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Cake Mixes You (IC)

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February 2018 

St. Gregory's 


The area around St. Gregory's Church was the home of one of the larger Russian emigre communities in Freedom City, a legacy of the city's long history of accommodating immigrants from all over the planet - and beyond. The owner and manager of A Taste of Irkutsk, the closest thing you could get to authentic Siberian cuisine in this part of New Jersey, was a fairly recent arrival in Freedom City, with ample friends and family back in the old country. So when the most famous Russian super-agent in the United States called him and reserved a table, he'd been happy to provide whatever he needed - including a restaurant that was mostly empty despite this being the dinner hour. Sitting patiently at a table for two, Comrade Frost waited for the arrival of his guest. 


The message had come to the Davydov residence - not Claremont Academy. Comrade Frost, the longest-active member of the People's Heroes, had invited Vanya out for an evening of "delicious Siberian fare for the appetite of a young bear!" (the exclamation point had been in the original) - a pointed invitation that was difficult to refuse. Vanya had grown up on stories of the People's Heroes and how they'd defended the motherland from the Germans during the Great Patriotic War; Vanya's father had grown up on stories of the People's Heroes and how they kept the Soviet Union safe from the forces of capitalism. Who could turn one down? "Don't let him frighten you," Ivan had assured Vanya. "This is not 1975 and this is America, not Russia. Everything will be fine." 

Still, Ivan had opted to come to the restaurant with his son, promising to stay "out of the way and let you do the talking, since you are a big man now." The restaurant certainly smelled familiar as they got off the bus together, the scents of home easily detectable even on the street. Was that pelmini in there? 

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Jack nodded to his father as he found a booth by himself and left Jack to handle this fantastic situation. Jack looked down at the sketchbook he had in his hands and breathed out a lil. This moment had always been a dream of his...to meet the Hero of Russia! Comrade Frost had always been something of an idol for him.


He calmed himself and walked towards where the legend sat waiting. He sat opposite the man in the booth. "It is an honor, Sir.." Jack said softly, unsure how to address the legend in a casual setting. He put the sketchbook down on the table to his left and looked down at the older man in front of him.

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Dimitri smoothly shifted 'characters' in the presence of the big boy - he could hardly play the half-literate Russian in the company of a countryman. He switched back to the language of that country, his accent sounding slightly off to Jack's ears - like a character from an old black and white movie. "My boy, 'sir' is a title for officers in Moscow. I am just Dimitri." He stood and shook his hand with a firm grip, the cold controller's grip noticeably colder than even the street outside to Jack's touch. "And Comrade Davydov," he said with a cheerful wave at Jack's father, giving the famous artist a knowing look. "It's so nice to see a father care for his son even in these distant lands." Sitting down back at the table, he said, "Come, order what you like - consider it a gift from your homeland. I do not eat often, but this place has a fine selection." He peered above his menu at Jack. "So - how do you like America?" 

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Jack looked over the menu and then ordered several dishes, the waitress showing disbelief in her eyes that he was being serious. 


"I am enjoying it quite well... Dimitri." He said in his thick accent, remembering to use the man's name, even though it felt odd to. "I have enrolled at Clairemont Academy, where I am learning much. I have made several friends...though I do miss the home country." He admitted.

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"Ah, well, it is hard for a young man to be away from home for the first time," said Dimitri, beaming paternally. He reassured the waitress with a little wave, and ordered "another cup of this delicious tea." "You should have seen me at Moscow University as a young man; those were the days." Growing a moment more serious, he went on, "You are in a fine school, with fine teachers. I may have some disagreements with their methods from time to time, but they are fine people." He chatted with Jack for a while about his school as they waited for their meal, obviously sussing out the younger man about his feelings about his school and his fellow students. "And when school is over - what then?" 

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Jack nodded as Dimitri spoke. "Da, I am enjoying my time there. In fact I have been taking Art classes..." He opened his sketch book between bites of food and showed Dimitri the picture he had been working on. It was one of Comrade Frost in one of his famous battles. Jack focused on his food so he wouldn't show how anxious he was to know what Dimitri thought of the drawing.

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Dimitri blinked - evidently not having expected what lay on the page. For a moment, his face was blank except for a burning intensity in his eyes - before that smile popped up again. "Ah yes, those were the days!" he declared cheerfully. "You should be careful, your school may say your tastes in entertainment are too blood-and-thunder for the young minds of Americans." He laughed and clapped Jack on the back, a manly punctuation that two men of his generation might give to each other. "But this is fine work," he said sincerely. "You have a fine eye." Frost hmmed, then said, "Balancing a career as an artist and an American superhero will not be easy, but all worth it for the rewards, eh?" 

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"Good thing I am Russian then, da?" Jack said with a smile in response to the American minds comment. He had already gotten some of that kind of thing. Patriots were the same in any country to some extent. Americans were no exception and at times a bit too forceful with their ideals for Jack's taste. People should be free to do as they like as long as they weren't hurting someone else. That was how nature intended it, after all.


He brightened at the compliment, farely beaming with pride. "Da, it is my dream to be hero, and also make comics of adventures, mine and others."

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"You should tour headquarters in Moscow the next time your family visits the old country," said Dimitri sociably. "There are some fine paintings there, going back to the days of the Great Patriotic War." He stayed with Russian as they spoke, but spoke slowly enough to make sure he wasn't overwhelming the young bilingual man. Most of the artists of those paintings were dead now, of course, as were most of their subjects, but dwelling on that would hardly serve his purpose today. The arrival of their appetizers brought about a break in the conversation, and as the boy tucked in with a Siberian bear's appetite, Frost sipped his tea and studied father and son. The older one didn't quite meet his eyes; he wondered how many generations the stories about him would survive in the old country. "So tell me, since you are learning at your school. What is  a hero?"

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  • 1 month later...

Jack nodded. "Those are fine paintings" he said in fluid Russian, having no trouble keeping up with Comrade Frost. He stuffed some food into his mouth and chewed thoughtfully. "It's been awhile tho... I'm sure they must have new paintings by now..." He took another bite and chewed for a moment as he considered Dimitri's question. "Well the textbook definition is a person who does good things for others and is admired..." He chewed some more in thought. "I would agree with that. Being a hero isn't about abilities but how and why you use them. I wish to help others because I am able to, and it is the right thing to do..."

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Comrade Frost continued his conversation with Jack, probing him about his views on heroism, the American heroes he knew, and his education at Claremont. He did his best to keep Russia in the boy's thoughts, reminding him that there were plenty of opportunities for honest heroism in the motherland, some attractive girls in the bargain, and a promise of good wages and a reliable pension that the private enterprise world of American supers generally had trouble providing. But he avoided the hard sell - he had years to get to know the boy, after all, and there was no reason to push him now. When the meal was done, Dimitri wrote the check, then asked, "So! You have been good speaker for old man. What can I tell you, hmm?" 

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Jack was not an overly smart bear...but he began to get the feeling Dimitri was trying to persuade him to join him in Russia. It was not a bad thought, and Jack did miss his home. It was something to consider...being a Russian Hero alongside Comrade Frost was not a bad thing by any means. He was glad Dimitri was not pushing the offer. Jack was naturally resistant to being pushed...he often pushed back. Dimitri seemed content to dangle the carrot, and Jack not one to close a door of opportunity. He would think on this offer.


The Comrade's question made him switch gears a bit and as he pushed his empty plate away, he wondered if he should ask his question... "What is war like...?" He asked softly. Most men would probably revel in the battles and while part of Jack always enjoyed the fight...it was not always easy to live with the after effects. He asked this, to see what kind of man Dimitri really was, if he was one who understood and one who Jack to seek advice from. Jack knew that fighting crime was in some ways a war, albeit a somewhat quieter war, but his life would take it's toll on him, he knew and accepted that. He hoped Dimitri would be the mentor he wanted.

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This was not the first time a young man had asked Comrade Frost that question. His answer had changed over the years, depending on who he was speaking to, who was listening, and whether or not he ever wanted to have a pleasant tea with that person ever again. In this case, he temporized his answer. Slightly. 


"There was a German physician in the Great Patriotic War named Grawitz. Well, I call him a physician but he was a butcher - an SS functionary of high rank who specialized in the murder of children born with eugenic deficiencies. He presided over, oh, the deaths of some five thousand children, I think it was. This was when he was not encouraging experiments on homosexuals and the like - that was a favorite activity of his. His rank was such that he rarely went to the camps himself, you know? He simply authorized experiments. Head of the Red Cross in Germany too. Such a time it was." Frost fell silent for a little while, then went on speaking, "At the end of the war, I was to apprehend him - there was talk he might have some records of the Thule Society in his keeping, you know, magical experiments and the like." Frost waved his hand. 


"I was the first into his home in Potsdam. The smell of blood was everywhere outside, and stronger inside. When I entered the dining room, I found..." Frost fell silent again, then said, "Well, his Fuhrer had denied him permission to leave the city and flee to American lines, so what he had done was sit down with his wife and children for dinner and detonated two grenades under the table. Seventy-three years ago, and I can close my eyes and see myself in that room as if I was there still. That is what war is." His tone as he spoke was cool, but not unfriendly, as if relating a difficulty that had happened to someone else. 


"I want you to understand that I tell you this not to frighten you - but because you are a young man, and young men are lied to about these things. You know?" 



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