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Major Ocelot ordered me to take out the sniper that killed Colonel Volgin's double.

I thought the sniper might be hiding somewhere up near the cliffs and cave systems that surround Groznyj Grad, so I asked if Isaev could accompany me. He'd gone on a survey of the caves earlier, and already knew his way around up there.

Isaev's a good guide, and we work well together.

...even when we get a little distracted.

[livejournal.com profile] capt_kasya: They'd started before dawn.

It was still dark and cold when they'd risen from their bunk and dressed without turning on the lights, eschewing the black and crimson Ocelot uniforms in favor of camo fatigues.

It was Kassian's habit to leave the lights off in the mornings, but the reason why he'd acquired the habit in the first place had returned to him, beating quiet and steady in the back of his mind.

Snipers.

He'd checked his gun and his ammunition, then checked them again. There had been no time to give the Mosin-Nagant a ritual cleaning, but Kassian had too much experience to stand much on ceremony. It would be fine.

When he'd told Isaev about the sniper, and asked the younger man to guide him through the surrounding mountainside, Isaev had agreed, immediately and with all the gravity that putting oneself in great danger warranted.

But then Isaev had grinned. Isaev had a lightness to him, a casual, playful air that reminded Kassian that he should enjoy life even when stepping into a situation that could cause it to end at any moment.

That was what he loved about Isaev.

One of the things.

They'd left the barrack and headed directly out the main gate, then up the switchback path. He knew that well enough after these weeks of patrol, but shortly thereafter, they'd diverged from the usual patrol route, and Isaev had taken him on a tour of the various cave systems and outcroppings.

It had been slow going. Kassian had insisted on stopping every so often to scan the area, searching for likely sniper hiding spots.

Isaev had pointed out that a sniper would be most likely expecting a larger patrol, one that would come up the main path.

Kassian had agreed, but had proceeded with painstaking caution, just the same.

By the time the sun rose high and almost directly above them, they'd still found no sign, and Kassian was beginning to wonder if the sniper hadn't already cleared out. Perhaps he thought that he'd gotten his man after all, and left last night.

Instinct itched in the back of Kassian's mind.

No. The sniper was still around, maybe not lying in wait for them this very moment, but that shadow still lingered near Groznyj Grad. He could feel it.

They climbed higher, cutting across a path, but then following it up to a plateau that overlooked the valley below.

The perfect sniper spot, he thought, looking around. The plateau was small but toward the back, one of the hot springs Isaev had told him about sat steaming like a banya, smelling strangely pleasant, a warm mineral smell.

Kassian searched the surrounding rockface with a careful, hawkish gaze. No good nests for a sniper to get a bead on them, at least not that he could easily see.

It was as good of a place as any to rest.

"If he was up here, we'd already be dead," he muttered to Isaev, continuing to look around.

[livejournal.com profile] andrei_isaev: Andrei grinned vaguely.

"Such a romantic," he said.

Kassian was still scanning the horizon, so Isaev started pulling off his camoflauge, stripping down to his skivvies, and then pulling off his undertank and shorts as well.

No, it wasn't really the ideal time for a leisurely soak, but then, when was anything ever ideal in Tselinoyarsk?

"Join me when you're done," Andrei said, obscurely, stepping into the pool, and escaping the chill kiss of the air against his naked body, sinking down to chest depth.

Irinarhov was distracted, and still had his back turned.

The temptation to splash him was high, but Andrei resisted the devil that pulled at his cock, and settled in against the rock, content to smile darkly and wait.

[livejournal.com profile] capt_kasya: "Join you wh - "

Kassian turned to glance in Isaev's direction, then had to look again.

His mouth went slack. Isaev had just disrobed and jumped into the hot spring, with apparently no thought to snipers or anything else.

He stared, incredulous for a moment.

"What are you - " he started, then broke off, fighting a smile. Fighting his body's instinctive reaction to the sight of Isaev's naked, muscular physique.

Fighting the urge to jump in.

He had to be crazy, he thought, to even consider it. A man was dead, brains splattered all over the floor of Volgin's quarters, and it was Kassian's responsibility to stop the sniper who did it.

But it wasn't like Isaev had no concept of danger, no understanding of the value of life, he thought.

No, it was much the opposite.

Isaev understood, better than most people, how extraordinarily precious life was, and how good it could be. How it should be savored.

And now, Isaev lounged in the pool with boyish, insouciant grace, looking for all the world like a fallen angel, unrepentant and shameless.

A slow smile pulled at Kassian's mouth, and he watched Isaev with dusky eyes.

"Have I told you lately that I love you?" he asked, voice soft.

[livejournal.com profile] andrei_isaev: Andrei raised his eyebrows, and feigned bewilderment.

"Pardon, comrade? I can't hear you all the way over there."

A smirk touched his lips and bloomed.

"The water's fine. And I'm feeling twenty-four, if you know what I mean."

[livejournal.com profile] capt_kasya: Kassian laughed once, and shook his head.

"When I was twenty-four..." he started, but then trailed off, not really finding the words. Not really wanting to dwell on what his life had been like then, because he knew what it was like now.

He looked back over his shoulder, scanning the surrounding mountainside again.

If a sniper had a bead on them, surely he would have already taken the shot, he told himself.

Kassian looked back at Isaev, and still had to press his lips together.

"Do you know that you're crazy, Dasha?"

[livejournal.com profile] andrei_isaev: "Tell me about when you were twenty-four," said Isaev, eyes fixing on Kassian as he crossed the shallow pool with a few languid strokes and came to hover by the rocks near the sniper.

"...while you're stripping down to show me every inch of forty two," he added, in a low voice.

He stood and rose out of the water, briefly, slicking his hair back. Just enough to show Irinarhov he was serious below deck.

[livejournal.com profile] capt_kasya: Kassian's eyes followed the clear rivulets of water that streamed down Isaev's shoulders, but Isaev had slipped back in before his gaze could linger.

"Damn," he said, softly.

He took one last look over his shoulder, then shook his head.

"I'm crazy too," he muttered, but only to himself.

Carefully, Kassian unslung his Mosin-Nagant and leaned it against the rock face, then started to unbutton his fatigues.

"When I was twenty-four, the war had just ended. I'd been recruited by Spetsnaz, and I was receiving advanced training. I had..."

Kassian trailed off, frowning as he thought. He shrugged out of his fatigues and bent to untie his boots.

"...I had maybe a hundred and sixty, hundred and seventy kills by then. I don't remember the exact number."

He put his boots aside, and folded his fatigues before he set them on the ground, but quickly divested himself of shorts and tank.

"I'd had a few whores, but I'd never fucked a man. A few comrades had given me handjobs, and a couple had sucked me off, but that was it."

Kassian's cock was hard, and had been ever since he turned around and realized what Isaev was doing. He stood naked near the edge of the pool, looking down, the faintest of curves tugging at his mouth.

"That was twenty-four."

Though his skin had loosened slightly with age, Kassian's body was still taut and lean, with smoothly defined muscle.

"This is forty-two," he murmured, then stepped into the pool.

[livejournal.com profile] andrei_isaev: The sight of Irinarhov descending into the rough earthen cup was almost mythic, like a bronzed and battle-tried Spartan coming to tryst in the sacred pool of his patron god, somewhere near Olympus.

Andrei caught and sipped a breath, like tasting a wine on the back of his palate.

"Da," he murmured. "God yes, it is."

The sniper's flank was schrapnel-scarred in a spray like comets, and Isaev loved that, as much as he loved the taut, narrow hips- loved to trace his tongue lightly along the marks, to kiss them, reverent and knowing the pain that had come with their branding.

He knew beyond all doubt that Irinarhov had won every scar, earned every gentle crease- and he wore the soft weather of his years more beautifully and compellingly than anyone Isaev had every seen.

His hair, slightly tousled. His eyes, a wine-dark ocean in tumult. His chest, wrought in beaten copper.

Andrei rose, reflexively, to greet his comrade. His eyes were riveted on the man, devouring him, torn between worshipful demand and beckoning possession.

His arms twitched, eager to hold that sensual and tempered form against his own.

[livejournal.com profile] capt_kasya: Kassian moved into Isaev's arms with the grace of familiarity and the ease of ardent passion, and he arched the length of his body against Isaev's broader, stronger form.

His arms slipped around Isaev's flanks, pulling him close and locking his grip so their embrace was inexorable.

Not that Isaev tried to escape it. Far from it.

The younger man's arms were a forceful, passionate cage around him, tightening even as Kassian's fingers dug into the hard, flexed muscle of Isaev's backside. Isaev's prick, pulsing against Kassian's thigh, jumped reflexively in response.

It felt good, to be wanted with such fierce vehemence, in every way he knew.

Kassian leaned up without hesitation and caught Isaev's lips with his in a hungry, open-mouthed kiss.

He thought about their naked, vulnerable backs zeroed in a sniper's sights and shuddered, pressing Isaev into the rock, kissing him harder.

[livejournal.com profile] andrei_isaev: The weight of the sniper's body surged against him, and Isaev felt the seismic motion that passed through it.

His welcome was ravenous but tender, and he relished the abandon of being unclothed and entwined under the approving eye of nature.

Andrei sensed what Irinarhov was thinking. It wasn't hard to guess, knowing him, and the caution his own tradecraft had left him with. Even in his own barrack, Kassian exercised all field precautions. Holdovers from the war.

He reached down between the sniper's legs and found his staunch and unyielding length, cradling it in his broad hand. Rubbing his jaw against Irinarhov's, and finding them both still smooth from the morning razor, but no less masculine in texture.

Massaging Irinarhov's cock and trailing his fingers over the contour of the sculpted ass that had so rarely known another man, by the sniper's own admission.

The sun was high above them. It shone down and gilded the earth, even thought the day was cold, hard and bright as a diamond. The water in the spring was soothing and warm, still and fresh, fed by its underground aquifer. It embraced their thighs with caressing heat.

When Kassian broke from his mouth, Andrei stilled him, and held his face gently so that he could look into his eyes, one feverish gaze meeting another, breathless and impatient. His hand worked Irinarhov over with a clasping ellipse of his grip, up and down the shaft, and circling over the glans.

"Kassian Dimitrivich," he intoned, solemnly. "If the bullet came right now, I would have all that I needed. I would die complete."

[livejournal.com profile] capt_kasya: Kassian went still for a moment, struck silent and nearly overcome.

He stared at Isaev, into his eyes, mouth working, though no words came out.

It did not become a man to be overly sentimental with a comrade, but Isaev's words had hit him deep, in a part of him so armored, he'd never been able to feel it.

"That's..." he whispered, aware that his body had resumed its response to Isaev's touch, hips shivering, rocking instinctually against the press of Isaev's fingers, even as his throat tightened.

"No one's ever said anything like that to me before," he continued.

His voice vibrated, uneven with emotion.

Kassian was painfully aware of how unprofound his own words were in comparison to Isaev's.

He felt a clarity that he didn't have before as he thought about Isaev's declaration. All he had lived and done paled a bit in comparison to being right here, and right now, suffused by clean, fragrant steam and Andrei Isaev's love.

His eyes burned and he had to blink rapidly, and look away a moment.

"You know I'm not good with words. I wish...I knew how to tell you better, how I feel. What you do to me. But God, Andrei - "

He broke off, and looked up again, meeting Isaev's gaze forcefully, with eyes that smoldered like coals.

"You make everything that's ever happened to me worth it."

[livejournal.com profile] andrei_isaev: Isaev kissed the side of his mouth, with barely restrained passion, forcing himself to gentle the hand that sought to wind itself in the jet of Kassian's hair and clench hard, unwilling to let him go from here, ever, like a siren vodik.

"You don't need words," Andrei said, without pause. "Your presence speaks for you. Your eyes, speak for you. When I see you...watching me."

Andrei was painfully aware of how blightless his skin was, how unseasoned his face must seem. Just an unflawed soldier doll, whose paint was bright and untested- a manchild with iron hands that killed with too much ease.

He had not earned the character this man had. He had no battle scars, no creases to linger after a smile.

"I wish I had been born along with you. That I was your age," he sighed, shaking his head. "That I could offer you what you offer me."

He tried to imagine himself at Irinarhov's age, and found it unsurprising to see a blend of his father and brother in his mind's eye.

"I wish that I could be your equal."

[livejournal.com profile] capt_kasya: Kassian's brows pulled sharp, into a frown, and he drew his head back so he could look into Isaev's eyes, which were lowered and almost hesitant, like a hovering stormfront.

"Dasha," he said, slowly, searching for words. "If..."

He shook his head.

"If we weren't already equals, it wouldn't be like this," he said, with careful, deliberate measure.

"You disarm me, at every turn. With a joke. With a smile. With a crazy thing like this."

He loosened his grip, briefly, to gesture at the pool around them.

"It's not a man's experiences who make him who he is. He's born with something that makes him the same person inside, no matter what path his life takes. It's not just what you've done that makes me love you. It's who you are. All of it. Even the parts that...pain you."

Kassian slipped his hand up, to the small of Isaev's back, splaying his fingers against Isaev's spine in an intimate, possessive motion.

He held them together like that, pressed hip to hip, cocks swelling and pulsing without inhibition.

Their bodies already knew truths that could even elude their minds, he thought as he searched Isaev's gaze.

[livejournal.com profile] andrei_isaev: Andrei brought his arms up, wrapping them around Irinarhov's back, pulling him close, as close as nature allowed.

It was good, to rest his head over Irinarhov's shoulder, where his rifle usually rested, to hold him naked and flush without shame under an open sky.

But there was one way to be closer, and he desired it now, more than ever.

"I've never been a perfect man. But I regret nothing. Nothing pains me," whispered Andrei, "but the thought that some part of me might drive you from this. When Nika told me-"

He broke off, silent for a moment.

"When things that seem...intractable...things that always were, things you always thought would be..."

His arms tightened, possibly more than was comfortable or safe for a lovers' embrace.

"...it makes you doubt your own stars."

[livejournal.com profile] capt_kasya: Kassian frowned, a light crease lowering his brow.

"I'm not sure I know what you mean," he said, quietly. "You don't have anything to doubt. Not about this. I think sometimes it's all right to just be grateful for the things you have, and enjoy them, and not worry about anything else."

He inhaled deeply, then exhaled, then kissed Isaev's shoulder, mouth lingering tenderly against skin that tasted of salt.

The strength of Isaev's grasp almost belied his uncertain words. There was no doubt in the way Isaev held him. He had always been that way, unabashed in gestures of physical affection.

Kassian remembered the way Isaev had touched him, freely, even on that first day they had met. He'd been so bold that Kassian had let him, granting impunity for acts he usually considered tresspass.

He'd even let Isaev touch his rifle.

And just as easily as he'd dropped his guard around Isaev, Kassian had come to crave his touch.

"I want you inside me," he whispered, lips lingering on Isaev's shoulder. "Will you fuck me, Dasha?"

[livejournal.com profile] andrei_isaev: "I always intended to," Andrei breathed, releasing him slightly and slipping his hands back to the southern cross of Irinarhov's person. "Damn all these words that fall from my thoughts."

One hand resumed its position on Irinarhov's cock, stoking his fire vigorously with repetitive jacks of his wrist. The other hand reached smoothly around to the cloven rift of the sniper's lean-muscled buttocks, seeking the underlying softness belied by the exterior.

His fingers eased against the eager entrance, which did nothing to discourage the overture. Two fingers slipped past the outer ring, and he twisted his hand ever so gently, sliding deeper, breaching the body's secondary defense without incident.

Nothing more than a slight shift of pattern in the sniper's breath betrayed any reaction, that and the way his hands tightened on Isaev's body, reflexive and slow.

Irinarhov was relaxed and open. His desire for sex had overridden the intervening physiology, and that was when good things could happen.

Isaev smiled gratefully, but veiled the expression as he turned his face into Kassian's hair, murmuring against his ear.

"How shall I fuck you, Kasya Postal'gha? What would please you here?"

[livejournal.com profile] capt_kasya: Kassian shuddered.

"Deep," he whispered. His hands stroked up Isaev's back, fingers tightening.

"And hard," he urged.

Kassian's eyes were closed, and his neck arched. He leaned into Isaev, hips pitching rhythmically against the motion of Isaev's hand.

He shivered with anticipation. Even more intimate than the hand stroking his cock was the penetration of Isaev's fingers. It gave his body a taste of what was to come.

"Make me feel it, Dasha."

[livejournal.com profile] andrei_isaev: "Vague," murmured Andrei, absently, "but I can work with that."

He'd always prized his strength, and silent speed was something he'd honed in his specialist training.

He struck into life, withdrawing his fingers. Spinning Irinarhov around, and pushed his chest forward, down onto his hands across a flat shelf on rock that flanked the pool.

"How's that?" he muttered, but he was already rubbing the glans of his cock against the entrance, and leaning into the fault.

[livejournal.com profile] capt_kasya: Kassian grunted, and shuddered.

"Good," he murmured.

The rock was cool against his chest, but his body slowly warmed it, and his exposed back and torso steamed in the crisp air.

The contrast of temperatures between upper body and lower made him shiver, but he turned his head to look back over his shoulder, smirking.

"I knew I could trust you to know what I'd like."

He caught Isaev's pale eyes with a gaze lowered and wanton, but then turned back to lay his cheek down between his outspread arms.

His body arched, open and hungry, anticipating Isaev's entry as he felt the play of Isaev's cock pushing against him. Kassian pushed back, encouraging Isaev's forward motion.

"I want you," he urged.

[livejournal.com profile] andrei_isaev: Andrei's eyes swept down, following the motion as Irinarhov laid his cheek against the rock, looking down at the sniper's tautly wrought physique, the moderately broad shoulders that tapered to a narrow, manful waist and hard, sleek hips.

Thrusting into him with a single, flawless stroke of clean violence.

"You're a beauty," he whistled, softly, roughly, caressing the suntanned expanse of his lover's back with the flat of palm.

He began to work his hips in a slow, tight rhythm, pressing Kassian down against the stone with ardent possession.

"Tell me you're mine," he demanded, sweetly, leaning forward and grasping him at the shoulder, anchoring his stokes to bring them deeper. "Tell me again, what you said before. Because I didn't hear you."

[livejournal.com profile] capt_kasya: Kassian let out a hiss between clenched teeth as Isaev thrust into him. Never was the strength in Isaev's hard, muscled body more apparent to Kassian than when they were joined, like this, when the relentless, kinetic motion fully engulfed him.

He'd found that he had come to love the sensation, not just of the deep and pounding strokes that hit all of his sweet spots.

No, he'd also come love the feeling of vulnerability it gave him, to open himself fully to Isaev, in the deepest and fullest act of trust he knew.

The first time he'd offered had been the night Isaev had been ordered to examine the burned and mutilated corpse they'd discovered.

Kassian had known that the horror of Isaev's task had clung to him, and when he'd asked Isaev to fuck him, it had been more of an offering. He'd meant to ease his comrade's discomfort and take his mind off of it.

But then, once they'd begun, Kassian realized how deeply it affected him to be penetrated by Isaev, and how much he got out of it.

And now, Isaev's deep, forceful strokes pulsed through him as their bodies moved as one, and he strained in perfect rhythm as Isaev pounded him.

His fingers dug against rock, but found no purchase.

He shuddered, his entire body rippling.

"I'm yours," he groaned out. "Body and soul. I love you, Andrei Alexandrovich. You own me."

[livejournal.com profile] andrei_isaev: "You love me," repeated Isaev, breathlessly.

He closed his eyes, falling forward over his comrade's body, forearms flat on the rock, and covering Irinarhov with the press of his body. Andrei quickened his pace, spooning the other man tightly, riding his hips, feeling the thrust back up against him.

His lips nibbled along the sniper's tensed and straining neck, nuzzling his ear, his hair.

"Like the poets write about, Kassian? Like that?"

[livejournal.com profile] capt_kasya: "Like that," Kassian breathed.

They moved harder now, thrusts building and forceful.

"Like Pyramus and Thisbe. Helen and Paris."

Kassian shuddered.

"Achilles and Patroclus. Alexander and Hephaestion. Comrades who loved each other, as men, and as companions."

Every thrust pushed his aching, thrumming erection against the rock shelf, the pressure and friction grinding through him, the perfect counterpoint to the hard and heavy cock resonant inside him.

"Love that sustains a man and gives him the strength to return to his lover, through perils thrown at him by every god, over the span of ten years. Love that keeps a man on his feet and fighting, side by side with his greatest comrade, even when he's bleeding so heavily, he should be dead."

Kassian felt the rising heat inside him, surging and burning. He felt Isaev's body caging his, holding it together even as it threatened to break.

He fought for the breath to speak, and timed his words between sharp inhalations and shuddering gasps, though as he continued, his voice grew stronger.

"Love like that, Dasha. Love that endures, transcends the ordinary. That's what they're talking about in those poems. That's what I feel for you, comrade. The kind of love they write about, a thousand years later."

[livejournal.com profile] andrei_isaev: "Oh god," exclaimed Andrei, softly, astonished. "...oh god."

He buried his face against Kassian's neck, his breath coming shallow, almost sobbing.

Achilles, indeed.

Conscious of the weakening in his will and emotion, he compensated physically, fucking Irinarhov harder, clenching his jaw against the sudden sentiment that threatened to bring him to his knees.

And the realization, like the discovery of a new element. Incredulous. Inconceivable.

"It's like that. ....It's really like that," he whispered, clutching Irinarhov's hair in the fingers of one hand.

He felt sensation, rising, battling sentiment for primacy.

"Why didn't you tell me?" he hissed, kissing the corner of Irinarhov's mouth with rough and utilitarian passion that could find no other expression in the wake of his epiphany. "We didn't you tell me it could be like this?"

[livejournal.com profile] capt_kasya: Kassian turned his head back to return Isaev's turbulent kisses, half the time missing, grasping at air, inaccurate in the heat of the moment.

He felt the tremors wrack Isaev's body, and heard the mixture of disbelief and raw emotion surge in his young voice.

It made Kassian shudder and shake inside, to feel every tremor that ran through Isaev's body by virtue of their intimate joining.

"No one can tell you," he breathed. "You can't just be told. You have to feel it. You have to know it, and believe it."

Kassian sucked in air, gasping hard now, taking every thrust and meeting it with equal and impassioned vehemence.

"Not everyone gets this, Dasha. We're fortunate, comrade."
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