Zipper’s i must break you


Varya couldn't possibly miss all the bears in the room. There were so many more than she thought, but she only had a passing moment to look out for Locke. She also could not miss the way Levka looked at the biggest--metaphorically biggest--bear in the room.

Varya was not a heavy drinker by any means, but some Russian instinct in her told her that this called for something bracing. Something vodka. Finding her sire, she lured him to off to one side with her offering, taking a drink and asking in their shared tongue, "That is the other king?"
The whole thing had him madder than he'd expected to be tonight, if he was honest with himself. Which he often was. All his friends he'd had here the last time? Gone. Cheetah, coyote, wolf, whatever--all their spaces had been filled in by other people, other bodies he didn't care for as much. The crowd just mostly disappointed him, with a few notable exceptions.

And of course there was another person who was here yet again that he would have loved to never see again. Worse yet, seem Cliff had finally grown out of his own league.

Levka hated every single thing about it. He didn't even care about the other bears who had come here--they had all chosen their path so to hell with the whole lot of them, he didn't care. He had the ones who mattered.

And yet...

Varya was able to lure him quite easily, as she was the one person in the room that seemed able to distract him from himself. The vodka--straight at the moment--was not his preference, but it suited the moment. The sort of thing he tended to drink when he was torturing himself. A good call.

"Yes," he told her quietly, heatedly when they were tucked away. He kept looking over to keep eyes on the diminutive man.

these two fools speak russian to each other unless otherwise indicated, sluggy and i just bein LAZY in favor of being quicker :3

It was easy enough to read the anger in every long line of Levka's body, a quiet, icy thing. Crawled like a glacier beneath his skin, but felt like it could burst into a volcano with the right--or wrong--move.

Varya remembered her talk with Locke, about the two different groups between the canyon and the camp. She was relieved to have not yet asked her sire about Locke's request to go for breakfast at Espy's restaurant. Seeing him now, it was clear it would not go over well.

A hard look at the man Levka was trying to burn a hole through with his eyes. He did not look... bad, but the fact that every single person here, unassuming as they could be, housed an animal beneath their flesh was a testament to duality.

"He is small." Varya noted, breath rippling the vodka in her glass as it was raised to her lips. She'd not been such a candid creature before she was turned and the judgement, need to spit a little acid on her king's behalf, surprised her. But it was a little easier in Russian. "What has he done?"
That twitched a smile on him. Yes, small. Not that Levka was under any illusion that size meant anything in the end--that small man housed a powerful kodiak, after all--but it was nice to hear Varya say these sorts of things. He took a drink and killed the smile with a grimace, never fond of the burn.

Of course his newest friend would want to know what had happened. He felt no need to pad it. "He betrayed me and many of his friends. Left us without warning to chase the tail of someone even worse than him."

Time healed all wounds, they said, but for Levka it seemed to just condense the offense to something very simple.
Varya had no way of verifying, so she would simply take her king’s word. She was not of the mind or naivety to believe his telling wholesale. Not for any dishonesty on his part, but because she’d spent enough time with him to know that the avenues of his mind were strange, however beloved the man was.

Tonight, however, was not the time for picking things apart and combing through the fine details. The bottom line was that she hated to hear he was hurt. "And what will you do about it?"

Because there was no chance they would leave tonight without something happening, and Varya needed to know in order to support him.
The fact that she did not question, did not need the whole backstory, simply took what he said and seemed to hold it close to her own soul... well, there was a reason he felt very self-assured around Varya. He had nearly eaten her and yet she trusted him in so many ways. Her sense of loyalty was the sort that made sense to him, and in return his loyalty to her grew all the time. No one else could have her, back off.

He looked grimly across the space as Varya asked her pointed question.

"I ought to rip his head off," he said, set in a frown. "But he is Esperanza's friend and I am afraid she would never forgive me."

Espy, sweet as she was, would never see Cliff's betrayal for what it was. How she could after they'd left Lee to suffer, he didn't know, wouldn't pretend to know, but Espy was... much different. Even Levka knew that. And he didn't have it in his heart to hate her for it.
Aha, another piece of the puzzle. Esperanza was dear to Varya, and likely the moral center of the sleuth along with Lydus. Levka was all the heart, but if Espy still called the betrayer friend then there was more to the story.

She would not say so, it wasn’t yet her battle. It was a strange moment then. She’d not seen the change in herself now. When had she become so hard? The timid girl of earlier that year seemed a stranger even to herself.

Although the young girlish part of her thought it was... a little sad! She’d been speaking to Locke and thought he was very nice.

"No." She agreed. Espy would look sad and... God. When that happened, it was kind of the worst. "But..." She went on, musing into her vodka. "We are at a fight club."
Varya was both a pain in his side and an absolute enabler. Both were very motivating, and at the moment she had him chuckling into his drink. Pacing himself through the glass, not sipping at it but also not downing it like he would need another one in five seconds. If he was going to murder Cliff at any point in his life he would like to do it sober so that he could enjoy it. Make the consequences worth it.

"Perhaps I just drag him into the ring and show his bears why they are so very wrong."

Furious musing, something he wasn't sure if he had it in him to follow through on or not. Maybe if this place were not special to him in a way, if he weren't so keen to be welcome back in the future. But upsetting the owner by making it into his own personal grudge match?

They had not last time. They had both fought better people.
A chuckle was good, better than the frigid anger. Not that it was gone but... maybe... focused? It remained to be seen.

Her bear liked that possibility. Of course, once Levka did that, it would all fall into place: the other bears would join Cobalt Ridge, and harmony would be created.

The human knew this was stupid—an impossibility, perhaps, but a fight still seemed like a good idea. Work out some aggression! It was too complex and incomplete for her to know how poorly it could go.

And so the young girl reached out to put a hand on her sire’s shoulder, give him a solid grip and shake a little. "Ahhhh, if they have not seen by now then they are lost." She said with Russian cheer, humor black but delivered with a smile and a dismissive wave. Her bear lumbered forward, ready to bully some comfort into the man. "But whichever you choose, I will be right behind you." What could she do that wasn’t absolutely risky? Varya didn’t know, but the sentiment was in absolute earnest.
It was a similar thought to his own: they were already lost causes. But he would love to rub their faces in it. Cliff was a man with no sense of the greater good. He thought of himself, his need for friends, and so he had surrounded himself with bears who thought the same. Levka did not care for any of them enough to save them from themselves. Cliff would have to stop existing, first.

Maybe someday. Levka could daydream about tonight, but his logic bartered with more caution than that. But only barely.

He reached to take the back of her neck gently in his free hand, gave Varya a little jostle. "Your loyalty is your goodness, Varya. I am honored to have you with me and know you will continue to be."

Could he imagine siccing her on Natasha? Maybe someday, when Varya was not at such great risk for losing control of herself.
Hand moving from his shoulder to the forearm of the one braced against her neck, she grinned, a bit of the shy girl returning at the praise. If she could’ve, she would’ve expressed exactly why he deserved that loyalty—he lifted her from the hell that was a power she didn’t understand and gave a very lonely girl a family. There was nothing greater—but all of those words fled her.

Maybe one day she’d manage to tell him, but not tonight, in the middle of a grungy crowded bar. She popped back her drink and decided it was a fine time to excuse herself before she got too mushy on the basis of getting more.

"It is nothing. Do not drown me again and maybe I will find you a nice home when you are old and your back is bent double." she said with another dismissive wave as she stood. "My old boss is here, I am going to go say hello and show off my new pelt."

Metaphorically, of course. Still she grinned, bright and proud.

"Please no fighting outside of the ring."
He gave her an affronted I never drowned you! look, in spite of having been there when he'd done it. Or maybe it was more offense at the idea of being old and in need of her care. He planned on neither. Still, her allegedy longevity as his friend was warming, more than the vodka he still drank from. He grinned, she grinned, and he let her go off, certain to keep an eye on her, much as she would him.

"You either," he called to her, but let her slip away.

Maybe he needed to go say hello to Frank. Or go nose his way into the hyena business--he liked a couple of those. Either way, he knew he needed at least a few distractions. Who knew how tonight would shape up.
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