Home At Last

June 20, 2017:

In which Isa Reichert is accompanied by Sally Stojespal to SHIELD's medical facilities to reunite with her wayward husband, Mikhail Nikolayevich Makarov.

New York City - The Triskelion

The Headquarters, Armory and Fortress of the Strategic Homeland Intervention Enforcement and Logistics division is, for the most part, an unassailable tower in the midst of the diplomatic sprawl that is Midtown East. The primary intelligence clearing houses and most of SHIELD's senior leadership are all housed hear, along with a veritable army of agents and staff to keep the place running, the world spinning and the weirdness at bay.

Characters

NPCs: Mikhail Nikolayevich Makarov

Mentions: Phil Coulson, Sloane Albright, Tony Stark

Mood Music: None.


Fade In…

The call had come a little late, but not intrusively so. It had almost been time for her to turn in for the night, her exhaustion having finally caught up to her, but that meant nothing to the agent on the other end of the phone. The voice had been ultimately forgettable, female, someone meant to delegate other tasks. The message had been short but clear.

Raisa Ivanovna Yakovleva had immediately thrown on some real clothing and gotten Rusalka Stojespal on the phone while hopping on one foot trying to get a pair of pants on properly, balancing the receiver between ear and shoulder with some aggravation. I have a favour to ask you, she had told the other girl. I need you to go somewhere with me. I'll explain once you're here. Hurry, please.

Now, ten minutes later, she stands examining herself critically in the mirror. The bedroom closet door is a sliding door, mirrored down its length, reflecting an anxious and exhausted redehad. She's wearing a white shirt tucked into a pair of black fatigues with cargo pockets, combat boots, and Mikhail Nikolayevich's bomber jacket thrown over the shirt, because hospitals are always inexplicably freezing. Her hair's been left long and loose as she often prefers.

By the time Rusalka comes calling, the pilot is waiting outside, flipping a cigarette between her fingers with the air of someone who needs something to do with their hands. Once she spots Rusalka she'll offer an apologetic half-smile that doesn't quite reach her anxious eye.

Sally had been reading at the time - studying up on things, making sure to keep her classes going. Even if she understands this stuff, there's always tests and exams. So she's certainly awake, just a little distracted when Raisa calls. A favor to ask, she wants. Sally doesn't mind; it's simple enough. To go somewhere?

Well, she's curious, but it won't take long to figure out. Maybe a night drive out to see the stars, though the Russian sounds a little more distressed than a simple trip would suggest. Thirteen minutes, the girl had said. Twelve minutes and fifty seven seconds later?

A white and black Lotus Evora pulls up in front of Raisa, the door opening as soon as the car stops. Sally leaning across the passenger seat to reach the latch, dressed as usual - jeans, a light blouse, her favorite driving shoes on. Who knows, perhaps Isa wants a long ride anyway. There's a slight nose-wrinkle when she sees the cigarette, but she doesn't say anything - she knows Raisa isn't the kind to light up in her car.

"Where to, ma'am?" The last is said with a grin, as if she's some taxi driver.

The Russian woman slips her hands into the jacket's pockets as she strides out to the car. She's moving better since her crash, and by this point there's only the slightest hitch in her stride, a faint suggestion of a limp. She leans on the door, sticking her head into the open window. "<Find somewhere to park. I'm sorry, I should have specified. We're not going for a drive. I need you here at the Triskelion.>"

Raisa will step back and wait, then, smoking a cigarette while she does, and that's where Rusalka will find her. She is at least considerate enough to snuff it out once her friend arrives again, disposing of it in an ashtray. She's not one of those awful people who just throw the remains anywhere! That would be both inconsiderate, and also lazy.

The pilot's stride is long in spite of her average height, and Sally might have to walk fast to keep up. "<We are going to the medical facilities. I received a message about twenty minutes ago. They have found Mikhail Nikolayevich, and they have told me where to find him. I want you there with me,>" she explains. "<Moral support.>"

Honestly, Sally is also going to be there to make sure her pilot friend doesn't kill the man, but Raisa doesn't say that part out loud. That falls under the obligations of moral support. Maybe.

"<He's not in very good condition, but he's stable. They were right. He was being controlled through chemicals.>" Her quiet laugh is all nerves and tension. "<The poor bastard is his own cocktail party right now, from what I understand. But I need to talk to him,>" she adds, in a tone that brooks no argument. "<I have to know why.>"

It's a short walk, which is a good thing, because it's really hot wearing that jacket out during a summer night. It's too humid and hot to be comfortable in anything more than a tank top in this kind of weather. That's one thing she's not so crazy about – situated further north, Russian summers were much milder.

"<So. I would like you to come with me as moral support,>" she explains. "<I did not know who else to call, and Sloane Albright has been busy with her studies, so I do not want to disturb her rest.>"

There's a long pause.

"<And I was not going to give Tony Stark the satisfaction of calling him.>"

The expression on her face shifts to surprise, when Raisa explains. "<Ah. Yes, I can do that. I should have asked, sorry.>" She waves off the apology from her friend, grinning. "<I'll be right back. Don't go anywhere!>" The Lotus pulls away, searching for a space - fortunately, now that she's an Agent, she has a lot more parking options. It won't take more than a single cigarette for her to reach the redhead's side.

She's upbeat and cheerful, wondering what it is that's got Raisa so rattled - and then her jaw drops when she gets the explanation. The white leather racing jacket in her hand is almost dropped in surprise, but she manages to catch it before it falls. "<Your husband? Here? Absolutely, I will be right by your side.>"

Sally laughs at the mention of calling Tony. "<With all due respect to my teacher, he…is not the first person I would ask for for something like this. I understand how he deals with stress,>" she continues, matching Isa stride for stride easily. "<It is his way. It is…perhaps not always the right way, for everyone. Anyway. He is alive, then?>"

The explanation gets a nod. "<When he was with…>" She trails off, not wanting to discuss classified things - even in the Triskelion. Not everyone is cleared for this, after all. "<His previous employers,>" Sally settles on. "<Is that why things happened like that? And…certainly. Yes, Sloane is doing a lot of catchup work over summer. I think she fell asleep early, we were talking on the phone and she sounded half-awake at best.>"

She keeps up, letting Raisa lead, and not worrying so much about the weather. Sokovia, tucked mostly between Ukraine and Romania, is almost the same latitude as New York…just landlocked. Still, she's not bothering with the racing jacket - it's just there with her because it's always there.

The door to the medical facility whisks open on oiled tracks, and the pilot strolls up to the front desk, giving the orderly on duty her SHIELD badge and a question in her rough-edged English. The orderly's outstretched arm points down the hallway, and a few sets of directions later, the pilot is on her way and gesturing for her friend to follow.

Medical hallways always look the same. Despite the wonderful technology in this building, the aesthetics are invariably the thing to suffer. There's something almost depressing about the sterile, impersonal corridors and rooms.

Then again, better it's sterile than the alternative.

Stories of lives lost through carelessness and neglect were not uncommon in her homeland. That she survived her trial by fire at all was a testament to her sterling record.

Isa walks quickly. Her combat boots make a distinctive sound on the polished floor.

"<Here,>" she agrees, single eye fixed on the hallway ahead. Part of her wants to light another cigarette, but the rest of her doesn't want to procrastinate by going back outside. Besides, the rest of her mind wisely points out. It's miserably hot and humid outside.

Inside the building, the air conditioning is a powerful mitigating factor. Isa finds herself shrugging more securely into the jacket, with its mishmash of service patches and lettering in Cyrillic. Some servicemen collected nice cars or lavished attention on their dacha; Mikhail had patiently had this jacket created in the American style, from its construction to the embroidery of its patches.

"<When he was with his previous employers,>" Isa confirms, although she slows to a halt to check the room numbers, muttering under her breath to herself. "<That is what I intend to find out. It would not have done any good to wake Sloane Albright, I think. I do not think she would have been anything but lost, and there is a chance this will turn… volatile. I do not know.>" Isa smiles an uncomfortable smile. "<No one knows what the future can hold. I would not want to upset Sloane Albright unnecessarily.>"

She looks to the corridor on the right, squinting and scanning the numbers, abruptly veering off to follow them and gesturing for Rusalka to follow, as though to say, this way.

Once they reach an unobtrusive room in the middle of the corridor, its blinds drawn closed, the pilot slows to a halt. She reaches out for the handle of the door, hesitates; looks down and closes her eye. Raisa Ivanovna Yakovleva draws in a deep breath and lets it go in a rush, opening her eye and staring uncertainly at the door.

She stands that way in silence, brow gradually furrowing.

"<I do not know what I will see on the other side of that door.>" Slowly, Isa lets go of the door handle and turns to Rusalka, uncertain. "<I have a foolish question, Sally Petrovna. Do you perhaps have a sachet of wheat with you…?>"

As Raisa makes her way through the hospital, Sally spares a glance around. She'd agree with the pilot; even SHIELD is unable to completely get away from the need to maintain a utilitarian feel of a hospital. It certainly makes someone not want to stay. Perhaps there's something good about that - a psychological push to get better and get to nicer surroundings. But it also makes being stuck there a lot more difficult.

Stories of lives lost are all too common to both of them. The Stojespal family maintains its own burial lands as well, some of the headstones as ancient as the sunrise. She's been there, and has seen those names. It is certainly a far more beautiful place to be than a hospital, but Rusalka Stojespal knows which she would prefer until the time the decision is no longer hers to make.

It's not hard to follow, before Raisa stops at the door - and then there's a surprised pause. "<Yes, actually.>" Sally reaches her free hand into her white jacket - fishing around an inside pocket for a moment before withdrawing a small, supple leather bag. It's passed to the Russian. "<Superstitious?>" She'll grin, before waving a hand. "<Let me go first. Take a moment and get your breath. I will lead.>"

With that, when her friend lets go of the handle, she'll reach out and open it and step in - leading the way, wondering how long it will take Raisa to follow her. Sally settles on one of those small rolling chairs that doctors use, sliding out of the way a little before glancing back at the pilot.

Hopefully she won't have to jump up and protect the patient…

The pilot carefully reaches out to take the miniature satchel, ducking her head so she can toss the cord around her neck. She tucks it under her white shirt. "<If I am going to ask anything for strength right now, a giant wolf harvest spirit is as good as anything. Besides, I have seen wolves fight, Sally Petrovna. They are strong, so surely this Khoro of yours can spare some.>"

Patting the satchel into place, she casts an uncertain look at the door, before her eye turns back to Rusalka. In answer to the request, she bobs her head in a faint nod and waits in the corridor, hands in her pockets, looking… lost, more than anything else, more lost than Sally Petrovna has ever seen her friend.

Isa Reichert is already pacing the hall as the door begins to close. It's one of the truest tells of her nerves. The door shuts behind Sally, silent for a moment while the pilot outside gathers her thoughts and draws on her courage.

That leaves the pilot inside.

Mikhail Nikolayevich Makarov does not look like a pilot. He looks like a good-natured businessman, with a trim build and handsome, almost boyish features. His hair is blonde and cut short, parted on the left. His eyes are blue but mild, lending him an unassuming appearance, though at the moment they have shadows beneath them and a gauntness to his cheekbones.

He had been asleep, wrapped in an extra blanket, monitoring equipment beeping softly in time with the beat of his heart. His eyes flutter open slowly at the sound of the door, and he looks at Rusalka in puzzlement, brow furrowing.

"<I am sorry, do I know you?>" His voice is pleasant, smooth, and despite the wariness in his eyes, he looks like someone whom smiles come easily to. Right now, though, he is cautious; strangers are automatically suspicious in his current situation. "<You do not look familiar to me…>"

Isa hasn't come back yet, presumably either marshalling her courage outside or convincing herself not to go burn through a carton of cigarettes before walking into that room.

"<Certainly better than most. She is always faithful.>" Sally throws her friend a grin of encouragement. "<Take your time. I'll be inside, alright? When you're ready.>" She strides inside, knowing Raisa might need a moment - or three, admittedly, as she glances back when the door closes.

Nothing to be done about that now, and instead she's curious. She wants to see the man. Who, it turns out, is awake as she sits down, and Rusalka rolls over a little closer to get a good look at him - and let him see her clearly. She glances at the monitor displays for a moment, but he seems to be okay - none of the numbers are flashing red or screeching for attention or anything.

Her Russian isn't quite native-fluent, but quite good. It's a sister language to her more native Ukrainian and its Sokovian dialect, so it makes things easy - even if it's just a little bit accented. "<You do not know me. But it is alright; I am a friend. I am not a threat.>" She holds up her hands in the typical gesture of being unarmed and unthreatening.

"<Actually…>" Her voice is soft, trying to keep from startling him too badly. "<My name is Sally Stojespal. I'm a friend of your wife. And…maybe in a small way, helped you come here, to safety. Raisa Ivanovna is with me, though…she needs a moment.>"

She smiles gently. "<Is there anything I can do for you right now, Mr. Makarov?>"

Although the soft beeping that marks Mikhail's heartrate has gone up a bit, it's still well within normal range. Unfortunately, it also means that there's no hiding his nervousness. At this point in his life a stranger is never a good sign, and may in fact be dangerous.

Much like his wife, it seems he doesn't trust that he's in one of the most secure facilities in the world. They've both been through a lot. Their ability to have faith in such things is a bit damaged.

He blinks somewhat owlishly when he hears the sound of her voice. The accent is one he isn't quite able to place, and he wastes several seconds trying to remember where he might have heard something like that. If, indeed, he has ever heard something like that. It's a little bizarre. It sounds almost rustic.

A friend of his wife's? There's no way to prove it, but right now he isn't in much of a position to argue the truth of it. How she might have helped him to come to be here, though, he isn't able to figure. His mouth is almost settled in a smile, though his eyes are wary.

She's here, the girl says. Raisa Ivanovna is here. His Raya, his best friend, his other half, and the one person who could fill the void in his soul he hadn't known had been there until he'd met her. Now, after five years of agony and longing, she is here.

I'm not sure she's not going to beat you within an inch of your life, the agent had told him, yesterday. He had sighed and agreed with the man, and he's had all the day and night to be apprehensive about that.

She's going to be angry. Livid, even. He would be, if he were in the same position; he knows that now. What had begun as the best of intentions had turned into the worst of nightmares.

His eyes drift toward the ceiling, and finally close. His expression is one of guilt. "<Of course. I understand.>"

Sally asks if there's anything she can do for him, and the blonde pilot doesn't bother to open his eyes. "<No. Thank you. There is not much to do but wait until it is out of my system.>" He swallows. "<It is a… uniquely unpleasant… experience. And it is exhausting. I am only resting while I wait for Raisa Ivano—>"

The door opens with a gentle click. Instantly Mikhail's eyes snap open to the figure in the doorway. Slowly, subtly, his expression shifts to one of guilt and pain; but also relief, and a certain longing.

Raisa Ivanovna Yakovleva stands just beyond the door as it eases shut on its hinges. She doesn't move, huddled into Mikhail's bomber jacket, and the chain of the watch also gleams at the pocket of her fatigues. The rounded slope of her shoulders suggests she's hunched a bit into the oversized jacket, hands in its pockets.

She smells like tobacco – as though she had decided to go outside after all, and burn her way through another few cigarettes. They don't appear to have done much for her nerves. The cord of Khoro's offering is still around her neck.

So long does she stand there, simply looking at the man on the bed, that it almost begs the question of whether she's okay or not…

Faith is a thing that has its place, and sometimes flees. At the moment, he is a little like Raisa - questioning, fearful, and in honesty she can understand him. Whisked away from where he had been, and…according to Raisa, formerly drugged. In time, it will grow back.

There's a long, contemplative silence as the former pilot considers his situation - and debates the truth of Sally's words. The Sokovian remains where she is, sitting silently, and smiling softly - before glancing up at the television, seeing if it was turned on. She'll wait; she has plenty of time.

He finally answers her, and Sally turns back to face him, nodding. "<Do not worry. I will be here as well. I should let you know, in honesty and fairness, that I am a SHIELD agent. But I have no assignment to you or duty to perform. I am just a friend.>" If she is a SHIELD agent, they are clearly hiring right out of the schools. She is far younger than the ones who came previously.

And then the door opens, and Sally scoots a little bit away from the bed, letting Raisa enter. There's a slight scrunch of her face at the scent, but Sally stands finally. "<Raisa? Come in. Mikhail is awake. It's alright.>"

She can't imagine what the woman is going through. The kinds of emotions…she'd seen Raisa scraped raw, every nerve burning with rage when she'd been brought back from the crash. The pain she'd felt, the hurt, the betrayal. The inferno that had burned in the pilot's soul then seems to have shrunken to the thin flame of a match, flickering and guttering.

The photograph on Raisa's mantle shows a clean-shaven and handsome young man, with open and honest features. Mikhail's face is still honest, but it isn't open any more, guarded and quietly suspicious. There are faint stress lines around his eyes, and shadows under his cheekbones. He has a five o'clock shadow that he doesn't seem the sort to tolerate normally. By this time of the week, it might be more towards a six or seven o'clock shadow.

Yet he is silent as a ghost when the woman walks in, staring at her wide-eyed. He had seen her scarring in person, before, but it had been a quick glimpse in the midst of a chaotic situation. Now, he can see every nuance of the scars that ravage her face. His expression is not one of revulsion, though, but one of guilt and horror. He is guilty, perhaps, that she had needed to endure that without him at her side. He is horrified because she had to endure it in the first place.

There is a distinct presence about Raisa, normally, the kind of presence that can fill a room with her confidence in and sureness about herself. True, it may be dimmer in recent years, but that still seems to be a fundamental part of the woman. Tonight, though, her presence seems somehow less certain; a flicker of pain in those blue eyes.

"<How could you?>" Her voice is soft, so soft, and it cracks mid-word. "<Mikhail Nikolayevich, how could you do this to me?>"

Her hands curl into a fists as she continues. Now that she's found her voice, the words spill out in an angry, anxious torrent. She's pacing before she even gets started. "<How could you put me through that kind of hell? Where were you? Where were you when I needed you, Mikhail Nikolayevich? They shot me, in Barcelona. Where were you then, when I could have been dying? I could have been killed. Where were you in Siberia, when this happened?>" Isa jabs her scarred right forefinger at the scarred half of her face; the eyepatch.

"<Mikhail Nikolayevich, where were you?>" she asks, very softly. "<How could you..?>"

The blonde pilot's face seems to crumple, along with his resolve. Something glimmers near his closed eye. "<Oh, my Raya. I am sorry. I am so sorry I could not be there. Oh, Great God, I am so sorry… I should have been there—>"

"<Don't you 'Raya' me!>" she snarls, wrenching another chair over to the bedside and throwing herself down in it. Her eye is bright and angry, but it also brims with tears that she's too proud to let fall. Her expression is thunderous. "<Five years, Mikhail Nikolayevich; five years and you could not send word?>" Her tone is angry and incredulous.

He exhales quietly. "<I did it for you, Raya. We would not be able to fly forever. Icarus, they offered me a solution. Said I could ensure our future… and it turned into a nightmare. They told me they were holding you so long as I cooperated with them. Then came the drugs. Oh, Great God, it was terrible. Those began before the Heliosphere was even built—>"

"<The Tchernobog?>" Raisa queries, raising a brow and glancing at Sally.

"<Acclimation, they said, to make us more compatible with the biomechanical systems when they were established.>"

"<And then they had you.>" There is a sad, exhausted understanding in the redhead's eye.

"<And then they had me,>" Mikhail agrees, miserably. "<It was a long time before any of the test pilots discovered we were hopelessly addicted. It was even longer before we discovered what they were doing to our systems.>"

"<Great God,>" Raisa murmurs emphatically.

"<If Comrade Tony had not delivered me here—>"

"<What?!>"

"<—the doctors told me I would have a month, maybe a little more, to live. It's terrible, Raya. What they're doing. It's a nightmare. And they're still building that monster. It's not even finished yet,>" Mikhail adds wearily.

Raisa hesitates. Even Rusalka would recognise the redhead's moment of extreme indecision. She wants to be angry, and on some level she is angry, but at the same time this is her husband. This is the person whom she's wished and longed to have back at her side for the past five and a half years; and it sounds as though it wasn't even his fault. In fact, he sounds a bit like a victim, here, and she should be familiar with him enough to know.

And so, Raisa hesitates. She wants to throw her arms around him, and never to let go. She also wants to hit him. What to do?

Crack.

Raisa strikes a blow so quickly that Mikhail looks more surprised than pained, staring at her with eyes wide. To his credit, he doesn't say anything stupid. He doesn't ask what that was for. He knows. Instead, his expression becomes one of melancholy resignation.

"<I deserved that,>" he says, reaching up to touch his cheekbone. It's not split, but she's left an impressive red mark.

The redheaded pilot sits with her back straight, too proud to acknowledge the track of tear from her single eye, glaring at her husband as though she really wants to hate the man after what he'd put her through.

But Raisa Ivanovna cannot bring herself to hate.

The pain plays out between them, and all Rusalka can do is watch. Mutual hurt, explanations, anger…when Raisa sits down, finally confronting her husband, Sally gives her the space. It's all she can do, really - she remembers when the final gusher of pain burst after her father was murdered. When she'd finally been at his funeral, and seen his casket lowered. When the newest Stojespal headstone had been placed.

There wasn't any comforting her, then. It was just pain, a torrent that flowed…and continued to for some time. Right now, it's Raisa's turn to deal with that - but in a different way. That which was lost, is not; they who were stolen have been returned. For her own thoughts, Sally's actually glad to see the man.

Raisa…might not be so much. When she asks about the Tchernobog, what Mikhail seems to refer to as the Heliosphere, she shakes her head, keeping her voice quiet. "<Possibly. I hope so.>" The alternative is that there's another of these monsters… "<But it is not a name I have seen.>"

Comrade Tony? Stark? That gets a raised eyebrow, surprising the young SHIELD agent - and leaving her a step behind Raisa's response, unable to react in time to keep the fist from landing home. She still dives in to protect him, halfway blocking it - and now interposed between them.

"<Hold it! Raisa, stop!>" Sally takes a breath, getting between the Russians and getting her own face in Raisa's one-eyed gaze. "<Don't. Not this. You've waited so long, look. Look at him. He's back, Raisa Ivanovna.>" It takes a moment to remember to use the woman's patronymic; it's just not the standard for her.

A glance back at Mikhail. "<Mm, maybe. You did shoot her down. But. That wasn't you, right?>" Her eyes swing back and forth between them, finally pulling away from her defensive position. She can trust them, right? Not to kill each other? Like civilized people? "<You said yourself, you were drugged. Controlled. Even Raisa said that when you were on the radio, it wasn't you. A lunatic, a madman, not…>" Shrug.

"<Not her beloved husband.>"

Raisa steps back once she's struck her blow, breathing heavily. She looks like she wants to hit him again, but she doesn't, shaking out her stinging hand and huffing an unsteady breath. In truth, she doesn't know what she wants, but that wasn't half as satisfying as she'd once imagined it might be.

"<I did not intend to do it more than once,>" she reassures Sally, but she probably isn't very reassuring. Her hair's in disarray, just a little, and the solitary track of her tears glistens in the fluorescent light. With the air of someone brittle, she eases herself back down into the bedside chair, as Rusalka pulls back from her defensive hovering. "<That is all.>"

"<I have been waiting five years to do that, you son of a bitch,>" she murmurs, single eye hard. "<I don't care what you had running amuck in your system; you left me.>"

Mikhail reaches up and rubs at his face, frowning a little. The reason why it hurts so much is because she's still wearing her wedding ring. That small piece of metal had smarted against his cheekbone, and it still does. "<Raya…>"

"<What.>" She's still staring, defensively.

"<You're still wearing your ring.>" He sounds quiet, humbled. Guilty, still.

"<Of course I'm still wearing my ring,>" she snaps, stung, as though it were the stupidest thing in the world for him to notice.

After a few seconds, both of htem glance back to Sally, as though just now processing what she'd said.

"<Yes, I was drugged. Probably controlled. But that does not excuse that I was not there for her,>" Mikhail admits, spreading his hands in a gesture of helplessness, intravenous tubes following one wrist. "<I should have spoken to her about Icarus before I accepted their offer.>"

"<Idiot,>" Raisa agrees, but she still looks more scared than angry. He looks like hell. She breathes out an unsteady sigh, brow furrowing. "<But you did it, and Tony Stark took you back, and now you're here. I… I still can't believe that you're really here.>"

At some point she's folded his hand into both of hers, eye closing as she huffs another sigh. "<Misha… it's really you.>" Her voice is so soft the words could be missed, voice trembling. Seeing him, hearing him, has really brought that fact to sink in.

It's Mikhail who looks back to Sally, although his hand absently tightens around Raisa's, too weak to do much more than twitch his fingers. "<Sally Petrovna.>" That's what his wife had called her, anyway. "<You said you helped to bring me here. How?>"

Reassured, only slightly - the Sokovian waits a little longer before finally separating to let the two of them talk. "<Once is enough, I think. He is already in the hospital, after all, yes?>" Smile, smile. We all get along.

And then they are getting along, the two pilots finally touching - as close to an embrace as they're likely to get with her here. Sally pauses a moment, debating. Can she leave Raisa Ivanovna Yakovleva in the same room with him? Alternately…they deserve the privacy of being a married couple reunited after years. Raisa promised, so.

She's about to depart, leaving them to a private chat and to work out a few things between them, when Mikhail stops her. "<Eh? Ah. Well…I did not personally have anything to do with it? I was not the one who brought you from…ah, wherever you had been. But I am a part of SHIELD, and…I've been working on this issue. How to fight the…the Heliosphere, you said?>"

Sally ponders a moment. "<I'm only a junior Agent, in all truth. An engineer. And…someone proud to call your wife a friend, I would add.>"

"<Once is enough,>" Raisa agrees, quietly. She's already scooted her chair closer to the bedside. His hand is held carefully, as though she expects that it might not be there if she focuses too hard on it. Having struck him once, she certainly doesn't look like she intends to do any further harm… but one never knows. She had been angry after St. Petersburg, wounded in more than one sense.

She looks calm, though; solemn and sad, but also relieved. She does not, however, look like she intends on any further violence. That's probably good. Right?

As Mikhail looks to his would-be rescuer, so does the redheaded pilot, but it's the blonde who speaks. "<Yes, Project Heliosphere. What is 'Tchernobog?'>"

"<It is what we have been calling that… that thing. I will explain later,>" Raisa adds, eyeing Sally as though curious to hear what she might say – and sighs, showing a troubled smile. "<Sally Petrovna…>"

Mikhail nods, slowly, even as he curls his fingers around her hand. "<Good,>" he says, earnestly. "<Friends… those are in short supply. We… could use those.>" He manages a smile only slightly uncertain, and a little closer to his true nature. They come easily to his face; like the sun coming out from behind a cloud, and it's easy to see why Raisa had anguished in his absence. Something about the two of them just… fits, together. "<Thank you, Sally Petrovna. I think, when I am feeling better, I can help you a great deal with that.>"

"<May we have a few moments alone?>" Raisa looks to Sally with an apologetic smile. "<I am sorry. I know that I asked you to come here with me.>"

"<We will not be too long,>" Mikhail says, shrugging faintly. "<I do not have much strength left for today, I think. This detox protocol is terrible and it takes much out of a man.>" He doesn't seem to notice as she reaches forward, brushing some of his stray hair from his eyes, continuing on while he can still speak. "<Worse, I guess, if it had been allowed to stay in my system.>"

"<I would ask you to walk me home afterward, Sally Petrovna, so I will not keep you up for too long,>" Raisa adds. "<I just want to speak with him for a few moments…>"

"<Absolutely.>" It's said with a smile, to both of them. "<I look forward to working with you soon, Mr. Makarov. And… Mrs. Makarov,>" Sally adds. There's a smirk and a wink, before she gathers her purse and coat. "<I will be at the nurse's station when you are ready, and I will walk you back. My good deed for the day.>"

Sliding out the door, Sally lets it close behind her…and smiles. She was right after all. One victory, one small one, that she plans on turning into a host of others. But those will wait for another day.

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