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Down Time
Lih slipped away, removing himself from the medical orderly’s presence and walked into the lift. 

He pulled out a silver hip flask. It was engraved with the name “Vitya”. He took a swig and was screwing up the cap when a voice from behind him said, “third floor". He walked down the lines of rooms and found Costa sitting in bed.

“Everything good here?” Lih asked. He was unhappy with the fact that Costa had stayed behind in the hospital. Dorian was a fine cop, but Lih wasn’t used to him being in charge. Costa had always been his mentor, his partner, since the foundation of Lih’s academy training. Dorian would take a little getting used to.

"Hey kiddo. You okay?" Costa reached a hand out. "Gimme somma that."

“Yup, I’m fine.” he said, wiping his mouth and handing the hip flask to Costa. “Fine."

Costa took a hefty slug.

“I don’t think Lena would approve."

“Why, we’re partners, Lih. You don’t fuss over me like Lena.” Another swig. "So… domovoi… you think it’s good? A place for us?"

“Trust me, it's medicinal,” Lih said, his smile as appealing as his heart shaped face.

Costa had a gift in his ability to say wrong things at the right time to relieve most awkward situations, or at least make it less awkward for Lih.

“As for the domovoi, I don’t know. But this waiting makes me nervous,” Lih nodded at the flask. “Any of that going spare?”

Costa laughed. 

"Nah kid. No waste here." Another swig. Costa looked at the flask. "Listen. You popped your cherry. For me." A look. "I know it's tough. But… just talk to me when you need. K? You saved me. Lena will be yours forever. So will the kids. You just remember, Vic. It was the right call.”

Lih’s face reddened. 

He glanced quickly at Costa. “Let’s go smoke. Finest leaf for our wounded hero,” he smiled, "I got hold of a private stock.”

He had much love for Costa; he knew how capable he’d proved to be and how dearly his family regarded him. It still irked Lih that he was forced to pair with a different partner. Alex had explained it was so he and Costa could learn more from their seniors in the domovoi, but still… Costa should be here. He should be Costa’s right-hand man now.

What irked him more was the fact that Costa was right. It went against Lih’s impulse, because he’d never broke before, but it was true. He felt it in his blood. Killing had broken Lih…

And Costa knew Lih was finding this hard. He still wasn’t very comfortable with his promotion to the monster squad, and took his duties too seriously. Costa, on the other hand, was an honest cop who’d had responsibilities dumped on him because of his age, his dependability and his good favor with the men. 

What everyone knew and none wanted to talk about was the suicidal nature of domovoi’s missions. Lih and Costa were given the job — the domovoi had opted for ability over experience. In terms of fighting monsters they were the greenest, and their first operation could be their last stand. 

“How does Lena feel about your promotion?” Tentatively. Remembering Lena’s voice that night, muttering curses and allegations in a gruff but worried tone.

Costa laughed and pulled a shot. "Yeah. You go right for the heart don’tcha kid. Yeah. She doesn’t know what it means. But Sabrina. Liam. Sarah. It’s their world I fight for. So..." Costa looked at the curtains. Then Vic. "We do this, son. Because we must.”

A hard look.

"Just be sure. No doubts. Like the other day. No doubts.”

“You’ve no doubts?” Lih asked with sharp curiosity.

Lih reached for the flask and Costa didn’t stop him this time. He took another swig, and sighed gratefully. He didn’t warm to people much, but he liked Costa’s kids. They weren’t afraid of asking questions that revealed their inexperience, which in his opinion made them good, promising people. 

His body knew those names, and relaxed, warming to their memories. “I’d like to know what you’re thinking because it saves me coming up with that stuff on my own.”

“Is it always like this in here, Costa?” he asked, jerking a thumb at the empty beds around them.

Costa smiled. "Bah. We do our best, kid. Thats what being an adult means. You make the choice. Examine it later. But… it was what it was." He looked away and then back again. "Gah, you saw what they did. I almost died Lih. You saved me. You did. Sarah. Sabrina. Liam. Lena. They have a husband and dad cuz of you. So hold on to that, Vic. We’re just human. Baaah… I’m tired of this place. Get me my clothes. We’ll head to the grounds."

"Yessir!" Lih cheered. "Your wish is my command."

“Watch out!”


“You watch where you’re going!”


“Damn, Costa, you don’t look this heavy!”

The door to the hospital grounds flung open and ricocheted against the wall.

Costa leant against Lih, a serene expression on his face.

Lih was panting. He’d thought of himself as thin and small amongst the cops, and this wasn’t helping.

Together they waddled onto the grass and Lih set Costa down on a bench.

“I asked for a wheelchair!” Lih grumped.

“Oh well,” said Costa, draping himself on the bench lethargically.

Lih threw himself on the bench beside Costa, muttering about the bad decisions and incompetent hospital administration.

“That was tiring!” Lih folded his lean limbs down next to Costa.

“Sorry,” he turned to Costa, “how are you feeling?” 

“Good.” Said Costa. “My leg’s a bit achy but I feel like I could carry a horse!”

“I feel like I did carry a horse,” Lih muttered. 


“Nothing. Let’s smoke.”

Costa took the cig and puffed it, the fire hot smoke filling his lungs. He expelled it into the cool air. Looked at the cig for a moment.

"So… what’s up Vic? You wanted away from eyes and ears."

Lih put the pack back into his pocket and lit the other hand-rolled white smoke, drawing deep. He could smell the scent of the leaves. Light, but it was strong. 

He grinned and exhaled ostentatiously. “Just wanted to get you some sun, Costa. And smoke. All the medicine you need.”

They smoked in silent for some time before Lih replied to Costa’s query.

“I’m sorry… it’s just… I was… that is…” Lih didn’t know what to say. He wasn’t really sorry; it wasn’t like he’d never dragged Costa out for a smoke before… but it’s been so long and Costa looked so peaceful there. “I didn’t really mean to but I was upset and shamed like a child I cried in front of Dorian, the domovoi detective, without thinking. It was… embarrassing. I wished you were with me.”

Lih glanced appreciably at the smoldering white tube between his fingers.

Costa looked at him, smiled and took his cig. Pulled a long drag. Expelled the smoke into the sky. He looked off watching it dissipate. "Aww man, kid. Cryin' ain’t no thing.” 

He paused, took another drag. The silence went on. "It always hurts. For good men. You’re a man, son. Just… you keep on being Lih. My partner.”

Costa gave him a smile.

Costa’s face broke with sudden warmth and softness. His winning smile brought back memories. Lih’s years with Costa and his beautiful family.

“Costa, it’s okay now. Thanks.” Lih patted the other’s shoulder—the non-injured one—awkwardly, feeling quite embarrassed. “I've missed you, partner. Things with us still aren’t right. But I am here for as long as it takes to fight these things. I will show you and the department that it is you I’m with, and who I want to fix this world; together, for your children…”

Slowly, he understood. He’d had no choice anyway but to protect people dear to him.

For the first time in so long Lih felt whole.

Costa & Lih 
sharepost w/ @"Jacinda"
Viktor Lih
Officer of CCDPD
“You look terrible, kiddo.”

“… Is there no beginning to your charm?”

Lih shook his head.

He reached into his pocket and pulled out Costa’s rank pin and badge. Carefully and deferentially, he pinned them in place on the older cop.

Costa shot a beaming grin when he saw Lih. The albino cop winked back and whistled.

“Damn, you’re looking good sir.”

“Shut up."

“Watch out, ladies!” Lih hooted.

“Shut up.”

Lih smirked, arming Costa’s gun he’d just retrieved from the lockers.

“Come on, Lih! He's my baby.”

“Just another moment,” he reassured his friend.

He handed the heavy, now fully loaded weapon to Costa.

“He’s all yours,” he joked. “Hope you don’t intend to stay in my debt too long. I pulled you clear and now I’ve cleaned your weapons. So it’s your turn next."

“Of course,” said Costa, bright-eyed, smiling.

Lih saluted, a sharp, smart gesture he hadn’t made in a long time.

“Welcome back, Costa."

Costa & Lih
Viktor Lih
Officer of CCDPD

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