|Location||Alexandra and Ciel's Apartment - Avenue B Apartments|
|Summary||Mikhail come over to say thanks to Lexie.|
| This two-bedroom apartment on the seventh floor of the Avenue B Apartments would be a bit more desirable if not for the fact that the fickle building elevator often turns it into a seventh-floor walk-up. The apartment actually opens to the moderately professional environment of ABC Investigations, which the living room is dedicated to with a large desk, a couple chairs, and various other items. The overstuffed sofa on one side is the homiest piece in the room.
The kitchen is a bit cramped, sacrificing space to the living room, but has all the necessities of fridge, oven, stove, and a very few cupboards. Two doors off the living room lead to the two bedrooms, both on the smaller side but serviceable enough. A third leads to a bathroom a little overstuffed with hygiene and beauty supplies.A scribbled sign on the apartment door announces it as home to ABC Investigations.
| It is a winter evening. The weather is freezing and snowing.|
It's just past what would usually count as a reasonable dinner time, and Mikhail is standing outside the door to Lexie and Ciel's apartment. He glances down the hallway, looking a little nervous, and then fixes on the door again. He's traded his usual hoodie for a neat sweater and tousled his hair just so. One hand is tucked behind his back, which means that he has to use the other - and the wine bottle in it - to knock on the door.
Alexandra is actually in, which isn't a guarantee at any hour, given her job. There's a quiet rustle of noise behind the door before she opens it in skinny jeans and a wide-necked, cream-colored sweater slipping off one shoulder. Her dark waves are loose around her shoulders, and her brows are ticked upwards in surprise. "Hi!" she says, her tone suggesting it's a welcome surprise at least, and her gaze flicking curiously to the bottle of wine.
"Lexie," Mikhail says, breathing her name like a spoken smile. His gaze drops briefly to the bare curve of her shoulder, then shoots upward again to meet her eyes. "Hello. I have brought you a present." He lifts the bottle of wine, pushing it toward her with a smile that says he's all sorts of puppy-dog pleased with himself. His other hand remains awkwardly tucked behind his back.
"I -- oh." Lexie stands there looking at the wine bottle a moment, teeth pressed to her bottom lip like maybe she's trying not to laugh. "Okay. I mean, sure, I like presents." She looks back up at him, eyes amused. "Any particular reason?"
Don't laugh at Mikhail, Lexie. He'll be super sad, and do you want that? He really hopes not. I mean, he /really/ hopes not. Mikhail swallows a little, then straightens his shoulders as he extends the opposite hand to reveal a bundle of flowers, white lilies and red roses and pops of bright pink. They're clearly a few days past their prime. "For a thank you," he says, waggling the bouquet a little. He feels the need to add, "They were cheap, after Sunday. I saw them and thought, Lexie might like these."
Alexandra actually startles a little when he reveals the flowers, even if they are a little wilted. "I--" Her gaze lifts to his eyes, briefly studying. "--hope I have something to put them in," she finally finishes. "Thanks. Do you wanna--" She edges back a little in clear indication of how that sentence is supposed to end.
"Oh-- yes, thank you," Mikhail says, dimpling just slightly as he steps inside. His gaze is quick and curious as it skims around the room, and it lingers for a moment on the desk. He shoves his hands into his pockets, hunching his shoulders uncertainly. "This is where you work?" he asks.
"Yeah, we used to rent a desk in this shared office space, but then this apartment opened up and we figured we could save on the work rent /and/ each get our own rooms and -- well, you know, win-win." Lexie takes the flowers in one arm and the wine bottle in the other and strides off towards the kitchen. Both end up on the counter as she hunts around for something suitable for the former. She eyes a taller glass dubiously. "I guess if I trim them," she says, and then she's hunting around with scissors.
"We could drink thew wine," Mikhail suggests, "and you could use the bottle." He tips his head, studying the flowers for a moment before he's forced to admit, "Maybe it's not big enough. I'm sorry, I should have brought a vase."
"No, I think this'll work -- ahah!" Lexie finds the scissors in the investigation office desk and then strides back over to the kitchen to start trimming the stems down. "I don't really think you need to apologize for not bringing a random vase with your random flowers.," she says.
"They are not random," Mikhail says, quietly urgent as he follows Lexie into the tiny kitchen. "They are a thank you. For you. Because..." He trails off, momentarily hesitant as he ducks his head, gaze finding a spot on the floor.
Alexandra glances over at him as he trails off, one eyebrow arched. There's something knowing and a little skeptical in her gaze, but the humor still lingers. "I'm not even the one who was letting you crash on their couch," she points out warmly. "I hope you got Kade flowers, too." Snip snip.
Mikhail shakes his head, and his hair flops down over one eye. "I am trying to decide what to get him," he says. His voice goes quiet as he adds, "His thank you is bigger. I don't know how to say it."
"A pony," Lexie suggests. "Everyone loves ponies." She sets down the scissors and starts trying to arrange the flowers in the glass. It takes some maneuvering. "I'm not actually sure what you're thanking me for," she admits.
"At the beginning," Mikhail says, shoving his hair back with a lifted hand. "You came to stay with me, when Kade could not. You were very--" Again Mikhail hesitates, and luck throws up a sort of 'don't watch me right now' curtain as he searches for words. He eventually settles on, "Kind. When I was very scared."
"Oh." Lexie's gaze focuses on the flowers, giving him a moment's privacy. "Honestly, that was nothing, Mikhail. That was just -- hanging out. And not being an asshole. I mean, with everything you've been through, I feel like me being normal might seem nicer than it is."
"Maybe," Mikhail says after a beat. He finds his composure again, and the atmosphere eases as he looks up to give Lexie a small smile. "Maybe not. I still want to say thank you."
"Well. I won't argue." Lexie angles the flower-ful vase under the faucet to fill it with water, which maybe she should have done before putting flowers in it. Oops. She manages, though, and sets it back down on the counter when she finishes. "Ta-da!"
Mikhail's smile stretches suddenly pleased and wide as he watches Lexie (he's subtle, is Mikhail) rather than the flowers. "They look nice," he says, and it comes out a little like a question. They look nice, right?
"They do," Lexie agrees, even if they don't, because come on they're a gift and he's nervous. "Thank you. And -- you're welcome, I guess. Since they're a thank-you gift? Thanks and you're welcome."
"You are welcome," Mikhail echoes, his grin widening further still. He hovers in the kitchen. "I have moved in downstairs," he tells Lexie. "So now Kade has his apartment back."
"What!" Lexie flings her hands up like a literal o/ emoji. "That's so great! I mean, it's not the /worst/ building I've lived in. We don't have bedbugs!" And that's what's important. "Congrats!"
A half-hearted emoji is better than no emoji at all. Mikhail's beaming now, his grin stretched ear to ear as he bobs his head. "Yes," he says, "I have an apartment, just me. It came with a couch, and a bed. On the first floor. It is very--" Mikhail tilts his head for a moment, then says, "Free."
Fuuuu. Lexie's brows spring upwards in surprise. "Wait. What? Free? If not free, how are you affording it?"
"No no," Mikhail says, shaking his head swiftly. "Not /free/, no money. Free-- freedom?" He scrubs his hands against his side, looking to one side before looking back to Lexie. Surely whatever he says, she'll approve, right? He'd really like her to approve. "I am working. I clear tables at a restaurant. And also-- sometimes I am lucky."
"/Oh/." Lexie looks somewhere between dubious and impressed. "Well, there's no way you'd be able to afford it /just/ bussing tables," she says, lips curving in amusement.
"I have a very good rent," Mikhail admits with a duck of his head. "But there are other things, no? Clothes, and food. I would like a new lamp."
"Well, lamps are important," Lexie agrees, expression going wide-eyed and solemn. "Who could argue with that?"
"Maybe," Mikhail suggests, both hopeful (so hopeful!) and a little hesitant, "when I have enough money. You can help me pick out some things? For my apartment. Not just a lamp," he rushes to add.
"What, because I'm a girl?" Lexie wonders, a little challenging but mostly still warm-humored.
Mikhail seems a little caught by this question, which he clearly did not expect. For a beat he's very deer-in-the-headlights, and it takes him a moment to recover. "Um," he says. "Because. I do not know what to buy?"
Alexandra catches herself in a laugh just as it escapes her. "Shit, chill, I'm sorry. I just mean that you should, like -- buy whatever makes you happy. It doesn't matter what I like."
"Oh," Mikhail says, and his shoulders slump just a little as he nods. "Yes. Okay."
Alexandra takes a step forward, reaching to set a hand on his arm with a apology in her eyes. "I mean, if you really want someone to come with," she says, "I can."
Mikhail glances down at Lexie's hand on his arm, and for a moment his luck flares bright, encouraging touch and closeness. He doesn't seem aware of it, but then-- would he? He looks up to her with a self-conscious smile and says, perhaps a little non-sequitur, "It is very quiet in an apartment by myself."
With such encouragement, and a natural touchy tendency, it's easy for Lexie's hand to linger on his arm. "Well, you picked a good building, then, because you know a bunch of folks here," she says brightly.
Mikhail shrugs, dismissive as he shakes his head. "I have seen them at-- meetings, and bars," he says. "I do not /know/ very many people."
"Well, I'll just keep you on the party invite list, and soon you /will/ know people," Lexie says with the breezy confidence of the social butterfly.
"Yes," Mikhail agrees without argument. As they talk, the general pull of his luck eases. "Eventually. It is-- a hard idea to get used to?"
Lexie's hand lingers a moment or two more before eventually sliding away with organic ease. "What is? 'Eventually?' Or -- having friends?"
"People," Mikhail says, lifting his hand to rub it against the place Lexie's no longer is. "Just-- /people/. So many people. Everywhere. Sometimes it is wonderful, yes? Other times-- it is so much."
"Oh." Lexie looks thoughtful for a moment, like maybe she should offer something more than a glib response. "I like it better than the quiet," she finally lands on. "But I always have. I feel -- better -- when there's people around. Things start feeling empty otherwise."
"Yes," Mikhail agrees quickly. "Too empty, too quiet. But the other way is worse, maybe." He lifts his hand to scrub it back through his hair, abruptly frustrated. "It is not normal," he says, lifting his eyes to Lexie. "I know it's not."
"Mikhail, you don't--" Lexie hesitates, watching him with a helpless sort of empathy. "Fuck normal. Who cares? People hurt you. You get to feel however the fuck you want to feel."
"I care," Mikhail says, his voice low and dark for a beat before he turns abruptly to exit Lexie's tiny kitchen. "I'm sorry," he says. "I just wanted to say thank you. I should go home." And such is the nature of luck that when Mikhail wants to go, it's hard to object.
"Hey." It's swimming upstream a little, but Lexie's instinct is strong enough on this one that it has her reaching for his arm again. "I don't mean -- it's okay to care. To want to -- feel normal. But go easy on yourself, okay? Just -- be gentle."
Mikhail looks frustrated, his expression twisted into something bordering on unpleasant as he stills, stiff under Lexie's touch. He drags in breaths, deep and not particularly steady before he shakes his head at her. "I am not," he says lowly, "/normal/."
"No," Lexie agrees, her voice frank. She's not deterred by unpleasant. She's in a family of way bigger grouches. "You're not. None of us are. That's kind of the whole deal here."
Mikhail shakes his head again, harder. "No," he says. "Lexie. It is not the same. You know it isn't. Even here--" This time he does not rely on luck (although it desperately wants her to drop the subject just now). He forces a hard smile and says carefully, "Thank you for being kind, Lexie Brady. I hope you like your flowers." And then he /flees/."Mikhail--" Lexie starts to say, because she hates a problem she can't fix, but he's fleeing now, and all she can really do is watch. oh no.