, pupils widening for a second as she slowly rose, annoyed that the temptation was too much to ignore.

 "Do not whistle at me." A scolding of sorts as she imagined a golden retriever that was a little slow at bringing the stick back to her own at the dog park. Her voice was sandpaper, a warped grit but still more or less in the realm of the familiar. Slowly, she closed the distance and eyed the bag of food. There was a temptation to take it, but she was just human enough to reign that in and instead settled with bumping his hand out of the way with her head and digging in wrapper and all. The cheetah, without a doubt, had eaten far more questionable things in the past.

"Thank you ... for staying through this."

Something about her decision to tell him off was familar and strange comfort. A brittle chuckle. "Сожалею," he said, and let her have her way with the food situation. Didn't touch her, though it was tempting. Let her settle instead, observing the particular pattern of her coat while she chomped down on what she could get her jaws around.

Sitting down now, he realized he was more tired than he'd thought.

"Cannot imagine going," he admitted with a tepid shrug. "Thank you for not kicking the odd bear out."

He leaned back to support himself with his palms to the bedding.

 If she had any weakness that she wasn't afraid to acknowledge out loud, it was the fact that she was a proud creature. But after an evening of blood and many people, Levka alone in a room felt like a solitary retreat in comparison. And so she swatted the bag of food off the bed and onto the floor. Held it down with one paw and tore the paper to shreds as she hardly chewed hamburgers and what she could manage to pinch into her mouth of the French fries. Was it enough?

Absolutely not, but it was more of a start than she'd had in hours.

 She thought to respond in Russian, but English was hard enough like this. So instead she watched him from the foot of the bed, dipped down to almost swallow the last burger while before she slowly pulled herself up and collapsed to the side. "Odd, yes. But you're with me and that means you belong here."

He belonged here. Him more than some of these others... but he didn't voice this feeling just now, knowing they owed Frank for his dutiful decision to patch up a cheetah when he had no obligation to it. Abraham had been a lure to get him here... and Levka did wonder if the doctor would have come without it, but he wasn't about to go down there and interrogate the man's motivation. As long as the job was done, little of his frustration mattered.

So instead he looked at her a long moment, letting what he saw come to terms with what he felt--this was very much Yana. Not even a different version so much as a facet come to clear light. Some of the surly stoicism went with it, and as she finished off a meager meal, he sank back onto the bed with a weariness of his own. Whatever ash had clung to him had been lost over time, and all the blood on his shirt had dried. Cloth for a burn pile when he went home--at least it was familiar in a twisted way.

"Well, I am here. With you, as you say. See you through until at least some daylight."

He wanted to stay until she was back to full form, but... they both knew he needed to at least check in with the Glenn bears. Just in case.

 "Don't be absurd, ..." She closed her eyes, kept her back to him as she stretched out and mostly hung off the edges. "You need to go look out for your home, you've done more than enough to help mine." She was quiet for a while as she considered the daunting task at hand, the whole fuss of shifting back and trying to keep awake for more than just a few moments. She wanted to see this through after all, wanted to assess Frank's work before finding sleep. And while she was easily the most powerful amongst them, at the end of the day there was no such thing as perfection when you were what they were.

 "I won't stop you, but do not gamble on my behalf." Perhaps it was paranoia plain and simple, but she was uneasy about the idea of an unmanned territory tonight of all nights. A more complete and human mind grazed the surface, had her twisting to look back at an in possible angle to bump her head against his arm.

He didn't feel like he was being absurd. Maybe he would have agreed with her if he'd said 'I'm staying the week.'

Not that that wasn't a temptation--it so utterly was it could have slipped from his lips at the slightest provocation--but even he knew when a bit of restraint was prudent. One did not live like he did for as long as he did without at least a little caution among the more passionate resolves. He'd grind his teeth about it while being mostly responsible later.

The head against his arm, and he lifted his hand to go and gently touch her chin. A slightly finger-curled touch to encourage her to stay there a moment, so he could look her in the eye and feed their familiarity. "It is not a gamble," he insisted. Though he would not say it, he felt what he meant by this very strongly after tonight--it was never a gamble to put things on the line in favor of the more valuable piece.

After a moment, his hand dropped and patted her on the back.

"I will message mine to check in after the jaguars are gone."

 Selfishly, she didn't particularly want him to leave - didn't want to spend the night alone while Mathis slept away the worst of his exhaustion. She kept still, welcomed the touch despite the difference in form and shifted to weasle herself against his side. "Fine, then you'll stay the night up here with m-" She froze, the slightest twitch of an ear as she picked up the sound of Asha's approach. The front door opened, fully waiting in the smell of jaguar and making her eyes narrow.

 She pulled away from him, jumped down and stretched out before she slunk back to linger to the side of the door frame. ... the fucking floor?" The muscles along the cheetahs back rippled as she shifted her stance, a bit defensive after the night they'd all had. Neglecting Levka, she weighed her options and her agitation and inched further into the hall and towards the stairs. Each step cautious as she considered coming back down and risking an upset from Frank.

Her concession was cut short, and conversation went with it. He understood perfectly well why--he could hear just as well as her, as soon as he realized there was something to be hearing. With Yana moving off the bed, he sat himself back up with no small amount of reluctance, but followed after her, his face scrunching somewhat at the clear sounds of disbelief from the would-be Queen.

Yes, the floor. Where else was there? It was not as if they had been afforded a chance to make sure he was anything more than safe.

And it seemed that Yana felt some fashion of defensiveness as well, which surprised the bear a touch. Normally she was the more reasonable among them, but it was just a reminder that for all she could stalk around on four paws, she was still worn completely down to the bone by tonight.

"Yanochka," he managed quietly, trying to redraw her attention, see if he couldn't convince her not to go showing her face. Between Frank and the fact that her showing up meant she would need to continue enduring the status of 'in charge,' he was deeply opposed to her getting involved over such a tiny slight.

Were circumstances different, maybe....

 One paw planted in the boards of the floor outside of her room, tail low and still as she ducked her head enough that her shoulders knitted together. Listening closely and feeling a wave of gratitude as Isolde, her ever cranky Isolde, worked to desescalate the situation. Cat or not though, the endearment was so familiar that she immediately glanced up at him. Her lip twitched, almost a snarl although she didn't flash him any teeth.

 "Мы павінны былі пакінуць яго ў кантэйнеры для смецця, калі яны паводзяць сябе як смецце людзі." Cheetah-brain irritable and disinterested in trying to shift the words to Russian, she careened a bit to the side to lean against his leg. It was mostly just exhaustion, but there was some underlying thread of insult that was hard to reason with in this state. All the same she kept still against him and listened.

At least she stopped. Whatever else her mood had her feeling--and saying--he didn't particularly mind so long as she didn't make things harder for herself. Isolde was handling it just fine, and if Nika got to terribly out of hand, he'd make the attempt to go handle it himself, long before he'd so willfully let Yana set her golden eyes fiercely onto the gathering downstairs.

Ultimately, he knew he was in no position to stop her if she became determined, but a token effort had her lingering at his side, and he stood with a hand to the wall and listened with her.

Frankly, whatever Yana had said was beyond him, the translation so poor as to be practically nonexistent. He'd blame that on the fact that she was currently a cat, easy. Nonsense words from a mouth barely equipped to offer them.

Originally he had intended to go down and help with getting the outsiders gone, but hearing Isolde handling it he... found he rather didn't want to. He was hardly feeling pleasant, anyway.

 She scowled a bit deeper when he didn't respond one way or the other, the slightest grunt as she knocked against him and turned back around and into the room proper. She used the crown of her head to nudge the bathroom door open, listened as Isolde went to fetch the clothes and help Asha with Abraham. Content to quietly count down the seconds as she considered the bear King standing in the doorway.

 "I'm going to try to pull out of this now - it sounds like everyone is going to behave." Try being the operative word - she'd eaten a bit, but a couple of burgers and a large fry hardly constituted a decent amount after the night she was hoping to wrap up.

It did sound like the jaguars wanted out of here and to go back to their own home as much as Levka wanted them to go. Pack the unconscious one up, drag him back before he was even awake. It wasn't anything personal, really--he didn't mind the lot of them, especially Frank, but in the end it didn't matter who they were, there was just too much going on.

Yana concluded that this was coming to an end, and he sighed to himself again and turned back to watch her go, one ear still trained downstairs. But ultimately, she had a plan, and Isolde could handle anything downstairs.

"Alright," he agreed softly, still low on words for a man who usually could not keep his opinions to himself. "I am here, as you need me."

He wasn't about to tell her how to go about this shifting back business. Honestly, he was happy to go sit back down, fatigue catching up as attentiveness waned.

 It wasn't modesty that had her excusing herself to a quiet corner as much as it was practicality. The guests downstairs could hear just as well as any Were, and she wasn't particularly fond of the idea of ringing any familiar bells with the inherent sounds of a shift. So she creared what space she could, tried to breathe through her shift to keep as quiet as possible. It was slower than normal, no more or less painful then an old scar being sliced open again and again.

 When all was said and done, she laid on the tile of the floor for a moment to collect herself. Curled her fingers and then unfurled them to rub stubbornly at her face before she pulled herself up and held onto the sink to brave herself as she stood. Walking out into the bedroom, she glanced sideways to him before opening the closet door to grab clothing. Isolde, for all she could tell, seemed to be more or less at ease.

"If I have to go down there and break anything up, it'd be quickest to get a piggyback ride." Comical, perhaps she would have laughed at the visual if she didn't mind wasting the energy it would take.

He sat himself down at the top of the bed, pulled his heels up and actually went about texting his bears. Just a quick bit of information for them--that he was staying in Belle Vista at least over night, that the vampire bitch was dead, and to stay safe. He'd update them better at a later time. Perhaps they were due a proper meeting.

But it took Yana a while, and he resisted going to check on her. About the time he dropped his phone back to the bedside table, she returned. She looked about as unwell as an uninjured were could, but this merely made him frown a little without commentary.

Maybe in the morning he'd make a run to the diner, load up on food for the whole lot of them, bring it back. They'd all need it--Yana and Mathis not least of all. But first, sleep took some priority.

A little joke played across the room and he shook his head, the smile he morphed his frown into still plagued by his own sense of concern. "I will simply leap the banister with you on my back. They will never know what did hit them."

But they would be gone soon, with any luck. Even through the half open door, there wasn't much to be heard.

 "Poor Frank, and to think he was doing such a wonderful job of controlling himself." She grabbed a shirt, pulled it over her head and slid her arms through. Papery thin and well warn and easily the sloppiest and most comfortable thing she owned. Appearance, as valued as it was in this home, could be a worry for tomorrow's Yana. Tonight's variant was too focused on pushing the blankets back and sliding under them.

 "Don't let me sleep until they're gone." Firm in an effort to drive home the seriousness of the request as she closed her eyes and tried to focus on any one thing to make sure she stayed in the then and there.

It was nice, to hear a little of Yana return back to her usual form. It was still lacking something, but it was proof that things were settling. They were not so lost in a fog that they were going to be turned around forever.

He watched her as she dressed, the moved enough so she could get the blankets back. Though he was somewhat envious of her, he would wait to actually join her when he was certain he had no reason to leap up and go down and grab a jaguar by the whiskers. But that didn't stop him from scooting in a little closer to her, to brush a bit of hair back from her face and turned in towards her, his shoulder to the headboard.

"You did very good tonight," he told her, words to convince her away from drifting out prematurely, and so he could gauge and do as she asked.

 Different circumstances, different voice, maybe she would have taken offense to being complimented like a leader in training. For this though, she smiled weakly and inched in, twisted onto her side and reveled in how the blankets felt tangled around her legs. She half laid on him, head resting against his side as she closed her eyes and exhaled slowly. "It's my job." And a job it was, though the satisfaction as a whole made it more than worthwhile.

 "If only we had stopped to bring the jaguar up to the guest bedroom, then it would have been perfect." Any reasoning besides a nitpicking attention to detail, lost on her and her frayed nerves. "I'm sure we'd all still be camped out by a dumpster if you weren't there."

He shifted a little more down for her comfort as much as his own and put his palm to her face, just to rub his thumb over the curve of her cheek and consider for a moment just how absolutely sideways this night had gone. Mundane into a massacre into... Well, he was not so sure there was a word for this. Whatever you might label the belly-up aftermath of a bad thing gone right.

He clicked a little in a scoff to the mention of the jaguar coming up to the spare bedroom. As if anyone had been in a state to haul him upstairs. As if Frank could have handled going between two separate patients on two separate floors. The carpet had hardly been an insult... But, well, only privately he would confess that if he'd turned up at someone's home and found a passed out Yana on the floor he might have reacted quite a lot worse.

Still, on this side of the fence, he was content to roll his eyes as the impracticality of treating an unconscious were like they were in dire need of comfort when they spent a lot of time butt naked on pine needles or worse on a regular basis.

"Well, good thing for our timing tonight, then," he said. "You were in enough of a rush I do not think you would have stopped to call me otherwise." Not really a scold, since it hadn't happened... but it could have been.

 "I most certainly wouldn't have called you and Isolde would have been much less gracious in her care." Not an insult to her second and best friend as much as it was ... well, she doubted Isolde would all but hand feed her burgers as much as she would shove them at her and make demands. Not cruelty, but rather a different and less refined variation of affection.

 She set one arm loosely around him, listened to the mumble of the jaguars (and Isolde) making some sort of less than grand escape plan. "Your bears are well?"

In spite of himself, in spite of how heavy this all way, he found himself smiling again. Having known Isolde... largely in passing, mostly as a name and an occasional face, he felt he had come to know her better tonight, standing silently in the front of the house and collectively choosing their number one priority of the evening. Doubtless, the description Yana gave would be accurate.

"Fortunate us, then," was his final murmur on the subject. Glad to be here, if by chance rather than design.

As for the bears... "I have just sent them all a message. There was no one come to cry screaming at me, no missed calls... One can assume that the Glenn has been quiet tonight as it ever is."

Months, and no real trouble outside of bear business. He counted his blessings.

 "Well then I am glad to hear your lot did not decide to upstage mine." She was quiet for a moment, listening to the sound of her front door opening and closing as someone presumably went to grab something or the other. "She's dead." And maybe it was stupid for something so major, to just get to that bombshell - but her thoughts had been on Mathis and Abraham by association for the brunt of the evening.

 She tilted her head up, tried to keep her eyes open as she stared at him and considered the past year and some change. "There's Margaux on my couch." And despite the seriousness, she laughed - hid her face against his chest to stifle herself. "I didn't even invite her in."

It was macabre humor at its finest, and Yana wasn't alone for the chuckling.

Because yes, she was dead. The vampire that had chased the whole lot of them--weres and vampires alike--from the heart of Mountainside. Dead and literal dust. There would be no body to prove it, no head to lift above the balcony and say This was our abuser and now she is gone! or send back to some address in a gift bag...

But she was dead, and the proof of it had coated the ones who had witnessed it with their own eyes. Their testimonies were not quite forthcoming... but they had enough.

"She continues to ruin everything," he muttered wryly, stroking his fingers around the back of her head. And perhaps this was a little much, but... "I am hoping it was your boy who did the bitch in."

 She glanced curiously to the mostly open bedroom door and bowed her head. Cautious, as if the following admission was equivalent to some sort of minor sin. "I hope so too." The fact of the matter was that Mathis, for all his composite and strength, was not a fighter. At the same time, Abraham ... well - she felt on temperament alone the odds weren't too stacked one way or the other.

 "At least it looks like Mathis spent more time with her." A theory that felt more or less undeniable based on their relative states. "I figure I'll begin the Inquisition once he's up tomorrow." Understandably, the cheetah temporarily laid out on the couch downstairs would probably spend a good deal of the next day in and out of sleep. "The next few weeks will be rough." Addressing the undeniable fact of the matter. Routine healings for her, a whole lot of pain for Mathis - she doubted she was alone in the theory that it would be a long September.

Undoubtedly. He frowned a little again, tried to decide how to best say what he wanted to. Difficult to decide if he was just being impulsive or not, he struggled with the mere idea of simply leaving her to it.

"You should let me feed you all come morning. Find out how to get your car back here. Whatever I can do..."

Maybe he couldn't play therapist for those unsettled, put back together minds and logic or whatever sanity would be needed with words... But a few less tasks, a little less to worry about. He could do that.

Let him do that, please.

 The jaguars were gone - battered, unconscious Abraham, poor, kind Frank, and frustrated but nonetheless appreciated Asha - undeniably relieved to be done with it all and leaving nothing in their wake but a bloodstain and some ash on the carpet. Isolde would meander around the living room a short while after they were gone, picking up the shredded remains of clothing and whatever other little mess had been left around, making sure Mathis was as well as he could be.

 She moved up the stairs at a steady pace, and if she was weary at all it would not show - her posture was rigid, shoulders squared and expression remaining defiantly neutral even as she stepped into the bedroom to find Yana and Levka curled in what was undeniably a lovers’ embrace. She might have smirked if not for the circumstances. Instead, she let it lie for now, simply moving into the business end of things. "They’re gone. Doors are locked. I’m going to make coffee - you get some rest." The last bit was aimed mostly at her Queen. Whether Levka slept as well or remained awake in the night made no difference to her - she expected the former of him anyway.

 "If you want to pay to feed four Were's including yourself, well I can't stop you from launching into de-" She had plans for a begrudging acceptance, froze as she listened to the door open and shut and then the sound of Isolde coming up the steps not long after. Different time, different place, maybe she would have backed away for the sake of professionalism. But she was tired and this was Isolde, so she kept her head on Levka's chest and smiled weakly as her guardian turned the corner.

 "I will. If you don't mind, perhaps leave something out for Mathis? My couch stuffing won't be very filling." She set her hand over Levka's, brushed her thumb along the side of his hand. "Thank you, Isolde - for everything. We'll get to the bottom of all of this tomorrow."

Though the acceptance speech was cut short, he took what he'd gotten to heart. He wasn't intending on going back home--the Lodge was set to run itself, any trouble could be put down by those who remained behind. The diner could be overseen by Esperanza, as it usually was. He'd stop in there to get a feel for his bears outside of texts, but beyond that...

He listened to Isolde moving about, but had no qualms with her coming up here. Even if he and Yana had been having a moment, the idea of others knowing this hardly flustered him. Isolde perhaps least of all of anyone except maybe, like, Kroc.

So he watched Isolde as she gave her report, felt thankful in his own way towards her, but let Yana's appreciation stand for them both.

Instead, he firmed up his plans a bit by telling a third party, "I am staying on to help. Let me know if I am needed." He'd heed the guardian for the sake of the Queen. Whatever needed to be done would get done under their collective watch.

 Isolde was easily one of the last people Yana needed to worry about appearing so vulnerable before - perhaps a major factor in her coalition role in the first place. That didn't mean she wouldn't be ribbed for it later, when things were not so heavy. She trusted Levka would offer levity where it was needed... and as much as she appreciated him for what he was here and now, the best friend in her wanted very much to warn him what would happen if he so much as put a chip in Yana's heart. This was not an appropriate time for that, either, and quite frankly, the bestial side of her knew better than to piss off such a powerful bear.

 Quiet, dutiful Isolde she would remain, nodding her head. "You're welcome." She would grab a couple of burgers for when Mathis woke, nodding again with a short look to Levka. "Call me if you need me," she said simply, addressing them both, before turning to leave and bring the door closed behind her.

 Without a doubt, if someone had asked her to place her hard earned money on it ... well, inevitably a time would come in the near future where Isolde would torment her about this. And maybe everyday Yana would have grimaced at that concept, but this weather worn version of herself was happy to just nod, a quiet additional appreciation as she listened to Isolde take her time going down the steps.

 It was then she twisted, pulled up her hips off the mattress to tug the blanket free from beneath her and cover the both of them. She yawned, hid her face and sighed at the end as she closed her eyes and focused on the ticking of the clock on the far wall. "Wake me at the slightest sign of trouble, ... please." Not so naive as to doubt he would make himself helpful to a fault.

Isolde went, reassured in her own mind and leaving them to it. With the door closed, he relaxed a fraction more, and when Yana moved to pull him into bed more fully, he adjusted without fuss, finding the creep of exhaustion was a lot more like a drag, now.

Putting his hand to the curve of her waist he pulled her against him to keep her close while he kissed shoulder, then neck, then sighed as well. It wasn't even shockingly late, but it felt like it. "Обещаю." The sort of muted assurance that they both knew he wouldn't have given if she hadn't made a point of requesting it. She needed to sleep more than anything... but the promise came easier when he assumed the worst of the night had passed. Isolde would handle the first line of everything. With any luck, they'd sleep sound until morning.

And one last thing, of course. "Я люблю тебя." Lest there be any doubt.

At least his motivation for being here was clear.

 If he were to tease or ask, it was fatigue pure and simple. All the same, she smiled and squeezed him a little, gently pressed her fingers against his side and closed her eyes. "I love you too." Not bothering with the sheer veil provided by a language barrier, neatly setting aside that unspoken code.

 Some part of her recognized she hadn't turned off the lights, that little streak that lingered on the mess downstairs. Still, that voice was soft in the face of sleep and in no time she was drifting off.

A pleasant flutter to those words, as they never got old, regardless of how she chose to say them. And though the evening had left her worn down to the barest of her bones, and he had plunged headfirst into cranky silence in the wake of her hurting, it was a very good note to end the night on. 'Worth it' wasn't really the phrase here... but it was something like that. He wasn't so well versed in complex emotion to think of the words for his own benefit.

She was gone before long, but he stayed awake until her breathing evened out, listening to her fade, before he relinquished his vigil as well.

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