IC: Mikhail Irena
"Hey kid, where are your parents? You really shouldn't be running around by yourself in this weather."
The disheveled-looking boy stared up at the man addressing him, his face streaked with tears. His breath was ragged, and his tiny body shivered from the cold. Entirely drenched by the pouring rain, he was quite the sight to behold. While he did not provide an answer to the man's question, his reddened eyes and absolutely dead gaze betrayed his situation anyway.
It left the man quite flummoxed, but he silently held his umbrella over the boy. It wouldn't do to leave the kid in this rain, and the spark of hope in those dead eyes clinched the situation for him. The man would do everything in his power to help the boy, no matter what tried to get in his way.
"Follow me kid - we'll get you cleaned up," he said, a reassuring smile appearing on his face. "Got a name?"
There was no answer, the boy preferring to quietly follow the man down the street in silence as the rain continued to pour down endlessly.
After a while though, he finally spoke. "... Mikhail."
"Like Gorbachev huh? What about a surname?"
"I-I do not ..."
The boy trailed off, gazing into the distance.
"... Irena. I am Mikhail Irena."
"That's a nice name. Mine's Drew, it's nice to meet you."
"Hey you! Guy with the hat! What the heck are you doing?!"
Mikhail swung into a sitting position on the branch, ignoring the prickly branches that brushed against his clothing. It was highly unlikely that they could pierce into his skin, and as such, they were not of great importance. His eyes gazed over the ground below him, looking for the source of the call. He found it in the form of a rather peeved schoolgirl directly under the tree opposite to his.
"I am," he began, before being rudely cut off by the girl.
"Doesn't matter!" she shouted. "I just need you to answer a question of mine!"
"Are you looking for your boyfriend?"
"Yes!" she exclaimed. Her eyebrows furrowed in confusion. "Wait, how did you know? Are you a mind-reader or something?"
The rookie agent, having only recently been accepted into SHIELD, smiled. "He walked by five minutes ago, looking for you. He is currently over at the John Ericsson statue. You should really hurry over there - he is quite distressed and worried that you've gotten lost."
"No worries, Daniella. Now go meet up with your Sam."
"Wait, how do you know - oh yeah. Probable mind-reader. Thanks and bye!"
Mikhail sighed as he watched her run off.
"I am not a mind reader."
"Do you seriously sit on tree branches and feed ducks after work?" said the barista, handing Mikhail a cup of coffee. "Like, seriously?"
He nodded, taking a slow sip of the beverage. Mikhail enjoyed the lattes at this cafe. It was reason why he always frequented it during his many lunch breaks, which seemed to be greater in number than most of his colleagues. Very strange, yet he brushed it away. He did benefit from the lunch breaks, after all.
"I am a fan of birds," said the agent. "Especially pigeons."
The barista hmm'ed as he prepared another order. "Any chance I can join you next time you're around?"
"You are welcome to do so."
"Why is it that we always run into you whenever me and Sam are on a date?! Are you stalking us or something?!"
It had been five years since he had first met the two young lovebirds, but Mikhail was of the opinion that Daniella's blunt rudeness and Sam's incessant worrying had not changed at all. Not that he really cared. Their personalities were the main reason why he had befriended them. A bit of a reminder, and they were adorable together.
"No. I simply like coming to Battery Park," he replied, correcting her. "Eighty percent of your dates are located here, and the time we ran into each other at the premiere of the Batman movie was actually a coincidence."
"Riight," drawled Daniella. "You're totally a stalker."
Mikhail shrugged, something that was usually rather difficult to pull off when one was hanging upside-down from a tree branch. He pointed in the direction of Sam, who was pacing to and fro, thinking heavily about something.
"He is going to ask you for your hand in marriage," said the agent. "Congratulations. However, you should go approach him first because he is worrying over the possibility that you may reject him."
"What?! I'm not going to reject him! Why does the moron even thin- wait, are you serious?"
He nodded. "It is not easy to miss the ring he has in his pocket."
"Okay you're totally a mind-reader," declared Daniella. "Now I'm gonna tell him that I love him and that he's an absolute fool for thinking that I would ever think of rejecting him!"
As she ran off, she paused for a moment, turning around to face Mikhail once more.
"If you don't turn up at our wedding ... I know where you live!"
The SHIELD agent chuckled. "I definitely will not miss it."
"Kid, I don't need your help."
"Human beings usually begin to rapidly deteriorate around your age," countered Mikhail, opening the apartment door. "It is perfectly logical for me to help you out in this time of need."
Drew groaned, brushing a hand through his greying hair. "Look, Gorbachev. I'm not a cripple. I'm just growing old."
"Then see this as payment for the time you helped me."
"You said that last time too, kid."
The smile on Mikhail's face was smug.
"All these things are not of equal value to your assistance. Therefore I must continue to help you."
"... I wish I never taught you how to be so annoying."
So much of New York had just been ... completely annihilated. So many of his friends ... so much of the things he enjoyed doing ... gone. All of it.
He did not know what to feel. Sadness, probably, but he could not bring himself to cry. Regret at not being there to help? Guilt at not having arrived to save them in time? Loneliness? At the loss of the people he was closest to? Anger at whoever caused this destruction (probably HYDRA)? So caught up in his thoughts was Mikhail that he did not even notice that his nails were digging into his palms, drawing blood.
He would never be able to attend Daniella and Sam's wedding. He would never be able to deny their accusations of his being a mind-reader or a stalker. He would never be able to drop in on their dates unannounced. He would never be able to tell Sam not to fret, nor would he be able to tell Daniella to calm down. He would never be able to congratulate them on their upcoming child.
He would never be able to enjoy the lattes at the small cafe on the intersection of Pearl Street and State Street. He would never be able to discuss the merits of the McCafe with the manager. He would never be able to go feed the pigeons with the barista.
He would never see Drew (he owed the older man so much) again.
So much of New York was gone.
And it would never come back.
"Why did it have to happen again?" he asked, grief heavy in his whispered tones.