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The Spindown

(Continued from http://hajimenoippolit.livejournal.com/12094.html)

After they reached the wing which housed the guest quarters, Ilarion hadn't wasted any time with further prolonged niceties.

He given a clipped nod to the Ukranian, grasped his brother's shoulders and kissed him, fiercely and possibly a little too lingering.

Then he'd shoved off and stalked down the hall toward his room.

Rounding the corner, he caught sight of Oleksei's door, and veered impulsively, making a sharp detour.

He rapped on the door with his knuckles, making no effort to be discreet.

"Taras Cheslavovich," he announced. "It's Isaev. Unlock the door and let me in."

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taras_oleksei
Mar. 10th, 2009 08:25 am (UTC)
Taras woke in an instant.

He had been dreaming of rain.

Barshai was in his dream, too, but the details fell away as Isaev came to the forefront of his awareness.

Lasha needed him.

He sat bolt upright in bed, blinking and disoriented. It took him a few moments to realize where he was. He had fallen asleep after talking to the dancer, but now he had no idea how long he'd been out, or what time it was.

"Coming," he called. His voice sounded lower than usual, blurred and rough. "Hang on."

There was a brusque noise of assent from outside his room, which Taras was glad for. It verified that Lasha was actually there, instead of being part of his dream.

Taras turned on the smoked glass lamp next to the bed, and reached for his watch on the nightstand. He had to stare at the hands for a few seconds before they made sense.

It was very late, or early.

He grunted, softly, rubbing his face.

Taras got up and grabbed his black workout pants from where he'd left them on the floor. They felt stiff in places around the crotch, and he was reminded of what he had done with Liadov.

He grimaced, pulling them on anyway. He went to the door, bare-chested, and opened it for Isaev, who stood there looking crisp and imperious in full uniform, from the low slant of his visored cap to the impeccable shine of his black leather boots.

Taras paused for a moment, staring.

"What's wrong?" he asked, stepping back belatedly to let Lasha in. "Did something happen?"
ilarion_isaev
Mar. 10th, 2009 08:50 am (UTC)
"Pour me a drink," Ilarion demanded, stripping off his gloves.

He glanced around the semi-dark room as he tossed them on the table, finding it to be largely the same as his own, if a little less fastidiously kept.

"Then join me for it," he added, gaze lingering on the edge of several iniquitous magazines poking coyly out from under Oleksei's suitcase.

Lasha's lip curled blackly as he waited for Taras to orient himself and begin keeping him company.

"Perhaps an hour ago, I found the Ukrainian nuisance knocking at my door in the middle of the night. Seems he'd misplaced Andrei Aleksandrovich."

Oleksei was watching him, dutifully roused from slumber and attentive within what could be reasonably expected.
taras_oleksei
Mar. 10th, 2009 05:27 pm (UTC)
Taras frowned for a moment, then he nodded slowly.

He knew Lasha would not be here if the matter with Andrusha had not already been settled, but there was clearly still something bothering him.

"Da, okei. Have a seat. Make yourself at home."

He gestured to include the couch and both chairs, and the bed as well.

Taras paused to push his suitcase out of the way with his foot, so it was not in the middle of the floor.

"Sorry about the mess."

Taras grabbed the pepper-infused vodka on the nightstand. He had been drinking it straight from the bottle, but he didn't think Lasha would mind. There were tin cups in the bar cabinet. Taras took out two and poured.

"I should have brought more cognac. We drank it up already. Pepper vodka is all I have left."

He turned to Lasha. This close, he could tell that Lasha had not shaved, something that he rarely saw. His stubble was fine and pale, glinting faintly like frost on his jaw.

Taras held out the cup.

"It's got a kick to it."
ilarion_isaev
Mar. 10th, 2009 06:58 pm (UTC)
Ilarion took it, sniffed it. Shrugged and drank it.

It had a little kick, but nothing terminal. The flavor enhanced the liquor nicely.

"Naturally, I insisted on accompanying him to find my brother, which we did, after having checked all his presumptive haunts. He was in the forensics laboratory, however, he wasn't alone. Far from it."

Ilarion took another sip, pointedly.

"We found the KGB pathologist, a couple of black operative marksmen, and Liadov, as well. Gathered in the dead of night."

Lasha's eyes narrowed.

"Like a kangaroo court or a shadow inquest," he said, venom in his tone.
taras_oleksei
Mar. 10th, 2009 07:40 pm (UTC)
"What? In the middle of the night, without telling you anything? Those fucks."

Taras scowled.

He moved in and took Lasha by the arm, steering him toward the couch, which seemed safest.

Taras sat next to Ilarion, turning toward him. Leaning close. He sat the bottle on the cushion between them.

He shook his head.

"What were the other people doing there? Supposed witnesses or something?"

Taras' lip curled.

Taras could feel the slow drip of anger inside him, pooling like blood.

"Liadov should know better," he muttered.
ilarion_isaev
Mar. 10th, 2009 09:09 pm (UTC)
Lasha's lips pressed thin as glass.

"Believe me, I impressed that upon him. Forcibly."

Then his expression shifted, slightly, de-intensified as he reached for the table and set his empty glass upon it.

"We went at it for a few moments, but Andrei intervened. He said it wasn't about him at all, but declined to elaborate on what it was about. Which, of course, wouldn't do at all."

He glanced at Taras, half-naked and hulking, inclined toward him like a listening statue.

"Sorry to wake you," he added, absently, as an afterthought.

Isaev pulled off his cap and eased his hand slowly back over his hair.

"As it turned out," he continued, after a moment, with a faint sneer, "almost everyone felt the need to intervene on Nikanor's behalf, once again, assuring me it was a delicate issue, but not one that concerned anyone."

He snorted.

"Those two assertions are mutually exclusive; they void each other. If it involves the MVD, it's MVD business. Am I wrong?"

The words came out of their own accord, demanding, and intended as rhetorical, but somehow they didn't sound that way.

Three words that felt very alien on his lips.

Ilarion grimaced exaggeratedly and violently.
taras_oleksei
Mar. 10th, 2009 09:39 pm (UTC)
"You're not wrong."

Taras shook his head, vehemently.

"That's how Liadov fucked up in the first place. Not telling you shit you needed to know."

He studied Lasha's face for a moment. Ilarion looked unsettled by the whole encounter. Taras didn't like the idea of Lasha running around and dealing with important shit when he wasn't around. There were times Lasha needed him to be a buffer, or to back up his words with muscle.

His mismatched eyes flickered, one like the negative of the other.

"Fuck, Lasha, what are you supposed to think if no one tells you anything? The worst, da? Because if they can't say it, it must be pretty bad. And bad is our business."

Taras tossed back his vodka, then poured them both another, scowling.

"Anyway," he added, more quietly, "if it involves Liadov, then it's your business."
ilarion_isaev
Mar. 10th, 2009 10:51 pm (UTC)
Ilarion turned to him, nodding vehemently.

"Exactly," he said, leaning forward, stabbing his index finger into Oleksei's solid thigh on the second syllable.

"He knows it," intoned Lasha, tightly. "Even as these various others were flinging themselves in front of him, he offered little resistance."

His mouth wryed.

"At first."

Eventually, as always, he had scraped metal, and Nika's inner predator had come to the surface, pressing against his skin from the inside out.

It was also when he became his most compassionate, which Ilarion knew was far more dangerous.

That was when Liadov began to take them both down, ripping out their legs so that they staggered, battering Ilarion's heart with his own, hitting them both where they lived.

"But I was absolutist with him," he whispered. "No quarter."

His voice felt dry and wintry.
taras_oleksei
Mar. 11th, 2009 07:32 am (UTC)
Taras' leg tingled where Isaev had jabbed him. He hoped Lasha hadn't noticed anything about the fabric.

He stared at Lasha a moment.

"Good," he said, slowly. "No quarter."

That was the Isaev way. Even when it came to Liadov, though that was just about like self-inflicted wounds, for Lasha.

It occurred to Taras that his job also included protecting Lasha from himself.

Taras' brow thickened, uncertainly.

"What did you do to him? I mean, you didn't..."

He trailed off.
ilarion_isaev
Mar. 11th, 2009 08:14 am (UTC)
Lasha stared.

"No," he said, abruptly. "No, no."

He waved his hand.

"I said some ugly things, I admit. I made some threats."

He paused.

"I told him that if he didn't tell me what was going on, I would charge him with collusion."

Lasha gazed into his cup, colorless, inhaling the vapor of alcohol for a moment before putting it to his lips.

"I didn't know what to say. I was...losing."

He shuddered, and tossed back the shot, violently.

"He started talking about brotherhood. Fraternity. Family. He started talking...softly."

Lasha turned, seizing Oleksei's bare arm, sliding his hand down it without thinking, feeling its contour absently.

"I had to become vicious with him, Taras," he whispered.

His eyes closed.

"My god, it kills me."
taras_oleksei
Mar. 11th, 2009 04:38 pm (UTC)
"Lasha..." Taras said, urgently, but then trailed off, uncertain. Unsure of what he could say.

He could picture the scene, the arctic expression that must have been on Lasha's face, the haunted look in Liadov's eyes. The words, soft and raw like silk.

Isaev's fingers pressed into his tattooed skin, hard as cold iron, right over the letters that spelled out live and learn.

Taras swallowed the rest of his drink and set his glass aside.

He reached out and gripped his other hand over Ilarion's, firmly.

"Lasha, listen to me. Liadov...he knows who you are. He knows you better than anyone. He knows it hurt you to say those things, just as much as it hurt him to hear them."

He paused, mismatched eyes flicking back and forth rapidly as he thought.

"But in the end, it doesn't change anything. Especially not how he...feels."

Taras glanced up, frowning and conflicted.

"Da?"
ilarion_isaev
Mar. 12th, 2009 06:07 am (UTC)
Ilarion flinched, averting his eyes.

"I don't know," he murmured. "I'd like to believe it."

He exhaled, long and slow, leaning back against the couch. His hand absently eased along the bulging contour of Taras overdeveloped forearm, caressing it like an object d'art.

"He kept repeating himself, staring into my eyes. Telling me he would talk to me later, tomorrow, but not now. It couldn't be now."

Lasha's eyes narrowed.

"What could be that important, Taras?" he demanded, in a rough whisper. "What?"

He closed his eyes, and his fingers tightened, rubbing circles, easing into muscle as if seeking to destroy it through passion.

"You know what the strangest part was, comrade? After I pushed him away, another of his accomplices stepped up to me- one of the snipers. He said it was serious, and sensitive, and that it wasn't what I thought. He asked me, in this earnest and soulful way...did I want to hurt Major Liadov."

Lasha opened his eyes, turning their pale intensity on Oleksei, finding the uneven tones of his gaze unfathomable and fixed.

Ilarion's lip shuddered slightly as his mouth parted.

"Only sometimes, I told him."
taras_oleksei
Mar. 12th, 2009 08:17 am (UTC)
Taras swallowed.

He could not look away from Lasha, not in the face of his pain, not when Lasha looked back at him with eyes like that, cold and stark with acute clarity, their grey weighted by terrible knowledge.

That look alone threatened to drive Taras crazy. He felt the sudden urge to spring forward and pin Lasha to the couch, just so he could obliterate it.

"That is strange," he whispered, finally.

Taras pressed his lips together, as if he could hold his words back, but their pressure built, like arousal.

The motion of Lasha's hand on his arm, the long and elegant fingers working into his muscle, was becoming unbearably intense, too rough to be casual.

"Is that what love is, Lasha?"

He felt himself shiver.

"You want to hurt them, sometimes?"
ilarion_isaev
Mar. 12th, 2009 08:02 pm (UTC)
Lasha was stricken.

"No," he whispered, vehemently, shaking his head. "Love means you want to give them everything. That you'll devastate worlds to ensure their contentment, and all you want in return is a place to lay down your arms and rest your head."

Ilarion breathed softly, as he remembered Liadov's own words about devotion; he didn't dare to deny them voice, though the intimacy and enormity of them pained his lips.

"Love means you'll...cross a lake of fire in a wooden boat."

His throat was tight.

"It's love that gets diverted, and refused, that goes from sweet water to brackish..."

He shook his head, searching for words, trying to make them less damning, less searing on the tongue.

"I don't want to hurt him because I love him, Taras. I want to hurt him because he refuses to love me."
taras_oleksei
Mar. 12th, 2009 09:48 pm (UTC)
"Oh," Taras whispered.

The raw agony on Lasha's face was too much. Taras looked away, eyes wide, staring at nothing, chest cramping.

It felt like a weight pressing down, slowly closing around him, like concrete.

Taras drew his hand away and pressed it to his forehead, squeezing his eyes shut.

Taras wondered if Liadov felt the same thing as Ilarion, if they both were suffering in this horrible way. The force of Lasha's pain was so great that Taras felt it too, and that made it worse.

"Why is it like this," he bit out.

Taras shook himself, hard, like an animal.

"I don't think he doesn't love you, Lasha," he said, finally, his jaw taut around every word.

Taras grimaced, making a terrible face. Slowly, he looked up at Lasha.

"I think he just...won't let you love him."
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