author: Angela Evans irishaithne
pairing/character(s): Nadia, Irina
word count: 1,323
summary: Post-BTF, Nadia and Irina spend some time in Russia.
spoilers/warnings: “Before The Flood” 4x22, some implications of N/W, J/I, S/V.
disclaimer: JJ owns it all.
a/n: Written for the Derevko Ficathon derevkoficathon Feedback much appreciated, ask for distribution rights, please.
for: Mags severuslovesme
The knights are dust and their good swords rust.
Their souls are with the saints we trust.
- Old Russian
They walk along the Neva, and before long, Irina slips her arm through her daughter’s.
“The fresh air is doing you good,” Irina comments, noting the color that had crept back into Nadia’s pale cheeks.
Nadia doesn’t agree, but she says nothing to contradict Irina. She chooses not to voice her worry that she’ll be a permanent invalid for fear of making it true; she is scarred in more places than the bullet hole in her shoulder and the mark of Rambaldi at the base of her neck.
They were in the little house in St. Petersburg that Irina had rented for them. Nadia was glad to be away from her sister’s good intentions. Since the accident, Sydney had focused on Nadia to douse the pain of losing Michael. It had driven Nadia nuts.
“I want to tell you a story,” Irina says, joining Nadia at the kitchen table. “Once upon a time, there was a peasant man out with his horse. He came upon a red feather; it was from a firebird.
“The man decided to take it to the tsar. His horse warned him not to, for he would be sorry, but the man ignored the horse. When the tsar saw the feather, he was impressed and ordered the man to bring him the firebird the feather came from.
“Not wanting to anger the tsar, the man went back to the place where the feather had been found. He scattered food for the bird, and when it came down to eat, he threw a rope around its neck and took it to the tsar.
“The tsar was pleased; if this man could catch a firebird he could fetch Princess Vassilissa whom the tsar wanted to marry. Princess Vassilissa lived at the end of the earth where the sun rises. So the man set out for the end of the earth.
“At last he arrived at the end of the earth and saw the princess rowing her boat in the sea. He set up his tent and lay out his food to lure the princess to land. She came and drank the glass of wine that he offered. This made her fall asleep, and the man took her back to the tsar.
“But, when she arrived at the tsar’s palace, Princess Vassilissa refused to wed the tsar without her wedding dress. So the tsar sent the man back to the princess’s homeland to fetch her dress from under the large rock in the middle of the sea where she kept it.
“The man was very weary at this point, and the horse reminded him that he should not have taken the feather to the tsar. But the horse promised to make all right, so he took the man to the sea where the princess’s dress was. When they arrived, the horse caught a lobster. The lobster begged for his life, and the horse let him go as long as he brought the princess’s dress to the shore. The lobster did so.
“The man and his horse returned with Princess Vassilissa’s wedding dress. Princess Vassilissa, however, refused again to marry the tsar until he fulfilled another condition. She asked that the man take a dip into a pot of boiling water. The tsar ordered it to be set for the next morning.
“The morning came, and the man was distraught. But his horse promised that all would be fine. So on the tsar’s order, the man jumped in the pot. When he came out, he had been transformed into a handsome prince. Envious, the tsar jumped into the pot of water and was boiled to death. Princess Vassilissa married the man and they ruled as tsar and tsarina.”
“So am I supposed to be the firebird or the princess?” Nadia scoffs.
“You are all of them.”
They continue in silence for a while, before coming upon the Winter Palace. Its green, gold, and white façade is glorious in the late fall sunlight. Nadia feels blinded and dwarfed by it, but Irina marches right up to the entrance as if she is the tsarina.
“Come, I want to show you something,” she says to Nadia, who shyly follows. Irina leads her past the tourists gawking at the interiors of the Emblem Hall and Throne Room. They enter the Hermitage Museum and go straight to the Romanov gallery.
Coming to a halt in front of the portraits of Nicholas II and his family, Irina directs Nadia’s attention to a portrait of the Grand Duchess Maria. “Like you, she knows what it is to be a pawn of fate.”
Nadia can’t resist adding, “And she was overshadowed by her sister.”
Irina looks at her younger daughter. “Do not allow your anger with fate to bitter your relationship with Sydney. Yelena had no right to use you, but it was my fault.”
Nadia makes protestations, but Irina simply shakes her head and looks up at Alexandra, Tsarina of All Russia. “I tried to keep you from your destiny.”
Later, Nadia makes steak for dinner. She still prepares it in the Argentinean way, even though she is no longer a real Argentinean herself. She feels a pang in her heart of being robbed of yet another part of her.
“You’re like me,” Irina says as she watches her younger daughter cook. Nadia’s graceful movements bring a nostalgic smile to her face as she thinks of another woman in a distant kitchen at another time. “Sydney is her father’s daughter.”
“What do you mean?”
“You and I know fate exists, though we may fight to control ours. Sydney and Jack still scoff at the notion of it.”
Nadia can’t find the words to say that she aches to be unaware of fate. Instead, she says, “When I was a little girl in Argentina, I would dream that I was a princess and one day, my true identity would be revealed and I would live my destiny. Rambaldi turned it into a cruel joke.”
“You’re still letting fate control you.” Irina cups her daughter’s face. “I know you’re stronger than that.”
After a month Nadia thinks about calling Eric. She’s not sure if she loves him like Sydney loves – loved – Michael, but she reminds herself she doesn’t want that kind of love anyway. Michael always saw Sydney as a concept rather than a person. Even Jack Bristow is sometimes in love with an icon of Irina.
Eric simply loves Nadia. Not Nadia Santos or even Nadia Derevkova. Just .Nadia.
Irina watches her daughter play with her phone. It reminds her of courting Jack, when the lines between duty and pleasure blurred. If she’s learned anything, it’s not to waste love.
“Call him.” Irina whispers in Nadia’s ear.
“I shouldn’t. I can’t give him what he wants.”
Irina shakes her head. Sometimes her youngest is so smart, she makes her momma proud, but other times Irina sees that Nadia still needs her very much. “You can love him. That is something fate will not change.”
There’s something in Irina’s voice that gives Nadia the impression her mother is speaking from experience. “Is that true?” Nadia wants to know.
“I would not have done many things if it weren’t true.”
Nadia has not made any phone calls yet, though she knows she will. She doesn’t know what will happen when she returns to her normal life, but she will appreciate it because there are things Nadia knows: that fate is not always pretty, but you can choose how you meet it; that she is still Nadia and her mother loves her.
Irina knows her youngest daughter is going to be just fine – she’s a Derevko after all.
And they both know that being a Derevko is better than being a Romanov when it comes to fate.