Mess

Dec. 17th, 2007 08:27 pm
[identity profile] hajimenoippolit.livejournal.com posting in [community profile] groznyj_grad
Life went on.

Heat and noise, startling after the cold open space of the courtyard, enveloped Liadov and Rakitin as they walked into the mess hall. It was a little early yet, and the building was half full of soldiers boasting, arguing, laughing. It was easy to slip under the surface, though Ippolit was peripherally aware that he still merited a few odd looks. He was used to that.

It was an opportunity to recover from the inquest, and Rakitin was grateful. Isaev's calm stare had been as disorienting as Irinarhov's forgiveness. The interview had been bad enough, but it hadn't disturbed him to this extent. Rakitin hadn't been been given that quality of fear by a man's mere presence since...

...since a long time ago.

The chill was leaching from his mind, now, with the awareness that the case had taken a temporary reprieve. Nika seemed relieved as well.

The corpse would be as dead in the morning.

Rakitin felt some of the tension ease from his shoulders. The day was done. It was unlikely the rest of the evening would provide any especial trials.

By the time they took their places at the accustomed table, Polya had regained the equilibrium to find it all darkly funny. Some days it was as though someone had written half a tragedy and half a farce and thrown the pages in the air.

"So," he said to Nika conversationally, "I hear Molokov's replacement came in today."

Date: 2007-12-18 07:49 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] nikanor-liadov.livejournal.com
Liadov set down his teacup, blinking politely.

"Pardon?" he asked, absently. "Oh. Molokov."

AKA the corpus delecti.

He lilted an eyebrow in mild incredulity.

"You mean the German imported himself a new piece of ass?"

Date: 2007-12-18 06:04 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] nikanor-liadov.livejournal.com
Liadov inclined his head, absently.

"I've never believed that," he declared, taking an idle sip. "I know how people love to say it."

"You can't judge a book by its cover..." He waved his hand. "Looks can be deceiving."

He leaned back, surveying the room that teemed with soldiers and officers, tacitly segregated. The Ocelots in their northwest corner, holding court amongst themselves. No doubt discussing the turn of recent events, and the inquisition they'd undergone. The mood should have been sober, but it wasn't exactly that.

More subdued. The expressions and exchanges he witnessed were still good natured and amicable.

Majors Ocelot, Krauss and Raikov, along with the Black Ops man- now in major rank insignia, a gargantuan and obvious slav. Nika frowned. Interesting.

The regular GRU, almost window-dressing. An expendable Spetsnaz troop that seemed inexhaustible, or interchangeable. He wasn't sure which.

And the Flame Soldiers, at their standard table, of course. Misanthropic and inward-turned to a man, and a woman. Making no secret of this to the objective eye.

To the left were nurses chatting with secretaries and coyly fending off half-hearted passes from the soldiers. The men in question probably spent their nights in each other's arms, either for preference or lack of complication, and one only needed to observe slightly more acutely to know this; intent was not present in the actions they took.

"No," he said slowly. "I don't believe a word of it. Here's a new phrase for you. If it quacks like a duck, and walks like a duck, don't call it a peacock."

Date: 2007-12-19 02:37 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] nikanor-liadov.livejournal.com
Nika stared, as if mildly bewildered.

"Of course not," he said. "I'm always correct."

Then a slow smile broke over his face, turning into a rare grin.

He shook his head.

"No one's right all the time."

Nika looked at Polya calmly.

"But the truth is, one is rarely surprised when he looks closely at the offered plumage, not just with cursory eyes, but with discerning eyes- and with all his senses, considering context, history and probably motivation."

Date: 2007-12-19 06:54 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] nikanor-liadov.livejournal.com
This Utrov?

"Which Utrov?" asked Nika, confused, setting down his teacup. "What are we talking about?"

The other statement was more clear.

Liadov paused, shrugged and poured more hot water into his cup, pushing it aside and letting it steep.

"They are, to be sure."

Date: 2007-12-19 07:48 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] eyes-adrift.livejournal.com
Aryol came up behind Lieutenant Rakitin, tray in hand, grinning.

"Oooh, sounds good, whatever it is," he said, in an exaggerated whisper.

Over the back of the pathologist's head, he tossed the MVD major a wink.

Aryol's eyes gleamed dark, full of boundless good nature and a particular easy warmth. He hadn't seen the major since he'd brought him breakfast and let him sleep in, but Aryol had been thinking about him that day, on and off.

He put his tray down next to the pathologist, across from the major.

There was no one else at the table. Aryol wondered if they always sat alone.

"So, what's going on?"

He sat down, looking between them, still smiling and looking faintly amused.

"Did something interesting happen?"

Date: 2007-12-19 08:11 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] nikanor-liadov.livejournal.com
"Oh, look Polya. It's..."

Liadov paused, laughing.

He rubbed his brow.

"Yes, well...how are you, comrade?"

Date: 2007-12-19 08:48 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] eyes-adrift.livejournal.com
Aryol laughed.

"I'm good," he said, "except when I'm bad."

He took a sip of his coffee and smiled over the rim, offhanded and easy.

"You know how it is."

Aryol caught and held the major's gaze for a moment.

"How about you, comrade?"

His eyes were briefly intent, but after a moment schooled his features into a more decorous expression and turned to include the pathologist.

"Was it a good day?"

Date: 2007-12-19 09:33 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] nikanor-liadov.livejournal.com
Comrade.

It was a good word to employ when you didn't know the name of the man whose ass you'd been fucking for three solid nights.

Or indeed, when you didn't know the name of the man who'd been fucking your ass for three solid nights.

Yes, very useful indeed.

Liadov paused delicately, adjusting his MVD cufflinks in a habitual gesture.

"It went as well as can be expected," he said.

There was no harm in telling the soldier, he thought.

The Ocelots had been interrogated and debriefed, and Liadov knew it would be all over the base by morning anyway.

"There's been another murder. A little less grisly, but no less depraved."

He glanced at Rakitin.

"So...about average?"

Date: 2007-12-19 09:57 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] eyes-adrift.livejournal.com
"Wow," said Aryol, impressed.

And here they were sitting, drinking tea, being so calm about it all. Aryol guessed that you didn't have to be in Black Ops to enjoy a little black humor. He knew it was true of the major, but the pathologist had seemed quieter and more serious to him at first.

He looked between them again.

"How depraved?"

He leaned forward.

"Only average? Can I see the body?"

Date: 2007-12-19 10:01 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] nikanor-liadov.livejournal.com
"How depraved?"

Liadov considered, then leveled his hand and tipped it in the universal gesture for so-so.

Nika wryed his lips.

"I've seen more depraved things done to a man's body."

His eyes avoided contact but his tone spoke entendre.

"I would certainly let you see it- but that's Lieutenant Rakitin's domain. He'd need to give his blessing."

Date: 2007-12-19 10:09 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] eyes-adrift.livejournal.com
"Hmm, me too," Aryol murmured.

He looked across at the Major with mild eyes.

"I've had a lot of experience in the area, actually."

His tone was entirely blithe.

After a moment, his gaze shifted to Rakitin, and he smiled reassuringly.

"Because of my Black Ops training, that is."

Date: 2007-12-19 06:05 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] eyes-adrift.livejournal.com
Aryol lowered his gaze for a moment, modestly.

"Well...you know," he said. "I don't like to brag."

He looked up and grinned.

"Anyway...yeah, I'd be interested. Professional curiosity."

Aryol knew a man who could kill and leave no marks at all.

He began to eat more in earnest now, though politely, pausing to chew, setting his fork down between bites. Aryol looked across the table at the major.

"So this was the sex killer, right? Same deal?"

It occurred to Aryol then that the major probably didn't want to talk about it.

Aryol's gaze turned slow and thoughtful.

The major looked like he could use a neck rub, Aryol thought.

Among other things.

"Long day, huh?" he murmured.

Date: 2007-12-19 07:57 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] nikanor-liadov.livejournal.com
"Long enough," said Liadov, giving Rakitin a confratory sigh. "We pressed an inquest on a certain Lieutenant Isaev, as the last man to be seen with the victim last night."

He paused and toyed with a sugar cube, before tossing it into his tea.

"For the moment, we have no overwhelming evidence against him," Nika said carefully. "It's all circumstantial. But then, Polya hasn't finished analyzing all the scene samples yet. Anything could happen."

He tried to sound objective, unconcerned. He made no mention of Isaev's alibi, as that was best left unstated beyond the room- both because of the implications to the perception of their comradeship, and because the more Kassian's statement became known, the more scrutiny it would bear.

Someone might have seen Irinarhov leaving his wing, or worse yet, his room.

Liadov smiled.

"Polya has proved to have an unexpected and abrupt talent for asking penetrating questions."

Date: 2007-12-19 10:09 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] nikanor-liadov.livejournal.com
Liadov paused.

"Because he would," he said quietly.

There was no gilding that lily.

"His grandfather was a very influential man in the Ministry. His father and brother have their fingers tamped across Leningrad, and their reach goes well beyond it."

Nika met Polya's eyes with unvarnished admission.

"It's good he didn't do it."

Date: 2007-12-20 01:06 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] nikanor-liadov.livejournal.com
Nika leveled his gaze.

"I believe Andrei didn't do it," he said.

"But if circumstances conspired and stood ready to convict him, there's not a man on that squad I would expect to tell the truth."

Except Irinarhov, he thought.

Thank christ he'd been wrong about that.

"If Captain Irinarhov says he was with Lieutenant Isaev last night, until someone else is able to place him elsewhere, I have to take his word- and the past habitual history of their companionship, at face value."

It was a bold statement, with Aryol sitting right in front of him, not knowing the context of his words, and having that very ability to place Kassian elsewhere, should he not cotton on to the gist of Nika's careful omission.

He shrugged.

"As far as lying goes, I know it concerned you more when you thought they were lovers than when you thought they were merely comrades."

A pause, and he kept his eyes apart, avoiding Aryol's penetrating gaze. Aryol, who drank in everything he saw or heard like quicksand.

"Yet men with blood-sworn platonic bonds are as wont to lie for their brothers, as are those who lie with their brothers," Nika added wryly. "If not more."

Date: 2007-12-20 05:52 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] eyes-adrift.livejournal.com
Aryol listened as he ate, quietly fascinated.

It was interesting to hear the major and his partner talk shop, to take in the details of their job that were everyday and ordinary to them, but seemed exotic to Aryol, laden with jargon and code.

It was doubly interesting that those details seemed to concern Kasya and Lieutenant Isaev. Niotkuda, Aryol thought of him as.

Most interesting of all was that the major seemed to be hedging, and talking around the truth. Moreover, he seemed to be disinclined to even mention to his partner that he knew exactly where Kasya had been last night. Or that Kasya and Niotkuda actually were lovers.

Aryol wondered why, but he didn't ask.

As he ate, he followed the conversation as it flowed between the two men, pausing to look up every once in a while, and study them.

Lieutenant Rakitin's face was open and troubled, emotion spilling across it unchecked, hesitancy and concern darkening his quiet gaze.

The major was the exact opposite, Aryol thought. His regard was offhand and his expression droll and amused, but under that easy smile lay depths of meaning in everything left unsaid.

Like one of Lynx's magic tricks. Distraction, misdirection. The force of the major's charm drew attention away from the slight-of-hand of his words.

Aryol said nothing, and kept his interest candid but mild.

In his experience, furtiveness drew caution, while undisguised idle curiosity was usually written off as just that.

He took a sip of his coffee.

Aryol had been around a lot of men who had a lifetime of secrets to keep.

There were times when you just needed to keep your mouth the hell shut.

Date: 2007-12-20 10:17 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] utrov.livejournal.com
Vasily navigated the mess hall crowd, taking note of the division of territory. Regular GRU uniforms to one side, a flock of red berets to the other, rank in its own locale. A spot of centralized irregularity caught his eye, where a few odd men out had drifted together. Utrov smiled as he recognized the friendly kid from that morning.

"Evening, comrades," he said pleasantly. "Mind if I sit here?"

Besides Aryol, there was a guy in a grey MVD coat - might've bothered some people, but Utrov got along with just about anybody - and...

Well, fuck me blind.

Vasily grinned toothily.

If that wasn't pale Rakitin, giving him the classic deer-to-headlights stare.

Little bastard almost slipped under his radar.

Some force of luck liked him after all.

Date: 2007-12-20 05:45 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] eyes-adrift.livejournal.com
Aryol looked up.

"Oh, hello, Captain..."

He paused a beat to recall.

"Utrov, right?"

He smiled politely, and gestured for the supply captain to sit, because Rakitin wasn't going to.

"Go ahead, feel free."

Utrov and Rakitin were looking at each other funny again. Aryol wondered what was going on with that. They had been less that forthcoming earlier, but then again, it wasn't like it was Aryol's business.

He looked across the table at the MVD major and gave a small shrug, then glanced back at Utrov.

"Looks like you found where the horse was supposed to go."

Either that, Aryol thought, or he'd tied it up outside the mess hall.

Date: 2007-12-20 07:01 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] nikanor-liadov.livejournal.com
"Horse?" said Nika, vaguely amused. "Is this some kind of semaphore?"

But the name his sometime soldier boy said rung bells not overly distant, and Liadov realized this was the supply Captain that Rakitin had been making awkward small talk about earlier.

Molokov's replacement, his mind provided, and thus an unknown commodity to the investigation.

He took a cursory, almost perfunctory inventory of the Captain- regular GRU, close-set brown eyes, light brown hair, thin face and a rather irritating smile.

Plumage, thought Nika.

He certainly didn't look like a man capable of murder, though he was bold enough to walk up to a superior officer's table and invite himself into a seat.

But promotion was a motivation enough to some. It was hardly impossible for this man, or someone working on his behalf, to have hired someone to kill Molokov. There were plenty of mercenaries around.

Add a few more bodies to throw off the mundane motive of commerce, and make it seem like the work of a deranged sex fiend, instead of an avaricious entrepaneur.

"Ochen priatna," he said, with a faint smile, sipping his tea.

Date: 2007-12-20 11:45 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] nikanor-liadov.livejournal.com
"I don't know," said Liadov mildly, lips straight as a strung and untuned bow. "Perhaps you have."

He took another sip of tea.

"Do you hang out in petri dishes?"

Date: 2007-12-21 05:47 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] eyes-adrift.livejournal.com
"Or test tubes?" Aryol quipped.

He glanced at the pathologist, who looked vaguely dismayed and a bit glassy-eyed, like he wanted to get up and bolt toward the door but didn't dare draw that much attention.

Aryol raised a brow.

"You all right, Lieutenant?"

Date: 2007-12-21 06:31 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] utrov.livejournal.com
"A lab rat, then?" Utrov said genially. "I wouldn't have guessed. If we've met before, it must not have come up."

It made sense. He didn't have a soldier's body.

Vasily leaned forward.

"You do look a little peaked," he solicited, voice tipped with innocence. "Coming down with something?"

Rakitin was staring down at his hands, face was the color of unfired clay.

"...fine," he muttered.

The combative little bastard must have still been caught off guard. Utrov would have to get in his shots while he had the chance. However, it wouldn't do to pass up an opportunity to scout out the lay of the land.

"What are a scientist and an MVD doing out here on the blind side of the beyond? Something to do with the predecessor's demise that Krauss was so quick to inform me of?"

He shrugged solid shoulders.

"That is, if it's something you can openly speak of, and doesn't call for whispering in dark corners."

Date: 2007-12-21 11:10 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] nikanor-liadov.livejournal.com
Nika was silent for a stretch of time, and he let the silence hang there, suspended like newt in a jar of saltpeter.

He came to realize he was frowning.

A rare, unfortunate gesture.

He steepled his fingers carefully.

"Strange friend you have," he remarked, softly terse, "who acts like an American and queries the interior ministry like a weather service."

His words were directed at Rakitin, though he kept his eyes trained on Utrov's face.

He decided it displeased him.

Why would a supply captain make a beeline for their isolated table, that no servicemen even dared to eye, much less join?

Would an honest man truly be so blunt and maladroit as to blithely inquire after a pending MVD investigation, mere seconds after an introduction?

And the way he was myopically needling Rakitin- again, strange and non sequitur- as if he'd showed up purely for that purpose, with no other motivation.

But that made no sense.

He behaved like a bad spy.

An in-house de facto spy, not a trained agent, but an administrative officer tapped to report clandestinely.

Lacking the game and match skills to play real chess.

Nika's expression was solemn and dolorous as the painted saints, gilded and forgotten inside the barred chapels.

"I can give you some advice, Muscovite," he said, softly. "Some very good advice."

He drew his pen out of his pocket and clicked the point once, as if to punctuate, then put it to his lips, just shy of resting upon them.

"I would steer clear of dark corners here," he told Utrov. "And I surely wouldn't whisper. Uncle has excellent hearing."

He paused, then smiled slightly, and clicked the pen again, slowly. Deliberately.

...Uncle has excellent hearing, his own voice echoed aloud, in an ominous excerpt.

Date: 2007-12-21 12:17 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] eyes-adrift.livejournal.com
Aryol felt a sharp, visceral thrill as the major's recorded voice died away, and silence fell in its wake.

His gaze went from the pen to the major and then back again.

It intrigued him, to know that the major had a recording device so ready at hand, so easy to use. It made him wonder what else the MVD man was in the habit of recording.

Easy enough to casually leave a pen on the bedside table, after all.

Aryol decided he would have to ask.

His gaze went to the supply captain, this Utrov, and he sombered, wondering about him, what exactly the major had seen.

Something he hadn't liked, to be sure, Aryol thought.

The major's voice had been soft but serious, polite but pointed, and Aryol could see the deliberate non-tension in the set of his shoulders and hear it in the phrasing of his words.

Aryol was quiet, but did not avert his gaze.

Utrov's response would be the most telling, now.

Date: 2007-12-22 04:09 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] utrov.livejournal.com
The MVD's voice repeated, flat and soulless for all that the inflection was perfectly preserved.

God, Utrov fucking hated recordings.

Aryol had gone quiet, and was watching with interest. Rakitin couldn't have gone quieter without the help of some wadded rags and a roll of tape. The bastard actually looked terrified. Did he really think Vasily was going to do something as dull and self-defeating as let his sordid little secret slip?

He hadn't paid much attention to the MVD initially. That was a mistake. He'd been too long among equals and men he knew. He'd forgotten the basic day-to-day business of how to be afraid.

Forgotten how to handle a man who took a question like a cat took a splash of cold water.

Utrov found himself enjoying the tension.

Too bad the stakes were low. His life wasn't worth a clipped kopeck, and there were plenty of people who knew it.

"I'll keep that in mind," he said evenly.

All it would take was for the thought to cross the mind of someone on high, and a signature.

"Moscow was a quick stop. Mostly I've been out in the middle of nowhere so long I've forgotten my manners."

He kept his eyes fastened on the MVD's.

"I've lost the touch for the formalities around asking about my murdered predecessor, or about how likely it is I'll be next."

Date: 2007-12-22 06:58 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] eyes-adrift.livejournal.com
Aryol looked at the supply captain curiously.

He saw no fear in Utrov's expression, not even a healthy caution. Most normal people were afraid of the MVD, and with good reason, Aryol thought.

Aryol wasn't normal by any stretch, but he'd heard about the Stalinist purges from men who'd lived through them. Men who had been responsible for making people quietly and suddenly disappear. Men who had lost loved ones, or even entire families, that had been accused of disloyalty to the State.

Most of the time, the accusations weren't even true.

They were just convenient.

That had all happened before Aryol was born, but even now, the MVD still cast a long shadow.

It wasn't as bad as it had been before, but the MVD could still fuck you if they wanted.

That was one of the things Aryol liked about trysting with the MVD major, the thrill of getting away with something that would get normal people sent to the gulag. He thought the major probably enjoyed that too.

Being Black Ops gave Aryol a free pass from accountability.

Being a KGB remote viewer made him untouchable.

He wondered what Utrov had that made him feel like he could bait an MVD lion and not get mauled.

Aryol frowned thoughtfully.

Or maybe Utrov just didn't care.

Date: 2007-12-22 08:14 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] nikanor-liadov.livejournal.com
Nika didn't move, not to gesture, not to shift.

He couldn't explain it, the intangible pulse of displeasure.

Displeased, that was the only word.

Utrov set his teeth on edge, and made his ugly side seethe and roil, pushing the surface water like the bright back of a coi fish, warm and warning orange.

"I'm not psychic," replied Liadov, in a measured tone. "As I believe I just said, stay out of dark alleys, and you'll have better odds."

He raised an eyebrow.

"Don't go off with any strange men, either."

Or get off with them, he thought acerbically.

Nika's eyes fixed on the supply captain, then, gaze quiet and brutally solicitous.

"So. You must be Olavyenko's man."

Date: 2008-01-01 10:21 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] utrov.livejournal.com
"That's right."

Utrov held his smile like a grenade with the pin pulled.

"Maybe you are a mind-reader."

He'd been shoved onto a helicopter with a horse and stepped off to find that his new assignment had a slasher on the loose. He'd tried to do his job with the assistance of a German who could barely keep his eyes focused. He'd discovered, thanks to requisition forms with holes charred through them, nibbled at the edges by some kind of insect, and detailing barely legible orders for crossbow bolts and live prey for hornets, that this was going to take a lot longer than he thought.

He'd had a long day.

"That would be useful, wouldn't it? You could be skimming the answer off the top of my head like fat from soup."

If this grey-coated prick thought he'd be put off by waving a toy around, he had better like surprises.

"But you won't find much meat beneath it. Nothing but a nice, loyal little soldier doing what he's told."

He put one elbow on the table and leaned toward the MENT.

"We don't all get to live as autonomous islands."

He held the MVD's gaze, long and hard.

After a few seconds, the absurdity of it all caught up to him.

Utrov leaned back, laughing.

"Ah, hell. What does it matter?"

He gave the MVD a companionable clap on the back.

"What's eating you, comrade?" Utrov's eyebrow quirked. "Something six-legged crawl into your kasha? Or were you born with that sour face?"

Date: 2008-01-02 09:39 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] eyes-adrift.livejournal.com
Aryol narrowed his eyes at the supply captain.

"Why, were you born with that big mouth?"

Aryol had held his tongue through the exchange between the major and this Utrov, thinking it wasn't any of his business, content to merely to watch. But the way the supply captain had touched the major with such casual disregard set Aryol on edge.

It was like the man thought he could pluck the pinfeathers from a raptor and not lose a chunk of flesh to its hooked and razored beak.

Aryol leaned forward in his seat.

"You must think you're pretty brave, to touch the MVD that way. Most men are afraid of being sent to the Zone just for looking the wrong way at a Ministry officer. What is it that makes you think you're exempt...comrade?"

Date: 2008-01-02 10:35 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] utrov.livejournal.com
In Utrov's peripheral vision, he was aware that Rakitin had covered his eyes.

He shrugged easily.

"What, a grey coat means a porcelain doll? Going to break?"

Vasily rested his chin on his fist and gave the kid a winning smile. He'd been friendly as a dalmation on the landing pad, and now his hackles were raised. Wasn't that funny.

"If I really thought myself untouchable, what I'd do is wonder why a soldier in an unmarked uniform is friendly with one."

There was no fun in wading into a viper pit if you had an antidote on hand.

Utrov grinned.

"So it's a good thing I don't."

Date: 2008-01-02 09:55 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] nikanor-liadov.livejournal.com
Liadov leaned back in his chair.

"You must be simple," he said, slowly.

A transient frown graced his lips.

"Either that, or you're a compulsive revisionist."

Fascinating study in denial, actually, how what the soldier said- an ominous warning about the unchecked authority of the Ministry- had been altered somewhere between Utrov's ear and his brain to directly contradict itself.

Apparently, in the New Utrovian translation, the soldier had given the warning for Nika's benefit, to protect his delicate sensibilities from the mindless braying of a glorified stockboy.

Liadov's gaze was mild.

"You're absolutely right, Captain. I am nothing but a porcelain doll in a grey uniform. We all are, at the Ministry. A great, silly house of dolls. Remember that, when your mother disappears on her way to the market. Remember it when your farm is repossessed. Remember it especially when you and your family are buried in a lonely birch grove in the North."

Nika smiled with one half of his mouth.

"I've met men like you, Captain Utrov, who can't laugh quietly. I know you."

Liadov paused.

"You're the one who gets his friends in trouble."

Date: 2008-01-03 12:35 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] utrov.livejournal.com
"Then it's a good thing I don't know anybody here."

Utrov slipped Rakitin a scrap of a smile, getting a look of pure You're on your own in return.

"Except for maybe in passing."

He steepled sun-browned, callused fingers.

"But you've got the advantage, there. See, I don't know anybody like you."

His smile dropped, and his expression hardened.

"All the men I know take out their grievances face to face."

Date: 2008-01-03 01:43 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] nikanor-liadov.livejournal.com
"A grievance would suggest a personal involvement, Captain. It's a word more suited to a peer. I am not your peer, Captain. I have no grievance with you."

Liadov's features were impassive.

"I have worked hard to attain the respect and reputation I now enjoy. I did not come out of the womb on a half-shell, expecting a chorus of angels to sing at my approach. If they now do, it is because I charmed every one of them down from the trees to perch on my mantle, through perseverance. I did not march in, half-baked, from a turnip field and begin making enemies of my superiors."

Nika stirred his tea.

"You are either somewhat unbalanced between the ears, in which case I will smile tolerantly and give you a piece of candy- or you intend to build your reputation by engaging me outright, relying on bravado, despite the extremely poor long-run odds."

He shrugged, thoughtfully.

"Although perhaps you are merely a poor administrative spy from Moscow, trying to clumsily sidle up to our bashful friend Lieutenant Rakitin and gain his confidence, in order to exploit it."

Liadov turned his head and looked at Rakitin.

"What do you think, Polya? Does this man want to fuck until you until spill?"

He paused, smiling obscurely.

"...our secrets?" he concluded, at length.

Date: 2007-12-20 03:34 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] parabellum-p08.livejournal.com
Johann Krauss sat hunched over his cup of tea, his elbows resting on the table, his forehead pressed to the heels of his hands.

His tray of food pushed off to the side, half eaten, it grew cold and undesirable.

He wanted more than anything to disappear at that exact moment, like sugar dissipating into warm coffee.

There was no mistaking the man who sat down across from him like some apparition from his nightmares. He wanted to believe that it was impossible, that the phantom stranger had not returned from the place Krauss had sent him, because there was no returning from those places.

Deliberately, Krauss inched closer to Ocelot, keeping his eyes averted as he nudged his cup of tea along.

All he could think about was running for the door, but it was futile. Limping along with his bad hip, he might make it to the table occupied with flammable lunatics before the Lynx closed the distance in two massive steps, three if Krauss was lucky, caught him with gargantuan hands and snapped his neck with aberrant grace.

What an awful thing it would be, Johann realized, for the very last sound he heard to be the crunching of his own vertebrae.

All of a sudden, he felt violently sick.

He wanted to flee for his life, but he remained rooted firmly to the bench seat, wincing into his cup of tea and expecting his untimely and messy demise to come at any second.

Date: 2007-12-21 12:14 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] snow-death.livejournal.com
It was the first dinner he'd had outside Volgin's quarters. The Colonel was having a little physical therapy, practicing discipline on prisoners.

Lynx had elected not to accompany him.

So to mess it was, he thought, and once he'd hit the canteen, he'd realized his obvious course indicated the Majors' table.

Alexei studied the German as he ate. Not menacingly, not even particularly intently. But steadily.

He didn't say anything, but then, conversation had seemed lacking from the first.

Ocelot was reticent and brooding, and Raikov was uncharacteristically taciturn as well- possibly because he knew Lynx had been spending time with the Colonel, and because he was being shielded from the whole incident. Drawing conclusions that displeased him, no doubt.

But Krauss, that was a surprise.

Krauss was never silent. Always loquacious, animated, over the top.

The German seemed uneasy. Well, that was an understandable response, under the circumstances.

Lynx had not been expecting to come face to face with the man who made him dead.

Not like this. Not so civilly and well-lit. Not by chance.

Alexei smiled.

"You've already lost a few fingers, Johann. What now? Did they cut out your tongue?"


Date: 2007-12-21 05:27 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] parabellum-p08.livejournal.com
Krauss recoiled, startled, and his teacup was knocked over with one ill-calculated jerk.

The Major cursed in an incomprehensible garbling of German and Russian, fumbling with his napkin in an attempt to sop up the spreading puddle of tea before it reached the edge of the table and dripped into his lap.

He started to stand, banged his knees on the edge of the table, sat back down out of necessity.

“Verdammte Scheiße! Nein. No. Nyet.” The German laughed nervously, because he couldn’t stop himself. “Ich habe kein… nothing… no.”

With a painful wince, Johann stole a glance at the formerly dead man.

Jesus fucking Christ, and he was even smiling. That was the most unnerving part, the behemoth bastard was sitting across the table, smiling like he’d just asked about the lovely weather.

Smiling like he’d enjoy breaking every bone in Krauss’ body, and leaving him for the vultures to pick at.

A bead of sweat trickled down the German’s temple, and it seemed unusually warm in the mess hall.

“I swear to God, I was only following orders!”

Had he a thin kopek for every time he’d muttered that phrase, the Major would have been able to retire to a lush tropical island, and ever have to worry about frozen snowy Russia again.

"Only orders, that's all!"

Date: 2008-01-02 07:07 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] snow-death.livejournal.com
Lynx set down his fork.

"You never took an order in your life, not unless it served you," he said stonily.

His gaze flicked over the German, taking in his immaculate uniform and fastidious grooming. It was a sharp package belied by the almost imperceptible vibration of animal panic.

It was a response that Alexei could almost smell.

"You can relax, Johann," he stated. "It's not part of my authority to deal with you."

Lynx raised his pale blue eyes to the German's, also a pale blue, but wider and more hectic.

"Volgin wanted to take it up with you himself."

Date: 2008-01-02 11:59 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] snow-death.livejournal.com
"Eat your borscht," he added, shoving the salt across the table.

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December 2010

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