Alik seemed okay with what his mother said, but I wasn't sure he fully understood. That was yet to sink in.
And there was the time difference. It was early evening when Alik was crashed on the sofa while he rested against Sasha in front of the TV. I bought some videos for children his age in Russian for him and he watched that. Then Tasha yawned and rose.
“I better get him to bed.” She said smiling reaching for Alik.
Sasha nodded. “I can do it.”
I put my hand on Sasha’s arm. “Let her. This is going to be while before she can do it again.”
Sasha nodded. “Sure.”
Tasha lifted her son. “He is getting so heavy. He is growing fast, but you’ll need to be ready to make breakfast for him when he wakes up, be it two in the morning here or not.” She chuckled.
Sasha grinned back. “I’ll be ready.”
Tasha held her sleeping son. “This is a good thing.” Then she looked at Sasha. “We’re doing a good thing. I’ll be going to bed myself in a minute. So, I’ll say good night.”
Watching her go up the stairs, Sasha turned. “Before you scold me again.” He grinned. “And I know you will if I don’t say not to, I can’t tell you how grateful I am that you’re doing this. You both have literally made me a part of your family. And now you’re taking in Alik. So, I have to say thank you.”
Tony nodded. “I guess we do come off a little strong at times about that. We care about people. Happiness is important.”
“And the people we care about, their happiness is very important.” I added. “There aren’t that many people we care for as much as you, so we want things to work out well. If we can do something to help. That will happen.”
Sasha nodded rising. “I know.” He leaned down kissing my cheek, then Tony’s. “I mean what I say. You two are the best friends I ever had. Thank you.” He headed toward the stairs. “I’m just going to look in on him.”
I smiled. “He’s your son.”
Tony waited until Sasha had gone upstairs before Tony frowned. “Are we going to have problems do you think?”
I shrugged. “I can almost promise we will.” I sighed. “I like that Tasha told Alik what was going to happen and makes him say what he understands about it, but I don’t think Alik really knows or gets it yet. We’ll just have to see.”
Then Tony growled lightly in my ear as he nuzzled my neck. “Let’s go to bed.”
I chuckled as he did that. “It’s early.”
Tony nodded. “It is, isn’t it? Who said we have to go to sleep? I’m not sleepy.”
The next day, Tony and I got up to find Sasha awake…barely…and sitting as Alik watched some more of the videos I’d gotten him. He was crunching on a child’s cereal we’d gotten. Kix or something. He seemed to like it.
“It looks like I need to buy more videos.” I grinned as I watched Alik watching intently at the big screen.
“This is a big TV!” Alik told me, still amazed.
Tony leaned in to me. “I don’t have the translator. What did he say?” Which I grinned telling him.
“Da.” Tony nodded and then he went in the office area. He came out with a briefcase and pulled some forms out. “Sasha. There are some things we need to have signed if you stay here.” Then he shrugged. “Even when or if you move out.”
Sasha turned, his face curious. “Such as?”
Tony sighed. “Who is your next of kin?”
Sasha turned to Alik. “Him.”
Tony nodded. “Can he make a medical decision for your healthcare should you need it?”
“Of course not.” Sasha frowned. “He’s my only living family, but way too young.”
Tony nodded again. “I hope we never have to use it, but if…God forbid…something were to happen and you need a decision made….be it surgery or something. Would you trust Mitch and I would make the right decision? A decision you’d make for yourself?”
Sasha nodded. “I would. You both know me.”
Tony smiled. “We’ll need that to be legal. If you would…I’ve had the forms written out in English and Russian so there will be no mistakes. Mitch and I will be you’re next of kin, unless you can think of someone else.” Tony chuckled. “I suppose you’re marrying us.”
“No, there’s no one else I’d trust. At least not here.” Sasha chuckled as he took the pen, reading both the contracts. It took a few minutes, but he signed the documents in all the right places.
“Now.” Tony pulled another set of contracts. “As far as Alik is concerned…He is and will always be your son. I’ve also had these contracts made up in English and Russian. We would never be or try to be his parents. You are. But there are things listed here, like picking him up from school if you can’t do it. If we take him to the doctor, which we would discuss with you and get your permission to do anything first. But whatever, we can do it. Understand? Being a single parent is tough, and we want to help all we can. Is that clear?” He looked at Sasha carefully. “You don’t have to. Read it carefully and decide. If you’re okay with it, a signature on the Russian form is fine.”
“Me signing the Russian form is legal, though?” Sasha asked.
“Absolutely. I had it written up by a lawyer that grew up in Russia. He’s American now, but knows it well.” Tony nodded, then grinned at me. “He knows the alphabet.” I just grinned and kissed Tony quickly, but ignored his dig.
Tony gave it to Sasha, but he didn’t just sign it. He read it again and again. He wanted make sure he understood it all. Then he signed it and handed Tony the forms with a grin. “So, we’re married now?”
Tony chuckled. “Yep.” He reached out and pulled me into the hug with Sasha. “Just one big gay threesome!”
Sasha shook his head. “That may be a foursome.” He said. “David?” Then he quickly held his hand up to stop us. “I’m kidding! I like things one at a time.” Then he chuckled. “That particular McKenzie has a lot of energy!”
Tony nodded. “So does this one.” Tony hugged me.
The few days seemed to fly by. We showed them Charleston and various places. Even took them to eat, but soon it was time to take Tasha to the airport. To save on further trauma, we decided that her leaving I would take her to the airport. Tony, Sasha and Alik were to remain at the condo. As she came down with her suitcase, what I feared would happen, did.
Alik did not like that his mother was leaving. It finally sunk in to Alik, his mother was going without him!
“No!” Alik shouted reaching for his mother. “Don’t go!”
Tasha knelt again in front of her son, but was pulling his arms away from Sasha. “We talked about this. This is what must be done.”
“Then I should go with you.” Alik wailed.
Of course this was all in Russian, but Tony could see what was happening and you didn’t need to know a language to know what was being said. I was feeling like a voyeur in this. This was a private family moment, but we were there.
“No, Alik.” Tasha said firmly. “You have to stay with your father.”
“Why can’t you stay?” Alik cried.
“Because that’s what we have to do.” Tasha explained.
Sasha bent beside his son. “Remember I told you about the rules? This is a rule.”
“I don’t care!!” Alik was now crying even harder.
“I’m not leaving you, Alik.” Tasha said, but it was breaking her heart. “I will be back, but I have to go! You know that.”
“No, no, no!!” Alik was fighting with all the strength of a six year old.
Sasha turned Alik to face him. “Alik, please stop this!” He begged his son. “You’re hurting your mother. You’re hurting me.”
“I don’t care!” Alik wailed.
“Yes, you do!” Tasha said firmly. “You’re going to miss me. I will miss you, too. Very much, but we have to do this!”
“Why?” Alik bawled.
Sasha forced his son to look at him. “Because we want you to grow up!” Sasha shook his head. “Where we were living is very dangerous! It’s our job to protect you. We can’t do it as well back in Moscow. You have a chance at a better future here!” Sasha hugged his son hard. “I love you, son. Your mother loves you. We will do whatever we have to do to make sure you can grow up where you’re safe, go to school and become a good man!”
“You did!” Alik said.
Sasha nodded. “I was lucky. If my parents could, they’d have sent me away to be safe.” The tears were now coming from everyone. Tony and I were crying. “Your mother isn’t leaving you.”
Tasha nodded. “I’d never leave you. I will be back.” She promised.
Sasha nodded. “We still have that connection. You can speak and see her as much as you can. Just as I did you. It hurt me leaving you as much as I had to. But I needed to make sure you two had what you needed to live. I had to work. It killed me when I had to leave. But I had to!”
“Just like I have to now.” Tasha said crying. “I love you, Alik. I’ll talk to you once I’m back in Moscow. But that won’t be for a day or so.” She kissed him on the top of his head and then nodded at me. “Let’s just go.”
What could I do? I simply nodded, took her suitcase and opened the door. I could hear Alik crying harder and I heard him kicking Sasha as he fought to stay with his mother. But Sasha just hugged him tightly and let Alik rave nearly out of control while Sasha refused to let Alik go. I heard Sasha tell Alik over and over. “I’ve got you. I love you. I’ve got you. It’ll be alright.”
When I got Tasha in the car, that’s when she broke down and just wept. We had planned to leave a little early as we all knew this would happen both with Alik and with Tasha. I think it is the Boy Scout motto to always be prepared. Well, I was never a Boy Scout, but I like to think I was prepared. I pulled a little pack of travel tissues and handed it to her and just rubbed her back. What could I say to make things better? I just let her cry.
It was a while before she waved me to go, but I headed toward the airport.
“We’re doing the right thing.” She said weakly. I felt she was saying that more for her own sake than assure me. “It just hurts so much.”
Again, what could I say? Then she started to cry again.
By the time I pulled into the airport and parked she had collected herself enough to go in without anyone panicking. Once we’d gone through security she and I sat until the flight was called.
“Well,” she smiled, but her eyes were still a little red and swollen. “The next time I see you, you’ll probably be fluent in Russian, perhaps a few other languages.” She chuckled. “You still need to work on the accent.”
I smiled at her. “It all depends on my motivation. I was highly motivated to learn Italian, just as I was to learn Russian. We’ll just have to see. I’ll promise to work on the accent.”
She hugged me. “Take care of my angel.” She kissed me on the cheek. “I know you will. You’re good people, you and Tony both.”
I smiled wider. “Sometimes. Have a safe trip. We look forward to you coming back.”
Tasha nodded. “I still have a few things to do. But I’ll be in touch.” She kissed me on the cheek again and walked through that….tunnel thing. She got on the plane!
When I walked back into the condo, I saw Tony sitting on the sofa…alone. Listening I didn’t hear anything from upstairs.
“How was it?” I asked Tony quietly.
Tony shook his head. “It was brutal!” He sighed rubbing his hand over his face. “If Nick ever…Sasha was so patient with Alik. Hell, I was willing to drive Alik to the airport! How was it with Tasha?”
I sat beside Tony. “She had a hard time, but she did it.” I looked at Tony. “You understand why, don’t you?”
“Yes.” He shrugged. “Moscow has millions of people. They’re fine, aren’t they?”
I nodded. “But if you did something to make a future for Nick, wouldn’t you do it?” I sighed. “If there was a slim chance of good results in Italy, but a much better one in America, wouldn’t you do it? Even if it was a traumatic? Your great-grandfather thought so.”
Tony put his head on my shoulder. “Yes.” He said sadly. “But it was so hard! He could be permanently damaged.”
“We’ll just have to do what we can to minimize the damage. Sasha and Tasha thought it was worth the risk. Have you checked on Sasha?” I asked.
Tony shook his head. “Alik finally stopped kicking and screaming. I was giving them a few minutes before checking in on them.” Then Tony scratched his head. “I really need to learn Russian. That translator is good, but…” he shook his head. “There are glitches. If you leave me here with Alik and Sasha’s not here…”
I chuckled. “I’ve checked into a service.”
“A service?” Tony looked at me.
“Alik’s going to need a sitter and tutor. He needs to learn English and he needs to go to school.”
Tony was blinking, he was having a moment to think about what I’d said. “Like who? What service?”
“Au Pairs.” I said simply. “There are bonded, hired by people that don’t want to have a bad issue with a child’s care. We can hire one able to speak Russian and English.” I shrugged. “Maybe I could sit in so she could help me with that crazy alphabet.”
“You checked on these people.” Tony was saying things to confirm what I was saying.
I chuckled. “Yes, Tony. I’ve found a few services. The best I’ve found so far is based out of Germany.”
I grinned, turning and pushing him down on the sofa. “Yes, Germany.” I leaned on top of him. “I spoke with a woman named Krista. They’re send Au Pairs all over the world. Their Au Pairs won’t abuse physically or mentally according to Krista and I checked with Interpol and their record. They’re recommended and have a good rating. Plus!” I grinned as Tony grinned at my enthusiasm. “They don’t give a damn that we’re gay. In fact, the idea that we were all in committed relationships helped. These are young women and don’t want to be sexually assaulted.”
Tony nodded. “Uh huh.” Then his eyes widened. “Wait, Sasha’s not in a committed relationship!”
I smirked. “Please. You saw them.” I waved at the obvious. “It’s going to happen. We all know it. It’s in the stars.”
“Okay,” Tony chuckled, his fingers in my hair this time. “So what do we do to get an Au Pair?”
“We’ll send our information, and Sasha’s, we’ll have an interview over the Internet and then we decide after we check out.” I narrowed an eye at Tony. “That means no funny business from your family. Mob and things.”
Tony chuckled again. “We’ll be safe, but you mean Sasha decides.” Tony corrected.
“Of course. It’s his son.” I said logically.
“Have you run it by Sasha?”
I grimaced looking up the stairs. “He was sort of busy for a while, but I’m going to ask him.” Then I grinned down at Tony. “And we’ll probably have to cut this out.” I said my hand going up his shirt to the hair beneath it.
“Probably.” Tony nodded kissing me passionately. “But what’s the harm if Alik sees we’re affectionate?”
“Affection. Not sex.” I stressed lightly.
It was another few hours when I went upstairs. I hadn’t heard a thing from up here. Looking in what Sasha had used for his room while Tasha was here I didn’t see anyone. Then in Alik’s room, I saw Sasha sitting on the bed with Alik as he rocked and comforted his son. The fact that Sasha had been crying was on his face. I simply was going to leave them alone, but Sasha waved me in.
“I was worried about you two.” I said in Russian to them.
Sasha smiled. “It was the shock. He’ll be fine.” He squeezed his son. “We knew this would be hard on him.” He smiled at me. “You did, too.”
I was worried that Alik had reverted a little. His thumb in his mouth. I’d never seen him do that the few days he was here. It was probably due to the trauma and he was just comforting himself.
“I sort of knew it would be. Do you want me to bring you something to eat?” I asked Sasha in English, but if Alik wanted it, I’d bring that, too.
Sasha nodded said in English. “Whatever you’re fixin’.” He hugged his son to himself. “We’ll just stay here.”
I grinned. “Fixin’?” I repeated. “That was very Southern of you.”
“Jeremy.” Sasha shrugged with a smile. “It sort of just comes out now. The accent.”
I ran a finger over Alik’s forehead along his hairline. Alik was quiet, his eyes open, but seemed to have calmed down. Then I smiled at Sasha and left them alone.
I brought up the Sausage and Peppers Tony made. This time, Sasha was curled up with his son on the bed. Alik seemed to have drifted off to sleep.
It was bedtime when Sasha came down with the empty plate.
“He’s going to be fine.” Sasha nodded. “He ate half of this!” He said happily.
Tony nodded. “He hasn’t lost his appetite, good.”
Sasha nodded too. “I’m sorry he got…”
“No, Sasha.” Tony shook his head. “Don’t apologize for Alik missing his mother. We all knew this would happen.”
Sasha chuckled. “He’s a kicker.” He rubbed the crotch of his pants. “He nailed me good a few times.”
“Nailed? You sound like a true American.” I smiled.
“I’m around it all day.” Sasha shrugged. “This the right way to use the word, isn’t it?”
“It is.” Then I shook my head. “I hope there wasn’t too much damage.” But he was smiling.
“Nah.” Sasha shook his head and waved the thought off. “I hope things are better with Alik tomorrow. I go back to work on Tuesday.”
I nodded. “Well, that’s why it’s good you live with a manager.” I smiled. “You take any days you need. I’ll put you on Family Medical.”
Sasha looked surprised. “Doesn’t Alan have to approve that?”
“He does.” I nodded. “But do you think he’ll refuse the best waiter? I don’t think so. He’ll sign off on it.”
“But Mitch was looking into some caregivers for Alik.” Tony said.
“Someone to look out for Alik.” I said. “We all work. And he’s going to need to go to school, but he needs the language first. I was thinking of getting someone here that knows Russian and English who could help him begin.”
Sasha looked amazed. “They have them here?”
“We can find one.” I nodded. “There are Russians in Charleston.”
Sasha grinned. “Really? I haven’t seen many.”
“They’re there.” I said. “But we really need a plan. We’re going away in a few weeks. You’ll need help.”
“It’s expensive?” Sasha asked.
Tony sighed. “Here we go again.” He stood up. “You signed a document. I have legal proof you’re family now. As family, we’re in this together.” Tony walked up putting a hand on Sasha’s shoulder. “We stick together.”