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The Syndicate
Ivan parked in the old neighborhood and opened his door. Just being here made him feel some semblance of normalcy. He took some comfort in that. But he looked around, watched for parked cars, a van, something that might indicate they were being watched.

The worst part, the VERY WORST PART, the part that made him feel like there were chains around his legs now, was the realization that they fucking didn't need to watch him, now. He knew he couldn't be everywhere. And they had dirty cops working for them- whoever they were. Which meant that anyone he went to for help might be one of them. (Them....he was tired of calling them that.)

So short of packing his family up right then and there and moving them into hiding- where and how he had no fucking idea, nor how they would live- they could get to them at any time.

Which means they owned him, right now. They could give him freedom because they knew he couldn't do a goddamn thing about it.

He walked up the steps and opened the door. Not even locked. At least it hadn't been kicked in. He found ma and pop in the living room, the two youngest, Ana and Viktor, in their arms. He wondered if they would tell the older children, Sofiya and Pavel. They had families of their own, husbands, and children. All very little, of course.

All in the cross hairs. Because of him. Because of him, and a stupid mistake.

No. Because of that bitch. And his father's friend, a man so close he called him Uncle.

His mind refused to make the final accusation, refused to name the last reason. Couldn't. No....he couldn't.

But pop's eyes were filled with tears and fear when they met his, only briefly, before looking away. Shame. Ivan went to his ma and hugged her to him tightly, Ana and Viktor. Pop seemed to shy away, but Ivan wasn't going to blame. He put his hand on his shoulder and squeezed.

"I am glad you are ok,"
he said with quietly. They didn't look hurt, not physically. But that vow hardened, steel to diamond, seeing the terror in their eyes. He would make her pay. All of them.

Ma looked tired. This had happened once before. he remembered her look in the video. Maybe she had always lived in fear of this. No wonder she hadn't wanted Ivan to join the force. It hadn't been verbal, exactly, not really. Just comments. Telling him about what others from the neighborhood were now doing for work. Stuff like that. In hindsight, she had been trying to protect her oldest, something she couldn't do for her husband. And her children.

They were all caught in it, he realized. Trapped. And always had been. And all this time he thought he had been free.

His voice was calm, but only because he couldn't let himself feel anything else. "Pop, can we talk? In private?"
He didn't want Ana or Viktor to hear. They were 10 and 11. Old enough to understand adult conversations.

Pop nodded, gave Viktor a hug. "Crisya, let me talk to Vanya."
Ma gave him a flat look and pop sighed. "Please. I have to explain it to him. He deserves to know."
Ivan didn't think that was what the flat look was for.

No. he knew. That there was something to explain at all. Pop knew it too.

They went into the kitchen. Pop poured a glass of Vodka, offered him one. Ivan didn't. He already was having a hard time concentrating. He just sat down at the table and waited. The question was unnecessary. And he wasn't sure how to ask without making accusations.

Pop seemed to wait, hoping he'd break the silence. Finally, he realized it wasn't gonna happen.
It was the second glass of vodka before Oleg spoke. "Vanya, I didn't mean to get you involved in this."
Oleg poured a third glass and let it sit as he searched for the right words. There really weren't any words to say that would make Vanya understand.

He downed the drink sitting in front of him.

"They would have hurt you or your mother, and I couldn't have that because Pol dragged me down with him."
Oleg asked. "What do they want from you?"
Three glasses. It took three glasses before pops could talk. Each one was like a punch to his gut. Pops drank. All Russians did. And he could put the, away. But it was watching sports. Laughing with friends. Sitting and reading. Any and everything.

But now....Pops drank for strength. For courage, now. Ivan's lip twisted, feeling uprooted, when he picked up that third glass in desperation and downed it in one gulp. He was afraid. Pops was afraid.

it was an answer. He already knew. He'd seen the video. Fucking Pol! And then he remembered Olena, bleeding out in Pol's arms. The story sounded stupid now. Routine traffic stop that makes and enemy of some dangerous son of someone or other. Ridiculous.

But the tears were real. The sobs that seemed ripped from the man's soul. Not seemed. They were ripped from his soul. Pol had other kids too. A wife. However they got in, both of them had been held, trapped.

But he wasn't gonna feel sorry for Pol. The memory of his ma and pop and brother and sister crying was too fresh.

His voice was dead. "Easy stuff. You were driving escort for one of their people and somehow got caught on camera. Convenient."
He snorted with contempt. They had targeted him a while ago, clearly. Had just been waiting till they had all their ducks lined up in a row. "Simple cleanup. But I know that it'll get more involved."

He got the vodka and poured himself a glass. He guessed he could use it too. "I made a mistake. Was trying to be a hero. Go after some bad guys off the record. To use a guy who was under investigation as help. Blew up in my face. Now they have that over me."
And while that bothered him- his stupidity- he also knew that if it was not one thing it was another. Even if nothing had happened, they still had his family.

It was gonna happen either way.

"Pop, who are they?"
Oleg listened and watched his son down his own glass of vodka. It was a day for that. They'd come and taken the family. The children cried. Crisya cried. It was horrible and terrible and all his fault. Even Vanya wasn't to blame.

"It's not your fault. I just want you to know that."
But he asked the hardest question of all. Who were they? Exactly who they weren't was probably easier to explain than who they were.

Oleg sighed and pressed the empty glass to his cheek trying to seek the coolness from it, but it was no good. There was nothing that would make this go easier. They call themselves The Syndicate."

After a deep breath Oleg continued but he never brought his eyes up to his sons. "They have their finger in everything. The department, IA, the prisons, the judicial branches, law makers. If an element touches the underworld, they have a finger in the pie. They are middle men. Reaching out to fix the problems as someone pays them. Bought judges. A detective to overlook a piece of evidence. An officer to clean video footage. A prison guard to relay messages. Their eyes and ears are everywhere."
Pop wouldn't meet his eye. That was not what scared him. Well, only partly. The sheer magnitude of what he described.

He had never heard anything- not a peep- about something like this. What he was describing....he leaned forward, put his hand to his forehead, trying to press everything in. "Are these police, pops? This is ALL police? And judges and....and DA's and guards- and all the rest? Is that what you are saying?"

The very idea made him sick. Not just the very violation what they stood for. What the job was.

But what could they do about it? How high did this go? City council? Privileges? Consuls? Did the Ascendancy know?

Have I pledged my loyalty to a man who knowingly has allowed this? He saw his parents, his brother and sisters, the guns to their heads, the screams, the fear.

What have I done?

The fear was there. But something new burned. Anger. Betrayal.
Oleg nodded. "Good. Dirty. It doesn't matter. If you are useful they find a way to make you work for them."
He sighed and poured another drink. The crystal clear liquid was nearing the bottom and he was sure there was no more in the house. He'd have to savor this last bit. The burn, the buzz. There was no way he was leaving this house tonight - not after what had happened.

"You made yourself useful to them. What did you do Vanya? Why do does she want you? This mistake couldn't be the only reason. We all make mistakes."

[[ going on the assumption that he doesn't know what Ivan can do. If that's wrong let me know and I'll change it up. ]]
He stared at pops, realization coming over him. He'd never told either of them what he could do. Not like it was intentional. It just.....somehow was something he just never felt the need to explain.

Like the women in his life, up to and including Zoya. How he felt about them or how it hurt when things ended.

Guess pops wasn't the only one keeping secrets. I've keeping my parents at arm's length for years. His next youngest sister Sofiya was the only one he confided in.

And he wasn't sure why. Was it because he sensed something was up with pops? He had a hard time believing that.

So why was it so hard to actually say the worda? It was like they were stuck in his throat or something. Finally, he just seized the power, float the empty bottle over to him and took it.

And now, for some reason, it was he who couldn't meet his father's eye.
Oleg almost jumped from his perch but he managed to still his reaction to the incredible feat his son had just preformed. He didn't remember a time when Vanya was sick... The Ascendancy himself said it was a direct correlation to this sickness that pervaded the youth of the world.

When Pavel came out he'd had a much different reaction. He loved his sons. And nothing would ever change that, but this was far different from loving a man. Not that he judged his sons - either of them. But this... this was dangerous. And that is what The Syndicate wanted. They wanted their own weapon.

"Your brother was a doozie, but this... How long, Vanya?"
Oleg was afraid, not of his son, but the things The Syndicate could make him do. No, this was not a simple do this task. This was going to be so much more. And everyone was in danger.

Edited by Nox, Feb 9 2018, 06:44 AM.
Pop jumped. No. More than that. Fear. He saw fear. His heart broke. And he went numb.

He got it. He did. But it hurt, all the same. God it hurt. Even when you understood it.

Emotions are not logical.

And now he wanted to know how long.

How long have you been a monster?

How long have you been alien?

When did we lose our son?

He understood now. All of it.

He hadn't shared his life since the change.

His greatest fear.

Be funny.

Be happy.

Be relaxed.

Deflect. Deflect. Deflect.

But he wouldn't share.

Didn't tell them he was sick.

Didn't tell them what he could do.

Didn't tell them of Nadya.

Didn't bring Zoya over for dinner on Sundays to meet them.

Didn't tell them how much it hurt when she left.

Didn't tell them that he had lost part of himself when she did.

Don't let anyone in.

They won't understand what you are.

You will lose them.

He had lost them.

Numb. Lost. Dead.

"Just a few years. I am on Domovoi because I of it. We deal with crimes that don't fit normal....parameters. Whatever."

His energy was gone. That bitch had her weapon or man or whatever. And he had lost his family.

At least they were still alive.

Edited by Ivan Sarkozy, Feb 8 2018, 12:53 PM.
Oleg was stunned. A few years? "How did you keep it secret? You were never sick."
But then the memories of Vanya's past visits were few and far between. There was a distance.

Oleg sighed. The Syndicate wanted their power. Ivan was unique among the force. Now he knew why, why she wanted his son. But he could do so much more about it. His son could wield this power like a weapon kill her...

"How did she subdue you, son? I can't imagine you would let her live watching us like you had to have done."
Oleg remembered his own situation, watching on a screen as the old man coerced him into working with them. For them. He was never one of them.

There were so many questions but there was only one he wanted to know. "Why didn't you come to us? Did you think we would love you any less?"

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