Snippet #2628765

located in Laurea, New York, a part of Laurel, one of the many universes on RPG.

Laurea, New York

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Character Portrait: Sterling Walker Character Portrait: Nina Nikolayevna Romanov
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      XXX
      XXX
      XXXThere she is.
      XXXHis Nina. With eyes the colour of rain and moonlit oceans. Light and clear, they brim with unshed stories. Her hands wander like they used to. Tracing the outline of the incorporeal world he always tried to venture to but could never unravel. How many times he had lost himself into those eyes like two oceans, falling and waking to the lull of a milky way swimming in their depths. Those eyes were all he needed.
      XXXHe never got the chance to say goodbye.
      XXXHe tried. Of course he did. Despite the weeks that bled into months that dissolved into years, and again and again his attempts at contacting her were refuted by the omnipotent House of Romanov, he did not forget those starlit eyes. So when news of Nikolai Romanov's death reached him, he'd taken the first flight to New York.
      XXXHe'd rehearsed. Written countless letters in the time they were apart. A million apologies, over and over. But how does one apologise for walking away without a word and without a trace? How do you apologise for a betrayal that cuts so deeply, it tears a heart to shreds? How does he tell her she was - is - important, but not important enough?
      XXXHe made his choice. Her for his family. But how was he to know that the Nina he loved would die?
      XXXBut Sterling has no excuses. He's spent the last three years thinking of excuses. Hating himself for being weak. For caving into some self-righteous fool who thought it his duty to play God. For running because it was easier than fighting.
      XXXAnd that is the most shameful part, perhaps. That he did not fight for her.
      XXXSome crazy aspect of him expected nothing to have changed. In his fantasies, Nina was waiting for him by the renovated fountain he had once described as "hideous," following its operation, to which she had replied, "no matter how you sculpt it, it's still the same piece of clay it was before. It's silly to love one and hate the other." He'd laughed at her metaphorical musings then. He does not laugh now.
      XXXHe wonders if this strange, cruel creature wearing Nin's face is still the same clay. Still the Nina he loved.
      XXXHis Nina if she walked through Hell every night.
      XXX"It's silly to love one and hate the other."
      XXXTo say her speech unnerves him would be a gross understatement. She speaks as if she has experience, but what would the Romanov Princess who has known nothing but luxury know of torture? Of rape?
      XXXHe pinches the bridge of his nose and shakes his head. He pushes the thoughts aside. It's cowardly, but he doesn't want to think about it. He strides through the corridors, clenching and unclenching his fists in his pockets. He'd left shortly after the bell rang, frozen in his seat for a few solid minutes. He hadn't even bothered to say something to make Erin uncomfortable. He was sure Nina's speech did that to everyone well enough on its own.
      XXXShe's late to mixed martial arts class. Which in itself is unusual seeing as she clearly enjoys beating the crap out of people. It's somewhat worrying. If he still worried about her. Which he did. But it seemed silly to worry about someone who had nothing to do with him, because he refused to believe the Queen and his Nikola were one and the same. Refused to, until now. Until he saw in her eyes his Nina in pain. His Nina in need of help.
      XXXHis Nina, whom he abandoned.
      XXX"Hey, pretty boy! Snap out of it." Calloused fingers snap in front of his eyes. Sterling jerks his gaze forward until they face a set of fierce hazel eyes. "Why's everyone so moody today? Damn teenagers," growls it's-Jet-don't-you-dare-call-me-Mr Smalley. "Did I tell you to stop, McGrew!" he yells over his shoulder, Australian accent making everything bark and instruction that much more intimidating.
      XXX"Where's my bambina? Did you piss her off?" he interrogates, turning back to Sterling with arms crossed firmly over his broad chest.
      XXX"I always piss her off," Sterling says, his usual smirk following that statement replaced by a frown. "My very existence aggravates her." His eyes widen at the realisation that he has spoken the truth. She does seem to hate him. Somehow it doesn't satisfy him as much as it should.
      XXX"Well, at least you know you're a piece of shit, kid," Jet says seriously. "It is the duty of man to be chivalrous and you are a downright misogynist."
      XXX"I am not a misogynist."
      XXX"'You hit like a girl, Nina,'" Jet says in a mocking imitation of Sterling's voice. "The girl hits harder than you, boy."
      XXX"It was one time-"
      XXX"There you are!" Jet nearly topples a scrawny boy as he pushes past the students to wave Nina in. A frightened girl Sterling vaguely recognises shuffles in behind her.
      XXX"Sorry I'm la-" the girl begins.
      XXX"You're cleaning the locker room for a week," Jet declares, barely glancing at her as he focuses on Nina. "You okay, Bambi? You're looking a little worse for wear. Do you need to go to the nurse's office?"
      XXX"I'm fine," Nina says. Her voice sounds hoarse.
      XXX"Great! We're just starting demonstrations." He levels a glare at the class. "Which one of you wimps want to be my partner for today?"
      XXXStudents cower, staring at their feet and silently praying not to be chosen. Jet points at the girl who came in late barely a second after Nina. "You!"
      XXXMultiple demonstrations and several "yield, yield, yield!"s later, they had moved onto spars. Jet pairs them off with members of the class of similar level. Sterling already knows who he will be paired with. The only one who was leaps and bounds ahead of the class besides him.
      XXX"Nina and Sterling. You're up next," Jet declares.
      XXXNina swoops under the multi-coloured ropes first. She flexes her wrists and drops into a few admittedly impressive stretches.
      XXX"Scared, Walker?" Nina asks with a raised brow. It's then when Sterling realises he hasn't moved. He glares.
      XXX"Of a little girl? Nope."
      XXX"See. Misogynist..." Jet grumbles under his breath. Sterling steps into the ring, bring his fists up to his place. He gives Nina a cocky grin before gesturing her forwards with a hand. She doesn't bite. Instead they circle like predators seizing each other up.
      XXXNina is first to attack. She swings her body to the right but comes in from the left, jabbing a fist towards Sterling's jaw. He catches her forearm and returns with a jab to her throat. She leaps back, twisting her body and striking him across his shoulder with a roundhouse kick. He blinks, trying to focus. His shoulder burns where she struck.
      XXXHer eyes are steel. Impossible to decipher. Juxtaposing the clear, rain blue eyes he... She stabs a fist into his stomach.
      XXX"This is a fight, Sterling! Not practice getting pummelled by a 'little girl.'" Jet yells from outside the ring.
      XXXSterling shakes himself from his reverie. He lunges low to the side before turning suddenly to slam a shoulder into her collarbone. He brings his elbow down onto her stomach as she pitches backward but hesitates. In that time she's righted her balance and slams a heel into the delicate bones of his foot. He jerks away just in time and sweeps a leg into the back of her knees. Her lost of balance sends her sprawling to the ground.
      XXXNina does not stay down for long. Pressing her palms into the floor above her head, she propels herself upright. She doesn't pause, a sidekick already coming for Sterling's side. He catches her ankle, but she swivels, twisting her leg in his grip and swinging her other leg. It catches him across his temple and he drops her. She lands in a crouch.
      XXXHe blinks the stars from his eyes and finds a fist coming for his face. Sterling shifts quickly to the side, catching her fist and cutting the delicate flesh inside her elbow with a rigid palm. The movement nearly brings her to her knees, but she's swinging with her other arm, twisting her fist so unnaturally in his grip he can't fathom why she doesn't cry out. He leaps aside, releasing her, before her hand can connect with his jugular.
      XXXThey're breathing heavily. Circling.
      XXX"What was that speech about, Nina?" he blurts. He knows it was a mistake the moment he sees her eyes widen for a microsecond before hardening into titanium steel.
      XXXShe comes at him with a flurry of kicks and punches so rapid he can do little more than leap away from. Finally, he manages to snatch her fist, the force behind them when they slam into his palm sending ripples along his arm. She swings with her other fist into his midsection but he catches that too. Her knee comes up. He brings her arms - now crossed over her body - down to block her knee.
      XXX"Stop," he whispers. He's not quite sure what he's asking her to stop doing, but it's clear to see that she does not wish to listen to him. She pours all of her strength into shoving him back, but he's taller and wider. He doesn't budge. She shoves again.
      XXX"Technique, Nina. Technique," Jet intones. Sterling barely hears him. He's staring at Nina. Their faces inches apart. He can feel her breath coming in ragged spurts.
      XXX"Talk to me." His whisper is feather light against her lips. Quiet, only she can hear. "Please."
      XXXNina lifts her leg to slam it into Sterling but he catches it with his own, wrapping it tight around her limb. She's completely off balance. Nina makes a sound of rage and frustration.
      XXX"We never talked. Not since I left. Not after I came back. Nina, please." She stares at his throat. Probably wondering how she's going to wrangle it. "I need you to look at me," he pleads. "Just look at me."
      XXXShe lifts her head and her eyes. God, her eyes. Ice so cold, it burns.
      XXXAnd then she's jerking wildly, swinging her entire body weight to try to push him away.
      XXX"Let go!" she cries out. "Let me go!"
      XXX"Sterling! Sterling, let her go!" Jet yells, darting inside the ring. He reaches out to push them apart but Sterling has already released her. So quickly she stumbles back. He holds up his hands and stares, shocked, as if she's burned him. She glares at him, her eyes dilated and hair wild. Her eyes are bloodshot, her body shaking, but she growls. She actually growls at him. How can a person look both terrified and enraged?
      XXX"Nina." Jet's voice is frantic, concerned. Sterling has never heard him sound anything but pissed off. "Nina, are you okay?"
      XXX"I'm fine," she says. Those two words again. But calm has settled over her, so quickly he's certain he and every other shocked member of the class is wondering if they imagined her entire breakdown.
      XXX"Class is over. You can all head to lunch early," Jet announces. He turns back to Nina and speaks quietly. He reaches out to put his arm around her but she flinches. Jet pulls his arm back, worry and something else, something odd, crosses over his features. He speaks to Nina in hushed tones. They walk to the back of the gym and Sterling fails to hear what they say.
      XXXHe jerks his gaze away, and follows the rest of the class out the door.