[identity profile] taras-oleksei.livejournal.com posting in [community profile] groznyj_grad
"Okei, what are we going to do to this guy?"

Taras warmed up methodically, stretching like he was about to work out. Muscles bulged under his uniform jacket as he raised his arms to chest level, pulling the biceps taut.

"The pathologist," he clarified, after a moment.

He and Ilarion were walking past unadorned concrete walls toward the outbuilding that housed the KGB pathologist's lab. The morning air was thin, and misted in front of their lips.

Around them, mountains surrounded the base, tall and bleak, like watchtowers.

Taras flexed his hands into fists.

"I mean, this guy has something to with why Andrusha can't take a piss without someone watching him, right? I think we should lean on him pretty hard."

Movement caught his attention. A pair of guards were walking a large black dog past a fence topped with razor wire.

He frowned, averting his gaze.

"Because, khui, I want to hit something," he muttered.
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Date: 2008-08-04 03:58 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] ilarion-isaev.livejournal.com
Ilarion snorted contemptuously.

"That guard probably likes watching him piss. He'd probably do it even if he weren't assigned."

His lips formed an unvoice snarl, and he left it at that, straightening his tie with a perfunctory grasp of fingertips, and a deft motion.

"Hit anything you want. I won't get in your way."

He paused.

"I read up on the dossier of this...Ippolit Rakitin. Doesn't seem like a wildcard. But if GRU wants him, he must be someone with bargaining power. There are plenty of scientists here. He can't simply be a workaday pathologist. It makes no sense. GRU wouldn't want him unless he had some sensitive KGB knowledge...or...if alternately, if someone sick fuck high up in the chain of command was involved in these killings, and they wanted to buy him by acquisition, to protect their own."

Date: 2008-08-04 05:36 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] ilarion-isaev.livejournal.com
Lasha smiled, slightly.

"Yes," he said, "that is a miscalculation."

Taras had a point about the ineptitude of their process; however, Ilarion never ceased to be amazed by the incompetancies of bureaucracies.

"But we'll rectify their understanding in short order."

He dusted his gloves together absently, musing.

Then he turned.

"I guess this is it."

The outbuilding had a corrugated metal door in red with biohazard and laboratory warnings stenciled on it in white and yellow.

"Well, you're the doorman, Oleksei. Let's pay the Lieutenant a social call, introduce ourselves. Just a little...icebreaker."

Date: 2008-08-04 07:08 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] hajimenoippolit.livejournal.com
Rakitin looked up, his eyes taking a moment to adjust back to ordinary scale. It had been good to be back in the small, locked world he understood. Not to last.

He didn't recognize the face or style of movement. The uniform he did.

The MVD Liadov had warned him about.

"Da," Rakitin said carefully, standing and setting his work aside.

"How can I help you?"

Date: 2008-08-04 08:05 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] ilarion-isaev.livejournal.com
Ilarion glanced at the scientist pointedly, taking his measure in shorthand as he sauntered a slow arc around the perimeter of the room, examining glassware and equipment on the lab counters that lined it.

He couldn't suppress a soft snort at the idea of Taras using a microscope, but he was amused, and let it pass with a wry, chilly flick of his eyes.

Benchwork.

His hands found an erlenmeyer flask and he began to roll it slowly on its base, with his palm laid over the mouth. Absent, as he studied the room.

No sign of Liadov, but that didn't mean anything.

Ilarion picked up the flask, caressing the smooth length of its tapered neck with his gloved hand.

Date: 2008-08-04 10:50 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] hajimenoippolit.livejournal.com
Ippolit hurried over to where the MVD man groped the microscope, in a surge of protective sentiment for his innocent equipment.

"It isn't," he said. "You just have to..."

He trailed off, realizing that that probably wasn't the point.

The burly man wasn't the only one; there was another behind him. A smaller blond with cruel, aristocratic features. A flicker of oddly familiar fear shot through Rakitin before he could catch it.

"I've worked with the MVD before," he explained. "I am right now, actually. I'm used to the uniform."

He looked back to the one who'd spoken, wearing affable cluelessness. He was good at that.

"But no, I don't know why you're here."

Date: 2008-08-04 05:29 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] ilarion-isaev.livejournal.com
"We were sent by the ever-gracious Leningrad arm of the Ministry, in response to Moscow's inane plea for an independent audit of this investigation."

Lasha smiled, crookedly.

"Imagine that. What a thing to request. Do they really think there's anything like an objective review?"

He sighed.

"Oh, the things they tell the people."

He set the glass down disinterestedly and grasped the neck of an overhead projector, peering at the lightbox and the things scrawled there.

"Your papers, Lieutenant. That's all we need."

Ilarion paused, breaking away from the machine and strolling around the remainder of the room. Now he was facing the pathologist. He took him in at a cursory glance, cementing what he had regarded in the first sweep.

Rakitin was tall like a Northerner- Lasha thought perhaps they were of a height, but the pathologist seemed taller, due to his ranging frame and general coltishness.

His coloring could be accurately described as pale. Hair and skin both conformed to an ivory lightness of tone, save for his eyes, which were deep brown. That was odd, and made Ilarion think he might be looking at partial albinism. Otherwise, it seemed like an unlikely gene combination.

The Lieutenant's expression revealed no particular panic, but there was a careful wariness there. Not of a man who fears his wrongs will discovered, or that some be falsified, but of a man protective of his work and apprehensive about handing away the singular copies of weeks of study.

Ilarion dismissed him after a moment's study. He turned on a bunsen burner and watched it flame mellowly.

"Notes, reports, procedurals, raw data. It will take a few days to go through, obviously. But don't worry. We're very thorough. We'll get through it. Every inch and iota."

Date: 2008-08-05 10:21 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] hajimenoippolit.livejournal.com
Rakitin suppressed the urge to ask the man to stop playing with things.

"Yes," he said, moving to gather the materials with a pang at the idea of putting his work into callous hands. "Right away."

In the face of the blond one's stare, he reminded himself that there was nothing to fear. He had done nothing wrong.

Nothing that would show up in reports, anyway.

Deceased shows water in the lungs consistent with drowning. Arms and legs removed after death. Also I defected from KGB to GRU because the Colonel wanted me to, isn't that nice?

The best strategy was to do precisely as asked until they lost interest and wandered off to other prey.

His hands moved calmly, but wasted no time.

Polya hated politics.

Date: 2008-08-06 02:18 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] nikanor-liadov.livejournal.com
Liadov was late in that morning, for a variety of reasons.

He'd been up too late, that was for certain.

But mostly because he needed a little extra rest to renew his mental faculties. What had felt like a positive case seemed to be stagnating, and he was beginning to wonder if they would ever find the culprit- if he would ever kill again, or simply be lost to time like so many others, an unfinished horror story.

Today was the day he was going to look over the records the secretaries had culled, and identify who had a blood type that matched Isaev's.

It all seemed rather useless, and he found himself wanting another drink, wanting another assignment, wanting to be back in Moscow. Back in civilization, and away from the concrete hermitage that called itself Groznyj Grad.

Nika sighed and crossed through the anteroom, then grasped the door handle for the laboratory.

He composed his features carefully, to reflect a light mood and pleasant interest, then entered the room with sharp and measured strides.

"Good afternoon, Lieutenant-"

Liadov stopped short, confronted by an MVD uniform, and a man he did not recognize.

"Well," he said in a soft, low voice he rarely drew upon. "I see you have company."

Date: 2008-08-06 06:28 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] nikanor-liadov.livejournal.com
Nika's face kept its artless pleasantry as his lips drew into a mild smile.

"I appreciate that. I assume you've come from...Leningrad, then."

A slight hitch in his tone, nearly imperceptible, as he said the name of his former city.

"How was the flight?"

He took off his cap, and pushed his hair back with absent fingers as he laid it on the table.

Nika's laugh was soft and wry.

"I, for one, did not relish it."

Date: 2008-08-06 09:10 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] hajimenoippolit.livejournal.com
There was a shameful wash of relief when Liadov entered. He would know how to handle this.

That bothered Rakitin. He had promised that he could deal with this on his own. It was his doing, and so his consequence. He couldn't stand being a burden yet again.

And here yet again he watched, eyes flicking up as he continued at his task.

He didn't like the way the captain who looked like a bull was glaring at Liadov. Liadov, however, looked utterly calm.

Rakitin watched, listened.

Date: 2008-08-06 09:14 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] nikanor-liadov.livejournal.com
"Indeed," said Liadov, drawing up slightly and leveling his gaze. "Today is her own."

There was something strange about this man, something almost...unbefitting the uniform. He glanced down at the broad hands that filled the Captain's black leather gloves. More like an iron-worker than a bureaucrat.

So, they had sent some brawn.

Where there was brawn, there would be brains.

The idea chilled him for some reason.

He glanced at Polya, whose expression was not the open book he was accustomed to.

"Lieutenant Rakitin, how are you this morning?" he said, carefully, inclining his head. "Everything copacetic here in the lab? I-"

"Still with the altruism," said a cool, low voice, from the opposite side of the room. "It pleases me to know that some things never change, Major."

Liadov's eyes bloomed up and wide and his lips parted in swift and immediate disbelief, as he raised his head, slowly turning, stricken.

"Larionya," he said, slow as honey. "I don't believe this."

"Nor I," Ilarion agreed, with a taut smile, carved in ice. "And yet, here we are."

He shook his head, slowly, solemnly, as if mourning the unnecessary eventuality of it all.

Nika stood utterly still, unable to absorb the reality of Isaev idling in his workspace, after all this time and distance. In the goddamed Urals, of all places!

Ilarion's arms were crossed as if welded, but he raised his sculpted jaw, just slightly, to indicate the proletariat brute Nika had just spoken to.

"My associate. Captain Taras Oleksei."

Liadov's brows wove a soft, incredulous line, as his gaze returned to the man, alighting briefly on his hands again.

Massive hands of a worker or a...

His eyes narrowed, suddenly, at the glimpse of an ink-stained wrist, visible in a half-moon sliver just below his white cuff. Even as Nika spotted the tattoo work, the Captain was unconsciously pulling his glove up to conceal it.

The brand of criminality.

The roadmap of a blatnoy life.

That, and the mismatched eyes. The oddity of that could not be forgotten.

Liadov looked up, suddenly, as realization hit him with the impact of a truck.

"We've met."

Dispassionate reason pierced him, as he realized he was not without resources- he knew at least one very particular thing about this blatnoy Captain.

Liadov stepped forward, removing his gloves.

His eyes pinned the man nakedly beneath his regard.

"...Did you ever find that bullfight, Captain?"

Date: 2008-08-06 08:01 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] nikanor-liadov.livejournal.com
Liadov smiled uncertainly, bewildered.

"Saint...no, I think you are greatly misinformed there."

Liadov slowly reached forward and took the proffered hand, though he knew that what Oleksei wanted to offer him was more of a fist.

"Just Nika."

They didn't shake, just clasped, a minute motion where Oleksei took the time to wordlessly inform him of the strength in his grip.

"Ouch," said Nika, keeping his gaze trained on the Captain's.

Ilarion snorted.

"Stop showing off, Oleksei."

Liadov gazed straight ahead, without looking to Lasha, his eyes penetrating.

"I'm impressed," he said. "A real zek, this one. Just the excuse you always wanted."

Lasha. It was hard to recognize him now, so fully snowed. There was no faint light in his eyes that hinted at inner fire. No warmth beneath his winter.

Ilarion seemed jagged and treacherous, like a man hacked from a glacier, now, no longer fire and ice. Changed, and it pained him in a place he hadn't thought to guard here, a place he'd thought was out of striking range.

Had the change been his fault...or this man's?

Nika pressed down on his emotions with practiced efficiency, effectively suppressing them long enough to return his attention to the thug in uniform.

"There's a lot more of me to know, Captain, I assure you."

Date: 2008-08-06 09:50 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] nikanor-liadov.livejournal.com
Nika was mystified.

"...what?"

He looked at Rakitin.

"Did you-"

It seemed like the kind of description Polya would give, if asked by MVD agents how to identify a man on sight.

"Non sequitur," muttered Ilarion, rubbing his brow.

Nika watched him for a moment, then forced himself to look careless.

"Guess I should have kept the mask on," he drawled, raising an eyebrow.

Ilarion smirked, coolly, snapping a pencil that was unfortunate enough to be within his reach.

"I understand now. The matador. You met at the Winter Ball."

Liadov turned his head without moving his eyes.

"That's right," he said. "At the Winter Ball. It was a fleeting interaction, but informative."

Lasha's eyes narrowed, but he said nothing right away.

Then he looked back at the pathologist.

"And what of him, Nika? Is he doing his job by the book?"

Liadov held him in his gaze, noncommittal.

"That depends on the book."

Date: 2008-08-07 12:06 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] nikanor-liadov.livejournal.com
Nika regarded Oleksei's hand on Rakitin's uniformed shoulder.

"He doesn't like being touched," he remarked, amused.

Liadov kept his distance from Isaev, keeping half an eye on his icy blond presence at all times.

"He's civilized, intelligent and pleasant."

He paused.

"I may be a good judge of character, Captain."

He raised his eyes to meet Ilarion's at last.

"Not that it ever served me."

Date: 2008-08-07 12:10 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] ilarion-isaev.livejournal.com
The corners of Ilarion's eyes went taut.

"I would have served you," he whispered.

Date: 2008-08-07 02:29 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] hajimenoippolit.livejournal.com
Rakitin froze at the heavy hand on his shoulder.

His skin kept memory too well, preserved it like amber held a wasp.

The captain's eyes were heterochromatic. One brown, one blue. It was difficult to stop looking at him.

There was much going on that he didn't understand. A tension that went deeper than he could follow. Rakitin recorded it like strange words in a half-learned language, except for when the blond spoke too low for him to catch.

"Do you know these officers, Major?" he said, keeping a wary eye on Oleksei, as if there was anywhere to bolt.
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