Sympathy For Wolves


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Scene Title Sympathy For Wolves
Synopsis Felix wakes from night terrors and Teodoro offers warm milk, an apple to keep the doctor away, and a rambly Italian scolding that ultimately registers as a mission morale boost, in roughly that order. Some company, too.
Date November 27, 2009

Ryazan, Russia — The Spektor Home

Armpit o' clock again. Yes, this pose starts with the word armpit, which roughly describes Teo's mood as the zenith of characteristic energy surplus, the insomnia that's been side-effect to Ghost's ability ever since it was spliced into his brain, and jetlag combine to make him awake at armpit o' clock. He has his laptop set up on the kitchen table, his spine in a question-mark huddle underneath the fleecey fold of the blanket he'd stripped off his bed before padding out of the room he shares with Francois, careful to leave the Frenchman slumbering behind him.

The liquid crystal display glows luminous up under the Sicilian's profile, highlighting the severe angles of aquiline nose and sloped brow, the long digits with which he pecks sporadically at the keyboard. Ryazan State University's official website scrolls by in mint green and white geometry, crisp as a fine spring's day, and decorated by photographs of smiling young people. Teo is an ursine lump of dishevelment in comparison.

Fel has been cocooned in the lesser-used sitting room for a few hours now, in is own blanket and coat, the latter of which he seems to regard like Linus and his security blankie. He's been still, asleep, face tucked into the upholstery….until he comes up to some sort of half-wakefulness with one of those terrible canine whimpers and the rasp of nails against fabric. He's frozen and still, trying to sort out where he is and when, the adrenaline of utter fear still prickling his skin.

"Bathroom's to your right." Teo floats his voice back without physically turning his head to see. They come out every few hours, the sleepers, in search of a glass of water or a handful of warm water to swat against their faces. In one of the brighter futures the world holds, there are ethics boards, discrete schools of thought, programs of instruction for Evolved dream manipulators on the proper handling of unresolved subconscious anxieties and the minds that harbor them, and Teodoro still remembers enough of what Ghost learned (or learned to ignore) to try the basics. "You want some milk?"

He rises like a cut-rate revenant to stumble for the bathroom. Ends up leaning, hands against the mirror, in the drunken sway of a man so tired he might as well had that fifth of vodka. "Sure," he says, when he emerges, hands clean and damp and smelling of soap. Fel looks utterly shellshocked - he's getting worse and worse at concealing how he's actually feeling.

Oh. It both surprises and doesn't surprise Teo at all, that it's Felix who straggles out of the dark to receive the tall glass of milk bleeping in the microwave. It's no big shock that Felix has nightmares— Teo always knew he had, no less livid and mill-stone frequent than any of the others living here, but having nightmares are only part of the thing. Sharing them with the rest of the class, or at least not guarding one's weakness with stiff-legged feline pride is something Teodoro finds altogether more unexpected, until he remembers what he had asked the Company to help him forget. Right. He is not quite as distant nor as dangerous to Felix's recollection as he otherwise ought to have been.

They've been naked together, before!

Resettled back in his seat like a feeble old hag, Teo doesn't look like he'd gotten up at all. Still, he gestures over the edge of the computer's lid at the microwave, keeping his doubts off his face. Milk's inside.

Yes, they have. In a past Teo doesn't remember, in a future Felix will never experience. Irony, there. He pulls open the microwave, pulls out the mug, and settles himself stiffly in one of the kitchen chairs. He has no urge to small talk, apparently doesn't particularly care what Teo might be up to in the bitter watches of the night. Just blinks vaguely into the middle distance.

Being not cared about by a Special Agent of the Federal Bureau of Investigation is a good and helpful thing, most of the time. For a few minutes, Teodoro invests himself fully in the exercise of remaining as small and inobtrusive as possible, which is easier when Felix Ivanov is occupied with seeing and doing nothing. Tik-tik. The blunt of his forefinger moves his browser out of one website into the next. Tik-tik, then pause.

"You're supposed to envision an alternative ending to your nightmare," he says, presently. "Exhaust detail. Keep it brief, but not easy. Learn it by heart before you go back to sleep again, then you'll dream the right ending. At least, that's the theory they taught us in school. In practice, I guess your brain will just come up with a different pit trap you fuck you over with."

It takes Fel a good few moments to focus on Teo again, and even then he regards him as if not entirely certain he knows -who- he's looking at. "I'll try that," he says, finally, tone very mild, as he sips his milk.

The school is also from the future Felix will never get to experience, which may or may not be the thing that grinds Teo's gaze downward, his eyelids hooded and shoulders rounded underneath the fabric of his blanket. Future knowledge, like so much bric-a-brac arranged on the shelves in his head that nobody ever plays with, pretty but pointless.

Teodoro knows that what he should do, and what he probably will do, is get in there and help out, but human sleep is longer than his and there are so very, very many bad dreams in this house. Teo rubs at his nose and weighs the awkwardness of the moment in his hands for a protracted moment, tries to warm it with purity of intent. It isn't as hard as one might expect of a man who's part the ghost.

Bluntly as trauma, then, "I know we slept together once. Or you and the me that you've figured out I'm not quite. I don't want shit to be awkward or anything: I want the best for you and your friends, preferably not at the expense of mine, but still."

"We didn't sleep together once," Fel corrects, tone still mild, a little abstracted, looking up from his mug of warm milk. "We had an affair of some months, actually. But you don't remember it, so it's as if it hasn't happened. I won't bring it up, you needn't worry about it, really. I'm not interested in pursuing any past vendettas or previous objectives. So far as I'm concerned, it's all new. You, that ex-Vanguard we have with us…." He waves a thin hand, dismissive. "Like the old cartoon with the coyote and the sheepdog. We're off the clock. The nukes are all I care about. That and getting us out safely when it's done." He doesn't sound at all sanguine about the latter.

Teodoro doesn't actually know any cartoons with coyotes and sheepdogs, so he follows that part with difficulty separate even from his staccatoed surprise at the other revelation. His eyes move unsteadily past the cup of milk, as yet untouched, and after a considerable silence heavy with skepticism, his brows finding a tighter knit, prying at this presentation of their relationship, or its smoking remains, as if it's another intellectual challenge required by a syllabus at Columbia University, inspired by paranoia, curiosity, or some gentler intent.

Whatever the case may be, he doesn't merely let it go. "Not completely new. People can't really be relied upon to change and the clock has jack shit to do with what happens if you really hate or care about somebody or something, or once we're off it, I'll have to start worrying about it, and I remember who you are, anyway." A beat. "Or not: I don't think you're" bored, reckless, hormonal, "imprudent enough to fool around with terrorists." The word makes him sound like an old man. Teo remembers; grimaces.

He has a point. A quiver's worth there, in fact. Fel makes a funny face of consternation, pulling his lips. "I…'re right. But it ended amicably and by mutual agreement. I'm not nursing a grudge because you jilted me, or something. Nor am I a creep enough to presume on what you don't remember, anyhow. I can't stand Holden, but I'm willing to set aside any personal feelings for the duration of this mission." He takes another mouthful of the milk, absently. Hey, maybe it'll let him sleep.

Funny face of consternation is funny. Teo shows a sudden grin, teeth quite, eyes squinting at the corners. It's still years before real crows feet are bound to dig their talons in, so he looks young, maybe younger than even his physical body happens to be.

"Great. We can nurse grudges about core ideological differences instead, I guess." Despite that, there's no particular fight in the Sicilian's voice, his skepticism rolled up in the subconscious decision he wouldn't want to know why Felix would deceive or have been deceived anyway, stowed in the same cold closet where Ghost is still rattling his chains. He gestures vaguely at the glass of milk. "Post-traumatic stress? I do remember Humanis First!."

"Later. I'm too tired to give much of a damn," Felix opines, quietly. "And yes. PTSD." Why deny it, it's obvious. He, on the other hand, looks older - lines carved deep around eyes and generous mouth. His hair's cut in the neat crop that Ghost will remember, even the same shade. He's only minus the neatly-trimmed goatee and air of sleek prosperity, both of those worn when Ghost took his leave from Fel the last time. No Bright Future for this one.

Some people traumatize well. It suited Ghost that he retained his surface beauty in the end. Underneath the scratchy shag of overgrown hair and rough beard, grief vomit and long staggers walks without sunscreen, he'd emerged from the crysallis of mourning reasonably lovely on the outside, still, little like Felix or even Elisabeth's sporadic haggardness. "I'm surprised you're here, after I saw you and Detective Daubrey.

"I don't know about you, I'm not sure if I'm grateful it's been so quiet. Every other animal hides in the quiet and the dark to recover from injury, while human beings lose their shit under those circumstances." Teo sits back in his chair, pulls his blanket closer around his shoulders.

"It wasn't much of a choice," Felix says, tone flattened out like roadkill. "And I am. I know it won't last, and I do wish we could get things over with. On the other hand, I'm grateful for the pause, even if it's not real rest." He's looking past Teo again, lapsing into that bleak meditation on no particular point.

The roadkill is prodded by a fierce black bill and shadowed by oily feathers, briefly, the corvid equivalent of the angel of death taste-testing. Teo's eyes narrow slightly, his mouth recurving into a thoughtful frown, features distilling closer to blank. He hooks his fingers onto the lid of his laptop and pulls it down, clicks it shut. Smoothes the cyanotic pallor of his under-lit face back into neutral shadow. "You should come for a walk," he says. "Some of your best dreams are about roaming Russia when there aren't people to stare, arrest, or get in your way."

Indeed, they are his best. When he remembers the silent forests beyond his grandfather's hut, dark and primeval. Or visiting his cousins who live on the steppes by the Don. Felix knows how to ride a horse, though it's never been relevant in his life in New York. "Yes," he agrees, tone still mild, despite the rather ingenuous stare with which he reacts tothat statement. "I….wish you wouldn't do that," he says, gently.

"Go for walks?" Teodoro asks, quizzically, even as he stands up. His chair scrapes back, quiet despite that he doesn't ease it with a grasp of his hands. Even in the simple act of reasserting himself on his feet, it's obvious he's more comfortable there than wadded neatly onto the inertly balanced, four-cornered furniture. He takes a long step around the table corner.

"Listen in on my dreams," Fel says, tone still mild as the milk he holds. But he pushes himself up, wearily, palms spread and fingers splayed over the worn wood of the table. He moves stiffly - that chair's doing nothing for his previous aches and pains.

Teo's blanket winds up in a wrinkled heap on the couch, the laptop abandoned where it had sat with its cache full of downloaded websites. The man himself tramples toward the foyer, claiming a jacket and a coat, then boots in rapid succession. His vanity is either below or above acknowledging the awkwardness of being nearly thirty years old and running around in weather that's four fucking degrees Celsius, in one's pyjamas.

"I try not to," he answers, keeping his voice low still. Looks up through big baby blue ones, honest as daylight. "But— really? My control's kind of shit." Down again. "I go whole nights without having any dreams of my own, crashing into other people's. One might as well wish if you could please keep your heart rate down." He folds one hand into a revolver, points it quizzically at his own head. There's a way to solve both mysterious mutant riddles.

Fel takes that in with a thoughtful purse of lips, more slowly follows to shrug into coat, boots, scarf, and hat. He has, god help him, a real version of the fur hats Abby picks up later - no cheap tourist souvenir, there. "I see," he says, quietly.

"I can't even tell whose I'm in, a lot of the time," Teo says, maybe trying to be reassuring. His eyes flick up at the fuzzy tower that Felix stacks on top of his head, and he seems like he's about to say something about that, too, his jaw hanging slightly on its hinge, but it merely claps harmlessly shut again. With a beatific smile, he pulls open the door. A swirl of wind chases through curtains, pulls the Sicilian's features into a brief, childish scowl, a four-year-old confronted with green beans.

A beat, before admission: "And the ones about Russia were from a different time." People don't, typically, dream about the place they find themselves in, as they don't generally fantasize about the ones they're with. That, Teo learned from neither the Evolved training programs in the bright future nor experiences with his own ability.

Ryazan, Russia — Outside

It's f-ing cold.

It's absurd, it's also warm. Felix likes his ears the way they are, which is why he fastens the flaps down over them, before stepping out into the night. It's still, clear, and beautifully moonlit - he pauses to eye the expanse before them, turned into a monotone fairyland by the pale blue light. "Different time?" he asks, absentedly, before crunching off in no particular direction.

That direction looks as good as any other. With a last look at the Spektor house's dormant facade, Teo turns around and tromps off in Felix's wake. Makes a game out of fitting his bigger feet into the other man's footsteps, as long as there's a little low light from the foyer in which to do so. Boy, the Russian makes for a funny little silhouette in that getup. "A better one," he clarifies.

Again, like the ghost of some little soldier, an apparition from the Great War trying to find his way home to a restful grave. "Mnh," he agrees to that. Doesn't dig up his cigarettes - he's obeyed Liz's injunction there, albeit grumpily and obviously unwilling.

These are the halcyon days, when the threat of nuclear warheads is not so very near and the evenings are crisp and clear if fiercely cold. Teo sometimes forget how to deal with it. His uncovered nose and ears are merely pleasantly numb for now, and his fingers rooting around restlessly through his pockets as he follows along, inexplicably happy— or near enough— to be lost in the dark, like a child cut loose in a candy store. His mouth forms an oh of silent surprise: he finds something in his pocket. With a terrier tug of his wrist, he frees it from the tight clasp of wool. It is glossy, round, dense. An apple.

A bright sailor's whistle catches Ivanov by the ear, then Teo is waving the apple over his spiky head. "Go long," he suggests.

Fel turns back fractionally, rounds on him, squints….and then grins in understanding. "Sure," he says, and heads out, wading through the snowdrifts with a dog's enthusiasm, if somewhat more grace.

"You're going to have to move faster than that, vecchio," the Sicilian calls out, cheerful, and content to be not-crotch-deep-in-a-frostbiting-snowdrift.

He winds his arm up.

And then, dreamily, lets the apple fly. It goes sailing through the night sky, yards and yards ahead of Felix's slogging, all too mundane and human physical progress through the density of powder white and the occasional protrusion of a shedded tree branch.

Until there's abruptly a roostertail of white powder behind him. Felix, apparently, can't resist the opportunity to fetch. As the mini snowstorm he's created falls behind him, like something in a shaken snowglobe, he holds up the apple in triumph.

An unmistakable racking of laughter comes out of Teo, then, doubled over with his hands on his knees, his head up, squinting in the dark to milk the spectacle. The victorious pose, the hirsute monstrosity of the hat, the spate of greyhound fervor, so unexpected in the worn and mourning man, like chiseling away a caking of blank, armored dirt to find the resilience of painted art behind it. Being kind isn't as hard as he thought it would be, or not tonight, anyway. "Brava, signor." Straightening, the Sicilian casts his arms wide. "Can you throw it back here and catch it in time, or is that too long a burst?"

"I can play catch with myself, but that is very tiring and seems masturbatory," Felix assures him, and takes a bite, before tossing the now-wounded apple back to Teo, at a perfectly normal speed.

It connects with Teo's hand once, bounces off, before he catches properly with both hands, one of them speckled now with sugary juice. The jaw-shaped interruption in the apple's shape surprises him. He ducks his head down close to stare at it, before lifting an accusatory stare at the Russian. "You don't even know where it'd been," he pointns out. He isn't doing a particularly spectacular job of appearing mad. He kicks through snow, comes closer, peeling further from the Spektor house, aiming his squint into the vacuous darkness down the street's vanishing point.

"Up your sleeve," Fel says, simply, blinking at him from behind his glasses. "I can get you another one, if you don't want pig germs on your snack," he adds. He just stands there, jamming gloved hand in his overcoat pockets, eyes Teo, unrepentant.

Unsurprising. Repentance would be too much to ask for. Teo studies his injured snack a little woefully. It's either boyish indifference to general germ issues or due acknowledgment that Felix's saliva has visited more dubious parts of his person before, that he finally takes a philosophical bite out of the fruit. "I'll never become a pig," he answers, clomping closer. "I like it that the bad shit I do is illegal. 'S sort of Lacanian, I'm given to understand, but I've always liked Freud. And to think John Law could get it right someday."

He snorts. "If all I had to do to turn someone into another cop was swap spit with them, half the queers in New YOrk would be NYPD." He nods to that assessment. "You're not a sociopath, at least," he adds, turning to look up again. "Halo around the moon. That doesn't bode well," he says, hunching his shoulders against the cold.

"You're not that pretty," Teo responds with grace. Another chunk of apple has ceded its fluffy white cogency to the rending pull of his incisors, and he seems to have completely forgotten that his mother taught him not to talk with his mouth full. "I might be." At least, he has the grace to smile without showing teeth, though, even as he begins to wind their course closer to the roadside.

"Not saying I was," Felix says, falling into pace beside him. He doesn't ask for the apple back, lapses back into that gray silence. Doesn't argue the point, as he shuffles along.

The apple is nevertheless poked at Felix's shoulder after a few further strides. Teo snorts a plume of pale vapor into the night. "Half of New York? I guess men are dogs, if not sociopaths. I'm sorry about Daubrey," he adds, after a moment, suddenly, appropos of both nothing and everything. Though Teodoro has no way of knowing the details, he'd have to be blind and deaf to have failed to notice the lack of long, whining phonecalls between Felix and his lover in their stagnating down-time, and that Ivanov's loneliness was somewhat greater than could be explained by the lack of company. "It'll work out."

Graciously, Felix grunts his thanks, even as he takes the apple. Too lazy to translate from Pig to English, apparently. The long face grows longer, and while his eyes don't fill with tears, he just looks morose. He takes another bite of the apple, unenthusiastic, hands it back gently with fingers made suddenly clumsy, chewing with an old man's slowness.

The apple is gracefully refused, bopped back toward the Russian with the back of Teo's hand. Maybe it will keep the doctor away. Maybe, may-be. "No, seriously. Saving the world is an instant free pass on a lot of limitations. Like… fuckin'… social skills, IQ points, or being weedy and Eastern European. Probably comes with a decent retirement plan, too, once you're really done playing cowboy."

The assessment comes with precious little real conviction that Felix will get the opportunity to be done playing cowboy, in this timeline, but the Sicilian as ever tries for optimism and assistance in whatever way possible. "Forty's my retirement deadline. Figure I'll quit the life, procreate or adopt. Possibly both. Preferably without marriage. Be boring until I get bored of that, then die at sea storm-chasing."

Fel listens to this with stony silence, letting it wash past like the sound of the wind in the pines. Not his concern, not his problem. There's no happy ending for him, and it's a disturbing realization. That despite almost forty-odd years of this, there is no prize when it's all done. There's a medal on your mother's dresser and a marble stone among the others and there was never any point to it all, save that the city you love keeps lurching along as it always has. It might be mockery, it might be kindly meant banter, he's not sure, and he refuses the apple with an upraised palm.

Fel listens to this with stony silence, letting it wash past like the sound of the wind in the pines. Not his concern, not his problem. There's no happy ending for him, and it's a disturbing realization. That despite almost forty-odd years of this, there is no prize when it's all done. There's a medal on your mother's dresser and a marble stone among the others and there was never any point to it all, save that the city you love keeps lurching along as it always has. It might be mockery, it might be kindly meant banter, he's not sure, and he proffers the apple mutely. Hell of a serpent in the frigid forest - this was never any Eden.

The probability of a late-blooming ninja terrorists making it to the age of forty is also slim, but somehow this fails to hang a cloudy gloom over Teo's head.

It's not so bad having nothing much to lose. The Sicilian almost, almost says that aloud, but thinks the better of it, accepting the apple back. "I hope you get it back, Felix. This fight used to be—" before, and later, "your joue d'essence, so to speak. You used to take pleasure in the work, with enough room for regrets and to take a little pride in the good you did do. Liz feels better with you here, watching her back. So does Abigail. And me." At least, it isn't untrue. There's a sidelong glance, as Teo cracks into the apple again.

He shakes his head, quietly. "This isn't my work. My work is done. This…..they're disposing of us. You don't seriously think they'd consign a task that important to a bunch of misfits? Seriously. I'm not going to see America again, Teodoro. I know it." His fists clench and unclench as he speaks, flexing like the cadence of a jellyfish's breath, all unconscious. "I'm tired. I'll see this through, see if we can't some how work a way out but…..I just know." His breath wreathes around him like smoke, silvery under the moonlight.

"No one assigned me to do jack shit, Ivanov," Teo answers, stopping suddenly in the snow, his boot prints matched even and a cold spot dissolving wetly on his calf where he'd accidentally somehow managed to kick up the stuff high and inward enough to get past the swish of his coat, into his boot. It's very mysterious. He frequently winds up with rocks lodged in there, too, having apparently turned walking into some unimaginable acrobatic process— irritably, he kicks his foot, trying to relieve himself of that unhappy sensation. "Tamara asked me to go.

"Cat, and Abigail, too. Which means she didn't stop you from going. You don't seriously think the most powerful precog in the world and the Company would consign investigating the Vanguard's highest-ranking operatives to seven people who'd beaten them before for disposal reasons? Ethan Holden, one of the deadliest former black-ops specialists in the world— with personal experience with Grigori. Abby, killed Kazimir last time. Cat, with her data log on everything about the Vanguard. Liz, who can cover everything from electronic bugging devices to demolitions. You're one of the fastest and notoriously stubborn men in the world.

"Your work isn't done. This is why you became a fucking Agent.

"I don't think we're the only effort in the world trying to stop this shit, and I don't — I don't think we'll see America again, but we will accomplish something here. By what combination of skill, blind luck, and random fucking coincidence, I don't know. Yeah, it's fucking depressing.

"But don't try'n say coming here is stupid or won't be worth what you gave. That's a cheap excuse." There's a shove at Felix's shoulder, if he'll deign to take it, Teo's strong features pushed into an irritable scowl. A beat, and he realizes he's thirsty, mouth cooled to dry by the bulk of his verbiage. Further annoyed by this fact, Teodoro takes another bite of apple.

This mollifies him at least a little. Fel's face rearranges itself in more thoughtful lines, and he concedes the point with one of those little nods. "You're right," he says, finally, though his voice still has that weary flatness in it. "Fastest and most notoriously stubborn?" he adds, after a moment, that quizzical lilt to his voice - like it took him a second to parse that particular evaluation of his usefulness. Not that he intends to argue the point.

"It's a vice, not a virtue," Teodoro warns, a little playfully, his shoulders hiking up under his PJs, under his jacket, under his coat. Still a little cold, despite the layering. It's annoying his breath isn't fogging: also symptomatic even his insides are going cold.

"Well do I know," Fel agrees, gently. "You should go back in, you're obviously freezing," For his own part, he seems quite comfortable, in his wooly hat and heavy coat, as an idle breeze stirs the loose snow around them, makes it whirl and glimmer in the dim light.

Denial buzzes an obstinate shaking of Teo's head. Nope. "I'm fine," he answers. He sounds fine. Takes another bite out of the apple to illustrate how fine he is. It isn't below freezing here, yet: the juices of the round fruit are still liquid, and the snow though seemingly dry, is only barely stable in its crystalline form. "Unless you want some time alone." He gestures abstractly at sky, broad road, the considerable distance to the next house down the drowsing row. "Up to you."

He hesitates over that question, lips thinning out in that way they have. "No," he says, finally, almost shamefaced over it. Like even that much is an admission of weakness that sits very ill with him.

"Cool." If Teo was being deliberately ironic, it's hard to tell. Ghost would have been. Their baby incarnation very much not. The Sicilian is careful not to scrutinize the Russian's answer too closely or too visibly. He remembers being a little like that after the Palestinians got through with him. His molars munch. A beat. Typical for him to add, presently, "Sorry 'f I yelled."

There's something sad, searching in his face, as he looks at Teo for a long silent moment. Like the Sicilian is a mirror. "It's fine," he says, after those few heartbeats have passed, and he wipes at his forehead with a sleeve.

In Russian, this time. "Atleechna." 'Super.' The exaggeration is as good-natured as the rest of Teo's tone, as mild as the evening's weather and not nearly as cool. Teodoro's kindliness still looks now like it had then, earnest, blond, and blue-eyed, no matter whether the packaging is stompy toddler's irritation or a grim knight's virtue. "How far is it to your grandfather's?"

His face softens at that. "A long ways. Not far from Ekaterinburg, and that's hours and hours drive from here," he says, shifting his weight on his feet, as if to warm his toes. "There won't be time to see him. And I don't want to lead anyone to him." Anyone being the FSB, presumably.

"Tell me about him?" Teo's eyes are pale as the eerie points of a hyena's night-sight, but his line of inquiry, however predictable in its course or commonplace in its topics, is neither predatory nor laughing. His hand's numb by now; he jams the rest of the apple, core and all, into his jaws. Ignores the drip down his chin.

"He……he's braver than me. Merrier. He lived through the Great War, got himself a medal for killing a tank singlehanded." Fel's gaze turns inward, thoughtful. "Clever, good with his hands. He fixes things - he claims that's not an ability, but I wonder, really. He taught me to hunt, as a child, but now he doesn't. Has more sympathy with the wolves than with the people, he claims. He's very old, now, but he refuses to go into thecity and live," Fel's voice is very soft, and fond - there's admiration there.

Teo bends his mouth around a smile, peering down at the skinny wedge of Felix's profile, blue in the dark from how pale the Russian is, underneath the shaggy hyperbola of that hat. He's always fed off stories about war heroes instead of the stories in the Bible, be the war Great or constituted of sports riots, so it's no great surprise that he likes this one. He nods, ignores the inkling of soreness in the tips of his ears, and kicks snow ahead of him. Thinks of his next question.

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