Resting Under Thunder

(posted Wednesday, August 17, 2005)

"I don't remember who she is, Micah, I'm sorry. It was a party you see, after the Second War, I think. We posed for several of them. She and a few others. I remember thinking she was one of the early successes of Vagno and his breeding program. The "Hybrid Star Projekt" he spat the last words out bitterly, disliking the reminder of a time when his own government had used him to create weapons. Weapons. He, the trusting son of the Motherland, had been an easy thing to manipulate in those simpler days. It had not all become so complicated yet. He hadn't known then that they were using samples of his DNA to create hybrid clones, inseminating women "volounteered" to mother those doomed creatures. But that was an old, old scar, and Yuri let it pass him by now, not venturing down that cold door.
"This was...forty years and more ago, my friend. Do you know her?" He asked, attempting to remain unobtrusive. The picture had been part of an old scrapbook the people had made for him in those days. He had many such treasures, and had taken every one of them with him when he had fled the Motherland.
Micah merely stared at the photograph, a snapshot of long ago, wherin Yuri himself stood smiling and guiless next to a woman around five and a half feet tall with lustrous, wavy brown hair, almost opalescent skin, and startling blue eyes. She was dressed in the uniform of the old Red Guard, that long defunct group of self apppointed protecters of the Motherland, her arm draped casually around Yuri's shoulders, both of them filled with that same new optimism for tomorrow that had marked those days. Her smile was dazzling, and for a brief moment, Yuri found himself touching his own lips, smiling, as if a zephyr of some long forgotten laughter had fluttered invisibly through his mind. Realizing what he was doing, he looked again, concentrating on the woman. The fog of the long decades had blurred many years away, and this seemed to be one of them.
"Hmph, a figure like that would be difficult to forget, you would think. But, it seems my memory is not what once it was. I'm sorry Micah."

He poured himself a finger of brandy, offering his companion one as well, which he wordlessly accepted. Strange, he thought, how much the people we love change us. He looked down into his brandy, chuckling at the idea that as little as twenty years ago, he thought that only degenerate capatalists enjoyed such refreshements. These days, he scarcely ever drank vodka, preferring the more heady Scotches and beers he had discovered since coming to Paragon City. Things had changed a great deal since the Fall.

As he sipped his brandy, Yuri looked over at Micah, who had gone from staring at the photograph to looking out the frost covered windows. The snow outside spiralled lazy and calm, blanketing the buildings this side of the Row in shimmering crystal splendor. Yuri had never lost his love for the winter time. Though his body was impervious to even the most extreme cold, he could still feel it, a delicious tightening of his skin, pleasant hush across his senses. Micah watched quietly, Yuri noticing the tiny muscles in his jaw bunching almost imperceptibly. After so long, he knew Micah's behavioural quirks as well as his own. On anyone else, that would mean they were angry, irritated, when Micah did it, it meant that he was merely lost in thought. He did it in his sleep too.

Lately, Yuri knew, Micah had had troubling dreams, causing him to start awake in the early hours of the morning, his brow covered in a light sweat, his eyes searching for an aggressor, a calamity, something? Yuri had not asked, wagering that Micah would tell him in his own time. He had come to respect these moments of courteous silence, taking them as part of Micah. It was simply something he did, much like when Yuri spontaneously painted murals on the outside of this buiding they had bought in the Row.
Yuri finished his brandy, setting the glass down on his endtable, and returned to watching Micah. He began, for the millionth time, to memorize every small detail of the man the world had known as Vela Prime, the American Superman, the man he shared his life with. He marveled at it still, how far they had come since those early days.

In the early days of the Second War, they had fought together against the Nazi, and their champion, Gotterdommerung. Micah had saved his life back then, rescuing him from the crazed Nazi superman the instant before the bomb dropped him under the waves of the North Atlantic, for what was hoped to be all eternity. It had failed of course. But none of them could have known it then. That had been the beginning of a great alliance. A bond forged in battle between two of the most powerful groups of metahumans to exist at the time. A bond that nearly broke a decade and a half later, when the world had begun to...change.

The Cold War they had called it, and from Yuri's perspective, that name was more appropriate than most knew. Those were difficult times. Cruel times, as again and again, he had pushed back the Americans and their allies, doing all he could to prevent those madmen in Moscow from escalating things. At the same time, Vela was in a similar position, attitudes cooling, their dealings with one another becoming almost glacial in their civility, though they had simply fought on a few occasions.
Yuri had hated himself in those years, unable to reconcile his great Motherland's new policies with his sworn duty to protect the People. How was he to protect anyone with Moscow constantly trying to start wars everywhere?

With an inward sigh, Yuri banished those thoughts. The Cold War had built a frozen wall between them, it was true. A wall that had taken nearly fifty years to come down. But, come down it had. Idly, he knew it must be strange for the rest of the metahuman community to accept that they were lovers, although Yuri himself never gave it much thought. It was unnatural to him to be told whom he could and whom he could not love. It had been harder for Micah, he knew. He had fought an inner war with himself for the better part of a decade before finally accepting the dictates of his heart. They had both been better for it. The true irony of it all was that they were born enemies.

He and Micah were both of them children of a distant star, sons of worlds whose wars against one another had eventually destroyed them. Though they were both close to the same age, Yuri had arrived on earth first, and was old enough then to remember the wars. It was what had motivated him, early in life, to become a protector of his adopted people. Thus far, only Micah himself and perhaps a half dozens others knew that he and Yuri were not, and had never actually been human.
Perhaps that was the common bond that had led them to seek one another out in the first place, he mused. Ah well...who knows such things, anyway, he thought.

He returned to his study of Micah, who had not moved from his position at the window in perhaps twenty minutes now. Yuri was untroubled, as when he got deep in thought like this, Micah could remain immobile for hours. Often he would stand or sit for hours and hours, then suddenly snap out of it, resuming a conversation they had been having earlier, as though no time had passed. Initially, Yuri thought that something may have been wrong with his mind, but after a while, had understood this was just something he did. Letting his mind work out these details, he returned to his examination, exercising his mind to remember every minute detail, from the way Micah was still holding his brandy close to his chest, as though about to drink, to the way the snow outside the window made his smoky gray eyes look almost white. There was an impression there of absolute attention, Yuri thought, like he had only paused for a moment before drinking, and would snap back into motion at any second. Curious to see if he could capture this, he reached for his sketchpad and charcoals as Micah spoke quietly.

"East, but moving closer, not in a hurry." he murmured.

Yuri didn't answer, knowing that the statement wasn't for him. Micah occasionally spoke out loud when he was thinking like this, processing a vision, or having one of his prescient flashes. Instead, he flipped through the pages of sketches in his pad. Moments caught on the page over the last ten and a half years, as treasured as the scrapbooks he had taken out of the Motherland. He paused over a sketch he had done a few years ago, while they been in Nebraks, before the Call to Heroes had brought them to Paragon City. It had always amused him somehow that the American Superman tened toward flannels and engineer boots when he wasnt wearing the costume that had become like a second skin to him. Still though, there was always blue in it somewhere. He has asked once, but Micah had just chuckled and changed the subject. Yuri figured it had something to do with growing to manhood here in the midwest during what had been this country's Dust Bowl. But Micah hadn't offered and he hadn't pressed. They knew each other well enough to know not to pry at each other's soft spots.

Yuri had just started the sketch when a low buzz sounded next to him. Pausing, and marking his page in the sketchbook, he picked up the phone noticing that the small red star on the display was illuminated. He pressed the OK button, entered in a series of numbers and waited for the answering click that would tell him the secure line had been established.
"Da?" he said.

"Yuri? There is situation. We are needing you at the control center, can you to come?" the Commissar's voice inquired.

"There is trouble" he asked, standing and walking toward the changeroom.

"Nyet, not really trouble, but, a..you say..anomaly. I am being told it is something you are familiar with."

Curious...

"I am coming, Comrade, I will be there shortly." Yuri assured him. The line went dead, the display dark.

"Your boss?" Micah's voice was tight. He moved from the window, following Yuri into the changeroom.

"Yes, Hero. He said something has come up at the control center. I shouldn't be too long." Yuri said as he sealed himself into the newly made combat armor the CCCP had given him. He was silently thrilled to have been trusted enough with the identities of the other members. It had been a long time since he and Vela had felt like a part of anything. Though he rarely if ever spoke his native tongue anymore, Yuri was glad to have the company of other Russian born heroes about him. It was a great honor to be with the group, and he was proud of it, if quietly.

Micah stepped close as Yuri settled his cape into place, their eyes locking for a moment. Yuri said nothing, but held Micah close, briefly yet fiercely. He could feel some of the tension leave the other man.

"I'll be back soon, Micah. We will talk then, about your dreams, and this woman you ahve seen?" Yuri almost whispered, their faces nearly touching.

Micah nodded. A little mirth entering his eyes.

"It's probably nothing Yuri. Just echoes more than likely. But yeah, we'll talk when you get back."

Yuri returned the smile and leaped out the balcony, taking to the air. His hypersensitive ears carried a whisper back to him..low and hushed.

"Be careful Yuri.."