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Still in the Dark; Will daylight ever come? (Private)
Topic Started: Feb 12 2011, 12:22 AM (3,193 Views)
MK Kilmarnock
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((Ivan Kuznetsov continued from from The Sound of Silence))


They had been walking all day, but the sounds of crashing waves that greeted them told them that they were almost done.

As the vast and endless ocean came into view, it seemed to close a chapter of their stay on the island. The sun was setting behind the two, indicating that this was the eastern beach of the island, opposite the one that Ivan had woken up near so many days ago. He had been on both the western and eastern edges of the island, finally letting him get a feel for how vast the island truly was. Or, that was to say, how vast it was not. The children were approaching what was the border of a mere speck in the world, something that was insignificant in the grand scheme of things. They, themselves, were insignificant even to the island.

No matter their standing, they had made it to another day, the best they could have asked for. The game had lost its meaning, even some of its horror. As long as he had his life and Tabi beside him, he was living, and would fear nothing else this island could throw to him. The collars were parts of them now rather than a symbol of their oppression and practical slavery, forced to play a sadist's sport. The cameras, ever-present in every fathomable area, had become natural. They didn't even inspire anger in the fact that they were being watched, because even that had lost its meaning now.

They just needed a good night's sleep after what had happened, that was all. For those who were counting, others had called this 'day 6'. However, when one has to watch their back constantly and nightmares lurk in the supposedly safe depths of sleep, days meld together into blocks of restless time. The sun and the moon hadn't changed a bit (though Ivan had noted that the stars had, but that was natural considering they had been whisked away to a different part of the globe), but the cycles of night and day had become more trivial. Rather than signal that it was the proper time to be awake or to sleep, they just meant that at certain times, they'd be slightly harder to spot.

As soil gave way to sand under their footsteps, the tree canopy fell away, offering a full view of the evening sky. While the sunset itself was tucked out of view, even the darkening hue of the night that was to come was strikingly beautiful. How rare it was that they even had time to appreciate such a thing. Even now, the duo had more important things to think about, like...

Where are we going to sleep?

Ivan gave the beach a quick sweep with his eyes. He couldn't see anybody else, though that hardly meant they were safe. As the waves rolled in and back out again, he began to relax... or maybe that was just sleep deprivation catching up to him. Supposedly safe or not, they couldn't just sleep out on the stretches of the beach, where they'd be exposed and sticking out like a sore thumb. Besides, it wasn't like he had brought a blanket, and he was willing to guess Tabi had not brought one either or they would've used it by now. He wanted to kick himself for not nabbing a blanket from the residence they visited, but it wasn't like they had time to get out of there.

The town... we're supposed to go back there, to grab Tabi's... reward.

A flash to his own 'reward retrieval' was welcomed to Ivan's mind by swiftly being shoved to the back of it.

"Come on, Tabi. We can rest over here." Ivan jerked his head back towards the trees. There was a spot that'd be perfect, a lucky break for them. The mansion they had passed seemed like it would be so much more comfortable, but comfort meant people. The less people the two had to be around, the better for now. They needed to keep their strength up, and couldn't afford to be accosted by another killer on the island. Especially Tabi... the poor girl needed a break, and Ivan wanted to do all he could for her. Not just to protect her and keep her safe from the killers, but to even keep her away from them and make her feel safe, if only for a bit.

The spot Ivan had found for them was a small patch of grass, one of the last before sand overtook the terrain. Rocks began to crop up all around, including on either side of the patch, offering a little bit of protection from the view of others. Finally, of course, it had a fantastic view of the ocean for what little it was worth. Out past the horizon sat the rest of the world, but that was a place they could not go. It was a place neither of them might ever see ever again, but Ivan was doing his best to convince himself that he was alright with it.

Maybe he was, but was Tabi?

"We can use our dufflebags as pillows, but we're SOL when it comes to blankets..." Ivan sighed, sitting himself down on the grass that would serve as their bed. The grass was a little dry and somewhat loud, even just a little bit gritty from the sand of the beach, but it would do just fine. At least he and Tabi got to enjoy another night, and maybe they'd actually sleep through it this time.
Edited by MK Kilmarnock, Feb 20 2011, 08:22 PM.
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Tabi was afraid, and she seemed lost to herself.

It couldn't be helped, because being afraid was understandable. There was no telling what the darkness might hold for each of them, aside from a new day waiting on the other side of it. In order to get there with their lives intact, they'd need rest. Sleep was good... yeah, definitely good. The burning in his eyes attested to that with great certainty, and his eyelids kept getting heavier and heavier. If they'd be safe, just this once, maybe a little bit of a nap would be alright.

If only he hadn't needed sleep so badly, he would be content with staring at the ocean until then sun fell down behind them, covering it all in darkness. Then, when he could no longer see it, maybe he'd just listen to the waves and let them carry him off.

Just like when I woke up... I looked out there and wondered just what it might be like to be a wave. I'd come in, crash against this island once, and then I'd roll away again. I wouldn't have to care about anything.

Over-tired fingers removed and folded up his glasses, placing them inside their proper case and tucking them inside one of the corners of his dufflebag that he wouldn't be resting his head on. He turned towards the ocean one more time, and his eyes shut. The ocean air had just the right feel to it, offering the right amount of peace and protection, assuring them that they'd both be safe. It felt about right. His body tilted back and the air eased up from his lungs in a gentle, near silent breath. His head rested against the distinctive and uncomfortable cloth of the dufflebag, but it supported him all the same.

It only took a moment for his mind to be whisked away to another place.


When Ivan woke up, he woke up alone. There were no gentle motions or content breathing from the girl next to him, because there wasn't a girl next to him to start with. The waves had also left him and taken their comforting chant with them. What was once the ocean shore became a desert, a brown and disgusting mass of rotten and decaying matter betrayed by the tide. The smell was so overpowering and inescapable, or it was interpreted as such in his mind that it SHOULD have been. It should have been unbearable, causing him to collapse, and he knew it, but instead it was only a recognition rather than a stimulus.

His senses couldn't have abandoned him, since it defied all logic. But if they haven't, then they were the overwhelming minority. The trees that stood as a shroud between them and the rest of the world had cracked and withered away into a deceased thicket of gnarled and bare branches that covered nothing, sparesely placed as to allow access in and out. They were not safe.

He was not safe. Tabi was gone.

He called out her name, and the air pushed back. Even the air seemed dead, devoid of wind and freshness. He called out again, but his weak and useless throat could only force the word so far before it was eaten up by nothing. Nothing after nothing was consuming everything, turning it into more emptiness. With the absence of everything, even Ivan's heart had started to turn hollow, leaving him to stand atop the sand and rocks, the only things which had stayed to keep him company.

He pulled his foot forward, attempting to walk away from the clearly hostile beach. The sand resisted his every movement and tried to hold him back, to keep him with them as their only mutual company. He couldn't even stop to grab the dufflebag, as they held on to it as well. Everything held on to nothing, nothing swallowed everything, and he was taking the long road to nowhere in particular.

When Ivan finally escaped the sand and reached the scorched dirt and rock that formed the rest of the island, having unearthed itself from the soil, loneliness caught up with him to hang around him some more. He was always alone... that's just what he did. That was him, his life. And for the first time, he felt like something was wrong with that, how everything left him, and he was walking down that road all by himself.

He didn't want to be alone anymore.

And he wasn't alone.

Keith, Clio, Imraan... they all met with him, to give him company. It was too late to turn back to erase his wish. It was too late to even beg for forgiveness as the three descended upon him. Keith pinned Ivan to the ground as his absent face tried to look upon him. Clio's screams pierced his ears, and Imraan's bloodstained hands reached for his throat.

The smell of the blood drove into him, the only thing he could smell now. Somehow, for some reason, there was only one person the blood could belong to.

Imraan said what he would have done had either one of them killed again.

---

Ivan laid next to Tabi. Something gripped at his body, causing him to shift and struggle with something that existed only inside of him. A few tearful moans joined the chorus of waves that continued to wash over them both, but even the tears wetting his eyes would offer no escape.

Ivan was afraid, and he was lost within himself.
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Ivan's eyes shot open to a cold world and an aching body, chased only by the last echoes of the world he had left behind. The pain in both worlds was very real, but at least the screams had not been. Nor were the people atop him, ripping him apart and shouting insults, damning him to hell. Instead, there was only one person over him, and they were vigorously shaking him.

He struggled weakly with his sleep-atrophied arms with the assailant, releasing a throaty whimper and a few slurred syllables which held no meaning to them. Was he still being killed? Who was doing this? It was only when the voice finally registered that his body would finally give in, his eyes coming into focus.

Tabi was there, looking down at him and shouting something. Was it his name she was calling, over and over? The rest of himself would have to pull together and fully bring him back to reality in order to grasp just what was happening. Sequentially, a few things became clear the more he woke up. While in pain, most of it was just body aches from sleeping on the bare ground and the wound on his arm, though it had some good time to heal. The past world was a dream and, if the cold sweat was anything to attest to, this was real.

Tabi was alive, he was alive. Nobody had killed her, nobody was killing him anymore, and they were still alone so far as he could tell. Again, all just a bad dream, and they were okay!

But if they were okay, then why was Tabi waking him up? What woke her up? Ivan blinked and looked past her at the sky. Strictly night by this point, and the moon was high up in the sky as the only thing lighting them, so morning had not come. He looked back to her, and something struck him as wrong. She looked... terrible, like something had frightened her severely.

Taking a quick breath to even out some of the terrible pressure in his lungs, Ivan spoke to her and tried not to give away his own fear at what he had just experienced.

"Tabi... what's wrong?"
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As much as he tried to keep it together, there was a lot going on right now. So many things had been tossed onto his plate at once, and he had only been awake for less than a minute, so how could he be expected to deal with something like this? Tabi continued to weep on him, but the cause wasn't exactly what he expected upon waking up. She seemed scared, shaken, but not exactly terrified... and not urgent.

They were alone.

He had listened and searched for anything that might shake this truth, but it remained steadfast; only the roar of the ocean and the light of the moon, up so high overhead, offered any company. In securing his surroundings, Ivan became more aware of his more immediate ones... that was to say, he was now more focused on the girl who was lying directly on top of him.

Her touch, the weight of her body and of her grip, her muttered words against his chest, and even her breathing dominated his senses and pushed all other things outward. Even his common sense seemed to shut down; for a moment or two, Ivan could not will himself to do anything but watch as Tabi laid over him and silently conveyed more pain than either one of them had suffered up to this point. And that was likely what she was doing: suffering. It was Tabi's turn, to suffer internally for the 'crime' that she had committed. The crime of saving Ivan's life.

His mind continued to falter, his rationale unable to form any sort of planned thought or movement. In this absense of lucidity, his instincts took over. Somebody he cared about was hurting, and he needed to fix it. His arms embraced her, holding the crying girl close against his chest. One hand had set itself reassuringly between her shoulders, fingertips flexing occasionally to lightly tug and shift clothing as well as skin. His other hand moved a bit lower, working around one spot on the middle of her back. Every so often, both arms gave a tight squeeze, possibly to continue to reassure her and show her that he cared, the revelation that had blown even him away so short ago.

Or maybe it was to shield himself from the rest of this island and find solace solely within Tabi, resting against him so... because no matter how much he may have tried to hide it, he was every bit as terrified as her. They were each afraid; Tabi probably had a nightmare like he did if nobody else was truly around to threaten them. If she did become the victim of her own dreams... well, Ivan certainly knew how that felt. But now, they were together, and neither of them would have to survive alone.

Ivan leaned in with Tabi's pull, lightly brushing his lips against the top of her head. Scared or not, he found the strength within himself to smile. The smile wasn't hiding anything, including his anxiety, sorrows or fears, but it wasn't supposed to. There was a good deal of happiness and comfort to him as well.

"I'm alright... we're alright. Just had a terrible dream, that's all..."

He had no idea it wasn't just himself he was speaking for.
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They had lost the warm glow of the sun which had fallen away behind them both, away into the west while the ocean rolled knowingly. It would be several long hours before it would once more be visited by a morning rising over the horizon, but the light generously offered to it by the moon and the stars would do just fine to illuminate it. Ivan had looked at the sun rise and fall many times, including on this island, and he once had a very good view of the ocean from the beach when he woke up on that fateful day. Something about this view felt different, moreso than each unique view he had of it before.

He had seen a lot of things that could be described as 'breathtaking', both in the good and bad senses of the word. The sky could provide a lot of each of these when viewed from a lonely island in the middle of nowhere. Sometimes it could be happy and sad at once. Each morning was a reminder that he hadn't been killed overnight, but the day approaching could very well be his last. Each evening was another day he had survived, but it could be the last time he would ever see the sun. Day had a way of making him feel warm yet exposed, while night kept him safely hidden, but cold and lonely.

When Tabi looked out at the rolling waves and the blanket of stars that encompassed them all, Ivan looked at it with her. He looked at it along with her even, his gaze shifting from the water to the watching moon, and finally back to her. Even if this island was meant to be something terrible and festering in their hearts, and even if they were all meant to die here, he couldn't help but find it all to be so beautiful at this very moment. As the true power of the moment set in and the corners of his lips tilted upwards in a small smile, he found the strength to give her another tight hug.

Tabi looked back to him, and he searched himself for something to say, as he had often before. Just like nearly every time before, the perfect words seemed to elude him. What could he say to comfort them both that wasn't a lie? What was beautiful could still be cold and cruel, and tomorrow would be just another day of more near-death and senselessness.

In spite of all this, he still found something.

"It's... i-it's beautiful, isn't it?" He sputtered as he mumbled those words, pulling Tabi close to him once more. His body made a few false motions, as though he should kiss her, or maybe stroke her hair, or nibble on her neck, or something, but nothing really felt right. Had he run out of something to say, or could he simply not say the last thing that sat at the front of his mind, and couldn't move?

You're beautiful, too...

Squeezing her a little with her arms to keep her supported, Ivan rolled onto his left side, working with Tabi to ease her back on the beach. He could have sat up and continued looking at the ocean, but he was left with little to do when she continued looking at him. He stared back, feeling the heat on his cheeks. Something about all of this made him feel like he was naked and unable to hide anything. He felt the same way about her... as though their eyes meeting allowed neither one of them to hold out on the other.

"Tabi, there's something... I really have to ask..." Ivan said, nearly at a whisper. He needed to know, even if she wouldn't like having to hear it.

"Are you going to pick up... your weapon?"
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An uneasiness fell over Ivan as he watched Tabi pull away. Lost was the perfect sense of security that they shared when she laid atop him. Only when she was gone did the full impact of the closeness they had strike him, and Ivan instantly wished for it back. To actively seek such contact was definitely out-of-line for him, or at least it would have been a week ago. Now he felt like a new person, for better or for worse. The old him wouldn't have worried if he had just upset Tabi and fucked up royally.

Tabi hadn't let out all the pain inside her, which she made clear through just how tense she was. Unfortunately, this was only natural if she was feeling the same exact pain he himself had felt. Ivan looked away as though he were trying to preserve her dignity, or perhaps it was because he couldn't bear to look at her when she was suffering so much. Neither of them should've been forced to kill in order to live, but they were, and they had given in. They had done what the terrorists wanted, and apparently in the most entertaining way possible. Why else would they have been rewarded?

And if they had done what the terrorists wanted, did that make them bad people? Simple killers? Maybe Ivan was all of those things, but he didn't want Tabi to feel the same way. He had jumped the gun and murdered somebody out of fear for himself. Looking back, had the situation played out differently, Ivan might have even used Tabi as a shield against Keith like he did against Clio. He was in it for himself from the beginning, in order to live as long as he could for his brother. When did that change? Somewhere along the sliding scale of time, one state changed into another, but there couldn't have been any specific point where his morals just 'snapped' from one to the other and, if it was there, then he couldn't find it. Despite the power of this question, Ivan never asked himself why he had changed. The answer to that was obvious.

"No...no...no...no I'm not doing it... never."

The break of silence told Ivan to look at Tabi, and he obeyed. At first, her statement of defiance confused him to a point where he didn't know what to say or do. Then, even while she wasn't looking at him, a slight grin crept across his lips and held there for a second or two. Let's see what you say to that, assholes..., he thought, feeling a strange sort of pride. In away, Tabi had just shown another example of just how she could be stronger than him, and possibly anybody else on this island. If only she could completely be absolved of the guilt she must be feeling.

Ivan's mood dipped a little when the girl beside him sighed and laid back down. He felt a bit dirty for thinking it, but he was hoping that maybe they could end up cuddling again like they had been. Instead, they would end the night the same way they began it, sleeping with a space between them, never touching and in awkward silence. He stared at the ocean for a moment in regret, then looked back to Tabi, expecting to see her asleep. Instead, she seemed to be looking at something above them, her eyes transfixed. When he looked... he fell into a state similar to hers. The sky had now darkened sufficiently enough to where the stars emerged, peppering the night sky with an incalculable brilliance.

Ivan laid back as Tabi had done, folding his hands over his stomach so they could have something to hold on to. Before he knew it, a memory had come to him, with nothing to hold it back.

"You know... sometimes my little brother and I would watch the stars. We had this telescope that he bought with his own money from selling rabbits... it's a long story. But together, we'd pull the rickety thing out and set it up in our backyard, point it up at the sky and see just what we could find. You'd think there wouldn't be a lot to find up there... just a bunch of stars."

Ivan chuckled a little bit as he remembered just how impatient Louis could be sometimes.

"Still, we spent hours and hours looking up there, finding all the constellations, all that fun stuff. It's... it's kind of funny. Way out here, the stars are much clearer than they ever were around Bayview. This sky's a little different, I can tell, and the positions are off, but... I think at the end of the day, it's all the same sky."

Ivan put his hands behind his head to further support himself as he squinted up at the sky. Without his glasses the stars may have been a bit fuzzy, but still recognizable. He felt like he was in his own backyard again, but looking at the stars with Tabi instead. He wondered what she thought of all of this, and hoped that talk of home didn't make her uncomfortable. There wasn't much else left to talk about that could bring him happiness.
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After all that he had to say, Ivan could only hope that Tabi took it all in and made some sense of it. Her momentary silence was telling of something, but just what it said was a bit of a mystery. Perhaps he didn't make the point he was getting at across, which made him frown a little bit. She would be easily forgiven, though, considering just how much each of their minds had to take in right now. While he was fantasizing about the skies of home, her mind could have been completely elsewhere. Strangely, it was this 'elsewhere' that Ivan found himself dying to know. For the moment, with Tabi, his old ally, 'silence', was now his enemy. What she was thinking about or feeling, he wanted to share.

When the girl next to him began to stutter uncontrollably, Ivan's focus dropped from the sky to her. This wasn't good... when Tabi began to speak like this, she was likely on the verge of crying. Before she could even finish asking him her worries, Ivan felt like kicking himself for having mentioned home. Now it seemed like a terrible course of action; he was getting rather homesick, and there was no reason to assume anything but the same case for her. The further Tabi stammered, though, she made him concerned more and more as if that were even possible.

Every time he saw a camera early on, he thought of his family. He felt so self-concious even if he hadn't let it on. No matter what he was doing, somebody was watching him do it. And so, it came as a bit of a distressing matter when he began to notice the cameras less and less, losing focus of the possibility of him being watched. It couldn't be that he was actually acclimating to this terrible game, could it? His motions had become more natural, which was something that couldn't be denied. He had opened up to Tabi, become somebody that nobody else at Bayview had ever seen except his brother. Was that... wrong? Did he do something wrong?

"Do they want us back home or...or do they want us to...to..."

"Don't say it", Ivan finished for her, turning his entire body on its side to face her. "You can't... honestly think..." He had started off so strong, but Ivan's tongue started to feel heavy in his mouth. His mind started to pull itself into a pit of doubt and, while he knew it was someplace he didn't want to be, there were a few questions and facts to be faced. He had killed, a morally condemning act. Would his parents really want him back home? Could they trust him around his little brother? The two used to wrestle and play-fight all the time. If he went back home, those days of innocence repeated might look like a bout of PTSD. He'd be branded as dangerous for the rest of his life, and that's not counting if he was sent to prison. Or worse... if, for some reason, he really did lose his temper and kill his brother...

No, that isn't me. That isn't us, we aren't killers!

This wasn't a road he wanted to go down again. Both of them had been running down it for far too long and if they continued, they may likely find themselves at that road's dead end. It was time that they found a different path, and Ivan would be the one to find it if he had to. He owed Tabi that much, a girl who he had joined to himself with the shackles of murder. She blamed himself for having to save his life, and it was his own failure that necessitated that sacrifice. For as long as she blamed herself, he would not be able to find peace.

And so before he could say anything else, a trembling boy on the beach reached out to a girl on the same road as him. Ivan draped his injured arm across her stomach and onto her far arm, holding on to her as though to keep her from being pulled away by some irresistable tide.

"What you did wasn't your fault... they know that. Anybody who saw knows that, Tabi. There's still a place in that world out there for you!" Ivan said, though his jaw was quivering between his words. "And if anything else... I need you to understand that... j... just hold on to that, please!" He didn't know her family, and how could he? It wasn't like he had ever been to her house before... hell, before this whole incident, he didn't really know Tabi. Just like the others, she was a face in a hall of an establishment that he only went to in order to learn and better himself. But now, this girl had become part of his life and, while he still knew so very little about her own, there were some things he could just feel. Nobody in their right mind could ever want Tabi dead. If anybody at all did...

They'd have a lot of pent up fury to go through.

"Come here... and l... l-look at me..." Ivan's voice fell into a near-whisper as he gently tugged on Tabi's arm to draw her onto her side and square with him, the pain in his right shoulder be damned. His dampened eyes looked to hers, showing that he shared every bit of pain she was right now. His hand fell down to her unprotected side without him even realizing it, as he just continued looking at those eyes ready to cry.

"We've..." He cleared his throat to steady himself. " ... been through so much, here, struggled so hard. We have so many fears and r-regrets, but we have to be stronger than that. You've done nothing wrong... Tabi." All of a sudden, he couldn't remember the last time he had called her out by her name. "It was an accident... you were only trying to protect me, and you did. You saved my life... you stopped me from being killed when I was protecting you. And I'm going to go on protecting you for as long as I'm alive, because... if there's anybody who deserves to go back home, anybody who needs to be back in the arms of her parents... who WILL accept her... it's you."
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Ivan said what he had to say and, while Tabi still suffered, he felt that his words had made an impact. While the tears flowed, something in the air seemed to have lightened, and Tabi's sobs were just her letting the pain out. Lord knew there was a lot of pain to be letting out thanks to their stay on this island, and he would let her release it in any way she needed to. Though he may have wanted to hug her tight, Ivan kept his draped arms relaxed to allow for her to breathe, shake and sob to her heart's content. He'd be right there if she needed him.

"... It hurts...a-am I supposed to hurt, Ivan?"

I know it does, but how am I supposed to answer that? She's not 'supposed' to hurt. I don't want her to hurt.

Ivan laid as still as he could and tried to steady his breathing. The task became far easier if he only thought about the smooth, warm patch of skin his forehead brushed up against. He could feel Tabi's breath on his ear, tuning in to all her trepidation and fear, but also the relief that he hoped he interpreted correctly. After her long sobbing, he could hear her breathing slow down to a near rest, allowing him to relax more. Tabi had one more question for him, though.

"D-do you hurt...too?"

If only he could forget the answer to this. While still keeping his arms over and under Tabi's sides, he pulled back to try and get a look at her face. Even though he could crane his neck far enough, she seemed to be doing her best to hide her face with her hand as its only clothing, as if there were no other way to keep their emotions locked up from flowing freely... he almost mentioned just how cute it was. Even with her best attempt, though, there was nothing either of them could hide from the other. Every inch of their feelings and soul had mixed between them at some point of the night or another, which was why he would have to let the rest of his pain out as well.

Any tear he shed would have been for her, though, as there were none left in reserve for himself. As her sniffles had already stopped, it looked like there would be no reason to cry... not yet, anyway. Ivan leaned back in, nuzzling ever so slightly against that cheek once more, and whispered the answer to Tabi's question in her ear.

"Every day."

And it was true. Nothing would ever let him forget about what had happened, and if he ever saw Keith again, the best he could ever hope for was forgiveness. When the inevitable finally came and Ivan was dragged away to judgement, it would be all he could ask just to beg and receive Keith's forgiveness, to be absolved of his sins in the name of a mortal mistake. If he could receive that, that and the peace of knowing that he protected Tabi the best he could, he could rest easy.

Even if protecting her isn't going to save my soul, I'll still do it. Ivan spoke to his heart, firming up the embrace for just a moment. Six... seven... however many days ago, hell, I wouldn't have cared less about her. But now I'm willing to do just about anything, and sometimes I don't even know why. I don't even CARE why. ... Do I...

"It's funny..." Ivan said, moving one of his hands up and down Tabi's back again. "... How the world becomes a far less scary place when you're not alone."
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MK Kilmarnock
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The kiss told him everything, and yet Ivan still knew nothing. His efforts to cheer up Tabi had some weight to them, and she returned them in what was supposed to be a standard display of affection. This was all supposed to be so simple, which made him wonder just why he had been so confused. Suddenly, Tabi had grown so bold. She pulled away, just for a moment, and then she leaned in and had kissed him again. It wasn't a long kiss, but it was enough, a reminder of the kisses they had shared yesterday.

"Um...yesterday... back when you... d-did you?"

Ivan looked up to his weeklong companion as she knelt beside him, and he wondered just what the emotions behind her question were. He sat up to try and get closer to that face... closer to her in general, but she seemed to be turning away from him, trying to hide it as she had before in order to keep all the emotions from pouring out. He was once that kind of person once, too. He always tried to keep everything that he was thinking or feeling away from everybody else, and nobody had ever managed to tear down that wall if he didn't want to let that in. Until now, that was. Both of their defenses were down around the other, and with that thought, Ivan realized exactly what Tabi was asking of him.

"Did I mean... what we did?", he finished for her, trying to push himself up from his crossed legs to a kneeling position to match her height. His legs, weak with shaking, caused him to nearly topple as he forced his bent legs off of his toes and onto his knees. "When we kissed, you mean?" If only he could look at himself, he would see that he was every bit as red-faced as Tabi was. The chilly, breezy beach was now suddenly very warm, but from what, he couldn't tell. His own body felt overheated, but the sun would not be up again for a few more hours.

His arm moved nearly of its own accord to drape itself over Tabi's shoulders. When he did so, he felt the heat that practically seemed to be radiating off of her as well. All of this meant something, something which may have been flying in the face of the rest of this island's meanings. Ivan cared not for the rest of this island and the broken ties on it, if he could have the one that he had forged through fire. Tabi Gweneth meant more to him than he ever thought any one thing could mean outside of his family. He was willing to give so much of himself up for her, to the point where he had nearly given up his life a few times to save her own. Yes... he meant every bit of that.

His head leaned in... before either of them could say anything else, his lips had brushed against the side of her neck, his hand giving her far shoulder a gentle squeeze to get her to look at him. He was right there, ready to show her exactly how much he meant, even if he couldn't answer the question of 'why' yet. He, himself, still didn't know why this has happened, and there was no love for the island itself, but... but just her, that was different. One bright spot in a dark, murky land, one glimmering spot of intense warmth... that, he never wanted to lose.
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Every inch of skin that the collar wrapped around Tabi's neck prevented Ivan's lips from reaching caused him to damn the device that much more. It served as a symbol of her servitude as an unwilling plaything for an organization that cared nothing about their survival; to them, they were nothing but slaves. The same symbol was strapped around his own throat as well, and it times, it could make him feel like a dog answering only to others. How strange it was, then, that kissing Tabi's neck and placing himself so close to the dark symbol liberated his soul more than ever before.

With just his lips gently brushing up against her skin, then pressing in and kissing with care, Ivan felt as though he could feel every part of Tabi's essence through such minimal contact. Her warmth was far more prevalent through his lips, which were also more sensitive to feeling the rushing pulse driving through her. Every wiggle and stiffening of her muscles became amplified to him, as though she had become his entire world as he displayed his care to her, not caring if the world saw. The collar was no longer there to him, because to him, Tabi was nobody's slave nor toy. She was his companion, which he would do anything for.

He felt the low rumble of joy bubble from Tabi just before he pulled back, but knowing that he had pleased her was worth more than many past experiences. Upon the separation, though, the pleasured purring was quickly replaced with a slight whimper. It held some disappointment which she conveyed without hesitation, but Ivan could not deny that it somehow tickled his ear. She had gone from cute to adorable with that one simple cry, and he suddenly had to hold himself back from going beyond what might have been comfortable.

Where had his boundaries gone, Ivan no longer so much as wondered, for they seemed to have rolled out with the last tide. All he wanted to focus on now knelt beside him, and they each held a part of the key which could unlock their shackles, allowing them to throw away the chains that bound them and marked them as slaves. In a world with just them in it, nobody could own them, and that's the emotions Ivan wanted to share with Tabi. Her body seemed to tell him the same thing, but he couldn't be so sure that they were both ready to break free. That was, of course, until she kissed Ivan with no inhibitions, no manacles. She acted with all the freedom that he so craved, and in doing so, received his own freedom from her.

Their breathing felt so rushed, and time was doing all it could just to keep up with them. Time could go straight to hell if it meant this kiss lasting forever. One turned into many, many turned back into one, and every touch, kiss and caress only brought them closer together. Only one more wall, thin as it could be but made of lead, stood to be broken before they were to share everything, attatched only to each other and lead along by the nose by nobody. If that wall could ever be broken, however, was not up for just one of them to decide, and they could never just actively decide to break it. It had to happen on its own, dictated by what they felt.

A natural flow came back to the consciousness when the kisses began to slow. Ivan found himself desperately clinging to the moment, wishing that each time their lips met would last the rest of the night, only to lose that string of hope when the kiss broke off, and to regain it for the next one. When the moment finally came where Tabi pulled her kind, expressive and overt face away, it was Ivan's turn to utter the faintest of protests, though his mouth brought itself into a smile regardless. To live that moment was bliss, but there were to be more moments. They would survive to experience that again, he was sure of it. While they now seemed so far apart compared to their locking of lips, Tabi held him close and he coveted her in return as they laid back down onto the patch of grass.

"Good night, Ivan."

Ivan found his head tucking forward as Tabi moved in to kiss his forehead, accomodating her wish with no complaint. The moon was more than willing to betray his slight blush at the passionate moment, but he faced Tabi head-on, kneading her back once more with his hands as they held each other. There were only three words he could say in response to such a thing, and he was more than happy to...

"I love you..."

He did not move, though it felt as though his body had jumped up. His heart would have stopped, but it was too busy pounding through his chest. To hear the words from her, from Tabi herself, was to hear the calling of an unearthly being. Ivan said them over and over in his head until they no longer made sense, but they could never lose their meaning. Not from whom they had been given.

"I love you too... Tabi..."

He struggled to keep his eyes open as he gave to her a piece of his heart equal to what shhe had bestowed unto him, even if there was no defeating the incredible red rush overpowering his flesh. Even when sleep called, he felt so invigorated and whole. They had both finally said it to one another, and the walls had come crumbling down. Now they could both sleep, each having the other to keep them safe. For once, the first time ever since he had woken up on this rock, he felt whole, and could sleep without being plagued by his own nightmares. Sleep would be such a wonderful thing...

I love you so much. More than you might know. More than I can express. In the morning... in the morning we'll...

((Ivan Kuznetsov, continued in White Sparrows))
Edited by MK Kilmarnock, Mar 19 2011, 10:28 AM.
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