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Calvin departed from the train and checked the time. Sighing in relief, he moved quickly. He should be on time, but it was always better to be early for job interviews; prospective employers loved seeing people enthusiastic to get to work on time. After the hunt with Sierra, Calvin had returned to town and ordered some dark colored contacts to hide his eye color; after a day of keeping his head down or facing the stares of people wondering what was wrong with him, Calvin had decided to keep his eye color hidden from the view of the general public. The contacts were the cause of his rush this morning. They had arrived the day before and it took him over a half hour to get the things in his eyes. Calvin had almost given up, but on second thought, the contacts would be a better choice for the interview. There was no better way to bomb an interview than to freak out the boss.

Calvin had seen the posting for a mechanic at Viktor’s Garage the day after he had returned to town. The job would be perfect for him, and Calvin wasted no time in applying for it. Two days ago, Viktor Volachov called and set up an interview with him for this morning. Calvin had time, but he wanted to arrive at least fifteen minutes early to show his punctuality.

The garage itself was located in a fairly nice part of town. It was in the business district and the white painted building, although it was old, was very well maintained. It didn’t have the look of many older car repair shops in the United States – chipping paint, with corroded engine parts scattered around. Viktor’s in comparison, appeared to be recently painted. The area around the garage was clear of debris and the sign itself wasn’t corroded and could be easily read by any passers-by. The bay doors were open, and Calvin could see the tidiness inside the garage as well. Viktor obviously took pride in his work.

Calvin smoothed a wrinkle on his light blue shirt and adjusted his tie before entering the shop. A woman sat at the desk behind the counter talking to a man. She wore a white blouse and her black hair was in a ponytail. She was surrounded by typical secretarial equipment – a computer, phone, lots of forms, and office supplies. The man stood on the opposite side of the counter. He was taller than Calvin by a couple of inches and had dirty blonde hair. The bruises on the man's face were prominent, but had partially healed. He had with him a laptop and some USB cables. As he approached, the woman caught sight of him.

”Excuse me.”
she said to the man at the counter and turned towards Calvin. ”Can I help you sir?”
she asked politely a smile on her face.

Calvin turned towards the man, ”Pardon me, I don’t mean to interrupt.”

The man’s response was courteous and professional, ”No problem. Go ahead.”

Calvin gave the man a smile and turned towards the woman. He got a glimpse of her name plate on the desk that read “Amelie Avalov.”

”Good morning. I have an interview with Mr. Volachov this morning.”

”Oh, you must be Mr. Johnson,”
she said and Calvin nodded. ”His office is right over there. He told me to send you in when you arrived. I’ll call and let him know of your arrival.”

”Thank you.”
Calvin turned towards the man, giving him a nod and a smile. ”Thank you, sir. Both of you have a wonderful day.”

Amelie smiled at him and the man responded, ”Thanks. You too man.”

Calvin offered them both a nod and moved towards Viktor’s office. He first passed through an employee break room and on the other side was an open door leading into an office. The office inside was neat and an older man sat behind the desk, talking into his phone. He wore a typical mechanics coverall with a patch on each side of the chest. The patch on the left had the same logo from the sign on it, while the patch on the right bore a stylized “Viktor.” He bore a few wrinkles and a white beard. The twinkling in the man’s eyes gave the man an even greater illusion of Santa Clause. The man was cheerful, even while talking on the phone. Calvin approached the door and saw on the window the words “Viktor Volachov” confirming the man’s identity.

Calvin waited until the man had set the phone down before knocking on the door. The man looked up, smiled, and stood. He walked with an energy he wouldn’t have expected from a man his age, reaching his arm out for Calvin to shake.

”Viktor Volachov. You are Calvin Johnson, I presume?”
Volachov asked as Calvin took his hand.

Calvin was surprised at the strength of the man’s grip. Regardless of his age, the man was very healthy and Calvin immediately liked him. The condition of his shop was a testament to the pride the man held for hard work. His demeanor made Calvin think that the man had a deep respect for those he employed. Not to mention, you can tell a lot about a man from his handshake.

”Yes, sir,”
Calvin responded returning the man’s bright smile.

Viktor nodded and gestured towards a chair, ”Good. Please sit.”

Calvin did so and Volachov sat on the other side of his desk and pulled out Calvin’s resume and application, ”So shall we begin.”

Edited by Calvin, Jul 1 2014, 03:34 PM.
<small>[[continued from Gracie's Gym]]

For Connor, the past two days were among the best he'd had in his life. Ayden- he couldn't think of her without smiling, despite the slight pains he felt when he stretched his lips into a grin- had listened to his confession and he could tell that she'd been hurt. But she loved him and accepted him despite his mistakes.

And for the first time since they meet, they were completely naked before each other, both of them, stripped of all pretense and illusion, of lies and deception, standing before one another exposed, both holding the other’s heart in their hands. It had been pure trust.

From that time forward, when they weren't at work they were together. and when they were apart, Connor found himself feeling that giddy feeling he hadn't felt since....well, since he had been a teenager. He knew the newness would wear off of course, that was life. But that just meant they could settle into something deeper and more meaningful. Heh, but until that point, of course he was regularly checking his wallet for messages and she was constantly running through his mind. He found it a bit hard to concentrate on his work.

But he did his best. His boss had pulled him aside and asked him if everything was ok. The bruises and cuts on his face and knuckles and the way he moved made it clear he'd been in a bad fight. And he had also noted Connor's erratic mood. But his calm and joy at having reconciled with Ayden and embracing his life had made answering easy. He had explained that he'd been having some personal problems and had taken up some Mixed Martial Arts to blow off steam. It was true enough. But things were better and he'd not appear that way again. The boss believed him- he was a kind manager- and Connor worked hard. There would be no other incidents.

Today Connor had been sent out to a garage to network a small system into a national chain that they had just bought into. It wasn't a hard job and mostly he ended up standing around waiting or talking to the receptionist or other employees.

At one point a man, maybe mid 30's with a beard- cheerfully optimistic- came in for what looked like a job interview. He thought Connor was a customer until he corrected him. He was done within the hour and got his stuff packed together and made his way out the door and to the metro.

Boarding the train, he happened to notice that same man. He figured to be polite. "How did your interview go?"

Edited by Connor Kent, Aug 27 2014, 03:48 PM.
Volachov led him back through the office about a half an hour later, Amelie was working at inputting something into the computer, and the man with the bruises was gone. Volachov led Calvin through another door, leading out to the garage itself. A couple of mechanics walked by on their way to toolboxes and gave Calvin and Viktor a good morning as Viktor showed him around. Viktor responded back in kind and usually followed it up with a question such as "How is your son doing in college?" or "Has your daughter had her baby yet?" further reinforcing to Calvin that Viktor really cared about those who worked for him.

"Continuing on, back there is our parts room."
Viktor gestured to a door on the back wall and then to a toolbox that stood right next to it. "And this is the shop toolbox. These are shop owned tools that are available for any mechanic to use. Just make sure they are put back and are well maintained."

Another mechanic approached the duo, and Viktor waved him over. "Kristoff, I'd like you to meet someone. This is Calvin. Calvin, this is Kristoff - our shop foreman. He handles more of the day to day operations in the shop."

Calvin and Kristoff shook hands and exchanged pleasantries while Volachov continued. "Calvin will be joining our staff next week. That is, if he accepts the position."

The question caught Calvin off guard. He had thought the interview had gone well, but hadn't expected an answer today. His eyes turned to Viktor, who was smiling his usual smile. Calvin wouldn't have been surprised if the man started laughing with a "ho, ho, ho."

Calvin looked back and forth between the two men, noticing that Kristoff shared Volachov's smile and a good deal of his other features. The men were definitely father and son. "Mr. Volachov, Kristoff, I look forward to working with the both of you!"

Viktor took Calvin's hand and slapped him on the back cheerfully. They spent some more time filling out the necessary forms to get his employment in order. Viktor instructed Calvin to give his shirt and pant size to Amelie and she would see to getting his uniforms ordered. Calvin would have to report in at 8:00 AM on Monday morning to start working. Viktor also gave him his number and offered to help Calvin more his tools into the garage later that week. Calvin didn't have a car yet and willingly accepted the help. Feeling very proud of himself, Calvin left the garage and moved to catch the metro back to his apartment.

He caught the train a few minutes before it was going to disembark. There wasn't a lot of room left, so Calvin stood and grabbed one of the bars hanging from the ceiling to balance himself once the train took off. Another man entered the train after him, and Calvin hadn't gotten a look at him yet before the man spoke to him.

"How did your interview go?"

Calvin finally got a glimpse of the man's face. The same one he saw that morning at the garage. He also noticed the man's accent was American, but he couldn't place the region. Calvin nodded at him in greeting.

"Well, I'm no longer unemployed, so I think I did pretty well."
Calvin said chuckling and offering his hand. "Calvin Johnson."

The man took Calvin's hand and shook it, "Connor Kent. Congrats on the job man. Seems like a nice place to work.'re a mechanic huh? You been doing that long?"

Calvin had really met some nice and interesting people the last few days. Connor seemed friendly enough. He had approached a guy he didn't even know to ask how a job interview went and seemed genuinely interested. Calvin found himself liking Connor.

"Most of my life more or less. I grew up as a dairy farmer and being able to fix things is sort of a part of the job description. You can't always rely on someone to get out to you on time to get it done, so it's just easier to learn to do it yourself. What about you? You do things with computers?"

"That's cool. Good work there, being self-reliant. Yeah, I work with computers."
Connor responded putting his foot against one of the support poles in the train car. "Ive been doing that for maybe 15 years. Before that did all kinds of other things. Landscaping, construction, janitorial. Lot'sa other things.You know how it is."
Connor paused, So did you just get to Moscow or have you been here for a while?"

Calvin smiled and laughed. He did know how it was. "It sounds like you are a hard worker, Connor. Of course any job done well is a job to be proud of. I arrived in Moscow about a week ago. Originally from Wisconsin."

A small child's giggle caught Calvin's attention. It came from behind Connor, so Calvin moved to look around the other man, his eyes becoming focused on a young boy, perhaps two years old, giggling in his mother's lap. A memory invaded Calvin's mind of Mary tickling a two-year old Benji in his crib.

The image of the woman brought the memory to Calvin's mind. The facial features were similar, although this woman's hair and eyes were dark in contrast to Mary's dirty blonde hair and sparkling green eyes.

She looks just like her.

A sadness grew in Calvin's eyes and his smile faded into a frown. His shoulders slumped and his grip tightened on the bar above. All of this happening within seconds, Calvin caught himself and painted a smile he didn't feel on his face while turning to face Connor again.

"So where do you hail from?"

((Dialogue done with Connor))

Edited by Calvin, Jul 2 2014, 07:42 PM.
The man was friendly enough as he answered Connor's question. Wisconsin. He didn't know too much about the place. Mostly a place for cheese. He liked cheese. He laughed to himself. The guy- Calvin- seemed alright. Happy, even. Connor didn't blame him. Strange how jumping on a place and going around the world could somehow help you get your life back on track. He knew that his journey over the last months had been something. He still bore the bruises on his face as evidence of the direction that journey took. But in the end, the destination was one that he was glad to be at. Ayden’s face appeared in his mind. Nope, didn’t mind at all.

As the man spoke, he looked at something behind Connor. He causally turned around and noticed a woman with a little boy on her lap, maybe 2 years old. Connor looked at the boy for a moment. It was almost 20 years ago, but he remembered that age. He smiled at the memory. When he looked back, he saw something in Calvin’s face. He’d seen that look many times in the mirror and his heart went out to him. The man tried to cover it over and go on with conversation but Connor knew what that was. But he wouldn’t pry. He smiled reassuringly at the guy and said, “Miss my boy at that age.”
Just to let him know that he was a dad and had seen the pain, but not push any further. “Me? I’m from New Mexico. Northwestern corner. Been here almost a year, I think. It’s been….interesting.”
What a word. “To be honest, though, being here has been good for me. The change has been good. Found purpose I guess. Anyway.”

He stopped, unsure of what to say. It was the subway and they were making chit-chat. He decided to keep it light. “Not a bad place to live, not really. What about you?”

Connor briefly mentioned the woman and her child, and Calvin recognized the subtle hint. Connor had noticed his glance and more importantly had noticed his body language. The subtlety was a signal that the man had noticed, but wouldn't bring up the issue without Calvin's permission.

The hint was well placed. Flat out asking Calvin what was wrong would have brought denial or anger. By using this tactic, Calvin felt he could trust the man, but honestly still felt afraid to bring it up. He didn't know if he could face the pain that he had as yet had only faced a glimmer of.

Connor mentioned having been in Moscow for a year, mentioning that it had been "interesting." The word made Calvin smile inside. If the man only knew...

Connor asked about his thoughts of Moscow, and Calvin responded, the memories of his family still in his mind, "It seems really nice here. Better than I expected. I've met some...interesting people. Excuse me for a moment."

Calvin pulled out his Wallet, pretending to check for messages, but in reality he drew up the picture. He had the same picture on his table in his apartment. It was taken shortly after Benji had caught his first baseball. It showed Mary, holding her son. Her dirty blonde hair held back in a ponytail and her green eyes sparkling with pride. She held Benji, a smile beaming across his face as he held the baseball in his mitt.

The picture brought a short smile to Calvin's face; the memory was a good one. While looking, Calvin reached out to Dawn Wind, the word purpose in his mind.

What bothers the pup now?
the sending as always, was sent as images - Calvin's mind translating them into words.

Do I have a purpose here?

The pup has a purpose or he would not be here.

Do you know what it is?

Does it matter?
The sending this time being strange. It reminded him of a father grabbing a child's chin and turning his head to meet his eyes saying "You better be listening." Obviously, Dawn Wind wanted Calvin to pay attention. Without a doubt, Dawn Wind had it.

Calvin also noticed in the moment that Dawn Wind had hardly ever referred to Calvin as "Star Gazer" instead referring to him as "the pup." It really drove home what the pack leader thought of Calvin - as a pup that knew nothing.

Dawn Wind continued his sending, showing Calvin an injured wolf. The message was clear. An injured wolf couldn't help the pack. In fact, in many ways, the injured wolf was a hindrance. Calvin, although not physically injured, couldn't be useful to them in his emotionally injured state. He thought of all the times he had reached out to the wolves in his pain. They had helped, but Dawn Wind was telling him "we've had enough. It's time to move on."

Calvin sent understanding, apologies, and gratitude to Dawn Wind who responded with his typical farewell, Good hunting, Star Gazer!

The use of his name had new meaning to Calvin. It was an encouragement. Calvin had decided to start the healing process and Dawn Wind wished him good luck. Calvin turned off his wallet and placed it back in his pocket while letting out a sigh. He wondered if this Connor could be trusted. He had cast the lure out into the water, leaving Calvin to decide whether or not he would bite. Calvin decided to nibble, not yet revealing everything, but would feel this out to make sure he would be comfortable discussing his ghosts to him. An opportunity presented itself as the train began to slow. This method was tried and true.

"Hey Connor, I passed a nice looking bar on the way called Chesterfield's. Do you want to get a beer?"
Connor watched the man- Calvin- and saw the pain in his eyes. He pulled out his wallet and Connor let him have his moment. The pain that came over the man was palpable and Connor's heart went out to him. He didn't know the story at all. But loss always looked like loss. You didn't forget that kind of thing, the way that your eyes looked as you faced a life missing the person who was taken from you, a future without someone you loved.

For a moment, the memory of Hayden came to him, teaching him to drive in a parking lot, and his heart clenched. He breathed and focused, remembered his son and the vow he made. Gradually his heart unclenched.

Some time went by and Connor was content to let the man have his silence. Guys didn't just talk to each other like that. That kind of thing was shared over a period of time, over a beer or 5, when you knew you could trust the person you were talking to. Sometimes, he envied women's ability to form connections with each other so quickly, to feel this kinship and bond and immediately open up. That had never been his way, nor most of his other guy friends. Course, as he thought about it, that kind of openness could backfire. He remembered his mom or Jamie making a new friend and for days being inseparable, sharing every secret....only to realize that they didn't really like each other or fit. And now there was someone walking about with all their secrets. Heh, that thought terrified him.

Course, what did he know? He was a pretty solitary and private person, over all. He didn't share much with people in general. He kept people at a distance. Ayden had broken through that wall. Just thinking about her made him smile, made his heart feel....something. Somehow, he'd been given a second chance, a new opportunity at life. He looked over at Calvin. The man needed something.

As if he'd realized it himself, Calvin spoke up. "Hey Connor, I passed a nice looking bar on the way called Chesterfield's. Do you want to get a beer?"
Connor smiled at the man's choice. Ayden was working this afternoon and he was going to be stopping in to see her.

"Man, that sounds awesome."
A mischievous grin came over him. "I love that place. Actually, there's one waitress there I'd love to see again."
The grin widened as he laughed at his own joke.

When the metro stopped, they both got off and made their way to the bar, chitchatting about nothing important. Rapport was important. He learned a little about farm life. It was interesting.

They entered the restaurant and Sasha looked him up and down. "At least you're dressed this time Connor,"
she said with a smirk.

"Hey, you almost threw me out last time, Sasha. I'm a slow learner, but I do learn."

Her smirk became a smile and she led them to a table. With a glint in her eye, she said, "I'll get Ayden."
Connor laughed at the exchange.

He figured he'd let Calvin in on the joke. "Ayden's my girlfriend. She works here."
He looked at the man. "I kinda had a bad spell with the drink recently so I'm gonna drink water for now. But get what you want man."
He smiled at the man reassuringly. "Yeah, Moscow's a pretty cool place. It's funny, from hearing stories about Russia from my dad who grew up in the cold war, you get this image of what a place is like. It's nice to see that people aren't that much different wherever you go."

"So what about you? Meet any cool people?"
Ayden smiled when she saw Connor walk in the door. It looked like Sasha was gonna give him the third degree. He was with a new friend. Ayden wondered and hoped it was not the same sort that got him into the fights. She wasn't sure she could handle the bruises.

Sasha sat them at one of her tables and grinned widely at Ayden when she passed with a giggle, "Connor's here!" It was the kinda tone a high school girl used when your best friend spies your boyfriend first. Ayden returned the smile.

She'd a few others at tables today so she couldn't stay and chat long. But it was always nice seeing Connor in the bar.

Ayden walked up and did her spiel, she didn't want to get fired after all. "I'm Ayden, I'll be your server today. What can I get ya'll to drink today?"
Ayden smiled brightly at Connor. He had that affect on her, she could never stop smiling when he was around. Mayor kept teasing about having to hire him so she would smile like that all the time. He was kidding of course, Ayden as plenty happy and smiley for every customer, well except for the Mudak boys.
Calvin and Connor disembarked the train and made their way to Chesterfield's, talking normal chit chat on the way. Calvin still felt the pain in his chest, but was committed to seeing the situation through. His healing needed to begin.

They were greeted by a waitress that Connor apparently knew. It seemed as if Connor was a regular at the establishment.

"At least you're dressed this time Connor,"
the waitress said jokingly.

Connor apparently also had a history at this place. It sounded like there was an interesting story there. Connor and the waitress, Sasha, conversed for awhile until she said she would let Ayden know that he was there.

They headed to a table while Connor explained, "Ayden's my girlfriend. She works here. I kinda had a bad spell with the drink recently so I'm gonna drink water for now. But get what you want man."
Connor's smile was reassuring and it calmed Calvin's emotions a bit, but the pain was still there. "Yeah, Moscow's a pretty cool place. It's funny, from hearing stories about Russia from my dad who grew up in the cold war, you get this image of what a place is like. It's nice to see that people aren't that much different wherever you go. So what about you? Meet any cool people?"

Before Calvin could answer, a red-haired woman approached their table. The way they looked at each other reminded Calvin of two love-struck teenagers. This was obviously Ayden.

"I'm Ayden, I'll be your server today. What can I get ya'll to drink today?"

She was looking at Connor, a large beaming smile on her face. Calvin let Connor order his beverage and when the woman turned to him he ordered, offering her a polite smile, "Good afternoon Ayden, I'd like a beer please - any local draft will be fine."
He was looking around the bar, relaxed. Always nice after work to just go somewhere...well especially if there was a pretty girl to look at. And there definitely was one here. She was walking up to the table in her uniform and smiling that smile that just made him happy. He couldn't help it and started grinning like an idiot. Calvin probably thought him him a goof but he really didn't care. Ayden made him feel all giddy and playful.

"I'm Ayden, I'll be your server today. What can I get ya'll to drink today?"
Ooooo....pretending she didn't know him. Ok. That'd be fun.

"Hi Ayden." He made it a point of looking her up and down exaggeratedly. "Well I gotta say that if you're the girl this place has workin for them it's a wonder that there's not a line around the block."
He winked at her. "You better put that smile away though. My girlfriend works here and from what I've seen, she is the jealous type."
His grind became mischievous and he whispered loudly. "She's definitely crazy. Like TLC crazy"
She'd probably not get that, but he was feeling goofy. Then he reached out and took her hand and gave it a squeeze. All the playfulness was gone and he said simply, but with feeling and a smile, "Hey."
He looked at Calvin and nodded to her. "This is Ayden."
Then back at Ayden. "This is Calvin. Met him while I was workin at that automotive shop. Calvin's a good old American farm boy from...Wisconcin?"
He put a smile on his face. "Cheese farmer, right?"
. Back to Ayden. "Looks like there are a lot of us ex-pats here in Moscow."
Then a pause, hand still holding hers. "I'll take a water with lemon, love."
Ayden shook her head at Connor's jokes. He was being goofy. But she was glad he stopped and introduced her to his new friend. She didn't want to let go of his hand but she slowly pulled it free so she could write down their orders.

She smiled at Calvin. "A pleasure. Wisconsin eh? Not actually been there myself."
Which was a truth, not many people needed to be killed in farm country. "Got it. I'll be back with ya'lls drinks and if you want anything else you can order then."

Ayden ran her hand through Connor's hair playfully before leaving with a kiss on the cheek.

It was good to see Connor smiling and making normal friends. She'd been worried before they'd gotten back together. But now, he seemed so good. It made her happy.

((ya'll can mod Ayden coming back with drinks))

Edited by Ayden, Jul 7 2014, 10:53 AM.

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