Aegis

Mar. 10th, 2009 10:39 am
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(Continued from here and then here.)

Kassian stared at Andrei for a moment.

His pulse had picked up for no good reason he could name, other than watching Ilarion kiss Andrei. It had occurred to Kassian that he should avert his gaze, but instead, he'd found himself watching.

Ilarion had moved in like Russian winter, sudden and intense, but the kiss had hardly been cold.

Andrei had told Kassian about his relationship with his brother from early on. Kassian had conceptualized it well enough then, but had never understood it viscerally.

Andrei's mouth was full and still slightly parted, the corners curved up faintly.

Kassian licked his lips.

"Sorry to come after you like that," he said, glancing around them. "It's not that I don't trust you, or think you can't handle yourself."

They lingered in the hall, near the exit. They would have to go outside, and cross the cold and windy yard in order to get back to the captains' barracks.

"It's just..."

He paused, and met Andrei's eyes with quiet intensity.

"Even though your brother's here now, there's enough room for both of us to watch out for you."
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Date: 2009-03-10 08:23 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] andrei-isaev.livejournal.com
Andrei laughed, holding up a hand.

"Njet, njet comrade," he said, affably. "I knew I only had a small window of time before you made me."

His face sobered, and he looked down, then raised his eyes again, hesitantly.

"Sorry to skate out on your watch, Kassian. It was only meant to be a quiet little gym bout."

He shook his head, disbelieving.

"Then I heard the whole meltdown with Rakitin go down. And I couldn't just leave Viktor there with a choked out KGB body."

Andrei frowned, brushing his hair out of his eyes with a flat hand.

"I put us both in danger. It won't happen again."

Date: 2009-03-10 09:02 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] capt-kasya.livejournal.com
Kassian was silent for a moment, then his mouth twitched.

"I can't imagine you following the rules all the time."

He shook his head, exhaling.

"Besides, this whole thing is getting ridiculous. No wonder why you're going stir-crazy. Rakitin needs to finish those blood samples so they can start focusing on other suspects. They're wasting time with you."

He realized that he was still gripping his balaclava in his hand. Kassian stuffed it into his pocket, absently. There was no need to hide his identity any longer, now that he and Isaev were in the same place.

Kassian sombered slightly, still looking at Andrei intensely.

"In any case, you're not the kind of man who would leave a friend in the lurch in order to cover your own ass, Andrei Isaev," he said, softly. "You don't have to apologize for that. I admire it."

Date: 2009-03-10 09:22 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] andrei-isaev.livejournal.com
Andrei paused, glancing down the hall and then back.

"Uh, about Lasha..."

He set his lips askew and worried them sensuously for a moment.

"It isn't the kind of thing that ends, or fades. I have him for life, like...like Nika's diabetes."

Andrei shook his head.

"He's relentless, and he's black-hearted, and I sometimes truly believe he might have met the devil on an evening walk, and gladly shaken his hand..."

He shrugged, smiling. It was wan.

"He's Lasha," he said, after a moment, helplessly.

Date: 2009-03-11 12:04 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] capt-kasya.livejournal.com
Kassian looked both ways down the hall, as Andrei had, seeing no wayward souls.

He stepped up close to him, so that their bodies touched lightly, thigh to thigh and chest to chest. He let one gloved hand rest at Isaev's hip.

The air around Andrei's personal space was heavy and pungent with a musk that went straight to Kassian's head.

Andrei was taller than him. Kassian leaned up, and forward, moving close, but instead of crushing their mouths together, he let his tongue brush across Andrei's upper lip.

He traced the swollen curve of it, following the contours, licking his skin, letting taste and sensation mingle. He followed the arc to Andrei's even fuller lower lip and pulled it gently into his mouth, to suck it.

Andrei tasted more piquant than usual, he thought, a taste of salt and spice that lingered.

Kassian worked at Andrei's lip with the slow intensity with which he usually treated his cock, as if he could drink him in.

After a few long moments, he eased back, teasing it out, releasing Andrei slowly.

He pressed his lips together, and looked up.

"I know," he murmured.

Date: 2009-03-11 07:14 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] andrei-isaev.livejournal.com
Andrei smiled, shaking his head.

"You are a sick fuck," he said. "You really are."

He rubbed his lips slowly with his hand.

"You know, Irinarhov," he said, as they turned to depart the cozening warmth of the hallway for the unforgiving and icy night, "you're really taking this well. My brother, I mean. Considering who he is, and what he did to you."

Andrei's smile twisted at the tips, touched by solemnity.

"I'm lucky, aren't I, that you didn't know his name."

Date: 2009-03-11 09:09 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] capt-kasya.livejournal.com
Kassian shook his head.

The wind whipped up around them as Andrei pushed open the outer door.

"They must have said it, at some point. But it didn't register, at the time. Only what they said about my father."

He kept his head down and his arms tucked close. They walked briskly across the yard that was lit with not-quite overlapping pools of yellowish light. Kassian thought they must have added a few, recently.

"I even remember being angry at myself later, for not catching the name. So I could..."

Kassian shook his head.

"I didn't know what I would have done, at the time, if I remembered his name. Probably nothing."

He paused, glancing at Andrei as they walked, studying the angles of his profile for a moment.

"But you know, it makes me wonder, if I judged you unfairly when we first met, because of him."

His lips pressed together, curving with faint irony.

"I saw a young blond officer, handsome and...confident, something familiar about your manner, your looks....and I assumed the worst."

Date: 2009-03-12 06:59 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] andrei-isaev.livejournal.com
"And you got exactly that," murmured Andrei in a low voice. "I'm nothing but trouble, just like you said, Captain."

A lazy grin spread across his features, cast into them by the cold atmosphere.

"You judged me exactly right. The real unfairness was that you never had a chance."

He laughed, lightly, shaking his head, glancing sidewise at Kassian.

"But...Handsome?"

Andrei smiled, curiously.

"So you find my brother...handsome?"

Date: 2009-03-12 09:15 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] capt-kasya.livejournal.com
Kassian opened his mouth, then closed it.

He was silent for a few moments, a little taken aback.

"I said that, didn't I," he muttered.

The captains' barracks were just ahead, looking familiar and inviting, a shelter from the chill wind.

He glanced at Andrei, and shook his head.

"What I meant was, your brother looks like you. That is, there's a resemblance between you. So, since I find you handsome, it stands to reason. In spite of..."

He frowned lightly as they got to the door, and he paused to open it.

"...everything. If you know what I mean. It's almost like the person I punched and your brother are two different people in my head, and I'm not going to hold a grudge against your brother, Dasha."

Date: 2009-03-12 07:49 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] andrei-isaev.livejournal.com
Andrei continued to smile.

"Did you think he was handsome then?" he pressed, amused.

He paused.

"Because, if we look alike, and you had formed a negative association with his face..."

His voice lowered, in mock solemnity.

"...no wonder you reacted to my indecent advances with such...obvious reluctance."

His sarcasm was unloaded and light.

Date: 2009-03-12 09:05 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] capt-kasya.livejournal.com
"You don't look that much - "

Kassian caught himself, breaking off, and closed his mouth firmly.

He was aware he had been about to contradict himself.

His face darkened. He glanced away, holding silent while he thought, rapidly.

After a few seconds, Kassian raised his gaze, and tried again.

"Whatever...negative associations...I had with your brother's face were overriden by your shining personality, Isaev."

He gave him a pointed look, trying to look stern, the effect somewhat hampered by the curve at one corner of his mouth.

Date: 2009-03-12 09:45 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] andrei-isaev.livejournal.com
"Oh," said Andrei, raising his eyebrows over a deep smile, "I see. Well, that explains it."

He laughed, shaking his hair back from his face. The bitter wind bit at his cheekbones.

"It doesn't matter, of course. I'm just amazed you didn't want to punch me."

A grin lit the angles of his face.

"Or that you didn't give him another shot to the face when you found out who he was," he added, jostling Irinarhov's shoulder with rough affection.

Date: 2009-03-12 10:58 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] capt-kasya.livejournal.com
"Maybe I'll just bite your lip again and make your mouth bleed instead," Kassian muttered, wincing.

He pressed his lips together, shaking his head.

"You're right. I am a sick fuck."

Kassian let out a single short laugh, quietly disbelieving.

"Let's get inside. It's cold."

He pushed the door open, and ushered Andrei in.

The barracks room felt substantially warmer than it had been outside, without the wind chill to bite through their clothes.

"What a night."

Kassian pulled off his gloves, rubbing his hands together, then sat down on their bunk, feeling tired.

"So is that really what happened? Was Rakitin telling the truth?"

Date: 2009-03-12 11:30 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] andrei-isaev.livejournal.com
Andrei turned, pulling off his gloves, surprise written on his face.

"Da," he exclaimed, earnestly. "Isn't that fucking ridiculous?"

He shook his salty hair out and worried it with his fingers.

"And Nika gets to be the lightning rod, now, because that bezumny prick couldn't keep his hard-on for death in his fucking pants."

A snort issued from his lips and nose, contemptuous but also disbelieving.

"Poor Liadov. He's living on borrowed time, and he knows it. But he's going to drag Ilarion out until the bitter end, hoping he'll collapse of exposure."

Date: 2009-03-13 08:39 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] capt-kasya.livejournal.com
Kassian looked up, shaking his head.

"It was...painful, watching the the two of them. Seeing their expressions, the way they looked at each other. It was like there wasn't anyone else in the room, as far as either of them were concerned."

Kassian leaned down to pull off his boots. His voice lowered to a thoughtful murmur.

"Liadov told me the story of what happened between them. That's some bad blood on both sides."

He looked up, considering Andrei for a few moments, frowning intently for a moment.

"You must feel like you're caught between them."

Date: 2009-03-13 09:24 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] andrei-isaev.livejournal.com
Andrei paused, after shrugging out of his warmup jacket and tossing it over an empty bunk.

"I actually didn't know what happened," he said, after a moment, glancing down.

He sat down on the bunk across from Kassian, rubbing his hands restlessly, one over the other.

"Not until long after the fact. Not until Grigoriich up and left Leningrad."

His lips pursed and slowly drew outward.

"Even then, I didn't know the context of the rift. I only got some idea of it here, when Nika arrived on base. But honestly, I'm still in the dark."

Andrei shrugged, vaguely.

"Nika was always more on for disclosure than Ilarion. Lasha cradles his secrets close."

He looked up, lips parted, eyes vulnerable and hesitantly seeking.

"What did he tell you?" he asked, quietly.

Date: 2009-03-13 06:19 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] capt-kasya.livejournal.com
"Nikanor told me it was his idea, the break. That he felt like he had to leave your brother, because Lasha seduced his wife."

Kassian kicked his boots into a corner, and stood up to strip his gear, hanging it up on the pegs near the wall that Isaev had punched. The plaster was cracked in radiating spikes from the point of impact, almost artful. Kassian found it made him smile to see it now, that reminder, a bit of history, like a scar.

He turned back to Andrei.

"But Liadov's wife..."

Kassian shook his head.

"He didn't marry her for love, but for obligation. He was responsible for sending her father to the Zone, and the man died there. Taking care of her and was a promise he made to the man's dying lover. And then, when the girl's mother lay dying as well, he had to promise to marry Nina. She was very young, and very naive. He told her he would be like a brother..."

He paused, mouth twitching.

"Not in the Isaev sense, but as a guardian, and a friend and protector. And Ilarion seduced her, apparently because he was jealous of the marriage, not understanding its nature."

Date: 2009-03-13 08:08 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] andrei-isaev.livejournal.com
Andrei looked at him, taken aback, wordless.

His brows were crooked into little jags of incomprehension.

"Is that all," he said, finally, in a wooden tone.

Ilarion had never said a word. Not about Liadov's wife, or anything surrounding it.

But Nikanor had talked to Kassian at length, it seemed, about things that Andrei's own brother had barred him from knowing.

"It makes more sense now," Andrei said, vaguely. "It was hard to imagine a woman coming between them in the classic sense."

He paused, running a hand through his hair.

"They're very good friends, the closest I've ever witnessed. Sometimes I think Nika is more like a brother to Ilarion than I am."

Andrei shook his head.

"If he had but told Lasha-"

He frowned, looking down, reconsidering his words, falling silent.

"Why you, Irinarhov? Why did he say all this to you?"

Date: 2009-03-13 08:58 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] capt-kasya.livejournal.com
"I don't know, for sure."

Kassian rubbed his face, his fingers lingering on his jaw, feeling the roughness of stubble.

He felt exhausted enough to sleep in his clothes, but he sat down on the bunk and began to unbutton his jacket.

"He mentioned something about Lasha, about their break, and I asked him what had happened. To explain it, he told me the story of how he came to marry Nina, about her father, and how he died in the Zone. That part, he still feels a lot of guilt over. The man's only real crime was muzhelostvo, and it was Liadov's word that convicted him."

Kassian frowned, pulling off his jacket.

"I think he wanted to confess that to someone who would listen. Someone outside of the Ministry, and I was convenient. The other part..."

He paused, considering.

"Well. He knew about you and me already. I told him. Maybe he wanted to let me know what I was in for, perhaps warn me, about getting involved with Ilarion's brother."

Date: 2009-03-13 10:41 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] andrei-isaev.livejournal.com
Andrei nodded, slowly.

"But you didn't tell me," he said, after a moment.

He paused, then shrugged abruptly, shifting focus.

"Lasha wouldn't have either," he said.

His eyes traveled up toward the ceiling, where the utilitarian overhead fixture made a wide, shallow pan of light.

"His lips are tight as a funeral drum."

Andrei's gaze hardened.

"Black ice, that's what he is. Heartless. My father's son in every inch and increment."

Date: 2009-03-13 11:17 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] capt-kasya.livejournal.com
"I don't know your father - " Kassian started, but broke off, reconsidering.

He shook his head.

"That's to say, I met him that once, but I don't know the man outside his...professional bearing. But I know Lasha loves you."

Kassian kicked off his pants.

"You should have seen how quickly he got dressed to come with me, when I knocked on his door earlier this evening. The idea that you could be in any sort of danger set him off immediately."

He frowned lightly, thinking of the first thing Andrei had said.

Kassian met Isaev's grey eyes steadily.

"And no...I didn't tell you about Liadov and Lasha then. But I am telling you now."

Date: 2009-03-14 07:11 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] andrei-isaev.livejournal.com
"Anything else you want to tell me?" asked Andrei, staring back at him, his voice just touched by an overtone of frost. "Anything you're privy to and I'm not?"

He slowly pulled off his grey tank, without budging his eyes where they rested, locked to Kassian's, fathomless and dark.

Obstinant, thought Andrei, feeling the flickering tease of anger along his bare shoulders, flitting like electricity down his arms.

"You know, while we're at it?"

Date: 2009-03-14 08:21 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] capt-kasya.livejournal.com
Kassian frowned, slowly.

"You're angry," he said, low and lightly incredulous. "Why are you angry about that?"

He stared.

"You're mad that I had a private conversation with your brother's friend, and I didn't immediately come home to report every single thing he told me, whether it was in confidence, whether I realized it was relevant to you, or not?"

Kassian shook his head, wordless for a moment.

"I told you this, now, because it came up. Because you told me you didn't know, and with Lasha here, I thought you should, since it affects you, having to watch them go at it."

Date: 2009-03-14 08:58 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] andrei-isaev.livejournal.com
Andrei's eyes narrowed.

He rose, slowly, to his full height, clad only in his sweat pants.

"Where exactly does your loyalty lie, Captain Irinarhov?"

His lips went taut at the edges.

"With the MVD officer who judged you and stripped you of your rank? With the man whose degenerate overtures you complained to me about?"

Andrei turned, burning off kinetic excess, scowling.

"Why would you keep his confidence?"

Date: 2009-03-14 09:52 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] capt-kasya.livejournal.com
"What?" Kassian whispered.

He stared at Andrei's muscular back, reading the stiffness in his shoulders.

"What is it that you think of me? That I would shoot a man in cold blood, with full knowledge I would have to face the consequences of my actions, then suddenly turn around and condemn Liadov for persuading the rest of the troika to be lenient on me and not send me to the Zone like they wanted?"

His lips compressed, flinty.

"That I would decide he wasn't a friend to me because he made advances, and it spooked me, which is probably more my problem than his?"

Kassian leaned forward on the bunk, clad in only his tel'nik and shorts, his gaze following Isaev relentlessly.

"I don't put Liadov above you, in my loyalty and friendship, and he's not the man I love."

He gave a sharp shake of his head.

"But if I've done something to hurt you, Isaev, I don't understand what it is."

Date: 2009-03-15 09:04 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] andrei-isaev.livejournal.com
"Forget it," dismissed Andrei, without looking at him.

He shucked his boxing sweats without ceremony and threw them at the dark green canvas bag that held their laundry.

When had they begun to network their laundry?

He turned around, finally, stark naked and glaring.

His features felt like a glacier, icy and changeless.

"Forget it."

He moved forward.

"Liadov was right to warn you, Kassian Irinarhov. About Lasha, and about me."

He paused, full lips whitening like chalk.

"But you're of a mind with Lasha, aren't you. Enough room for both of you to watch over me, that's what you said. Between the two of you, I have no doubt you'll keep me in the dark."

His eyes narrowed dangerously as he approached the bed.

"For now."
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