[identity profile] hajimenoippolit.livejournal.com posting in [community profile] groznyj_grad
Rakitin's path took him to the range by rote before he had consciously set a course. It was a place open to anyone at any time, and thus of interest to few at this hour. Anonymity could be found in the steady report of gunfire.

Rakitin was in a mood to hide in plain sight.

He had left the wounded soldier to sleep, exhausted from the attempt to dig into his recalcitrant memory. For as little as they had ended up having to show for it, he had played along gamely, with remarkable resilience.

It was a stark contrast to other mystery Rakitin was embroiled in. Here, instead of a man hiding his true nature from the world, was a man whose nature hid from himself. It was a kind of honesty by default, to have nothing over which to construct lies.

For as much as it could be said that any man ever knew himself.

Let alone another.

Rakitin faced straight forward as the pattern of bullets subsumed him.
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Date: 2008-05-14 06:07 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] leshovik.livejournal.com
Leshovik stood behind Rakitin, watching him shoot.

He could definitely see an improvement. Stance much straighter, arms more relaxed, chin up. The pathologist must have been practicing in the few nights since Viktor had given him an impromptu shooting lesson.

Viktor found it strangely gratifying. He'd been told, hotly, and by more than one person, that he was a terrible instructor, too impatient with his students, too technical with his direction. It was a far cry from Kasya's vague zen methods, but still, he'd never had much success. Even Aryol rarely listened to him.

Leshovik supposed it didn't matter.

He leaned against a support post, arms crossed casually across his thick parka, waiting until Rakitin paused to reload.

"Looking good, Lieutenant."

Date: 2008-05-14 07:19 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] leshovik.livejournal.com
"What?"

Leshovik gaped at the pathologist, pushing away from the post, scowling, ire immediately narrowing his gaze.

"Where'd that come from?"

His eyes were dark, livid blue, intense and fixed on Rakitin. He gestured around them with a gloved hand.

"Why the hell would I do something like that?"

Date: 2008-05-14 07:53 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] leshovik.livejournal.com
"No, you're not."

Incredulity strained Lehovik's tone, and he stepped forward, stopping at the partition. His eyes flicked back and forth, searching Rakitin's face.

"If you were really so impartial, that wouldn't be the first thing you thought of when you saw me. You'd wonder why I was here, instead of assuming. You'd ask, instead of accusing."

Viktor shook his head.

"Why? What have you got against Isaev?"

Date: 2008-05-15 08:10 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] leshovik.livejournal.com
Leshovik blew out air in an impatient sigh, but forced himself to take in a few deep breaths, in and out.

After a few seconds, he looked back at Rakitin.

"Look, I'm not asking you to believe in him because I say so. I'm asking you to believe in me, when I tell you I know he didn't do it, because I was with him at the time the murder was supposed to happen."

Viktor pressed his lips together, leaning forward, a quiet vehemence in his tone.

"It's just a fact. I'm not lying to protect a comrade. You don't know me that well, but I swear, I'm telling the truth."

Date: 2008-05-15 04:35 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] leshovik.livejournal.com
Viktor looked at Rakitin for few moments, narrow-eyed, then he stepped forward.

He slung a leg over the partition and joined the pathologist in the shooting cage. Leshovik patted the front of his parka, frowned, then unzipped it so he could check the breast pockets of his jumpsuit.

"Don't blame me for what other people did," he said.

He gave Rakitin a pointed look, eyebrows raised.

"It's like flipping a coin, right? You get heads five times, it doesn't increase or decrease the chances of it being heads or tails the next time. It's still fifty-fifty."

He bit the finger of his shooting glove and pulled it off, muttering through clenched teeth.

"What Irinarhov said has nothing to do with me."

Viktor stuck his glove in a pocket, and produced two cigarettes from his jumpsuit. He held them up toward the overhead sodium lights, peering at them closely. They were slightly crumpled, crushed at the ends.

"Christ. Look at that. I really should get a case, but...I don't know. It just seems like if it don't, then I really haven't started smoking again. It's just a temporary thing."

Leshovik tucked one cigarette behind his ear, and offered the other one to Rakitin.

"Here. I have the cigarettes, if you have the lighter."

Date: 2008-05-16 07:48 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] leshovik.livejournal.com
"You know that was an...example right?" Leshovik said, slowly.

"About the coin."

He stuck the cigarette in his mouth and raised the lighter. He had to strike it a couple of times before he got a flame, but then lit up and flicked it closed, passing it back to Rakitin.

He drew in a lungful of smoke, deep and sweet and bitter.

"Oh, Christ, that's good. I actually haven't had one all day."

He leaned back against the wall, tilting his chin up and closing his eyes.

"I'm going to miss that when I quit. I should quit, don't you think? It's supposed to be bad for you."

Viktor shrugged and flicked a bit of ash to the concrete.

"Anyway..."

He looked back at Rakitin, more closely now, studying his face, those unusual opaque eyes.

"Look, don't take this the wrong way, but you don't trust anyone, do you?"

Date: 2008-05-16 05:23 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] leshovik.livejournal.com
"That's where you're going wrong, right there."

Leshovik pointed his cigarette at Rakitin.

"Trust. If you hold everyone at arm's length, that's where you'll always be. If you don't give anything, no one's going to give back. You can't expect something when you do nothing."

He paused, taking a slow drag. The tip flared brightly, then faded.

"Look, I don't mean to lecture you. But if you don't trust anyone, if you don't have friends, then how are you going to understand why people would bother to stand up for their comrade?"

Viktor frowned as he regarded Rakitin. Something was different about him, subtly changed. The pathologist smiled less than he had before, stood straighter, moved more cautiously. He seemed harder, as if some inner resolve had strengthened more than his shooting stance.

"Okay, just humor me for a couple of minutes. Tell me this first - would you kill someone? Not a self-defense thing, or in war, or under orders, or to stop him from hurting other people, or anything like that. But just to do it, or because you didn't like him, like Isaev is accused of doing?"

Date: 2008-05-18 09:35 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] leshovik.livejournal.com
"No."

Leshovik gave Rakitin a pointed look.

"You have to trust yourself first. Loosen up. After that, you can start trusting other people."

He laughed suddenly, a low, wry sound. One corner of his mouth pulled upward, and he shook his head.

"Listen to me, talking like I know this shit. Truth is, I have enough of my own problems getting along with people. I told you about that."

He laughed, rubbing the back of his head idly, but then his gaze sombered.

"But seriously, my point earlier was that if you don't trust anyone, they can't really trust you either, because they don't know you. If you were accused of murder, is there anyone who would believe you if you told them you didn't do it? People who would have your back when you needed them, because they knew you, and believed you?"

Viktor drew in smoke, thought about dropping the cigarette to the ground and crushing it out early, but didn't.

"It's not a bad thing to have friends, Lieutenant, but it starts with you."

Date: 2008-05-19 12:50 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] leshovik.livejournal.com
Viktor looked at him a moment.

"Actually," he said, slowly, "snipers get more head."

He broke into another grin, this one mellower, more lopsided.

"Aryol told me that. Thought he was the shit for knowing something about being a sniper that I didn't."

Leshovik eyed the distance between them, which had doubled since the pathologist backed up against the cage, as if he'd thought he could escape the reach of words.

"But see? You just did it again."

Viktor shook his head.

"Distance. Holding me at arm's length. I'm not saying you have to trust me, but you should fucking confide in someone, comrade, just so you know what it's like."

He finished his cigarette and flicked it to the ground, crushing it under his boot for good measure.

"I'm not going to push you anymore. Just think about what I said, all right?"

Date: 2008-05-19 07:58 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] leshovik.livejournal.com
Leshovik paused, but then shrugged lightly, and with a smile.

"I do. But I have time for a drink, too."

He looked around them, reflexively brushing his hands over his gear, touching each piece in near-unconscious habit just to assure himself it was still there.

"Where do you want to go? I don't think I can tell you what it is to kill a man, because that's different for everyone. But if you want to tell me something..."

Leshovik paused, and looked at Rakitin more closely, thoughtful.

He didn't know what could possibly be as bad as what the pathologist hinted at, but he also knew that every man had his secrets.

Viktor shrugged, lightly.

"...I'll listen. I really doubt you can say anything that'll shock me. In Black Ops, you pretty much see it all."

Date: 2008-05-20 09:40 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] leshovik.livejournal.com
"Sounds good."

Viktor tugged at his rifle strap as they left the cage and headed down the lanes, walking abreast of Rakitin.

The night was clear, no sign of the earlier rain that had turned to the ground to frozen sludge under their boots, and the lights of the grad beckoned.

He glanced over at the lieutenant as they walked, then flashed a quick grin.

"So...any luck on what we talked about last time?"

Date: 2008-05-20 09:09 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] leshovik.livejournal.com
"I'm...not sure," Leshovik said slowly, raising his brows.

He glanced at Rakitin, gaze searching, but he found no particular answers in Rakitin's expression.

Viktor shrugged a little.

"It does sound intense, all right. How do you mean it?"

They hit the concrete of the tank yard, and walking was much easier. Ahead, a pair of guards stood on watch, heads raising like wary dogs as he and the pathologist approached.

Leshovik ignored them. He and Rakitin fell silent until they passed.

"Physically?" he asked, "or do you mean, commitment-wise?"

Date: 2008-05-21 06:34 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] leshovik.livejournal.com
Leshovik chewed on that, rubbing the back of his neck as they walked.

"Well, honestly...I think you're expecting too much. If you want to get laid, I think you need to be a little more realistic."

He raised his brows and gave Rakitin a slightly pointed look, but tempered it with a half-smile.

"I mean, you really can't expect all that immediately. It's too much. Things like that take time, getting to know people."

Even as he said those words to Rakitin, he thought of Kasya.

Kasya, who had looked at him with night-dark eyes and an expression so intent, it had left Viktor breathless. He'd wanted to ask what Kaysa was thinking, but at the same time he'd almost not wanted to know, because then that look could be anything he wanted.

Viktor's smile grew more lopsided with the memory, but he shook it off, after a moment.

They were approaching the Main Wing.

"I'm not saying that it should be meaningless. It doesn't have to be at all. Just be willing to start off smaller, comrade. That's a hell of an expectation to put on anyone, including yourself."
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