Early morning of December 14th, 1941
Italics indicate flashback.
OOC: It should be noted that some flashbacks are from the Ryuusei Den novelization of Suboshi’s past. I do not always agree with how it is written, but it makes well for the character at this point.
“Aleksandr… you’re going to grow up alone and a complete bastard. Why don’t you try to be nice to people for a change?” Tatiyana scowled and tried to cuff her brother on the side of the head, but she found her wrist seized before ever coming close to connecting. She glared, and he returned the gesture. “Why are you always hiding up here on this stupid rock?”
Aleksandr sneered and stared across the fields, shifting the stock of wheat to the left side of his mouth. He went back to ignoring his sister, even if he gave her arm an unfriendly twist before releasing it.
Tatiyana huffed. “You are an unsocialized brute, you know that?”
“You’re passing a lot of hot air for someone neglecting their chores,” Aleksandr remarked simply. He pointedly leaned on the rifle pressed into his shoulder and glanced at his sister. “Do you have anything useful to say, or are you just going to stand there all day glaring? You’ll get ugly wrinkles that way.”
If there were any similarities in their persons, it was that both had vicious tempers when driven to anger. Tatiyana hissed through clenched teeth and managed to land a heavy foot into her brother’s hip. “If you were doing your chores, I wouldn’t have to be out here!”
Aleksandr passed a lazy glance to Tatiyana. “Sheep don’t mind themselves, you know.”
“Like you care… you just want to shoot something,” she accused and set her hands on her hips. “Mama wanted you to clean the barn today.”
“I’ll do it tomorrow.”
“Papa is taking you to town to sell the crop tomorrow.”
“Then I’ll do it the day after.”
Tatiyana glared again. “It would be done already if you were nice and stopped chasing off Papa’s hired help!”
“I didn’t like him,” Aleksandr said simply, as if that was all the reasoning he needed for his actions.
“And the previous guy?”
“He looked shady.”
“And the one before that?”
“Erm… he was looking at you funny.” Aleksandr couldn’t hold off a smirk at his sister’s growl of increasing rage at him. “I was just doing my brotherly duty and protecting you.”
Tatiyana believed that as much as the grazing sheep might. “You only consider your brotherly duty terrorizing me.”
“That’s because you make it so easy,” Aleksandr drawled and finally stood up again. He turned to his sister and gave her a small shove backwards then swung the rifle up to rest against his shoulder. “If you got such a problem with me, then go and cry at mama.”
“Got? You are such an under-educated fool. You will regret dropping out…"
Aleksandr sat up from where he was situated on the couch and scratched the back of his head. He looked around the still unfamiliar darkness of the apartment before he glanced towards where he was certain that there was a window. He managed a stretch before he lay back on the couch, settling back in under the warmth of his blankets.
He stared up through the darkness towards the ceiling. That was the first dream he had ever had where his sister was involved. He and Tatiyana were not the best of friends and even less so, compatible siblings. He had kept his distance from her, mostly because he always felt like she was not actually his sibling but some strange awkward puzzle piece jammed into his life.
Despite himself, he only lost a considerable amount of his reservations for her when his father deemed that he should answer the call to defend the Motherland. That was also the first time that Tatiyana had ever cried. She said she would miss him, and he had been forced to promise that he would come home if she were to ever marry.
The only reason he had… was to make her stop crying. Women drove him up the wall with their tears.
Huffing softly in the darkness, Aleksandr flipped onto his side and pressed his face into the couch cushions. He pushed thoughts of his sister away and urged his eyes closed. It would do him little good to waste away the night thinking about the past.
He found a strange sense of loss as he wrinkled his nose to rid himself of the minor dusting of hair, which had fallen across his face. He avoided looking at the mirror that was propped up to help his mama cut the sandy locks from his head, and he had hated every moment of it. There was something so wrong about having his head shaved to suit him better for the military.
His mother said nothing to him until the job was finished. She forced him to look into a mirror and offer a few grunting comments that it looked fine. He thought that he looked very stupid, mostly because he had never shaved his head in his entire life. He liked his hair in a certain way, and he was never one for change if he could help it.
It was like staring at a stranger. Not like Jan
He managed to chase his mother off of regaling tales of his early childhood to their neighbours of the village. He had even escaped under the excuse that he wanted to make sure that he had packed his things properly.
Aleksandr had had no thoughts of packing. Instead, he stared into the mirror and ran a hand over his bald head, feeling with his fingers the damage that had been done to him. It did not take him long to start to loathe the reflection that greeted him. Jan would not cut his hair. He really hated change, especially to himself and his appearance.
Grumbling to himself, Aleksandr lifted his head and absently rubbed his head. His ears were cold; that was the most annoying part of having no hair. He hated having his ears cold, which was entirely the reason that he wore a bandana.
He had the urge to have a cigarette. Entertaining that thought would force him out into the cold of the Polish night on a balcony where he had a seemingly high chance of being shot, as far as he could think. The cold wouldn’t bother him that much, but he had a feeling that Jan would be upset if he was out smoking his restlessness away.
He was warm enough, though, that he decided that he would leave his cigarette break for another time. He had been good and not had one since their mess had begun with. Maybe he would sneak out early in the morning and have one?
His eyes jerked open, and Aleksandr could have sworn that he had only just closed them. He glanced to the side to sharpen his hearing, but he only found silence meeting his ears. He heaved a sigh and closed his eyes again, listening to the rhythmic breathing from the person sleeping on the floor nearby.
His Uncle Vladimir always had a certain way of entertaining the children even while sounding completely insane (or drunk). He had realized from a very young age that there was a very good reason why his uncle had never married or settled to have children.
The man had something seriously wrong. It had a habit of scaring his sister, and an even greater habit of warping his senses.
“Now my little Tatiyana…” his uncle would say.
“I’m Aleksandr,” he remarked dryly before pointing off towards where his sister was making a quick escape through the door.
“Oh… well, at your age, you all look the same.” His uncle wasn’t even looking at him.
He wanted to be offended, but he did find his uncle rather entertaining. There were too many stories from the man, and he was pretty sure that most were rather bogus. If anything, they were good to waste an afternoon on, given how infrequently his uncle visited like Jan them at their home.
“I ever tell you about my trip to China?”
“Many times,” Aleksandr replied. He was studying the peeling paint of his room, only half paying attention. It was really just a good way to get out of chores.
Uncle Vladimir snorted and cuffed him gently. “You’re as obnoxious as your father says you are.”
“Mama says I’m just outright rude.”
“She would… that’s why you are the way you are.” His uncle and his mother never really got along well. She thought Vladimir could use some honest work, and his uncle thought his mother was overbearing and stuffy. “Anyway… let me tell you a story, Tati-er… Aleks.”
Aleksandr wrinkled his nose at the shortened version of his name. It wasn’t even a good shortened version, but he knew better than to call his elder on it. His papa would be displeased if he managed to offend Vladimir, which was surprisingly difficult. He had tried once; he had offended everyone but his uncle.
“Have I told you the Chinese ‘Legend of the Shooting Star’?” His uncle swayed dangerously in an attempt to turn to face him.
“Would it really matter if you had,” he asked.
“Hmm, I suppose you’re right. Such a smart boy.” He sneered at the sarcasm in his uncle’s voice, but he said nothing more. “Anyway, this legend… I was told it while they were executing people.”
Because twins are bad luck. Don’t tell Jan… could break his sensitive peace-keeping heart.
“…see, in Chinese legends and to the lay-folk, identical twins were seen as an omen of bad luck. In every pair, there is a weaker one. Shut up, old man. They say that if the weaker of the two was killed, the village would be spared disaster. Not sure how they decided who was weaker though…”
Aleksandr raised an eyebrow, his interest actually peeked by this story. There were few that interested him, given most consisted of someone getting stabbed and a dog freezing to death in the snow. He supposed old legends like that were less common to be heard, especially in his small village.
Vladimir was staring at him. “If the twins were kept together though, the Legend of the Shooting Star comes into play. See, if they see a shooting star falling from the heavens, it is a gloomy sign that bears tidings of the twins’ separation. If that were to happen, they would have to fight with their lives on the line.”
You boys are our pride and joy; because… you are Kutou’s pride and joy…
Not entirely believing the story, he had the good sense to just think it over. He rested his chin on his knees and looked towards the window. He almost told his uncle about his feelings of loneliness that day, how he never really felt fully himself. He knew it would sound crazy, which would mean his uncle would listen.
He never spoke of it. Maybe if you were more like Jan?
Frustrated with the intermittent sleep, Aleksandr forced himself to sit up again. His legs had managed to get tangled in the blankets, and he fussed to pull them free. He kicked in his annoyance and finally slumped back against the couch, turning his head enough where he thought he could peer through the darkness and spot the outline of Jan bundled up in blankets.
“Ooooh, aren’t these guys twins? They don’t act alike, but their faces are exactly the same; they’re perfect copies of each other!”
He shook his head, lifting his fingers and pressing them on either side of the bridge of his nose. He was getting a headache from the lack of sleep, and he really wanted to get something so that he was less cranky in the morning. He doubted that Jan would be happy if he was snapping and snarling at everyone that came within a mile of him.
Turning his head, he rolled onto his side and stared through the darkness again. He narrowed his eyes in an attempt to see Jan’s outline on the floor, but it was just a pool of darkness where he could only hear soft breathing. He tapped his fingers against his cheek as he stared at the mass of black where Jan was probably so blissfully asleep.
He sighed heavily and glanced away from the floor, allowing his confused haze to fall over his sleep-deprived brain. He still wondered how two people could look identical, have the same birthdate, but not be twins?
…they’re perfect copies of each other…!
Maybe if we were more like Jan?
Maybe if we were more like Amiboshi, you mean. Quit being a retard!
Unmindful of the intermittent soft blue glow from his left shoulder, Aleksandr finally managed to lay his head down and fall off to a dreamless sleep.