Aug. 16th, 2008 05:50 pm
[identity profile] posting in [community profile] groznyj_grad
The day passed in slow silence. The pall of presence just out of sight never lifted, a haunting by the living. There was a point that even Polya could tell not to press.

That night he and Nika parted ways with the nod that was becoming habit. Polya couldn't find the words to ask if he was going to be all right.

There was a bond between him and Isaev deeper than Rakitin could comprehend, the severing of it even more so.

As they had learned to when given no strict direction, his steps took him toward the range. It was better to do something productive when weariness began to register.

A false positive, for some time yet. It was surprising how little a body really needed.

He crossed the base, passing soldiers like ghosts.

Date: 2008-08-18 03:58 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
It was a nice night, but a little cold.

His night camo fatigues kept him warm enough, but the chill in the air reminded Aryol of the nights when he and Leshovik had prowled the base as if on silent wings, unseen and unheard by all. They were princes of all the dark and hidden places, owning the rooftops where they lay in wait pressed close together, sharing body warmth.

Those nights seemed long ago, now.

He tugged on the strap of his rifle absently, adjusting the lay.

Aryol had gone to the range, thinking that maybe Leshovik would be there. Aryol couldn't imagine Leshovik not practicing every day, but at the same time, Aryol never saw him there anymore, never caught the report of a Dragunov, distinctive as a lion's roar.

At least, during the day. Aryol's nights were generally pretty busy, and he sure as hell wasn't listening for gunfire. He thought that maybe, before swinging by the major's room for some good old fashioned debauchery, maybe he should see if Leshovik was haunting the range by night.

No luck. It was odd. Aryol would have to look another time.

There was something he wanted to say to Leshovik, though for now, it would keep. It would have to.

Aryol spotted a figure ahead, a man walking alone.

He stared for a moment, but there was no telltale shape of a rifle at his back. Not Leshovik, then, and guards walked in pairs.

The man hadn't spotted him yet, though Aryol continued walking. He was curious to see who else had no fear to walk the base at this hour, with a killer on the loose.

A moment later, his brows rose.

"Hey, Lieutenant," he called when he was close enough, so that he didn't have to shout.

Aryol flashed a smile, effortlessly polite.

"You're out late. Is everything all right?"

Date: 2008-08-18 06:34 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Aryol came to a stop, frowning slightly.

He paused to regard the lieutenant for a few moments.


Aryol suppressed a sudden yawn with the back of his gloved hand.

"Excuse me," he murmured. "Didn't get a lot of sleep last night. Anyway..."

He cocked his head, and stuck his hands in his pockets.

"...where is it that you think I need to be, exactly?

Date: 2008-08-18 07:18 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Alexei had been scarce, lately, by design.

Let the base forget about him a little, let them wander away from the glittery novelty of the covert countersniper team.

When he had been out and about, no one knew about it. Lynx was, for the foreseeable moment, a nocturnal animal.

He was squatted back against a wall, obscured in an alcove just within the canopy of the artillery range.

It was a quiet night, good for contemplation. Better for observation.

When he heard voices, he crushed his cigarette out between his fingers and placed it in his pocket.

He exhaled softly.

Blue smoke resolved into the crisp air and mingled, indistinguishable from night mist.

Date: 2008-08-18 07:32 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Aryol blinked.

He rubbed the back of his neck with a deliberately casual hand.

"Wow," he finally said.

He raised his brows, looking at Rakitin steadily.

It didn't seem like a joke. The pathologist met his gaze without flinching.

"I really don't know what to say to that, except...why? What would make you say something like that to me?"

Aryol shook his head.

"I barely know you, Lieutenant, and I don't think you really know me. What's going on? Where is this coming from?"

Date: 2008-08-18 08:36 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Aryol pressed his lips together.

He was silent a few moments, staring at Rakitin, unflinching.

"And what kind would that be, Lieutenant?"

Aryol smiled, slowly.

"Since it seems like you really want to tell me."

Date: 2008-08-18 08:46 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Lynx paused.

That voice, mild and bemused, was Aryol's.

Recognition keyed there, but the other man, the one with the sneering, accusatory tone- Alexei did not know him by ear.

At least, not in this timbre or register.

Lynx was silent. He didn't intend to make his presence known.

He wondered if Aryol had gotten a little loose with his favors, gotten in trouble.

He didn't seem to be in any danger. Or even particularly upset.

Traitor, the other had said.

Lynx frowned.

That was a word to watch.

He doubted it had to do with Black Ops, however, it was worth keeping in mind.

Date: 2008-08-18 06:51 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Aryol let out a soft noise, quietly incredulous.

He shook his head.


He paused, wondering where to begin.

Aryol adjusted his rifle again, tugging on the strap.

"With all due respect, which is more than what you've shown me, you don't know what you're talking about."

He searched the pathologist's face, frowning.

"It sounds like you're talking about my personal life, which I've never discussed with you and you've never asked me about, and, quite frankly, is really none of your business. It's obvious you don't understand the situation, and yet you're acting like I did something to you. I don't understand why you feel it's necessary to say these things to me. So I ask you, again - "

Aryol took a step forward, closing the distance between them.

The lieutenant was taller than Aryol, and bristled with raw and unstable emotion, but Aryol was not afraid. He felt centered, focused like a sniper.

"...why? What is it you want me to say to you?"

Date: 2008-08-18 11:44 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Lynx blinked, mildly.

He wasn't following the trajectory of the conversation.

Who had Aryol betrayed?

Alexei frowned, deeply.


But Viktor had been angling to cut free for a while now.

This guy?

He would have thought so, from the rather personal vehemence of the speaker's accusations, and yet, the actual words suggested he was referencing the betrayal of a third party.



Lynx snorted, softly, amused at Aryol's bewildered attempts to coax cohesion into the dialogue. He was being met only with mounting venom.

Poor kid. Welcome to the world outside Black Ops. Life is full of all kinds, and you can't shoot them all.

Alexei grinned and reached into his pocket.

Stealth be damned, some occasions demanded a cigarette. He was dipping into the pack he'd acquired for Longshot, intending to press it into his palm when they next crossed paths or linens, but Viktor would have to survive.

You couldn't buy this kind of entertainment.

Date: 2008-08-19 05:20 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Aryol stared at Rakitin, brow furrowed lightly.

He searched the lieutenant's eyes, uncertain of exactly what he saw there, other than some intense emotion brimming in Rakitin's dark gaze.

After a few moments, Aryol glanced to the side, and let out a long breath.

He pressed a gloved hand to his forehead.

"Okay," he said, quietly.

"I need you to listen to me really carefully, Lieutenant," he said.

He looked up again, meeting Rakitin's fevered gaze.

"Because you can't do this. You can't lose it. Not in the middle of a murder investigation. Not when Major Liadov is counting on you to do your job."

Aryol nodded, quietly reassuring.

"It seems like you've...thought a lot...about this. But you have to realize, regardless of what you think of me, there's still nothing you can do about it."

Aryol paused, watching Rakitin quietly for a moment.

"There are some things you just have to let go," he said, quietly. "For that reason. For your own good. I understand that you feel hurt by the things you perceive I've done, but really, it's not good to go in the other direction either, all right? It's just not healthy for you to be obsessed with this."

He nodded toward the tall buildings, behind Rakitin, in the distance.

"Maybe you should go back inside and get yourself some tea, or something to eat. It might help you feel better, clear your head."

Date: 2008-08-19 04:07 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
"All right," Aryol said, evenly, "but only because you asked so nicely."

He rolled his eyes.

"Let me point out something, though."

His smile was thin and brief.

"You've known about me and Major Liadov for what, over a week now? But you've never seemed to have a problem with it before. But now that Leshovik found out, you suddenly bring this up, and make personal attacks on me. You're irrationally angry, and you sound unbalanced. Yet when I call you on it, you admit that it's none of your business, even though you persist, and you can't tell me what it is you want from me."

Aryol paused, studying Rakitin calmly.

"At the same time, you say you're 'fine', and that you understand there's nothing you can do."

He kept Rakitin's gaze, significantly.

"It's not very convincing."

Aryol shook his head.

"This is personal for you, Lieutenant. Why is that? What's this really about? Which one of them do you think you're protecting? Which one of them are you so invested in?"

Aryol leaned forward, into the face of Rakitin's rage.

"My lover, or my partner?"

After a second, he cocked his head.


Date: 2008-08-19 08:09 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]

He knew that name. Could put it to a face. One of the Muscovites from the Ministry.

Lynx's laugh was a silent snort to himself.

He took a drag, shaking his head.


Couldn't even leave the MVD alone.

"Kid, you are something."

Alexei wondered exactly how Aryol had connived his way into a tight-laced Soviet policeman's bed, but hey, he'd obviously had time on his hands.

Then there'd been the other one- the pathologist.

It clicked in.

Right. That's who Aryol's conversational partner was- he'd said it himself in plain terms, only Lynx hadn't been able to tie it in yet.

Lieutenant, lieutenant.


Rakitin. That was him.


Date: 2008-08-20 04:20 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Aryol was silent for a moment.

"So you blame yourself," he said, raising his brows.

He studied the lieutenant's body language, the inward curve of his shoulders and the downward cant of his head. Rakitin looked smaller somehow, as if his edges had shriveled.

"And you've been angry at yourself about it ever since?"

Aryol smiled faintly.

"And at me, too, of course."

He glanced up into the night sky, which was starless at this hour, dark and sooty black.

Aryol turned back to Rakitin.

"Nice night, huh? Anyway, you know you can't do that. Blame yourself, that is. Guilt will eat you up if you let it. You have to be realistic."

Date: 2008-08-20 08:59 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
"Is what getting through to me?"

Aryol stared hard at Rakitin, even as the lieutenant avoided his eyes.

"The fact that you're weirdly obsessed with my love life? Yeah, that came through loud and clear."

He snorted, lightly.

"But somehow I missed the fact that you apparently think you're qualified to give me a lecture, especially since it's about something you obviously don't understand."

Aryol glanced down to smooth out the front of his fatigues, pausing to button a pocket.

"How is it you think you know the intimate details of my relationships?"

He looked up, significantly.

"You can't."

Aryol sought Rakitin's elusive gaze.

"And if you don't know that, how can you possibly know what I have or don't have?"

Date: 2008-08-20 06:59 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Aryol laughed, a sharp bark of sound.

"Christ," he muttered. "There's nothing I can say."

He flicked a bit of pale lint from the mottled darkness of his sleeve.

"If I say yes, you won't believe me. If I say no, you'll be vindicated. You realize this isn't a conversation, Lieutenant. You're just flinging words at me like monkey shit, hoping some of it will stick."

His eyes returned to Rakitin, swiftly appraising.

Hands were telling. Expressions could be managed, voices could be modulated, but often, it was body language that gave more of a clue to a person's internal state.

Not that he had a lot of doubt. The pathologist looked rabid.

"Have you been drinking, or something? Or maybe somebody kicked your dog."

He shrugged.

"Here's the thing it keeps coming back to, and the thing you don't get: I don't owe you an explanation."

Aryol held his arms loose at his sides, ready for for anything.

"...and you're not going to get one from me, either."

Date: 2008-08-20 09:18 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Lynx frowned.

It was like trying to go up an Escherian staircase.

He exhaled, thoughtfully.

Why would the pathologist repeat himself ad nauseum, blatantly ignoring the cold, hard logic of the situation, returning and turning to that odd moral judgment?

There had to be a reason.

Lynx thought he had found it.

Actually, he amended, taking a drag and nodding to himself, there were two possibilities.

One, the pathologist secretly desired conflict, and was attempting to artificially charge a meatless exchange for his own gratification.

He'd known men like that- though never in Black Ops- who orchestrated altercations out of nothing, some of whom saw it as cheap catharsis for frustrations, and others who merely thrived on argument to supplement a complacent life.

Or, he thought, maybe it was something else.

Maybe the repetitive mantra of goading was a clumsy attempt to elicit an explanation the pathologist suspected but could not confirm-

Namely, he was fishing for particulars of Aryol's past with Leshovik.

And he would persist until he heard what he wanted to hear.

Not a bad tactic, thought Lynx. Frustrate the target until he justifies himself, and spills his whole history, just to escape the circuitous track.

Like a lab rat in a maze.

Just one thing Lynx didn't understand.

If that was the case, why would Rakitin care?

Was Leshovik...

Lynx raised an eyebrow, amused.

It didn't seem like Viktor's battered spirit had it in him, to handle any more than he had.

But then, many parts of Vitya were still an enigma.

Date: 2008-08-20 11:16 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Aryol stared at Rakitin, frowning.

He took in a slow breath, and let it out, gaze falling away. He studied the ground for a few moments.

Then he looked up.

"I feel really sorry for you," he murmured.

Date: 2008-08-21 08:30 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Aryol just shook his head.

"I don't know what to say to you any more, Lieutenant. I really don't."

He gave Rakitin a long, considering look.

"It's like arguing with a crazy person. Nothing I say matters."

He shrugged then.

"But that's all right. You're the one who started this whole thing. But here's the thing. One, I don't think you're fine, and two...don't you have anything else you'd rather be doing, other than standing here, yelling at me?"

Aryol's look intensified briefly.

"Honestly, is this the best thing you have to do tonight?"

Date: 2008-08-21 06:29 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
"All...right," Aryol said, slowly.

He watched the lieutenant like a raptor.

There was a dull, sluggish look in Rakitin's eyes that made Aryol wonder if he'd broken something inside, though Aryol couldn't fathom how.

Aryol raised his brows.

"Things change all the time. That's just part of life."

He nodded, back toward the base.

"But should go get some sleep. You'll feel better in the morning."

Date: 2008-08-22 05:54 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
"You know..."

Aryol took a step forward, but only a step.

He frowned, watching Rakitin.

"You're not pulling off that whole, 'I'm not crazy' thing really well."

He hooked a thumb over his shoulder.

"Your room is back that way."

Date: 2008-08-22 06:48 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
"I guess it doesn't matter," Aryol said, after a moment.

The entire encounter had been utterly surreal. It was hard not to pity the pathologist.

He shrugged, then shook his head, offering Rakitin the faintest of parting smiles.

"See you around, Lieutenant."

Aryol turned away, back to the base that knew him.


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