Content warning: The story contains mature material, including graphic descriptions of consensual non-violent sex and ‘mild’ language.
The author apologises for all possible historic errors in the text.
London, UK, June 1944
“So, duckie, how are you enjoying your evening?”
He turns around and sees a very attractive young woman, bright lipstick on plump lips and a generous chest. He gulps and fixes his glasses yet again sliding on the tip of his nose. She’s studying his face, and he shifts uncomfortably. He really doesn’t know how to speak to women.
“Say, you are one of them quiet type, yeah, cookie?” She’s smiling to him benevolently, a thick Cockney accent in her speech. She is very tall, endless legs, dark waves scattered on her shoulders, and he considers excusing himself and fleeing. He even throws a cautious look at the door. “Even better so,” she purrs and pulls his sleeve. “Let’s go, I’ll introduce you to my friend.” He wants to object, but the stammer doesn’t allow him to squeeze it out of him. She’s pulling his jacket, and he doesn’t know himself why he follows her.
She pushes him gently towards a table, and he is staring at the most unusual woman he’s ever seen in his life. She has a face of a fae, slanted green eyes, bright orange hair in an elegant hairdo, untouched drink in front of her.
“Here, my friend, is a dolly from the Soviets they asked me to show around. But I thought considering she hasn’t been able to tear her eyes off you for the last half an hour, you should take care of her.” He looks at the busty brunette in shock. “She is one of the Night Witches, have you heard of them? The precision bombing pilots from Russia, all chicks,” the brunette explains. He immediately stares at the redhead. She gives him a pleasant, slightly confused smile.
“And she doesn’t speak English. Well, enjoy your kicks!” The brunette pushes him to the table and saunters away.
He opens and closes his mouth several times, and then clears his throat. He is aware of the Night Witches. The most highly-decorated female unit in the Soviet Air Force, thirty out of forty of them dead in combat each month, 23,000 sorties, 3,000 tons of bombs dropped, Polikarpov Po-2 biplanes, a 1928 design intended for use as training aircraft and for crop-dusting, exceptional maneuverability. As night bombers they idle the engine near the target and glide to the bomb release point, with only wind noise to reveal their location. German soldiers likened the sound to broomsticks and named the pilots ‘Night Witches.’ Due to the weight of the bombs and the low altitude of flight, the pilots carry no parachutes.
The redhead looks to the part of the bar where her escort disappeared and lifts her brows. Leaving her now would be leaving her alone in a crowded, smoke filled military bar surrounded by drunk soldiers and officers. Without language and anyone to look after her. Her remarkable eyes, that he now sees are neither green, no hazel, shift onto him, she points after the brunette and asks something in her native tongue. There is a mellow drawl to her voice, and a lot of rolling and surprisingly harsh consonants suddenly standing out between very open vowels. He is a linguist and acoustics specialist. It’s like music to his ears. And it does sound like some sort of a tune. After hours and hours of German tapes, it’s a bliss.
The cursed stammer constricts his throat but he takes a deep breath in. OK, John, pull it together. He sits in front of her and points at himself. “John.”
She smiles and pronounces something long and beautiful. At the end he hears ‘Rena,’ rhyming with Tina.
She nods and then gestures something long and wavy in the air with her small slender hands, and then moves them closer together, obviously showing a contraction. “Rena.” She has beautiful rolling r’s.
“Nice to m-meet you, Rena.” He stretches his hand ahead, and she firmly takes it and shakes. She throws one more look after the woman who left her with John, long lashes flutter, and then she meets his eyes. “So you are a p-pilot, right?” She blinks and nods.
She answers affirming, it sounds like ‘peelot’ when she pronounces it, and she smiles. She spreads her arms and mimics a plane, the way children do it, and he laughs. He notices the glass in front of her.
“Not g-good? Would you like s-something else?” There’s probably brandy in it, and she scrunchies her nose and shakes her head. She pronounces something that sounds like ‘vahdah,’ and he has an idea. He quickly runs to the bar and brings her a bottle of Cola. The slanted eyes fall on the label. There is another long sentence from her, he is once again enjoying the melodic intonation. “It is a soft d-drink, for ch-children. No alcohol in it.” He shows a height about a foot above the dirty bar floor, and she is staring at his hand.
And then she picks up the bottle and tentatively presses the neck to her lips. There is bright red lipstick on them, she has a wide mouth, and she takes a small sip. She apparently didn’t expect the fizz, because she coughs and her turn up nose starts twitching.
The red lips form a surprised circle, and she pronounces some funny word.
“What?” He asks, and she giggles. She makes a fizzing sound and wiggles her fingers in the air mimicking bubbles. “Yes,” he agrees, chuckling. “B-bubbles.”
“Bahbahlz,” she repeats as if trying the word on her tongue, and then she takes another sip. The freckled nose is scrunched again, but she doesn’t seem displeased. “Leemanat.”
“Lemonade?” He looks at her, and she nods and lifts the bottle in front of him.
“Leemanat, da.” There are more words after that. John understands it is a synecdoche, calling the class by one member, Russians probably call all soft drinks ‘lemonade.’ She takes another sip and probably compliments the taste, the voice is a bit lower, and she sounds very pleased. And then she licks her lips and looks at his glass. She points with her delicate finger and asks something. He has finished his Scotch when her escort assaulted him.
“I’m g-good, th-thank you.”
She fishes a pristine white handkerchief out of the sleeve of her brown dress, wipes the neck of her bottle, and quite obviously offers to pour some in his glass. He stretches a hand with it towards her, and they watch the dark liquid slosh into the tumbler. They drink in silence, and then she points at him.
“Peelot?” He shakes his head.
“Linguist. Bletchley Park.” She is listening attentively, he is trying not to stare at her lips closing around the neck of the bottle. He cannot talk to women, he cannot talk in general, but with her it is surprisingly easy. She mimics pressing a receiver to her ear. He nods. “Yes, ac-coustics.” The word apparently has an equivalent in Russian and makes sense to her. She suddenly stretches her hand and brushes the tips of her fingers on the helix of his ear. He can’t suppress a shiver. She has cold hands, and to reach him she leans over the table. Her face is very close, and he inhales the fragrance of lilacs coming from her soft curls.
“Ooshi,” she pronounces pointedly, and then brushed her own lobe. “Ooshi.” Her sibilant fricative ‘sh’ is harsher than in English, and he tries to reproduce it.
“Oosh-shi…” She giggles and takes another sip of Cola. “Ear,” he offers her the translation. She hikes up her eyebrows and make a funny squeak like noise. He remembers that Slavic languages do not have diphthongs, she can only pronounce the ‘ee’ part of ‘ear.’
“I l-like ‘ooshi’ better,” he jokes, and she laughs. Probably at the pronunciation and not at the joke, but he doesn’t care. He made her smile. And then her finger is pressed to the tip of his nose.
“Noss,” she announces, and he is staring at her. She laughs at his flabberghasted expression. She presses the finger to hers now, he notices bright red nail varnish on short nails. “Noss.”
“N-nose. Yes, it’s a n-nose in English t-too.” He only understands that it’s not an innocent game in linguistics when she brushes her thumb over his bottom lip.
“Goobah.” His trained ear catches the change in the tone, the melodic voice has dropped, the Russian female voices are generally lower-pitched than of female English speakers. He sees the corners of her lips curve up slightly, and heat suddenly licks his neck under the corner of the shirt.
She repeats the word, the fingertips run on his upper lip now, and he is completely confused. His glasses slide down, and he nervously pushes them up. And then she picks them up by the temples and pulls them off. He blinks frantically, she is blurry for a second, and she puts them on herself. They are very strong, he is very shortsighted, and she laughs and comments on them. The frame is thick and heavy, and her narrow face looks especially delicate in them.
“Wouldn’t it root ya?” An angry, clearly Aussie voice is heard over John’s head, he catches the specific Sydney pull in the vowels, and he sees a young burly A.I.F pilot. The uniform is in disarray, the man is clearly drunk, and his eyes are foggy. “Lot of hot cock, a Bolshie bint?..” The man sways, and she is looking at him through John’s glasses.
Couple more come up and start pulling their mate away. One of them, also clearly drunk, starts apologising, and John realises his hand is clenched into a fist on the table. He has never hit anyone in his life. He is a large bloke, has been the tallest at school, and then in his year in Cambridge. He has never even been bullied for his stutter, perhaps also because of the boxing trophy for five years in a row. The Aussie jerks out of his crew members hands and steps to the table, pointing his finger into the redhead’s face. She winces away.
John’s left handed hook meets the Aussie’s liver after ‘upter pissaphone’ slurred into the girl’s face. The drunkard crashes on the floor. He flails his arms trying to get up, but his mates grab him under his arms and drag him aside asking to forgive the ‘balls-up cactus.’
John is standing by the table, still not understanding what has just happened, when a small cool hand snakes into his. She is walking out of the bar, pulling him after her, her phrases sound like purry meowls of a cat, and he follows as if in his sleep. They step outside, and she looks up into the dark sky above. She is still holding his hand, and then she starts talking. He is listening to her voice, the speech is raspy, and there is a low hum, r’s roll, but not is a harsh Irish way, it’s a purr, sultry, there is an exhale at the end of the phrases, and she turns to him. The slanted eyes shine, and she suddenly presses her palms on his chest.
Her amber eyes roam his face, and he realises they have forgotten his glasses on the table in the bar. And then she grabs the lapels of his jacket and pulls him down. He still cannot believe that it is happening, and she sharply pronounces some short phrase. It sounds like a command, she is asserting something, and he blinks frantically.
“Wh-what?” Still holding one lapel firmly, she pushes her hand into the handbag on her shoulder and takes out a key. She dangles it in front of his nose.
“Da?” That much is clear. He gulps and looks at her red lips.
“Da.” There is more aspiration in his ‘d,’ the tip of his tongue comes to a short contact with the ridge of teeth, but obviously his answer is hard to misunderstand.
They walk silently. They stationed the Russian pilots in a large building just few blocks away, and she hurriedly goes up the stairs. The room is small and bare, just a bed and a chair. He sees a suitcase by the wall and a brush on the table. There are two books, neatly placed on the corner of her bed, and she moves them to the chair.
He is frozen in the middle of the room, it is obviously not his first encounter of the sort, but the circumstances are clearly unusual. The war is a messy affair, everyone behaves out of sorts, there are dances, then drinks, he is invited to women’s rooms. He doesn’t know how to talk to women, charming chatty officers obviously have more success, but the height and the trained body ensure him if not frequent but stable attention when he comes to the city. He is mostly confined to the Park, and the rumours are they will not be allowed to leave at all soon. That was the only reason he went to the bar today. The last hooray, so to say…
His last hooray unpins the small hat from her curls and starts unbuttoning her dress, and he wakes up and covers her hands with his, her slender fingers disappear under his palms. They have not even kissed once.
“Um… Sh-should we?..” He gets stuck, and it’s not the stammer. What can he offer? Should they talk first? They can’t. Should they have a drink? They left the bar, and she obviously doesn’t drink.
She tilts her head and suddenly gives him a wide smile. She purrs something comforting, and her small hands stroke his upper arms. Then she quickly unbuttons his jacket and the waistcoat, he is watching deft long fingers. A short disbelieving laugh bursts out of him, she has just carefully hung his clothes on the back of the chair. She then adds his tie to it, opens two of the buttons on his shirt, and points on the bed.
“Syat.” Her tone is slightly teasing, and it is one of the roots common in all Indo-European languages, and he sits on the edge of the bed. She climbs on his lap and settles comfortably. He is once again staring at the freckled nose, and she giggles.
And then giving him an impish look she reviews the material of the previous class, “Ooshi, noss, goobah…” Each of the body parts gets a little tickle by her index finger, and he chuckles.
“Y-yes, we h-have learnt th-these. Something n-new?” He is smiling to her, and she leans in and kisses the corner of his lips.
“Rott.” Once again there is no aspiration in her ‘t,’ no exhale, but then she runs her tongue along his bottom lip. The next word is too complicated for him, and he wraps his arms around her and catches her mouth in a deep kiss.
When he releases her lips, she exhales the same word again. It sounds approximately like “puzzuluh” but he understands he is missing some sounds there.
“W-what is it?” She smiles, and her fingers run along the collar of his shirt, and she pushes them into the short hair at the back of his head.
“Kiss.” His eyebrows jump up, and she giggles again. It sounds more like ‘keess.’
“D-do you know any m-more English?” She nods and starts meticulously going through the list in her thick accent.
“Teekit, speetfayer, offitzer, ayer fors, dreenk.” She is smiling to him proudly, and he leans in and kisses her again. She twists from under his mouth and puts her tiny finger on his lips. “Keess.”
“Kiss,” he agrees, and she repeats her ‘puzzuluh’ word. Her hands are now mussing his hair, and she purrs something approving. She then twirls a thread of his hair around her finger. He decides he is allowed to reciprocate and starts pulling pins out of her curls. It is of astonishing orange colour. If he didn’t know better, with that pale skin, he’d take her for an Irish girl. Heavy curtain of flaming hair falls on her shoulders, and she wrinkles her nose. Her next word sounds harsh, and there is a bit of scorn in her voice.
“Ryzhaya.” This one is easy to guess as well. The Gaelic ‘ruadh’ and French ‘rouge’ or ‘roux.’ He picks up handfuls of the silky curls.
“B-beautiful.” He is trying to show how he feels by the intonation, and she apparently understands, because she makes a sceptical ‘poof’ sound. He assumes it’s a Russian equivalent of ‘pffft.’ “Very, v-very beautiful… Like c-coppered g-gold…” He starts stammering more once he has to use verbal persuasion, but thankfully it is hardly required here.
She cups his jaw and kisses his cheek. She then rubs the tip of her nose to the underside of his jaw. There’s probably stubble there. Dark shadows seem to be appearing on his face before he can put down a razor.
“Sheeteena.” She laughs, and he assumes it is ‘stubble.’ The word is bristly on its own. More purring follows, she apparently doesn’t mind, and then she straightens up and her eyes are laughing. She gestures something confusing, as if showing fat cheeks, her rounded hands under the sides of her face. He does not understand. Is she talking about gaining weight? Eating?
“Baradah…” she speaks in a sing song voice and then sighs theatrically. Judging by the impish eyes and lips pressed together to suppress laughter, she is teasing him.
“B-beard? Are you t-talking about a b-beard?” She gives it a thought and nods.
“Da, beed.” That is as close as she can come to pronouncing ‘beard,’ and she strokes his cheeks with her narrow hands. “Beed… harasho.” ‘Harasho’ is ‘good,’ that much everyone knows, and he laughs.
“Th-that would be so easy, I h-hate sh-shaving.” She is smiling to him, and then she dives and places a open-mouth kiss on his throat. He drops his head back, giving her more access, her hands are dancing in his hair, he is grabbing handfuls of her dress on the back.
After a while it becomes clear there will be no more talking, and he pushes her back on the bed. She moans, clearly approvingly, and he starts unbuttoning the dress. It is simple, of warm brown colour in tiny white polka dots, and they pull it off her. There is a surprisingly flirty silk slip underneath, he doesn’t expect such alluring undergarment on a Soviet woman and a war pilot. He is kissing her neck and brushes his hands over her breasts and stomach. There is a stripe of lace going along the neckline, and he kisses the pale skin along it. There are freckles on her shoulders, and he presses his lips to them as well. She is becoming more demanding, her hands are roaming his torso, his shirt is taken off, then the vest, and he is between her legs, and she is gently biting at his shoulder.
She suddenly starts moving and shifting, insistently pushing at his shoulders, and he is so aroused and muddled by then that he is just staring at her. She is fluid and slender under his hands, she was arching into him and moaning, one of her shapely calves is still wrapped around his legs, and he cannot concentrate. He is supporting his weight on his elbows and is breathing heavily. She mumbles something grumpily, he shakes his head trying to clear his mind, and she makes another of her ‘poof’ sounds and pushes him off her. He is immediately terrified she has changed her mind.
She pulls at the corner of the blanket and points at the sheets. Another command, short and to the point follows, and he rolls from over the blanket. She moves into him and pulls the blanket over the two of them. He assumes it is some modesty thing, she surely isn’t cold, her skin is all covered in lovely pink blush, and he wants to see more, but he is not going to argue.
She starts shifting and moving again, and then he understands that she is undressing. The girdle, stockings, bra, and underwear fly from under the blanket, and she makes a happy hum and stretches on the sheets. He is still awkwardly frozen in a semi-reclined position. The bed is narrow but he isn’t touching her. She gives him an expectant look and points somewhere down under the blanket with her eyes. He nods, and his underwear and socks follow her undergarments.
With that out of the way he covers her with his body and receives a wide smile and some throaty compliments. He assumes they are compliments, since she is stroking his shoulders and chest and purring. She is quite obviously infatuated with chest hair, her small strong hands go back to it again and again, she treads fingers through it and then even claws a bit.
“Zver…” That is an interesting word. He doesn’t know what it means, but he thinks something rather inappropriate, judging by the salacious smirk and a raspy exhale that accompany it. The last ‘r’ is palatalised, she rolls it purposefully and with gusto, it is again like a purr of a cat, but with a bit of growl in it this time. He cocks a brow, it is so easy with her, she gives him a throaty laugh, slightly lifts her torso and nips on his ear. “Ooshi,” she breathes out and licks his helix. He is losing whatever control he had.
The British Forces provide their soldiers with condoms, and he has friends among officers. He hangs off the side of the bed for a second, she uses this opportunity to bite into the back of his neck, gaining a guffaw from him. He fishes the condom out of the wallet, and then they are back on the bed. She stretches an open hand to him, he is used to doing it itself, but he obviously will not object to her hands on his cock. She deftly rolls the condom on him, her legs go around his waist, and she shifts her hips catching his tip. He presses while she lifts her pelvis. It is a surprisingly coordinated effort, and he closes his eyes from an unadulterated pleasure.
He starts moving, restraining himself, at least while he can. He knows he is rather large, she is certainly very small. She apparently has no need in his self-control, she is moaning loudly, squeezing him with strong supple legs, pushing her hips up into him, and once she starts digging her heels into his buttocks, he starts thrusting into her forcefully. She climaxes with a shrieky scream, and he follows shortly after.
He falls on her, she makes a strangled croak like sound and weakly batters at his shoulders. He groans and rolls off her. She is lying on her back, only her head sticking out from the blanket, eyes closed, and he looks at her trying to determined her reaction to what has just happened. She opens one eye, gives him a mischievous wink, and then with a slightly embarrassed giggle she pulls the blanket over her head. He uses this opportunity to clean up, making a mental note to get rid of the handkerchief he just wrapped the condom into and stuffed into his trousers’ pocket. To do it he had to lie across her, she squeaked somewhere under the blanket, and he suddenly feels very jolly.
He pushes his hands rummaging and grabbing whatever he can, she is squeaking louder, and he pulls her out, her hair is sticking out around her head, and she is grinning from ear to ear.
“C-come out, you’ll ch-choke there.” He is feeling relaxed and playful, he knows he is not yet satisfied, and he hopes that maybe he could somehow let her know about it. He arranges her on top of him, she stacks the small fists one on another on his chest, and places his narrow chin on them. The amber eyes are brilliant, and she runs the tip of her index finger along the bridge of his nose.
“Noss,” he utilises his newly acquired knowledge of Russian language, and she snorts.
That suspiciously sounds like ‘Well done,’ and the tone is fittingly condescending, to which he retaliates by squeezing her perky backside. She is much less skittish and bashful after the first time, and he strokes the narrow silky back, and then just because he can’t help it he grabs handfuls of her buttocks. The slanted eyes widen, and she makes the universal ‘tsk, tsk’ sound. He guffaws, and just because it is so easy with her he bucks his hips, pointedly.
She squeaks something that sounds like ‘kakapiat?’ and stares at him. He rolls her underneath him, she doesn’t seem to mind since she points at his wallet on the chair again. He only had two condoms, and suddenly he thinks it won’t be enough. He has never felt like that with a woman, she is exciting and mesmerizing, maybe because of the lack of talking, or because he knows of what she is. He knows that there are no guns on their planes and that none of them served for longer than a year, and that they only have a pistol with a few bullets for themselves, in case they fall behind the enemy line, and he just wants her to have a good night. He slides down, under the blanket, she makes another croak like sound, and he places his mouth on her. He doesn’t have much experience in it, but she is obviously enjoying his attentions. She climaxes with a scream very quickly, and squeezes his head with her thighs. He shakes it to break free, and she starts mumbling something that is clearly an apology, her whole body is shaking, and he tenderly kisses her stomach. She croaks again, and then she grabs his ears and pulls him back on her. He wonders whether he is supposed to rinse his mouth after what he just did, but she catches his mouth, and suddenly her hands are on him again, unrolling the condom.
This time he takes his time, rocking his hips into her, watching her face. Pleasure is splashing in her eyes, and then she closes them. Her lips are moving in hardly audible words, the low murmur of her native tongue turns this into something more, something better, he is supporting himself on his elbows, and pushes his hands under her head, into the fiery waves of her hair, the slanted eyes fly open, and she smiles to him. They climax together, she sobs, some feverish throaty words spill from her lips, and she grabs him around his neck and presses him tightly into her.
This time she curls into a ball, waiting for him to clean up, he had only one handkerchief, and she gives him hers. There are two letters embroidered on it, and he stuffs it in his pocket as well. One looks like English ‘E,’ another is the Greek lambda, it is a Russian ‘L.’ He falls on his back and pulls her into him. She is murmuring something tender and is drawing some squiggles on his chest with her fingers. He is very sleepy, he took a train to the city through last night, and he can never sleep in trains, but he doesn’t want to fall asleep.
“Rena…” he calls, and she slightly rises and meets his eyes.
“Dzhawn.” His name sounds odd on her lips, but he thinks he likes it this way more. She gently kisses his lips and puts her head on his chest. He is fighting the slumber, he doesn’t want this night to end, but his lids are heavy, and then the world grows black.
He wakes up alone in the room. The suitcase is gone, he finds out they were relocated. All he is left with is the handkerchief, he cleans it forbidding himself to think of how exactly he came to have it, and a book that she left for him on the chair over his clothes that she folded meticulously.
He finds a specialist in Russian who helps him with the book. It is a small collection of poetry of the classical Russian poet Alexander Pushkin, the equivalent of Shakespeare for Russians. Once their department in the Park receives a higher level of clearance he is asked to give up the book. He passes it into the hands of an intelligence officer, and it feels like waking up in that empty bed for the second time. The same aching sadness wraps around his heart.
When the war ends, through his friends in the intelligence he finds out that her name was Ekaterina Alexandrovna Lirina, and what he thought was ‘Rena’ was an unusual contraction of her name, ‘Katya’ being the more common. Their regiment was transported through the city in trains, across the channel to Europe, and later to Germany, where they participated in the Vistula-Oder Offensive. The data of Russian losses in that battle is unavailable, and all John is left with is a small square of white cotton with two intricately embroidered letters of Cyrillic alphabet.
Five years after the war he receives a letter written in broken English, it has been opened and reopened by so many officers of intelligence – read and approved, there are stamps and ink stains from multiple coded markings all over it – that it takes him several hours to even decipher the letters in it.
She writes to him – and the date at the bottom of letter is scratched out but he assumes the letter is at least two years old – that she lives in a small town in Pennsylvania, where just like many of the 20,000 Russians who ended up in the States after the war she was relocated after a displaced-person camp in Austria. Her English is simplistic, and he is staring at the excessive loops and tails in her handwriting. She doesn’t ask for anything, just letting him know she is alright, and then she politely expresses hope he might want to write to her back. The address on the envelope and on the letter is blacked out as well.
By then he teaches Linguistics in the University of Manchester, and it takes him another year to receive a permission to go to the States to find her. While he is struggling with the bureaucratic machine he meets up with several of his old mates from the Park, and one morning one of them drops off an envelop by his flat on campus. It has her file, John grows into a habit of staring at the small black and white photo in Soviet military uniform, and a week before he takes a plane across the Pond, another envelope arrives. In it John has a marriage license, papers for her, and there is a ring at the bottom of his suitcase, next to her handkerchief. He feels like a massive idiot, but after all he does not need to even mention either the papers, or the ring when he sees her.
The town is a usual dusty factory town. He gets off the bus that brought him in it; a waitress in the diner, and they always know everything, tells him that there is indeed a Russkies redhead in the town, she lives in a small house in the poor part of the town and works at the factory like all of them.
It is an early evening, and he drinks another cup of coffee and eats another slice of the iconic apple pie, and then he walks to the house carrying the simple map drawn on the napkin by the waitress. He gets lost twice, all the narrow dusty streets seem the same, and finally he finds the small white house. He exhales sharply and knocks. There is no answer, and he starts laughing.
He sits down on a bench by the entrance and spends several hours watching life go by him. The day is hot, and he ends up taking off his jacket and rolling up his sleeves. He is thirsty and hungry now, and he doesn’t notice how he nods off.
He wakes up from a loud thud. She is standing in front of him, a bag of groceries that woke him up is near her feet on the ground. He can see splatters of cracked eggs in the dust, and a can of tomato soup is making its way down the sidewalk towards the road. She is wearing a simple plaid dress, a scarf is restraining her springy curls, though several small locks have escaped and are coiling on her neck.
“Dzhawn…” she breathes out, and before he can remember any of the twenty five first sentences he thought he should say to her, she lunges ahead and presses into him. She is shorter than he remembered, he wraps his arms around her, and she is mumbling something. He could not learn any of the language, with all the anti-communist paranoia, but then he realises she is speaking English.
“You came, you came…”
She is repeating the same phrase again and again, the accent is thick, and he picks her up under her arms and presses her into him. He is not sure who kisses whom first and, and he could not care less.
She suddenly jerks in his arms, and he carefully puts her down. By then his head is spinning, and he is very uncomfortable in his trousers. She grabs his hand and drags him inside. They close the door behind them, he rushes ahead again, grabbing her shoulders, seeking her mouth, and she is looking at him agape.
“You are hungry, you need dinner.” Her tone is suddenly strict.
He laughs loudly, it is probably some sort of Russian hospitality thing. He is certain it is not dinner that he needs at the moment. He pulls her into a deep kiss, she is still rigid and restrained. He lets her go, he is being presumptuous, and she leads him to the kitchen. She is fussing around and then freezes in the middle of the kitchen.
“Food is on the street.” She is staring at him with giant widened eyes, and he assumes she means the groceries she dropped. “I come home, you sleep on my bench. I thought it is fever.”
She presses a palm to her forehead and is giving him an scrutinizing look. He is leaning on the door frame, giving her room. She suddenly jumps at him, arms thrown around his neck, her lips are greedy, and she starts insistently pushing him somewhere inside the house. Kissing and touching her makes him so drunk, that he realises what’s happening only when a bed cuts him under his knees. She pushes her hands into his shoulders, toppling him backwards on the sheets, and the fingers are jerking on the buttons on his waistcoat.
He is spooning her, they are cooling after the third round, and he pushes one hand under his cheek, his elbow on her pillow. The sheets are pristine, and there is the aroma of lilacs on the fabric, as well as her hair and skin, and he leans in and tenderly kisses her jaw. Her eyes are closed, but he knows she is not sleeping.
“Rena, c-come to B-britain with me.” The lashes twitch, and she takes a careful breath in.
“I am Bolshie.” Her voice is tense. “Commie. You will have trouble because me.” She opens her eyes but isn’t looking at him.
“I w-won’t. I have p-papers for you.” She slightly turns and is looking at him over her shoulder frowning. He clenches his jaw, gathers his courage and says, “We c-can get m-married, and you will be a B-british citizen.”
“You want to marry on me?” She turns to face him, and there is sincere confusion in her tone. He guffaws.
“Why does it s-surprise you?” He cups her jaw and tenderly kisses her lips.
“I am not pretty. And Commie. And you did not see me six and half years.” She is actually giving him a list of reasons, and he laughs again.
“You are v-very p-pretty, the p-prettiest girl I’ve ever m-met. And you are not a Commie, you will m-marry me, and you will be a nice B-british lady.” She is pondering his words. “Unless you w-want to s-stay here…” He suddenly doubts. “Or you c-can g-go with me b-but live there without m-marrying me. I mean, I just w-want to h-help…” His stammer reaches the level of complete inability to talk, and she moves closer, slender arm goes around his middle, and she hides her face into his sternum.
“I want marry on you.” He is stroking the back of her head, the soft curls he seem to never have forgotten under his palm, and she nuzzles his chest. “I like these hairs.”
“You d-did then t-too.” He likes that they have some shared memories. They have history, and now she wants to marry him. “You also w-wanted me to g-grow a b-beard.” She looks up, and there is shy playfulness in her eyes.
“You can grow beard?” There is funny hopefulness in her tone, and he guffaws again.
“I c-can but I w-will not. Wh-what will I l-look like with a b-beard?” She twitches her nose pretending to ponder his question thoroughly.
“If you will have beard, you will look very good.” Her small hands run on his chest, and he suspects that is the beginning of round four. “Hairs are good.” He picks her under her arms and places her on top of him. She grinds her hips into him, and he gasps. She is purring, and he understands he has time only for one more question.
“Rena, what is ‘zver’?” She laughs throatily and leans to his face.
“You remembered, funny man!” He grins, grabs the back of her head and is pulling her down to his lips. “It means ‘animal’… or other word… ‘Beast.'” He is fine with it, and she is kissing his jaw. Maybe a beard isn’t actually such a bad idea.