“So, my friend Tatiana is coming back into town tomorrow.” Curt mused as he put his knife and fork back down on the table. He noticed Owen tense slightly, causing him to move his hand to Owen’s shoulder in an act of sympathy. Owen had had no contact with Tatiana since she had helped hunt him down three years prior. And before that he had contributed very much to her pain and struggling. He’d been able to push that from his thoughts for a long while, but he wasn’t going to stop his partner from inviting his close friend to their home.
“Oh, the nice Russian girl.” Curt’s mother mused from her end of the table, looking to the twins who were sat opposite their fathers. “You know I met her when I thought that she might actually be the first woman Curtis fell for-“
“Mum!” Curt huffed, hiding his face in his hands. “She’s just my friend, we tried to point that out to you, but you wouldn’t listen to us.” He shot Ellie a small glare when she snickered slightly. Everyone except him found Ms Mega’s assumptions amusing, even Owen. Curt just tried to get back on topic, grateful that Ellie spoke up to help him steer it back in that direction.
“What were you trying to say dad? About her coming?” She asked, sitting up slightly straighter. She had liked Tatiana when she visited, when she and Margaret had only been eleven. And she had never remembered things as clearly as she liked.
“Well, she’s bringing one of her younger sisters, she’s your age. And they’re going to stay a couple nights.” Curt sighed again, picking up the bottle he was drinking from that night. He had certainly changed from the way he was three years again and changed even more from the way he was seven years ago. Owen kept his drinking in check. He put the bottle down and looked at the rest of the family.
“So, we’re going to meet another person for once?” Margaret asked, Curt could hear her lightly veiled accusation in her voice. And he sighed, looking at her as she continued. “I mean I thought outsiders weren’t allowed in according to you two. And Tatiana’s sister has never been here.” It wasn’t an unknown fact that their living situation annoyed the two girls, but Owen tried his best to ease them.
“Well, yes, we don’t normally allow people we don’t trust. But the girl is only fourteen, she’s not that much of a threat Margarine.” He sighed, finishing dinner as well. “I may not be very excited about the visit either, but we have to be polite to our guests.” Owen looked to Curt to support his point and he just nodded blankly.
“Well, just because she’s a guest doesn’t mean Margaret and I have to like her.” Ellie sighed, looking down at her bowl. She didn’t like meeting people for other reasons.
Curt was already regretting where this was headed.
Owen sighed as there was a knock at the door. Although they all knew it was most likely Tatiana and her sister, they had a procedure for this and Curt insisted that they followed it. Margaret and Ellie looked up from where they were in the lounge room and nodded quietly. Ellie picked up Oleg, carrying the cat to the other side of the room, out of the line of sight of the door, Margaret following her. Curt grabbed the gun from their kitchen drawers, going to the door, looking through the small hole at who was there. Owen had evacuated to upstairs so he wouldn’t be noticed if it was someone they didn’t know. But as they expected, Curt sighed and pulled the door open to reveal Tatiana and Nadia Slozhno. The former looking much more excited to see Curt than the latter, who folded her arms immediately.
“Ladies, come on in, I’ll lock the door behind you.” Curt smiled a little at his friend who curtly nodded and stepped inside, her sister following. As soon as the door was shut firmly and the noise echoed through the house, Owen descended the stairs, looking at the two arrivals. Tatiana considered him for a moment.
“He is still here. Why?” Even though she vaguely understood why Curt had let Owen back into his life, that didn’t mean that she and Owen had to have a non-tense relationship, especially after all he put her though. But Curt knew he’d have to try to run interference with the two of them. He looked between them awkwardly for a moment before speaking up.
“Well, I can hardly kick him out can I?” He used his own question to avoid hers. He then looked to Nadia. “I believe it’s my first time meeting you?” He looked at the teenager who just rolled her eyes and pushed past him, Tatiana looked apologetically at Curt.
“She can be a little… how you say, brash? She just isn’t exactly good around people. But don’t worry, I’m sure the girls won’t clash too much.” She smiled slightly before hugging him gently. “It is good to see you again, Mega. I’m pleased the beard hasn’t grown back in the time we spent apart.” She stepped away and looked around the house, looking towards the lounge room, at the wall she knew the girls would be behind. The three adults stared for a moment before Curt cleared his throat. That even caused Nadia to look up from where she was sulking. Soon, Ellie stumbled out into view of the rest of the house, Margaret having obviously pushed her. Curt sighed.
“Margaret, Elliana, come meet Nadia. Nadia, these are mine and Owen’s daughters.” Curt gestured between the three girls, still doubtful about how things would transpire. “Curt, Tati, let’s give them some space.” He looked to his partner who nodded in agreement.
“Of course.” Tatiana looked to Nadia, giving her a one-armed, half hug. “Be nice, Solnyshkuh.” She smiled at her sister before letting Curt and Owen lead her through to another room, leaving the three girls alone. Owen sighed.
“This will be fun to come back to.”
It had been an hour since the adults evacuated the room and it had been complete silence since. Ellie was sat on one of the armchairs, petting Oleg as he curled into her, even he felt the tension. Margaret and Nadia were looking at anything but each other. And they were both tired. Soon, Nadia’s cold stare locked onto the twins.
“You realise I am staying here for three days, I doubt you can keep up the silent treatment for that amount of time.” She folded her arms, causing Margaret to return the glare.
“You haven’t exactly been a bundle of joy either.” Margaret glared. “We’re only putting up with you because our dad is friends with your sister. We’re not completely thrilled about it but we’ll put up with you.” Ellie sighed and raised her hand quietly, looking up from where she was sat, cross legged.
“Don’t include me in this, I don’t want to be involved.”
“Whatever, but for both of your information, I do not like you.” Nadia huffed. It was unexpected that three girls with little to no socialisation, poor conversation skills and opposing personalities wouldn’t get along very well. Margaret scoffed.
“You are so-“
She went to bite back at Nadia, starting to stand up out of her seat. But then, loud and piercing, there was a gunshot. It practically shook the house with its volume. It was followed by Curt cursing loudly. It had come from upstairs. Ellie shot up in here seat, knocking Oleg off her lap with an indignant meow. Ellie looked around a moment, processing. There wasn’t enough commotion for the gun shot to have been fatal, so she began to relax again. Nadia hadn’t reacted to the gunshot, it was an all too familiar sound from her childhood afterall but Margaret had. She had jumped much like Ellie had, but instead of making sense of it and calming down, she tensed up, curling in on herself.
The teenage girl began shaking at the noise, her mind racing. Her whole family was up there. She had heard her fathers discussing what Owen had done before, they hadn’t known she was there. What if he had snapped and killed her dad? What if it was the other way around? What if her grandmother had been shot? What if they had been found? That’s what her and Ellie had always been told. That their house could be comprised and found. That they could be killed because of their fathers’ careers. She had wanted to get mad about that fact for so long but she never had. But now all the thoughts were melding together and she almost couldn’t breathe. She could feel a figure at her side. For a moment she felt relief, thinking it was her father, but when she opened her eyes she saw Nadia crouched beside her, frowning, confused. Margaret’s breathing became quicker and shorter, going to close her eyes and hide her face again when Nadia carefully stopped her.
“It is okay, zaychik, just try to breathe with me…” The Russian girl spoke softly as Ellie rushed out of the room, headed upstairs. Margaret just tried to focus on the other girl, even though her head was still swimming. It was strange to see the previously invulnerable girl speaking softly to Margaret even though she couldn’t exactly understand what Nadia was saying, just mumbling Russian as a distraction while Ellie was gone. And Margaret began to soften, breathing becoming slightly slower.
“There you go, it is okay. I am sure no one was hurt.” Nadia offered a small smile, it looked unnatural on her face but she was just copying what her sister did to calm her, Russian pet names and all. Margaret relaxed again, leaning onto Nadia who tentatively wrapped an arm around her. Soon there was a rush of footsteps as the adults ran back into the room, Curt joining Nadia by Margaret’s side.
“Mags, it’s okay sweetheart… I just accidentally set off one of the handguns cleaning it. No one’s hurt, no ones leaving again anytime soon.” He took his daughter from Nadia who stood up awkwardly, wiping her hands on her pants. She felt uncomfortable with how genuine she’d been to the girl she’d been fighting with only moments ago. She turned to Tatiana who shrugged, knowing her sister’s dilemma.
“The Megas have a way of getting us Slozhnos to express emotions, I’ve found.” She mused softly. “I heard you call her zaychik.”
“I did not.”