Dmitri was the nicest man you knew. He always had a hand to help, and a free moment to spare for anyone. He helped the old lady next door clean out her attic and helped the family across the street build their shed. He spent most of his free time tutoring kids or working at the homeless shelter or the animal shelter, and he was a volunteer firefighter over the weekends. He didn't believe in strangers.
Dmitri didn't have a lot of self confidence. His exes looked like front cover models, but each of them was self centered and rude, always eroding at what little esteem he would build up in going out with them. You were different. You were funny and smart and encouraging - you were perfect for him.
He doted on you like you were a princess. He would do as many chores around the house as he could and take you out on dates and cook romantic dinners. You would always react with the same bashful, innocent bliss which he adored. You didn't know what you did to deserve him, but he was the best thing to ever happen to you.
Dmitri and his brothers owned a construction business which they worked at. The physical labor was intense and you often came home early to massage your poor Dimka's back and hands. He would always try to refuse your pity and pretend that he was okay, before he would capitulate to your sad and worried expression. He loved the feel of your small, soft hands kneading away at his aching muscles and the loving kisses you would place on his skin and sweet nothings you whispered in his ears in between. You were so sweet with him, and he adored you more than anything.
You loved the great big hugs he would give, how he would sweep you off your feet and swing you around and pepper you with kisses. You loved sitting in his lap, cuddling into his shoulder as his arms held your waist and stroked your hair and he placed loving kisses on your forehead.
You loved talking to him about random things, taking pride in the noticeable change in confidence he had in talking to you. All his life, Dmitri was called stupid, and aside from his brothers, no one had ever really given him the ability to speak freely until he met you. Dmitri was slow and methodical and thoughtful, and though he would often lack the confidence to speak directly on a matter, you knew that he had a strong sense of morality and had well thought out opinions on most things which he only ever shared with you.
Dmitri needed to hold you when he went to sleep. He never really explained why, but he seemed to need reassurance that you were real and with him to sleep peacefully. You loved how warm and cuddly he was. He was taller than Ivan and had broader shoulders too and was much more muscular and less chubby. His broad back and big strong arms gently encircling you was more than enough to keep you warm on any snowy winter night. Sometimes he would mumble your name sweetly in hid slumber, nuzzling closer to you ever so gently.
Dmitri was all yours. He would let you play with him for hours, stroking his hair, tracing lines on his chest, cuddling with him on the couch. The way he would hold you with his big hands, so protectively and so adoringly, made you putty in his all encompassing embrace.
Surprisingly, Dmitri was a rowdy drunk. All his inhibitions would be swallowed with the shots of vodka and steins of beer until he would either pick a fistfight with one of the myriad guys at the bar who wanted to test Dmitri's strength and size or settle down and drunkenly compliment and cuddle you for hours. Some nights he would do both.
Tonight, Dmitri, Ivan, and Nikolai took their crew out for a get together in one of the more rowdy bars in the city. It had a distinct biker gang rock vibe to it and the drinks were cheap, so you overall would enjoy going with just Dmitri. The company had just successfully finished a big project with a celebrity client who was very pleased with the results. Dmitri, Ivan, Nikolai, and the two senior members of the crew, the electrician and the manager, went to an opening ceremony for the building and had obviously had something to drink there.
Dmitri would look pretty much sober until around drink twenty. Between twenty and twenty five, his poker mask would crumble and he would become loud, boisterous, and as completely uninhibited as he was physically capable of being.
Before meeting Dmitri, you never really felt safe going to bars with just one other person you knew, but with Dmitri, he would check up on you every five minutes even if he was in the middle of a fight. It was well known at the bars you both frequented that you were very very off limits, and they usually allowed Dmitri to press pause and quickly kiss your forehead before jumping back in the fray. However, there was the occasional asshat who would forget you were off limits or try to cheat in a fight by threatening you. At that point Dmitri would pull all the stops and waste them before they even knew what was coming.
Once, a very aggressive twenty-something year old pulled a knife on you in the middle of a brawl because he was loosing to Dmitri. Dmitri easily snatched the knife away and bashed the kids head into the counter so hard he needed an ambulance. When stuff like that would happen, Dmitri would get a stone cold expression, angry expression before acting so violently, no one would bother him for the rest of the night. You would take him home after and cuddle with him, and he would sober up enough to understand what he had done, and unbeknownst to the bar goers, Dmitri would cry about not being able to control his temper and keep you safe.
Tonight, you couldn't figure out how much Dmitri had to drink before coming to the bar, and it worried you a little. He would always insist that you worried over nothing, but to be honest, some nights he would get so beat up, you wondered about taking him to the hospital. He always would heal up pretty quickly, but it is always scary to hold a person over a toilet at three in the morning while also trying to nurse their black eye.
Tonight, the bar was pretty crowded and Nikolai was never one for crowds, so as the others from the company got more drunk, Nikolai jealously guarded his "syestra". You liked the company because after Nikolai got over his outsider complex, he was genuinely sweet and protective in his taciturn, kinda creepy, snippy way. He was the only one of the three brothers to go on to graduate school and he talked at great length about what he would write about in his dissertation. You, also coming to the end of your PhD program at the same university, were very interested in what his thoughts were on his program. So while you both kept an amused watch on your friends and family, you caught each other up about life and school and hobbies and other people important to you.
The conversation shifted to your romantic life with Dmitri after a while, because as protective as he was over his brother, he wanted to make sure you were happy too.
"How is big brother treating you?" Nikolai asked, observing you closely.
"With the same love and affection as always." You replied staring wistfully into your glass, simpering, before looking up lovingly at Dmitri who was arm wrestling with another bar goer while taking another shot. It was funny how wildly he acted when he was drunk, and you were glad he let loose every once in a while.
"I'm glad. He's much happier now than I think he's been in a long time. Now if only he would grow the balls to marry you." Nikolai said, turning back to the bar counter. You turned back too, contemplating married life. You would finally move out of your cramped apartment and into a house before having kids.
"Maybe I should just ask him." You said, still smiling.
"If he doesn't ask by himself, I will make him. He loves you too much to let his lack self confidence get in the way of asking you to stay at his side for all eternity." Nikolai stated bluntly. The idea that he still lacked the confidence to ask you to stay with him, made you a little sad. He had come such a long way from the stuttering, panicking mess that you first met four years ago. He was much more confident in his decisions, secure about his relationship with you, and certain about his plans for the future.
"I'd say yes in an instant." You replied, before you both settled into a comfortable silence. Nikolai eventually went to the restroom for a little bit and a random creep decided now was the time to ask you out.
"Hey pretty little thing, how's it goin'?" The drunk middle aged man drawled, reeking of beer and whiskey. He put his hand on your lower back and you got out of your chair and backed up towards Nikolai's.
"Get lost creep." You said, pulling on your handbag and grabbing Dmitri's jacket from your chair. You hoped he would leave you alone, and you hoped that Nikolai or Dmitri or Ivan or the bartender, Alistair would come back.
"Only into crazy Russian boys? Bet you bang 'em all at the same time, bitch." He said, getting out of his chair and moving forward. You moved a few steps back and knocked on the bar, hoping to get Alistair's attention to no avail. You didn't want to cause a huge scene, because this guy looked like the kind of guy to call the cops after loosing a bar fight that he had started. This bar wasn't a snitch friendly place, but if Dmitri did anything really bad, he could face jail time, and you just wanted to be left in peace.
"If you don't leave me alone now, sir, I'm certain that you'll regret it." You changed your tone of voice to formal in case anyone was witnessing this. You could never be faulted with being polite to a slob trying to intimidate his way into some girl's panties if the slob gets murdered by the girl's boyfriend.
"Whatcha gonna do? Your boyfriend just took it outside with one of my friends and his little brother found some trouble in the bathroom," he moved closer, sliding his whiskey neat with him, "you're all mine sweet cheeks."
"But you forgot about me, da?" Ivan said, appearing behind the man and placing a heavy hand on his shoulder. When Ivan was angry, he would smile and act like he couldn't hurt a fly. As you saw Ivan's sweet expression laced with malice, you knew that man wouldn't stand a chance.
"Oh I have plans for you big guy." The man said, turning around. Ivan towered over the hooligan by a solid half a foot and was far more muscular.
"I'm much more interested in your plans for my syestra than for me." Ivan replied, sweetly. The man realized that he was outmatched pretty quickly, and in a flash of quick thinking smashed his glass on the side of Ivan's face only to realize that the glasses were made of plastic. Alistair had enough with cleaning the glass shards up at the end of every weekend night and decided that it was safer for everyone if no one could smash the glasses. The sound of the cup clattering on the floor brought Alistair's attention back to you pretty quickly, and he stormed over, wiping down a beer stein with a bar rag.
"Oi, what are you tryin' to do 'ere, cunt?" Alistair yelled angrily.
"Harassin' me friend, are ye?" He continued, as Ivan put a hand on the man's shoulder once more. Alistair gave you a quick glance over. You were shaken, but mostly untouched, but Alistair took it personally when anyone got sexually harassed at his bar.
"I was having a polite conversation with the little lady that's all." The man said, backing off. He winced as Ivan crushed his shoulder under his palm.
"It was about as polite as laughing at a funeral." You said pointedly, still maintaining your distance.
"I shall take him out for a walk, da? We will talk it out outside." Ivan stated, guiding the man out by his captured shoulder.
"Sorry I didn't get here sooner lass, he didn't hurt ye did he?" Al asked, very concerned.
"No, he was just talking smack. Have you seen him around before?" You asked trying to change the topic a little.
"He came into town on Wednesday I think, and he's been causing a ruckus in every pub from here to Main Street since. Hopefully Ivan sets him straight." Alistair stated, as you picked up the cup from the floor and put it on the counter, where Al put it away. You used to do brief stints working as a waitress here when money was tight before you found a full time job.
"What can I getcha lass?" He asked, already reaching for [fav/non-alcoholic/drink]. You began smiling as you knew the scotsman already was making your order under the bar.
"You already know, Al." You replied, pulling out the dollar fifty it was worth.
"This one's on the house, lass. I should have been around to tell the guy off earlier." Alistair said, pulling up the drink and giving it to you. Alistair had a very strong opinion on how ladies should be treated at bars, and often took matters into his own hands when patrons would get too interested in other patrons. He wanted his bar to be a safe, fun place to go, even if it was rowdy sometimes.
Nikolai came back to the bar a little beat up, but rather grumpy.
"Some guy made a mess in the bathroom. I threw him out the back door." He said, taking his place at the bar.
"The buddy of the guy harassing [y/n] no doubt." Alistair said pouring a shot of vodka out for Nikolai, who downed it immediately.
Dmitri and Ivan walked back in, with Dmitri worriedly scanning the room for you. As soon as he spotted you at the bar with his brother and his friend, he relaxed a little and rushed over.
"Are you alright, zvyozdochka? He didn't hurt you?" Dmitri pleaded, spinning the bar chair, and gripping your arms gently.
"I'm fine, but your nose is bleeding! Oh, and your eye! We should go home." You said holding his face, and looking him over. He was a little unsteady and you were scared he might have gotten a concussion, but he just nodded.
"As long as you are okay zvyozdochka." He replied. Alistair handed you some tissues and you plugged Dmitri's bleeding nostril before finishing your drink and bidding Alistair goodbye. Ivan and Nikolai both got cabs back to their respective homes and the rest of the crew had pretty much already headed home already.
You attended to Dimitri at the kitchen table by gently dabbing at his face with an ice pack covered with a hand towel.
"Did you know those men, Dmitri? Do you know why they were making a scene?" You asked, bending over and trying to get the swelling in his eye down.
"No zvyozdochka. You're just too pretty." He said smiling.
You shook your head and switched to his cheek. He hissed a bit before a dopey simper took over his face.
"You're so pretty, zvyozdochka. Soooo pretty." Dmitri said stroking your cheek. You shook your head again and caught his hand and kissed it.
"I'm glad that your brothers are so protective." You stated, helping Dmitri take off his shirt. His well defined muscles were sparsely covered in dark blond hair and littered with angry red spots which would become bruises. You kneeled down and began pressing the ice to his chest.
"I'm such a bad boyfriend, zvyozdochka. I wasn't there to protect you from the bad man. I'm sorry zvyozdochka." Dmitri said mournfully, stroking your hair.
"I can protect myself, Dmitri, it's okay."
"Nyet, I promised to protect you. I want to protect you forever, but I can't even manage that." Dmitri said, looking very upset. He ran a larg hand through your loose hair, relishing in being able to touch you.
"Dimka, do you want to marry me?" You asked, looking at him carefully.
"I do! I want to make you happy forever! But I'm not good enough for you, zvyozdochka." Dmitri says, lifting up a few strands and watching them slip through his fingers.
"Dmitri, you are the best thing to have every happened to me. If anything, I'm not good enough for you..." You said, sitting back on your knees, lowering the ice pack rag.
Dmitri shook his head and said, "You are the most wonderful person I have ever met, zvyozdochka. I want you to get anything your heart desires."
"My heart desires you, you silly, sweet man! If you really want to spend the rest of our lives together, let's get married!" you say, getting up and holding his face. Somehow, despite your not entire sober mind, this felt perfectly right. Married to Dmitri, settling down in a real place, and maybe even having kids, living together, you could spend your life with this man. His arms carefully made their way around your waist as he looked up at you.
"Do you mean it zvyozdochka? Do you really want me?" Dmitri said, awestruck and nervous.
"If I didn't mean it, why would I say it?" you said, smiling at your beloved Ukrainian man, before pressing your head to his, as his arms supported you against his seated form, "So what do you say?"
"Oh zvyozdochka, I didn't even propose to you..." He said, smiling, pulling you into his lap.
You laughed and said, "Well you haven't said yes yet, so you can still propose."
Pulling your head to his mouth, he kissed your temple before, placing you in the chair and getting up.
"I'll be right back." he said, going upstairs, to your bedroom and coming straight back down. He keeled before your chair, and opened the tiny black velvet box, seeming even more diminutive in his huge hands.
You took in the sight of your Dmitri. His hair was damp with sweat and probably beer, his pants were lightly stain with blood, and one of his eyes was swelling up and turning blue and black. His lip was split and his hands were ever so slightly shaking. His shirt was on your chair and his belt, button and fly were undone. You found it funny that you both were a mess in your ratty apartment and yet you felt so much happiness in this single moment. You let the hue of seedy kitchen light, and the ticking of the ancient analog clock, and the feel of the wooden kitchen chair burn themselves into your mind as Dmitri spoke.
"Zvyozdochka I am so blessed to have ever met you. You are nice and smart and beautiful, and you make me happy. I am a simple man, and I can't provide you with brilliance or wealth or poetry, but I will do everything I can to keep you safe and happy for the rest of our lives. I'm sorry I didn't prepare a long speech, and you know how absent-minded I can be, and I know I will never be perfect enough to be your husband, but I'm selfish, and I love you. Will you marry me?" he asked, eyes shining with hope and love.
You nodded profusely and jumped to him, and kissed him. He gripped you and pulled away after a moment to slip the engagement ring over your ring finger. You loved the cut and the elegance of the [fav/gem] ring.
"I don't want you to be perfect, Dmitri. I just want you." you said, stroking his cheek, to wipe away his tears of joy.
"I bought this ring about a week after we started dating. I knew you were the one. I knew it." he said, brushing a hand through your hair.
You shook your head and hugged him, before making him sit on the chair again and grabbing a new ice pack from the fridge to hold to his eye. He smiled at you and held you on his lap as you took care of him, until you both started dozing. You made him drink some water and take a shower before brushing his teeth and going to bed. You were sure the living room would be a mess, but at least Dmitri would be in much better shape in the morning than he would have been without your help.
As you drifted to sleep, you felt his arms circle around you softly, and heard him mumble, "I love you zvyozdochka."