(Joint CD RP with Nick/Eddie Cross)
Typically, the Russian contingent of PRIME’s roster made a quick getaway after the ending of a show. Which would explain why Alexei Ruslan was so confused as to why Ivan Stanislav lingered. Sure, The Russian Bear wanted to get to the ring and let Brandon Youngblood know that his time as Universal Champion was most-assuredly limited, but even afterwards, Stanislav took his time getting ready to head home.
When they finally did start walking down the hallways, Stanislav thumped next to his smaller friend and periodically peered through half-opened doors, this way and that, curiously.
“I can’t wait to get out of here…” Ruslan snorted, “…away from all these capitalists, that Lisa Tyler woman, ugh…”
But as Stanislav walked past one room in particular, he stopped, and found the reason why he chose to linger. He nodded down at Ruslan, while the moisture in his beard from a brief shower glistened in the light. “Alexei, I have something to take care of. I meet you out at bus, all right?”
His smaller friend blinked, curiously, but far be it for him to argue with Ivan. He nodded and took Ivan’s enormous bag. “Of course, Praporshchik.” He walked down the hallway and left Ivan behind, but not without glancing over his shoulder, once.
Yet when Alexei was out of sight, Ivan turned and looked at the door for a moment. It was cracked and threw the interior light of the room out into the hallway. He placed his large palm on the door and pushed it open and filled the doorway with a stern, downcast look. He had recognized the gamer’s backpack replete with some nonsense patches about Razors and Steel Curtain Series, through said crack and found who he was looking for.
His words filled the room, “Eddie Cross,” and he lifted one of his brows, but his expression was still one of a characteristic Russian scowl. “I was not sure if I would find you here. Young people are usually out gallivanting by now.” He didn’t move, but instead chose to serve as a far more formidable door.
Eddie looked up from his spot on the couch where he was still nursing a few bumps and bruises courtesy of the man in the doorway. Ivan somehow seemed smaller than before, yet he still took up the entirety of the thirty-two inch wide opening with ease.
“I learned my lesson,” Eddie replied coolly. “Come to admire your handiwork after the match?”
Stanislav grinned and finally walked deeper into the room, “Eh, perhaps.” He rumble that may have been a chuckle reverberated through his barrel chest. He shifted his jaw from left to right for a moment and then, after a thought, The Russian Bear shut the door behind him so they were alone. This caused Eddie to sit up and pay attention.
“You had good accounting of yourself out there, Eddie.”
Not at all what the young man thought was coming, that’s for sure. “Hold up, I’m confused.” He stood up with a groan fit for a man twice his age with three children living in Minnesota and not a twenty one year old made of rubber bands and cartilage. “All week you and Alexei have been talking mad shit to me and it took every bit of courage I had to even get in that ring. What gives?”
Eddie took a few steps over to the mini fridge in the room, wincing as he did, and grabbed a water. “Want one?”
Ivan nodded and offered his hand, while Eddie tossed a water to him. It took Stanislav a moment to get his fingers around the comparatively small cap and twist it off. Then, he guzzled down most of the water in one gulp. Like a magician, Stanislav nearly made the entire water bottle disappear in his enormous hand.
“It was Alexei who talked ‘mad shit’ as you say. Eh, I suppose I did to some degree as well..” He lifted the water and nodded toward the younger Bolamba. “You deserved it, son. I did try to warn you.”
“Alexei is an excitable sort” He nodded toward the couch. “Sit down, eh?” Ivan gazed around the room but, naturally, there were not many Stanislav-sized surfaces to support his weight.
More limping and wincing. Ivan had to be wondering at this point how much was for show. Eddie would assure him, most definitely, zero percent. He sat down and took a drink, himself.
“Ok, you came to find me, what do you want to talk about?”
Ivan finished his water and tossed the bottle into the garbage. He simply watched Eddie. “I do not know.” He shrugged. “I wanted to see you. For what reason? Who can say.” He dragged his large fingers through his bedraggled beard. “Not to gloat.” He smirked. “At least not too much.”
Stanislav stretched his back and tugged on his crimson suspenders. “You showed courage, Eddie.” He chuckled. “Yes, courage in front of unstoppable and insurmountable odds. Maybe that is foolishness? But I think it is courage. You have had a rough go as of late, Eddie. You too assured destruction well.”
Eddie ground his teeth a little. This was probably the closest he’d ever come to a real compliment paid by Ivan. For a man like Ivan Stanislav, he never exactly said what was true and what was not, and yet he very rarely lied. It made the man interesting and maddening.
Still, Eddie has had a hell of a week and this was welcome. “I have to tell you, for an older guy, you have a hard core. My hands still hurt from those punches to the torso. What’s your secret? Russian Pilates?”
Ivan hefted his pants up high enough around his waist that most young people would laugh, but then again they weren’t sitting in his shadow. Then, Ivan settled down upon the side of the couch, making sure it would not buckle under his girth. “Secret? I am man made of Soviet steel!” He tilted his head sideways, “And vodka. And good genetics. Perhaps not in that order.” He glanced at Eddie. “You throw good punches as well, kid.”
Eddie leaned forward, almost forgetting that not that long ago these two were adversaries and just a short time before that, he had been terrified of the man who sat before him more a kindly old veteran than a monster.
“I gotta tell you, I came up with that strategy myself. I watched a lot of your matches and noticed that people like to go for your knees a lot and they think they are going to chop you down, but you always get them in a grapple and it doesn’t work. I thought the best way would be to go to your body… do you know my heart skipped about three beats when I had you pinned? Can you believe it? I pinned Ivan Stanlislavs and you didn’t even kick out right away.”
He sighed and leaned back, feeling light and happy for the first time in what felt like months.
“I wonder if my Dad saw it?”
Stanislav appeared to want to say something, at first, regarding the pin, but the mention of Eddie’s father derailed him and he blinked. He turned his head sharply and furrowed his bushy brows. Whatever levity had been on Ivan’s face, brief as it might have been, clouded over slightly.
“You wonder if your father saw your match?”
“Yeah,” Eddie replied. “It’s kinda weird working for the same place, but we don’t really talk. I guess part of that is my fault though. Still I…”
He searched for the words for a moment.
“I think he would have been pretty proud of that.”
A soft “hmph” exited Ivan as he settled back slightly. The couch whined beneath him and for a moment, he froze. He let the conversation settle amongst them and stared up at the ceiling tiles. “I always wanted a child. Of course, immediately I think little boy, hm? But I would have liked little devushka just as much.”
He idly picked lint from his pant leg and sighed, “Many reasons, Eddie, why this did not happen. And so, I cannot tell you about what it is like to be father.” He flicked the lint away. “But I tell you about your father. Not because I see him do it. But because I know your father.” He finally looked at Eddie. “He watches your matches. And he is proud of this one and every one which has come before. Win or lose. You are his boy.” Ivan nodded with a stern degree of honesty on his face.
Eddie wrinkled his brow a bit, perhaps thinking about something. “I guess maybe you are right,” he said solemnly. “Hey, I have to ask since you are being all friendly for once, what’s the deal with Alexei anyhow? Why do you hang around with that guy?”
Ivan smirked. “You ask me about Alexei Gregorovich…”
He shook his head again, thoughtfully, “What can I say? I went into Afghanistan with a little brother, my dear Kliment and he returned home in pieces.” He cleared his throat. “I left Afghanistan, with another little brother. Alexei Gregorovich.” Ivan thought for a moment and ran his tongue along the inside of his mouth.
“I have known him for almost fifty years, Eddie. He is somewhat eccentric, overzealous,” he paused as a thought crossed his mind and he smiled inwardly, “and pugnacious, we shall say.” He nodded to himself. “But he has been with me, as brother, through war. Through collapse of governments and internal strife. He has taken tremendous fire for me.” He shrugged his shoulders. “I love him, Eddie. As a brother should. He has stood before gates of absolute destruction in order to protect me and has never batted an eye. I do the same for him.”
He snorted with a smile, “It is complicated. But you have brother. Maybe you can relate, somehow.”
Eddie thought back to the times when his big brother came to his rescue in high school and realized he hadn’t talked to Junior in far too long. He snapped his attention back to Ivan and nodded.
“I guess you are right,” Eddie stood up. “Listen, I know I am a pain in your ass sometimes, but that’s just business. I really did enjoy the match.”
Stanislav slowly rose as well and smirked at Eddie’s words, but said nothing as he simply watched the young man with interest.
Eddie looked around the room and sighed. “So how are we doing this? Do you wanna throw the couch through the wall and I’ll crawl in or something and you can roar and make a spectacle so you leave with all your Big Ivan energy?”
The Russian Bear grinned. “No, I threw you around enough tonight, Eddie Cross.” After a moment, he offered his paw of a hand and stared him in the eyes. EC wasted no time returning the gesture. Stanislav’s hand gripped Eddie’s hand hard but didn’t shake it, instead just letting Eddie feel the pressure. “This is more than business, Eddie. It is war. And it will grind you up and spit you out if you are not careful.”
With that, The Russian Bear released his hand and walked to the door and opened it. He made it another inch to the doorway and stopped still, but didn’t look back. “Oh, and Eddie?”
Eddie looked up as he shook the pins and needles from his hand. “Yeah?”
At first, perhaps Eddie thought Ivan didn’t hear him, because he just stood still in front of the doorway, still. Then finally, after a very long while, Ivan Stanislav spoke again without looking. “Yes. You were worthy challenge in your fathers place, son. Da svidanya.” Without looking back, the hulking old Russian stepped into the hallway and closed the door behind him, leaving as quickly as he had entered.