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01 July 2007 @ 01:55 am
The Death of a Brother [Feburary 18, 1964, 12:00 am]  
[Continued from "Meanwhile, back at Groznyj Grad..."]

Kassian didn't think he should be the one to say it, but with Imanov still reeling from the shock of their discovery, it fell to him.

"There was another killing tonight," he said to Isaev over CODEC. "Aside from the mechanic."

He paused again.

"It was one of us, an Ocelot."

Kassian realized he was feeding Isaev information piecemeal, the way he'd learned it, trying to lessen the blow. But there was little that could be done to mitigate what he had to say next.

"It was Gurlukovich," he said. "Sergei."

Kassian closed his eyes briefly. "He's dead."

There was more to say, but he fell silent, to let his words sink in.
Leshovikleshovik on July 2nd, 2007 11:15 pm (UTC)
The sniper lowered his Dragunov.

The lights had gone out in the second floor hall of the building not long after he'd re-acquired his target.

He wondered, for a moment, if the other sniper had sensed him, divined his presence though the premonition of a sharpshooter's clairvoyance, or if there was another reason why the lights had gone out.

Ultimately, it didn't matter.

The sniper raised his rifle again, and switched his scope's optics to nightvision.
andrei_isaevandrei_isaev on July 3rd, 2007 01:35 am (UTC)
Isaev was actually running, taking the stairs to the second floor two at a time, and veering from the top landing to jog down the hall at a militant clip.

He wanted to get to Imanov, yes, but there was more to it than that.

Somehow he was mad to see Kassian, to look into his eyes and stare hard and long, and reassure himself that the sniper wasn't putting him off because of some sudden change of heart, effected by Liadov, or Imanov or...


No, he wanted to see Irinarhov because he hadn't seen him all day. Pure and simple. And he was afraid the sniper would leave before he could get there.

Hence the jogging, as if it were urgent.

What the hell was that all about? Andrei snorted, but didn't check his pace. He could see the end of the hallway where the door to the locker rooms were. The lights were off.

He paused, narrowing his eyes, slowing.
Kassian Irinarhovcapt_kasya on July 3rd, 2007 02:30 am (UTC)
Kassian twitched when he heard the footsteps echo up the stairwell.

Reflexively, he reached behind him.

His pistol rested snugly against the small of his back, but his fingertips only grazed the the stock before he paused.

It had to be a friend, he told himself.

He was hoping for Isaev, but even if it wasn't, no killer would announce his presence like that.

Kassian frowned.

The footsteps had stopped as well.

He stood silent for long seconds, but there was nothing.

Anyone would be cautious faced with a darkened hall, he told himself.

"Isaev?" he called, voice low and cautious, though he did not move.
Ippolit Zosimovich Rakitin: black and whitehajimenoippolit on July 3rd, 2007 11:54 am (UTC)
Though Captain Irinarhov had departed, it didn't feel as though there were only one person, and Polya, left in the room.

Remembering Liadov's earlier assurances didn't make the hairs on the back of his neck stop prickling.

Rakitin knelt by the corpse, for all the good it would do. Force of habit. The surge of focus and urgency was fading, leaving him feeling as amorphous as the expanse of damp sand left naked by low tide.

One of the showerheads was broken, skewed down at a tortured angle as though bowing to beg forgiveness. Drops of water fell slow and steady, casting echos into a silence larger than the space that contained it. Already a puddle had formed, the grid of tile visible through the film of shimmering reflection, warping and shifting into one another, reflection and refraction in lambent waltz, until the traceries lifted and flowed and seemed to make the grey angles and halftransparent planes of a man's face, a man who looked back without motion and smiled-

Ippolit jerked his head away.

He really shouldn't have eaten that fucking mushroom.

"There- there's no one else here, is there?" Rakitin said, as his eyes darted to every corner of the room. The question was of more immediate importance than Liadov thinking he was crazy.

Operativnik Nikanor Grigoriivich Liadovnikanor_liadov on July 3rd, 2007 09:27 pm (UTC)
Liadov watched the world outside. Groznyj Grad looked like a model in a snowglobe.

"No," he said. "Just us. And whatever form death takes."

He pictured it as an evaporating alcohol.

It made him want a drink. Nothing vicious. Maybe a smooth, nice Polish potato vodka. He had a bottle in his quarters.

Toast the kid off with a decent libation and a sound sleep.
Ippolit Zosimovich Rakitin: black and whitehajimenoippolit on July 4th, 2007 12:29 am (UTC)
"Right," Rakitin murmured to himself. "No one at all."

He got up. He'd long gotten over any sense of impropriety that came from poking at a dead man's remains, but no good would come of it now. Let the boy rest, for a while.

It had been a long night.

Ippolit could feel it catching up to him, steady and relentless.

No matter how far back you stood, it always got there eventually. All you could do was hold it at arm's length for as long as you could. As long as you had to.

People were all the same. One great, unintelligible mass, differentiated by marks and bruises and burns, identification without identity. That made it easy. He wasn't supposed to recognize them.

He'd been doing so well.

It had been a long time since the old nightmare of pulling the sheet down from the face of everyone he'd ever known.

"Crocodiles," Polya muttered, looking anywhere that wasn't the red scarf over the boy's face. "He promised to show me the crocodiles."
Operativnik Nikanor Grigoriivich Liadovnikanor_liadov on July 5th, 2007 03:59 am (UTC)
"...I bet they're not that hard to find," said Liadov, wryly.

He laughed quietly.

"I bet Major Krauss would be glad to give you a personal tour."
Kassian Irinarhovcapt_kasya on July 5th, 2007 07:10 pm (UTC)
Kassian pulled on his errant glove as he walked in, briefly watching Isaev approach Imanov and embrace him.

After a moment, Kassian purposefully turned his gaze, not wanting to make it seem like he was staring with a raptor's knife-thin regard.

He had no reason to watch them like that, and he also felt no need.

Instead, he approached Liadov at the window. Kassian saw no sign of the MENT's earlier ailment in Liadov's face; instead, he just looked tired. A little paler, perhaps, but no so that anyone would notice offhand.

"Someone will be here soon, to take Gurlukovich."

Absently, Kassian stuffed his balaclava and beret into a back pocket, and glanced across the room.

"Lieutenant Imanov is going to be joining Lieutenant Isaev off-duty in a couple of minutes. I'll be handling the rest of your detail for the evening myself, Major."

He said it in a solemn, professional tone, as if Liadov hadn't been fading, clutching at Kassian's arms not a half hour before. As if he and Imanov had merely tossed a coin to see who would get off duty early.

As if Gurlukovich wasn't lying dead on the floor.

Kassian followed Liadov's gaze out the window to the courtyard below. Snow drifted silently past his field of vision, but Kassian found his eyes moving to the tops of nearby buildings.

"I'll get you there safely," he murmured, half-distracted.
Operativnik Nikanor Grigoriivich Liadovnikanor_liadov on July 5th, 2007 08:42 pm (UTC)
Nika nodded slowly, then turned, buttoning his greatcoat with languid hands, showing his readiness to depart.

"What were you doing in the hall?" he asked absently.
Kassian Irinarhovcapt_kasya on July 5th, 2007 09:56 pm (UTC)
It was a moment before Kassian answered, but just a moment.

His gaze flickered, then continued to roam the rooftops, seeking out telltale silhouettes.

"I was talking to Lieutenant Isaev," he said, but did not elaborate.

It was true, and was probably no more than what Liadov meant by his question, though of course that was not the first thing that had come to mind.

Liadov had an easy way about him, and looked harmless enough - youthfully mussed hairstyle, open face, pleasant smile. He was the kind of man who made it easy to drop one's guard around. Kassian knew he already had.

A guilty man tended to fill in the blanks, and leapt to conclusions. Assumed that others already knew his secrets, or were determined to find out.

Liadov knew this, Kassian realized, and thus was always asking questions. Probably not even consciously at this point in his life, but more out of reflex.

MVD training, he guessed.

A man shooting blind might get close to the mark now and then.

With luck, he might even hit it.

If he had a good ear as well, he'd know where to aim his next shot.

"How are you feeling?" Kassian asked, just as casually, dropping his voice lower.
Operativnik Nikanor Grigoriivich Liadovnikanor_liadov on July 6th, 2007 12:12 am (UTC)
Nika raised his eyebrow.

"Nefarious affliction," he said. "It so rarely even surfaces, and when it does, it demands treatment and resolves in a matter of minutes." He smiled slightly. "Rather understated expression for a life-threatening condition, don't you think? I feel a little slighted of my promised dramatic intensity. Tuberculosis and scarlet fever seem so much more impressive for a Byronic hero."

Liadov's inflection was knowing, self-effacing.

"Of course I strive not to have these events at all, and for the most part, I succeed. It's a balancing act, Captain. Like calibrating an engine. Moving parts. And when you can't control all variables, you must learn to love the kinetic unpredictability of nature."

He met the sniper's gaze briefly, companionable and irreverent.

"I'm reminded of an Estonian cat circus a...companion and I once saw in while on a Service assignment in Tallin. A mother and her little girls all in a line of graduating age, all clad in sequins and leotards, a fleet of trained housecats, and a number of tenuous high platforms and bars. All on a street corner."

The sniper was quiet, intent, listening, and Nika realized he was waiting for him to elaborate. He laughed.

"And people say Russians will train anything. They've clearly never been to Old Town. Well, this act- you see, at any given moment, a cat might be scaling one of these long poles to a platform at the top- while another navigates some parallel bars with its forelegs, and yet a third is already atop another platform, and sitting up on its haunches. Then perhaps they will all trade platforms in tandem- a coordinated effort among the cats that is fairly instinctive- but one must also remember the little girls, who are the ones holding these platforms on poles, and they are not as infallible, nor as trainable as the beasts. Usually, of course, everything turns out all right under the firm and experienced authority of the mother- but occasionally, there are lapses, for which the cats will ultimately pay in error."

Nika smiled again, more sanguine.

"...the fortunate part is that cats generally land well."

He made a whimsical gesture, dismissive.

"So there you have it. My Grand Affiction. A street-corner cat circus. No great malady of Byronic proportions, alas. Simply a tricky little caveat I must navigate."

He sighed, giving Irinarhov a wry and lilting glance.

"Eating. I must remember to do that. Sleep-" he laughed. "That too, perhaps."

His gaze traveled briefly to the Ocelot lieutenants, where they stood conferring soto voce. Or at least, Isaev was speaking, quiet and low, close to his comrade's ear. Imanov seemed to be struggling to respond, eyes detached and almost pleading.

Bargaining with god, perhaps. Bring him back. I'll do anything.

"Andrei seems stalwart enough," he remarked, obliquely. "But you saw him alone- was he favorable? Or was he traumatized?"
Kassian Irinarhovcapt_kasya on July 6th, 2007 03:26 am (UTC)
Like birds in flight pulled by instinct to follow each other, Kassian's gaze was drawn by the MENT's inquiry back to Isaev and Imanov.

Isaev spoke to Imanov with focused intent, held him like a brother. The hand that stroked Imanov's back was manful and steady.

Stalwart was a good enough word for Isaev, at least from the outside. He gave every appearance of strength and self-assurance.

But there was another part of Isaev that Kassian knew, one that betrayed his years and the wounds that ran as deep as childhood. That was the man that Kassian had held close against him in the shower the night that Molokov had died.

"He hasn't absorbed it yet," Kassian said quietly, still watching Isaev, but it was as if Imanov had somehow faded from his view. "Like grasping the meaning of a word from its context, but not fully understanding the subtleties."

He realized, then, that even if Isaev and Imanov had not been previously involved, even if they weren't fucking long before Kassian arrived, they would still need each other's company tonight.

As an outsider, Kassian could only console, but wouldn't be able to understand.

Molokov had been different because Isaev had barely known him, other than a face and a name. Kassian and Isaev had been on equal footing then, reeling from the horrific death of a stranger.

Gurlukovich's death hit Isaev on a far more personal level, one that Imanov, not Kassian, shared.

"They'll be all right, though. They'll help each other."

As much as Imanov needed Isaev, Kassian knew he had to accept that Isaev needed Imanov tonight too.

He dropped his gaze, then turned it back to Liadov.

The MENT watched him, carefully, but with no judgment in his eyes, merely quiet discernment.

Liadov saw a lot, and knew a lot.

That much, Kassian found obvious.

Liadov's directness tended to make him uncomfortable, even in the short time he'd known him. But he couldn't hold it against him, not now, not after he'd found out the truth about his sentencing, not after Liadov had seized hold of his face and whispered the key to his own salvation.

He thought about the cat circus, and how appropriate the story had been. Bizarre enough to focus attention away from the macabre, to make light of the perilous. Liadov had offered up a cheerily outlandish tale to cut the tension, and Kassian, who always listened to everything, had found it tugged at his imagination.

"I didn't know that, about cats," he said after a moment, with a shrug. "That you could train them. I guess any day's a good day to learn something new."
Operativnik Nikanor Grigoriivich Liadovnikanor_liadov on July 6th, 2007 03:50 am (UTC)
Liadov eyed him, amused, slowly appraising his guarded presentation.

"Russians can train anything," he said. "Even men."

He let the words lie delicately and broke a smile.

"And I couldn't agree more. I make it a practice to learn something new every day. ...By hook or by crook."

He glanced at Rakitin.

"Is he coming?" he asked, idly. "Or is he going to stay here with his eyes climbing the walls? Are you supposed to...herd him, or anything?"
Ippolit Zosimovich Rakitin: black and whitehajimenoippolit on July 6th, 2007 05:22 am (UTC)
Rakitin heard it all as though from a step away. A puppeteer pulling his own strings, in accordance to expectation. As it should be.

Something about...cats? No matter. It was none of his business, any more than the two men finding comfort in one another at the other side of the room. He wasn't supposed to understand.

"I'm coming," Rakitin said, acting in accordance.

He let the dead man lie. A odd feeling. He was out of practice.
Operativnik Nikanor Grigoriivich Liadovnikanor_liadov on July 6th, 2007 06:20 am (UTC)
Nika smiled.

Polya looked oddly dejected as he joined them, preoccupied and glum.

"What's the matter, Lieutenant? Cheer up, comrade. At least you're not the corpse."
Kassian Irinarhovcapt_kasya on July 6th, 2007 07:13 am (UTC)
Kassian raised a brow at Liadov's words.

They were true enough, he thought, though only a man who had been close to death himself tonight could get away with saying them.

"I'll escort you both to your quarters as soon as someone arrives to take care of the lieutenant," he said, quietly.

He glanced over at Isaev. After a short, murmured conversation, Isaev steered Imanov away with a protective arm thrown around his back, walking shoulder to shoulder.

The rest of them did not have long to wait.

Footsteps sounded in the hall, followed by a tentative knock on the shower room door. Two regular GRU soldiers entered, carrying a bodybag between them.

The details were quickly sorted out: they retrieved the gun for evidence, and Rakitin briefly supervised as GRU gathered up Gurlukovich and hauled him away.

Finally, the three of them were left alone in the now-eerily quiet showers.

"Let's go," Kassian said, and replaced his balaclava and beret for the walk back to the MENTs' quarters.
Ippolit Zosimovich Rakitin: black and whitehajimenoippolit on July 6th, 2007 08:15 am (UTC)
Liadov had a point. There was always that.

"A momentary lapse in judgment," Ippolit said, after overseeing the collection of evidence. By now he could do it in his sleep. He wondered idly if he was.

He smiled without humor. "You'd think I'd be used to it by now."

Dead people. It wasn't supposed to bother him. Usually it didn't. Wasn't as if there was any shortage.

Reality felt distant and unimportant, an acquaintance whose face he half-remembered waving from a misty shore.

It wouldn't last. It never did. Take what you can get.

He was just hoping it would last long enough to get to his room and enough of a bottle to kill the dreams. He kept one out of precaution. He was glad he had kept up the habit, though it hadn't been neccesary for a long, long time.
andrei_isaevandrei_isaev on July 3rd, 2007 09:33 pm (UTC)
"Kasya," he barked back, and went loping toward the sniper's voice.

He drew up, standing a slight distance away, and fell silent, as they looked at each other in the semi-darkness.

Isaev tossed a wayward sweep of hair from his eyes as he studied Irinarhov.

"How are you?" he asked, after a moment.

It was deceptively simple question, but loaded with unspoken intent.
Kassian Irinarhovcapt_kasya on July 3rd, 2007 10:11 pm (UTC)
Kassian expelled a short breath, then swept off his beret and balaclava in a single motion.

"Dasha," he said, and closed the short distance between them, pressing into Isaev without hesitation.

Kassian hooked his arm around the back of Isaev's neck and leaned up to kiss him hard, but slowly.

Part of him was taken aback by himself, and the impropriety of intimate relations with his comrade in inappropriate locales. Surprised his own vehemence, and by the sudden, aching need that thrummed inside him like a heartbeat, making his cock swell reflexively.

Another part wouldn't have cared right then if the door behind him opened and the MENTs came spilling out into the hall.

He shook a little as he broke it off and pulled back, though his mouth did not stray far.

Kassian wanted more. He needed more, but he knew he couldn't let it go too long, not now, not when they both had their duties.

"Sorry," he murmured, against Isaev's lips.

He paused, and relaxed his hold around Isaev's neck, but pulled Isaev's head down a little more and gently pressed their foreheads together.

Kassian let out another breath.

"I'm better now," he added, after a moment.
andrei_isaevandrei_isaev on July 3rd, 2007 10:27 pm (UTC)
"I came as fast as I could," Andrei whispered, unsure why his voice seemed to desert him.

He let his brow rest against Kassian's, for a long moment, feeling the warm, adrenalized skin against his own, still cool with recent sleep.

He cupped the back of the sniper's head in his hands, working them, letting black feathers of hair escape between his fingers.

"It's good to see you...comrade."

His lips ached to press in, but he held himself in check, maintaining their mouths' light graze.

"I see why you killed the lights. You were lying in wait."

He paused.

"Fucking snipers."
Kassian Irinarhovcapt_kasya on July 3rd, 2007 11:43 pm (UTC)
In spite of everything, Kassian let out a single, short laugh.

"Maybe I was," he said, but his voice was wry.

He relaxed against Isaev and sighed, letting his hand rest at the back of Isaev's neck, slowly rubbing his skin.

"I think this night was starting to get to me a little."

Kassian found it hard to admit. After the war, what could possibly be worse?

He wasn't sure if this was it, but regardless, he felt infinitely better just for Isaev's presence.

He remembered Isaev talking to him about the Theban Band, and his mouth tipped up. He'd always liked that story, but it made even more sense to him now.

Drawing in a long, slow breath, he let it out and pulled back slightly, raising a hand to push stands of moonlit hair out of Isaev's face.

In the dim lighting, the line of Isaev's cheekbones cut his face in shadow, making him look older. Sager, somehow, or perhaps just more discerning, accepting of Kassian's need. It was not a weakness, to want for the company of a man like Isaev.

"Good to see you too."

Irony laced his tone.

He hesitated, then looked back over his shoulder. "It's not good in there," he said, quietly.
andrei_isaevandrei_isaev on July 4th, 2007 12:10 am (UTC)
"Give me another minute," intoned Isaev, pushing him back against the windowsill. "I'm afraid of what I'll find in there. I know what's out here."

He paused, meeting Kassian's eyes with steady deliberation in the blue, stobing halflight.

"...I know what I have," he said, carefully.
Kassian Irinarhovcapt_kasya on July 4th, 2007 04:54 am (UTC)
The look in Isaev's eyes made Kassian's breath catch and his stomach drop, but he just swallowed, and nodded.

He could feel his heartrate pick up.

It made him feel younger, less jaded. Isaev had a knack for making him feel that way, he was starting to realize, like the roll of years and experience no longer felt so hard to bear, like it could be weightless.

He held Isaev's eyes, not wanting to break the intimacy of their gazes, though he felt disarmed nonetheless.

"I know you do," he said softly, and with wonder.

Kassian raised his hand again, but then paused to strip his glove off so he could stroke Isaev's temple with his bare hand.

He felt like he wanted to say something more, but he didn't know what he could say to do justice to his feelings.

Slowly, he leaned up to brush his lips across Isaev's with gentle deliberation, and he kissed with leisurely measure, as if the MENTs weren't waiting, as if no one had died.

As if it was just the two of them, and nothing else mattered.
Leshovikleshovik on July 4th, 2007 06:19 am (UTC)
The sniper's breath stilled.

He leaned forward, finger ghosting the Dragunov's trigger as he stared through his scope.

Nightvision painted the hall in shades of dark and light, outlined the slow chiaroscuro dance of two figures pressed together against the window, perfect silhouetted targets.

The other sniper, and his apparent lover.

He watched as the figures merged, and became a single profile.
andrei_isaevandrei_isaev on July 4th, 2007 07:01 pm (UTC)
Andrei closed his eyes and let himself be kissed, responding lightly, but holding firm.

It was not like the other times, and he felt no need to slip into casual brutality as he often did. It didn't feel as urgent, as if someone would ring a bell any moment and end the round, leaving him hungry and his lust undersated.

He pressed forward, an inexorable wall with velvet intent, parting the sniper's thighs with his knee and pinning it to the wall below the window sill.

His hands traveled down Kassian's arms until he found his wrists, and seized them in his grip, raising them slowly above his head, holding them there.

He heard the dull clink of glass as he did, and another, brighter, as Kasya's hips melted against his momentum and the hardware on his belt tapped into the window.

Isaev poured in after him.

Kissing him more deeply, until his head swam with perceptions of sense- Kasya's rough jaw, unshaven since five AM, the warm rich scent of his masculinity, the warm caress of his lips and tongue. The way he kissed and touched, unfailingly tender, gently informed by years and loss and regret- but somehow Isaev tasted no bitterness either in his kiss or his words.

As he paused and drew his mouth slowly away, he met Irinarhov's dark eyes at close range, able to see the tiny lines at the corners of his eyes, like the embellishments of a vibrant sketch.

He kissed one corner, then the other.

"It's the details," he whispered, "that make a man. That forge his permanence."

Even as he said it, Andrei felt like Irinarhov had left a number of his years behind him somewhere. Years that he had taken on instead, and he didn't mind that.
Kassian Irinarhovcapt_kasya on July 5th, 2007 12:22 am (UTC)
Kassian's brow creased lightly as he tried to understand.

He felt like Isaev was telling him something important, something about himself that he couldn't quite grasp.

Isaev had a way of talking that transcended the literal and came straight from his heart. Brutal honesty couched in metaphor, bound by shades of meaning.

Kassian looked into Isaev's eyes and found them clear with intent, vibrantly opalescent under the moon's luster. It was as if Andrei Isaev was not a man, but some maecenac messenger.

He found himself accepting the mystery as it stood, not feeling the need to strain to deduce the meaning. Perhaps Isaev would tell him, one day. Perhaps Kassian would figure it out. For now, he felt content to let it be a secret only Isaev understood.

Let him keep it, Kassian thought, where it would be safe.

"There are moments that make everything else worthwhile," Kassian said, softly. "People, too."

The firm press of their bodies saturated him with warmth.

He drew in a breath, arching back against the window, hedonism turning his spine supple.

The broad, strong hand around his wrists tightened reflexively to hold him in place.

Kassian loved the way Isaev did this, the way he quietly took possession of Kassian with unwavering assurance.

It was not so much capitulation to surrender to this man as it was coalition.

"You help me understand why I'm here," he murmured. "My life makes sense, around you, and I wouldn't trade an instant of it."

To lose those moments of blight might dull the contrast, and Kassian wanted savor the way this felt.

He knew he would need it, for later, when their world shifted, and fell to twilight once more.
Leshovikleshovik on July 5th, 2007 03:48 am (UTC)
The sniper watched them through the scope of his rifle, barely breathing.

The greatest danger any sniper faced in the field was always another sniper.

Standard operating procedure dictated that when infiltrating enemy territory, snipers were taken out first.

Of the fifty-two marks painted on the body of his rifle, seventeen of them had a second hash mark, to signify a sniper kill.

Not only could he take out the other sniper right now, he could catch his lover too.

With a single bullet.

"Ni haira sebya," the sniper breathed. "I should do it, you bastard."

Through his scope, the pair writhed in their erotic, exhibitionistic display, utterly oblivious to danger.

"...but I'll let you live instead."

Slowly, he lowered one hand, and rubbed his aching groin.
andrei_isaevandrei_isaev on July 5th, 2007 05:40 am (UTC)
Andrei shuddered, withdrawing his lips, reluctantly.

"We should go inside," he said. "I'm ready...show me the damage."

It had only been a minute or two outside in the darkened hallway, though it seemed like much longer.

Belatedly he released Kasya's wrists, meeting his eyes intensely for a moment.

"He'll want me tonight," he said, quietly. "He needs me."

Andrei pressed his lips together.

"We've always been there for each other."
Kassian Irinarhovcapt_kasya on July 5th, 2007 06:11 am (UTC)
"I know you have," Kassian said, softly.

He trailed his bared hand across Isaev's brow and down the side of his face.

Yes, Kassian knew that Isaev and Imanov were comrades long before he had arrived on the scene, but at the same time, he could tell that what he and Isaev shared was something entirely different.

And he could also tell that Isaev knew that.

Kassian paused, gaze shifting to the side for a moment, considering.

When he raised his eyes again, his regard was steady.

"Are you asking me if it's all right?" he asked, voice quiet, and gentle.
andrei_isaevandrei_isaev on July 5th, 2007 06:50 am (UTC)
Andrei's breath stalled, and his eyebrows quirked briefly as they drew inward, incredulous.

"I...don't know," he said, artlessly. "I..."

Then he paused, hesitating, looking briefly pained, running a hand through his hair.

"I never expected this, when I began it, Kasya. I never thought-"

What? That he would ever feel anything for anyone but Ilya? That the sniper would be an amusing diversion in his best comrade's absence?

Yes, that was exactly what he'd thought.

"Ilya...He doesn't feel like you do- he doesn't think of me as a..."

His lips balked at the word 'lover', still, like it was an ice cube that numbed his tongue.

"...but he's my closest comrade, and I've shared his bunk since I became an Ocelot. He's come home with me on holidays. We've got history."

Andrei shook his head.

"Imanov knows things about me no one else would want to know."

He bit his lip.

"I can't do right by him if I don't do right by you," he said, in a rough, hushed voice.

"So yes," he whispered, lowering his eyes. "...I'm asking."

Kassian Irinarhovcapt_kasya on July 5th, 2007 07:29 am (UTC)
Kassian nodded, slowly.

He reached up to take Isaev's face in his hands and then leaned up to place a single kiss on his forehead.

Kassian remembered when he had done that before, not long ago, and Isaev had asked him if it was the kiss of death, or the kiss of a father.

To Kassian, it was neither, but something else entirely. A simple benediction, an expression of love, casually ritualized affection.

He pulled back, dipping his head to seek out Isaev's avoidant gaze.

"It's all right," he told Isaev, quietly.

And strangely, it was.

He didn't quite understand why he felt no acrimony at the thought of Isaev taking Imanov to his bed now, when earlier, the idea had made him rankle.

But there was something new between Kassian and Isaev, a sharper understanding. He didn't know what it was, exactly, but was just another thing about their relationship that amazed him.

Slowly, Kassian dropped his hands and let them run down the striped tel'nik, over Isaev's broad chest.

"Let's go," he said, tilting his head toward the doorway behind which MENTs and dead bodies and Ilya Imanov awaited them.