[identity profile] eyes-adrift.livejournal.com posting in [community profile] groznyj_grad
Aryol looked down.

He sat cross-legged, hunched over slightly, arms crossed over his thighs. His stomach hurt. Maybe he'd eaten too quickly, or too much, or maybe the dough had been too rich. He didn't know.

The major had called him sick, he remembered. It had been the night before, after he'd confessed about who Kasya was to him.

Aryol tugged idly at one of his bootlaces.

"How does something like that happen?" he asked.

It was a moment before he looked up.

He hesitated, then met the major's eyes.

"Was he born sick? Or did something bad happen to him? Or did no one ever tell him that it's wrong to kill people, and he just doesn't know it?"

Aryol looked down again. He gave his bootlace a sudden yank, and pulled the knot free.

"I mean, that would be pretty messed up, because normal people know that. Would you be able to tell it was him, if you met him, just by the way he acted? Or would he seem normal at first? Or could you look him in the eye - "

He glanced up.

"...and tell something was wrong?"

Date: 2008-02-24 04:54 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] hajimenoippolit.livejournal.com
Liadov and Aryol were staring at each other with palpable intensity and unspoken significance.

Rakitin developed a sudden, pressing interest in his food.

Addiction. When the body had enough of a substance that it came to expect it, and turned on itself when there was nothing there. Preventing that detriment caused others. Rakitin had lifted out livers warped into fantastic grotesqueries by alcoholic cirrhosis. He had seen the lingering marks of a life directed or taken by the presence, absence, or imbalance of chemicals.

He was less familiar with those that targeted the mind.

There was something deeply disturbing about the way Liadov's young lover spoke.

There were many things that made most men recoil. The knowledge in their gut. Rakitin sometimes imagined finding it there, looking up at him. He wondered what it would say.

He could slice open a brain like a boiled egg, but he couldn't know what thoughts had passed through it. Only the actions taken as a result.

Rakitin watched his fingers slowly eviscerate a piece of bread.

Date: 2008-02-24 05:08 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] hajimenoippolit.livejournal.com
Rakitin looked up quickly.

"You don't do something like that to someone else without knowing. It takes place beyond confusion. No one can go to those lengths to make someone else suffer without knowing that it's wrong."

His eyes dropped again. His fingers made a minute, savage twist.

The petty, sad, and loathsome tenderness in the flame patrol murderer's description of his acts.

"Maybe that's part of the charm."

Date: 2008-02-24 05:26 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] nikanor-liadov.livejournal.com
Liadov smiled morbidly, shrugging in Rakitin's direction.

"I don't suppose you and I will ever understand the mind of the sociopath. A man who knows no wrong. A man with deviant and damaging needs, which are satiated at the expense of others."

He shook his head.

"As for how a man comes by such tendencies...well, it can be many things. Some are born, some are made."

Nika's smile tightened.

"But make no mistake. They all need to be put down. Regardless of whether their perversion is a product of nurture or nature."

Date: 2008-02-24 06:52 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] nikanor-liadov.livejournal.com
Liadov's eyes winnowed in on Aryol once more, and a whimsical smile played about his mouth. There was little humor in it.

"Yes," he said softly. "Unless he finds me first."

He sat back, taking a sip of chai.

"Who knows. I may have already engaged him."

Date: 2008-02-24 07:07 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] hajimenoippolit.livejournal.com
Polya's eyes widened. He leaned forward, staring at Nika.

There was a flash of the icy shock that had come when he had seen him dragged in an instant out of sight.

"You what?"

Date: 2008-02-24 09:05 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] nikanor-liadov.livejournal.com
"You're probably right, comrade."

Nika nodded, seriously.

"He'd do pretty well, for a time...and then he'd slip up, wouldn't he? Begin to show the flaws in his moral compass."

He smiled, resting his head on his hand, almost dreamily.

"If I rubbed up against him long enough, I'd begin to see...cracks in the luster. Wouldn't I?"

Date: 2008-02-24 09:29 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] hajimenoippolit.livejournal.com
The layers of oblique meaning in the way they spoke to each other were obvious and inscrutable as Pandora's Box, standing closed in plain sight behind glass.

People who understood each other could communicate in any words at all.

Rakitin's eyes flicked back and forth, when they had to, and settled on the floor. Scuffed. White, in places.

The two of them had a damned strange way of flirting.

Date: 2008-02-24 10:15 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] nikanor-liadov.livejournal.com
"If he was planning to kill me anyway, what would it matter?"

Nika's full lips drew a taut line.

"Surely it hasn't escaped you that I'm within the parameters of his victim preference."

He allowed Aryol to pour him more tea. Very civilized.

"Do you remember what we talked about? The first night?"

It was risky, referencing their brief and erogenous immediate past, but vague enough. The first night could mean a panoply of things aside from a sordid and spur of the moment consummation.

In fact, in general, in public and in the military it would seem to mean almost anything else.

Liadov was now suddenly aware of Irinarhov, silent to his side, and all but forgotten in his reticence.

A trickle of caution filtered down his spine.

Careful.

....Careful.


"The dangers of unknown commodities, comrade?"

Date: 2008-02-24 10:51 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] hajimenoippolit.livejournal.com
There were times when, thanks to a lapse of attention or a natural bad angle, the scalpel would wander astray from the expected path and catch, stopping fast with a grating shock through the arm. Strike bone instead of cartilage.

You refocused, and bore down a little harder.

Rakitin watched his fingertips wage a battle of attrition against a bit of crust.

Date: 2008-02-25 08:40 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] nikanor-liadov.livejournal.com
"And what you do," Nika reminded him, evenly.

He took an apple slice and bit into it. Tart and good, like autumn.

Not acid like his tone.

Another disposable smile graced his lips.

"I suppose we should both be careful."

There was a finality to his tone, sensing that pushing the boundaries any longer would send Rakitin's suspicious nature into overdrive.

And Kassian already looked oddly intent, as if unraveling a hasty-spun tapestry and reweaving it into its original shape. Stripping a painting, to reveal the older work beneath. Restoration, reconstruction, resurrection...

Painstaking work, with the object of ultimate truth.

Took a dogged and patient man, and Liadov feared Irinarhov was just such a man.

Date: 2008-02-25 09:05 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] hajimenoippolit.livejournal.com
"You should," Rakitin said, letting only the top layer of the conversation touch his mind and voice.

The rest was their affair alone.

He dropped solemnity like a smooth pebble, and smiled wryly.

"Getting killed by the man you're hunting...I think I saw a bad play like that, once."

Date: 2008-02-25 05:51 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] nikanor-liadov.livejournal.com
Nika frowned, toying with his cup as Aryol packed up the remnants, with a care that suggested it was second nature.

Stood to reason. Black Ops, of course. Pack it it and pack it out. Leave no trace of your presence.

Liadov didn't like that, altogether. Maybe because it always seemed like he'd never been there at all. Unless he was there when Nikanor woke up, it was as if he'd slept with an incubus from the behind veil of half-awakeness. Aryol never left any piece of himself, aside from his light scent perfuming the sheets. And whatever other masculine traces might have come to indelicately grace them, in the dark and rumbling hours before.

Nothing else bespoke his visits, though they happened reliably, nearly every night.

Except for the little gifts. The thoughtful gestures.

Nika reached out, his smile altered now, casting off the false expression like a snake shedding the old, to reveal the finely dressed leather of new skin beneath.

Genuine once more, now that his urge for interrogation had passed and submarined once more, and affection resurfaced in its place.

His hand closed lightly over Aryol's, checking it midmotion, the touch seemingly casual and unloaded, but the weight of his fingers significant. His thumb caressed the side of the sniper's hand obliquely, briefly.

"Let me clean up," he said, offhandedly. "It's the least I can do, in light of your generosity."

Date: 2008-02-25 07:47 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] hajimenoippolit.livejournal.com
The way they looked at each other. As if they were passing something encoded between them. Something important, through casual touch, tone, expression, or something else.

It was a good thing. Life and all its complications beside sterile death.

A kind boy, full of life and light. It was good for Liadov to have someone like that. Someone to connect to, in the easy, natural way of men who were equals.

"Thank you, Aryol," said Rakitin.

He looked up quickly.

"For lunch."

Smiled.

"It's good to have a reminder that there's life outside of these walls."

Suddenly, he was struck by an urge to offer the boy something in return. He had mentioned being curious, before.

"Did you want to see the body, while you're here?" Rakitin asked.

Date: 2008-02-26 07:33 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] hajimenoippolit.livejournal.com
Rakitin unfolded like a plan from his place beside the wall.

Something had happened here.

There was an itch that Rakitin couldn't positively identify as either curiosity or concern. In either case, it would go ignored, unless Liadov chose otherwise himself.

Not likely. The Major didn't let his cards wander far from his chest.

"Well," Rakitin said, brightly, "we'd better get back to work. The corpse isn't going to dissect itself."

He turned back toward the lab.

"At least, I hope not."

Date: 2008-02-26 09:36 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] leshovik.livejournal.com
The rain had finally started to taper off around midafternoon, and Leshovik made his way across the Grad toward the laboratory outbuilding.

He wore the standard black ops urban camo in muted grays, and his Dragunov rested at his back, a familiar weight.

The base was starting to become familiar as well, beyond the layout of buildings and the patrol schedule that he'd spent hours crouched in the darkness observing. Now Leshovik was starting to recognize people, ones he saw at mess at morning and night. The rumble of trucks and the bark of dogs and the occasional buzz of fighter-class aircraft overhead had become normal background noise now.

Viktor didn't want to get comfortable here, but he thought it was happening, anyway. Stubborn roots from his old life intertwined with new and tender shoots, conspiring to ground him.

He opened the door to the outbuilding and slipped inside, then stopped short.

Kassian Irinarhov stood in the anteroom, as if Leshovik had just conjured him from thought and memory.

Time had aged Kasya slightly, like wear on gunmetal, creasing the corners of his eyes and pulling silver threads through his black hair. Otherwise, he looked like the same Kasya that Viktor had met in Hungary, silent and somber, guarded and aloof.

Leshovik hesitated a moment.

"Hi - " he started.

"What did you do to Aryol?"

Viktor's sharp features pulled into a scowl.

"Christ. Nice to see you too, you fucking prick. By the way, your boyfriend's a great kisser."

Kasya's eyes sparked, and his jaw tightened, but he said nothing.

Leshovik remembered that. The silent treatment.

"Did he come and complain to you?"

"He said you had an argument."

"We did. What business is that of yours?"

The crease across Irinarhov's brow grew deeper, but then he glanced away, and let out a breath.

"I'm just...concerned," Kassian muttered.

"He's a grown man."

Even as he said it, it sounded strange to Leshovik. He shook his head.

"You know, I wonder sometimes, if the two of you are really related, given the way you act."

"We are."

"Yeah, I know you think that."

Kasya looked at him.

There was no particular ire that Leshovik could see in Irinarhov's eyes. Instead, it was something else, something quieter, and maybe more informed by regret.

Leshovik had to glance away.

"Look, sorry. I didn't mean that, about Isaev."

Kassian was quiet a moment.

"Yes, you did."

When Leshovik looked up, Kasya had that look on his face, like he was fighting a smile and losing. It made Viktor shake his head.

"Yeah, I guess I did."

"You dick," Kassian muttered.

"Asshole."

Viktor smirked.

"What are you doing here, anyway?"

"Guard duty."

"Guard duty?"

Leshovik looked around the small anteroom dubiously.

"Yeah, I can see why they'd want a sniper here. Good to see you're putting your distance shooting skills to good use."

"Something like that."

Leshovik glanced at the inner door.

"I need to talk to the MENTs. Are they in?"

Kassian nodded.

"Yeah, go ahead."

Viktor went to the door, but paused before going inside.

"Look, do you have a problem with it? Me and Isaev?"

They hadn't talked about it, not really, not the other night. Kasya had given his tacit approval by leaving them alone the room together for a few minutes when they'd woken up the next morning, but Leshovik hadn't gotten the chance to talk to Kassian directly. He hadn't been sure if he'd wanted to, even though he thought he needed to.

Kasya let out a small sigh.

"If it were anyone else, yeah, I'd have a problem with it. But..."

He trailed off, and Viktor looked back at him.

Kasya was looking at him, dark eyes quietly intent. It was so like the way that Aryol looked at him sometimes that he had to look away.

"But I guess I don't, really, because it's you," Kassian said, quietly.

Leshovik's chest twinged in a way that didn't quite hurt, and let out a breath, rubbing the back of his neck, his other hand lingering on the door handle, still.

"Well. You don't have anything to worry about."

"I know."

"All right," Leshovik said, and opened the inner door to head inside.

Date: 2008-02-27 04:14 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] hajimenoippolit.livejournal.com
Rakitin looked up, ready this time.

He was surprised again, now into breaking an honest smile. He hadn't seen Leshovik at the range last night, though he realized he had hoped to.

"Good afternoon, Specialist," he said warmly. "Have you come to offer an extra pair of hands? This one still has his attached."

Date: 2008-02-27 07:59 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] leshovik.livejournal.com
Leshovik grimaced as the smell hit, and he closed the door quickly behind him.

He might as well spare Irinarhov the smell, which was damn generous of him, considering. He pressed the back of his gloved hand against his nose and mouth as he looked around the room.

Rakitin was arms-deep in a corpse over by what Leshovik guessed was the autopsy table, just judging from the body arranged on it. The MVD officer, Major Liadov, sat at another table nearby, going over a stack of paperwork. Both of them seemed to be more or less adjusted to the stench in the room, which was so thick and rotten and cloying, he could taste it.

Leshovik had to give himself a couple of seconds.

"Afternoon, Lieutenant. And Major."

He paused again.

"Sorry for interrupting."

Viktor was actually beginning to feel somewhat ill, but it wouldn't do for a Black Ops man to look like pussy in the face of death.

He let his hand drop, and nodded to both men, keeping the gesture brief and casual.

"I was wondering if I could speak to you about your investigation."

Date: 2008-02-27 08:37 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] hajimenoippolit.livejournal.com
"You were?" Ippolit said, pale eyebrows arching inevitably in interest.

He took out Borishnakov's heart and weighed it on the silver scale.

"The last time we heard that, it turned out to be a dancing hornet. It was interesting."

He paused a moment belatedly, and identified the source of distress in Leshovik's expression.

"The jar to your right," he said, nodding to where Aryol had set it down. "It helps the smell. They say the only body that doesn't rot is a saint's, and Vladya here wasn't canonized."

He'd lost the sense of it a long time ago. Though he was still sometimes aware, it had little meaning, like hearing the name of someone he didn't know.

"What did you want to talk about?"

Date: 2008-02-27 08:49 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] nikanor-liadov.livejournal.com
Liadov looked up, nodding readily. The sight of Aryol's intimate companion, this Black Operative countersniper, did not unsettle Nika. He recalled liking the guy, a rather good conversation having ensued.

"Of course," Liadov said, rueful. "I'd like nothing better than to hear someone else's thoughts for a moment. My own are slowly strangling my prick blue."

He rolled his eyes, gesturing to the chair.

"Please. Or would you rather get some fresh air? I know it's not exactly a balmy day in the Holland tulip fields in here."

As an afterthought, he pushed the jar of scented nasal compound toward the lean blond man, with an apologetic smile.

"Either that, or it's this."

Date: 2008-02-27 09:59 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] leshovik.livejournal.com
"Thanks."

Leshovik picked up the jar, which was unmarked, and unscrewed the top. There was thick, pungent substance inside, and taking a deep whiff helped suppress the smell of the corpse. Leshovik remembered something similar from his Black Ops training, when they'd been made to watch an autopsy, to help desensitize them to death. The doctors had smeared the compound under their noses, but the trainees had been denied even that.

He took off his glove to dab some of the salve under his nose.

"Look, I don't know if what I heard is accurate, but I overhead people talking, this morning at mess," he said, glancing between the major and lieutenant as he set the bottle back down again.

"Regarding Lieutenant Isaev."

Leshovik paused.

"That he's being accused of murdering - "

He broke off, and eyed the body on the table.

"...someone?"

Date: 2008-02-27 10:13 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] hajimenoippolit.livejournal.com
"Nothing is definite, yet," Rakitin said.

He looked down at the opened corpse that had, so far, revealed not a trace.

As though his heart had stopped of its own accord.

Rakitin glanced up at Leshovik.

"But yes. Lieutenant Isaev is a suspect."

Date: 2008-02-27 10:26 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] nikanor-liadov.livejournal.com
Liadov paused, but didn't disagree with the Party line.

"Circumstantial evidence," he said.

He wondered if the blood type of the semen match Isaev's. Polya surely would have announced that by now, triumphantly.

"Without an alibi, it would be enough to convict."

Although some people went down for crimes, alibied or not.

The Isaevs were not some people.

Date: 2008-02-28 12:10 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] leshovik.livejournal.com
Leshovik frowned.

"I see," he said.

Niotkuda was Spetsnaz elite, but still didn't have the black banner of special ops to shield him. Arbitrary justice didn't sit well in Leshovik's book.

Leshovik absently tugged on his shooting glove again, directing his gaze to Major Liadov.

"And this happened two days ago, right? Saturday evening? If so, I know where Lieutenant Isaev was then."

Date: 2008-02-28 06:25 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] hajimenoippolit.livejournal.com
Rakitin hadn't been aware that Leshovik knew the languidly disconcerting lieutenant, though he supposed there was no reason he wouldn't.

His face showed only curiosity.

"You do?"

Date: 2008-02-28 08:33 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] nikanor-liadov.livejournal.com
Nika looked up, unable to staunch the quizzical look on his face.

"You do?"

He set down his pen.

"You saw him?" he asked, carefully.

Date: 2008-02-28 09:21 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] leshovik.livejournal.com
Leshovik nodded.

"I saw him at the gym that evening. There weren't many other people there, but we were both working out for a while. At least an hour."

He adjusted the lay of his Dragunov so he could lean back against the table and face both the lieutenant and major as he spoke. His posture was easy, open and relaxed, though his brow was lightly knitted.

"Afterward, we got to talking, and he invited me to drink with him. I accepted."

He shrugged, and looked between them.

"We spent the evening in his quarters, getting better acquainted."

Leshovik managed to say it with a perfectly straight face. He'd rehearsed it for a while.

Date: 2008-02-29 04:27 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] hajimenoippolit.livejournal.com
Rakitin's face remained blank.

The first part matched Isaev's own testimony. But he had stated specifically that he had not been in his own quarters, even before Irinarhov stepped in.

Apparently the many people willing to cover for him had failed to match their stories.

Rakitin had had a hard time truly believing that a man who was so well known to have had the means, motive, and opportunity would have killed Borishnakov with what was practically his signature, simply because it was hard to believe he was that stupid.

Rakitin looked into Leshovik's stoic expression and wondered if he was just that sure.

"Did you," he said.

Date: 2008-02-29 09:01 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] leshovik.livejournal.com
Leshovik frowned.

"Did we what? Get better acquainted? Sure."

He studied Rakitin's expression a moment. The pathologist seemed closed-off, almost suspicious. Far more guarded than the friendly, open man Leshovik had met at the range the other night. Viktor guessed it probably came with the job. Christ knew Leshovik got serious when it came to shooting.

Viktor shrugged.

"I only met him a few days ago, when we arrived on base. But he and I have a friend in common, so we had plenty to talk about. He actually invited me to the Captains' quarters that night. He said his friend wouldn't mind."

Leshovik gestured back at the exit door.

"I'm guessing you know his friend. Kassian Irinarhov."

Date: 2008-02-29 06:01 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] nikanor-liadov.livejournal.com
"Yes," Liadov said, nodding. "We know the Captain fairly well."

Inside, he was stunned, alarmed and shifting into the mode of damage control.

It was nothing short of phenomenal, for this man to come out of nowhere, and throw a huge, well-meaning wooden shoe into the millworks.

His mind raced, putting the pieces in order, though he made sure his face stayed neutral and politely inquisitive.

Why the hell had Andrei not given an alibi, if he actually had one? Why had Irinarhov agreed to lie for him, if he had a corroborating witness?

Andrei had said nothing about that night, though in the end he'd done nothing to dispute Irinarhov's turn of events. But until that moment, his lips had been locked, sealed and soldered.

Liadov wondered if Kassian knew what had happened in his quarters.

"When did you leave the Captain's quarters?" he asked, automatically, seeking something that would make both stories plausible in some fashion.

There was no reason he couldn't have had a drink with the Black Operative and then played cards with Irinarhov.

Men came and went, after all, on an army base.

Date: 2008-02-29 07:49 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] leshovik.livejournal.com
"It actually wasn't until the next morning."

Leshovik shrugged.

It wasn't hard for Leshovik to keep his expression easy and open, and to meet the MENT's gaze. He glanced at Rakitin as well.

The story was all true, of course, his only sin being one of omission. Only the MENT didn't strike him as the type who wanted to start a witch hunt over whatever muzhelostvo Leshovik was been party or witness to, not when the real issue was murder.

Leshovik shifted the heft of his rifle.

Still, he wasn't about to incriminate Niotkuda or Kasya. Viktor was less worried about himself.

"We were up pretty late, and I just ended up sleeping on one of the bunks."

Date: 2008-02-29 08:12 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] hajimenoippolit.livejournal.com
Rakitin's mind shuffled the pieces of the puzzle, trying to find a way to make them fit.

"Was Lieutenant Isaev there the entire time?"

If Irinarhov had been there as well, why hadn't he mentioned this, especially when his testimony was called into question, especially when it involved someone who was essentially immune from any accusations that might result?

What had really happened that night?

"Was anyone else there?" Rakitin asked.

Date: 2008-02-29 09:17 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] leshovik.livejournal.com
Leshovik nodded.

"Yeah, Isaev and I were there the whole evening. We were drinking and talking. He never left the barracks."

He paused to recall exact details. The evening's catharsis, telling Niotkuda the story of what had happened between him and Irinarhov, loomed largest in his mind, seemed the most significant, though there had been plenty that had come later.

Leshovik pressed his lips together.

"I'm not sure when it was, but at some point in the evening, Captain Irinarhov returned to his barracks. Probably at least two or three hours after the lieutenant and I had arrived. From that point on, the three of us were there."

Date: 2008-02-29 10:56 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] hajimenoippolit.livejournal.com
"Do you know where Captain Irinarhov was, before that?" Rakitin asked.

None of it fit. If Leshovik was telling the truth, then Irinarhov was lying. But if Irinarhov had in fact been present at all, he would have known that Leshovik was there as well and could expose the lie. But why conceal the presence of someone who could shore up his testimony or provide a valid alibi?

If both had presented a completely different account, that would make sense. But the contradictions were only in the fine details.

Even if they had lacked the chance or impetus to work it out beforehand, by neccessity Leshovik had to pass right by Irinarhov to enter the lab. It would have been a perfect opportunity to match details with his, as he said, old friend.

Unless he didn't know about Irinarhov's version of events.

Unless they were both lying. But in that case, there shouldn't be such a degree of overlap.

Unless Rakitin was getting worked up for nothing, and the discrepancies were all merely due to careless omission of detail.

Rakitin didn't know Irinarhov all that well, but "careless" was not a word that suited his image of him.

All baseless conjecture. Rakitin was not, at heart, a suspicious man. He was, however, prone to letting his imagination run away with him.

"Did you play cards?" he said, deadpan.

Date: 2008-03-01 12:41 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] leshovik.livejournal.com
"Cards? No."

Leshovik looked at the lieutenant for a moment. The question seemed specific, pointed, even, like he was expecting Viktor to answer one way or the other.

He shook his head.

"Just talked and drank, mostly. Smoked cigarettes."

And made out, Leshovik thought, wryly. Kissing Niotkuda had made him feel younger, recalled the days of his more reckless and libertine youth. Before Irinarhov had turned him into a one-man dog.

It occurred to Viktor that if Rakitin learned what they'd really been doing, he'd think Leshovik was a hypocrite for turning down his offer at the range, however abrupt and blindsiding it had been. Viktor had declined on the grounds that his life was already too complex, what with seeing Kasya again, and the mess with Aryol and his growing relationship with Lynx. Now Niotkuda was in the mix, too, only strangely, it didn't seem to make things more complex, but rather somehow simpler.

Leshovik didn't know how that worked, but he wasn't going to argue. At the same time, he couldn't possibly explain it to someone else.

He shrugged.

"When Irinarhov came back, he said he'd been - "

The words died on his lips, and his eyes widened, and he couldn't stop his gaze from going to the MVD major.

MVD Major Liadov.

That Liadov.

Liadov invited me to have a drink with him, Kasya had said.

It was awful. He tried to seduce me again.

Viktor stared for a moment into Liadov's even and unassuming gaze.

He hadn't made the connection until right then. He'd met the MVD major at mess, but the man hadn't given a last name. Rakitin had made passing reference to it at the range, but somehow, Leshovik hadn't equated

Liadov had him tied up.

Your friend is a little...kinky. To say the least.

with the seemingly mild-mannered MENT.

Leshovik felt a pang of discomfort. It wasn't the sort of thing he wanted to know about someone he didn't know.

And it seemed like something else was wrong, if Rakitin was questioning Kasya's whereabouts, but this Major Liadov should have known exactly where he'd been. Although Leshovik understood Liadov not wanting to advertise his twisted proclivities.

Not that Viktor could say much about that, but still.

Belatedly, he looked away, directing his gaze back to Lieutenant Rakitin, wincing.

The pause had been too long, his hesitation too obvious, but there was nothing he could do about it now.

"...out," he finished.

Date: 2008-03-01 01:15 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] hajimenoippolit.livejournal.com
Leshovik was staring as though a brick of epiphany had caught him in the small of the back. Rakitin followed his gaze.

Straight to Liadov.

Something was going on, and it didn't look like anyone was going to tell him what.

In a low, dangerous tone he wasn't aware his voice could hold, Rakitin said,

"Is there something I should know?"

Date: 2008-03-01 01:48 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] nikanor-liadov.livejournal.com
Liadov sighed.

What a handful of a pathologist. Most of the lab jockeys he'd dealt with had been content to run tests and field results, without getting in the way of his delicate interpretations of relative justice.

He knew that if he didn't rewind the yarn ball, at least a little, Polya the curious and cranky kitten was going to flail and thrash and snarl his carefully woven tangled web beyond repair.

"Irinarhov...alibied Isaev up already," he said to Leshovik, mildly. "Unfortunately, he lied."

He paused, glancing at Rakitin, his face impassive.

"I led him into it. He's not culpable. Call it authoritarian duress."

Date: 2008-03-01 06:08 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] hajimenoippolit.livejournal.com
"You did," Rakitin said, flat as a dead thing.

He had seen that look before, though never, until this moment, on Liadov's face.

He was being flicked away like a speck of ash on the Major's lapel.

In no uneasily balanced personal affair, but a clear matter of professional jurisdiction.

Apparently Liadov's cavalier facade was not a facade at all.

Liadov, who had made a point of confounding his expectations and never dismissing him out of hand.

Liadov, whom he had, in a small, tentative way, begun to trust.

Everyone had their limits.

Rakitin's dark eyes were cold. His tone was civil.

"May I ask why, Major?"

Date: 2008-03-01 07:13 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] nikanor-liadov.livejournal.com
Nika looked at him, wearily, running a hand back through the lustrous old gold curves of his hair.

"Park your sanctimony, Lieutenant," he intoned. "There was no coordinated collusion."

Idealists could be so tiresome with their endless windmill fighting. Nika, as a student of humanist realism, always picked his battles. Now Rakitin was looking at him as if he'd raped Mother Teresa with Stalin's syphilitic cock.

"It was merely tacit, Lieutenant, not overt. I had no exchange with him that you weren't party to. I didn't slip him any scented notes, and I didn't use ESP."

Liadov's lips wryed into a bloodless smile, but there was no humor in it.

"Irinarhov would have lied no matter what. Men lie for their...comrades."

His eyes did not narrow, nor did his expression shift. There was no need, and for once, his mien of perpetual disapproval played true. His gaze was steady and pale green like chrysoberyl.

"If you want to split hairs about ethics, Lieutenant, I wouldn't advise it. Perhaps you'd care to explain the eyes-only notice I got from Moscow regarding a suspected GRU compromise of KGB impartiality. Namely that someone trusted under my umbrella was offered- and apparently accepted- a position within this facility, forsaking his KGB loyalty."

He paused, lips setting into stone.

"Now, shall we talk about conflict of interest?"




Date: 2008-03-01 08:27 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] hajimenoippolit.livejournal.com
Some of the tension faded from Rakitin's stance.

"News travels fast," he observed blandly.

The decision Liadov alluded to with such dark imprecation was one of the few Polya had ever been sure of.

He shrugged.

"Who ever really knows anyone else's loyalties?"

He met Liadov's cool green eyes.

"This," -he gestured toward Borishnakov's tolerant and silent form- "is more important than ties to any organization. Ethics are not the issue. Foremost, we have a job to do."

One pale eyebrow adjusted its arch.

"Is it fun to watch a wild goose chase with the bird tucked under your arm?"

A paradoxical calm flowed through Rakitin, quenching the embers of his anger. Honestly, he thought, chagrined, he had no idea why it was so easy to set him off lately. What had happened to his control?

Maybe that had only been another word for indifference.

In his anger, he had forgotten the effect anything resembling a moral judgement had on Nika. In a strange way, it was endearing, as though possessing something so common as a sore point converted the human quality in him into something measurable.

"Unless that 'we' is a misstatement." Polya smiled faintly, ruefully, voice edgeless. "I was under the impression that we were partners in this. An illusion, maybe. You know those scientific types. No common sense at all."

Date: 2008-03-03 08:17 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] leshovik.livejournal.com
Leshovik fumed quietly, scowling.

Irinarhov was lucky he wasn't in room, Viktor thought darkly, though the temptation was still strong to march back to the door so he could demand that Kasya explain himself.

The fact Kasya had found it necessary to lie when the truth was so easily at hand boiled Viktor's blood. Did Irinarhov really think Leshovik wouldn't be willing to alibi Niotkuda, especially when the matter was murder?

He listened to the investigators with half an ear, then with growing interest.

They were trading accusations and explanations, talking about matters that went beyond the investigation, and the matter of Leshovik's testimony, at hand. He wondered at the source of the tension between them, why Rakitin had turned on Liadov instead of him when Leshovik's falter had really only incriminated himself. Why had Liadov bothered to admit his collusion, in the face of what could have only been a shot in the dark?

And none of it had anything to do with the real problem, which was that Kasya had screwed everything up.

"Hey," he said, clearly, loud enough to interrupt.

Viktor's blue eyes were stormy and dark as he looked between the investigators.

"Look, I don't want to tell you people how to do your job, but Irinarhov didn't need to lie, because I was there. But since he did...how bad does it make this? Is either one of us going to be credible now?"

Date: 2008-03-03 08:46 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] nikanor-liadov.livejournal.com
Liadov rubbed his brow, exhaling forcefully.

"I don't know," he muttered, dry as the Sahara. "If I do a bucal swab of you, are we going to find any Essence d'Isaev? That might place him at the scene. And in your mouth."

Date: 2008-03-03 09:38 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] leshovik.livejournal.com
"What?"

Leshovik gaped for a moment, outraged.

The fact that it was true, or almost true, or could be true one day, depending on exactly what Liadov was implying only added to his outrage.

He felt like saying something about kinky fucks that tied up their lovers and made them wear masks during sex, but he bit it back.

Viktor wondered if the MVD major could see it in his eyes, if he knew he'd been spared like a target that a sniper let go because he was waiting for a better opportunity.

Leshovik's face narrowed, hard and sharp.

"What's that supposed to mean?"

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