Friday, 8:00 pm
"There," Nikita sighed, "All set."
He had just finished setting up the chess board in front of the fireplace. Nikita admired his work, made minor adjustments to the position of a few pieces before he was satisfied. He pulled out his phone and texted Alex, letting her know everything was ready.
"Now," he sat down on the couch, "I wait."
Nikita pressed a button on one of the datapads on his wrist and pulled up a small computer screen. He swiped his finger across the hologram, flicking away unwanted ads until one screen caught his attention. A home page for unlisted jobs for professional hackers, incriptionists, and other similar people.
His eyes dragged across the screen, thumb scrolling down the page. An image of Alex’s sweet, smile flashed behind his eyes. Confusion tugged at his mind as it drifted towards Alex. Nikita really enjoyed spending time with her, she understood him better than most. When he was in her presence, however, a thought always nagged at him. Did he have deeper feelings? Could he actually be in love with her? No, it couldn't be that.
Nikita jumped out of his skin and tumbled to the floor. Quickly smashing exit on the website. He closed the hologram before peeling himself off the carpet. Shaking fingers ran through disheveled hair as he scuffled to the door. Panic sat in the back of his throat when he opened the door.
“Hey,” Alex softly spoke. She greeted Nikita with a warming smile. A twinge of pink dusted Nikita’s cheeks at her smile.
“Hi,” Nikita stepped to the side, offering a small smile. Alex walked past him and took her shoes off before she walked on the carpet. “Is there anything... I can be getting you, Детка?” He slowly closed the door, locking it before he stepped out of the doorway.
“Water would be nice, please.” She flopped onto the couch and let herself sink in a little.
Nikita disappeared into the kitchen. He gripped the counters edge tightly, trying to swallow his nervousness. Reaching up, he opened the cabinet, and grabbed a glass. He set it down carefully, his hand was visibly shaking. Nikita’s arm felt like an anchor as he raised it towards the refrigerator. His arm froze, halting halfway. Palm clutching at thin air, wanting to grab the handle. The only movement were darting eyes, bouncing from the freezer and refrigerator handle.
Nikita couldn’t restrain himself any longer, he opened the freezer door with much desperation. Within the cold depths, Nikita pulled out a half drunk bottle of Russian Standard Vodka. He couldn’t twist the cap off quick enough.
“Водка, мой старый друг. Я скучал по тебе,” he whispered. He pressed the finish of the bottle to his lips and took a decent swig. The familiar oily texture, mixed with a pleasant heated bitterness and creamy wheat glided over his tongue and down his throat. A sigh of content escaped as he pulled the bottle away. Confidence flooded his veins and Nikita finished the task.
Alex slid the gold ring from her pointer finger and her true features came into view. She rubbed her tired eyes and let her hands slide down her face.
“How was your day?” Nikita inquired as he handed her the glass.
“Eh,” she exhaled, “It was fine.” Alex gently took it, their fingers grazing slightly, and she took a sip.
Nikita’s brows furrowed, “...It does not sound like it was fine.”
“I have a lot of projects coming up in school and I’m feeling a little stressed.”
“Ah... Well, you will beat them. So do not worry.”
Alex beamed from his words, tail wagging slowly. “Thank you.” She took another drink of water before putting the glass on a coaster. “How was your day, Niki?”
“Uh...It was dull.”
“So you didn’t get any work done in your lab?”
“I was there briefly, but did not accomplish much.”
"Oh, well that sucks."
A trickle of tension started to cloud over both of them. Nikita slowly started to zone out and was focusing on other sounds in the room. The light tapping Alex was doing on her leg sounded like base drums being smacked hard inside of Nikita's ears. Even her breathing started to sound like a large gust of wind. Nikita was slowly drowning in the ocean of his mind. Before he sunk further, he quickly swam to shore.
Nikita cleared his throat. “So…shall we?” He gestured to the chess set table.
Alex looked to where he was gesturing. “Oh,” she exclaimed, “Of course.” She pushed herself off the couch, adjusted her golden crop top, and took a seat at the table.
“Would you care if music played?” Nikita walked over to his record player.
“No. I actually like a little background noise.”
Nikita started browsing through his vast collection of Classical composers before he found the composer he wanted. He carefully pulled the record off the shelf, making sure to mark its spot. Nikita went into autopilot as he set everything up. Once the music started, he scuffled to the table and sat down in the remaining seat.
Alex’s ears perked as the tune slid through her eardrums. “Is this Chopin?”
Nikita blinked a few times in awe. “Yes. It’s Nocturne in B-flat minor Op. 9 No. 1. How did… you know?”
“Well, your go-to music is old fashioned Classical. So after one of our game nights, I looked up Classical composers and found Chopin. I’ve been listening to his compositions ever since.”
Nikita couldn’t hold back the blush that crept up his cheeks. He was tickled pink that she knew who Chopin was. The familiar nagging thought popped up for a moment. To halt those thoughts, he quickly picked up a pawn and started the game.
Many rounds took place within the two hours that have passed. Pushing one of the Bishops, Nikita glanced upwards, eyes softening as the girl seated across him jutted her lips out into a childish pout.
He watched closely, the corners of his lips tugging upwards into a smile as Alex tucked a strand of dark hair behind her ear, silver eyes fixed upon the board resting on the table. She narrowed her eyes thoughtfully. A dark hand reached outwards and picked up a knight while she dropped her chin into her other hand.
Upon realizing that she was being stared at, stormy gray eyes peered upwards, clashing against bright blue hues and Nikita felt his heart skip a beat as their gazes crossed. He ducked his head slightly, heat crawling up the back of his neck to his ears as he heard Alex giggle softly.
“Having an off night?”
“No,” Nikita stammered, “What makes you think so?”
“Well, you haven’t won a single round all night.” Proving her point, Alex won this game with the diagonal checkmate. “Checkmate.”
Nikita grunted at her win. He raised an eyebrow at her. “...The point?”
“You usually kick my butt,” Alex leans forward, resting her arms on the table,”Is there anything bothering you?”
Nikita stared at her, debating if he should reply. Honestly, he was scared to. The words kept halting in his throat, even if he tried to speak. Realizing it was hopeless, Nikita shook his head feverishly.
“Alright, if you say so,” Alex chuckled, “To think I was about to joke and say, ‘If you win, you get a kiss.’”
Her words sunk in and he was speechless. Nikita picked up the chess pieces and started setting the board again. Alex questionably squinted at him, feeling that he was up to no good. Once the board was set, Nikita’s eyes greeted hers with a sharpened gaze. Alex’s hair erected as a shiver bolted through her from his intense stare.
“Your move.” Nikita gestured at the board.
"Checkmate." Nikita sealed his victory with the two pawn checkmate.
The word slowly rolled off of Nikita's tongue as it broke the silence. Alex stared at the board, not daring to glance up. Uncertainty resounded deep within her. Knowing that it is was inevitable, Alex tilted her head.
“Um…” Their eyes met. His gaze faltered, slowly dipping downwards, taking in the shape of her rosy lips, biting his tongue slightly, and went back up again. Leaning back in his seat, he offered a nervous smile.
Alex took in a big gulp. Her eyes darted away from Nikita’s. The fear of making that comment got to her and Alex just blanked. Her palms began to feel a little clammy. She pressed them into the table, as if trying to force her feelings from not showing. Everything moved slowly, and her stomach fell to her feet. Alex felt like she was about to puke.
Did Nikita take what she said earlier seriously?
Nikita could see the dread draining the color on Alex’s face and he had to fix the situation, quick. Inhaling slightly, Nikita summoned up his courage as he stood, palms pressing flat against the table as he leaned forward, teetering ever more in Alex's space. Silver eyes peered up at him shyly, and he smiled softly. He dipped his head downwards, eyes falling shut as his lips hesitantly fell upon Alex's. The briefest touch of soft lips against his own. He slowly leaned away from her.
A hand shot out, gripping the front of his collar and he blinked, staring while Alex blushed brightly. Tugging hard on his collar to yank him back. Lips crashed together once more. He clawed at the edge of the table, a sigh of pure bliss escaping deep within. The tips of his ears burned red as his eyes fluttered closed again. Her hands snaked up his shoulders to the nape of his neck, tenderly holding the kiss to her lips. A lost wager she never wanted to win, became the moment she was really aiming for.
Mere seconds felt like minutes.
Nikita pulled away and pressed their foreheads together, gazing into loving gray eyes. Hearts performed drum solos against their rib cages. Gently, he cupped her heated cheek. Butterflies swarmed Alex’s stomach as he caressed her face.
“Do you,” his deep voice barely tapped the air, “Do you want to play again, Детка?”
“Yes, I do.”