The Sentiment of Sisu

It’d been a long time since Seb had been over this little corner of the earth.

Hadn’t changed much, really.

He took a cab from the airport to the expensive area just outside of town – the name of which he could never pronounce – paid the cab driver and stepped up to the door. House’d been extended, or sommat.

Nice job, too.

“Hello, Sebastian.”

A man in a textured, tailored sweater answers the door. He looks like he would be an architect, or a champion race car driver depending on how he did his hair, and where the light hit his cheekbones. “Come in.”

The colonel kicks off his boots and takes off his coat and wanders through the space, admiring all the polished wood and gleaming surfaces. It’s comfortable, and spacious all at once – and the hardwood floors almost feel warm.

“Would you like a drink?”

“Coffee, please,” Sebastian says with a nod, seating himself at a long, elegant breakfast bar.

“How was your flight?” the blonde man asks, over his shoulder.

“S’long, but it’s nice to be back,” the soldier replies, trying to gauge the other man. But right now there’s a wall of measured calm and steady politeness like a shiny film over his features.

“Sebastian, I would like to be frank with you,” he says, turning around to face the former colonel. Always sounded nice when he’d said Seb’s name – something about the softness of his accent, the ts and ss brushing against his palette.

“I want a divorce.”

“Oh,” Seb says, with half a raised eyebrow. “Then how come you asked me all the way here? Could’ve just sent the papers along to the address I gave you.”

“I thought I might have to convince you,” the other man replies.

Misha. His Finnish husband. Worked in…industrial interior design or something like that. Misha drank him under the table one night in Helsinki, and so Seb decided to marry him. They lived together for a little while – Seb grew to love terribly strong coffee and watched Misha build expensive industrial, structured lights out of inexpensive materials.

And then Sebastian left, because he almost always leaves.

Misha had apparently anticipated it – but he was intuitive, so Moran believed him enough.

“No, you wouldn’t’ve,” he replies, then pauses. He smirks, and looks at the well-built man leaning across the thick slab of wood between them. “Thought you wanted to relive it a wee bit.”

“The night we met? Oh, no,” but Misha smiles all the time. “I’m too old for that, now.”

“I don’t think so. Hangover too much for you?” Seb takes another mouthful of coffee.

“Hangover?” Misha echoes, with a frown. “What hangover?”

They laugh, together, the sound echoing off the rich, effortless furnishings and up into the beams of the house.

Misha runs over the paperwork, with the blunt directness of someone who is most certainly not British, explaining everything as best he can. He hands Sebastian a copy in English.

“Why’d you marry us, then?” The colonel asks, turning the folder over in his hands. “Married you because you could drink me under the table but why’d you marry me?”

“You have sisu,” Misha offers, shrugging, but his eyes are shining.

Sisu. A word lacking any direct translation into English. Bravery, strength, determination, courage. Taking action – gritting of the teeth, hardening of the knuckles, deep, swallowed breaths. Passion, execution, brilliance.

“So you married me because I have the guts to bet I can outdrink a Finn?” Seb grins now, because he can, because he likes to.

“Yes,” came the simple reply.

“And why’re you divorcing me?”

“Because you’re stupid enough to try and outdrink a Finn,” Misha answers, even more effortlessly than before.

Seb laughs, and picks up a pen to sign the papers. He signs them, and the other man sighs, and invites him to sit down, to have a drink, to have dinner, to have another drink.

They have sex twice, and Sebastian leaves in the morning. He decides to take the long way home, wandering through every little crooked street in Europe until he was back in London, again.

He was never entirely sure if Misha did sign the papers. Seb never bothered to ask. It didn’t worry him. But when he got home, something told him Misha didn’t sign the paper. A parcel, wrapped in thick, brown paper affixed with half a dozen stamps.

Inside was a lamp. A lamp – he discovered later – that was brilliant to clean his kit by – pieces and parts of guns and sidearms all disassembled.

Sebastian often wonders how much it’s worth, how much people might buy it for. But he’d not sell it.

He’s far too sentimental for that.

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