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 #35816  by Kael
Location: An Apartment in Chicago, U.S. • Date: Mid-October 1987

It was late when Wylder finally shut the door behind him, sealing off the cold autumn air and entering into the apartment complex that he'd called home. It was Tolya's fault that Wylder had to spend the whole evening in a book in the corner of the library, hiding.

Some part of him felt guilty, trudging up the stairs, thinking of that poor girl alone at the diner. But she was better off being stood-up than wasting time on a false-pretense. Wylder would have been no good for her. His attention had been taken by someone else and there was no shaking it. Even if a blind date at the diner would have been safer for him. Easier for him. But that was not the path he'd chosen. Anatoly could set her up with someone else.

Finally coming to the appropriate apartment number, Wylder inserted his key and turned the knob.
 #35817  by Everevna
The sound of ceramic plates smashing against the hard, cold floor should have been satisfying, but it was not.

Neither had been the act of dumping her twin's barely touched dinner into the trash; which, in truth, felt only to twist deeper the serrated knife in her gut to let all that carefully cooked food go to waste, but at least that was in the bin and not decorating their tiny, paltry kitchen like weeds bloomed over a tomb. She only had herself to blame—she was the one who'd swept the plates off the too-small-for-three dining table after first emptying them in spite—but what that was intended to be cathartic now only felt terrifically pathetic.

She wondered if it'd be more satisfying if they were the tacky chequer-rimmed plates from Golden Gillyweed.

The jagged shards littered about the kitchen floor gave her no answer.

A string of Russian curse words thrummed in the otherwise silent apartment as Ksenia finally knelt to pick up the shards, one by one by one. Anatoly had left many minutes ago in the thorny wake of their fight, claiming that he would be back tomorrow morning, which probably meant that he was going to be sleeping on one of the several couches in the Academy library, though at this point his older twin could give less shits if he'd spend the night instead in some wild shrub along the banks of the Chicago River.

The sound of a key turning in the front door punctuated her muttered swearing, and reignited twicefold her morosity at her stupid brother, their stupid housemate, this stupid dinner that she'd made like the stupid idiot that she was.

"Idi k chyertu, Anatoly Dimitrievich," she shouted with bile. Ksenia did not look up from her kneeling on the ground, reaching for each shard that she placed in a small growing pile by her knee. Certainly she could charm the shards together, but Ksenia did not want the plates repaired.

She was not in the mood for reparation.
Ksenia Dimitrievna Ilyenkova
Last edited by Everevna on 27 Feb 2020, 17:12, edited 15 times in total.
 #35820  by Kael
Shards of broken plate were the trail of breadcrumbs leading to the beginning of a mystery that Wylder had involuntarily walked into. Perplexed, he at least remembered locking the apartment door behind him before slowly rounding the corner discovering his cursing housemate -- the treasure at the end of the trail.

Wylder stepped forward, the creek of his step on the floor revealing his presence, if the closing of the front door had not already given him up. In his bewilderment, he was silent but visibly concerned. His jaw may have lowered just an inch as if to ask what had happened.
 #35821  by Everevna
She heard the shuffling of approaching footsteps, but elected to ignore them. Ksenia did not care to see her brother, not right then, not when it still stung sharp as a fresh-doled smart from a banny venik where words they had uttered landed, or just from the mere realisation that he knew. Since when, she did not know, nor how, but Anatoly had known. He had known throughout the past weeks that Ksenia had agonisingly tiptoed around her own trapped, stifled longing; had known throughout each time she pretended not to see the shuttered, long stares she sometimes caught Wylder casting in her direction when he thought nobody was looking.

Tolya was looking. She should have known that he would not be so easily fooled, unlike her—she was an ignoramus whose own brother had played a fool out of.

The footsteps had stopped close enough behind her and its owner cast a long shadow over her and the kitchen floor beneath the flickering, dusty torchlight. Ksenia ignored him for just a few seconds longer, focusing on reaching for a larger piece lying just a little further from her. The shadow still lingered as her fingertips just about barely wrapped around an uneven edge. She snatched it up, slamming it down with the rest of the pile whilst in mid-turnaround to finally glare over her shoulder at her imbecile brother.

"Chego ty khoch—" the girl broke off with a hiss of pain through her teeth, but her eyes were wide as she realised that he was not Anatoly.

"Wylder," she said, startled, more acknowledgment than greeting. Blood sprung from the heart of her palm, dripping a fresh, crimson string across the floor to add to the shambles.
Ksenia Dimitrievna Ilyenkova
Last edited by Everevna on 12 Feb 2020, 02:35, edited 1 time in total.
 #35853  by Kael
Quick and steady, Wylder fetched a clean rag from a nearby drawer and found himself kneeling beside Ksenia. His focus set-in on the wound like a hunter sighting a mule deer, calm and careful. His practical side shone through again, knowing that when his friend was hurt there was only one priority -- fixing it.

Gently, but less hesitant than he'd been in their more intimate moments, Wylder took Ksenia's hand between his palms, applying pressure to the cut with the folded rag. As his worries eased in knowing that the girl would be okay, he remembered the last time he'd touched her hands, the last time they had been so close.

Wylder's eyes met hers again and the question was clear: what happened here?
 #35854  by Everevna
It only happened once, but Ksenia had revisited in her own head and in her own dreams that dusk in the forest of his mountain hometown more times than she could count, and the warmth from Wylder's larger hands enveloping around hers felt more familiar than strange that she almost reflexively jolted it backward. The motion, however, tugged at the narrow, open gash against the cloth and ripped another hiss through her teeth, albeit quieter and more contained than the first, and after that, her hand stilled in his grasp. The girl decided against taking it back.

Maybe she never did want to in the first place, and this was nice, even if it was only because she'd stupidly cut herself after making a grand mess of the place by herself.

Ksenia looked at him. She looked down at their hands. She wondered if he held her hand, if he walked her home underneath the street lights.

He probably did. He was that kind of person.

"I made golubtsy," she mumbled in a half-response, not quite looking at him. Her voice was less its prior sharp waspishness, but a hint of surliness still lurked beneath her tone as she gestured vaguely with her hand at a half-full baking dish of cabbage rolls sitting on the counter beside their kitchen sink.
Ksenia Dimitrievna Ilyenkova
 #35858  by Kael
There was a hidden tune to her words as they danced across the wood of the floor. Wylder detected it. It was subtle and hard to uncover, enveloped in the expected sharpness of her pain. Though the song was quiet, and its message unclear, the feeling it shook through him was deeply known and simple to interpret -- doubt, worry, fear of the unforeseen -- even if they were still only the early simmer of an inevitable reduction.

"The plates?" Wylder asked. He tried to meet her eyes.
 #35859  by Everevna
"An accident." There were too many fragmented remnants of more than one plate—three and a ramekin, to be exact—for her lie to be convincing. Perhaps she might have persuaded an utterly inept troll, but Wylder was far too attuned to be fooled.

The realisation had her shoulders slumping slightly in defeat. Did Wylder know that Anatoly knew?

Was she the only one who was left in the dark by the pair, again?

"Tolya and I fought," she clarified, "I threw the plates." It completely contradicted her original answer, but Ksenia was resigned to the recognition that her lies were only stalling the inevitable. There was a certain freeing quality to admitting that to herself, though, and she met the American's gaze with her own almost defiant one.
Ksenia Dimitrievna Ilyenkova
 #35862  by Kael
He searched for relief in her words and nearly clung to the hook of some weight off his shoulders, but even as Ksenia revealed the truth, Wylder still sensed some whisper of animosity towards him. It was a feeling that he couldn't remember ever really having been directed at him, not when the source of its gaze was Ksenia.

"You threw plates at him?"
 #35867  by Everevna
She wished she did.

Except she didn't wish she did, not really. The look on her face said everything as to the unlikelihood of the answer to his question being in the affirmative. "He is not in hospital right now, if you must know," Ksenia answered nonetheless, what that might have been reassuring words laced with a hint of spite albeit not intended for Wylder.

There was something else behind the bile, though. It was wearisome to feel so much anger, and she had been angry for an hour now, maybe more. And it was true that Anatoly's and her predominant method of interaction with one another was by incessant bickering over the big things, the small things, and every other thing in between; the twins, however, rarely came to a point where communications were later agreed to have been properly arguing.

They had never fought, impossible as it may seem in most sibling relationships.

"I should see how bad it is," Ksenia nodded at her hand, still pressed between his palms. Wylder could hear the change in his housemate's tone, if he was observant enough to listen past the irascibility.
Ksenia Dimitrievna Ilyenkova
Last edited by Everevna on 11 Feb 2020, 02:21, edited 1 time in total.
 #35873  by Kael
Wylder shifted. With his arms crossed over each other, he kept one hand applying pressure to the wound with a tight grip and offered his other so that he might help pull the girl to her feet.

Once they were up, he took Ksenia's healthy hand and placed it over the gauze of a rag, slowly soaking with red. He basked for a moment, with both of her small, soft hands clasped between his. Delicately, though, his grasp slipped away, and with it, his eyes to the floor. He feared what they might confess in this turmoil.

"You should.. sorry," he nodded at her wound. He was no good at the healing charms necessary, a tidbit that Ksenia had likely picked up on over the years.
 #35876  by Everevna
There it was again—the strange sense of loss, making her heart fall all the way to her feet, and which became a steadfast companion in the past several weeks. The dull, muted throb quickened into a splicing ache as he left her adrift, holding the swiftly-dampening dishtowel against her own wound. Not quite a friend. Familiar, though. Ksenia moved past the male in their narrow, somber kitchen and tried with little success not to wince or hiss in agony as she peeled away the cloth to assess the damage over the copper sink.

The gash smiled from just beneath ring finger to the heart of her palm. No white bone gleaming beneath the oozing livid crimson.

At least no one of them would end up in the hospital tonight, came the thought with some grim sense of satisfaction; but even that did not last long, slipping through her grasp as fleetingly rapidly as the rush of tap water streaked with crimson from her slippery blood disappearing into the drain. In the silence that hung as she kept her hand under the running water, Ksenia leaned against her good hand on the sink counter, briefly looking over her shoulder at their kitchen which by now looked not an impossible stretch of imagination to one of those eerie, inconspicuously domestic scenes in murder thriller ordinary films; and when she looked away, it was not without a flat sigh of resignation through her nose.

This was a horrible night.

This was all a horrible mess. Ksenia had made a horrible mess and she was no better off for it. Maybe he actually liked that girl, whoever she was. Maybe it really was for the best, even if not for her. She turned off the tap and reached for her wand from the shelf just above the sink, propped in a makeshift holder that was a charmed mug she'd given Wylder as an early sixteenth birthday gift shaped as a hopping leshik.

"How was your evening?" It did not came as a demand so much as it sounded flat, all at once weary and yet somehow suppressed.
Ksenia Dimitrievna Ilyenkova
 #35902  by Kael
Wylder's arms folded, both in some form of defense, responding to the sense of agitation in the air, and also a visual representation of the cage that he felt he'd put himself in. It tore at his guts to watch Ksenia wince as water splashed across her wound. He wanted to fix her -- to cast a spell and make it all better -- but in his ignorance, she was left to fend for herself. Even in such a mundane scenario, it filled Wylder with a sense of failure.

Every word from Ksenia's mouth was some small jab to his heart, even if she didn't know it. Even if she didn't mean it. He could feel that something was off, and it was more than just a spat between siblings.

"Good," he shrugged in response, a default sort of answer. Despite his usual perceptiveness, he had no thought to piece the current incident together with his past, intended whereabouts for the evening. Ksenia didn't know he'd spent it tucked away in the library. And Wylder didn't know that it needed to be pointed out. In fact, the whole uneventful evening that had passed so far was already beyond his memory. It had been so insignificant to him that the demanding bandwidth of the current conflict consumed any present recollection of it.

He thought of asking what had happened. What had really happened. Though he stifled asking aloud, the question was written on his face.
 #35905  by Everevna
Good. He did not sound exactly pleased, but he did not sound not pleased either. Wylder was just Wylder, enigmatic and difficult to read, and the blade may well rust in her gut.

Ksenia waved her wand over her wound, the motion just a touch more vigorous than the disinfecting charm called for. She hated Anatoly. For the newly understood deliberation in his passing statements in the last months that she had thought inadvertent, for the self-righteousness that seemingly fuelled his conviction, for the fact that even though he knew he still set their housemate on a date. With another girl, some slight American neighbourhood sweetheart from his tutoring side-job who was doubtlessly as brilliant-minded as himself. At Golden Gillyweed of all places. Now Ksyusha was never going to be able to go back for the Stygian berry blintzes without seeing in every window Wylder smiling that smile at another girl.

She hated her brother.

She hated Wylder even more for agreeing to it.

She hated most of all that it was probably the intentional distance she had been keeping from him that drove him to cast his eye somewhere else. That thought made Ksyusha feel like crying, far more than the searing agony of her wound closing itself along the traced path of her wand tip.

"Good date, then," she concluded, trying, and failing miserably, in sounding pleased for him. What pettiness that fuelled her insistence to pick up broken piece by broken piece of shattered plate felt now even more joyless than it already was. Ksenia flicked her wand at the mess she had created, but the girl did not even look as each shard soldered together along midair to return onto the table a perfect stack—three plates and a ramekin. "Otlichno. At least he did something right after all."
Ksenia Dimitrievna Ilyenkova
 #35909  by Kael
Could one's heart drop in a moment of relief? Wylder felt the sweat of a lifted burden in the cool air while his stomach knotted simultaneously. She knew. She thought she knew. But Wylder had made a point for there to be nothing to know. This should be a simple puzzle, an easy fix -- he just needed to place the pieces very carefully.

"He told you about it?" Anatoly, of course. The cogs were turning now and the mess that he'd walked into was begging to make sense. Wylder was not normally malicious, but he wondered if he played a fool -- for just a moment -- maybe he could cut through to some unseen truth. Maybe Ksenia would reveal some taste of the affection he so secretly craved, even if it was shrouded in anger.