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[personal profile] capt_kasya
The aftermath of an unpleasant discovery...

[Warning: NC-17 m/m Isaev/Irinarhov interaction]

[ profile] andrei_isaev: As they crested the rise of the hill, Andrei's eyes traversed the night sky. It was a dulcet Dutch blue that reminded him of a Van Gogh.

A beautiful January midwinter night, cloaked in high smoke from the charred greenhouse.

A far cry from the nightmare diorama they'd fled.

He didn't know what to say to the sniper, to lave their minds.

After a moment he turned his head, breaking the silence.

"I bet you've seen worse."

[ profile] capt_kasya: Kassian paused to consider, but only for a few seconds.

"No," he said. "Not really."

He had seen men die in various horrible ways, seen mutilated corpses and acts of barbarism that still chased through the dusty corners of his memory. He'd seen women raped and men killed in cold blood, but even then, it had all somehow made sense in the context of war.

But this had no context.

Kassian's brows furrowed into a deep, heavy line. He thought about how deliberate it all had been, how the body, and the body parts, had been arranged in such a particular manner, as if it were art.

He'd never seen anything like that before.

It unnerved him in ways that shooting a man in the head didn't, and he just couldn't shake the lingering feeling of wrongness, of balance disrupted.


He let out a short, sharp sigh. His jaw clenched, involuntarily, as he glanced to meet Isaev's eyes again.

"Not like that, comrade," he said, softly.

[ profile] andrei_isaev: Andrei nodded slowly. He ran his hand through his hair, feeling the layered ash and thickness of settled smoke.

Irinarhov's face was smeared with artistic grit. His face looked stoic and stalwart, if pensively grave. All he lacked was a mortar helmet and a cigarette.

Andrei couldn't stem his smile, though it was faded.

"Looking like you do right now, I could see you during the Great War, comrade. Under the stars, waiting until sun up for the perfect shot, at the break of day."

The idea pleased him, and he felt a modicum of comfort trickle into the well of dis-ease, slowly turning the water from brackish to sweet.

The Captain held that peculiar alchemy, for him. The ability to turn his thoughts toward permanence, and away from the transient ugliness that touched them, every so often, with gangrenous intent.

"I'd have liked to have fought beside you."

He risked a glance up through his tousled hair, blond cast ashen with charcoal dust.

And looked away.

[ profile] capt_kasya: Kassian's brow creased again, but the hard line of his jaw eased. His pace slowed as he watched Isaev, who suddenly seemed younger than he ever had. Though Kassian had never had siblings, he imagined Isaev as the adoring younger brother who saw his elder sibling off to war, despairing of the fact he couldn't follow.

It was an odd thing to think, but to hear Isaev talk about it, there was a particular romance in a sniper's lonely post, the lone sentinel waiting through stars and break of day. Idealized, perhaps, but still there. Recollection tended to put a brighter patina on war, to highlight the fleeting moments that had made it bearable, and dim the worst of the rest.

Kassian could have talked about it, he thought. Perhaps give Isaev some perspective on the war. But the lieutenant's unexpected diffidence caught him, and found himself reaching out to brush a lock of Isaev's overlong hair away from his brow instead.

His bare fingers came away streaked with soot.

Kassian paused, looking behind them, and then ahead, but they were alone in their trek back to the base.

He stopped, and put out a hand to halt Isaev as well, then leaned forward slightly to catch Isaev's eye.

Kassian's gaze was solemn, and unblinking. "Having you there would have made it easier," he told him. "During the war, I spent a lot of time alone."

He didn't know if Isaev could understand it, being alone, not being surrounded by comrades. Of course, Kassian had known the men he'd fought alongside, and would have called a few his friends. But this, the connection between them, was an entirely different thing, like a second pair of shoulders to bear the weight of the world.

"There's - " he started to say, but stopped. He meant to say, there's something about you, but the words felt inadequate.

All words probably would.

He turned his gaze up to the stars. "I could see you," he said, "waiting with me for that daybreak. Gauging the wind and air pressure and the range for me. Watching my back while I took the shot."

Kassian fell abruptly silent, and shook his head. "Sorry," he said after a moment, lips twitching wryly. "I'm sure you'd have had more important duties, had you been in the war."

[ profile] andrei_isaev: Andrei smiled very slowly.

"No," he said, letting his gaze wander. "To tell the truth, I wouldn't have wanted any part of that war. I know it was a living hell, comrade. But I wish I could have been there with you."

His specialty was the specialty of a new era, and would have had no place in the 40s.

"What I do is purely a product of this cold war, Kassian Dmitrivich," Andrei said. "Back then, I would have gladly held your corner."

He didn't know why he chose a boxing analogy, but it seemed apt enough, given Irinarhov's mien, the silent pugilist.

[ profile] capt_kasya: Kassian nodded, and ventured to brush his thumb along Isaev's arm.

"I know," he said, somberly, but his voice held the faintest hint of surprise. Or perhaps just wonder.

He was struck again at how strongly he felt about the lieutenant, and after such a short time. But now, even moreso, he felt a bond with Isaev, tangible and potent, as if they'd actually had been through the war together.

Maybe it was the investigation of the body, he thought. His disquiet lingered even now, like the cloying stench of burned flesh that never seemed to come out of clothing.

Kassian let out his breath in a long sigh, and looked up at the stars again.

They were distant and pure, flawless diamonds thrown against black velvet.

He looked back at Isaev. Isaev was always wondering what things would be like if they had met in different circumstances, Kassian reflected, and he wasn't sure why. Curious, perhaps, though perhaps it was something more, as well.

Was it their circumstances that drew them together? Or was it some intrinsic quality of their beings?

After a moment, his lips twitched, wry again.

Questions without answers.

No one could say, for sure.

"Let's go," he said, finally. "A shower would be nice."

[ profile] andrei_isaev: "I was hoping for one," Isaev replied, turning his gaze back to their meandering path.

"Do you mind keeping me company? I could use the distraction."

It was odd, how quickly you could become inured to the presence of a man, and not even question his impunity in touch, nor his quiet and assuming proximity. Irinarhov's slight, glancing touch made his skin heat and his senses rumble beneath.

Enigmatic was not even a strong enough word to describe the sniper, who had appeared like a shadow on the wall that slowly lengthened as the day wore on, gradually easing over Isaev himself until he was enveloped in velvet darkness.

Somehow he couldn't imagine turning back into the blinding banality of the shallow, flat light and dismissing it as the novelty of a moment.

"I keep asking myself, Kasya, why Molokov is different."

Andrei laughed quietly, apropos of nothing, shaking his head.

A shedding of tension, shattering in the cold like the peals of a bell.

"The Temple," he recited slowly, in a moderate, measured tone.
"A highly susceptible strikepoint, when struck with sufficient force. May cause unconsciousness or death."

He touched his own, lightly, tracing a small circle.

"The Nasion," he continued, evenly. "The summit of the nose. If struck with sufficient angled force, may cause death."

He kept his eyes ahead, almost seeing the clinical text. Able to recite it like an Akmatova poem.

And he could caress the words like an orator, too, see if it would lend them any emotion whatsoever.

"Lacking a clear opportunity to level a calculated and punishing blow, or if adequate analysis of the object cannot be achieved under the circumstances, a less concentrated approach is recommended," he informed the horizon, with an insolent smile.

His voice dropped, became almost confratory.

"A hands-on operative might elect to employ a brute and efficacious tactic such as the Head Wrench," he murmured, "where the enemy's head is seized by the mouth and the back of the skull, then twisted with a sudden, violent jerk. This effectively and reliably rends the vertebrae, and results in death."

They were not his words, but they lived in his mind, on his tongue, in his thoughts.

Their truth had soaked into his hands.

And yet somehow, none of these monochrome barbarisms seemed analagous to what had happened in the case of Captain Molokov.

Andrei fell silent as they approached the officers' showers, shrugging.

[ profile] capt_kasya: "The human brain stem," Kassian said, after a moment, "is about twenty-five by seventy-five millimeters in size. It's the best and fastest kill. Hit it, and no voluntary movement is possible. Even if the target has a finger curled around the trigger, the gun won't go off."

Kassian's heart was still thrumming. For some reason, Isaev's recitation of all the ways a man could kill with his bare hands had quickened his pulse.

He didn't know why. Perhaps it was just the pleasure of hearing another professional talk about his craft. Perhaps it was the realization that in spite of the difference in the relative distances from which they killed, Isaev's way had much of the same detached intimacy that Kassian's did.

He knew that was not the point, though. They were talking about Captain Molokov.

But apparently there was a part of him that couldn't help but notice such things.

They walked up three short steps to the building that housed the officers' showers and went inside. It was empty at this time of the evening, already well past midnight. Kassian's eyes felt dry and tight, though part of that must have been due to the smoke from the greenhouse fire earlier.

He glanced at the raised wooden benches, but knew if he sat down, he would be reluctant to get back up. He looked at Isaev instead.

"It's a hard shot to make, though," he continued. "Even for someone with skill. Not worth trying, unless the range is short enough. I wouldn't try it at over 300 meters. At distance, center mass body shots are better. The target dies from tissue damage, organ trauma. Blood loss."

Kassian shrugged, but reached out to take the end of the scarf he'd given to Isaev earlier. He tugged on it, gently, but held Isaev's eyes.

They were troubled, he saw. Almost glassy. Pale and grey. The color of water trapped under clear ice.

"The difference," he said, and his voice was softer now, "the difference between what we do, and what happened to Captain Molokov is the difference between having to kill, and wanting to kill."

He unwound the scarf and pulled it off, tossing it on the bench. "And you don't have to ask for my company. I wasn't intending on going anywhere without you."

He reached out to tug on a lock of Isaev's hair. It felt a bit gritty from soot, though he could still feel the underlying softness between his fingers.

One corner of his mouth turned up slightly, offering a hint of a smile.

[ profile] andrei_isaev: "You're right, Kasya," he said quietly, aware that he hadn't yet ceased to lilt the informal name ever so slightly. "That is the difference."

He allowed a minute smile at the touch of Irinarhov's fingers, the nerves at the ends of his scalp tingling at the lightly grazed tress.

Andrei reached down and took the sniper's face in his hand, easing his thumb along a smudge of soot, smoothing it from the lightly sun-weathered skin.

"Has it even been a day?" he asked, quietly, meeting the Captain's dark eyes.

He couldn't remember. He knew that last night he'd slept in this man's arms, after knowing him a scant few hours, half of which were fraught with a circling adverserial sizing of one another.

And now he felt comfortable enough to touch him with careless affection, like this, and he could even...

He let his thumb stroke Irinarhov's lower lip, pressing it gently against his teeth.

"So different," he murmured. "So good."

He felt wounded, jaded. Too old to shrug off what he'd seen, and too young to philosophize it into perspective.

And yet when Kassian Irinarhov had responded to his macabre recitative with one of his own, he'd felt a pulse of disbelief, and a surge of arousal.

No, it wasn't the killing itself that fed the pleasure- anyone could be a killer. After all, killing wasn't murder. It was the art of killing cleanly- brutally, surgically, beautifully.

Irinarhov understood that everything had an art, even war.

Andrei met Kassian's eyes and found them dark and uncompromising.

"Thank you for lending me your gloves, comrade."

He nodded slowly, and let his hand slip from the older man's face with a slight curve of his mouth.

"I'm going to wash off," he said. "You can join me if you like."

[ profile] capt_kasya: "I was planning on it," Kassian said, mildly. After a moment, his mouth quirked again, but then he busied himself with the buttons on his jacket.

He hadn't been the one to have to touch the body and inspect the dead flesh. Kassian hadn't been the one who had to pull dismembered organs from the corpse's throat. Even so, his clothing felt sticky, contaminated, as if it had picked up some kind of necrotic residue from his sheer proximity to the corpse.

Kassian dropped his jacket to the floor, and reached down to pull off his boots. He could still feel the way Isaev's fingers had cupped his face and brushed over his lip, the warm, pleasantly rough touch almost seeming to linger.

He wondered what Isaev had meant. Had it been a day since what, exactly? Since they had first met? He thought about how distrustful he'd been when the young, too-friendly lieutenant had called to him across the shower bank, trying to get his attention. Kassian had thought that Isaev had meant to start trouble with him, to haze the newcomer, rub in the fact he didn't belong.

Things had changed.

He still wasn't sure if Isaev meant a day from that point, or if it had been a day from when they'd really started to forge a stronger connection with each other, during Borisnakov's initiation.

Or maybe he even meant a day since they'd kissed and fucked and sucked each other off, then fallen asleep curled together like lovers.

Kassian kicked his boots off, and undid his belt, stepping out of his pants. He hadn't gotten a lot of sleep last night, nor would he tonight, he would be willing to wager. The days ran together, and somehow, the passage of time seemed irrelevant next to the events that had happened within the span of it.

He looked back up at Isaev as he finished undressing, pulling his tel'nik over his head and stepping out of his undershorts. Kassian reached out to place his hand on Isaev's bare arm and gave it a gentle tug. "I'll wash your back," he offered, pulling Isaev toward the showerheads.

[ profile] andrei_isaev: "And I'll trust you enough to turn it," drawled Isaev, smiling wryly, but the sentiment was not entirely without significance.

His good humor was already returning, if tentative. It could never stay away long.

The officers' showers were partitioned, unlike the soldiers' facilities, which were communal. Kassian had drawn him into the first shower stall, and pulled the door closed with a soft click.

Quarters were pleasantly close, Andrei noted, as Irinarhov reached above him to turn on the spray, meeting his gaze with his own eyes of smoldering black jet.

There was little room for them to avoid each other's physical presence in manuevering, which was, of course, the way they wanted it- why pretend otherwise

He felt the water hit him, breaking at once into grey rivulets that cascaded over his shoulders and pecs. He threw back his head, smoothing his hands back over his head, trying to reclaim the brightness of his hair.

As the water soaked in and made his hair heavy, he let his neck loll forward and back slowly, relaxing into the heat.

The water was hot, cathartic.

"Khorosho," he breathed. "This is what I needed, chuvak."

[ profile] capt_kasya: "Is that all you needed?" Kassian murmured, but the question was almost not meant to be leading, more ironic than anything else. He caught Isaev's eye, his look wry, but then maneuvered behind Isaev and leaned to place a gentle kiss on the back of his neck.

It was soft and simple, more affectionate than erotic. He turned his cheek and rested his head and chest against Isaev's back, using one extended arm to help brace his weight against the wall.

"It is good," he said softly, face pressed against Isaev's warm, wet skin.

[ profile] andrei_isaev: Andrei felt his instincts relent, slowly, like a breaking of clockwork. Returning somehow to the organic place from which he came.

His back eased into suppleness once more, conforming slowly to the shape of Irinarhov's chest, pressing into the taut-muscled curve that tenderly caged him.

Hot, abundant water cascaded over them, over the outline of their bodies' embrace, as if they were one man and not two.

The sniper's head lay against his back, and Andrei could feel his stubble, and the weight of his dark hair, soaked and plastered against his skin.

Nudity, elemental as water. Soft and caressing in the same manner.

Soothing, like a primodial lullaby.

Their alignment was close and complete. The man's cock lay quietly between his buttocks, reflexively firm, but not hard or demanding.
Andrei studied the firm hand that braced the wall in front of him, letting torpor lull them.

Strong hand. Fine hand. A hand that loved touch but was rarely allowed the license. A hand that loved cold steel and mechanism, but treated them like flesh and blood.
He felt the horror of the night rinse from them both, slowly revealing clean, unblemished skin beneath.

Andrei steeped in the moment, conscious of the singing of the water, the concrete beneath his feet, and the passionate, silent Captain behind him, holding him like a lover.

[ profile] capt_kasya: Time passed.

Kassian remained aware of it, though only peripherally, and without impatience. More important was the solid warmth of Isaev's body against his, the gentle rise and fall of his back, and the easing of Isaev's muscles as he relaxed.

Kassian drew in a deep breath, and let it out with a long sigh, feeling Isaev move with him. It felt as natural as shooting.

He could come to know Isaev's body the way he knew his own rifle, Kassian thought with a slow certainty. He liked that in spite of Isaev's youth, Isaev could slow down and simply exist for a time, unconcerned with the passage of minutes, or hours.

It was a sniper's trick, this stillness, this infinite patience. Not something that concerned a hand-to-hand fighter, but Isaev took to it anyway.

It pleased him, though he couldn't say why.

Eventually, he roused, and drew in another deep breath. He turned his face and placed a slow and tender kiss on Isaev's back before pulling away to get the soap.

As he had promised, he washed Isaev's back, with the particular, exacting care he would use to clean his rifle. The contours of Isaev's muscles, the lines of his shoulder blades, the rippling indentations down his spine, Kassian followed them all, both precise and unhurried at once.

[ profile] andrei_isaev: "No one's done this for me since my brother," Andrei intoned with a soft laugh.

He'd gradually begun to lean forward, forearms crossed and braced against the concrete, relaxed into the posture, with his brow resting against them.

Watching the water swirl beneath them as Kassian's hands swirled over the brawn of his back, with the method and rhythm of a litany.
The soap was overslick and unscented, more rendered tallow than ash and surfectants. Normally he was annoyed at the consistency, the lack of lather, but the way it slicked his body beneath the Captain's hands redeemed it in his estimation.

He shouldn't have mentioned Lasha, he thought. He and Irinarhov were poles apart. Lasha's love was fierce and consuming. Lasha was a fair, remorseless predator who loved only family and cognac.

Andrei paused in his thoughts, wondering if Kasya was more like his brother than he'd first surmised.

What was it they had called Irinarhov during the war?

But as with Molokov's murder, there was a difference.

The sniper was content to kill and let die. Lasha was pleased to do the same.
And Lasha felt no empathy for the unnamed and unacquainted. They were not, after all, of his pack.

Andrei settled more of his weight forward, as Kassian's hands eased slightly downward, soaping his upper flanks with strong, firm hands.

He knew Irinarhov was feeling him, even as he washed his skin. Learning his form and the story behind it.

He blinked the water from his lashes, turning his head, regarding the solemn concentration of the sniper's face from beneath damp and driftwood colored strands of hair.

"Slick as blood," he murmured. "Fucking soviet soap."

He saw Irinarhov's eyes slowly raise to meet his own, and he couldn't read them outright.

"Want me to get yours as well, comrade Captain?"

[ profile] capt_kasya: "After," Kassian said, and reached up to push a tendril of wet hair away from Isaev's brow. He let his fingers drag over Isaev's scalp. With his hair slicked and sleek from the water, Isaev looked a little older, Kassian thought, more serious and thoughtful than his usual mien.

Or maybe, he considered, after a moment, this was what Isaev was like when he was alone, relaxed, and without pretense.

Though he didn't much imagine a man like Isaev liked being alone.

In the absence of Imanov, he'd filled his vacuum with Kassian quickly enough, after all.

He did not let the thought linger, instead just inclining his head slightly.

"I'll get the rest, first," he said. He turned his attention back to washing, and soaped down to Isaev's buttocks. His touch meandered into territory that did not exactly stay within the realm of simple washing, or even gentle inspection, but wandered a bit more, admiring the firm, hard muscle in Isaev's ass. It made Kassian's cock swell a little as he lingered there, but he finished by patting Isaev's backside fondly before kneeling to continue, washing the muscular thighs and calves.

When finished that, Kassian gently nudged Isaev, encouraging him to lift one leg, then the other, so he could wash the lieutenant's feet as well.

Isaev had elegant feet, with long, clever toes. His touch lingered between them and along Isaev's instep for a while, taking his time, mouth twitching as Isaev's toes curled.

"I never had a brother," he said, after a bit. "Only child."

And he was grateful for it, actually, though it had never occurred to him that there could be such simple tenderness between siblings as well. But he could no more imagine what it would have been like to have had a brother than he could imagine what it would have been like to live in another country, or to not have fought in the war. Like many things, it simply was, and he spent little time questioning.

Finally, he rose again, and rested his hand on Isaev's shoulder. "Turn around," he murmured. "I'll get your front, too."

[ profile] andrei_isaev: "Yes, Captain, sir," he said, nodding, affecting the tone he used with Ocelot, and he was being playful, even though nothing in his tone or face betrayed it.

Andrei turned, letting himself lean back against the water-warmed concrete, watching the spray richochet off the hard muscles of Irinarhov's stomach.

It was a stomach that could take a punch, he thought. Like Houdini, who'd had an unassuming figure at first glance. It was not rippled like Ilya's, or sculpted almost Greek like his own. It was taut, lean and hard as a diamond, muscles functional and knit like ribboned steel.

Each one knotted out of pure necessity.

Form and function, thought Isaev appreciatively, tipping his head back against the wall.

"Lasha was always a bit too vigorous in the bath. I prefer it when you do it," said Isaev said, smiling slightly. "He was a real bastard with a venik."

Andrei was not unaware that he shared much of Lasha's face, under the right circumstances, and that with his hair pushed back the resemblance was greater still.

But Lasha's eyes were more translucent, an almost blanched aquamarine with dark rings outlying the iris. And his face was sharper, more merciless than Andrei's.

Perhaps that was merely the difference in their age, but Andrei doubted he would ever look so arctic and austere, no matter how long he lived.

It didn't surprise him that Irinarhov was an only child, he'd all but surmised that much- but it was the first time the sniper had mentioned anything approaching family.

He tilted his head.

"You've never mentioned your family. Tell me about them. Tell me where you came from, Captain."

His lip curved up on one side.


[ profile] capt_kasya: Kassian dropped his gaze.

He hesitated, but only for a few moments, then occupied himself by falling into the rhythm of washing again, tracing the shape of Isaev's broad chest.

It gave him something to look at. Something to focus on. It gave him some time to think about what he would say.

Isaev drew in a breath, to say something, Kassian thought, but he glanced up quickly and gave Isaev a brief, steady look to quell any apology or polite change of subject that might have come.

And truth be told, there was a part of Kassian that didn't want to talk about it. It was long ago. Times he rarely thought about anymore, yet still somehow felt reluctant to discuss, even with Isaev. Perhaps especially with Isaev.

But if he wanted Isaev to talk to him in turn, wanted the young lieutenant to volunteer something about the past that he guarded so carefully, Kassian knew he would probably have to be the first to proffer information about himself as a sign of trust, and hope for reciprocity.

"They're dead," he said, quietly.

Ordinarily, he would have left it at that, if he had said anything at all. But he reached his hand out to place his palm over Isaev's sternum, fingers spread wide. Not to push him away, but to be closer.

His eyes roamed Isaev's chest as he thought about what to say.

"My father," he said, finally, "worked in the factory. My mother was a seamstress. They both worked with their hands. Made things. Art, in their own way."

Kassian paused again. It was more difficult than he'd thought. There were things he found he didn't want to admit to Isaev, even though it was so long ago, and shouldn't have mattered anymore.

But somehow, it did.

[ profile] andrei_isaev: Andrei put his index finger gently over Kassian's mouth, sealing his lips.

"Don't," he said, shaking his head slowly. "It's not worth it, Kashuishka."

He understood all too well.

It wasn't worth it to him to know, not if it brought that look to the sniper's face. Andrei never wanted to be the cause of that look.

"It doesn't matter. Nothing in the past really does, does it."

He let his hand curve around the back of Irinarhov's neck, squeezing the muscles of the trapezius gently, slowly.

"You work with your hands too, you know," Andrei remarked, with a soft smile. "Are you an artist, comrade?"

[ profile] capt_kasya: After a few moments, Kassian felt the tension in his jaw ease, and his mouth twitch slightly. Isaev had that skill, to be charmingly disarming, and even he was not immune.

Or perhaps he was especially vulnerable.

"It's art, in a way," he admitted. His canvas was the human body and his paints were made from blood, and the brush strokes he used to create his masterpieces were bullets, but there was still a particular sort of beauty in it for those with an appreciation for the macabre.

He paused.

"But you're right, Dasha. The past doesn't matter, because we're here now, and that's what's important." As he spoke, he lifted his gaze to Isaev's and held it steadily. His dark eyes were clear and somber, unflinching when earlier they'd been avoidant.

"Still," he said, and took his hand away from Isaev's chest and reached up to twine his fingers into Isaev's hair again, letting the strands slip through his fingers. "I'll tell you someday."

Kassian gave a small nod. "But you're under no obligation to do the same."

[ profile] andrei_isaev: "There's nothing to tell," Andrei said, lifting his eyebrows.

His hand slid down, over Irinarhov's chest, tracing a leisurely pattern.

"I was raised by wolves," he said, smiling. "And then I came to Spetsnaz."

His fingers curved over Kassian's hand where it had paused on his chest.

He slipped the soap from Irinarhov's grasp and into his own.

"You're a mess, Irinarhov."

He lowered his eyes, looking down the sniper's body, then raised them back up to his face.

"Want me to fix that for you?"

[ profile] capt_kasya: "I haven't finished with you yet," he protested mildly, but didn't take the soap back. Instead, he simply inclined his head. "But yes. I'd like that."

He let the other matter drop, for now. Clearly neither of them wanted to go into much detail about their pasts. Though he could respect even more now Isaev not wanting to dwell on what had come before, a part of him still found it important to want to tell Isaev. At least, eventually. Not now, though.

It wasn't the right time.

Kassian eased back slightly to let Isaev move him to a position more to his liking, and then closed his eyes, surrendering to trust.

[ profile] andrei_isaev: As he lathered the soap slowly between his hands, Isaev studied the man who faced him with obscure and lingering glances.

Kassian had no softness left to him, except in his eyes, and even then it was transient. It was there now, Andrei thought, a wavering of warmth that distorted the flint, as he watched patiently, waiting for Isaev to touch him, content to wait forever if need be.

Andrei stepped forward, letting his hands begin at the sniper's face, gently laving it with his fingertips. Steaks of dirt faded, revealing light olive skin with a sun-burnished patina.
Andrei kept his gaze on the task, and not the Captain's eyes, but once in awhile they would stray, and he would smile slightly. He smoothed tiny circles across Irinarhov's iron brow, and down his stalwart cheeks, which were firm and drawn across the frame of his face.

"You're a handsome bastard, Irinarhov," he said, affably. "Anyone ever tell you that?"

He was sure someone had. Whether Kassian had listened was another story. This Vitya, surely. This lost comrade. He'd made it sound almost romantic, like a novel or a film.

Andrei's thumb eased across the upper part of the sniper's lip, and paused, feeling the rough grit of unseen stubble.

"The philtrum," he intoned, slowly, "is the maxillar area between the upper lip and the bottom of the nose. Attack to this area may cause death."

He let his finger press against it briefly, then traced down over the sniper's lips, his chin, and down the front of his throat.

"Close your eyes," he whispered. "Tilt your face up, into the spray. There you go."

The soap clarified and disappeared, and Irinarhov's face was left sleek and wet, clean and solemn.

Andrei felt Kassian's pulse beneath his index finger, strong and steady as the heart of a bull.

His touch paused lightly on the bulge of the Adam's apple.

"A single sharp blow here, and you'll asphixiate," he murmured, cupping the man's jaw and kissing him with restrained passion. He caressed the angle of the mandible as if it were a sacred relic, inclining his head and smiling faintly.

"An accurate hook punch to the front of the jaw will snap a man's neck before he can raise a hand."

He glanced down at his hand where he held the soap, and lathered it once more, beginning at the shoulders.

[ profile] capt_kasya: Kassian felt himself grow harder as Isaev recited all the ways he knew how to kill a man, a litany of violence and ruination.

He knew it was probably wrong to find arousal in death, but he felt it anyway, heat driving through his loins and stiffening his cock, which pressed into Isaev's thigh.

It was not so much the death itself, but that Isaev talked about it with language that reminded him of ancient poetry, songs about clear and brutal times.

His brow knitted and his mouth parted, and he ran his tongue over his lips to savor the lingering, warm taste of Isaev amidst the metallic taint of water.

They had talked about art, and working with one's hands. What Isaev did was the same.

The creation of death.

Kassian tilted his head under the spray and opened his eyes, and regarded Isaev as the younger man's hands drew circles over his chest.

Isaev's sleek face angled, eyes slatted and framed by wet spears of hair. He looked fierce, almost feral and lupine himself.

Kassian reached out to catch his hand around the back of Isaev's neck, staring up at him with raven-dark eyes.

"Will you fuck me tonight, comrade?" he asked, softly. He let his thumb caress the corded muscles in Isaev's neck, but did not break his gaze.

[ profile] andrei_isaev: Andrei kissed him, a swift seizure of the open lips that parted, breath checked, inviting.

His hands roamed upward to cage and caress the sniper's neck.

"With pleasure, Captain Irinarhov," he said, his voice low and rougher than usual.

On some level, Isaev was mystified by the solemn and predatory instinct that had bloomed up once again between them. It seemed to draw together out of ether, and dissipate as suddenly.

It wasn't like him, to let his baser nature permeate his interactions with comrades. He would normally have responded with a smile and a wry affirmative, or even a wordless assent.

Passionate, yes, but not...


That was what it was, when he smelled the man, touched him, met his gaze. It made him rabid with want.

What was beneath such a strong and visceral response? Andrei couldn't pinpoint what it was. His seniority, his jaded facade, his midnight black hair, his rough and well-used physique. Tempered with hard living and death, as if he'd crawled over rocks on his belly in silence, which if course he had.

Or maybe the gentleness of the killer himself, once you stripped away the military exoskeleton.

A man, who in another life might have been a musician, or a painter with an easy laugh, or a father, or a husband...

But Kassian Irinarhov had not lost his Russian Soul despite the cards. He attacked all things with equal and measured passion. He had found his art, here, despite the currency they dealt in.

And Isaev could not let that pass his hands lightly. For some reason, he had to hold it, harder and more tenacious with each passing hour.

Irinarhov brought out in him all the things he hated and admired about Lasha. The devourer. The possessive hand of lust and entitlement.

The singular desire to lick the salt from the man's wounds, to praise him.

"I'll make your past crumble," he muttered, pushing the sniper back against the wall and pinning his hands, assaulting his mouth with voracious intent.

[ profile] capt_kasya: Isaev's words broke something inside him.

It felt like a crack that went straight through his chest, and deep into his heart. If he had been holding back at all, it would no longer be possible, and he didn't think that he'd been holding back.

He returned Isaev's kiss with equal savagery and ardor, his lips and teeth hard on Isaev's mouth, his heart thrumming in his chest. He bit down, not so brutally as to break the skin again, but enough to re-open the wound he'd made that morning.

He tasted blood, and it made him buck and shudder under the stricture of Isaev's embrace, though he did not surrender to it. Kassian fought, hard enough to challenge, to goad, his arms locking around Isaev's hips and fingers lancing the taut backside that he'd caressed so gently minutes before.

He found that the bifurcation of their encounters did not bother him. He relished both the ease and the provocation with which they touched each other. The way their hips and dicks ground together, as they did now, and the way they kissed and touched like lovers, as before.

Now, it was not gentle.

It was more like the struggle to keep from drowning.

After a few hard and bruising minutes, he twisted his head away, breaking off the kiss because they had to breathe.

Their chests expanded and fell like bellows. He leaned forward again, still panting, and licked and bit at Isaev's neck, breath hot against his skin.

"You already have," he growled.

[ profile] andrei_isaev: Andrei shook his head, his breath cast out like spider silk.

"I'm sorry," he said, slowly, caressing Irinarhov's overgrown locks, raking his fingers through them. "Sometimes you make me ugly."

It wasn't an accusation, or a laying of blame.

He didn't mean to say that Kassian brought it on himself, or that it was something he resented.

He was just sorry. He shuddered at being reminded that the plum didn't roll far from the apple that fell a short distance from the tree.

"I think about Molokov," he murmured, softly grim, "and I wonder what makes a butcher less of a butcher just because he has a patch on his arm."

He was almost talking to himself, and it occurred to him belatedly that Irinarhov would have no idea what he was talking about, would almost certainly misunderstand and think he was talking about them, their tradecraft as unrepentant assassins.

But he wasn't. It wasn't even close to the same thing.

"It shouldn't be like this with you. I have no excuse to feel this way."

His fingers clenched into the Captain's dark hair, faltering.

"You'd walk away from me," he said quietly, "if you knew better."

[ profile] capt_kasya: Kassian grasped the hair at the back of Isaev's neck, hard enough to hurt at first, but then he relented, though only slightly.

"I would say the same about myself," he said, roughly. "But I don't want you to walk away."

His eyes raced back and forth, reading Isaev's, demanding the answers with his gaze that he would never ask with words.

A line of blood bubbled on Isaev's lip, but washed away in the spray, dwindling to a thin line which eventually disappeared.

He loosened his grip on Isaev's hair.

His gaze flicked downward, once, and he drew in a ritual breath, the mantra of his calm.

"In the war," he said, slowly, "there were times when I was sure I was going to die. And there were times when I wanted to. I've seen things that make me sick to think about them now. I've done things that make me feel worse."

His jaw tightened, as did his grip on Isaev's hair.

"What happend to Molokov is like that, too. But this? This isn't. This is just about being alive."

Kassian let go. He brought his hands back around to either side of Isaev's face and kissed his lips with infinite care, a tenderness that belied the way they'd just ravaged each other's mouths.

Softly. Gently. He licked at the open cut, as if his touch could heal.

"You're not a bad thing, Isaev," he murmured. "You're not a bad person. And you can't tell me that I don't know the difference."

[ profile] andrei_isaev: "I could try," said Andrei, wryly, "but whether you would listen or not..."

He leaned forward, setting his brow against Irinarhov's and giving him a insolent smile.

"...That, my friend, is another story entirely."

He touched his tongue to the cut on his lip briefly, as Kassian had done.

"My cock is hard, can you believe it," he said, shaking his head. "What are we doing, Kassian Irinarhov?"

His hand cupped the back of the Captain's head, easing his fingers against his scalp.

He could feel the ridge of a scar beneath the thick, dusky hair.

"What's this?" he murmured, in soft curiosity.

[ profile] capt_kasya: Kassian just shook his head, but with wry fondness. He let his hands run down Isaev's chest and settle around his slim hips.

"We're having an argument neither of us will win," he murmured. He didn't attempt to answer Isaev's other question, but instead tilted his head and leaned up to kiss the lieutenant's smooth brow.

Kassian couldn't answer that for him. Isaev would have to answer it for himself.

He wondered, a little, at how their interaction could heat up and cool down in an instant, like this, how they could be devouring each other and drawing blood at one moment, and speaking tenderly to each other the next.

The fact that it all seemed so natural puzzled him even more.

He kissed Isaev's forehead again, then bent to retrieve the abandoned soap. Judging by the malformed shape, Isaev had crushed it in his hand.

Kassian raised a brow. Isaev's broad hands could crush either lye soap or a windpipe with similar ease, but they also could be gentle and tender, he knew.

"My turn again," he said, and lathered the soap to resume washing Isaev's chest.

[ profile] andrei_isaev: Andrei laughed, raising his arms above his head.

"All right then," he said, with a lilt. "You're the CO, after all."

Kassian's answering smirk was endearing.

Isaev frowned, suddenly.

"Come to think of it, I just realized something."

Irinarhov raised his eyes quizzically as he carefully soaped Andrei's chest, but said nothing, preoccupied.

It felt good, being attended to, being nurtured. But what an unlikely source. Andrei was still in awe of this part of the sniper, though he didn't question its verity. Kasya was clearly more than the sum of his parts.

" had CODEC already, before you were an Ocelot, comrade. You said you needed a booster from Khostov, to reset your frequency to the squad." Andrei cocked his head. "But apart from Ocelots and operatives, only Senior Officers have CODEC, Kasya. Majors, like Raikov and Ocelot."

[ profile] capt_kasya: "I was a senior officer."

His tone was light, almost wry.

He washed down Isaev's chest to his stomach. The muscles there were a particular pleasure to trace, each one so well-defined it seemed like Isaev could have been sculpted from marble.

After a moment, he lifted his gaze back to Isaev's and met his eyes. Directly, and almost with good humor, a strange backward pride.

"I was demoted," he said, then shrugged. The actual demotion held no shame for him, though he thought the circumstances were a different matter.

"But it's all right," Kassian said after a moment. "I'd rather be a captain."

[ profile] andrei_isaev: Isaev's eyebrows raised.

"Demoted? Really?"

He couldn't imagine such a thing.

A wicked smile traced his lips.

"Misbehavior?" he asked, solicitously.

[ profile] capt_kasya: "Not exactly," Kassian said.

He paused, wondering how to phrase it without making himself sound like a psychopath, or a brutal, egotistical bastard with no remorse.

It wasn't that he would feel ashamed to tell Isaev. It wasn't like talking about his father. It was just that he didn't want Isaev to get the wrong impression.

Though Kassian had to wonder what the right impression was.

His brows drew together and the slow passes of soap on skin slowed, though only thoughtfully. He watched the lather slide down Isaev's stomach only to be washed away by the spray.

"There was an incident," he said, finally. "I was charged with negligence."

He shrugged.

[ profile] andrei_isaev: Isaev's lip curled, and he closed his eyes sighing.

"Kasya, Kasya, Kasya."

If the sniper didn't want to talk, he could only shrug, but Andrei was not inclined to go so quietly.

"You know you're only making me try harder, don't you?"

His hand reached out surreptitiously below their waists, and found Irinarhov's cock, stroking it gently with the tips of his fingers.

"Tell you what," he intoned, almost as if he were sharing a confidence. "You tell me what manner of negligence you committed, and I'll tell you something about me."

Isaev shrugged, gently releasing him.

"...that is, if there's anything you want to know."

[ profile] capt_kasya: "It's a deal," Kassian said, seriously.

Truth be told, there was a lot about Isaev he wanted to know, but he'd proven to be so reticent earlier that Kassian hadn't wanted to push.

He understood not wanting to expose an ugly underbelly to the light, and respected Isaev's right to his own secrets.

Kassian knew he had enough of his own.

But as he'd thought earlier, trust had to start somewhere, even if that place began as a tiny island surrounded by the sea.

His cock tingled a little, aching in the absence of Isaev's touch.

"In the official report," he said crisply, as if debriefing from a mission. "It says that Major Kassian Irinarhov fired his rifle in error and shot a comrade in negligence."

His gaze dropped, but only briefly. Kassian looked up again to regard Isaev's slate eyes. "But I've never told anyone the truth about what happened."

[ profile] andrei_isaev: "And you haven't told me yet," reminded Isaev, wryly. "So move those lovely sullen lips, Captain."

An insouciant glint caught in his eyes.

"I can see you need a little...persuasion."

Andrei took hold of Kassian's taut hips, sinking slowly down to the concrete floor in front of him.

He bent his head, parting his lips and letting the tip of the Captain's cock part his lips and slip between them.

Just slightly.

He rolled his tongue around the glans, slowly.

Then he pulled back, laughing quietly.

"Speak," he murmured, "and for every word from your mouth, I'll recompense you with mine."

[ profile] capt_kasya: Kassian scowled, though only in pointedly mock irritation.

"That won't work," he said, looking down at Isaev, eyes lingering on the generous curve of Isaev's lower lip.

"I can't think when you're sucking me off, Isaev. Never mind talk."

His mouth twitched slightly, but he flattened it to near-sterness. "Remember?"

[ profile] andrei_isaev: Andrei winked and rose to his feet.

"All right, suit yourself."

He borrowed the soap from Iriarhov for a moment, crossing his eyes at him, and then proceeded to lather up his hair before handing it back.

"Have to scrub the mane," he remarked archly. "It's a little unruly. But I can't bear to crop it off. It doesn't suit my animus, Ilya says."

He worked his fingers in, grinning.

"So tell me a story. Who did you kill, and what did he do to deserve it?"

He assumed the man must have- Irinarhov did not strike him as the vengeful type.

[ profile] capt_kasya: Kassian looked at Isaev for a few moments, searching his face. But the lieutenant met his gaze freely, and with a casual air. No sign of wariness, or suspicion, or anything else he'd half-feared.

He guessed he shouldn't have been worried about it. Old habits, he supposed.

He just shook his head wryly and leaned back against the wall to watch Isaev wash his hair. Isaev had thick hair, but not so much unruly as it was long and luxuriant in its volume, Kassian thought. He'd run his fingers through Isaev's hair and found it soft, finer than Kassian's. A pleasure to touch.

"His name was Junior Lieutenant Grigoriy Nasenko," Kassian said. "He was my student."

He'd mentioned his student to Isaev before, this morning at the range, in fact, and had told him that it hadn't worked out well.

That was something of an understatement.

His look turned briefly thoughtful. "I killed him because...because he didn't kill because he had to."

Kassian began to wash his hair as well. "He killed because he wanted to."

[ profile] andrei_isaev: Isaev stopped what he was doing, letting his hands drop to his sides.

"You mean...not just that he enjoyed his job...but that he...took his work home with him, so to speak?"

It wasn't uncommon in Spetsnaz, to run across a man who liked his work a little more than he probably should have. Got something out of it that the others didn't. Fed something in himself.

But the idea of a sniper...

Isaev was incredulous.

"Who did he kill? His comrades? Civilians?"

[ profile] capt_kasya: "No, not his comrades. He would never do that."

Part of him wondered why he felt compelled to defend the man, in spite of what Nasenko had been.

"Civilians," Kassian said. "Chinese civilians. We were stationed by the border. There were a few villages not far from us, just across the river."

He shrugged, not because he didn't care, but because words failed him. "He...thought it was sport, I suppose."

Kassian scrubbed his hair vigorously.

[ profile] andrei_isaev: Andrei made a face.

"That's fairly reprehensible."

They were silent for a moment, and Andrei ducked his head, to rinse the soap from it.

"Euthanasia, eh comrade."

He ran his fingers through it, then turned his head.

A thought occurred to him.

"Were you and he..."

No, that was too direct a line of inquiry, under the circumstances.

"...Did you like him?" he asked after a moment. "Was it hard for you to do it?"

[ profile] capt_kasya: Kassian knew instantly what Isaev had been about to say.

His gaze dropped and he watched soapy water flee down the drain.

"It was hard to do it," he said, slowly. "I thought...I thought maybe I should have tried harder to make him understand. To teach him better. Not just about shooting."

He shook his head, and he shrugged his shoulders. "But I think maybe that I knew if I did that, it would have become personal."

Kassian looked up at Isaev again, his gaze shadowed, frown creasing his brow. "And I didn't want it to be personal. I didn't want to care."

[ profile] andrei_isaev: "Personal." he said quietly, raising an eyebrow. "Like this?"

He gestured vaguely, the motion meant to encompass everything that pertained to them, he and Irinarhov.

Andrei frowned.

"So you were attracted to him, despite his...character flaws."

Just because Irinarhov had not been willing to care, didn't mean he hadn't been willing to partake in mutual gratification, so long as it was at arms' length, and his coldness had been sustainable.

Isaev had a feeling it would have been.

If Kassian Irinarhov decided you were someone to wall off, Andrei had no doubt his stoicism was more formidable than Berlin.

"So he wasn't a lover," Andre said, "but did you sleep with him?"

He didn't know why he asked. Curiosity, perhaps, about exactly how flexible the sniper's ethics could be.

And a little personal prurient interest, to know who'd touched the Captain before him, what history had been seared into that masculine form when it was unclothed at night and far from combat.

[ profile] capt_kasya: "No," Kassian said.

He eased the rest of the soap out of his hair, dragging his fingers through it several times to make sure the water ran clean.

"He reminded me of Vitya, a little, sometimes, and I didn't want to..." He trailed off, looking down at the soap in his hands. It had worn down enough so that the indentations Isaev had made earlier were no longer obvious.

"Especially with another sniper again," he finished. He'd left out the part in between, but he knew Isaev could fill it in easily enough. Kassian's face curled into a frown, lines etching more deeply into his skin. "Too competitive."

[ profile] andrei_isaev: "Competitive," mused Andrei. "I suppose it would be. Still, I don't know. What about professional respect, mutual admiration?"

He squeezed the water from his hair.

"Sometimes, if two men are evenly matched, there's a tacit understanding, isn't there? I mean, you don't engage them as a rival, out of knowing that- that either of you has the power to destroy the other."

He wasn't sure how to articulate it.

"Or," he said frowning, "if not destroy...their talent is such that you'd rather have them as an ally than a rival."

He'd known men like that. In fact, one could make a case that he and Ilya had a relationship like that.

"I just don't understand, comrade...if you cared for him as a...then why would you let that happen?"

[ profile] capt_kasya: "With Vitya?" Kassian's frown grew heavier, weighted by years. "I don't know," he said, quietly. "I don't know what I did wrong. Or at least, could have done differently."

He shook his head. "I'm no expert in love, comrade. I can't tell you why it didn't work, even now that I've had time to look back on it, and think it was."

After a few moments, though, his chin lifted, and his expression lightened. "But it feels like a long time ago, now. A learning experience, as they say. I know I'm older. Hopefully I'm wiser, too."

Kassian regarded Isaev for a moment. "Let me finish washing you," he murmured, and reached out to catch Isaev's wrist, giving it a gentle tug.

[ profile] andrei_isaev: Andrei shook his head, bewildered.

"How do you not know? Was it not enough? Was your friendship not strong enough?"

He turned, facing Irinarhov, wordlessly, so that the sniper could resume doing whatever he wanted to him, but let his lips wander over words.

"I couldn't imagine..." Andrei frowned, casting his gaze to the side. "Doing that to..."

He trailed off.

"It's too rare. Too rare."

Isaev snorted softly.

"I'm sorry. I must sound painfully naive, comrade. Every bit of my twenty three years, I'm sure."

What he wouldn't ask was if Irinarhov would let go as easily now.

That was a question that gave away too much, if the sniper hadn't already read it in his gaze.

[ profile] capt_kasya: "You don't sound naive, Isaev," he said, and sighed.

Kassian began to lather the soap again, and ran it in looping circles over the cut of Isaev's hip. He liked the masculinity of it, the way the shape fit under his hand.

He was frustrated by his inability to articulate what had gone wrong between him and Vitya, and knew it troubled Isaev. Maybe Isaev thought he was some kind of cold-hearted bastard. Turning away from a lover because of an argument, shooting another man in the head before he got too close.

Kassian had to admit that it sounded bad enough.

"I wish I could explain it better. I wish I could..." he broke off, struggling for the words again.

Deliberately, he closed his eyes, then drew in a breath, and let it out slowly. His hands roamed over Isaev's hips, guided by memory and touch alone.

When he spoke again, his voice sounded more relaxed, and he formed words more carefully. "I had the lead sniper position, but Vitya wanted it. He said it jokingly at first, and I didn't realize how much it meant to him. I would joke back, too."

"It wasn't even something in my power to give to him, though I know he would have wanted to earn it. But for the needs of the squad, the most experienced sniper took lead."

Kassian rubbed Isaev's hipbone with his thumb. He snorted, lightly. "A sniper can't get the kind of kill count I have when it's not wartime. There aren't very many active snipers left who fought in the war anymore. I'm nowhere near the highest ever, but I'm one of the highest that's still serving. I think that bothered him too. And..."

His mouth twisted, ironically. "You know how good I am with people, comrade. I think I just didn't say the right things."

He sighed, and opened his eyes. He searched Isaev's gaze, looking for -

What, he wondered.


[ profile] andrei_isaev: Andrei was silent, feeling the sniper's hand against his loins, caressing.

Though Irinarhov was reticent to discuss his background, Andrei had fair idea where he'd come from. By the way he spoke, by his mannerisms, his stoicism.

And he knew what men of Kassian's ilk thought about the sons of privilege.

He'd toyed with the idea of disclosure, of sharing with Kassian what'd he'd confessed to Ilya, but he couldn't quite bring himself to do it.

He couldn't get past suspecting that Kassian's wall would rebuild itself, or worse, the result would be outright contempt.

And now, he was almost sure of it.

Andrei looked up, smiling faintly.

"Thank you, Kassian Irinarhov," he said. "For telling me about Nasenko. And Viktor, him too. I feel I know you much better now."

He leaned back, crossing his arms, tilting his head. The same way he would have done at a state dinner or a commencement. The way he would have greeted one of his father's compatriots, or Admiralissimo himself.

Not bothering to temper his bearing this time.

"A deal is a deal," he said, meeting Irinarhov's eyes.

"Total disclosure."

[ profile] capt_kasya: Kassian's gaze flickered, and he felt his stomach drop.

He looked away quickly, trying to compose himself and school his expression.

It was like a slap in the face, but Kassian couldn't exactly say that he didn't deserve it, he supposed.

Isaev knew him much better now.

He should have just kept his mouth shut.

After a few moments, his jaw tightened, and he drew in a careful breath.

He'd known what he wanted to ask Isaev from the beginning, when Isaev had first proposed this deal, but now he thought he shouldn't ask something so personal, and find something innocuous to ask about instead.

Maybe it was him, he thought. Maybe he just had a way of alienating the people that meant the most to him.

"I like you, Isaev," he said, and his voice sounded quieter than he wanted it to be, though he didn't dare force more volume into his words. "A lot. I just want you to know that, whatever you think of me."

He couldn't bring himself to look Isaev in the eye, but he also couldn't bring himself to ask the question that would let Isaev fulfill his part of their bargain. There had been a grim finality about the way the lieutenant had crossed his arms, like he'd resigned himself to inevitability.

[ profile] andrei_isaev: "Nothing you've done makes a difference to me," Andrei said, slowly. "Nothing."

He couldn't understand exactly what Irinarhov had reacted so viscerally to, but he was fairly sure it was Andrei Alexandrovich Isaev, as he'd existed in Petrograd.

Andreika, the pedigree.

He reached out one hand, gripping Kassian's jaw firmly, but not without tenderness.

"Ask me anything, I'll answer."

How could Irinarhov think he cared about any skeletons in his past? It was laughable.

In Andrei's family, they didn't have a closet for bodies. They had a fucking mass grave.

His great-grandfather, grandfather, father and brother- Evirillad, Evstrat, Alexandr and Illarion.

But the look in Kassian's eyes made him long to confess, to be held and absolved. Irinarhov looked so dolorous and sorrowful, like a priest.

Andrei felt a rush of emotion, like beating wings.

"Ask," he said again, quietly, warmly. "I'll answer. And come back to my barrack, comrade. Spend the night in my bed."

[ profile] capt_kasya: Kassian held and studied Isaev's gaze, seeing something familiar there, something that reminded him of himself.

"All right," he said, his voice barely above a whisper, low but resonant. "I'd like that."

Slowly, almost hesitantly, he leaned up and brought his lips to Isaev's in a brief and tender kiss.

"Let's go," he said, pulling his head back slightly, though he kept his body close. "I'll ask my question when we're in bed."

[ profile] andrei_isaev: "You'd better swear to it, comrade," said Andrei, narrowing his eyes. "And nothing toothless. No evasion."

He grabbed a towel and dried himself swiftly, never taking his eyes from the sniper.

Andrei felt feverish, and more than ready to forget this night. He wondered for not the first time if anyone else but another man, another solider, could ever truly empathize and understand the emotions of war and military life.

They were silent as they dressed, swiftly, pulling on boots and buttoning pants and jackets.

"Are you ready?" Andrei demanded, bluntly. "Let's go."

September 2009


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