Cutscene: Reunion

June 21, 2017:

In which Isa Reichert, reunited with her husband, resolves to put the fragments of her life back together and dedicate herself to the eradication of Icarus Dynamics.

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, Rusalka Stojespal

Mood Music: None.


Fade In…

The only thing that broke the hospital room's silence was the medical equipment, beeping softly, counting off the slow pace of Mikhail Nikolayevich Makarov's heart. Despite the stresses that troubled him, they were not the types of thing to set his heart racing. His pain was a quieter sort. A shadow lay over his mild blue eyes.

Only belatedly did she look down, or notice that she still held his hand. Unthinkingly, she ran her thumb along the line of his tendon. It felt thin, weak; enough to worry her. Just what had this Icarus Dynamics done to him? How much longer would he have lasted if he hadn't been brought to SHIELD?

It had served its purpose as a combat stimulant to Project Heliosphere's test pilots, but it had also torn them apart from the inside, even as it forced them to crave ever more of it. A clever little lie, she thought to herself, even as she studied his hand worriedly. They'll burn for that. I'll see to it.

After a moment she noticed that he hadn't looked away from her. He stared at the scarring on the side of her face, expression one of concern and horror. Of course, she thought bitterly to herself, expression hardening. Unconsciously, she let go of his hand.

"<What happened to you, my beauty?>" he finally said, voice soft in his shock.

She smiled, thin as a knife.

"<My last prototype failed. I fell.>" It was the unspoken risk that they had both agreed on long ago. Prototypes were unstable. Dangerous. Every test flight she made could be her last. Her shrug was more fatalistic than anything else. "<I lost a port turbine, and then the ejection seat failed. I went down with what was left of the fuselage.>"

Carefully, she took his hand back into both of hers. As he folded his hand weakly around hers, she closed her eye. "<Oh, my beauty. I am so sorry I could not be there. So very sorry.>"

"<It was only a matter of time until that happened.>" Raisa's tone was leaden. "<You and I know the risks. I was probably lucky that I lasted so long before it did.>"

"<I should have been there.>"

"<But you were not,>" she pointed out, tone brittle. "<When I needed you the most, Mikhail Nikolayevich, when my life was cracking and splintering, you were not there.>"

"<I know.>" His expression was so stricken even she felt a twinge of guilt. "<I do not know what I could possibly do to make that up to you, but… I would like to try,>" he added softly. "<I will do anything. Raisa Ivanovna, I have missed you for so long.>"

She studied him in silence, but she couldn't bring herself to be aloof. She couldn't let go of his hand. No matter how much he had hurt her, no matter how much suffering she had endured grieving for him, she couldn't bring herself to push him away. God, or Khoro, or whatever, had given her a second chance. She would be stupid to waste it. Above all things, even fire, she feared her own loneliness. Only Mikhail had ever seemed to fill that void.

Later she had spoken with Coulson. It had been a calm and amicable conversation, with both agreeing that it never would have worked between them. He had shown her kindness in a time of emotional trauma, and her feelings had been misplaced. She would never forget the risks he had taken for her, and she admired his devotion to the cause, but they were comrades in arms and no more than that.

His understanding had been another facet of that kindness, one her embarrassed sense of pride had been grateful for.

No matter. No one else could fill that emptiness in her heart but Mikhail Nikolayevich himself. She still loved him, even if her faith had been shaken over St. Petersburg. He had not been acting on his own will. That could be forgiven. It would take time to heal, but she would heal, and she had already resolved not to waste this second chance.

This was where she belonged – at Mikhail's side; in the place she had missed for so long.

A faint smile twisted her features.

"<You hurt me deeply, Mikhail Nikolayevich. Very deeply. I will not lie about that; I could not. But I do not think that making it up to me is an impossible task, either,>" she said softly. She raised her right hand, showing her ring. The metal was as flame-scarred as the finger it lay on, and slightly misshapen from the heat, but it was whole. "<You are still my husband, Mishen'ka. Nothing will change that. I hope that we will overcome these hurts, too, in time. We will find out what happened to you, and we will make it right. We will dismantle Icarus Dynamics. And I will do everything in my power to help ensure that they burn for what they have done.>"

Her hand tightened around his, squeezing gently, lifting his hand until she could brush her lips to his knuckles. She held his hand to the scarred side of her face; something warmed in her heart when he didn't pull away, instead turning his hand to cup the side of her face. "<I am not leaving you again, Raisa Ivanovna,>" he murmured. "<Never again. Not for anything.>"

She smiled through the unshed tears that burned her good eye. "<I kept waiting, you know, for you to walk in the door with that idiot grin of yours.>" Raisa laughed a watery laugh. "<Like you'd just gotten lost on the way home. That would be like you, wouldn't it?>"

"<Oh, Great God, I've missed you so much.>" He closed his eyes; ran his trembling thumb along the line of her jaw. "<I dreamt of you for so long.>"

"<I know,>" she whispered. "<I know. Rest now.>" Raisa gave his hand a final squeeze and gently withdrew her own, leaning over carefully to brush her lips to his forehead. That done, she settled back in her chair, leaning back and making herself as comfortable as she could. Her hand reached out to take his, fingers lacing. "<Sleep, if you can. I will stay here with you. I promise.>"

"<I will. I am tired. Exhausted. Good night, Raya,>" he murmured, eyes already beginning to droop closed.

"<Good night, Mishen'ka.>"

Their hands never parted, not even when she finally succumbed to sleep. It's there that Sally Petrovna will find her friend – leaned over slightly in her chair, red hair spilled over one shoulder, fingers still laced loosely with her husband's.

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