In The Snowy Shadows.

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Saint Tribs

Original poster
When Mishka realized he couldn't pay the bills just by working at the florist he was rather depressed by it. Here he was in his own house, a house with his name on it and working every hour he could and he couldn't do it? That just didn't seem fair. So he sat down and wrote up a quick little ad for the paper, after all when it came down to it he had several extra bedrooms, all nearly empty and his future roommate could have two of them.

Maybe a little company wouldn't be so bad? The house was larger than Mishka had ever expected and farther away from town than he was used to. He was only twenty minutes out but sometimes it seemed like forever. Like a whole different world out in the lonely woods and the silence, sometimes he could hear the trains but they didn't come that often. The air around the house hung still and quiet in the Autumn mornings and evenings when he was home.

A Week Later.

Mishka had a day off finally, the little flower shop was surprisingly busy and kept him there all week. There had been only two people to respond to his ad and honestly he was amazed that there had been that many. There wasn't a great many 'kids' his age in town at the moment. It seemed they all left for college except for a few. Mishka knew he didn't want a roommate who was a great deal older than him, he didn't like the idea of some 'adult' sailing in and taking over his new home like it was theirs. He'd spent the day before cleaning and straightening and getting things ready for the possibility of someone actually saying yes. He had his doubts though.
When he saw the small "Roommate Wanted" ad tucked in like a footnote on the classified page of the local paper, Desya had the oddest sense that he'd just been given a sign. The morning had begun like any other, with the smell of hot oatmeal cooking on the stove and coffee percolating in the pot, the patter and chatter of Katenka and Sasha's reign of tiny terror that could be heard from any room of the house, the sun filtering in through his bedroom window and casting strange patterns as it refracted from the frost formed in the night. The rest of the house was in motion, but Desya's room remained fixed in place, and sometimes he thought that if he didn't leave his room, that hour would stretch on indefinitely. But that was just a fleeting idea, and then he would turn the knob and step out into the world that lay beyond, a world that he didn't quite seem to have a place in. He was always the last to rise, the last to dress, and the last to come down to breakfast. By the time he descended the stairs, his stepfather had gone out the door, leaving an empty red mug that was still warm to the touch and the morning paper half-open on the table. His mother would be busy rounding the girls up for the trip to school, consumed by the task of straightening hair ribbons and tying shoelaces and keeping Katenka from taking Sasha's bear. Desya would get a cup of coffee (his mug was green) and sit down at his stepfather's empty seat and skim the paper, the pads of his fingers tracing over the newsprint line by line and leaving faint smudges.

But this morning, unlike any other, he found this a

That Saturday, while his little sisters went out to play with the next-door neighbors and his mother went to her weekly needlework association meeting (which, as far as he could tell, was an excuse to sit around and gossip with the other ladies in town), Desya got into his little old grey beater car and drove out to the edge of town, taking the lone winding road into the woods. They had a break from the snow today, but little swirls of dancing flakes flew up like mist from under his wheels. It was only twenty minutes, he knew, because his eyes strayed to the pale green numbers on his dashboard more than once; but it felt like an eternity, in that odd timeless way that the solitude of his room seemed to confer, and at times he began to wonder if he was lost despite the fact that there were no wrong turns for him to take. It was almost like he'd gone someplace he hadn't meant to go.

But then he rounded a bend in the road, his tires making a soft wet crunch as they kicked up slush, and he got his first look at the house through the trees.

He liked the look of it. The roof was gabled, the sides wood-paneled, and he could see a railed deck on the second floor. It was big, bigger than he'd expected, and he wondered a little that the two rooms that had been offered were within the limitations of his thinly-spread pocket. What was the owner like? Why had he decided to lease out the rooms? Abstract impressions and questions flitted through Desya's head as he parked the car and stepped out into the front yard of what he hoped was his new home, his boots leaving an easy-to-follow trail of footprints in the undisturbed snow, all the way to the front porch. Ringing the bell, he stuck his hands in the pockets of his wool coat to keep them warm, hanging back a little from the door and waiting for an answer.

A few last minute adjustments had Mishka running around in circles inside the house, trying to make sure everything was neat and clean without being too stuff. A good impression, he told himself half a dozen times. "This isn't that bad..." He muttered to himself and sighed checking the water in his flowers on the counter. Little touches, he read several guides online to lure in a roommate. The doorbell rang, that must be the first appointment. He only had the man's last name though... Ah well.

Mishka jogged to the door and peeked out before opening it and revealing the hard wood hallway with the plain off-white walls. He gave a little smile, brushing his fluffy and nearly constantly mess brown hair out of his eyes. "H-hi I'm Mishka, it's a pleasure to meet you. Come in! It's awfully cold out there." Mish moved and let Desya clean off his shoes on the 'welcome' mat in front of the door. "I've seen you around, haven't I? You work at the gas station don't you?" He thought for a minute. "Desya?"

Mishka was dressed casually, a gray sweater and a pair of blue jeans. He was the boy-next-door, a sort of casually handsome young man. Though he was obviously more than slightly awkward. He gave Desya another smile. "I work at the florist, myself." He felt the need to add. Like he needed to show that he made money as well, not just living here off his Dad's money, because there really wasn't much of it. Just the house. Mishka was nervous, a little flightly as he fidgeted and watched the other man.
The owner of the house was a familiar face, in the sort of distant way of knowing you've seen a person before and where it had been. Mishka had been a customer, pulling up to the gas station in a classic Volkswagen Beetle; like the gas station itself, it was the only one of its kind to be found locally, and it had stood out as much as the fact that its driver was new to the town. It was a small town, an old town, where everyone knew everyone knew their parents knew their grandparents, with one church and one school and one post office, the sort of place where everyone had been born there and married the girl next door when they grew up. Few people moved there. The last newcomers had been Desya and his mother, a handful of years ago now, and still people would smile at Desya politely and say, "Oh, you're Mark's new stepson, aren't you?"

Snow that clung to his clothes like dust melted and dripped onto the mat as he stepped into the heat of the house, knocking ice carefully off of the soles of his boots. The weather may have been calm, but wind and his own momentum had stirred up drifts of powder as he made his way to the door. He brushed it away, nodding in answer to Mishka's question. He was a little surprised that Mishka had remembered him, let alone recalled his name. It wasn't something he'd expected, and it left him without a prepared response.

"Nice to meet you," he settled on finally, slipping out of his coat. He glanced around the hall, to give himself something other than his host to look at as much as out of genuine interest. How did you ask someone you've never met if you can move into their home? How did this work? Why had he thought he could do such a thing? "Can I see around the house?"
Mishka smiled at Desya and shut the door behind him, they were standing in the hall still. "Sure! Would you like to see the kitchen and living room first? Then we can go upstairs and I'll show you your rooms. I'm offering two rooms to the same person, I don't think one room is ever really enough and then you can have an office or something should you need it." Mishka rambled, he couldn't help it! He was so very very nervous as he walked down the hall and into the kitchen.

"Uhm, this is the kitchen." He gestured at the rather large kitchen with it's island and sink and seperate work space away from the gas stove and surprisingly new appliances. "It looks like my Dad did a lot of cooking. It's pretty well stocked. Big fridge, you'd be welcome to put whatever you needed in there.... Uhm, depending on how you wanted to do it we could split the grocery bill or take turns with it." Mishka turned around and looked outside the sliding glass doors, the wind rustling the trees and making him worry.

"There's a living room and a den and a dining room..." He added, scratching his cheek, he was obviously not used to so much space and didn't know what to do with it. "Two car garage too..." He perked. The garage made sure his 'baby' wouldn't get any more rust on her than she already had. "There's a little workshop shed out back too..." He shook his head. This place just seemed far far too big for one person, or even two... How had his Dad lived here alone all these years? Was this house the one he grew up in? He didn't think it was that old. Mishka lost himself in thought for a moment, a barely there frown gracing his face. "Oh! Sorry, anyway! There's the dining room and this way is the living and the den is the room off the left there...."
Desya was a little relieved to find that Mishka seemed as overwhelmed by the size of the house as he was. A big house wouldn't be so bad, he imagined; plenty of quiet and privacy, plenty of ways for him to practice his music without being intrusive. There was a garage with space for his car, and a kitchen where he could cook without getting in anyone's way. The island world of his room could expand, take in more territory. He could move about as he pleased without fear of becoming an outsider, an onlooker in a scene which didn't belong to him. That was what he'd hoped to find here.

He still wasn't quite sure what to make of his prospective roommate, but he seemed easy enough to get along with, from what little Desya knew of getting along with other people. It felt a little odd to not be asking questions, and he forced his mouth to form words, leaning against the kitchen counter and letting his eyes settle somewhere in the vicinity of the sink faucet, examining the room's warped reflections in the nickel finish. "...Do you like to cook?"
Mishka answered questions as best he could as the wind suddenly picked up again. He shivered, wrapping his arms around himself and looked over at Desya again. He'd lapsed into silence, letting the other young man look as he saw fit, no point in interjecting too much conversation into it. He wasn't sure what to think of his potential room mate, not really. He chewed his already raw lower lip. "Cooking? I can... I mean, sorta? I enjoy it a little bit but I'm afraid I've got a habit of burning things." He blushed and looked down at his shoes.

"Do you cook? Because that'd be really cool.. I mean I can a little bit but as I said, not the best." He scratched his face and looked out the backdoor. "Looks like we're going to get another storm..." The soft pitter patter of slushy rain began to beat against the side of the house. "I wish it'd just snow, I hate the slush." He sighed and looked over to Desya. "So what do you think? Do you want to think about it or...?" He wasn't sure what to do in this situation. He knew he didn't want to beg.
"...I can cook." More than just could, really, because he enjoyed it. Cooking, on those rare moments when he had the kitchen all to himself, was a way to just relax while his hands did all the work, letting everything outside of his bubble of stove and ingredients melt away, the smell of spices creating a fog around him as he threw things together and watched a dish unfold. It was almost magical, just like when the first few notes of a song he'd written hit his ear.

As the sludge of half-snow began to pelt the roof and trickle down the kitchen window in thick globs, Desya looked up at Mishka just in time to catch the other man's gaze. Biting the inside of his lip, he turned to look out the window, resting his hands flat against the counter top as he searched for an appropriate answer. "I'm okay with it if you are."

If this weather kept up, he wasn't going to be able to drive home. He could see it now, gunking up his windshield and churning under his tires. Even if he started now, it could cause problems, with such a long drive. "Can I stay until the storm lets up?"
Mishka brightened considerably as Desya said yes! That was exciting to the brown haired young man. "I'm so glad you want to stay." He gave another little nervous smile and chewed his lip. "Ah! The fire, I hope it's not burnt down too much..." Mishka smiled and wandered off towards the fireplace where the fire was indeed wearing down. He added another log and a bit of kindling to make sure it'd catch. The wood had gotten just a touch damp before he'd been able to get it in.

The snow storm picked up, an eerie howl against the side of the house. Bouncing from house to trees, the slush was coming down at a sharp hard angle made for getting down the back of shirts and pants. "Hey Desya, do you need to call someone? I wouldn't want them to worry about you in this storm..." Mishka came back to the kitchen, passing by Desya on his way to the sliding glass backdoor and planted his nose against it peering out into the mess. He couldn't help but to shiver staring out into the wicked storm, everything seemed so unfriendly when it was dark.
The rich smell of woodsmoke perfumed the air, just a little thick from the dampness of the logs. Desya breathed it in, willing it to warm him, and went to retrieve his coat from where it hung by the door. The pockets contained several things:

A house key and car keys, on a carved wooden key chain.
Two coins, both tarnished nearly beyond recognition.
An old grocery list his mother had given him, folded into a tight square.
A bit of dark lint.

His cell phone, however, was nowhere to be found, and it seemed as though he must need to go out and get it. Going out into the slush wasn't a compelling idea, but he didn't know if Mishka- or rather, if they- had a land line, and even if this was to be his house, Desya still felt like to much of a guest, an outsider, to ask. "I left my phone in the car. I'll be right back."
"Your phone is in the car?" Mishka wrinkled his nose a bit. "You might want to get it now before the storm gets worse if you need it, but if you have your numbers memorized you can use the house phone." He gave a soft smile to the other young man as he turned around, silhouetted against the darkness of the door. He hand a hand through his bouncy auburn hair. "If you go out I'll make you something warm to come back to, coffee, tea, or cocoa?" He asked and wandered to the kitchen, rifling through a cabinet filled with hot drink fixings and a stray bottle of who-knows-what that were still tightly closed.
"I'd say to put the car in the garage but there's a chance we wouldn't be able to get it out again..." He gave a sheepish smile. "It'll be okay outside? Or would you rather chance getting stuck and putting it in the garage?"
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