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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."


( 39 comments — Leave a comment )
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?"
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.
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."
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.
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.
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.
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."
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.
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.
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."
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.

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."
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?"
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."
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."
Mar. 12th, 2009 11:18 pm (UTC)
Ilarion's chest felt like a column of ash, carefully orchestrated, precarious, barely keeping the cohesion of a man-shaped pyre.

The flames had gone, and left him burnt out and bitter, hollow beneath. Ashes, which he delicately stirred to unearth the hidden embers that still consumed him from the inside out.

Oleksei's struggled words were like a sudden taiga wind.

Lasha felt his ribcage collapse. Silent, soundless.

True devastation never came with bombast, he knew, but with a glancing and innocent brush.

"You're right," he breathed out, blinking. His eyes cast about, uncertain, wild in their absence and lack of anchor.

"And if he won't let me love him..." Ilarion muttered, heavily, eyes closing, "then he should ache like I ache."

Mar. 13th, 2009 05:24 am (UTC)
Taras shivered, feeling a chill.

He stared at Lasha uncertainly for a long moment.

"I don't know if that's a - "

He broke off, glancing down at the forgotten cup in Lasha's hands. Taras seized it from him, pulling it away from Ilarion's slack fingers without resistance.

"What are you thinking about doing?" he asked, carefully.

Taras kept his eyes averted, busying himself with pouring a healthy shot, watching the colorless liquid shimmer.

"Because if want to make him hurt like you do, I think...he already does."

Taras took the cup and pressed it into Ilarion's grasp, molding his hands around it.

"Here, take a drink. You need it, Lashka."
Mar. 13th, 2009 05:44 am (UTC)
Ilarion nodded, dutifully raising it to his lips and taking a swallow. Tasting pepper.

"Well," he said softly, his voice bloodless and overly modulated, "that may be."

He paused, taking slow, deep breaths. Inhaling Taras' aura of liquor and warm masculine sleep, emanating from beside him.

It was a calming aroma, and he forced his eyes open, newly cold, fortified against emotion.

"The coup de grace of our little unplanned rendezvous, however, was when the pathologist came forward, into the settling dust, and decided to mount his own defense of dear Nikanor."

Lasha pressed the glass against his lips, taking a contemptuous sip. It burned his throat with equal disdain.

"Do you know what he said, Taras?"

Ilarion paused, incredulous, shaking his head, with a chilly smirk.

"He said they had all convened there, because he had tried to commit suicide by sniper."
Mar. 13th, 2009 05:07 pm (UTC)
"He - what?"

Taras blinked his mismatched eyes.

He stared at Ilarion, almost shocked out of the ache that constricted his chest.

"But...that doesn't make sense," he said, slowly. "Why would he say that?"

He paused, shaking his head, struggling to comprehend it.

"And what does that even mean? He found some famous person no one likes and volunteered to stand in front of him? Or he ran in front of the targets at the firing range when the snipers were practicing?"

Taras grabbed his cup and poured himself a shot.

"That's crazy. He actually said he tried to commit suicide? Even if it's not true, just the fact that he said it is all we need to sink him. He's gone."
Mar. 13th, 2009 08:23 pm (UTC)
Lasha's lips reluctantly formed a wintry little smile.

"I didn't actually believe him, at first. Even if a man is weak enough to attempt such a thing and fail, he would never announce it. It would be his ruin. So he must be lying, because no man would admit to such a humiliation."

Ilarion frowned.

"But then I thought, true or not, the outcome of ruin would be the same, and still, what he's doing makes no logical sense. It's a different kind of suicide, to confess something like that in front of an auditing militsioner."

He turned his head, lip curling up at the corner.

"So perhaps he really was a suicidal nihilist, and instead of suicide by sniper, he was trying for suicide by State."

Ilarion glanced up belatedly, remembering Taras' question about death by sniper.

"Apparently he had gone to one of the Chernaya Osnaz marksmen- a casual acquaintence- out of the blue, and asked him to put a bullet in him."

He took a sip of vodka.

"The sniper politely declined to commit a murder that wasn't of the sanctioned, state variety."
Mar. 13th, 2009 10:09 pm (UTC)
"Yeah, no shit. Guys like that are professionals."

Taras sneered and raised the cup to his lips, taking a healthy swallow.

"I wouldn't do something like that, if some prick asked me. I have, you know, standards."

He eyed Lasha. He wondered why Lasha didn't seem to think it unusual that the sniper had turned down the request when he obviously thought there was no limit to anything Taras would do, just because he was a professional killer. Maybe it was because Lasha knew him.

He snorted.

"You're right, though. He knows we're here to audit him, and he still said that suicide shit. It doesn't matter what we find in his reports now. None of it is reliable. We can write the recommendation that he get sent up to a crazy farm, and have the charges against Andrusha dropped."

Taras frowned suddenly, his look darkening.

"That is...if Liadov cooperates."
Mar. 13th, 2009 10:27 pm (UTC)
Ilarion's eyes narrowed.

"That may be a bit of a burr," he said, coolly. "You see, that was clearly the whole reason he wouldn't disclose the nature of their activities."

Lasha made a face that wouldn't have been out of place on a wolverine.

"He was attempting to shield his interagency liaison from scrutiny, so that the integrity of the whole case won't be called into question."

He paused.

"Or perhaps he was motivated by personal reasons. Compassion. But really, who does that?"

He dismissed the idea with a raucous snort.
Mar. 13th, 2009 11:15 pm (UTC)
Taras stared at him for a moment.

"Liadov," he said, quietly.

He reached out for Isaev's cup and refilled it.

"Da? That's what you said about him. He's like that. Saint Nika."
Mar. 14th, 2009 07:23 am (UTC)
Ilarion's face wryed into a delicate expression of doubtful repulsion.

"Well, yes-"

He let Oleksei pour for him again, feeling the weight of liquid in his hand.

"But even Nika has his limits, comrade. I'm sure."

He looked at Taras, incredulous.

"Why would he protect an incompetent? An unreliable man is a liability to him as a detective, and an officer."

Ilarion shook his head.

"Saint he may be, but he's not an idiot," he exclaimed, brows vaulting.
Mar. 14th, 2009 08:37 am (UTC)
Taras grunted, nodding.

"That's true."

He took a sip, thinking about that.

"He probably didn't know, until this happened. Because if he did, he could have just had the pathologist sent back home for some other reason. Said it was a personal emergency, his mother got sick, or something."

He snorted dismissively.

"Now he has a problem...and you have leverage."

He looked at Lasha for a long moment, sobering.

"Are you going to use it?"
Mar. 16th, 2009 07:35 pm (UTC)
Lasha glanced at him, sidewise.

His eyes flickered briefly like distant lights in a blizzard.

"If I used it," he said delicately, "it wouldn't be leverage."

In this case, only the threat of what he could do would serve him; anything he did to Nika would come back on him twice over, and so any action must be carefully mulled.

Not only would destroying Liadov destroy him by proxy, but there was also the one very real and unpleasant fact that he didn't want to think about.

But he was upset and plied with enough friendly alcohol to admit it aloud.

"Liadov has leverage of his own, when it comes to me."
Mar. 16th, 2009 09:51 pm (UTC)
Taras made a quiet noise of agreement.

He thought he knew what Lasha was talking about. This was still about love. He didn't think either one of them wanted to discuss it in great detail.

Taras finished the rest of his glass, then poured himself another.

"So it's a...stalemate," Taras said, after a while. "Because it's too even. Neither of you wants to try anything, because neither of you will win."

He fell silent, frowning.

"...and you're not sure you want to win, anyway."

Taras shook himself, then rubbed his bare chest with his palm, roughly, as if he could chafe out some of the emotion that still roiled under his tattoos.

He exhaled slowly, turning his gaze to Lasha again, studying his profile and the tautness at his jaw. It looked less like anger and more like pain, but was probably a combination.

"Lasha...you know it's not going to be like this forever, da?"
Mar. 16th, 2009 11:14 pm (UTC)
"I know that he can't deny me forever. Not as it stands."

Lasha frowned, nursing his vodka solemnly like a small boy with a cup of juice.

"But again, that's the issue with leverage, Taras. It must be carefully cosseted and petted, handled with kid. It can't become revenge. He has the power to make it forever, if I play my hand wrong."

Ilarion snorted softly.

"One more affront," he said, plucking at a button, "that he deems irredeemable. Such as damaging his reputation, or his record. Destroying his work."

He paused.

"Then I lose what I now possess- the certainty that he'll eventually relent to me. Because I will have crushed the bond. That isn't leverage; that's vengeance. Vengeance only has one place- when nothing else is left to you. When the desire for retribution outweighs the desire for reconciliation."

Ilarion raised his eyes, obliquely.

"If I take an action like that, I need to be prepared to lose him utterly and irretrievably. And I am not ready for that extreme yet. My will is strong, as is my mind."
Mar. 17th, 2009 06:22 am (UTC)
"Da, it is."

Taras nodded vehemently.

"You won't make that kind of mistake. Not again. You're smarter than that, Lasha. You're better. And you know there's nothing more important than a comrade."

He raised his hand and ran it over Lasha's head, ruffling the sleek silvery crop under his fingers. Ilarion's hair was fine and thick, like the fur trim of a ushanka. It felt somehow soothing, to touch it.

"And I'll help you. I'll tell you if you're going too far. Just in case."

The time Taras could have hated Liadov had slipped out of his reach. Now, it was more complicated.

"I just want you to be..."

He drew his hand away, slowly, frowning.

"...happy," he whispered.
Mar. 17th, 2009 07:05 am (UTC)
"I am happy," said Ilarion, surprised, looking at him.

Taras looked oddly uncertain, almost as if something dire had distracted him.

"Do I seem unhappy?"

He paused, legitimately curious.

It was an interesting question, Lasha decided, leaning back, mildly bewildered.

"Are you happy?" he asked, after a moment.
Mar. 17th, 2009 08:15 am (UTC)

Taras looked up, staring at him.

"The way you talk, I didn't think..."

He trailed off, hesitant. He thought hard about what Lasha said.

"Sometimes," he said, finally, "sometimes you seem unhappy, when you're talking about what happened with Liadov. Like now, when you're thinking about losing him forever. Not wanting that to happen."

Taras glanced down at his cup, and took a sip.

"But...it also just seems like if he came back, you'd be happy then, and that would be different than what you are now. So that's why I thought..."

He shrugged.

"I don't know."

He drank again, and considered Ilarion's question, belatedly.

"But yeah. I'm happy. I like my life now. I like working in the Ministry. I like learning these things. I like being with you."
Mar. 17th, 2009 09:45 pm (UTC)
"That's good," said Lasha, quietly. "Good."

His hand found Taras's, and pressed over it with firm brevity.

"You're an asset to the Ministry, Oleksei."

He paused.

"And to me, particularly."

Frowning, he eyed his glass of vodka, but declined to drink it at the last moment, letting it settle on his knee.

"I am unhappy, aren't I," he said, grimly. "I willfully forget sometimes."

That was one word for it.

"I can't allow things like irrational emotions to stave me from my course of action. I strangle it at arms' length..."

His face shifted, expression growing moody.

"But it creeps back like a vine."
Mar. 17th, 2009 11:18 pm (UTC)
"It's like the Zone," Taras said, suddenly.

His eyes widened for a moment, then he turned to meet Lasha's gaze, his own particularly honed, fixed on Lasha with all the intent and focus of a hunting dog.

"You're in a bad place now, but what you have to do is survive it."

Taras reached to touch Lasha again, laying a firm hand on his shoulder.

The soft wool of Ilarion's uniform felt warm under his fingers, heated by the life and breath in Lasha's body.

"And all it'll take is the word of a comrade to get you out of it, but until then, I'm with you. I'm watching your back and making sure you'll get through it."

He leaned forward, his voice hushed, but edged with conviction.

"It's your Zone, Lasha. That's all it is. It's hard, but you can get through it. I know you can. You're Ilarion Isaev."
Mar. 19th, 2009 08:09 pm (UTC)
Ilarion laughed indulgently.

"Oh, Taras," he said, shaking his head. "My year and a half in exile is hardly comparable to your six months of living hell."

He sighed, setting down his drink and running his hand carelessly over the arm of the couch, back and forth, feeling the rough nap against his palm.

"My siberia is only figurative."

A pause.

"And shall pass."

His tone darkened faintly, though his expression remained open and unguarded.

"One way or another."

He turned, after a moment, glancing at Oleksei, whose face wore an unreadable melange of emotions. Unusually, confusion was not at the forefront.

"Well," he said quietly. "I need to burn that out. Catharsis. You know."

Another pause.

"I'll let you go back to sleep, Captain. I appreciate your making yourself available, despite the late hour."
Mar. 19th, 2009 10:39 pm (UTC)
"Lasha - "

Taras found himself leaning forward as if to stop him, though Lasha had not yet moved to get up.

Lasha regarded him with eyes that were clear and mild, an almost-soft grey, as if fatigue had thawed his gaze.

Taras swallowed.

"You can...stay, if you want."

He glanced at the bed, which looked rumpled but still serviceable in the dim light, as broad as any they'd shared.

There was a beat of silence.

He turned to look at Lasha again, meeting his eyes briefly.

"If you don't want to be alone," he whispered.
Mar. 20th, 2009 01:25 am (UTC)
Ilarion smiled, faintly.

"I've never minded being alone," he said.

It was true. He'd always been alone, except for when he was with Liadov. His one and only peer.

Lasha paused.

"But I've never minded company either."

The right kind of company, he amended silently.

After a moment he thought about Taras, and conversations they'd had before, not two nights ago.

It occurred to him that perhaps Oleksei was not merely asking on behalf of concern for his well-being. Perhaps he was asking on behalf of himself.

"Do you want me to stay?" asked Lasha, with a slight inclination of his head.
Mar. 20th, 2009 06:13 am (UTC)
Taras looked at him.

Nameless impulses warred within him for a few moments, tightening in his chest, but through it all, Lasha's presence was steadying and familiar.

That was something particular about Ilarion, that he did not doubt who he was. Lasha at times questioned his course of action, but never himself. It was as if he had simply decided who to be long ago. Probably when his mother died.

That was part of Lasha's power, something about him that could never be denied.

Taras licked his lips, nodding.

"Da. If you don't mind."

He pushed the bottle aside. His throat felt raw, like it had swallowed enough alcohol. His head just felt tired.

"But if you'd rather be alone than stay, it's not a problem."
Mar. 20th, 2009 07:11 pm (UTC)
"Don't be ridiculous," replied Lasha, rising from the couch.

He unbuttoned his coat and shrugged out of it, laying it over a chair.

"I can be alone any time I like."

He stripped off his shirt, leaving his undershirt, then turned to take care of his boots.

Taras had not yet moved, just sat watching him, but now Ilarion saw his inertia succumb, out of his peripheral vision.

Once Lasha had his boots off and stowed neatly under the table, he unfastened his grey wool jodhpurs, easing them down his hips and stepping away, folding them in a seamless motion and setting them on a chair.

After a moment's consideration, he pulled off his undershirt, too, leaving only his shorts.

"Hope you don't mind, Oleksei, but I'm just going to get into your bed. It's been a long night."
Mar. 20th, 2009 08:36 pm (UTC)
"No. I don't mind."

Taras wondered what the alternative would have been, but he decided it was better not to ask.

"I'm tired too."

He actually felt a little wrung out, spent and loaded with just enough alcohol to blunt his awareness to a drowsy fatigue.

Ilarion was clearly exhausted as well, though even so, he had taken the time to arrange every article and fold piece of clothing neatly, as if he had been in his own room, where everything had its place. Taras liked that.

He left his sweatpants on and crawled into the bed, his massive frame dipping the mattress as he settled in.

Taras lay on his back, off-center in the bed, leaving room for Ilarion.

"Thanks for staying," he said as Ilarion got under the covers next to him.

He reached to turn off the light on the beside table.

"I'm going to sleep good tonight."
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