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24 August 2007 @ 07:00 pm
Firing Range [February 20, 1964, 1:14 pm]  
They stepped out of the pathologist's outbuilding and into the crisp and cold afternoon air, which held the weighted promise of snow.

Leshovik liked that. It felt cleansing.

He glanced at Aryol, who was looking at him with an expression Leshovik hadn't seen in a long time, like the way he used to look at him when they first met, back when Aryol thought he was the greatest guy in the world.

That was before Aryol had gotten to know him.

Then Leshovik hadn't seen that expression anymore.

But the way Aryol looked at him now was like that, the way he'd caught Aryol looking at Lynx a couple of times. Aryol had a lightness to his features, bright soft eyes and a sunny smile that was all for him.

Aryol stepped close, and slipped an arm around Leshovik's waist, nuzzling his face against Leshovik's temple before pulling away. The contact was as brief as it was tender and impulsive, and it made Leshovik feel ridiculously warm.

"You made him happy," Aryol told him, still smiling. "That was nice."

Leshovik reached out, and tousled Aryol's hair fondly. "Yeah, well, don't tell anyone. I don't want to ruin my reputation for being a dickhole."

Aryol laughed.

Leshovik still had no fucking idea what was going on with Lynx, but it didn't matter as much now, not when the man had looked him in the eye and tacitly admitted that yes, there was something. Something personal, important enough to make him torture a man with sharp, ruthless efficiency. Something greater than a mere assignment.

Before that, the lie had been sitting hard and cold between them, like bringing a rifle to bed.

Leshovik looked around, and spotted Niotkuda, who leaned casually against the side of the building, smiling, but not at them, looking like he'd been laughing to himself. Codec, maybe. Leshovik hailed him, and they walked over.

Niotkuda pushed himself away from the wall with the lazy grace of a natural athlete. Leshovik admired the smooth, indolent motion briefly, finding that it really did remind him of the way Lynx moved.

He blinked, and thought that there was something sort of fucked up about all of this, though he couldn't quite put his finger on it.

"Sorry about that," Leshovik said, gesturing back at the outbuilding apologetically. "Took longer than I thought."
andrei_isaevandrei_isaev on August 25th, 2007 05:14 am (UTC)
Isaev tilted his head idly, arms crossed, legs apace.

"You look as if you got what you came for," he remarked, vaguely.

The sniper's knitted brow had smoothed; clearly he'd resolved whatever was plaguing him. Leshovik's lips were no longer taut-stringed, cat-gutted, but supple and inviting to conversation- or, Isaev supposed, other things. Which led his gaze back to Aryol.

There was just no way that bastard wasn't wayward pollination by Kasya, sometime in his youth. The image was too graven, irrefutable.

Andrei knew Kasya believed himself without family. Well, Isaev would show him his own face, minus twenty-odd years, and see what, if anything, he could say to it.

He glanced down, and his eyebrows raised suddenly.

"Oh, hey-" he said, abruptly shifting from bruising pugilist to curious boy, "is that one of the new Dragunovs, comrade?"
Aryoleyes_adrift on August 25th, 2007 05:56 am (UTC)
"It is," Aryol said with a grin, pleased that Niotkuda knew their tradecraft well enough to recognize the gun on sight.

He pulled his Dragunov around so Niotkuda could get a better look, holding carefully upright, in a non-threatening manner.

The rifle was sleek and modern, with aggressive angles and a black laminated barrel, set with a powerful scope mounted close to the stock.

"Though we've had ours for a couple of years - they wanted us to help test them. We used to use Mosin-Nagants, but..."

Aryol shook his head, and laughed. "Wow. What a difference. I mean, it's almost not even the same thing. It took a while to get used to the action, since it's entirely different. Gas-operated instead of bolt-action like the Mosin-Nagant. It's heavier, and it's longer, but the scope is a lot better, really modern, and with steel jacketed cartridges, the range is almost double. Not quite, though."

Leshovik made a low murmur of agreement. "Three thousand meters," he supplied, though he seemed mostly content to walk with them and listen to the conversation.

"Yeah. Though I guess you're not going to hit a lot at that range, though," Aryol said. "At longer ranges it's not as accurate as the Mosin-Nagant, but its range is so much longer to begin with, I don't know if it matters."

He shrugged, then looked at Niotkuda curiously. "Do you shoot?"
andrei_isaevandrei_isaev on August 25th, 2007 06:41 am (UTC)
"Only when I have to," Andrei said, breezily.

He was easing straying strands of hair out of his eyes, loosening his scarf so he could re-wrap it, unconsciously tweaking his uniform in anticipation of seeing Irinarhov.

When he realized it, he laughed at himself and cracked his red-gloved knuckles with a flourish.

"I admire the craft, though. I like to...watch."

He remembered the first shot he'd seen Kassian take, that first day. How his loins had shuddered in the wake of the report, how his eyes had been riveted on the man with a sudden awareness of how sexually desirable his expertise was.

Isaev had never been impressed by guns. He could take or leave Ocelot's kinetic pyrotechics, easily. But he was impressed by Captain Irinarhov.

Long after the fact, he'd accused Irinarhov of trying to impress him, as evidence that he'd been thinking about bedding Isaev even then, when they'd scarcely made nice.

Kassian's lips had quirked in that enigmatic way, eyes diffident, but with the embryonic smile the action seemed almost coy. He'd denied it.

"It's a good looking rig," he said of the SVD, with an appreciative nod.

He grinned.

"Hard to notch that stock, though."
Aryoleyes_adrift on August 25th, 2007 07:49 am (UTC)
"Oh, we have to mark them with ink," Aryol said.

He flipped the rifle around, to show Niotkuda the opposite side, where he'd painted neat little marks. Three groupings of five, plus one.

"But it wears off after a while, so you have to keep doing it," he said, shrugging.

He remembered the time he'd actually forgotten to paint a new kill on his rifle, and Leshovik had yelled at him. Aryol hadn't forgotten after that, and though he wondered sometimes at the point of marking them, he did it anyway, because it was important to Leshovik. Leshovik had a lot more than he did, from what Niotkuda had said, Kasya had a lot more than that.

"258," he said aloud, with a sigh. "Wow."

They were just coming up on the range. Aryol could see it ahead, and eagely tried to spot the man they called Kasya, the one that apparently looked so much like him. He wanted to see for himself how close this resemblance was.

At his side, Leshovik addressed Niotkuda. "So how's he been doing these days, anyway?"
andrei_isaevandrei_isaev on August 25th, 2007 08:48 am (UTC)
Isaev turned, slowly.

"These days. Well, comrade," he said, temperately, "I didn't know him when you did, so I have no basis for comparison. Seeing as I was busy playing with toy soldiers, while he was playing with..."


"...real ones," he added with a lilt and a skewed half-smile.

Andrei sighed, scratching his brow, shrugging affably.

"But these days...I would say he's fallen in with his brotherhood. Found his place in the sun," Isaev said, with a slight smile, raising his face to the shy rays of midday, that made no promises to linger, but he basked in their transient warmth on his cheekbones and brow.

"Everyone needs fraternity, after all."
Leshovik: faceleshovik on August 25th, 2007 10:00 am (UTC)
Leshovik thought about that for a few moments, then let out a slow breath.

He wondered if he could ever forgive Kasya for what he'd done, but found he didn't resent the idea that Kasya had found a place here, a new posting, a new squad. New comrades. A new lover.

His gaze dropped, and fell to the ground ahead as they walked, eyes flicking back and forth, though unseeing of anything but the past. The time he and Kasya had spent together.

It was a long time ago, now. A lot had changed for Leshovik, too.

Leshovik looked back at Niotkuda, and wondered at what kind of a man he was.

Young, but humorous and thoughtful as well. Irreverent in a way Leshovik appreciated.

But perhaps there was something more, some hidden fortitude that made it possible for him to love a man like Kasya and not be destroyed.

He wanted to know more, but at the same time, didn't want to ask. At least, not now.

"You're right," he said, finally, quietly. "They do."

Leshovik raised his chin and looked around as they stepped onto the firing range grounds.

It was a nice setup. He'd rarely seen better. Long lanes capped by individual booths that were open down the line so as to allow those firing the ability to watch each other, learn technique. The target mechanism went all the way back on the lanes, perhaps a good 2000 meters.

And there, at the very end of the range, he spotted a dark-haired man leaning forward with his rifle, and knew him immediately. His gaze followed the lane down to where the target rested on its track, nearly at the very end.

Leshovik's steps slowed a little, and he glanced at Niotkuda. "Do you want us to wait here?"
andrei_isaevandrei_isaev on August 25th, 2007 08:05 pm (UTC)
Andrei smiled slightly, watching Kasya, piercing eyes and well-schooled shoulders, jaw angled into into the task. He was setting up his shot, fooling with his sights with miniscule incremental motions of his fingertips, blissfully unaware of his environs.

"...yeah," he drawled, fondly. "I''ll just go and give him a heads-up."

That zen-like state.

That zen-like that was so easy to walk up behind.

Isaev lowered his center of gravity, prowling down the line with swift, soundless steps. It was second nature to him, not to stir his surroundings, so much so that he often stole up on comrades without even intending to, resulting in spontaneous yolps and much florid cursing.

Andrei had noted that there were two kinds of reactions to his tradecraft in a 'friendly fire' capacity (as contrasted to when he used it in a mission situation, and there was only one: none): those who squalled and those who hissed, with a sharp inhalation.

Irinarhov wasn't the type to vocalize when startled. He was a hisser. And a glorious hisser to boot.

Especially at the range.

Isaev stood behind him for a moment, breathing in his presence, his aura. Feeling his energy and focus, mirroring his biorhythms mentally.

Then he struck, swiftly, the action smooth and seemingly forceless. One broad hand pressed over the sniper's mouth, while the other arm shot around his solar plexus, seizing him, pulling him in tight back against Isaev's body.

Kassian was so utterly rapt in his attention, that at the first his whole body leapt to kinetic attention like a coiled wire, and the sharp intake of breath he gave up was the sweetest sound Isaev could imagine.

"Now," he breathed, against the shorter hairs at the base of Irinarhov's skull. "Put down the vintovka. Eyes ahead, snaiyper."

Recovering his breath, Irinarhov clutched his weapom in and hesitated, stubbornly, playing the game, and Isaev repressed a dark grin, staunching his eagerness.

He kicked Kasya's legs apart with a well-placed kick of his jackboot against Irinarhov's, leather grinding briefly, rough-sliding.

"Do it, khokol," he whispered. "Or I'll holster my weapon in you."

Reluctantly, Irinarhov thrust down the Moskina with a slight chunking sound of settling gear.

"That's more like it. Hands on the barricade," Isaev intoned, sweetly, whipping off his scarf and wrapping it around Irinarhov's eyes, pulling the ends tight and drawing his head back, exposing his throat.

"I need to make sure you can't see. I want to feel your reaction, comrade, when I give you what I came for."
Kassian Irinarhov: animated 2 snipercapt_kasya on August 26th, 2007 12:27 am (UTC)
Kassian's heart thrummed, breath coming ragged and low in the back of his throat.

He was mercilessly hard, and had been so even before he'd heard Isaev's voice and caught the low, heady musk of his scent, body reacting instinctively the moment he realized it could be none other than Isaev.

There were few that could move with such stealth, fewer still who could capture a man in such an expert grapple, and only one who would have the audacity to do so.

Kassian growled low.

These sorts of games excited him more than he liked admitting; intimations of rough, forced sex fired both his blood and instincts both base and debased. That was the power of the trust they shared, and he felt it now, even as Isaev manhandled him and pulled back on the blindfold.

Without sight, Kassian still had a keen awareness of the distances between things, and could feel the brace of Isaev's chest against his shoulder blades, the press of his knee into his thigh, the warmth of Isaev's breath against the back of his neck.

He resisted, but Isaev leveraged his strength easily, and held Kassian fast.

"You're teasing, Dasha," he growled through clenched teeth. "What do you think you're going do here?"
andrei_isaevandrei_isaev on August 26th, 2007 03:47 am (UTC)
"The question is, what do youthink I'm going to do?" Isaev gritted softly. "But wait...I have a better question."

He let his breath sound, lightly, for several moments, so that Irinarhov could hear the intensity mount. His arousal was reflected in his respiration, and they rose in concert.

"What makes you think I won't do it here?"

Even though he had only intended to rough-horse a bit, work Kasya up and then unveil him- their volatile chemistry seemingly transfigured the most simple intentions into epic debauchery. Andrei was so potently aroused it frankly disturbed him a little.

For a moment, he considered just unbuckling and angling, taking his comrade Captain there and then against the partition, while his company stood removed and forced to watch and wait. But Kasya didn't know they had an audience, and the last thing Isaev wanted was to give uptight, straight-shooting Viktor the idea that Kasya's new lover was a sick exhibitionist fuck who could only get off in weird exposed places.

He paused, hauling Kassian away from the plexiglass shield, turning him and shoving him forward with his hips. Betraying his erection, unintentionally, but it played well. He kept one hand choked up on the scarf, and one forearm lockbarred around Irinarhov's throat.

"Walk," he muttered.
Kassian Irinarhovcapt_kasya on August 26th, 2007 05:38 am (UTC)
Kassian growled but stepped forward, walking stiffly and with heightened awareness of his arousal.

Each step, he had to place deliberately, informed by both unseen footing and the way each stride rubbed his cock against the constraint of his shorts, the soft, worn cotton feeling as rough as new canvas against his sensitive skin.

He'd thought that Isaev would have taken him right there, bent him over the barricade and shoved in, playing at what Isaev had once accused Kassian of doing during the war: taking advantage of prisoners. Few soldiers were more universally hated than snipers, and Kassian could imagine someone like Isaev exacting a bit of retribution in exchange for the lives of comrades lost to single, perfect shots.

As much as he wanted to be repulsed by the idea, Kassian found that because it was Isaev, it excited him instead.

And it excited Isaev, too. He'd felt Dasha's swollen cock push against his ass, which only fired his arousal more, in turn.

Kassian let out a low grunt through clenched teeth.

Isaev continued to maneuver him forward, forcing him to walk under the pressure of his steel grip. Kassian thought about stopping suddenly and forcing Isaev to run into him, knowing that the accidental, intimate press of their bodies that way would be torture for Isaev, but Kassian didn't know if he could stand it, either.

"We'd better not be going far," he growled.
andrei_isaevandrei_isaev on August 26th, 2007 06:45 am (UTC)
"About ten more feet, you prick. Believe me, you'll be glad you did it."

Andrei snorted, pushing Kasya forward, leaning in so that he could drop his voice.

"I should have just fucked you just now while I had the chance," he whispered. "But I'll take a raincheck."

Isaev glanced up, then, and grinned silently at Aryol and Leshovik.

He drew Kasya up short, sharp, a rough hand surreptitiously ghosting hard over his crotch, steering him right in front of the young spotter, who saw none of that misbehavior, his eyes riveted eagerly on Irinarhov's swathed face.

Then he walked around behind Aryol.

"So. Here we are. Do you want to see?" he asked, a question meant for both, or either.

Leshovik: faceleshovik on August 26th, 2007 08:35 am (UTC)
Leshovik had to avert his gaze when Niotkuda looked at him, under the pretense of scratching his brow.

Christ, what an unrepentantly shameless bastard Niotkuda was.

He could only imagine what Niotkuda was saying to Kasya when he leaned forward to speak in his ear. Something dirty no doubt. The whole thing had looked dirty, from the initial surprise and the manhandling to the blindfolded march toward their position.

Viktor shifted uncomfortably, flushed warm now, aroused in spite of the fact it was wrong. He didn't really want to have anything to do with Kasya and his new lover, but his cock was trying to tell him otherwise.

He looked over at Aryol just to make sure he hadn't noticed, and thankfully, he seemed oblivious, instead so completely intent on Kasya, though not for the same reason. At least Viktor hoped not for the same reason, because that would be really fucked up.

Leshovik glanced to the side, eyeing the crotch of Aryol's fatigues.

No. Didn't look like it, thank Christ.

At least someone here wasn't too much of a pervert.
Aryol: Aryoleyes_adrift on August 26th, 2007 09:45 am (UTC)
Aryol watched Kasya raptly, not quite believing this was happening.

Niotkuda's crimson scarf covered most of Kasya's face, but already, Aryol could see the resemblance to himself, in the unruly thickness of Kasya's hair, and the particular olive tone to his skin. Build, too, from what he could see, hard and quick and lean. It was amazing.

Kasya was restless, shifting in place, growling.

"Yes, dammit," Kasya finally bit out, answering the taunting question Niotkuda had asked him earlier.

Kasya's voice was low and rich, pleasant to Aryol's ears, though he had to press his lips together to keep from laughing at the gruff impatience he heard. He looked over at Niotkuda, who nodded at him, and gestured for Aryol to remove the scarf from around Kasya's eyes.

Aryol grinned, and took a quiet step forward, reaching out to catch the end of the scarf. Kasya's head turned toward him and he froze for a moment, but then quickly continued unwrapping the material.

The scarf fell aways from Kasya's face and Aryol took in his features breathlessly, noting the firm set of his mouth and the strong line of his jaw, the shape of his nose and the low brows that hooded Kasya's dark eyes. Those eyes looked deep and piercing but now widened in surprise as Kasya stared at him, clearly startled. Kasya had been expecting to see Niotkuda, and hadn't been expecting to see him, both of which must have been a shock.

But Aryol couldn't quite believe it, not just the resemblance, but also the strong resonance he felt when he looked at Kasya. He'd never met the man before, and didn't know him, but somehow, felt like he knew Kasya anyway, and that there was a reason why Leshovik had known them both.

"Wow," Aryol said softly, and Kasya frowned, then looked over at Niotkuda.
andrei_isaevandrei_isaev on August 26th, 2007 10:10 am (UTC)
So Aryol saw it too.

That was confirmation of some kind, though it didn't necessarily mean anything definitive beyond coincidence.

Aryol was staring, rapt, looking as if he wanted to reach out and touch the older man's face, with the same impunity as he would touch his own.

"What did I tell you," Isaev remarked, quietly.

After observing the initial revelation, he had the grace to let his eyes wander afield as the two came to terms with what they beheld.

But the pull of Kassian's gaze drew his regard back again, and he met his lover's consternated expression with a mild, unblinking confraternity.

Isaev gestured toward Aryol with a subdued, presentational hand.

"Captain Kassian Dmitrivich Irinarhov, meet..." he frowned, flicking his eyes to the young spotter, "you have a real name, don't you?"

He shrugged, amused.

"Not that it matters. Ghost names are good enough for dead men. It's faces a man remembers," he said. "...Kasya, this is Aryol."

He paused for a beat.

"...Leshovik's spotter."
Kassian Irinarhovcapt_kasya on August 26th, 2007 10:38 am (UTC)
Kassian frowned, and realized Vitya was here too, standing back, glaring at him for some reason.

Kassian glared back briefly, then turned his gaze to the dark-haired young man who stood in front of him and searched his eyes as if looking for something, young face eager, and also expectant.

This...Aryol...had features that reminded him of himself, though far younger, without the weathering of age and experience.

He had to be very young, Kassian thought, maybe still a teenager. Kassian's age, just after he'd first gone to war.

"Hello," Kassian said, finally, but politely, because no matter who strange this was, there was no reason to be rude.
Aryol: long haireyes_adrift on August 27th, 2007 12:41 am (UTC)
Aryol felt like he was flying, soaring weightless and perfect on a current of warm air.

He beamed, taken with Kasya immediately, wondering at how somber and serious he was, but liking the way the older man addressed him purposefully, like it mattered. Not dismissively, like Aryol was just a kid, the way some people did.

"My name's Kirill," he told Kasya, but glanced at Niotkuda as well, to include him. "That's the only real name I have. I was a war orphan, so I never knew my parents."

Kasya nodded, solemnly, as if taking in Aryol's words, and absorbing their weight.

Aryol liked that, too. He licked his lips, feeling abruptly nervous. "Are you my - I mean, in the war, did you have a wife or a girl you knew or something?"

"Aryol," Leshovik said, warningly. He was looking at Aryol, shaking his head. "Come on, knock it off. You know it can't be true."

"Why not?" Aryol shot back, angry, fixing Leshovik with a fierce frown before turning to Kasya again. "I mean, was there someone that you lost? Or did you have brothers and sisters or - "

"Aryol," Leshovik said again. "I said to knock it off. He doesn't like to talk about his family."

Kasya glanced at Leshovik.

"It's all right," he said, then turned to Aryol.

Kasya was frowning, though he didn't seem angry, Aryol decided. Maybe more at troubled. His forehead creased with furrowed lines and his eyes were shadowed under his brows, but he met Aryol's gaze steadily.

"I'm sorry," Kasya said, quietly. "There wasn't anyone like that. And I didn't have any brothers and sisters."

Aryol stomach plummeted, hard, like he'd hit a downdraft, but at the same time, he knew in his heart that there had to be a way, maybe something or someone Kasya wasn't thinking about. The certainty clung with stubborn talons, unwilling to let go.

"Are you sure? I mean, couldn't there have been...someone? I was born in 1944 or something like that. I mean, I don't really know when I was born, but they always marked it on January first, so I figure I'm twenty years old, but it could have been the year before, or after, even. Were you in the war then? Did you know anyone?"

He searched Kasya's face and found compassion there. Kindness. It reminded him of Lynx a little, like Kasya really cared, even though he didn't know Aryol. It was the sort of thing some people could have gotten angry about, Aryol supposed, some strange boy asking strange personal questions, especially if it was true that Kasya didn't like to talk about his family. But Kasya wasn't angry, just patient, and sympathetic.

Aryol wanted to ask Kasya a thousand questions, but held his tongue to let Kasya answer the ones he'd already voiced.

Kasya's family must all be dead, Aryol thought. Maybe that was why he didn't like to talk about them. Maybe Kasya had been an orphan, too. Maybe he'd had a lover who hadn't known she was pregnant, or maybe he thought he lost someone, but she'd lived. Aryol couldn't believe that there hadn't been anyone, because this, all of this, was just too perfect. It made more sense to Aryol than most things in his life had, something he just knew had to be true, and for more reasons than just the fact that they resembled each other.

It was like knowing where someone was, without being able to see them.

He held Kasya's fluid, warm gaze.

Slowly, Kasya shook his head.

"I'm sorry," Kasya said, again, even more quietly, and Aryol's heart panged.
andrei_isaevandrei_isaev on August 27th, 2007 01:23 am (UTC)
Andrei frowned, not wanting to speak out of turn, but unwilling to let Kassian dismiss the implications so easily. He knew what Irinarhov was thinking, why it was awkward.

He didn't know that this young man was Leshovik's spotter and his bedmate, and certainly Kassian had realized his own preference for the company of soldiers long before he'd had the occasion to encounter many women- and even had he not preferred it outright, his career military lifestyle would have ensured he practiced the Greek Method to some degree anyway.

Faced with this stranger's earnest questions about all the girls he was assumed to have loved before, Kasya was between a rock and hard place, not wanting to explain his sexual bent without cause, but not wanting to dismiss a young man's plight without proper rationale.

Isaev spoke for him, succinctly and almost without thought.

"....The great lost love of Kasya's life wasn't a woman, Aryol. Women were not..prominent or paramount in his experience, if you understand me."

The silence was split like lightning, both confessionally relieved and tensely pregnant with new unspoken insinuations that were brought in with Isaev's blunt but tactfully chosen words.

Andrei saw that Viktor was looking at Kassian with a new intensity, a demanding, incisive precision, like a scalpel- sleek, modern Viktor, with his Dragnunov and ghost jacket, wanting Irinarhov to answer for Isaev's implication.

Viktor, with his new model spotter, lighter and brighter than the original, and somehow missing the gravity and effect.

Andrei had already said more than it was his right to say, but his heart went out to Aryol, who looked so much like Kassian. It was easy to imagine Irinarhov, in this young guise, fighting the war that would remove him from his family, and leave him to come home alone in the world.

Isaev saw the disbelief in Aryol's dark eyes, the stubbornly lingering hope, slowly being crushed by Kasya's obsidian regard. Not unkind, no. There was no condemnation in those eyes- but what Kassian did have was an iron finality in his will and his expression. Most men would find it impossible to turn back that tide, once the sniper had decided he knew a definitive truth, but Andrei knew that as far as Irinarhov went, this was one power that he had when others might not.

Isaev frowned into the lapse of sound.

He rubbed his brow briefly and looked up, speaking abruptly, his voice quiet but resonant with reason.

"What about whores, Kassian?" he said, in a measured tone, gentle but firm. "You've said there were some whores, before...during the war."

He met Kassian's eyes, inexorable, charging him silently.

"...It's far from impossible," he said, as if they were the only two men in the world.
Kassian Irinarhovcapt_kasya on August 27th, 2007 03:38 am (UTC)
"Well, yeah, but - " Kassian started, then broke off.

He held Isaev's gaze, which was clear and penetrating and steady. Isaev didn't look at him that way unless it was important, unless he needed Kassian to know something, and Kassian found himself frowning slowly.

"Well, a whore..." he started, but then thought maybe he shouldn't phrase it like that, in case Aryol took offense, "...a woman like that, she wouldn't...keep a child she got accidentally, would she? They have...things...they do, don't they, in case that happens?"

He spoke hesitantly, knowing that even as he said the words, Isaev was right, and nothing was impossible.

Kassian turned back to Aryol, and took a step closer, and really looked at him this time, studying the shape of his eyes and the color of his skin, and the curve of his mouth and the thick, wiry chunks of hair that stood up on their own.

There was something about Aryol's mouth that was sweet and sad, and reminded Kassian of his mother. In the stubborn tilt of Aryol's jaw, he saw one of his father's expressions. And there, in the dark intensity of Aryol's gaze, he saw himself, willful and determined.

Kassian's brow furrowed. "Maybe it's not impossible," he said, softly.

He didn't know what that would mean, if it were true. What Aryol might want from him, and what he could give. And if he would one day do something that would make make Aryol hate him.

He wasn't even considering the possibility as being possible, a few moments ago, but now, when he really thought about it, Kassian found it scared him.

Kassian glanced at Vitya, who watched them with wary, guarded eyes. The particular set of his shoulders, tensed and slightly hunched, Kassian read as defensive, though he didn't understand why.

He looked back at Aryol, and took in the details once more, but his eye was drawn to the rifle barrel he saw jutting up from behind Aryol's shoulder. Not a Mosin-Nagant, but rather something sleeker, and newer. A Dragunov, he knew, though he'd only read about them, and never seen one in person.

"You're a sniper," he said, and he heard a faint hint of surprise in his own voice. Isaev had said as much earlier, but it was only now that he really thought about what that meant, and all the implications that followed.

Aryol positively beamed. "Yeah. Sixteen kills. You?"

"228," Kassian said.

Aryol glanced over to the side, where Isaev stood. "He said 258."

Kassian looked in Isaev's direction, and his mouth twitched, fondly. "Well. He's generous," he said, feeling a sudden warmth and gratitude toward Isaev, but he didn't know why, exactly. Maybe the generosity, or maybe it was just the thought of Isaev talking up his kill count.

He met Isaev's eyes for a moment, regarding him with with a fleeting, but heartfelt look of deep affection.

"How many sniper kills?"

Kassian glanced down and rubbed the back of his neck. "76."

"Oh, holy Christ!" Aryol said, and looked at him incredulously.

"It's not that big of a deal," Kassian said. "It was different during the war, and that was my job. That's why I worked alone, instead of with a partner, like most."

Vitya made a soft but impatient noise, and Kassian recalled that his sniper-kill count had been a particularly sore spot when it came to Viktor's resentment of Kassian's kill tally.

He glanced at Vitya, who was scowling at the range.

"But...like I said, most of those came during the war," Kassian finished.

A silence fell then, one of those awkward pauses in conversation that Kassian never knew what to do with. He looked at Isaev and shrugged, helplessly, shaking his head. He found all of this hard to believe.
andrei_isaevandrei_isaev on August 27th, 2007 04:26 am (UTC)
"Oh, is it only 228?" said Andrei, in a sorely disappointed tone. "Never mind. He's not that great, kid. I'll be your dad."

He was aware of the ironic absurdity of such a statement, seeing as he could barely have been Aryol's brother. He and Ilarion had almost a decade between them. Still, it amused him to say it.

Then he grinned, shaking his head and leaning back.

"At least I didn't underestimate. That would have been dire times in Kasyagrad for Andrei Alexandrovich, ya snayu," he drawled.

"Sorry I couldn't remember exactly how many people you've shot in the head, comrade. If we were sailors, I'd get it tattooed on my arm for quick reference."

He looked up, averting his gaze, smiling wickedly.

"Either that, or on your back," he said obscurely.
Kassian Irinarhov: animated 1 shotcapt_kasya on August 27th, 2007 05:49 am (UTC)
Kassian felt his face flush a little, and he looked down, fighting the curve that threatened to pull his mouth into a smile. That was Andrei Isaev, always wry and irreverent, the perfect counterpoint to Kassian's somber demeanor.

He reached out, and pushed at Isaev's arm fondly, a comradely shove, nothing that was too inappropriate in front of Vitya and Aryol, who was already laughing and grinning at both of them.

Kassian reflected that this wasn't quite what he'd been expecting when he woke up this morning, but at the same time, he didn't think he minded.

He glanced over at Vitya, then, who was the only one who wasn't smiling or laughing, and that made him think about how Isaev had introduced the pair.

Aryol was Vitya's spotter. Kassian remembered what it had been like to work with Vitya, in Hungary.

He nodded to Aryol, beckoned him closer with a tilt of his chin.

"He treat you all right?" he asked Aryol, in an undertone, so Viktor wouldn't hear.

Aryol glanced back at Vitya, who was pretending to ignore them, instead adjusting the Dragunov on his shoulder, then turning and walking toward the lanes.

"It's not easy sometimes," Aryol admitted, then looked back at Kassian, smiling softly. "But things have been pretty good lately. I think he's learning."

Kassian nodded. "That's good."

He knew Viktor had a temper, but maybe it had mellowed with time. Or maybe there was just something about the particular mix of Kasya and Vitya as sniping partners that had been like oil and water.

"How far do these go back?" Vitya yelled, from one of the lanes.

"Two thousand meters," Kassian called back.

Kassian saw Vitya signaling the target setter, and sure enough, the target went all the way back back on the lane. 1900 meters was the longest shot Kassian had ever made with his rifle, and that had been in near-perfect conditions, and he'd gotten lucky.

He'd left his rifle back in his lane, when Isaev had surprised him, but maybe it was better that way. He didn't want to get into a pissing match with Vitya.

"You use a Dragunov?" Aryol asked him, and Kassian shook his head.

"A Mosin-Nagant?"

Kassian nodded, and Aryol looked surprised.

"Wow, you have to come see this, then. Leshovik is really good at distance shots." Aryol paused, then grinned. "Even when I don't call them."

"All right," Kassian said, tolerantly. He looked over at Isaev. "We can stay for a couple of shots. But then we have something we need to take care of."

He gave Isaev a brief and pointed look that left no doubt as to exactly what sort of task he had in mind.
andrei_isaevandrei_isaev on August 27th, 2007 07:27 am (UTC)
"Khui, Irinarhov, it can't be that important," said Isaev, innocuous and deliberately wide eyed. "This is sniping, after all. Your raison d'etre!"

Andrei had every intention of taking care of Kasya's business thoroughly and well at the first opportune moment, but in the meantime, teasing him was almost as irresistable as fucking him.

The more he teased, the more the apprehension mounted between them, and when they finally found themselves alone, the cradle would not only rock, it would come crashing down.

Isaev gave Kassian a surreptitious wink, infinitely miscreant, and strolled down the row of lanes, crossing lazily to lean against the wall behind the cubicle partition Viktor had chosen to inhabit.

"All right," Isaev said, "Let's see this thing in action. Impress me, comrade."

He saw Kasya hanging back, as Aryol started toward them.

"Come on, Captain Wildoat," he called, "don't you want to see Viktor handle his long, slick, shiny weapon? It's been eight long years."
Leshovik: faceleshovik on August 27th, 2007 09:08 am (UTC)
Leshovik's mouth flew open, and he spun around to gape at Niotkuda, utterly shocked.

He couldn't believe that the man would say something so outrageous, especially about such a sensitive subject. Niotkuda looked wholly unrepentant, and even Aryol was laughing, but when Viktor pivoted to look at Kasya, he at, least, had the grace to avert his gaze, though after a second, Leshovik realized that Kasya's shoulders were shaking, silently.

Fuming, Leshovik turned away.

Well, he understood that. Obviously Niotkuda wanted to see if he could rattle him, and spoil his shot. He didn't know about Niotkuda, but Aryol and Kasya, at least, should have known better. He was a sniper. Handling pressure was his forte. He bent down in fierce concentration, and began to adjust his rifle.

He thought about the anecdote Niotkuda had related earlier, about Kasya spelling out "izvinit" on a target. Leshovik resisted the urge to ask how far out he'd been when he'd done it. Instead, he considered the the things that he could write.

Yob tvoyu mat' reflected his sentiments nicely about right now, but it was a little long.

Ot'ebis ot menya, ty mne ostohuyel was even better, but suffered from the same problem.

Leshovik stared though the scope of his rifle as he continued to make adjustments, eyeing the distant target. With Kasya and Niotkuda staring at him, he couldn't afford to make a mistake, and even though he was still well within the Dragunov's maximum range, he didn't want to risk it.

On the other hand, he didn't want to make it too easy. That would be like admitting he couldn't do it.

He lingered, buying time finessing his rifle, thinking furiously, trying to decide.
andrei_isaevandrei_isaev on August 27th, 2007 09:42 am (UTC)
"Kasya doesn't usually take this long in setting up a shot," observed Isaev, without affect. "This Dragunov must be much more complicated the vintova moskina, eh?"

He watched Leshovik carefully caressing the rifle, moment by moment, letting out a low whistle after a while.

"Khui, are you going to shoot it or make love to it, comrade? Stop touching it like that, or you'll make me go stiff."

Isaev laughed.

"Fuck, I love snipers."
Leshovik: faceleshovik on August 27th, 2007 11:14 am (UTC)
Head still bent over his rifle, Leshovik scowled as Niotkuda's words made his loins twitch. So Niotkuda thought it funny to try to distract him with dirty talk, did he? Leshovik could even hear Aryol laughing.

That was fine. He would show them.

In the next moment, he suddenly realized, with perfect clarity, what he should inscribe into the target in bullets.

It would take his full magazine, all ten shots. For a few seconds he wondered at the wisdom of wasting the precious steel-jacketed ammo on proving a point, but he had plenty of ammo, and if he did his job right, he really only needed one more bullet.

Without warning, or another moment wasted, he pulled the trigger, then again, then again, the semi-automatic nature of the SVD making the fluid, consecutive shots possible with no need to manually operate the bolt to release another cartridge.

When he had fired off all ten shots, he eased back, and tossed a smug look over his shoulder in Niotkuda's direction. Slinging his rifle back, Leshovik signaled for the target to come forward, and hoped to Christ he'd done it right.

It took a long time to make its way up the track, and he stepped forward to intercept it, blocking the view with his body until he had a chance to look at it first.

Narrowly, he looked over the paper.

Not bad, given the distance.

Turning around to his audience, he held up his creation: five bullet holes forming more or less a circle, and within that, two more to represent eyes, then the final three to make a downturned mouth.

Aryol laughed when he saw it, eyes lit, mouth curved up, smile radiant. It had been a while since Leshovik had been the cause of that expression, and it made him feel warm. A moment later, Aryol was bounding forward and slipping over the low wall, gently pushing the target down with one hand, bringing the other around the back of Leshovik's neck and leaning forward to bring their mouths together in a hard, spontaneous kiss.

It hit him like a bullet, and Leshovik found himself unresisting, though in a vague part of his mind, he thought he should have done something. Still, they were relatively safe from observation here, save Kasya and Niotkuda, of course, but Leshovik figured he had already crossed as many boundaries as there were to cross, with them.

Dimly, he supposed it also might be bad form to kiss Aryol in front of Kasya, given the conclusion they seemed to have reached, though Viktor still wasn't sure he believed it. But as long as Kasya believed it, it made this dangerous in a way he found fucked up but incredibly arousing.

Finally, Aryol broke it off and pulled back, leaving Leshovik breathless, though he was aware of Kasya and Niotkuda watching. Leshovik gathered his presence of mind enough to hold out the target to Aryol.

"Here," he said, and paused to glance vindictively at Niotkuda, but then registered peripherally that Kasya was staring.

He looked at Kasya, whose expression was one of shock, and slowly, Leshovik realized with dawning horror that Kasya hadn't known he and Aryol were fucking.
andrei_isaevandrei_isaev on August 27th, 2007 07:12 pm (UTC)
Isaev cringed, slightly, and looked down, unable to repress a slight groan at the unwitting faux pas.

He'd suspected.

He hadn't been certain. After all, Leshovik might have been involved with Lynx. It seemed likely.

But what other reason was there to have a spotter who was the spitting image of your ex-lover, if not that.

Even if it was true that they were lovers, Andrei had counted on Leshovik's upright, uptight persona and aloofness to avoid confirming anything in front of other mens' eyes.

But he'd been thoroughly trumped. Confirmation before his very eyes, and an utter shock to Kasya's, he thought, not wanting to meet his comrade's face just yet.

But a glance at Viktor revealed an equally stricken face to the one he would have imagined on Irinarhov.

As if Viktor was also in possession of a sobering and unsettling epiphany.

Isaev turned abruptly to Kassian, with a swift swing of his hair, rubbing his temples.

"...and....that's the surprise I wasn't planning to give you."

Kasya's face was so bereft of expression as to seem suspended in amber.

What he was thinking, for once Isaev could not contrive to guess.
Kassian Irinarhovcapt_kasya on August 27th, 2007 08:30 pm (UTC)
Kassian slowly peeled his gaze away from Vitya and Aryol, to look at Isaev.

He wondered if the signs had been there before, and he'd just been blind to them. No. He'd barely known Aryol all of fifteen minutes. There hadn't been anything to see.

But he should have known.

He looked at Isaev, face slack at first, then he shook himself to regain his focus.

"You knew?" he asked, in an undertone, frowning slightly, wondering how that could be. Maybe there had been some other overt gesture of affection, earlier, or something that Isaev had noticed, but hadn't had the chance to pass along.

Of course Vitya would be fucking his spotter, and the fact that Aryol not only looked like Kassian, he resembled him so closely that Kassian was very nearly fully convinced that Aryol could actually be his son probably only made it that much better for Viktor, who was a sicker fuck than Kassian had realized.

Is this what it had come to? Kassian had refused to to with Vitya, and so Vitya had gotten the next best thing?

Kassian blinked, shaking his head to clear it.

"I...suppose he's a man. Able to make his own decisions," Kassian, said, slowly.

He glanced back at the pair.

Vitya looked away, but Aryol was grinning, holding up the target and laughing, flush with pleasure and clearly thrilled by Vitya's gift, and to Kassian's narrow gaze, very much in love.

Kassian remembered what it had been like to love Viktor Sidorov. In hindsight, equal parts joy and pain, even in the good times. When it was bad...

He recalled what Aryol had said to him earlier: It's not easy sometimes. God, he knew that.

Kassian looked back at Isaev, who was watching him, concern at the forefront of his clouded grey eyes.

"I'm all right," he said, with a deep sigh. "I just...wasn't expecting that."

Another frown creased his forehead, and deepened the lines in his face. "I hope he treats him all right."
Leshovik: faceleshovik on August 28th, 2007 05:18 am (UTC)
Leshovik watched Kasya and Niotkuda surreptitiously.

Kasya was muttering to his lover. Probably telling him to snap Leshovik's neck.

It wasn't like he had planned this, or had even known -

No. That was still crazy. Leshovik didn't believe it, no matter how much they looked alike. Kaysa was probably going to be angry anyway, but that was just too bad. It really wasn't any of his business who Viktor fucked.

Purposefully, he turned his gaze away.

Aryol was looking at him, a small, slow smile playing at one corner of his mouth, his eyes dark and rich, like polished wood. Right then, he looked older, like he'd somehow gained a few years since they'd arrived.

Maybe it wasn't just experience, but rather, knowledge, Viktor thought. Meeting Kasya had solidified something for Aryol. Given him a point of origin. Leshovik couldn't imagine what it was like to not have grown up with a family, but that was Aryol's reality.

Leshovik reached out, at first intending to ruffle an affectionate hand through Aryol's hair, like he did when he was in a good mood, but at the last moment, he rested his hand on Aryol's shoulder, instead.

"Remind me to tell you about my father, someday," Leshovik said.

Aryol's eyes widened.


Viktor nodded. "Yeah."

He didn't know what prompted him to offer. Something about Aryol meeting Kasya, maybe, and this whole business about Kasya being Aryol's father.

Something about not wanting to lose Aryol to Kasya, the same way he'd lost a piece of himself.

But Aryol was smiling at him now, wide and warm, with that look that made Viktor feel like greatest guy in the world again.
andrei_isaevandrei_isaev on August 28th, 2007 06:18 am (UTC)
Andrei frowned, and the expression took some time to steep, developing onto his face with a graven solemnity, but not marring its basal structure by much.

His smile was a constant flash phenomenon, but his frown was a slowly gathering twilight. It was rare, and transient, and not often observed.

"I didn't know," he said.

No, he hadn't known. But it just seemed to follow, didn't it.

And now Aryol was cavorting like a puppy at the feet of its master. Andrei half wondered if Viktor carried Aryol's still beating heart in his ammo satchel, like a huntsman in a dark fairytale.

A talisman.

"So he has a piece of you now," Isaev reflected, tonelessly. "Whether or not he chooses to believe it. Maybe he prefers not to believe it."

His jaw lifted.

"But I believe it. He's your son, Irinarhov. Blood cuts the same cloth. If you saw my brother, you'd know him for mine. Or vice versa. Apples and trees, but not apples and oranges, Kassian Dmitrivich."

Andrei shook his head.

For someone with the eyes of a raptor, Aryol had the attention span of a crow. He had already forgotten the novelty of possibly seeing his only fleshly relative, as soon as Viktor had waved a shiny object.

Callow, shallow and young. He knew the type. Disenfranchised, eye taken with every older man whose path he crossed, searching in vain for a father figure unknown- and unable to change his modus, even now that he'd beheld the missing link to his life's broken chain.

Did Aryol not wonder what Kassian had been to Viktor? Did it not strike him at all that this man might well have been his father's lover? Did it not give him pause? At least pause before slavering over him unexamined?

"Perhaps I was wrong to waste your time, comrade Kasya," Isaev said, clearly. "It must be a coincidence. Upon reflection, I do not see your...character."

He clapped his hands together briefly and shoved them into his coat.

"What say you?"
Kassian Irinarhovcapt_kasya on August 28th, 2007 07:49 am (UTC)
Kassian frowned, slowly, and followed Isaev's gaze toward Aryol, who was smiling and looking at Vitya.

Aryol looked happy, Kassian thought. He smiled so easily, like it was effortless, like doing it cost him nothing.

Kassian turned back to Isaev. He'd heard a particular low, chilly note in Isaev's voice, the one that usually preceded him pulling away in some way, distancing himself from Kassian.

Kassian had come to regard that note with a bit of dread.

It hurt when Isaev retreated from him, especially when it was so hard to understand what he'd done to trigger it.

He searched the winter-grey of Isaev's eyes with a slow and steady look, searching carefully.

"I don't know if it's true or not. But I do know he's a different person," Kassian said. "I am who I am because of the war, and because of my father, and a lot of different things. His experiences aren't the same."

He paused, then reached out to brush the lightest of thumbstrokes across Isaev's hand, like he'd done the very first day they'd met.

The touch was careful, cautious, a testing of the waters, trying to tell where Isaev stood with this. For Isaev to affirm it in one breath and deny it the next meant there was something that had turned cold in the space of a moment, and had caused warm waters to chill.
andrei_isaevandrei_isaev on August 28th, 2007 09:01 am (UTC)
Andrei turned and caught Irinarhov's wrist, with a minimal motion- swift and lightly committed, but his grasp firm and reforming.


"Maybe it doesn't matter if it's true or not," Isaev said, voice flatly unmodulated, eyes artless as he gave Irinarhov leave to take his unstudied measure. "Maybe that's where I misapprehended matters."

He had been uncertain whether to take Aryol as a peer or a junior, but now he found himself unlikely to take him as anything at all. He wasn't sure the fickle little prick deserved his consideration beyond this introduction.

He believed Aryol was the blood of Kasya's loins, wouldn't even question it. But whether he was worthy of being a son to his lover-

Isaev's eyes narrowed uncharacteristically.

No, he wasn't seeing it as clearly now. Not in the sense that Andrei called family. Blood was epoxy between he and Ilarion. Not a curiosity- not a precious lapdog he would squeal over, examine and discard like a capricious whore.

Aryol seems to be his mother's son, thought the unkind, unmoderated corner of Isaev's mind.

Kasya, of course, could do as he would. Isaev had done his part in unifying silences.

"Do you know," he said coolly, "blood can just as easily run down gutters."

He paused, raising his eyes.

"As your wasted progeny runs rivulets down my thighs, your unrealized blood pools upon my stomach. But it isn't wasted on me, comrade."
Kassian Irinarhovcapt_kasya on August 28th, 2007 09:08 pm (UTC)
Kassian met and held Isaev's gaze.

The provocative words stirred his blood, as they always did, quickening his pulse and warming his loins, bringing him back to the point before he'd met Aryol, when Isaev had been manhandling him like a prisoner of war.

His cock had flagged, turned half-hard in his distraction, but now, inflamed, it was like iron from the forge.

That was all it took, these days. Words alone could arouse him. Isaev's words, words about sex, or killing, or both, the two now so inexorably intertwined in his mind when it came to Isaev that either would do it.

Because he knew Isaev's mind and intent, his body filled in the rest.

There was more to this, though, he sensed. The chill in Isaev's voice had not been directed at him, but rather, the situation. Aryol and Vitya, and this encroachment into their lives. He still didn't understand the change in Isaev's weather, but they could discuss it later.

There were things they needed to say to each other now that didn't involve words, but were yet far deeper than simple lust, emotional needs that were met through a more primal form of communication.

Still holding Isaev's gaze, he nodded, once, and slowly.

"Now it's all for you," he murmured, softly.

Kassian held Isaev's eyes a beat, then pulled his gaze away, looking back to where Vitya and Aryol stood.

"We're going to go now," he called to them, and both of them looked up. "There's something we have to take care of."

Vitya nodded, but Aryol slipped over the barricade again and walked back up to him, stopping closer than where a casual comrade stood, but not not so close as a lover. A middle distance that Kassian found not unacceptable.

"That's okay," Aryol said, with an easy grin that wasn't Kassian's, but neither was it Viktor's. Something of his very own, Kassian supposed, and wondered how it had come about, and how he'd lived, all these years, but those were questions for another time.

"We have something we have to take care of too," Aryol continued, grin turned more wicked, tilting his head back at Vitya in a way that left little doubt as to what he meant.

Briefly, Kassian looked back at Vitya and almost felt like smirking, but Vitya was looking so mortified, Kassian didn't have the heart.

He turned his gaze back to Aryol, and nodded silently, though with a faint curve of his lips, to show he understood.

Aryol laughed, but then his expression turned more earnest. "So, will I, I mean, can we, well, will you be here again, later?"

Kassian nodded. "I'm here every day."

Aryol's smile widened.

For someone with their mutual complexion - dusky olive-toned skin, black hair, dark eyes - Aryol seemed bright to Kassian, like sunlight glinting off stone.

"That'd be great! And maybe you can show me some things, and if you want, you can shoot my Dragunov."

Kassian blinked at that last, feeling uncertain, though this wasn't the time to discuss it.

He simply nodded. "Sounds good. See you then," he said.

"Okay," Aryol said, then looked at Isaev too. "See you later!"

Kassian watched for a moment as Aryol bounded back to Vitya, then turned to look at Isaev. "Come on. Let's get my rifle, and go."
andrei_isaevandrei_isaev on August 29th, 2007 03:35 am (UTC)
"Fine by me," remarked Isaev, strolling away down the lanes.

He tossed his hair out of his eyes, looking back at Aryol.

"I'll try not to swallow too many of your siblings," he drawled, coolly.

"I'm more of an Apollo than a Cronos, anyway."

Too bad there was no Grecian analogue for the kind of man who fucked his father's lover.

Andrei snorted and struck his boot heel on the concrete.

It would probably be wasted anyway.

His eyes narrowed.

"Lets go spill some brethren."
Aryol: Aryoleyes_adrift on August 29th, 2007 04:40 pm (UTC)
Aryol's dark brows slanted low as he watched them walk away.

He wondered at the breezy, offhand chill he'd caught in Niotkuda's tone.

It was strange. He'd liked Niotkuda immediately, and thought Kasya's lover had liked him in turn, but the sudden ice in Niotkuda's voice went beyond mere teasing.

It hurt, like a sudden punch, and his lip curled, faintly.

"Don't choke," he called after Niotkuda, then turned away, back to Leshovik, who was watching him, blue eyes shadowed by the weight of a frown.

Aryol waited until they were out of earshot, then shook his head. "What was his problem?"

Leshovik snorted. "I don't think they like us very much."

"Speak for yourself."

Kasya had liked him just fine, Aryol thought. The older man had been a little cautious, as if hesitant to get too close, but not unkind because of it. That was all right.

They had time, now.

"He's not your father, you know," Leshovik said quietly, and that made Aryol laugh.

"He's my father."

"You don't know that."

Aryol looked at Leshovik, and smiled slowly, though one side of his mouth curled. "I do know it, actually."

He couldn't explain to Leshovik how he knew, not without having to explain a lot of other things he wasn't supposed to talk about, not even to his partner.

But the knowledge rested there where he could feel it, carefully tucked away in the back of Aryol's mind like a relic from the war found in the woods by a small boy, and brought home to keep in a box under his bed with other precious things. An accidental discovery, but no less treasured.

Leshovik shook his head.

"You're deluding yourself, Aryol. You're seeing what you want to see. You think he's your father. You think he's a good man. He's neither."

Aryol's jaw tightened, and he rounded on Leshovik, eyes flashing.

"Don't say that about him."

"You don't know him like I do."

Leshovik was glaring back at him, sharp features tight, body coiled and shoulders tucked like a pugilist spoiling for a fight.

Aryol raised his chin.

"What'd you do to him, anyway? Why didn't it work out? Were you a fucking asshole? Did he leave you?"

Leshovik flinched as if Aryol had hit him, and Aryol almost felt bad, but a sharp, vindictive part of him knew Leshovik deserved it.

Leshovik's cheekbones went as sharp as cut glass and just as pale.

"Don't," he snarled, "ask me what I did to Kasya. Ask me what he did to me."

Leshovik was shaking, Aryol realized, every muscle tense, vibrating like a bowstring held taut too long.

Aryol's gaze flicked down.

And hard. Predictably, conflict had made Leshovik stiff again, the bulge of his erection visible against the crotch of his fatigues.

It made Aryol hard in turn, to see that, to feel Leshovik's arousal rippling off him in palpable waves.

Aryol lifted his gaze.

"Let's fuck," he said, voice soft, but lightly goading.

Leshovik swallowed, and looked away.

"I don't want to fuck," he said quietly, after a moment, but Aryol laughed.

"You always want to fuck, Viktor. Come on."

Aryol carefully rolled up the target Leshovik had made for him, and tucked it under his arm.

He adjusted the strap of his rifle, then began to walk away, heading back to the quarters they'd been assigned.

After a moment or two, Leshovik followed.