OK so…it depends. At first, Rokia doesn’t really have any kind of relationship with people who aren’t Lyme. And Misha is very…Herself, she takes up space and is a little wild and pretty much unapologetic. And that’s not a problem, per se (I mean, most of that is also true of Sara), but it’s kind of overwhelming, especially at the beginning.
Rokia and Devon actually get to know each other first, because Lyme sets them up on Art Playdates. Rokia learned to draw on mechanical stuff but she’ll sketch people or landscapes or whatever sometimes (idk much about art so…no details, sorry). And Devon has his paint wall, and Rokia is less nervous when she has something to do with her hands, so it works out.
Going back into the random writing archives, here’s 2 things that have Rokia and Misha in them (cut for long)
Rokia meets Misha and Devon, and the first Art Playdate: (this one’s on LJ)
“I thought we might have dinner with Devon and Misha tonight,” Lyme says, over breakfast, and Rokia blinks and stirs her oatmeal before she looks up.
“Okay,” she says, and Lyme is watching with that sharp mechanic’s look she has, checking for loose wires. No short circuits here, dinner with Lyme’s first Victor and her husband, that is a normal thing normal people do and perfectly fine.
“You sure?” Lyme asks, still watching.
“Yeah,” Rokia says, and pulls out a smile. “It’ll be fun.”
Lyme raises an eyebrow. Okay, maybe fun was overstating it. “It’s fine, really,” she says. “It’s just dinner.”
It’s just dinner, and it shouldn’t worry her but she doesn’t know them, doesn’t know what they’ll expect, doesn’t know what stories they’ve heard. She thinks about it that day in the shop as she tears apart malfunctioning actuators. Devon mentored in 73, Artemisia was there for 75, and anyway they all know her whole story so there’s no use pretending she’s something other than a screwed up Victor refugee from a district that still can’t keep itself from combusting now and again.
She’s torn between staying in the shop as long as possible and leaving early to make herself presentable and eventually settles on the first because she’s still got plenty of “fuck that” left for anyone who tries to make her care what she looks like. Even if it’s some traitor part of her own brain.
She isn’t late though, walks into Lyme’s right when she said she would. Just enough time to shower and put on something clean. It’s still too warm for sweatshirts but she’s got one of Lyme’s button downs that’s worn soft and comes almost to her knees, and she rolls up the sleeves enough that her fingertips peek through, pulls on a pair of jeans and heads out. Lyme’s waiting for her, hint of a smile when she comes out. “Ready?” Rokia straightens her shoulders and nods.
“Yup, let’s go.”
Artemisia opens the door with a grin, and Rokia’s seen her around but never actually talked to her, and she’s tall and gorgeous and sharp around the edges. Once a woman from Victor Affairs showed Rokia pictures of Artemisia working the crowd at a club, radiating comptetence and just enough sex and danger to be interesting and told her to watch and learn. It’s stupid to be nervous because she’s just standing here in jeans and a T-shirt, barefoot and more or less relaxed, but Rokia feels herself slide into the borrowed confidence of being a Victor and unreachable and locked down, and okay, there it is, she takes a deep breath and smiles back.
They walk in and Lyme introduces Devon and Rokia and says hello and everything’s pleasant and friendly. They sit at the table and eat and tell stories and Rokia talks about work and smiles and before long Lyme’s saying goodbye, so she thanks them politely enough to make both Lyme and Artemisia roll their eyes. Devon just smiles and says “Don’t mention it.”
It’s gotten cool and the wind’s blowing like it might storm and Rokia takes a deep breath of cool, humid air and shivers just a little. Lyme glances over, sharp. “You cold?” Rokia shakes her head and just breathes in the quiet until they get back to the house. Then she gives Rokia the loose-wires look again and just says, “So.”
“It was good,” Rokia says, “They’re nice.”
Lyme snorts. “Nice is not the first word I’d use to describe Misha,” she says, offhand. “You’re back with me?”
Rokia narrows her eyes. “What do you mean?”
“You’re not fooling me, Rokia, where’d you go?”
Rokia shrugs. “Nowhere. It’s fine.”
Lyme sighs. “C'mere, you,” she says, and goes to sit on the couch. Rokia hesitates, sits on the far side. She’s twitchy tonight, like there’s something under her skin, and Lyme is still just watching. “I didn’t take you there to show you off,” she says, cautious-sounding.
“I know,” Rokia replies, quick, confused. “You want me to get to know people.”
“Yeah,” Lyme says, “and they’d like to get to know you, but we want you Rokia, you don’t have to act for us.”
Rokia shrugs, silent. She hadn’t meant to–except it’s just easier that way, with new people. Rokia the punk kid from 6, sister to Allie and Kadi, good with her hands and crap with people, that’s not the person you ask over for dinner if you’re a cool, put-together District Two Victor who helped win a war besides. Rokia the Victor of the 71st who’s smart enough to know how to behave in polite company, that’s the person you want for this.
“Tell me what you’re thinking.” The way Lyme says it it’s not a question.
“I–” Rokia stops. “I don’t know how to do this.”
Lyme smiles a little. “You seem pretty friendly with Selene.”
“That’s different. She made friends with me.” Plus they go ride motorcycles and talk shit, and Selene’s her age, and Rokia could at least pretend Selene didn’t know who she was, before.
And also this conversation is stupid.
Lyme lets it go, finally, with a look that says “We’ll talk about this later,” and also probably, “Adriana is going to hear about it from one of us” because Lyme and her therapist are terrible people who like to make her life difficult.
She reaches for the datapad on the table but Lyme beats her to it. “Bedtime,” she says, and Rokia heaves a sigh and gets up. “I’m not tired,” she says, and Lyme shrugs.
“There’s pills for that if you want them,” she says, and Rokia makes a face. Stupid pills that make her sleep too long and wake up groggy and useless and weird and make her wonder if Phillips wakes up nervous in 12 for no reason.
“I’m fine,” she says, and she is, she just sits in bed with a notebook and scribbles lift parameters and then sketches trains and then falls asleep and wakes up with pencil smears down her cheek.
A couple days later Lyme comes down in the morning and sees Rokia sketching the mountains outside for the hundred and twelfth time. It’s nice, something just from here, and they’re always the same but just a little different and early in the morning the sun makes them glow.
Lyme clatters around making breakfast for a while and then looks over Rokia’s shoulder and hums.
“You know, Devon has a whole mural wall in his house,” she says. “He paints over it every once in a while, puts up something new.”
Rokia looks up, skeptical. “Really?”
That’s all Lyme says about it but it makes Rokia think, which she’s sure was the point. She’s not a real artist anyway, she just likes drawing stuff to keep her hands busy. Likes pinning memories to paper sometimes, these days. But it’d be interesting to try painting the colors on the mountains. Maybe. If she has time. Which she doesn’t, she should be going into the shop by now.
Except Wednesday afternoons are off, by order of the people who are currently running her life, and when she comes back for lunch, Lyme says “So I asked Devon if he wanted to come over and paint with you.”
Rokia’s eyebrows go up before she has time to think about it. “Oh yeah?”
“Yup.” Lyme’s grinning. “He’s coming over in an hour, unless you don’t want him to.”
She doesn’t, not really, but there’s a whole afternoon she has to fill up with not-work so she might as well. “Okay,” she says, shrugs, “why not?”
She’s sitting on the porch in one of Lyme’s sweatshirts when she sees Devon coming down the walk with a bag slung over his shoulder. He’s moving slowly, sets his feet carefully, and it’s horrible but it makes Rokia feel better that she’s not the only one who’s a little, well, off balance. He smiles, a little tight, and waves, and Rokia waves back and waits as he climbs the steps, holding the handrail.
“Hi,” she says, and she shoves her hands into her pockets and bites her lip, and it’s stupid to be stammering and nervous like this when she could slip into all her old patterns and not have to worry about it. But Lyme said, and of fucking course Adriana backed her up and Devon’s smile goes a little lopsided so maybe he gets it.
“Hi, Rokia,” he says, and well, he’s not pulling out the camera-ready banter either so maybe it’s okay.
But they’re still standing on the porch and that’s ridiculous so Rokia opens the door and shows him inside.
Lyme’s sitting in her chair with a pile of papers, and she just waves and says hi without getting up.
“I don’t–where should we go?” Rokia asks.
“Table’s good,” he says, goes to sit. “Hey Lyme,” he calls over his shoulder, “You care if the table gets paint on it?”
She snorts. “Nope. Do your worst.”
Devon nods and sets his bag on the table. When he opens it up there’s thick, heavy paper, brushes, tubes of paint in a riot of colors. Rokia’s eyes go wide. When she looks up, Devon’s smiling at her, soft and open and friendly, and for once it doesn’t make her want to hide. “Can you grab a couple glasses of water?” he asks, and she jumps up.
When she comes back he’s squeezing out blobs of color, and he dips a brush into the water, picks up the paint, and a purple-grey line of mountains soaks into his paper. She can hardly bring herself to mark hers, it’s so nice. She watches Devon for a while, and then he looks up. “C'mon,” he says, “It’s just for fun, doesn’t have to be good or anything.” Rokia looks down, traces the edge of the paper with her thumb. “There’s plenty more,” he says with another one of those lopsided smiles. “Don’t worry if you mess it up.”
That gets her to pick up the paintbrush, swirl it in the water, and let the color soak into the paper. It’s not precise, the lines fade into each other, and she lets herself experiment, paint lines and stripes of color without trying to make it look like anything in particular. Pretty soon the page is full. Devon grins, looks up from his, and hands her a blank sheet.
This time she draws the mountains out the window, and she knows every line of them by heart but she’s never tried to match the colors in the morning, the shadows under the trees, and well, it’s not right, not yet, but there’s something there if she could just pin it down.
They’ve gone through a lot of paper by the time Lyme comes over to stand behind Rokia, one hand on her shoulder. The light’s shifted, and you think she’d have noticed, but oh well. Devon leans back, relaxed, and Rokia still doesn’t know what to say to him, but maybe that’s okay. “Thank you,” she says, and Devon smiles for real this time.
“It was fun,” he says, “We should do it again sometime.”
Rokia nods. “I’d like that.”
Lyme squeezes her shoulder. “C'mon, you, clean up and then we’ll get some supper.”
In which Sara meets Misha and Devon, and Misha is a Big Sister:
Sara gets off the train in Two, takes a deep breath and relaxes, the mountain air cool and refreshing. She looks around for Rokia, but there’s no one on the platform. Odd, Rokia’s almost always there on time, and they’re right on schedule.
Rokia pulls up before Sara has a chance to worry, driving fast, on her bike, and that’s new, she usually brings Lyme’s car. Sara hasn’t asked why, but she can guess: sitting behind someone on a motorcycle is a lot of closeness and intimacy for someone who’s still a little skittish about both.
But okay, Sara is happy to give this a shot. She walks over to the edge of the platform and Rokia rushes to meet her. Sara gives her a puzzled smile, because while it’s not like she expects her to dress up, Rokia’s in paint-spattered jeans and sweatshirt, smudges on her hands and in her hair, and well, that’s a new look.
“I’m sorry!” Rokia says, when Sara gets close, “I was painting with Devon and I lost track of time!”
Sara laughs. “No problem, I just got in,” she says, and Rokia gives her a quick hug as they walk toward the bike. “But hey, should I be jealous?” It’s a joke, and she bumps Rokia’s shoulder and grins just in case, but Rokia laughs.
“No way,” she says, “Devon’s extremely gay and also married.”
“Really?” Sara’s trying to remember, but honestly the Victors here are like some giant extended family and she can’t keep track. “To who?”
“To Misha,” Rokia says, and, wait, what?
“I thought you said he was gay?”
“Yeah, so is she, I dunno, it works for them,” Rokia shrugs. Okay then.
“I didn’t know you painted,” Sara says, and they’re at the bike and Rokia blushes, looks down to fiddle with something on the handlebars. “Can I see?”
Rokia glances up at her, suspicious. Sara raises her hands “I’m just curious!”
Rokia shrugs. “Yeah, okay,” she says, “but you can’t laugh.”
“Course not” Sara says, “who do you think I am?”
Rokia swings a leg over the bike and Sara hops on behind her. Rokia’s shoulders are tight and Sara thinks, slips her duffel between them and shifts back, grabbing under the seat so she’s secure. “That work?” she asks.
Rokia nods. “Sorry,” she says, in a tight voice.
“Nothing to apologize for,” Sara says, and Rokia takes a breath and kicks the starter.
They fly up towards the Village and Sara laughs with the fun of it, the wind in her face and the asphalt under the tires and leaning into the curves. She gets why Rokia likes the bike. Maybe she should get one for herself.
They pull up in front of a house Sara doesn’t recognize, not Lyme’s, and walk up to the front porch. Rokia knocks, but then she pushes the door open anyway and calls out a hello.
A guy walks into the front room, just as paint-spattered as Rokia is, and oh, right, that’s Devon. The cute one. She’s really not going to stare, but it does take a bit of effort to keep casual when Rokia introduces her and he smiles at her and says hi.
It really doesn’t help that he definitely notices her noticing him, and his grin turns just a little sharp around the edges.
“Rokia said you guys were painting?” Sara says, and he and Rokia share a glance.
“She wanted to see,” Rokia says, “she promised not to laugh.”
Devon shrugs, “No problem,” he says, “come on in.”
Sara isn’t sure what she expected, but it definitely wasn’t an entire wall, in a well-lit back room, painted white and with a half-finished landscape taking shape, mountains and a lake and a brilliant blue sky.
“This is really good!” she says, amazed, and Rokia gives her a quick sharp look before looking down at her feet.
“Rokia’s got a good eye,” Devon says, “and it’s just for fun.”
Sara is impressed. She can’t remember the last time Rokia did something just for fun, without someone else badgering her into it. “I’m sorry I interrupted,” she says, and she means it. “You guys can keep going if you want, I’ve got a book.”
Devon looks at Rokia, raises one eyebrow in question, and Rokia looks over at Sara. “You sure?” Rokia asks, cautious.
“Definitely,” Sara says, no question about it. She digs through her duffel, pulls out the latest of the books she’s borrowed from the newly discovered treasure troves under the President’s mansion.
She’s only half paying attention to the story, sneaking glances as Rokia and Devon go back to their work. Rokia’s just as engrossed in painting as she gets in dismantling a transmission or welding hovercraft plating, her lip between her teeth and her hands busy. She and Devon don’t talk much, occasional comments in low voices, and it looks comfortable and friendly and relaxed.
They’ve finished a whole other section when the door opens and someone calls “Hello? Devon?”
“Back here,” Devon calls back, and this must be Misha, and she’s tall and gorgeous because of course she is. Sara should have remembered this about Career Victors but she never paid that much attention to the gossip anyway.
Sara sits up, goes to stand, but Misha waves at her vaguely and she takes it as a cue to stay put. “I’m Misha,” she says, “you must be Sara.”
Sara nods, “Yeah, that’s me.”
“We’ve heard a lot about you,” Misha says, and she and Devon trade a look that is absolutely full of trouble. “You guys should stay for lunch,” she says, “I’ll make sandwiches or something.”
Sara looks over at Rokia, who shrugs. “Yeah, okay,” Sara says, “you want help?”
Misha looks over at her and that look is definitely trouble, but she’s smiling almost-sweet and just says “Sure, that’d be great.”
Sara looks at Rokia as she passes, raises her eyebrows in question, but Rokia just shrugs again and gives her a smile that’s the slightly-less-mischievous twin of Misha’s, so Sara sighs and follows Misha out to the kitchen.
“So,” Misha says, once they’re out of earshot, “you’re Rokia’s girl?”
Sara grins at being called that before she can help it and Misha raises an eyebrow. “Yeah,” she says, “I thought so.”
Sara isn’t even going to bother protesting, she just nods. “Yeah,” she says, and there’s probably nothing she can do to keep the goofy smile off her face. “We’ve known each other since we were kids.”
Misha nods. “You knew her before she won?” she asks, pulling things out of the fridge.
“Yeah,” Sara says, considers how much she really wants to tell. “We were, well, dating, I guess, before her Games.”
“And after?” Misha’s tone is light but she looks over and her eyes are sharp.
“After…” Shit, this isn’t anybody’s business except fucking everybody knows, and Sara can’t keep the anger out of her voice even though it’s been over for years. “We were friends.”
Misha nods. She’s not trying to hide her assessment, and Sara finds herself, ludicrously, wondering if she passes. “You found her sisters,” Misha says, turning away again, motioning Sara over to the counter to start cutting tomatoes.
“Yeah,” Sara says, “Rokia got her grandma to take them for the Reaping, and she sent them further north, and it took a while to track everybody down.”
Misha nods. “They’re cute kids,” she says, absently, and Sara is wondering if the interrogation over when Misha looks up.
“You know what she’s been through,” Misha says, eyes flashing but voice even.
“Yeah, most of it,” Sara says, because there’s some things Rokia doesn’t talk about but she can fill in the gaps well enough.
“You be careful with her,” Misha says, clipped words like steel. She looks like she’s about to continue but Sara interrupts.
“Look, I’m glad you’re looking out for her,” Sara says, “but you got nothing to worry about. You think I’m gonna push her? I didn’t hear from her for months and I called Lyme because I knew it was better that way. You think I’m going to leave? I’m going exactly nowhere till she tells me she wants me gone.” She snaps her mouth closed, because that was quite a lot more than Sara planned on saying to a woman she just met, but come on now, is she serious with this shit?
Misha smiles again, and this time it’s for real, the steel edges a little further from the surface. “Good,” she says, turns back to the counter. “Just checking.”
Devon and Rokia wander in as they’re finishing the sandwiches, Devon looks at Misha and Rokia at Sara, two sets of silent conversations, and after the tension earlier Sara has to laugh.
“We’re fine, you guys, fucking hell,” and everyone smiles as they head for the table.
They head back to Lyme’s place afterwards, and when they pull up outside Rokia pauses. “What did Misha want?” she asks, hesitant.
“She wanted to make sure I’m treatin’ you right,” Sara says, drawling. “You’d think she was your big sister or something.”
Rokia laughs, startled. “She is,” she says, “technically.”
Sara looks at her. “What?”
“Lyme’s her mentor, which makes me her little sister, by Two Victor rules,” Rokia explains, with a shy smile.
Sara shakes her head. “This place is weird,” she says, and Rokia looks over, sharp. “Good!” Sara says, because Rokia looks defensive, and that’s not what she meant anyway, “just, you know, weird.”
Rokia relaxes. “Yeah, I know,” she says, and she laces her fingers with Sara’s as they walk to the door.