[identity profile] krasnogorje.livejournal.com posting in [community profile] groznyj_grad

Dmitry Grigoriev gave a shiver and raised the collar of his fireproof jumpsuit to stave off the cold northern wind.

Ever since Magadan and its punishing chill, he loathed the winter and the wind that bit at his cheeks and turned them rose-red.

The peppered pertsovka that gently blurred the edges of his senses heated his blood and offered some lasting heat against the Russian night.

He wasn’t sure where he was going as he walked along the still tarmac, vaguely aware of the red lights blinking lethargically on the distant radio tower and the tap of his boots on the concrete.

The sky was clear, and glittered with distant stars, hazed by the lights of the Grad.

Katerina could call the constellations by name, but they were abstract and upside down to Deimos.

It was pleasurable to wander around in the still night without objective or the burden of a flamethrower weighing him down.

Anything could happen in the dark.

Not so long ago, he stalked the streets of Moscow on similar cold, clear nights, under a ghostly full moon. Those memories seemed faded as a weather-worn photograph, slowly tearing away from the nail that held it fast against the back of his mind.

If he wasn’t careful, the northern wind might very well carry it away from him, and only a rusted nail would remain as proof that there ever was such a dark photograph pinned there.

Ahead, a pair of guards huddled together for warmth and possibly more; their conversations stilled as he passed.

His pulse stirred as he thought of them, lovers without names, hushed gasps and desperate cries, pressed up against a wall or crouched behind a truck.

He wanted to turn around and confront them and make a lewd offer they couldn’t refuse, but he kept walking, pulled along like the needle of a compass swinging wildly to point at unseen magnetic fields.

In his periphery vision a figure moved under the halo of yellow from the sodium lights, and Dmitry Grigoriev turned and followed.

 

Date: 2008-04-04 06:53 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] eyes-adrift.livejournal.com
Aryol loved the night.

It was an especially nice one tonight, cold and crisp, fresh from the earlier rain that had washed everything clean.

The air felt invigorating, sharpening his senses.

Night was a sniper's time to be awake and alert, to own the dark and hidden spaces with infinite stillness.

The major was on his mind.

Aryol was on his way to the Main Wing to see his MVD friend, a little later than usual. He had swung by earlier but Liadov hadn't been there. When Aryol had backtracked to the laboratory, the lights had still been on. Working late, he guessed, but Aryol hadn't wanted to bother him.

Aryol thought about the confrontation they'd had earlier, over lunch. In the middle of their otherwise-pleasant conversation, he had slowly realized that the major suspected him.

Of murder, and who knew what else.

That had been unsettling, though Aryol had been more angry than anything. But then those tense moments had passed just like the rainstorm outside when something had changed the major's mind.

Aryol figured they needed to talk about it.

Eventually. He thought of a few other things they could do first.

Something flickered at the edges of his perception like a scrap of castoff fabric caught on a branch, tiny and easily overlooked, though to the right person, significant.

Aryol glanced behind him and saw a shadow.

His steps slowed, then stilled.

Aryol's better-than-average nightvision took over where instinct had left off, and he thought he saw a form in the darkness, indistinct but still human.

He frowned.

Date: 2008-04-05 04:19 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] eyes-adrift.livejournal.com
Aryol held his ground.

The man stepped out of shadow like a wraith given form, coalescing into raw-boned solidity. He had a look to him that was slightly unfinished, as if his maker had been called away before he'd been completed, leaving some of the edges rough hewn.

Low brow, hooded and sharp. Jutting, aggressive jaw and chin, like the mandible of a wild dog.

It was the eyes though, that Aryol remembered. The man had eyes like rifle-sights, his gaze fixed and eerily unwavering.

"It's you," he said.

Aryol waited straight and still as the man approached him, one hand on the strap of his rifle, resting casually across his chest.

"The Butcher of Moscow. We left you standing there in the tank yard like you just forgot your name."

He cocked his head.

"You're with Flame Patrol," he added, as an afterthought, recognizing the jumpsuit. He'd even worn one himself, earlier in the day, when he'd visited the Fury's lab.

Now that he thought about it, the major had made reference to the butcher's new profession during that confrontation, but it hadn't particularly meant anything to Aryol at the time, and a lot had happened since then.

Aryol frowned lightly.

"Do you know Katerina?"

Date: 2008-04-06 08:51 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] eyes-adrift.livejournal.com
"She's my friend," Aryol said, calmly.

A river of violence brimmed in the man's eyes, threatening to overflow, but Aryol held his gaze.

"I met her a few days ago. She's nice. You're lucky to have a sister like that."

He gave a casual shrug.

"I met your captain too. He's also my friend."

Aryol spoke plainly, matter-of-factly, even though the man didn't seem to appreciate it much. The look he'd given Aryol upon the mere mention of Katerina's name could have melted steel.

Maybe the butcher hated her. It was disturbing to think about. The major had said this man, this Dmitry, had killed many women. He wondered if Katerina knew.

He regarded the butcher, regard dark and raptor-sharp, quietly evaluating.

"What are you doing out here, so late at night? Are you looking for...something? Or someone?"

Date: 2008-04-07 12:02 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] eyes-adrift.livejournal.com
"What do you mean, how and why?"

Aryol frowned. The butcher seemed honestly confused about what Aryol had said, though Aryol hadn't thought there was that much room for ambiguity.

"Friends are friends, aren't they?"

He held the man's gaze.

There was a stillness to the man that Aryol read as dangerous. Like a racehorse at the gate, bristling energy held so tightly in check could be unleashed in a sudden, violent surge.

The man's question was deceptively weighty, Aryol thought. The way a man chose to answer held significance, said a lot about how he thought of himself.

His look turned briefly wry as he thought about the major.

"My name's Aryol," he told the butcher. "I'm Black Ops."

Aryol paused, meaningfully.

"Who are you?"

Date: 2008-04-07 05:05 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] eyes-adrift.livejournal.com
Aryol raised his brows.

"If you kissed me, you would taste borscht, which was what I had for dinner," he said, patiently. "But you're not going to kiss me, so the point is kind of moot."

He studied Deimos, who was twitching now, shaking like a mad dog that needed to be put down.

"You know..." he started, slowly, frowning as he considered. "You can say that person is gone, but if you want people to believe it, maybe you should act like Deimos of the VVS."

Aryol shrugged his shoulders, absently adjusting the Dragunov's strap.

"Saying creepy shit and laughing like that isn't going convince anyone you've changed. But if you treat people with respect, they'll do the same."

He paused.

"Eventually, that is. I don't think it'll be easy. I guess you'll have to decide if it's worth it, or not."

Date: 2008-04-08 07:49 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] eyes-adrift.livejournal.com
"Because I was here," Aryol offered. "Because you saw me. Because you thought maybe I could tell you answers to questions you don't even know how to ask."

He regarded Deimos somberly for a few moments.

"But you can't, really. Those are questions only you can ask, and answer."

Aryol gave a small shrug.

"I don't know, but I can imagine it's not easy, comrade. All I can say is that when you're about to do something that might be bad, and you don't know why, just stop and think about it for a while. Find someone to talk to, or do something else."

He frowned as he thought, brushing an idle hand through his wiry hair.

"Maybe you need a hobby. Is there anything you like to do, that makes you happy?"

Date: 2008-04-08 09:58 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] eyes-adrift.livejournal.com
Aryol sighed, and rubbed the back of his neck.

"Well, the thing is, how long does that last? Fifteen minutes? And then what are you going to do? And what if you're alone?"

He considered Deimos for a few moments.

"Maybe you should try something new. Maybe like...wood carving, if you're good with a knife. That way, you can create something, instead of destroying it. As for the other..."

Aryol chewed at the side of his lip, thinking.

"I don't know. Maybe they're both wrong. I mean, the State says those people are bad people, and they need to die, but how do you really know?"

He shook his head.

"But here's the way I think about it: if the State tells you to kill someone, and you don't do it, they'll just find someone else to do it. But if you want to kill someone, but you stop yourself, then they'll go on living. The only thing that would make them dead was you, your own decision. And you can decide not to."

He regarded Deimos again, searching his gaze, which had calmed. More wary than anything now, he thought.

"How's that for a start? There's something that people say all the time, and that's 'Rome wasn't built in a day.' It means you can eventually make something really great, but it starts off slow, and one step at a time."

Date: 2008-04-09 08:37 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] eyes-adrift.livejournal.com
"Well, see, that's something. You can cook to take your mind off things."

Aryol nodded, encouragingly.

What he didn't say was that most people probably wouldn't want to eat the things that Deimos had prepared, given that the origin could be somewhat uncertain.

"Look, for now, just don't kill people, and try not to say creepy stuff. Cook when you feel like you need to do something."

He looked at Deimos with somber eyes.

"Do you think you can do that? It's pretty straightforward, right?"

Date: 2008-04-10 07:57 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] eyes-adrift.livejournal.com
"You're welcome," Aryol said, easily, and like it was the most obvious thing in the world.

He shrugged his shoulders.

"Well, it's something to do. A goal to set for yourself. A direction, you know?"

Aryol glanced around them, at the dark and near-empty grad. It was a different place at night, quiet and secret, but cold as well.

He looked back at Deimos, who was shivering a little, he thought.

"You should go back to your friends. I'm sure they don't want to be alone."

Date: 2008-04-10 06:59 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] eyes-adrift.livejournal.com
Aryol winced as Deimos' words echoed and bounced between buildings.

He was sure Liadov would love to hear that the man who had threatened to break every bone in his body, twice, wanted Aryol to pass along his regards.

And that he'd yelled that sentiment across the Grad.

Aryol glanced around him, but didn't see anyone else.

Maybe there was no one loitering around the base to hear such things, other than killers and snipers.

"Sure," he called back, a little weakly.

"I'll get right on that," he muttered to himself.

He shrugged then.

Deimos had been right about one thing.

The major probably was back in his room by now, and Aryol didn't want to keep him waiting.

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