Tune the Violin
Part Fourteen
by SarAdora

~~~~~~

1843
Kiev

"Sergei, we are ready. Take Sacha Nicholovich, I will take Mikhail," she gestured as she gently pushed their four-year old son toward his father. She held their two-year old in her arms.

"No, no, barushka," he protested. "Give me the baby as well. I will carry them both."

"Sergei, I am not helpless," she said with exasperation as he took his younger son into his arms and reached a hand down to hold the other one's hand.

"You are carrying our baby," he murmured, bending to kiss his wife. "Soon enough, you will have more than your hands can carry, my love."

He settled them all in the carriage, handing the younger child to Raisa and tucking lap robes around them. His sat with his oldest son by his side and his arm around his wife. They were taking a giant step, but he was sure he was doing the right thing. The political unrest in Russia made him nervous, the peasants more unruly than usual. He feared for his family's safety.

They were on their way to the free land by way of Paris, then London. Once there, they would board ship for America where Sergei had already sent most of their belongings and much of their wealth. Within a year he hoped to have them settled in a state called Montana where it was said the winters were like Kiev but not as bitter, and the summers gloriously warm. He prayed for a safe journey for his loved ones and prayed that his parents and sisters would change their mind and follow them. Looking at Raisa's rounded belly, he wondered again if they should have waited until she delivered, then shook his head. Old Anya traveled with them in the carriage that followed. She would be there to help deliver their third child as safely as she had helped deliver the other two.

~~~

Present Time

"We were traveling to Paris," she told him, "leaving Mother Russia."

"You were expecting our third child," he said, seeing her as she was and not as she had been in his dreams.

"You raised your voice to Anya," she said quietly. "We were in Paris and my time had come. Anya pushed you from the room and you raised your voice to her."

"What did I say?" he asked quietly, remembering the older woman who had scolded him the night he signed the marriage contracts and stormed from his mother's house.

"You said your child was waiting to be born and that if she couldn't help with the birthing, you'd do it yourself."

Wesley smiled. "I was worried about you," he said simply.

"Yes, and for no reason. The child came to us with a loud cry. He was very healthy, our Sergei Alexi."

"And did we go to Montana?" he asked, his throat tightening with each word.

"We stayed in Paris for three months, until the babe and I were able to travel. From there we went to London and from there we boarded a ship to the free land - the Americas." She squeezed his hand and smiled at the man she called Sergei, the man he was in this cycle of their souls' journey through eternity.

"It was a long voyage, my love. Very long."

"We had a cabin to ourselves?" he asked, hoping they weren't miserable the entire time they were at sea.

"Yes, you and I and the babe shared a cabin and Anya... Do you remember Anya?" Wesley nodded. "Anya and our two other boys shared another."

"So I had you all to myself," he teased, amazed he was flirting with a woman old enough to be his mother and not once, questioning his sanity.

"You did," she blushed, remembering details she didn't share with him.

"Did I make love to you on that voyage, Raisa Katerina?" he asked softly.

"You did."

"Did you...?"

"I did."

"Did we ever get out of bed?" he asked, enjoying the teasing and the pale pink tint staining her cheeks.

"Occasionally," she blushed, her wrinkled hand pinching his cheek, making Wesley laugh.

"Ah, Sergei," she sighed, her eyes filling with unshed tears. "I have missed your laughter."

"Raisa," he murmured, kissing her hand, unable to speak further.

The nurse interrupted, saying her patient needed to rest and that he could return in the evening. Wesley cupped Raisa's face and kissed her brow. "I'll be back this evening, barushka. Wait for me."

"Forever, my love," she whispered, her eyes closing, a few tears escaping. Wesley bit his lip, trying hard to remain composed. He felt his own tears and left before he made a fool of himself in front of the nurses. He was just beginning to understand how deeply he was tied to this woman. Her stories, his dreams and their shared memories were both sweet and bittersweet. When he was ignorant of her existence and their shared history, he knew who he was. Now his knowledge of what they had shared in the past and what they had missed in this life pierced something so deep inside his soul, he wasn't sure who he was any more.

~~~

The hospital volunteer looked up when Wesley hurried past her. She only caught a glimpse of him but she recognized him right away. It couldn't be... after all these years. She shook her head, negating the thought. My imagination in overdrive, again, she sighed. Never got over my schoolgirl crush.

Kat was a favorite among the nursing staff. She volunteered two afternoons a week, delivering flowers, mail, and reading and writing letters for patients. Often, she sat with those who had no visitors, listening to them, holding their hands, and once in a while, entertaining them with her violin. They continued to compliment her performance at the hospital's Christmas show. Her dance had been the highlight of the evening.

~~~

Mid 1960s
West Texas

She loved him. She had always loved him, and though she was only a child, knew she always would. Until the day she died, she swore to herself, he would come first with her. Not that he'd notice. She was invisible to him, had always been, and knew she was just another face in the crowd as far as he was concerned.

Nobody really sees a chubby girl.

The first time she saw him, she realized that maybe - just maybe - there was something to this thing called "boys." Mostly, she thought they were a nasty lot, always fiddling with worms and frogs and playing some game - usually with a ball and another smelly boy. And they did smell!

Like mud and horses and old hay and matches and slimy creatures and "boy" things. Didn't they ever take a bath? Disgusting!

"Why did God make boys?" she asked her Aunt Sarah one day.

Uncle David heard her and laughed at his eight-year old niece. "Do you love me, Raisa Katerina?" he asked with a smile.

"Of course, I do, Uncle. I love you very much."

"I was a boy once, too."

Kat arched her brows at this revelation. "You were? I mean, of course you were, but did you...? Were you...? I mean..."

Aunt Sarah laughed. "Yes he was, dear one. Your Uncle David was a wild and nasty boy, but I tamed him. That's why he's so wonderful now." Her aunt and uncle exchanged loving smiles over their niece's head.

~~~

Kat was sitting on the fence that divided their property the first time she saw him. She had been living with her aunt and uncle for a month then, trying to acclimate to ranch life after living in the city until the day her folks died, killed by a drunk driver. He was a big strapping boy for a thirteen-year old and Kat thought he was easy to look at as she watched him ride his horse along the fence line.

"Hello," she called to him that first day. He nodded to her, his face serious, his eyes concentrating on the fence and any gaps that might need mending.

"I've just moved here. People call me Kat. What's your name?" she asked, expecting him to stop and talk to her.

"Sergei," he said, riding on, never getting too close to where she was sitting. It was a beginning.

~~~

Wesley paused at the elevators, something clicking in his memory. The woman he passed outside Raisa's door was vaguely familiar. Must be my overworked imagination. I see a woman with dark brown hair and I think I know her... or knew her... or... The elevator doors opened and he entered, pushing the button for the parking garage. When the buckle clicked shut on his seatbelt, he remembered, seeing her again - as she had been - thirty-odd years before.

~~~

Mid 1960s
West Texas

Thirteen-year old Wesley Sergei Schyler had about as much interest in a chubby eight-year old girl as he had for his mother's spinach and mushroom casserole. It was a given she'd serve it at least once a week and it was a given that little girls were put on this planet just to annoy him. He knew there was a good reason they were there; in fact, his older brothers had assured him that girls would be one of life's perks when he was a little older. His main concern, right now, was passing algebra, trying to convince his mother that she should allow him to play football, and teaching his younger brothers how to hold their own in a brawl. The chubby little girl who had moved here from Dallas held no interest for him. He easily ignored her.

~~~

Wesley chuckled as he drove out of the parking lot. "I even told her my name was Sergei. Have to stop and say hello next time I see her... if I see her again. Wonder if she'll call me Sergei?"

She's not chubby any more, his conscience nudged.

"Nope. Looks all grown up and... what was her name?"

Don't remember... but I do remember her golden brown eyes.

"Golden brown eyes?" he said aloud, momentarily startled. "Golden brown? Like Raisa's?"

~~~

Marta was shutting down her computer when her boss walked in. "Good afternoon, sir," she smiled. "Anything I can get for you before I leave for the day?"

"Anything earth shattering happen while I was away?"

"No, sir. I would have called you."

"Any urgent messages?"

"No, sir, none... well, except for Agent Mahoney's messages."

"And...?"

"He wants to know when he can return to his duties."

"Humph," Wesley snorted. "Anything else?"

"No, sir."

"Goodnight, Marta."

"Sir? About Agent Mahoney?"

"Goodnight, Marta."

He closed the door behind his assistant and leaned against it, suddenly weary. The altercation with Mahoney earlier in the day had bothered him in more ways than one. It wasn't just the unwarranted case file Mahoney tried to create about Raisa's disappearance from the deli, it was the agent's presumption that there was anything to investigate. It was his audacity by going over his head.

It was more than that, his conscience nudged. It was the fact that Raisa was involved.

"My Raisa," he muttered. "She's my Raisa. Don't want anyone else anywhere near her."

If it wasn't for Mahoney, you'd never have met Raisa.

Mmmm.

She makes you vulnerable, his conscience whispered.

"I'm not vulnerable," he pursed his lips, dropping his jacket on a chair and sitting behind his desk. "I'm angry."

"She loved you," the voice of his dreams whispered.

"I know," he answered as if Sinovia was sitting across from him.

"She loves you still," it reminded him.

"I know," he replied again, "and I love her."

"She's old," the voice murmured. "Very old."

"Are you happy?" he yelled at the invisible voice. "Did you purposely give her to me now when you knew we couldn't be together? Is this some kind of perverted revenge for something I did in a previous life? Are you happy in our misery? You bitch! Have you come to taste glory? Yob vas!" he shouted at the voice in his head. "Yob vas!"

Misery washed over him - there was a clot of grief blocking all coherent thought, squeezing what was left of his sanity, choking him.

An observer would note his stiff posture, the spotless white shirt he wore, a knife-edge crease ironed into the sleeves, his large hands clenched on his desk, and his perpetual scowl firmly in place.

No one would ever know the full extent of it. No one would know the battle he fought with his conscience, his sanity, his dreams, and possibly, the hand of God.

Wesley shook his head, partly in despair at what he and Raisa had lost, partly to clear his thoughts. "Yob vas?" he mused. Fuck you? He wondered where he had heard the Russian expression. He knew his father had never said it.

"In Kiev?" the quiet voice of his dreams suggested. "When your friends left you and Raisa Katerina at the dacha, did you hurl curse words at their heads?"

"Yes," he murmured, remembering more details of that time. "I did." "Or perhaps," the voice continued, "you heard it in Nam, when you weren't you... When you were Sergei Nicholai Skovetz."

"Sergei Nicholai Skovetz?"

"The marine who died before you could meet him - the marine whose daughter you met... Alexis... the violin at the Wall... the pretty woman who might have been your daughter... who was your daughter when you lived as Nick Skovetz... do you remember now?" it asked softly.

Wesley laid his head back and closed his eyes, flashes of his life as Nick Skovetz flew through his mind. A pretty woman, their home near a mountain range, the sounds of someone practicing scales on a violin. There was a sudden sharp pain in his chest, the coppery smell of blood, the bullets he took in the dying fields of Nam, his death in a Red Cross tent... Wesley suddenly remembered it all, and it shook him to the core.

Learning about his life with Raisa had initially frightened him. He thought he had lost his mind. Remembering a parallel life - a life he lived in another body - while still living in this one - at the same time - was not merely frightening.

It was terrifying.

~ End Part Fourteen ~

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