Author: Flying Toe Shoes
Genre: Angst, drama
Pairing: Anatoly/Svetlana, Anatoly/Florence
Disclaimer: Still poor with medical bills, don't sue. Based off of characterizations and history from War Is Coming on Insanejournal. What happened in Bangkok via Svetlana. Pulled from another rendition of Deal No Deal for a later conversation.
When Svetlana had received the call from Molokov that she was being granted a travel visa to go to Bangkok, she had known that something was up. Just because she kept to herself didn't mean that she was a fool. Still, she had taken it because it meant she would get to see Anatoly, talk to him. Molokov had said that her husband had gotten in touch with him, stating he was considering returning home and that he just wanted to speak to Svetlana. And while she knew deep down that this was a lie, she had allowed herself to hope that maybe Anatoly had finally found himself, remembered the family he had left behind the year before. Or more like, had been leaving since meeting Alexander Molokov.
As such, the petite blond left her two daughters with her parents as Molokov knew that, given the opportunity, Svetlana would have left with them. Perhaps to England with Anatoly if he even wanted them. But no, that option wasn't given to Svetlana who instead was on her own. As she had been for five years, and nineteen years before meeting the man who got beneath all of her defenses and made her love him and trust. The man she had allowed to take care of her when needed.
The flight was long and having a KGB handler was ridiculous. Svetlana wasn't going to run without her children and she wasn't the type to seek help from others. Thus, a flight that would have been long anyway was also tense. Her handler tried making conversation at first, but soon realized that all he would get were one word answers if anything. There was a reason Svetlana was known as an ice queen, after all. Still, the plan ride did give her time to think. Remember. As if she ever forgot, but raising two daughters on her own and dealing with public scrutiny also gave her a distraction. Bun on a twelve hour flight, there wasn't much else to do.
Thirteen years of her life had been spent tied to Anatoly. A chance meeting in a park. The second meeting in the emergency room and realizing maybe they were meant to be more than a one time encounter. The friendship formed and Svetlana's reluctance to allow him to get close to her. Afraid of her feelings. Funny how far they had come and how their roles had reversed.
For eight years, they had been happy. Helped the other grow. Overcome the obstacles that family and former girlfriends and people in general had tired to throw at them. And then, when she had finally been comfortable with opening up, Anatoly began to shut her out. It had been so gradual and neither had seen it. Even when Svetlana had, it had been too late.
Arriving in a place like Bangkok had indeed been a culture shock. Svetlana had never been out of Russia, after all. So while reporters tried to get a quote from the rejected wife of the World Champion, to see her reasoning for coming to this match, Svetlana gave the typical vague responses she was known for, even as references to an interview were mentioned. Like why had Anatoly stormed out when she had been mentioned. If they had been trying to rattle her, they were failing. Once she managed to escape the vultures and get to her room at the Dusit Thani, Svetlana lowered her guard. She was alone, at least for now. And it hurt. The comments on the woman Anatoly had left her for. But had he really? He had never filed for divorce in the year he had been gone, making this all the more confusing.
It was Molokov's visit to her room that verified what she had known subconsciously all along. This was a set up. Anatoly hadn't mentioned wanting to come home. He probably didn't know she was coming until Molokov verified it. And the bastard who had turned her husband into the chess playing machine he was now wanted her to help get him back to the Soviet Union. Typical. Molokov more or less verified the suspicions she'd had for five years. Anatoly had been kept from her because she could make him listen. But didn't he see? Because of that, Anatoly didn't listen to her. Or if he did, he had a funny way of showing it.
But then he threw her daughters into it. Because as hurt as she was, Svetlana would have wanted Anatoly happy, to just give her a final answer. To try and appeal to him but let him make his own decision. Threatened her daughters though? Svetlana's hands were tied. And it was the one thing that would break through the ice exterior, no matter what. Left alone again, Svetlana sank onto the bed, holding her head in her hands. She had to get through to Anatoly now. She didn't care about being given the chance to be where ever she wanted. Even with the distance, the betrayal and broken promises, Svetlana wanted to be with Anatoly. That was home and safety. Or it had been and she had to believe it could be again. But how could she reach that part of him again?
For two days, Svetlana thought. Remembered. She thought of the awkward man Anatoly had been. How different he had been from anyone else she had met. The conversations through moves on a chess board, comments that made no sense to anyone yet they could always follow along. No one understood Svetlana the way Anatoly did and no one understood him the way Svetlana did. Did that hold true now, though? She didn't know and it scared her. Because he knew everything that could break her. And so she stalled. No matter how much she wanted to see him, to see if they could find that understanding between them even now, she was afraid. Because she didn't know what it would do to her if they had lost that completely.
But she couldn't hide forever. The well being of her daughters rested on the conversation Molokov wanted her to have with her husband. And by that time, she had seen the interview between Anatoly and Trumper, and his reaction to her and the girls being brought up gave her hope, small though it may be. It had been a mutual decision that he keep the three out of discussions with the media to protect them, their privacy. She knew knew some saw it as embarrassment, but Svetlana knew Anatoly. That anger came from a desire to protect. Even when the woman he was staying with was brought up, it was a role, bravado and Anatoly's dislike of smug arrogance that radiated from Trumper. But there was guilt upon seeing the family video from two years pervious, it made him lose his composure and leave. No one else would understand what it truly meant, but Svetlana did. And while she wondered just how Trumper had gotten that video and knowing she was another pawn for Molokov, Anatoly's reactions gave her hope that maybe she could reach her husband after all. The question was where. Svetlana wanted neutral ground, where both would feel comfortable, but without the cultures who were waiting for the scent of blood. Waiting for the next big scandal.
Knowing Anatoly's routine before a match and having learned Molokov's with Viigand, Svetlana found a park that was secluded enough that they wouldn't be disturbed by meddlesome handlers or reporters. As Molokov had given Svetlana the room number Anatoly was staying in at the Oriental, the blond sent a message to her husband with the location and time to meet up. When that time came, Svetlana went to the park, standing on a bridge and waited. Worried Anatoly might not show. Undoubtedly, Molokov wished her to cause a commotion, a distraction, but while he was forcing her hand in what to say, it would be on her own terms.
Hearing her name, Svetlana straightened and turned, her breath catching as she looked at the man before her. It was the past repeating, the two meeting in secret because of overbearing brothers and psychotic ex-girlfriends. Shaking herself from the moment of silence, Svetlana gave a small smile.
"Anatoly, you look well."
She wanted to hug him as she had after his first match away, when the changed hadn't started, but she restrained herself because of the distance that had grown between them even as her feelings remained as strong as they had been before fame and pride claimed Anatoly.
"As do you."
Of course she did. Even though Anatoly was the only one alive she felt comfortable with seeing her vulnerable, Svetlana had made certain she showed no weakness. Because until she knew where they stood, she had to be strong, even while terrified. There was so much she want to say, to ask. But even the most simple of questions could open the door for a conversation that would distract from the mission she had to complete. She had to implore him to remember, to care and feel. The lives of their daughters were at stake.
"I trust you are well and coping with the cultural differences between here and Moscow?"
And apparently Anatoly was trying to fill the distance between them with small talk. They had never had issue with silence before, able to communicate in it and now..? While Svetlana had debated asking they play chess as it always broke the ice for difficult conversations, she had decided against it. Too much could go wrong with that. Still, his question gave her an opening on what to say.
"I am, yes. Mostly I miss the girls."
And there was the slightest flicker of... something at the mention of Fayina and Jelena. More hope that they could work through this.
"I can imagine. I miss them as well..."
People could say what they wanted in regards to Anatoly as a husband, but even as he strayed from Svetlana, he had always been a good father to their daughters when he was home.
"They miss you, too. I miss you." And there was the crack in the armor, showing the man Svetlana had fallen in love with still existed, and she latched onto that. "You can see them again, be there from them. Lose, give them no reason to use you. What good is a title if you don't have your family? Come home, Anatoly..."
Resisting the urge to take his hand as she saw him struggling with emotions he seemed to have buried, Svetlana pressed forward.
"What's the point of dreams and ambition if you can't share them? Isn't that what you taught me? You're the one who told me it was okay to trust, to dream and I did. We had dreams together but this is destroying them..."
Apparently that was the wrong thing to say, as Anatoly finally decided to speak up.
"Svetlana, this is who I am. I'm a chess player, it's what I think, breathe."
And it was the fight that had occurred before Merano, Svetlana had tried to talk to him, make him feel and he had thought her trying to ruin him. At least he hadn't responded with anger this time, but she was still hurt, still upset.
"Oh yes, the great Anatoly Sergievsky. All he cares about is the game! Five years this has been who you said you'd be because of that rat bastard. But what about before then?! You aren't happy because you know you're hiding behind a lie. And what happens when it's done? You'll be where you were before!"
Running her fingers through her hair, Svetlana looked at Anatoly, the guilt evident on his face. This right here was why Molokov had kept them separated. Because she could get through to him. Taking a breath to calm down, Svetlana closed her eyes as Anatoly asked one question.
Shaking her head, the blond opened her eyes and looked at Anatoly.
"Why am I here? Because I am nothing but a pawn to Molokov. Would I have asked you to come home if given the chance? Of course. I love you. I miss you. The girls and I, we need you."
Svetlana had wanted to avoid telling him about the threat but she had to. She would always be honest with her husband.
"Because Molokov made it clear that the girls would be harmed if you do not lose and come home."
Taking his hands, Svetlana looked up at her husband, dropping her defenses.
"Please, Toly... you and I both know he doesn't make idle threats... if you don't care about me anymore, fine, but the girls..."
Wrapping her arms around herself as Anatoly pulled his hands free, Svetlana watched as he paced in thought. She thought she had seen him react to the comment about not caring about her but she was tired of getting her hopes up.
"I should get back before my absence is noticed..."
Scoffing at the comment, Svetlana just nodded, waving him off.
"No, go. Be happy. That's all I've ever wanted for you."
And it was true. Even if it broke her heart. Noticing Anatoly falter, Svetlana turned her back to him so he wouldn't see that she was crushed by this. True, she didn't know what he would do yet, but she hadn't realized how far they had grown apart. Even when she had considered leaving, she hadn't, because she believed in them, their connection. Because she loved him and would never love or trust anyone as she did Anatoly. And now she didn't know what would happen. Would he lose and save his family? Or would he leave them forever to the dogs because he cared for nothing but chess?
By the time she left, it was getting dark out. Oh, Molokov would be angry that she had gone off on her own, but he still had power over her so long as Fayina and Jelena were in Moscow. Though the fact that he was waiting in her room was annoying. At least she hadn't dropped her defenses so he wouldn't see the pain she was hiding.
"Ah, my dear, I was worried you had decided to run."
"You know I would never leave my daughters behind. So the real reason you are here is to see if I have spoken to Anatoly."
Chuckling, Molokov just nodded.
"You always were observant. So, have you? It seems he disappeared after his practice for a few hours. I do hope you two were able to reconnect."
"Don't try to pretend you care. We spoke. Whatever he does now is his own decision. Now kindly get out of my room."
Keeping a steady gaze on Molokov until he left, Svetlana leaned against the door and closed her eyes. The odds continued piling up and she had no one to turn to this time.
The days spent in Bangkok were a blur as Svetlana refused to sleep, worried, stressed. She avoided the reporters, never answered the man assigned to keep an eye on her. All she did was focus on the matches. They were getting closer, but the matches Anatoly had lost had been thrown. Still, currently it was 5-3 in favor of Anatoly and Svetlana was getting anxious. She knew it couldn't appear deliberate and he had been 3-0 before their talk, so it was a ploy. Still, she hated the uncertainty.
Following his latest loss, Svetlana made her way through the people to where she had seen Anatoly practicing all the while avoiding Molokov. And it was just as she thought, he was there. Some might think he was practicing, but she could see it was him cleansing his mind. It was something both of them did, something she had taught him. Still, she was taken back to their games in the park thirteen years ago, how easily he had picked it up, how fast he grew because he was a strategist, had an analytical mind and was observant, yet even so, he had always fallen for her traps. How they had learned together, grew and got to know the other. Their foundation. She stayed there for an hour and was about to go up to him when a brunette did instead. Right. Florence. The woman Svetlana went out of her way to avoid. She had never seen them interact but there they were.
The unsettling thing was the other woman's resemblance to Katya, Anatoly's ex-girlfriend. The woman he had left because they had no connection, no foundation. And seeing the two interact? It was painful. Not because they were in love, but because they weren't. Svetlana could always read people and while the two looked to think they were in love, that there was a connection, there wasn't. Anatoly had left her behind for a meaningless relationship so he could hide behind his chess board. Trembling in anger, Svetlana left, heading back to her room. Did Anatoly see? Did he care? If he won, it was all over for her. It could be swift, the next game could decide the fate of her and her daughters. Or it could last three games. All she knew was that she wouldn't sleep until this was all over. How could she with everything hanging on this match?
If Molokov and her handler noticed Svetlana growing distant, nothing was said on it. Then again, what did either of them care beyond what she could do to get Anatoly to come home? There was much speculation amongst commentators. How Anatoly had started off strongly yet was now distracted, troubled. He had lost three games in a row and now it was up in the air. Would he pull through and win despite Viigand's four wins, or would the match be even closer. Svetlana didn't know, but the uncertainty was nerve wracking.
It was before the match when the man she had been avoiding showed up as she went to her seat.
"Truly an inspiring match, wouldn't you say?"
"Inspiring if you enjoy threats and blackmail."
Voice controlled, Svetlana shot Molokov a dark look before turning her attention to the chess board, sighing in annoyance as she felt the man grip her shoulder.
"Yes, I do hope for your sake Anatoly loses these next two matches. It would be a shame not to have you return with us to Russia."
And that caught Svetlana's attention. Head snapping to the side, the blond's voice was terse but quiet.
"That wasn't part of--"
"Our agreement? Ah my sweet Svetlana, I said it would be tough for you and your children. I imagine growing up without their mother would be quite tough. There are so many things that could happen after all."
Feeling cold, Svetlana shrugged her shoulder free, staring straight ahead. She needed to talk to Anatoly. She wasn't dying in Bangkok. Because dying was the only way to keep her from returning to her children. The question was how., when. Leaving now would alert Molokov and Anatoly would undoubtedly be with Florence. Yet this match could spell her future or her lack there of. Noting Molokov's disappearance, Svetlana was about to leave her seat to try and talk to her husband, even if she had to see him with Florence, but then the Arbiter made his appearance. She was stuck.
The match seemed to be endless, dragging on. If the match was actually that long, Svetlana wasn't certain, but it felt that long. Once Viigand put Anatoly into checkmate, Svetlana let out a breath she hadn't realized she'd been holding. Noticing the look Molokov sent her yet ignoring it, the blond lost herself in the spectators to find Anatoly. She searched for an hour, then eventually gave up. She didn't know the area well enough. She wanted to talk to Anatoly that night, because she was worried, but getting herself in trouble because she didn't know the area was ridiculous. Sos he left another note for Anatoly to meet her in the morning before the afternoon game. She needed to know so she could plan. It was going to be another sleepless night, but what could she expect given the latest threat?
Losing her handler the following morning was more difficult this time around but she still managed to do so and arrive at the meeting spot early. Hopefully he would decide to meet with her. He had before but who knew what he would do now. But he had to. He just had to. The minutes seemed to drag on, the anticipation and worry and stress weighing heavily on her mind.
And there he was. It was like their first meeting here all over again, the only difference being the blond deciding to quickly close the gap between them.
"I need to--"
"I'm winning today."
The two sentences overlapped but Anatoly's words halted Svetlana in place.
"I'm winning today. I'm doing what I'm supposed to. I'm being honest to myself. You of all people should understand that."
All feeling seemed to leave Svetlana at that. All but anger and betrayal. He didn't even give her a chance to tell him what she needed to. Would he have told her had she not requested this meeting?
"Are you serious?!"
"Of course I am. This is the best way to defeat him. I will not let him keep controlling me."
"Oh spare me! Do me at least one decent thing and tell the truth! You're winning for you so don't try to pull the moral high ground with me! You've stopped caring about anyone but yourself and will sell everyone who made the mistake of trusting you to the wolves! God, I was such a fool!"
Svetlana was more than upset. She was livid. This man before her was not her husband. He may look the part, but he wasn't. She was so good at guarding her heart but he had played her for thirteen years.
"I should have known. You always hated my success. You were supposed to be the one to understand but you never did."
And that was it. Eyes blazing in fury, Svetlana slapped Anatoly as hard as she could.
"Liar. I understand better than you. I have always supported you, never asked anything of you until now and that was to protect our daughters. You were the one with the promises and you broke them. And now when the girls and i need you, you turn your back on us for your stupid pride. I never thought you would be so cruel as to let me hope until the last minute. You win and you're alone with nothing but chess pieces and meaningless relationship to keep you company because you're throwing everything away."
Not giving Anatoly a chance to respond, Svetlana headed back to the hotel. It was time to out maneuver Molokov and to get out of Bangkok alive so that her daughters didn't lose both parents.
Even though she didn't wish to go to the last match, Svetlana knew she had to. As such, she managed to pack the few things she had brought with her, hide them and made it to the match, watching with her mask firmly in place. There was no need to worry. To watch each move as if her life depended on it. Anatoly would win and she would have to avoid Molokov and her handler until the following morning when they had to allow her on the plane. It didn't help for once they were in Moscow, but the threat was she would die in Bangkok. So the first move was getting to Moscow.
Not paying attention to time, Svetlana merely clapped politely as Anatoly was announced winner and World Champion, getting herself lost in the crowd of people. She had to remain hidden until Molokov left with Viigand so she could figure out her next move. Thankfully, the reporters were surrounding Molokov and Viigand, giving Svetlana a distraction.
Waiting until she was certain they were gone, Svetlana was about to leave when she heard the reporters call out Anatoly's name. Pausing, the Russian woman turned, her gaze locking with that of her husband's. In that moment, something passed between them despite being on opposite sides of the room. A snap second decision, a resolve overcame Anatoly as he made his way to the reporters. And even though she could not hear the questions or answers, the shock and exclamations told Svetlana that Anatoly was returning to Moscow.
Shaking her head slightly, Svetlana left, unaware that Anatoly's gaze was following her. Still, it gave her a new play. Knowing the news would get back to Molokov, Svetlana went the long way to the Oriental Hotel and to the front desk. Always playing the role of polite wife, the blond smiled to the clerk.
"Hello. I was wondering if you could tell me what time the car for Mr. Sergievsky will be showing up?"
Thankfully, the man seemed to think her part of Anatoly's party and gave her the desired information. So, Molokov tried to change the itinerary. Easy enough to fix. The airport wasn't under KGB rule, they would do as asked.
Once she got her ticket exchanged for the earlier flight, Svetlana made her way around the different night life scenes of Bangkok. They were not to her liking, but she needed to be somewhere in which she would not be sought. It was a long night, with random encounters and dodging of Molokov and his men, but it was necessary and at the appropriate time, she went to the Oriental after getting her things, waiting in the lobby. And while she didn't wish to spend time alone with Anatoly, she did hope he would show up before Molokov.
Not that the fates were in a giving mood. Ten minutes after situating herself in the lobby, the KGB agent walked in, momentarily looking shocked to see Svetlana there. Well, at least she managed to throw him.
"Svetlana my dear. We were concerned about you, we couldn't find you and were unable to change your ticket for the flight we are now on."
Rolling her eyes, Svetlana looked at the older man.
"Oh, that's quite all right. I was able to do so myself. So sadly, it looks like I will be returning with you after all."
Smirking slightly, Svetlana quirked s brow as Molokov shook his head with his own smirk.
"Well played, my dear. Though you still did fail. He won."
"But he is returning. I am sure you can spin that to fit your needs."
"Of course I can, and I will. That doesn't mean I will forget our exact arrangement, though."
Tensing as Molokov grabbed her arm, Svetlana felt eyes watching them. So looking over the shoulder of Molokov, the blond woman noticed her husband and so stood up, thus managing to extract her arm free. With her mask in place as Molokov brushed off his jacket, Svetlana just looked to the man who joined them.
As Anatoly nodded to them in greeting, Svetlana scanned the lobby.
"I do hope we aren't waiting for anyone. I wouldn't want to miss our flight."
Noticing something almost akin to guilt or remorse flicker through Anatoly's eyes, Svetlana quirked a brow as he answered.
"No. We are not."
"Very well, let us go then."
With Molokov taking control of the situation, Svetlana brushed past Anatoly on their way to the car where both Viigand and her handler were waiting, as if the situation weren't awkward enough. Still, they made it to the airport, where Svetlana stayed to the side as the press tried to speak with the others. How fast things returned to normal. Or at least normal for the past five years.
The one thing Svetlana hadn't counted on when she exchanged her ticket was that she would end up next to Anatoly. Then again, Molokov had been the one to pick up the tickets, which would explain that. Still, twelve hours next to Anatoly on a plane did not exactly seem the best of situations. Svetlana had remarkable self control, but so close to Anatoly with everything between them? She just didn't know.
Having been staring out the window for a couple of hours, the blond blinked and tensed as she felt her husband take her hand.
Pulling her hand free and giving Anatoly a look that promptly put an end to whatever he was going to say, Svetlana went back to staring out the window. Never in their thirteen years together had such tension and awkwardness existed between them. It hurt but here right now? Svetlana didn't know what to believe anymore. All she could do was get through this flight and figure out day by day. That was all she could do now that the past was another land. It was just one step after the other until the world made sense again.