Just About a Million Ways to Harm You

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It had been morning by time he had crossed back into North Glenn. Though the vampire had only landed one good hit, it had him aching when he'd woken up and somehow grouchier than he'd been when he'd gone to sleep. Regretting his life choices in that moment, especially the one in which he had slept in his car instead of crawling off to a bed he woke up pining for, he'd stopped off for food somewhere other than Big Bear--mildly concerned that Esperanza would be there while he was looking to lick his wounds without an audience.

Didn't make him feel much better, though, and as he'd gone up the stairs to the den at the lodge, he'd done so with caution to make certain his guardians weren't about to materialize with questions and looks. Managed to sneak off to his own bedroom, a long cold shower to see if he could think for a minute, only to end up back in bed.

Maybe he didn't need to sleep, but it had more appeal than facing yesterday with the clarity of a backward glance.

Just past noon, he woke up to several notifications--all work related, and all promptly swiped away to be ignored. He had had some hope that... well, it felt like jinxing it to even think it in so many words, and so he lay there, looking at the ceiling with too many thoughts and not enough dexterity to sort them all out. Remembered a time, some weeks, maybe months ago, where he'd laid right here and sat on a call with Yana. Didn't even remember what they'd talked about--simply that they had.

And so, unable to think of anything else well enough to come up with a different course of action, he took up his phone again.

can i call you

He almost anticipated silence, or something similar to last night's 'go home.'

 It might have been less alarming to sleep restlessly, but she slept just fine despite all of it. Tired won out over feeling, made her keep still throughout the night, though she was up earlier than normal. She patted down her feelings while she sat up in bed, stared out the window and hunched over. It was like sifting through sand, picking out the most important bits and holding them up to get a better picture. Still sad, still angry, but this was a softened version, a little less on edge but there all the same.

 Experience dictated that she handle this in one of two distinct ways - punch something or clean. Considering the ungodly hour and last night, she was not so quick to make the drive to Cedar Creek. So instead she got out of bed, wandered downstairs and started in the entryway, worked her way back from there in a calming routine of sweeping and moping and tidying.

 Over the past few weeks, it seemed the chime of her phone was like a black dog - a clear sign of trouble on the horizon. She heard the ping from where she left it on the kitchen counter, sighed as she propped her broom against the wall and went to check, too curious to look away from that car accident. She supposed she could have sent him another gif, something with someone adamantly shaking their head. Yesterday's Yana would have, at least.

-incoming call from Yana Novik-


So stuck on the idea that she might very well cold-shoulder him, he almost didn't know what to do when she responded after a bit with the most forward version of 'fine, let's do this.'

His hesitation, while brief, was longer than it should have been, considering he'd been the one to reach out. He picked up on the fourth ring even as he swung his legs over to the side of the bed, preparing to stand and likely pace. But for now, he sat here, another moment of silence even after he'd answered, while he suddenly blanked on how to even say hello.


He said it in a tone that almost made it sound like he was surprised, or like he'd just realized it was her and not someone else, for all either of those made no sense.

 For a moment it seemed like he wasn't going to answer, a baffling choice seeing as how he was the one who had asked for this. She pressed her hip against the counter, scowled as she stared at the pale gray of the kitchen wall and listening to the ringing. For all the build-up, his answer wasn't very satisfying, little more than a text message that simply said 'ok'.

That would be me. How can I help you?

It wasn't very different from how she would answer a phone call from someone at work, albeit perhaps the slightest bit short.

He tried to have a filter between his brain and his mouth, he really did. He felt like he'd been doing pretty well, too, but he was worn a little thin.

Yana's choice on how to come at him was probably pretty merciful, really, but he'd almost prefer scathing to cold. He tried to hold it back, but he sighed audibly anyway.

Is that how we are going to do this?


 Ah, there it was - all that agitation from the night prior bubbled to the surface, summoned by the simple exhale of breath. A good portion of it was the misstep itself, of course, it was, but the way he was handling it after the fact wasn't doing him any favors. She laughed then, a small cough of a sound as she resisted that voice in the back of her head that said it would have been wiser to resort to punching after all.

I don't know what we're doing, so ok, I suppose so.

Ok - seriously?

If there had been any carefully laid plans on what to say--spoiler alert: there hadn't been--they would have been surely derailed at this point. He stood up and moved toward the window of his bedroom, giving himself a precious couple of seconds of action to try and think of something that wasn't just putting his foot in his mouth.

I am- this is trying to make sense of last night enough that I can make you not as mad.


Did you kill him?

Might as well get that out of the way first, they could work backward from there.

That was--


So much so that it didn't even occur to him that he didn't know what answer she would prefer.


Much as he may have wanted to.

No. No?

For some reason, she found that rather hard to believe. Still, she didn't think that they had fallen to the depth of outright lying to one another.

Mm. Did you intend to kill him?


It was considered.

There hadn't been much planning involved in going after him. He'd been mad enough to kill him, to really just go for the blood he'd been denied. But surprise, in the end, vampire blood was less appealing than could be properly described in five words or less.

He could have elaborated, but it felt like simple answers were best, given both their moods.

Well in the very least, I suppose I should be pleased that you stopped to consider anything at all.

It was out and in the atmosphere before she could stop it, irked by the roundabout answer in the first place.

What exactly were your intentions, when you so boldly decided to raise your middle finger to not only me but Asha as well?


And there she was, still very much stuck on declaring him a fool. As if he were not fully capable, with his own reasons, his own methods. He had defaulted to her for most of the encounter, yes, but the idea that he was somehow... required to, to the degree of being declared incompetent otherwise--it rankled.

But he grit his teeth to keep himself from giving her more ammunition, yanking back the curtain on the window to put some light in the room as if that would help.

I did not think it was so offensive, making it clear to a вампир that he was unwelcome.

Russian for emphasis of his disdain.

Is that what we're doing?

 She pinched the bridge if her nose, slapped her palm against the counter and decided to pace the living room instead.

It's not about the goddamn vampire! You should know it's not about the vampire! It's about moving cohesively!
I was going to track him and see where he was headed - from there we could have seen who his friends are, who came and went. But you didn't want to wait for that, you just assumed - what? I woke up yesterday and decided I was a pacifist!?



He went to sit back down on the edge of the bed, now conveniently warmed by sunlight that he didn't particularly deserve.

I did not think you a pacifist--

Offered like it was a terribly dirty word, he felt defensive because for the first time in this interaction he did feel genuinely foolish.

I just. It seemed... I do not know anymore. But you yelled at me even after I let him off against my wishes and--

With some of his previous frustrations now reflecting back at himself, he was flustered in trying to explain his previous logics that had seemed so clear to him at the time but were now steeped in uncertainty.

Because you didn't just let him go, Levka!

 And this time she raised her voice properly, jumped when she heard the momentary weakness in his voice.

You pushed him and you threatened him, you made him far more fearful! I understand the impulse, I do - but clearly that wasn't what we were trying to do!


It... wasn't?

And maybe this was a character fault. Or maybe it was an unfortunate matter of not having really discussed intention or plan beforehand in so many words. Or maybe it was both. But either way...

I think maybe I do not understand what we were trying to do.

Frankly, he'd just been pleasantly surprised--at the time--that they'd found one at all. So he conceded carefully to ignorance.

 Baffled, she sighed, groaned and leaned beside the large windows that face the back of the house.

Context, Levka. Were he a rogue on his own I would have let you tear him limb from limb without a fuss.
But he has friends, Mathis saw it and he outright told us. He was a bread crumb, a way to follow back to the epicenter and make sure they weren't up to no good. Now he's fightened and probably on the run. Now they have our faces and a fairly solid reason to move against us.


They will not.

It was a surge of certainty that had him saying that, in spite of the fact that even he knew they had to be mindful of the situation despite Sayed's assurance of understanding. But he was just so determined now not to have fucked this up as badly as Yana was willing to paint it that he took what he'd drilled into the vampire's awareness as something that would be heeded.

If they are not stupid, they will not. And if they are stupid, we deal with them. We can find them--I followed the придурок straight to his home. Encouraged him ignore us existing if he wanted to keep doing the same.

Summed up in a rush, it didn't sound near as nice as it had felt to do it.

 She growled at his insistence, a low huff of agitation birthed from his insistence that all would be well. It was a nice thought, and she hoped he was right for it, but it wasn't definite.

Can you stop!? Will you at least admit that you fucked this royally?


He didn't want to. He really, really, really didn't want to. It had him gritting his teeth, back up on his feet to pace around the end of the bed. In the privacy of home, agitation real, and the bear pushed his opinion with motes of orange in blue eyes. But the fact that he didn't immediately argue his point, didn't immediately have a retort that was easy and confident told him too much.

Черт побери! Отлично! So this was very bad! You are right--Эгоистичный; Идиот. But what am I supposed to now, a?

He sincerely did not know. And still the fact that her first instinct had been to put him down last night still felt like a disservice he'd not deserved. Well, not then. Now, probably, after he'd made sure to earn it by going after Sayed.

 She was tempted to remind him that, like compliments, apologies should be given in English to avoid any confusion. All the same she could hear the strain in his voice and made the active decision not to push that far.


It wasn't, but it was a start.

I suppose what you do now depends on what you did last night once you left us.

Confident in the belief that he had been referring to their vampire problem specifically.

Us. A little reminder that they had not been alone last night, that Nika had been witness to this as much as Yana had. That, for that moment, he had been divided from them while the other pair had stood together. It frustrated him to the point of taking a swat at the air, trying to expend some of that confusing fury before he said anything.

Well, if Yana was going to be of any help at all, she needed to know what she was working with.

Hunted him down. Found him at his home. Roughed him up a bit. He knows of silver--he threw a... a ожерелье at me.

Agitated enough, he was forgetting words and it would have been so much easier to just give to her all in Russian, but that wasn't an option.

 A necklace? Hardly enough to kill a man but enough to give pause, she wrinkled her nose and found herself showing more of her hand than she wanted to then.

Вы ў парадку, мядзведзь?


The slight shift of tone and the words--familiar enough to be gleaned, imperfect though they were--surprised him a little. Was it meant to soothe? The concern, however brief was--

Fine. I am... I am fine. Nothing awful. Thank god for fur.

Though less permanent, ultimately the kick had felt worse--or maybe the kick had just numbed him somewhat to the sting of the godawful metal. The burn would leave a mark, but it wasn't the poison it could have been.

Really, the whole silver thing was more worrisome now, in the light of day, than it had been in the heated moment.

Why didn't you kill him? Knowing this - you should have.

It was still terse, but a water down version. Still anger, but the edges were softened.

It was a good thing she couldn't him roll his eyes, and he paused to lean back on the closed door of his bedroom, switching hands with his phone so he could look at the welt the silver had left.

If he knows, he learned it from somewhere.

Where? Not a clue. Maybe that Amy. Or maybe someone else. Maybe some dumbass were who didn't know how to keep their mouth shut. Either way, that wasn't at all the reason he'd not really killed the man.

He set off his car alarm. I had just enough time to warn him off about coming at any of us and then get out. Leaving a body or a missing person after a... гам... put me off the idea.

Though she made yet another good point about what he should have done and had not done, and he was feeling less brilliant by the moment.

 She was quiet for a while, silent as she went back to worrying at the chain of her pendant and returned to pacing.

Што цяпер, Леўка?


Another case of context helping a lot, and he frowned into the conversation, feeling almost as if she were making him do some of this as penance.

I know where he lives at, at least for now. Unless he leaves Avondale completely I think we could find him again. But I do not know what you wish.

The sort of question he probably should have had last night, rather than at this very belated juncture.

If he's still there he's a goddamn idiot. Let me ... I'll inform Asha how it went. Perhaps she can do some digging.

She was quiet for a moment, unsure now.

It seems as much a plan as any, really. All he knew for sure was... maybe making the call on his own was off the table for a bit. He'd done what he'd wanted to, just shy of killing the bastard. And look where it put him? If he could go back and do it again, he'd kill the little shit at the very least. Either take it all the way or just have not interrupted Yana's plan at all in the first place.

Right, her plan. Her intentions. His... grandstanding.


He ventured carefully, using her name to pull away from business talk if she would let him.

 It was a lot like a warning shot, a test of the depth of the water he had found himself treading. She was quiet for it, silent as could be for a moment before she swallowed the lump in her throat.



I am sorry I did not trust you enough to listen.

If this had just been about control, about authority, maybe he could have still been justified in having done things his own way. But seeing the whole picture a little more clearly as of today...

It wasn't perfect. He was still upset at the way she had decided to handle his errant behavior, the way she had spoken to him both before and after. But hearing her voice to any degree made it difficult cling to the grudge more than he clung to her.

I'm sorry that I reacted impulsively.

Not an excuse for the anger, as justified as she continued to think it was, just the execution itself.

I have work to do - you might want to warn your bears about Avondale and it's silver knowledgeable vampires. Just some advice.

... Я люблю тебя.


The return apology was unexpected, but welcome. They both had a bit of pride to put down, and he supposed they knew it. None of this was worth snarling at each other over. And while a couple of simple apologies didn't make everything magically better, it was a washing out of the wound. It would start the process, and already he could feel some of the tension in his neck ease.

I will.

He needed to have a meeting with everyone soon, anyway. May as well cover all his bases at once.

Я тоже тебя люблю.

And it was very strange to realize the extent of it, but the simple sentiment did wonders.

 She was quiet for a moment, unsure of herself for the first time in a while. Relief, sure, but still tender from the annoyance, tender enough that she hummed in response to it and let that lay, for all of it to settle.

Don't be a stranger.

Enough - there were things to attend to for now.

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