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Snippets of a Life

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1.) Person, Place, or Thing


“нет.” Azazel adjusts something at his station. “Is very cold place.”

“That is not hint!” The man shrugs, leans back in his chair. “Fine. Noruega.”

“No Spanish.” Riptide huffs, and struggles to remember the right word, but he draws a blank. He gives up and tries another one.

“Finland.” Azazel shakes his head. “I give up!” Riptide declares, throwing his hands up in frustration.

“Norway.” A sharp burst of wind flicks him hard in the ear as Riptide swears.

“I said that!”

“You said Noruega. We are speaking English, yes?”

“Why can you not just learn Spanish?” Riptide is working himself up to a good sulk.

“Because you must learn English. Better English.” Something beeps, and Azazel goes to it, punching in numbers until it stops. “And if I am going to speak Spanish, you will speak Russian. Only fair.Так скажите мне, вы все еще хотите играть в эту игру?” Riptide stares, tries to even begin to comprehend how a language can sound so forceful, then gives up, turning to his screens with a pout.

You are lucky you are handsome.” He mutters under his breath. They focus on their tasks for a few minutes, the sub requiring full attention every now and then. “I am thinking of somewhere cold,” He hints, and the game starts again.


2.) Are You Afraid of the Dark?

“Fifteen, last fight.”

“I will not play this game.” Azazel looks at him imploringly, and Riptide feels himself crack a little. “Is very, uh....” He fumbles, and Azazel raises his eyebrows, waiting on him, not helping at all. “Irrespetuoso, ” He tries, but Azazel shakes head.

Вы будете говорить по-английски, или я говорю на русском, таковы правила.

“I cannot speak English if I do not know the word!”

“Then say it in a different way.” He is possibly the worst teacher Riptide has ever had, but he can't do any better. Emma would sooner trek through the rainforest in her heels than instruct, and Shaw only cares that Riptide can follow orders.

“It uh, is not...kind? Not, um,” He can almost remember, almost, he just needs to think. “Respect?” Azazel smiles. “Irrespectful?”

“Almost,” He corrects. “Disrespectful, that is what you mean. And what do they care? They are dead. The dead cannot hear, last I checked.”

“Not all of us are godless comunistas,” Riptide reminds him, feeling prickly. He himself has not been in a house of God for many years, but some things are still deeply ingrained in him.

“Communists.” The man does not appear offended, more amused, almost condescending. “And I am not a communist. But no, I do not believe in your gods. I have no fear of death, no need to ask forgiveness. I do what I must to survive, and I am the only one who will judge my actions.”

“Is arrogance, to think there is no one else.” Azazel disappears and reappears right beside him, his station unattended.

“Do you judge me Riptide?”

“I am not God. I have no right to judge anyone.” And he has no room to judge Azazel anyway. He kills as easily as the other man. He does not feel guilt for the men whose lives he'd taken, cannot even begin to care. Why should he? The wind comes to his fingertips like a pet, while they spend their lives scurrying around, doing nothing extraordinary. “And anyway, we are different. Special. God has chosen us.”

“Now who is being arrogant?”


3.) Fly Away Little Blue Bird

Riptide sniffs, and burrows further into his coat. Azazel is smirking, standing there in a shirt and jacket as though the weather is nothing, a breeze perhaps. Riptide thinks he might freeze to death.

“Cold is good for you!” He declares, slapping Janos on the back with a toothy smile. “Enjoy it, yes?”

“I do not like this.”

“Ah, you wound me. I love Czechoslovakia. I spent much time here when I was young.” He puts his hand on Riptide's shoulder, and they reappear past the ice slick that is the road, and onto the cleared section. “Beautiful country!”

“Is cold country!” Azazel turns and pulls on Riptide's collar, straightening it, smoothing down the lapels.

“You do not wear proper clothing, that is why you freeze.” Riptide pointedly looks at Azazel's own attire. “Ah, you are angry with me, why? I am used to this, is nothing.” They walk a ways, past the lit up storefronts, and a pub. Azazel takes a thick scarf and winds it around his face before pulling up the hood of his jacket. In the dark, no one will look too closely. “Maybe you would like it better in the summer. Yes, I think you would. Is very pretty in the summer, warmer.”

“Well, it cannot get any colder.” Riptide says, but Azazel laughs loudly, slapping him on the back again.

“Ah, my малиновка, it is only November. It will get colder, I assure you, much colder. The snow, it can be taller than you. Is great fun to play in.”

“I will pass, thank you.” Azazel shrugs cheerfully. “What is that word you called me? Mah-lee-no-v-kah.” He sounds it out slowly, and though he cannot see Azazel's face, he knows he is laughing at him.

“Is nothing. Nickname, that is the English word.” Riptide isn't sure what that word means, but he's not given the time to ask. They've reached the bar they're meeting their contact in, and they duck inside, out of the cold.

The next day, a new coat is hanging in his room, thicker than the one he had, with fur on the collar. It's not much better, but it's an improvement.


4.) 1 Enoch 8:1-3a

“No, no, like this.” Azazel adjusts his grip on the handle, but Riptide cannot quite get the hang of it. “No, you must,” Riptide stops breathing for a moment as Azazel presses to his back, adjusting his stance, his arm stretching out alongside Riptide's so that his fingers close over the hand on the sword, changing the grip so that it is correct. “You see now?”

I see that you do have muscle under those clothes, and if you don't get away from me now, I might do something very, very stupid.” Azazel sighs against his back, and before he can reprimand him, Riptide switches to English. “Yes.” Azazel backs away, makes sure Riptide can hold it without him guiding his body, and nods in approval.

“Now,” Azazel picks up the other blade and copies Riptide's stance, though his has the ease of practice. “Pull in, like this.” He brings the blade in, elbow bending, “Then strike,” His arm pistons back out, in a blow that probably would have been deadly. Riptide copies him as best as he can, but Azazel just laughs at him.

“Why do I need to learn this?” He is annoyed he's not picking it up faster, that they move so slowly through these lessons. If Azazel would stop putting himself in Riptide's personal space, maybe he could actually keep a clear head long enough to learn something. “I would learn faster if you would stop feeling me up.” Azazel has the bland expression of non-comprehension, probably thinking Riptide is swearing at him.



5.) In Wine, There is Truth (Warning: May Also Apply to Raki)

“I am not drinking that.” Riptide is firm in his decision, or at least he thought he was. Azazel is making that face, the one that suggests Riptide is just afraid. He's not afraid, he's just not stupid enough to drink something he's never heard of that Azazel says he picked up in Turkey.

“There is food, yes? You will be fine.” Riptide eyes the meal suspiciously. It's Turkish food, which he likes, and Azazel knows he likes it, so he wonders what Azazel wants, exactly. He knows a bribe when he sees one. “You are paranoid.”

“Is not paranoia when I know you as well as I do.” Azazel pours water into a glass, then adds the raki. It immediately turns white, and Riptide's suspicions rise. However, Azazel just raises it to him in a mocking toast, then downs it himself. “No.” He protests stubbornly, when Azazel pours one for him, but he takes it.

“Drink, is good.” Against his better judgment, he takes a sip. It's not bad, and doesn't seem so strong he needs to worry. He relaxes, a bit, and starts eating.

Three bottles and two hands of cards later, he is good and drunk, the empty plates notwithstanding.

I wish you were just doing this to take advantage of me,” He rambles. “But I know you must want something, and you think getting me drunk is the way to get me to agree.

“Maybe I just think it's funny,” Azazel shows his cards; he's won again. “In any case, I think you have had enough, yes?” Riptide nods, and lets Azazel help him up, pop him into his room.

I wish you would just go to bed with me already.” He mutters, curling up around his pillow.

“You could just ask.” Riptide nods, and falls asleep.


6.) Out of the Mouths of Babes

Riptide ends up remembering almost nothing of the Night of Raki, and he's glad for it. He's embarrassing when he's drunk, and he doesn't want to remember anything he said to Azazel. He's just happy he switches back to Spanish when drunk, and that whatever he babbled was just nonsense to Azazel.

He pulls his coat tighter around him, grateful for it on the windy base.

“I'm going to die,” Angel whines, teeth chattering. Riptide is inclined to agree, and he nods vigorously. “Why Russia? Why couldn't we go to Cuba?” He shrugs, too numb to bother. There's a crack, and Azazel is there, once again looking cheerful in the icy weather.

“Why the long faces my friends? Look outside, is lovely,” He gets two glares, and takes the hint, sitting down in the spare chair, spinning leisurely.

If only you could make yourself useful, keep me warm. At this point, if the girl wasn't here, I would crawl under your coat. Even if you stabbed me, I'd be warm.” Angel's eyebrows shoot into her hairline, and Riptide makes a face at her. She's worked in a variety of clubs, and got over the queer thing when she was just fifteen, so she seems okay with Riptide. She certainly makes enough jokes in response to his at her being a stripper.

His temperature increases a little suddenly when two arms brace themselves on the panel in front of him, Azazel leaning over to look at the screen, caging Riptide in, chest almost brushing the back of his head. Angel looks straight ahead at her own screen, mouth in a tight line, eyes wide.

“You know, I have to use the washroom. Be right back.” She scurries off, leaving them alone.

“She is a strange girl.” Azazel's voice rumbles above him.

It is only later, when it is just Angel and him again, that she looks around and leans over to whisper, “Why didn't you tell me?”

“Tell you what?” He's trying to figure out why a light is blinking. Maybe it's supposed to blink? This is the panel they're monitoring the submarine with, so it could mean anything. He wishes he was on the submarine. It's warmer.

“You and Azazel!” He realizes the light is telling him that the submarine's internal heating system is malfunctioning. The energy being used to keep the submarine from freezing up is more than it currently has, and the secondary systems need to be lowered.

“What about Azazel and me?” He re-adjusts the settings, setting the temperature inside at a much lower degree. The light stops blinking and burns steadily. The inside of the submarine will be liveable, but certainly not comfortable. Better than if it went off entirely though.

“That you two are, you know,” He puzzles over her mysterious hand gestures for a moment before he realizes what's she's implying.

“We are not!”

“But, you,” She licks her lips. “He came over when you told him to.”

“I tell him things in Spanish all the time when I am frustrated with him. He does not speak it.” Angel makes a face, and a sickening feeling takes root in his stomach.

“Yes he does.”


7.) Wintertime Love

Riptide knocks on Azazel's door, furious. When Azazel opens it, he pushes past him inside, already swearing. “You complete bastard!

“If you want me to understand you, you will speak English.” Riptide glares at him, and a slow smile spreads across Azazel's face. “Ah, I see I have been outed.”

“You've known what I've been saying the whole time!”

“I have.” He agrees cheekily. “Was a good joke, I think.”

“It was not!” Riptide is freezing, despite his anger, and his teeth chatter, completely ruining his rant. Azazel approaches, hands raised, and puts them on Riptide's arms, rubbing up and down. Riptide scowls at him, still upset. “Why did you not tell me? After I kept saying all those things to you?”

“Maybe I liked hearing you tell me you wanted me to just fuck you over the captain's chair.” Riptide flushes, remembering. It's not even the worst of it, really. “Now, is time to say what you want in English, I think.” Azazel is waiting, still all smiles, his hands leaving Riptide's arms to start going under the hem of his shirt.

“I am cold,” He moves away, to sit on the bed, shucking both of his shirts along the way, “Warm me up.”