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Return of the Past

Dirge sat in his favorite chair, half paying attention to the television in front of him and occasionally tapping his fingers on the arm rest. What was on the box didn’t matter much to him; it was almost always the same mindless crap anyway and the phone call he was anxiously waiting for hadn’t come in yet and that bothered him. He was so wrapped up in his own thoughts that he didn’t even hear his lovely fiancée, Carolyn, walk into the room. She sauntered up behind him and wrapped her arms around his neck, resting her head on his massive right shoulder and kissing him lightly on the cheek. He looked over his shoulder at her but barely reacted to her arrival. She knew this signaled that something was bothering him, he usually reacted with some gesture of affection at her presence and this time he just sat and tapped his fingers against the arm of his chair. She walked around the chair and sat across his lap, her long and lovely legs hanging over his left thigh as she laid her head on his shoulder again and looked up at his eyes. They were dark and clouded over with intense concern…not a good concern either.

Carolyn: What’s the matter hon ? You look like your best friend just died.

He didn’t immediately react; he just tapped his fingers on the chair more. After sitting in silence for a few more seconds he finally let out a loud sigh and responded to her.

Dirge: The phone call I’ve been waiting for from Erik’s naturalization agent hasn’t come yet. It was due an hour and a half ago. He’s normally very prompt. I don’t like what this implies.

She sat silently, head on his shoulder, considering the best way to react to the statement. She could tell by the tenseness in his muscles that it was bothering him a lot. Dirge rarely ever let anything bother him to any degree, but where Erik was concerned he got extremely protective. Carolyn often looked back on the course of their relationship with the young Russian, appreciating it for the oddity that it was. Dirge really didn’t like too many people and he let even fewer people get to him on any emotional level, but Erik was different. Although Dirge’s initial reaction to the news that he’d be pairing with the Russian was a disdainful scoff at his former boss, once the two men met and became an official team it was obvious that there was something special between them. The two just connected on a level that few ever connected on. Although Dirge was only barely thirty and Erik barely twenty-five Dirge had always treated him like a little brother, almost like a son. Where Erik was concerned Dirge took matters very seriously.

Carolyn: He’s a bureaucrat dear; you know that they get tangled up in “Official business”. He’ll call, he always does. It’ll all be fine. Erik will be a citizen in no time.

Dirge growled to himself, his frustration at being made to wait for something he considered so important clearly wearing on him. He was not the kind of man who was used to waiting for things and it annoyed him when he had to. Especially this.

Dirge: We don’t need this distraction now. It’s not good for Erik or you to have to deal with this.

Carolyn: What about you ? You have concerns too. You just signed to Crimson Mask, made your debut and have your first singles match on the next show. Isn’t that a lot to be concerned with ?

Dirge snorted contemptuously, the thought of slamming his taped fists off the rookie stooge’s face bringing him a minute degree of pleasure to brighten up his dreary situation. It amused him that he was paired off with this kid, this mouthy and naïve little punk for his first match. Even with the distraction of Erik’s naturalization issues he still gained some enjoyment from what was to come. He knew that the kid would be no more than a warm up for him. He’d faced better before, but if he had to demolish this kid to get his hands on “Geriatric” John Patrick he would do just that. They might want him to sell as the “kinder and gentler” him, but “gentle” was not something he was every good at where his career was concerned. He was just too talented at hurting people. This kid wouldn’t cause him any problems.

Dirge: Not really. Erik and you are my immediate concerns. Shio Corin is no more than a warm up. I’ll have to unwrap and clean his blood off my hands after the match is over, but I don’t expect any trouble with him. That is barring any interference by John Patrick and his cronies. I know he’s stewing something up in that weasel brain he has rolling around between his ears. Although John is a gutless coward he’s a smart gutless coward. We both know he doctored the paperwork to that match he stole at the Pay Per View and he also knows that I’ll find it and make him eat it. Both figuratively and literally. Speaking of Erik, where is he ? He hasn’t gotten into the lawn equipment again has he ? The last time he got a hold of the lawn tractor it took me weeks to get those dirt figure eights he did fixed. He also ruined a perfectly good gym bag when he ran over it.

Carolyn: I know that. He’s apologized a million times for that too. I thought it was cute; it’s too bad you didn’t get any pictures.

He smirked in spite of his mood, the image of Erik tearing around the lawn providing amusement where very little had any reason to exist. He looked at the phone once again and it reinvigorated his irritation. If not for the match on Tuesday to vent his aggravation in he’d certainly be a lot more wound up about it. As he saw it, after he got to smash his fist into the kid’s skull a few times he’d probably feel better. Thus far the boy hadn’t said anything, which based on what he’d said before to others was probably a blessing. He was about as exciting and pleasant to listen to as John Patrick was when he smirked and blabbed about how brilliant he was…and that wasn’t saying much. Dirge gently patted Carolyn on her thigh and smiled at her. She stood up and walked toward the front room, disappearing from view as she turned the corner. He stood up and stretched, thankful that they hadn’t had any visits from the Russian Federal Police in the last few months. Perhaps they had finally given up the ghost and decided to let Erik live his life an America, he had asylum and nearly had his citizenship, maybe to them it was no longer worth it to try and force the issue. They hadn’t given up on their former star athlete and former Spetznaz member when he went AWOL with Dirge, hounding them for two years after the fact, even after he’d been granted his asylum. Things had been quiet for almost a year, no sight of any of them. He was happy about that, they were annoying beyond reason. Thankfully things had been quiet lately.

Then he heard the knocking on the door.

Dirge: Cary, could you see who that is please ?

She poked her head around the wall and smiled to him then walked towards the door. She pulled it open and stood back as two men in dark suits stepped forward, one of him placing his hand on the door and holding it open. Both of the men were taller than six feet, perhaps six- three or six- four each and both looking like they weighed about two- forty. Behind them were two other men, larger than the first two. They both stood with their arms folded across their chests and stone faces. Carolyn backed up a step before asking them what they were after. The one on the left looked down at him and responded in a flat voice with a thick Russian accent.

Russian 1:We are here for the one you call Erik Drugonov. Hand him over to us now.

She reacts by just looking at the man, not sure of how to react. He glowers down at her but doesn’t speak any further. Finally she gets past her shock and responds, as she does so Dirge walks up beside her and stands glaring down at them.

Carolyn: What do you want with Erik ? He’s got asylum and is close to getting his citizenship. You’re not welcome here, leave immediately.

The first Russian looks down at her and goes to move forward and into the house but doesn’t get far as Dirge thrusts his arm across the door and blocks him. He looks at Dirge but doesn’t react to it. Carolyn takes two steps back and moves towards the steps, yelling out a warning to Erik. The first one doesn’t make any move but raises his arms and waves it forward, causing the other two to step forward. The second Russian steps past Dirge to catch Carolyn before she can warn Erik.

Russian 1: We do not care for your rules. He is Russian soldier and will come home.

Dirge: Actually he was a Russian soldier, now he’s almost an American citizen. What’s you’re doing now amounts to kidnapping, call off your apes and get the hell off my property.

The Russian just looks at Dirge and a smirk comes across his face. Out of nowhere a stun baton appears and he slams it into Dirge’s side. The move staggers him as the surge of electricity shoots through his body and short circuits his nervous system. The shock doesn’t drop him to his knees, much to the Russian’s shock…but it does cause him to have to grip the door handle to steady himself. He glares up at the Russian definitely and spits on him, cursing him in broken Russian. Behind him Carolyn runs to the end of the steps and yells up to Erik, warning him about who’s there. Movement is heard upstairs as the sounds of a weight set being returned to its cradle come down through the floor. The sound of feet hit the floor followed by rapid steps. As Erik appears at the top of the steps the second Russian catches up to her and clamps a hand down on her shoulder. She whirls and drives her fist straight into his breadbasket, causing his grip to release and him to double over in pain. Carolyn follows it up with a stiff shot to his jaw, snapping his head back. Although she’s not a large woman it shows that she’s been trained by Dirge, Erik and some of their wrestler friends. Erik takes two steps down the stairs, his face turning red with rage. Dirge looks at the first Russian with a scowl, hostility and anger all over his face.

Dirge: Get your goddamned hands off of her asshole or I’ll tear your throat out with my hands and you’d better call off your ape because if he hurts Carolyn things are going to get very ugly around here.

The Russian looked down at Dirge and cracked him with the stun baton again, causing him to stagger backwards. The second Russian grabs Carolyn again, this time right in front of Erik, who had made it to the bottom of the stairs. He growls something at the Russian but doesn’t move. Carolyn turns on the Russian and lashes out at him, attempting to hit him again. This attempted strike is blocked with one arm, the Russian using the other arm to crack her across the mouth with a vicious backhand, spinning her around and dropping her to the floor unconscious. Both Erik and Dirge see it and their faces flush an extremely deep crimson.

Dirge: You’re in deep shit now. The only thing worse than attacking me to Erik is attacking her…you’d better run as fast as you can or you might not walk out of here at all.

Although the words came from his mouth silently they resonated like a thunderclap, all four Russian’s looking towards the former Russian shock trooper. The site that greets them is not pretty as Erik’s face is contorted into an insane look of rage, his face almost purple in color. He bellows a thunderous cry in Russian that causes all four of the other Russians to turn totally pale. Unfortunately for them they never get the chance to react as Erik comes flying off of the stairs like a tornado. He grabs the one that struck Carolyn around the neck, wrapping his arm around the man’s neck in a hold that almost resembles a headlock. As he grabs the man he yanks upward, putting immense pressure on the man’s neck while at the same time driving his fist up and under the gap where the man’s lower ribs meet. Everyone hears two distinct sounds, one a loud crack as the man’s neck snaps and the other as something inside of him collapses under the force of the blow. Erik wastes no time, releasing the body without a second thought and going after the next nearest man. The two larger men step into the house and flank him, both taking up fighting stances. Erik stands totally still, looking at both with absolute hatred in his face.

Dirge: Call off your dogs. He’s already taken one out and I guarantee that those two are going to be two and three if this persists.

The head Russian looks down and him and raises the stun baton again to strike. The outcome is different this time as he brings it down only to have Dirge grab his arm, reverse the weapon and slam it straight into his solar plexus followed by a crushing uppercut to his jaw. The Russian’s eyes go wide as the voltage slams into his nervous system and short it out and then go cloudy as Dirge’s uppercut crushes his jaw, instantly knocking him out. The remaining two look over as they hear their unconscious comrade hit the floor. They look at Erik and Dirge and put their hands up, grabbing the possibly dead agent and walking to the door, where they grab the unconscious one and haul him up. The two men pull the other two out the door, right before they get to their car one turns around, inadvertently dropping the unconscious one face down on the driveway as he does so. He looks at Dirge and then at Erik.

Russian 4: We will be back for you. You are not escaped from us yet Erik Dragonovich. You will be come back to mother Russia with us, this I promise.

Erik looks at the man, his face still extremely red. His response comes out almost in a hiss, but cold and almost relaxed.

Erik: Any Russian agents who come here are my enemies and will be treated as them. You hurt my family…I kill you on sight. Leave and never return. Tell your masters to forget I exist. I am no longer Russian…I am American. This is Erik’s home now. Leave and never return.

The Russian looks at him and says something in Russian, to which Erik responds with something that sounds even nastier. The Russian scowls at him and points to Carolyn, who is still unconscious on the floor. He changes his fingers to thumbs up and then turns it down with a sick smile. Erik’s face flushes purple and he rushes forward, barely restrained by Dirge. As the man steps into his car Erik yells something at him in Russian…something that sounds very much like one would think that a death threat should sound in that language. The two remaining Russians close their doors and the car’s engine roars to life. As the car pulls away Dirge lets Erik go and walks over to Carolyn. He bends over her and then looks at Erik with a concerned expression.

Dirge: Come on, we have to get her to a hospital. He might have broken her jaw with that backhand and she should have regained consciousness by now.

Erik slowly turns and walks over to where Dirge is crouched down next to her and does the same. He laces his arms under her body and gently lifts her up, the look on his face an odd dichotomy of loving concern and rabid hatred. As he does so the scene faded to black.