Sep. 20th, 2009 03:04 pm
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[personal profile] capt_kasya
Kassian left Liadov's quarters with a sense of surreality, the feeling he had just been witness to something bizarre. He was still not sure exactly what had possessed Rakitin to act as he had, but Kassian supposed it was not for him to know. Everyone's demons were their own.

The door swung in silently, and he slipped into the Captains' barracks without turning on the light.

It was late. Kassian suspected Andrei had gone to bed long before, and was undoubtedly sleeping. Though Kassian felt fully awake, mind humming with the events of the evening, he saw no reason to wake Andrei over it.

He could tell him in the morning, if they were still talking. He wondered if Andrei was still sleeping in the same bunk, and if he were, if Kassian should choose another.

He pushed the door shut behind him with a soft click.

It was cold in the room.

Kassian moved to the weapons locker to put away his rifle, pausing to glance toward their bunk.

There was no telltale shape outlined in the darkness; his gaze automatically went to the others.

Empty. Empty, and empty.

He stepped forward, then turned in place slowly, scanning the room, his rifle still looped around his shoulder, bumping carelessly against his back.

The stove had burned down to a cold husk, and Isaev's boots were no longer in their usual corner.

Kassian knew that sometimes Andrei left the barracks at night, when he felt restless. Off to the gym, or wherever else it was Andrei went. But something felt off, to his instinct. His eyes narrowed.

The blankets had been thrown over the bunk, instead of just pushed to the side. And Isaev's drawer next to the bed lay open, rifled and ransacked.

Kassian unslung his rifle and sat down abruptly.

He sat for a while, in the quiet, cold room, eventually sinking down to the coverlet. He drew his rifle to him, clutching it against his chest, the way he had during the war. Supplies had always been short and he had never let his rifle out of his grasp, lest he find it missing its custom scope in the morning.

The rifle felt cold and hard against his elbow.

Kassian closed his eyes and breathed in, flinching as he recognized Andrei's scent, heavy on the sheets, mingled with his own.

After a few seconds he rose and ripped off the bedsheets. He threw them in the laundry and replaced them with a fresh set, tucking the corners viciously under the thin mattress.

When he collapsed into the bedding again, it smelled of soap and cedar.

He lay for a time, wide awake, rifle pressed against his arm, equipment digging into his back. Eventually he shed his boots and took off his belt, but when he shifted again he felt a sharp point of pressure against his thigh.

Kassian dug into his pocket, fingers closing around around a bit of warm metal, drawing it out slowly.

It was a lighter. Isaev's.

It felt heavy in his palm, probably solid silver. Ornate, probably foreign, contraband. Kassian had borrowed it that night, and never returned it, he realized.

It had been sitting in his pocket for as long as he had been wearing this particular set of fatigues, which by his reckoning was two days now, going on three.

He flicked it, experimentally, and found that it responded immediately with a small bloom of flame that wavered in the darkness.

Kassian watched for a few seconds, long enough to spoil his night vision, then he flicked the lighter closed again.

He lay back in the bunk, stretching out experimentally.

He recalled what Andrei had told him, and realized it was true.

Alone in the bunk, Kassian had much more room.

Date: 2011-01-21 12:01 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]

Good morning, Captain.

Semeyonev and I just finished patrol and were just heading to mess.


Date: 2011-01-21 05:28 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]



I suppose I'll see you there. I'm headed in that direction too.

Date: 2011-01-21 10:32 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]

I hope you had a good cigarette, sir.

Date: 2011-01-21 11:30 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]

I hope you sleep well, Lieutenant.

Date: 2011-01-22 12:54 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Sir. As well as you sleep, I imagine, sir.

You look well-rested. Captain. Sir.

Date: 2011-01-22 01:23 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]

Slept like a sniper on a rooftop.

You needn't keep addressing me as Captain, Lieutenant. I don't see anyone else around here. I'll know who you're talking about.


Date: 2011-01-22 01:55 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Yes sir.

I am sure your sleep will improve now that you have been granted extended R and R, sir. I am sure the Ministry is very grateful.

And perhaps you will regain that promotion to Major, sir, in light of your service to the investigation beyond the call of normal duty.

I would not be surprised, sir.

Let me be the first to congratulate you if so, sir.

Date: 2011-01-22 11:08 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
I would be.



I doubt the Ministry, or the military, or anyone else, particularly cares about my service, or my rank.

And you can stop calling me sir.

Date: 2011-01-22 11:26 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Affirmative, Captain Irinarhov. You outrank me, so that's your call.

Nice to be a free man again, I have to say.


My barracks arrest was suspended as of this morning, according to Savva. Haven't gotten the story on that yet, but I can't say I'm displeased.

Permission to speak freely?

I'm sure you're pleased that this ends your duty. Saves you the trouble of quitting, right?

Date: 2011-01-22 11:39 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Speak freely any time you like.

...not that I really need to tell you that.

It's not like you particularly have a problem in that area, is it?


For your information, I quit before the order came through. Not that it mattered much in the end. And if I can speak freely, it was your father who called Major Liadov and gave him the order. Liadov started the wash the moment he hung up the phone.

I guess that's how you bluebloods do things.

Out of nowhere, like a bullet in the head.

Date: 2011-01-22 08:30 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]

It's a wash?

...And you heard this from Liadov? Or my brother?


What's wrong with a bullet in the head, Captain Irinarhov? I thought you loved that approach. You always said it was the best kill possible.

The most humane. The most artful.

Date: 2011-01-23 12:12 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]

I watched him take his lighter to a document with your name on it and burn it in the wastebasket. Then he told Lieutenant Rakitin to hand over all his paperwork as well.

The lieutenant was less than cooperative. At first.

...The major managed to convince him it was in his best interests not to fight it.


...The point of a bullet to the head is that they're not supposed to suffer, Lieutenant.

Date: 2011-01-23 09:04 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
I never was that great a shot, Captain Irinarhov.


So, Liadov's taken up horticulture. Well, that's how problems disappear. Problems, all comes out in the wash.


Wait. Does Lasha know?

Date: 2011-01-23 11:43 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
I guess I wasn't that good of an instructor, after all.


I don't know if your brother knows yet.

Maybe he got the same call. Maybe Liadov's going to tell him this morning.

Either way, it doesn't make much of a difference.

If your father hadn't done it, your brother would have.

He's nothing if not devoted to you.

Date: 2011-04-15 01:16 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
great post as usual!

Date: 2013-10-18 11:28 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Kassian Dmitrievich,

I'm not asking you to forgive me. Some things are past forgiving, and that's the way of life. But I wanted to write you. Write you and tell you that I regret the way we parted, and my role in causing such pain to us both. I was callous, and I was afraid. In the end I was no better than my brother, or my father, when it came to my own, and the thought causes me more trouble than you know. I suppose the apple does not roll far, but merely thinks it does when it settles in a furrow from which the tree cannot be seen.

I have landed safely in Leningrad. I have boxed, and I have drunk, and I have wandered the streets. I met a crimelord, and he made me dinner. I have had strange nights like I never imagined. Most nights I sleep alone. I think of you often. It can't be helped.

I regret leaving you to a cold and empty barrack, without words. I regret the cruel exchanges that followed our separation. I regret that my love for you was such a strange and unpredictable beast that I did not know how to tame or approach it. I regret ever forcing myself into your contented solitude - simply because I wanted you, wanted you to want me - without care or regard for the damage I might cause you.

I do not expect you to write me in return, nor will I be surprised if my letter returns to me unopened. But if by chance you are in some quiet lonely nest, holed up with only a novel and your rifle, perhaps I can be a company to you. Perhaps you have already found comfort, and company, and hardly recall my name.

If nothing else, you can burn this letter, and know some peace.

Andrei Aleksandrovich Isaev

Date: 2013-10-22 06:21 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]


By now, you probably didn't expect to hear from me, for whatever reason. But I wanted you to know it was not reluctance that kept me from replying to you.

It took your letter a while to catch up with me, and when it did, yes, I was surprised to see it, and also glad. Glad to know that you're doing well. Glad to know that you have good company, and the freedom to pursue what you will. It's what you need, and it's what you deserve. I know the military was never right for you, in spite of how good you were at it.

I also wanted you to know that I don't regret the same things you do. I don't regret meeting you, or engaging with you, or drawing you close. You were good for me, and I was happy, and those moments have come so few and far between for me that I could never regret what was between us.

You were right in what you said to me, and you were right to say it. Not so sure about your timing, but in your message, and in the fact you voiced it, you were right. It's a hard thing to look at yourself and accept, though, and I know I withdrew because that's easiest for me, to simply return to my solitude.

From my tower, I watched your helicopter leave.

Then, I was still too caught up with myself that I couldn't even say goodbye, or let one last warm sentiment cross my lips. I assumed I would never see you again.

You were right in that I would have been happy to been my entire life in the army, roosting in my tower and shooting people in the head until my eyesight failed. That's no life, even if it's the only real life you've ever known. You were right to tell me that, but it was a hard truth, one that took me a while to swallow down.

I have left the army. I'm in Moscow now, working for the Ministry, of all things. Liadov was able to get me a position in Internal Security, which is mostly just a fancy way of saying I am a MVD policeman. My father is rolling over in his unmarked grave.

I have been writing my memoirs. I'm not sure if anyone but me is ever going to read them, but I have been wanting to get around to doing it for a while, and now is a good as time as any. I have never read an account of the war that is the war as I experienced it, though I imagine the censors are thorough.

The war seems like such a long time ago.

I would not say I was happy then. I remember being afraid, and I remember being alone, but there is a certain comfort to knowing your one and only purpose.

I think of you well and I remember you fondly, Andrei Aleksandrovich. I always will.


Date: 2013-12-26 10:13 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Kassian Dmitreivich,

What can I say? I'm stunned; really and truly stunned. It's strange enough to hear that you're no longer a soldier. Finding out that you threw in with the Moscow Ministry is just - forgive me - surreal.

I thought it would be hard for me to imagine you in a place like Moscow, but ultimately I guess it's not so different. A man can be an island in one concrete jungle as easily as another. I'm sure you have your books, and your rifle, and your solitude. All the things you loved, but without all the deprivation and seclusion. The same structure, with more freedom.

I doubt your father is rolling over much. I won't go into details, but recent anecdotes that came to my ear from the lips of a friend lead me to think that the dead have much better perspective than the living.

I'm glad you wrote me, Kasya. I wouldn't have gone well to the grave without knowing that you were aware of my regret - without apologizing for everything - my youth, my selfishness, my impulsiveness, my capricious nature.

My god, Kasya- I hope you're finding happiness in Moscow. I hope your glass and your bed are full - or at least that your days are.

I remember how you kissed the blood from my knuckles after I scarred the wall with my fist.

I remember how you watched over me like a shadow, how you broke your code of ethics to shield me from suspicion.

I remember many beautiful nights by your side, and how I ruined a particularly beautiful one. It won me nothing and cost me much.

Perhaps some part of you loves me still. If so, I own some part of you still, and will never relinquish it. I'm sorry, but I can't. It's my nature to keep what's mine. Perhaps you keep some part of me as well. I don't begrudge it. I want you to hold it.

If you ever have the occasion to find yourself in Leningrad, and should you want to stand eye to eye with me once more, you'll have little trouble finding me.

I feel compelled to ask, though perhaps you have no way of knowing, and perhaps you have no desire to write back - what happened to Aryol? To Viktor, and Lynx?


Andrei Aleksandrovich Isaev

Date: 2013-12-26 10:18 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
P.S. If you would have another pair of eyes for your memoir, I'm your man. I think it's really great that you're getting it all down on paper, instead of letting it be lost to time. Knowing you, having your intimacy and thinking of your experiences during the war has given me perspective. It may do the same for others.

Date: 2013-12-30 12:14 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Privet Dasha,

Your letters continue to be pleasant surprises. It's good to hear from you, and to know you're still doing well. It's also good to know that you remember me with such fondness, because I remember many beautiful things too.

Just the other day I thought about when we jumped into that spring during the search in the caves. That was something I wouldn't have done on my own, I'm certain, and that's one of the things I loved about that time. How free I felt, how good you were for me. Maybe I needed an excuse to live a little, to allow myself a little spontaneity. It was too easy to keep plodding forward, yoke and blinders on, but there's more to life than that, isn't there.

In any case, in spite of the grimness of that situation, the memory is a good one. There are many others.

Moscow is...interesting. Different. Busy and noisy, but that's all right. I go to work each day, but it's not always routine, and I like that part of it. It reminds me more of the Grad when we were hunting for the killer, because there's a little uncertainty about what the day will bring. Sometimes it is routine, crowd control or patrolling. Other times, it's something more interesting. I've rubbed shoulders with some of the detektivs at a few crime scenes. That work is interesting to me - there's a lot of necessary attention to detail.

My superiors know who I am and what I used to do, and I think they'd like me to join the counter-terrorism unit. I'm not so sure about that, but I understand why they'd want a sniper that's already trained, as opposed to having to train one from scratch.

I've made a couple of friends here. You know I'm not the most outgoing person, but I'm trying to be friendlier than I used to be. It helps that I'm new, and some of the others have tried to help me feel welcome.

Viktor and Aryol and Lynx left the base before I did, off on another unspeakable mission somewhere. I shook Viktor's hand and wished him well before he left. I think he was glad.

He says he'll be in touch. I hope so.

I would like it if you would read the memoir. There are a lot of things I never got the chance to tell you about, things that I didn't know if you'd find interesting. I'll send you a copy when I have more of it done.

Tell me about the boxing. How was it? Did you fight in the ring again? I hope it purged more demons than it conjured.

Have you heard from anyone from our old squad?

Be well, Dasha. I like to think of you living and loving life, the way you are meant to.

I'll see you sometime, in Leningrad.


Date: 2013-12-30 10:22 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Kassian Dmitrievich,

I did not fight, and have not fought. Not really or truly. I have been to the fights, and I have sparred, once, but that is the extent of it. But for all that reticence, it was not as trying or as terrifying as I had made it out to be - neither going to the fights, nor being in the ring again. You'll know nothing of Leningrad's underworld, of course, nor of the MVD, but here my older brother's friend Grigorii is the one who runs the subterranean pugilist circuit. The unspoken and unspeakable bouts where we all collide in good fun - Ministry and criminal alike. Or perhaps I'm being redundant. I think you would say so. Lasha insisted we attend, and I thought it could do no harm.

It was at the fights, actually, that I made a strange friend. His name is Lev Romanovich, and he's a crime lord, I suppose. There's really no other word for it. Lasha calls him 'management', which is a wry kind of slang for a high-ranking criminal, the type who smiles and moves mountains without sullying his palms or creasing his suit. As humans go, Lev is a strange case - he likes to fight the underground matches, despite his rank.

The night I met him, I watched him destroy a younger, heavier tough without anything you might call mercy. I had seen him in the locker room, taping his fists before the bout, and my eyes lingered oddly as I passed. I don't know if it was something about the oblivion and nihilism in his eyes, or because he was cut like a diamond. I had scarcely seen a man stripped and conditioned like that since spetsnaz, and even then they were few and far between.

Anyway, we clicked, whatever you want to call it, in that wordless way. He's a handsome type, a blatnye prince, mid-thirties, I'd hazard. A mane of loose blond curls, sea-green eyes. It's a treacherous kind of beauty, but he's not a treacherous man. Or at least not as I know him. He asked me to have a drink with him after the match, and I agreed.

As demons go, mine are little match for his. He smiles, he laughs, but in truth he exists somewhere between bitterness and despair, forever mourning a lover he found and lost in the North, a painter who was convicted of false political crimes. He cannot move on from that frozen life; it has frozen his life outside the gulag as well, like a chain reaction of crystals.

It moves me, his sadness. His anguish. The inconceivable weight of such a thing. You can speak of anything to a man like that, any weakness or regret, and he will not bat an eye or look askance. So I did. And he spoke as well, of things he had told no one, things that cost him heavily in the coin of pain to utter aloud. He bled himself for me, laid himself bare. And in the wake of that vivisection, we struck up a friendship.

Eventually he convinced me to lace up my gloves and spar with him, and despite my misgivings, I did. Perhaps I trusted him, having held his darkest heart and secrets in my hands. Perhaps I had confidence that he could hold his own, and that I was no true threat to him. Whatever it was, I was able to enter the ring with him, without fear, without guilt.

So while I have not fought, I have come home, in manner of speaking.

I think Ilarion is relieved - to have me close, to have me in Leningrad again, to see me embrace our life once more, like the little brother he knew.

Ilarion is a detective, as I think you must know. I could see you as a detective. You have the stubbornness and the discerning eye for minutiae that it requires. Perhaps you should pursue that track. Of course you could be in counterterrorism, easily - no one doubts your aptitude as a sniper. It's a matter of what will serve you, and make you pleased in your existence.


Date: 2013-12-30 10:23 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
All I want is for you is happiness, Kassian Irinarhov.

It soothes the ache in my own heart to know that you are among friends. That you are valued as the rare gem that you are.

I'm glad you had a chance to say goodbye to Viktor. I never really did.

I hope he stays in touch, too.

I haven't heard from anyone in the Squad - I left no contact information. I guess Lynx did rub off on me. Leave no trace behind. Start anew from the flames. They know my name and have a vague idea I'm of the nomenklatura. It would be enough, if they were determined to find me. I assume that some day I'll hear from Savva or Arkady, or find them on my doorstep when they're in Leningrad on leave.

Or maybe those bonds, in that place, were all transient, anyway. Friendships of opportunity and proximity. I don't know. I think about them from time to time. Wonder what they're doing and what the future holds for them. Wonder if Savva ever got that nurse he was after.

Do you keep in touch with them? Or anyone from the Grad? Do you think Kirill was really your son? And if you do, is there a hole in your life now that he's gone?

I sometimes wonder a lot of things. You probably do too.

Say hi to Liadov, if you see him. You may not even work in the same quarters. I know MVD Moscow is a big place.

- Isaev

Date: 2013-12-30 09:21 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Hello Dasha,

I do see Liadov from time to time. We're not in the same space, but I see him often enough, coming and going. I'll tell him you said hello. He'll be glad to know you're well.

I cannot help but see a man apart whenever I spot him walking down the halls, or standing at a crime scene taking everything in. He's so self-contained, so insular. I think some people would call it unapproachable, but he's never anything but polite, if restrained. He always makes time for me, at least to say a brief hello, as circumstances permit.

I imagine he misses your brother still.

I haven't kept in touch with anyone from the Grad, but they did say goodbye, and wished me well. I imagine most of them are like you, and will move on to better things as soon as their enlistment is up. That's good. I wouldn't wish being a lifer on anyone.

As for Kirill, I still don't know. I'm not even sure if I believe it, or disbelieve it, or if it'll forever be this unknown factor in my life. I can't see how we're alike at all, but temperament doesn't necessarily carry over like hair color. I have the feeling he's always going to be the sort of person who lands on his feet. Somehow I don't worry for him, the way I worry for Viktor, or for you.

Your new friend sounds...interesting. I am glad you have someone that you can trust, and someone to be a good friend to you. He sounds like a good man, regardless of his affiliation. Like you. I think I can see why you would bond with someone like that. It warms me, up here in my little garret, to know that you have companionship.

Just be careful. I am guessing a man like that has many enemies, though I have no doubt you can handle yourself, and your brother can handle everything else.

I have to admit, I was a little naive when I came where. My first week, I was taken aside, and they explained to me that some people are untouchable. Some people have an 'arrangement'. It's not just the nomenklatura, but criminal princes as well. It seems wrong, but that's more like a reflex. I won't fight it, and I can see the benefit of having a stable force in place.

I think Liadov's philosophy is best. Do what you can with the boundaries you have. Make a small difference, because it's better than nothing, and it might actually be something more, years down the line, in ways you can't even understand at the time.

Have you been to the krimea, since your return? You should go, if not. Go with your friend. Go with your brother. Enjoy yourself.

Be well, and live well.

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