Jul. 29th, 2008 08:08 pm
[identity profile] posting in [community profile] groznyj_grad
Kassian opened his eyes.

He lay in the bunk next to Isaev, shoulder to chest, warmed by the shelter of blanket and skin. Andrei's arm, solid and weighty with reassuring muscle, curled around his waist.

It was dark in their barracks, though not dark outside.

He could see light outlining the edges of the window opposite, around the shades that he never opened. It was past sunrise, then. They had slept in.

He supposed it was all right, given they had no official duties as Ocelots today. Isaev was under technical house arrest, though he could go anywhere he wanted on base, provided he had an escort.

That job was Kassian's.

Kassian settled back, feeling Andrei's arm tighten reflexively against him.

Good work if you could get it.

There was a knock at the barracks door.

Kassian frowned.

That was unusual. If they were needed in some official capacity, CODEC was the easiest way to reach them. There was no need to waste time with a personal visit when a call would suffice. It was also the wrong time of day for social visits, invitations to poker or drinking. Not that Kassian received a lot of those.

Gently, he pulled away from Isaev's grasp and sat on the edge of the bed to pull on his jodhpurs. He reached out to brush his hand across Isaev's brow.

"Andrei. Someone's here," he murmured, getting up to answer the door.

Date: 2008-07-30 05:45 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Ilarion stood at the plain, unmarked metal door, Taras at his shoulder loitering criminally, broad hands spreading well-cut pockets.

His boots were so highly shined that they were actually glossy, his jaw shaved carefully down to smooth, cool marble. Grey uniform pressed and settled, tailored and skimming him like a second skin.

A splash of expensive French cologne, subtle but present as it warmed beneath his collar.

Captains' barracks, it said in raised metal letters that spanned a plaque.

"Captains," he murmured.

Had Andrei gotten a promotion and neglected to tell him? A momentary pang struck his internal harp, but he deemed it arbitrary.

No. Never. His brother would have told him of any such coup. He'd recieved a letter not a week ago, after all.

And yet, Andrei had not told him about his arrest- surely, he'd been under investigation, interrogation-

The thought of anyone interrogating his brother made his fist clench imperceptibly inside its genteel glove.

It was all too familiar, standing at a closed door in the company of Oleksei. They found themselves doing this almost every day, knocking at the doors of citizens. breaking them down.

This time, however, he knocked. Gently, politely, a sharp, clean triple rap of his knuckles.

His heart pulsed quietly as he waited.

Date: 2008-07-30 06:52 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Lasha paused, studying the man who came to the door.

Clearly a soldier at rest, but not his brother.

This then, must be his brother's guard.

His eyes narrowed slightly, assessing.

Light olive skin, dark eyes like mahogony. The thick, black mane that lay tousled just over his wary eyes. He noted scant flecks of greying at the temples, which betrayed the soldier's age as vaguely closer to his own, and less toward Andrei's.

A senior officer, then. Experienced and weathered under fire.

Ilarion smiled very faintly, a tight and mercenary curve.

Then they knew what it took to confine his brother, after all.

But what was it about these features? A national identity, perhaps. He wore the face of his countrymen, and Lasha recognized that semblance.

A Georgian, or a Hungarian, thought Ilarion, absently. The accent would probably tell.

"We've here for Andrei Aleksandrovich," he said, perfunctorily.

Date: 2008-07-30 08:30 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Ilarion turned his head at the movement beside him, slightly surprised at Taras's response.

What had Oleksei read in the soldier's dark eyes that Ilarion had not? They were dark, and he couldn't be bothered to seek within their depths. Let them stay veiled like the depths of a pond. Let him speak if he had a grievance.

Lasha had expected this. It was a sensible question under the circumstances. This man had a prisoner, and he was charged with keeping him. It was in his best interest to ask questions of anyone, especially strange politsants.

Another useful man, he opined, coolly. Good for them.

Ilarion lowered his gaze to meet the soldier's, lip curling slightly.

"We want to take him to breakfast," he said, as menacingly as possible.

Date: 2008-07-30 08:07 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Ilarion looked at Oleksei, then back at the soldier.

He looked fiercely adamant, even though his demeanor was steady and calm. Peripherally, Lasha's eyes noted how his hand gripped the door like a tourniquet, whitening his knuckles. In his eyes was a stony wildness.

Gameness, Liadov had always wryly called that trait. This one would fight.

Ilarion had seen that look enough times, but found it misplaced here- unless this soldier was afraid they were here to take his quarry away from him.

Lasha smiled, coolly.

"You have no need to worry, comrade. We're not leaving this base for quite a while. We only need an hour or so, and you can have him back when we're done."

He placed his hand on the soldier's shoulder, like a raven alighting a statue.

"Now, stand down and let me see him."

He paused, when the soldier did not shift.

"Taras?" he said, turning solicitously, his eyebrows raising. "Give him your..credentials."

Ilarion shouldered past the half-dressed guard, knowing the soldier would be caught and restrained before he pursued any countermaneuver to check him.

Date: 2008-07-30 10:41 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Taras stepped forward immediately, reaching out to catch the sentry's arm, which tensed under his grasp with iron resistance.

The man's strength was surprising, and gratifying. The soldier was built hard and lean, Taras saw, put together like a precise machine, each part of him balanced and fitted.

Taras' gloved fingers pressed into the man's skin.

He knew it had be to be painful, but the soldier gave no sign other than a slight tightening of his gaze. He also made no move to pull away, glaring up at Taras, the embers of his gaze low-lit, but defiant.

Taras crowded him. He imposed his muscular bulk in the soldier's personal space, forcing his attention away from Isaev.

"Do yourself a favor," Taras said, conversationally. "Go outside for a smoke, or something."

He nodded his head toward the door.

"We've got this covered."

He let go of the man's arm, but the sentry gave no sign of moving.

"I'm under orders not to leave his side," the sentry said, after a moment.

The sentry paused.

"MVD orders."

Taras narrowed his gaze. Back in Leningrad, he could rough the guy up a little, but here, if what the sentry said was true, he supposed he had to play nice.

"Suit yourself," Taras rumbled, low. "Just don't get in our way again."

He turned his head, glancing toward where Isaev had gone, further into the barracks.

Taras had learned long ago not to turn his back on anyone he didn't fully trust, and that was pretty much everyone.

"After you."

The soldier remained still a moment, watching him, but then turned and walked forward. Taras followed.

Date: 2008-07-30 11:28 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Ilarion's eyes swept the barrack, and he saw a strong, familiar form in the bottom bunk, the tousle of blondness spilled over his face, as Andrei shifted in his sleep.

Missed that whole exchange, then. Ilarion was not surprised. Andrei could sleep with great conviction.

He didn't hesitate. Quick strides carried him straight to his brother's side, where he paused sharply, staring down for a moment.

Then, he knelt, abruptly, crouching by his head, leather boots creaking as he did so.

"Andrusha," he whispered, low.

His hand reached out and he smoothed back Andrei's wayward mane, exposing his face.

"Wake up. It's Ilarion."

Date: 2008-07-31 04:20 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Lasha looked up, suddenly, fixing his gaze on the dark, sullen guard.

"What did you do to him?"

His eyes narrowed.

"Did they give him something? Did he resist?"

Behind him. Andrei yawned, and blinked, rubbing his face.

Ilarion's mouth tightened.

"If I find out anything untoward has gone on, anything at all- there will be hell to pay. As much as I can bring down."

Date: 2008-07-31 06:28 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
"I'm the Ministry of Internal Affairs," said Ilarion, coldly.

Behind him, Andrei slowly sat up on his arm, then blinked in surprise.

"...Shto eta?"

He reached out for the grey sleeved arm, seizing it instinctively, wanting to see the other side of the glossy, pale head that confronted him.

"Lasha?" he exclaimed, in startled disbelief.

Ilarion turned at the touch, the sound of his voice, traced with drowsiness and disaffected from sleep, but nonetheless surprised, and nonetheless his brother.


Lasha's attention swerved back to the bunk, as Andrei moved forward, and they caught each other's faces between roughly affectionate hands, brows coming to rest against flush, smiles mirrored back and forth.

When they broke apart after a moment, Andrei grasped his brother's lapel and held it tightly.

"What are you doing here? What-"

He broke off, thinking of Irinarhov, turning his head and abruptly realizing there were other people in the room.

"Comrade," he said, at the sight of his brother's uniformed accomplice. "I don't remember your name, I'm afraid. We only met those few times, and..."

Andrei paused, a vague smile wending onto his lips and lofting his brow.

" was not in an official capacity."

Date: 2008-07-31 06:58 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
"It's all right," Taras said, with a dark chuckle.

He smiled broadly, with rare goodwill toward someone he didn't know.

"You had other things on your mind at the time, da?"

Taras paused to fix the sentry with a warning look, telling him to stay in place, then stepped forward.

Andrusha was not really a stranger. He was Lasha's bratanka, and Taras had liked seeing them together, watching the easy affection between brothers, one he didn't know. Anyone who said Ilarion didn't have a heart had not seen him with his brother.

Taras had never seen Ilarion treat anyone else that way, not even Anya.

It made him feel something, strange and quiet and wanting.

He grabbed Andrusha's hand and shook it, firmly.

"Taras Oleksei," he said.

Taras nodded in Lasha's direction.

"I'm your brother's comrade."

Date: 2008-07-31 07:11 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
"Da," Andrei said, slowly, studying the man before him, running his hands back through his hair. "Of course. Oleksei. Your father knows my father."

That was sort of an understatement.

But it was easy, falling back into that sort of elusive semaphore. He'd been raised up among those rushes, after all.

And, ultimately, it was necessary, just for decorum's sake. "Your father murders people discreetly for my father" had a much less palatable tang.

"I see you've embarked on a new career path. Looks like it suits you."

Oleksei looked surprisingly in his element, and not the least bit out of his league, although he still looked like an enforcer to Andrei, and doubtless that was the way he and Ilarion liked it.

Andrei glanced to Irinarhov. Kasya's face was carefully inexpressive, and he stayed out of range.

"What are you doing here?" he asked the grey-jacketed pair, realizing that if Lasha had come with an entourage, this was an official visit and not purely to see him-

-but just as he made the realization, he made another one, which was that at this juncture, in his current position, he was official business.

Andrei laughed deprecatingly.

"Wait, let me guess."

Date: 2008-07-31 07:55 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Taras shook his head, frowning.

"Yeah, what's this chush about you being investigated? We never got the whole story."

The night before, the lieutenant who greeted them at the helipad had chosen his words carefully, Taras had noticed.

Taras rested his hand on the upper bunk, leaning closer to Lasha and Andrusha.

"Don't worry. We'll get it straightened out," he said, lowering his voice.

He glanced over his shoulder at the sentry, who watched them in stony silence.

No doubt carefully listening to everything they said, observing what they did. His interest in Andrusha seemed a little personal to Taras. Probably had it in for him, for some reason.

Taras narrowed his eyes, looking back at Andrusha.

"How about I take care of that guy for you, for starters?"

Date: 2008-08-01 06:29 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Andrei laughed.

"I appreciate the offer, but the Captain is a friend. I was just lucky enough to pull him for this guard detail."

Lucky. Not exactly. But he didn't want to say the word "Liadov".

He smiled faintly.

"Kasya doesn't waste time charming people, but he's a solid comrade. Very solid."

His gaze ventured up toward Irinarhov's and he gave him a slow nod, reassuring.

"It's okei."

Date: 2008-08-01 07:07 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Taras grunted, surprised.

"All right."

He glanced back over his shoulder again at the sentry, who gave Andrusha the slightest of nods in turn. The sentry was older, he saw, steady and experienced. Probably one of those career types. Not a bad person to have on your side. Andrusha had probably chosen well.

Taras nodded.

"A man needs a comrade."

He clapped Andrusha on the shoulder, then did the same with Ilarion, the contact brief and rough, but familiar.


He walked over to the soldier, who still watched him with cautious dark eyes. Taras stuck out his hand.

"Hey, sorry about that earlier. I didn't know. Taras Oleksei."

Date: 2008-08-01 07:38 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Ilarion felt the buzz of the sentry's brooding gaze coursing over him and dismissed it with practiced elan.

This captain was altogether too intense for a man of his rank, decided Lasha. He wondered exactly where and how some weathered fatalist like that would have fallen in with his enigmatic, exuberant sibling. It didn't seem to follow.

...non sequitur.

Andrei glanced up.

"Da," he said, getting up, readily. "I could use something warm, something good. Coffee and kasha, odi nasha."

He was naked and unabashed about the fact, putting an arm briefly around his brother's sharply cut shoulders and giving him a careless buss on the vault of his cheek.

Then he set about pulling together a fresh uniform.

Lasha watched him, languidly, smiling slightly as he did. Leaning back gradually against the bunk.

"Nothing as banal as porridge, Angelocheck, should pass your lips."

Ilarion glanced up at Taras.

"I'm of a mind to have syrniki, or eggs on papillote."

He paused, coolly, regarding Andrei as he fastened his trousers and sat down to pull on his long black boots, offering another encouraging smile to his sullen sentinel.

"But anything that isn't kasha will suffice."

Date: 2008-08-01 04:23 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
"Oh, da, that sounds good. I'm hungry."

Taras turned back to Lasha, nodding. His mouth was watering.

"Or oladyi with roe and creme fraiche. And some sausage."

Taras glanced at Isaev's brother, whose body was even broader and more muscular than he remembered, the definition of his muscles harder and tighter. It had been almost six years since the fight with the Frenchman. Taras supposed it made sense that Andrusha had filled out since then. His chest and arms were particularly impressive.

Taras averted his gaze, before it started to look too queer.

The sentry, Andrusha's comrade, also started to get dressed. Taras leaned against the wall and looked at Lasha instead.

"Hey, maybe Andrusha can give us that tour, afterwards."

He stretched, absently, then looked at Andrusha again.

"They let you do that, right? As long as you have your guard? They must not really think you did anything, since they're going pretty easy on you."

Date: 2008-08-01 07:22 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Andrei averted his eyes swiftly as he belted up.

"There's someone in my corner," he said, vaguely.

He glanced at his brother, and his voice dropped, significantly.

"We need to talk about that, Lasha. Later. But not too late."

Ilarion didn't react.

"I'm already aware," he said, cryptically.

Nika isn't.

Andrei's brows shifted, and he turned back to his desk, picking up his beret and slipping it over the crown of his head.

"You're not going to get creme fraiche, but as least you'll be fed as officers," he said, wryly.

Lasha eyed the sentry.

The Captain.

Oleksei seemed to have accepted him without much prompting, and assumed he would be joining them.

"I don't see why he needs his keeper," Ilarion remarked, lightly. "Surely he's equally safe in MVD custody. The assigned operativnik wouldn't disagree with that."

Andrei stopped and put a hand on his brother's shoulder.

"He doesn't have to come as my guard, Lasha. He's a squadmate. We eat together every day."

Ilarion shrugged, turning, dissociating.

"Suit yourself," he said, airily.

Date: 2008-08-01 08:46 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Lasha turned, shooting an icy look at the Ocelot captain, penetrating and innate.

"We're here to ask questions. Not field them."

There was something about this man that made his hackles prickle silently.

He paused.

"Irinarhov," he repeated, belatedly, suddenly, brows knitting tensely for a brief moment, in realization.

Lasha turned to Andrei, a faint smile of uncertainty on his face, a question behind his frigid eyes.

"This is the Ukrainian sniper? From your letter?"

Andrei paused, then nodded. His gaze was guarded, rarified, and now, yes, he was every inch an Isaev.

Lasha stared at him for a moment, then broke into a short laugh.

Then he turned and walked away.

"Come on, Taras."

Date: 2008-08-01 11:45 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Taras paused for a moment, looking between Andrusha and the sentry, Irinarhov.

He'd missed something, though it obviously concerned information he didn't have.

He frowned, uncertain. Lasha didn't always tell him the things it was important for him to know.

Andrusha was like his brother, hard to read, expression cast as if carved from ice, the exact quality of it translucent. Irinarhov's face was carefully neutral and hard-set.

Taras shrugged it off.

"All right," he said, belatedly, turning.

He caught up to Ilarion, as they stepped outside the barrack.

"Everything all right?" he asked, in an undertone.

Date: 2008-08-02 10:12 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Ilarion turned to him as they fell into step, abreast.

"It's nothing, comrade."

He smiled, slowly.

"Everything is fine."

He dropped his voice to a conversant murmur.

"Just a little history. Who among us can escape it?"


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