Cutscene: Small hands and wisdom

December 23, 2017:

Rusalka Stojespal mulls over Christmas and can't shake the feeling of impending doom. A surprise visitor has a little wisdom.

Stojespal family apartments, New York City

A very large family-owned apartment between the Upper East Side and Midtown with plenty of spare space to mope around in as well as entertain visitors and do other fancy sorts of things, none of which happens.

Characters

NPCs: Khoro, Wisewolf of Sokovia

Mentions: A whole freakin' lot of people

Plot:

Mood Music: [*\# None.]


Fade In…

The late night lights of midtown Manhattan stream in through the floor-height windows, the curtains wide open for now. The apartment wasn't entirely hers, rather a Stojespal family purchase - and came with several of the family that rotated through from time to time. Uncles, aunts, cousins, they came and went with family business. Rusalka found herself never alone, but the only permanent resident - and at the moment, stretched out on the couch staring out the window. Shorts, t-shirt, she's generally ignoring the cool evening; it's remarkably nice weather for the time of day. That's supposed to change, though. Head tilted, her hand stretches out at the various buildings decked out in holiday colors, blue eyes staring between her fingers at the festive view.

Christmas in the United States. Of course, they celebrated early - or late, depending on how you thought of the calendar - compared to her homeland, but she'd gotten used to it last year. Then again, last year had been a lot less cheerful, with little to celebrate anyway. Fresh off the boat from Sokovia and new to the country, just starting college, her best friend missing for months, and a focus on life that had been so small.

Today? So much has changed in less than that year. The good, and the bad. The world expanding so much more than she'd ever thought possible, even for a country girl from rural Sokovia. Apprenticed to Tony Stark. An agent of SHIELD. Her best friend returned. New friends made, and new enemies.

Fighting Hydra-backed prototype superweapons all the way back to her homeland. Tracking down spies within SHIELD…if they exist. Attempted nuclear terrorists…and the first time she'd taken a life. And now metahuman terrorists of some kind, the gala bombing especially personal since she'd been there with Sloane.

It was a world that felt as if it were in the palm of her hand, yet splintering and fragmenting like an egg. How to put it back together? Sally's fingers clench, blocking the view of the New York skyline, before she sighs. Philosophy is a subject that is low on her list of interests; she'd much rather be behind the wheel playing petrol alchemist letting the howl of the engine drown out such concerns. She doesn't know how to cure the problems of the world; and yet all her work at SHIELD keeps showing more and more of them.

Time to think of something else, she decides while sitting up. If she can't have speed, she can check up on things that need it. The chronometer on her wrist, a gift from Stark, springs its holograms to life. Delivery to the SHIELD hangar for the Guardians, one literal pallet of girl scout cookies for the group, and a leather beanbag sized to fit the resident raccoon - with, of course, heating, massage, and other such functions. It should just fit perfectly in Cap's old chair, Sally thinks with a grin. Whether or not he keeps that for Christmas, well…she figured her other present is cutting him some slack and not turning him in.

Yet.

For Jessica…it had been a hard choice. Something meaningful, but for someone in such a profession? She'll probably never have time to read them anyway, but a couple first-editions of Sherlock Holmes might be nice to have around the office, even just for inspiration. Mr. Stane's cigars - and the little piece of coal she'd included for being naughty enough to smoke such things at his age - were easy; she'd grown up around the same brands with an equally naughty uncle. Ms. Potts, meanwhile, already had her samovar set…but one could never have enough tea glass holders. Fortunately a silversmith back home had taken care of such needs…

And then there was Tony Stark. A man even more frustrating than it might seem on the face, just what do you buy the man who could build what he wanted - or for that matter, buy the entire store from where your gift idea rang? Christmas was only a few days away, but…she'd think of something.

Which led to the last ones on her list, the most important as far as she'd cared. Those who'd shaped her life the most lately, those she'd permitted herself to truly take in. That was simple - family celebrated together. Phil, Isa, and Sloane would all find first class tickets for a short stay over the Sokovian holiday on the 7th, celebrating Christmas at a proper time like proper people.

Sally looks back across the room, walking to the balcony and feeling the cold air outside against her legs. Toes clench on the carpet, and she watches the traffic outside cross the bridge in its meandering way. Thoughts turn once more to the world outside as she does, and that feeling of things crumbling. It's a bad omen, perhaps.

"Afraid of the boar, pup? You've small fangs, true, but is that all you have?"

"Who's there?!" The girl's voice - did she hear it? or not? - comes from nowhere, and whirling around…shows an empty room. Startled, breathing deeply in surprise, she realizes she's still alone in the room. In her mind, though…

For my old friend to have such a descendant, really. Then again, at your age she thought the same way. I suppose you'll need my wisdom too, heh heh.

Sally takes a long, deep breath, remembering what her great grandmother had said before she'd returned home. 'Wherever Polyuchyn is, so is she.' The little pouch she wears, the grain inside it, certainly fits the bill. Well. How did a wolf deal with a problem the size of a herd of boars? One by one…with a pack of its own.

Something she should have realized earlier, she chides herself. Even proper motorsports, for all the focus on the driver, still has a team of its own. And her great-grandmother was hardly a superhero on her own for all those years. Maybe her fangs are as small as her hands, but she can hold this one small part of the world together - and she quirks half a frown as she glances at the chronometer on her wrist and its digitally stored lists. It's a realization of just how many people she has to help push on the rest of the world.

Sally grins, then turns to fetch her car keys from the rack and her favorite t-straps. A quick yell to the other occupant of the apartment before she dashes out to the elevator. "Uncle Yuriy, I'm going out for a bit. Back in an hour!" Time to get her head properly clear…and take a moment to appreciate the gift she'd been given as well, as the Lotus' engine snarls to life downstairs.

Garage parking for an apartment in New York City? The best present ever.

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