Full Circle Ch. 05Abytens©
If it seems like this chapter just kind of stops, that's because it's only half of a chapter. Right now, I'm too busy to finish it and I've reached a decent stopping point. I may submit the second half of the fifth chapter in the next couple of weeks. I may just integrate it into the sixth chapter. Please expect a couple of months before the submission of Chapter Six.
Vanya remained in his bedroom after his rushed call to Mikhail. He didn't want to take a risk of losing the upper hand by sweeping through the apartment. He was surprised to hear a knock at the door only a few minutes later.
Though it persisted, he refused to leave his post. He had let his guard down only briefly to throw on a pair of jeans as he crouched behind the door. He now regretted not taking that time to throw some clothing to Persephone. The knock at the door sounded again and he was unsure how to proceed without leaving Persephone vulnerable.
The knocking stopped and was followed by the ring of his cell phone ten seconds later. He picked it up with urgency, never releasing his gun. His heart rejoiced at seeing Max's name on the screen of the phone.
"Hey, I'm in my room. I haven't swept the apartment just yet. Is that you at the door?"
"Yeah, and I caught another man downstairs. I've put him down and we'll be able to get something out of him later. I'm going to come in and take a look around, yes?"
"Yeah, of course."
Vanya hung up and heard Max enter shortly thereafter. He barely heard the large man combing through every space in the apartment before he arrived in the bedroom.
"There's no one else. This one's friend is out cold on the living room floor. We're alone and Mikhail is on his way with some guys in an hour or so," Max said matter-of-factly in his thick, Russian accent. He nudged the body with his foot before nonchalantly stepping over it to join Vanya in the bedroom. "We'll wait for them to clean up, yeah? This bastard was one of the guys from your meeting with the Indians."
"Gupta and Gujral were behind this?" Vanya first stared at the young Indian man's thin, dead body with bemusement. His eyes then narrowed as he remembered Persephone. That fat fuck Gupta and his snot nosed colleague had tried to come back on him. Vanya seethed to think how the night could have turned out. Not too many cops would pay much attention to the death and disappearance of a young black woman with nearly no family.
Max noticed Vanya's growing intensity and tried to assuage him with the knowledge that retaliation was already in motion. "I sent some men over to Gupta and Gujral's places as soon as I realized who they were."
"They'll be wondering where these two are in the next few minutes," Vanya half spoke to himself, "you're going to finish the one in the living room after you get what you need from him, right?"
Max nodded simply in affirmation.
"Then set fire to Marcus Gupta's business on 102nd. The bastard will learn to keep his dogs in line even if it wasn't ultimately his fault."
Max, always one for action more than words, immediately began dialing on his phone and subsequently barked orders to whomever was on the receiving line. He then retreated to the living room to keep an eye on the unconscious accomplice. Vanya took the moment of privacy to dress properly, deciding not to check in on Persephone. Max was an astute man and Vanya didn't want to chance things becoming more complicated with the discovery of a woman in his bathtub.
Mikhail and his clean up crew did not arrive for another hour and half. Vanya knew they would make this disappear completely but he was glad to have the knowledge for future reference. Someone would be by tomorrow to repaint the entire apartment. He knew bullets would be removed from the body before it was properly disposed of. The process actually took less time than it had in previous years. The apartment was clean and the help was gone in an hour. Only Mikhail lingered on.
"Well, this is goodnight then?" Vanya stood up from the living room couch and made for the doorway to lead his cousin out. Mikhail remained seated.
"Oh, yeah. But first, I wanted to ask what should be done about her," he stated smugly, spreading his arms across the back of the sofa.
"Her? Her who?" Vanya feigned ignorance.
"The owner of these. They're still the slightest bit damp," Mikhail mused, pulling a pair of delicate, navy lace panties from side of the couch, "you really have to give it to Max. That man does not miss a thing. Is she on the fire escape? Or maybe your bathroom; no one's gone in there tonight."
Vanya had never felt hate toward Mikhail in his entire life, but he was sure that the loathing he felt in that moment would bring him to that wretched state. He breathed in slowly, just once to maintain his position and not launch punches at his cousin, who was beloved only moments ago. "Put those down."
Mikhail read Vanya's mood accurately and dropped the undergarments as well as his playful disposition. He paused, as if to consider his words before speaking. He knew Vanya always got upset when caught in a lie. It had been so since they were very young. However, he'd have to risk Vanya's wrath. Mikhail had no idea if this girl was a liability and he had a responsibility to find out. "She's still here. Why would you even bring a girl back here anyway?"
Vanya turned on Mikhail and got ready to retort before realizing that the other man had wanted him to react that way. He closed his mouth, realizing he had just confirmed the information that Mikhail was after. He slumped his shoulders and turned his gaze toward the ceiling in defeat. "Don't worry about it, Mishka."
"So, she's got to be pretty special for you to continue to go on like this," Mikhail spoke as if Vanya had not, "and it also means she doesn't know any of us, which means she's probably one of your school mates."
Vanya knew his face was barren, now holding no emotion. Mikhail didn't need to read his visage to deduce the not-so-obvious. His cunning was one of things Vanya had always loved about his cousin up until now.
"You don't have to say it out loud Vanya. I've already gone through her purse. Although, I must say, when I saw those," he went on toward Persephone's underwear, "I thought it would be the redhead."
"I'm bored, Mishka, make your point and get out."
"I don't care who you fuck. It's none of my business. But I can tell you're not just fucking her though, and that's when it becomes my business; when it becomes your father's business. Kirill's not gonna tolerate this for long. He's just come around to Lina's guy and he's white."
A sudden pang of desperation clenched in Vanya's chest."You're going to tell him? You'd do that to me?"
Mikhail advanced toward Vanya, his eyes narrowed, "Don't you dare put me in that fucking position. Our job is to put family and business first. I couldn't keep a secret like that for long if I wanted to. It's obvious the way you're acting you're going to continue seeing her."
"Fuck, Vanya, why? Do you love her? Hell, you couldn't possibly love her. If you did, you'd dump her ass right now. Scare the shit out of her and make sure she says nothing to no one, ever. I could do it, that way -- "
"Don't you ever go near her. Don't talk to her, don't look at her or I will fucking kill - I will...I will fuck you up."
"Calm down, dammit. It was just a suggestion, a fucking smart one at that. Look at you, you're huffing and spitting at me. You aren't yourself, man."
"Because you're threatening what's mine."
"No, Vanya, people threaten what's yours all the time. Your basketball titles when we were younger. People trying to renege on shit with your father. You handled all those things rationally. Cool, calm, collected. Now look at the things you're saying to me, of all people."
Vanya gave him a resigned look before slumping onto the sofa beside him. Mikhail was kind of right. What was he going to do? The wheels in Vanya's head began turning and he didn't speak to Mikhail again until he had plotted out his course of action.
Persephone wasn't soft and she wasn't stupid. She knew some of the things his family did weren't legal. Even so, she had surrendered to him the previous evening, agreeing to be with him and admitting that was what she wanted. This was a simple incident, one they could overcome easily.
"If just you and Max know about the girl -- that's what she is, just a girl -- then it's really not a big deal. She didn't see the intruder and as far as she knows it was just some random burglar. It's nothing to worry about, hardly worth mentioning. Just hardly; something you might note casually and give details on only if asked. But there aren't any details. She's just a girl I fucked and forgot about, Mikhail."
Mikhail stared hard at his cousin for a few moments. His usually congenial, sly demeanor was all gone, replaced by a challenging, frustrated glare. Vanya knew Mikhail wanted him to back down, to see reason. But he wasn't budging. He didn't care about burdening Mikhail or Max with a secret. What he wanted was in sight and his cousin's noncompliance wasn't going to keep him from getting it.
Vanya slowly let out a breath he didn't know he had been holding when Mikhail released a sigh of resignation.
"Alright, if that's the way you want to play this out. It would just be my word against yours anyway."
Mikhail rose and made for the front door. When he would have stepped through it, Vanya placed a hand on Mikhail's forearm, effectively stopping him.
"Thanks for this...and everything else; having my back. I won't forget it."
Mikhail sighed again and let a small smile creep into his features. He turned to assess Vanya. "Alright, alright, what the hell else am I going to do? Start hanging out with Yulian? I've have to keep the few friends I've got."
He left and Vanya took a seat at the head of his small dining table. Vanya sat there for a few silent and panicky minutes. His heart raced and he took large, long breaths, trying to regain some semblance of homeostasis. His palms sweat and he clenched his teeth at the thought of a very angry woman in his bathroom.
Vanya had fought for his life before, just once, when he had traveled to Russia with his father after his junior year of college. He had been out alone, foolishly returning home early from the bar without Max, Mikhail, or Yulian. Two enemies of his father, posing as ruffians, made to mug and shoot him. Demonstrating superior calm, he hadn't given them time to come at him. He swiftly launched at the one closet to him first, pushing him through the glass of a storefront window. The companion managed to get off a shaky shot that grazed Vanya's left arm. Vanya only remembered quickly taking him to the ground and hammering his head once, hard and effectively against the curb.
That episode was not his only brush with violence. He remembered he had been shocked the first time he had seen his father order a man killed when he was sixteen and a little frightened when Mikhail and he witnessed his late uncle call out and execute a traitor a couple of years later. In all these incidents, he had never felt panic such as was over him now.
Vanya had no idea what to do. His stomach lurched and he shot up from his seat, rushing toward his room, half-crazed with the fear that Persephone had escaped the windowless bathroom. He burst into the room with a start and Persephone jumped up, startled. She opened her mouth but was unable to speak before Vanya bent down to the tub she'd camped out in and gathered her in his arms, duvet and all.
"Vanya!" Persephone exclaimed, trying to pull from his embrace.
Vanya ignored her protest. He didn't want to fight, he wanted to hold her. He'd do whatever she wanted, apologize, whatever, later. Right then, he just wanted to cleave to her. As soon as the word apologize flitted through his head he was overcome again and was moved to speak.
"Persephone, I'm so sorry. God, I am so, so sorry. I swear I won't ever let anything like that happen to you ever again. I promise. I promise."
Vanya's voice was gravelly, broken, and wrought with anguish. Persephone ceased pulling away and surrendered to his tight embrace as he rocked her in his arms, roving his hands up and down her back and shuddering occasionally. She hugged him back and after a short time resumed pushing against him. "Vanya, too tight, way too tight."
This time he relented, straightening the duvet around her still nude body in order to keep his hands busy. "I'm sorry, I just want you to stay here with me tonight, okay?"
"Yeah, yeah, of course," she replied, casually running her fingers through his hair, "it's fine. We're fine now. Don't make promises."
Persephone rose, straightened the heavy shroud of the duvet around her body, stepped out of the tub, and moved into the bedroom. "Don't make promises. You can't control everything. My mom always made a point of not making promises. Ugh, it smells like...cleaner."
Vanya watched her move pillows, spread out the comforter and arrange herself sitting up against the headboard, covering everything below her neck. He was irked suddenly that she would dispense an adage at a time like this. He climbed over to the far side of the bed, stripped his shirt and pants, and sidled up next to her.
"Persephone, I'm being serious. I'm serious about us and I don't want this to mess it up."
"Well, I'm being serious, too. You can't promise me that you won't let a bad thing happen to me. I understand you're mad and upset or whatever. I am, too. You just don't have to throw around promises you --" she shut her mouth suddenly, as if remembering not to let go of some secret she was obliged to keep.
Vanya's brow furrowed at her non-topical admonition. Why was she trying to discuss and break down his words right now? He decided to ignore the comment.
"Look, Persephone, I just want to know that you're okay right now. You don't have to be contained, you can let it out, just let it out. Yell at me, cry, anything. I don't want to argue about what I do or don't promise. You can ask me anything."
Persephone finally turned to face him full on, pinning him with an angry glare, "I cannot ask you anything. Don't even say that."
"You might not always like the answer, but you can ask. Those guys --"
"Nope, nope!" Persephone interrupted, waving her hands in protest, "I don't even want to know. I slept through the whole thing. I think that's best for both of us, right?"
Vanya was temporarily dumbfounded. Persephone had beaten him to the punch, stealing his lines again. He just stared at her, mesmerized as she went on.
"I mean, I probably would have if you hadn't woken me up. Honestly, I'm more upset about that than anything else."
"What? I had to wake you up. I had to get you out of harm's way. You've seen the way you just pop up awake sometimes. I didn't want to alert him," Vanya tried not to get upset as he gestured to where a dead body had lain just two hours before.
"I'm not an idiot, wild spaz or something though. You didn't have to shake me out of my mind and then yell at me. No one was here, you didn't have to freak out on me like that. Don't yell at me like that. I mean it, for real. That like, made me so upset; I was so pissed at you then."
Vanya's first thought was that she had no idea if no one else was in the apartment or not but thought better of mentioning it when he noticed the timbre of her voice take a deep, warbled turn. Her eyes had begun to fill with tears and she tilted her head back in an attempt to keep them from spilling down her full, brown cheeks. He immediately felt contrite for his behavior. When he moved to take her in his arms she shirked from him.
"Percy, I'm sorry. I'm really am. I was freaking out. Honestly, I'd probably do it again. I wouldn't ever hit you, if that's what you're thinking. I wanted you in the bathroom as soon as possible. Having you a little pissed at me is preferable to say, an asshole coming through the door and hitting you with a stray bullet, or some goons carrying you off to...to who the hell knows where."
She let him take her face in his hands and wipe away a few tears that threatened to slide past her cheekbones. She grinned humorlessly and met his eyes. "Well, I was a lot pissed, not a little pissed."
Vanya beamed down at her, amused at the range of emotions she had just displayed. He gave her gentle kiss. "I'm sorry, and I'll try not to do it again."
"Good. I mean, I like dominance in bed or whatever but that shit will seriously piss me off in real life."
"In real life? Our bed isn't real life?" he arched a skeptical eyebrow.
"You know what I mean. Your bed, sex; it's fine for you to be dominate when we're intimate because I'm sexually submissive and I enjoy that but you don't get to scare away my friends because you have other plans for me in mind."
"Oh, really? I'm not sure I do know what you mean, Persephone. I want you, all the time. And what we do here," he emphasized the bed by pointing at it firmly, "translates to how I feel about you. I thought I made that clear last night. Besides, I think I have a right to ward away Tim Kim and Finn if they're trying to get into your pants. I do now at least."
Persephone sucked in a breath and looked at him incredulously, "Finn is not trying to get into my pants! That is totally absurd."
"So, you admit Tim Kim is by omission."
Persephone gasped and playfully slapped his arm, "Oh, my gosh!"
"Gotcha," Vanya smirked arrogantly and deflected the swats she tried to give him.
"I cannot believe I walked into that! Ugh, Gigantor! I'm gonna get you for that!"
They rolled around chastely and playfully until Vanya decided to arrange her under him. Persephone smiled, bit her lip, and averted her deep, dark brown eyes from his searching, electric blue ones when he settled himself between her thighs. She seemed so innocent at times like these, as if she had just discovered that she liked to be a sexual being. She smiled up at him coyly, reveling in submissiveness, as if she hadn't just seen him shoot a man a short while ago. The thought alarmed him slightly but his newly hard cock implored him to ponder over that later. It wanted more of the tight, wet pussy it was sliding up against.
"Who's got who now, hmm? I think Gigantor wins this round. Where'd you come up with that little name, anyway?"
"Actually, Gigantor is a big name. I made it up before I knew your actual name, Ivan."
Vanya scrunched his face, "No, I don't like it when you call me that. Only people who don't really know me call me that."
Persephone paused, thinking his statement over. "Finn calls you 'Ivan.'"
"Yes, and she knows nothing about me."
"And apparently she wants to 'get in my pants.' As if," Persephone said sarcastically, making air quotes with her hands.
"She told me herself yesterday while you were in the bathroom at the mock trial."
Vanya relayed the conversation he'd had with Finn to Persephone, all the while studying her face, watching the gears turn in her head. He knew it was selfish, but he did not want to have this conversation right now. He wanted to... 'fuck' was not the right word. 'Have sex' was too blasé and 'make love' seemed corny. Vanya was just determined to put an end to the issue as soon as possible. He waited for her response, expecting her to chalk up his legitimate jealously to irrational jealously. He was surprised when she sighed resignedly.
"Well, I guess that kind of makes sense. After we started seeing each other she became way more affectionate and never had anything good to say about you."
"Yeah, it made a lot of sense to me, too. How could she possibly resist you, anyway? You're so damn hot."