Banya

Feb. 21st, 2008 02:08 pm
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[personal profile] taras_oleksei
Taras drew in a deep, slow breath as he entered the banya.

The air hit him immediately, hot and thick with moisture, suffusing his skin. He could feel the heat sink into his muscles and invigorate his blood.

Steam came from the brick oven that sat to one side of the wall, and benches squared off the rest of the space.

Taras walked over to the benches, feeling sweat already starting to bead on his brow and the back of his neck. It felt cleansing, like all the evening's impurities could simply be rinsed away by hot steam.

He sat down, and settled back on the bench. It was impossible not to relax.

Taras breathed out, his gaze going to Ilarion, who had walked in more slowly. He didn't think he had ever seen Isaev hurry anywhere. The world either moved at his pace, or had to wait for him.

"It's been a while," he said, offhand, aware a moment after he said it that it could apply to more than one thing.

Date: 2008-02-23 08:33 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] ilarion-isaev.livejournal.com
"Seemed like it," remarked Ilarion, dryly, settling himself on a bench across and above, and lying back on the smooth wood, fully prone.

"Glad I'm not a Leningrad whore."

After a moment he laughed, softly.

"I bet I'd regret tangling with you."

The heat was perfect tonight, neither too dense or too claustrophobic, exhilarating and calming all at once.

Warmth and steam both aroused him and eased him, leaving him in a perfect stasis of somnolent inaction. Lasha began to perspire almost immediately, sweat and condensation rising and mingling across his skin.

Another quiet bark of laughter left his lips.

"...or were you talking about the banya?"

Date: 2008-02-24 12:59 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] taras-oleksei.livejournal.com
"...I was," Taras muttered.

He stretched his neck from side to side, let the tension he'd been carrying in his neck and shoulders loosen in the heat.

"Though it was a while for that, too."

It had been a while since he'd been in the Zone, as well, but he didn't say it. Six years.

Taras wondered if he'd been too rough with the girl. Usually, with women, he tried to -

He frowned. Usually he tried to hold back.

Taras kept his eyes half-lidded, focused on the steam coming out of the oven, watching Isaev lounge indolently out of his peripheral vision.

He rubbed the back of his neck.

"You married?" he asked, after a few moments.

Date: 2008-02-24 01:40 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] ilarion-isaev.livejournal.com
Ilarion closed his eyes, slowly, the blink of an indolent reptile.

"To a woman?" he drawled.

He shifted a little, sliding one leg straight and drawing in the other knee.

"No," he said. "Of course not."

He paused, smirking slightly.

"Are you?"

It was a funny idea to him, Oleksei with a wife at home.

A married man.

Almost as funny as...

Lasha savaged his thought at the neck before it could turn bitter in his mouth.

Date: 2008-02-24 05:51 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] taras-oleksei.livejournal.com
Taras let out a snort.

"No."

He shook his head.

"Honestly? I don't think it would be worth the trouble."

Taras let out a long, slow breath and leaned back as far as he could, stretching, feeling his muscles give. He felt good, like just after a workout.

"I just always wondered about that woman you had me follow, in Moscow."

He paused. Taras had done the job, no questions asked, at the time, just like Ilarion had expected. It hadn't been his place to question it, then.

Taras eyed Isaev, sidelong.

"You seemed...pretty interested what she did. I couldn't figure out why."

Date: 2008-02-24 06:43 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] ilarion-isaev.livejournal.com
Lasha's brow knitted tightly and his mouth twitched down at one corner, but his eyes remained closed.

He paused, breathing deeply, audibly. Taking hot steam into his lungs.

"I had an affair with her."

That was the truth.

Ilarion rose up onto one arm, running a hand back over his artfully groomed coif, breaking the pale glass shine of his hair. Dragging sweat from his brow into its immaculate raw silk.

The lie that followed came easily to his lips, because honestly, it made more sense than his true motivation.

"I wanted to make sure she was keeping her mouth shut."

Date: 2008-02-24 07:40 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] taras-oleksei.livejournal.com
"Huh," Taras said. "Thought it might be something like that."

He shrugged.

"Can't blame you. She was pretty. Had a nice ass."

Taras turned his head to watch Isaev more directly now, focusing his mismatched eyes through the steam. There was something completely uninhibited about the way Ilarion sprawled on the bench, mussed and naked, unapologeticaly aroused, like a prince in his harem. As if Ilarion could do whatever he wanted, with no one to answer to. He wondered if that was something about the power that came from the Ministry, or something about the power that came from being an Isaev.

Taras figured that Ilarion pretty much got anything he wanted, too.

Sweat trickled down Taras' tattooed chest.

"Was she any good?" he asked, after a moment.

Date: 2008-02-24 08:24 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] ilarion-isaev.livejournal.com
Ilarion flashed on Nikanor's face, passionless and stern as an unloving Christ.

How dare you.

The quietest tone he'd ever heard, carrying the impact of a one-inch punch to the kidney. Andrei's fist issuing from Liadov's seraphic mouth.

Lasha's lips carved a bitter smirk.

"I suppose she was, if you...savor that kind of thing."

He actually hadn't known. He'd assumed that of course she- was Liadov not her husband? Was that not the whole infuriating crux of the omissive slight? That for years, Nika had been touching his face every morning, and going home to fuck some blad in wedded bliss?

His eyes narrowed slightly.

"She was a virgin."

Date: 2008-02-24 09:05 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] taras-oleksei.livejournal.com
Taras raised his brows.

"I thought she was married."

She had picked up enough food for two, bought cashmere socks at a menswear boutique. Taras had been pretty sure she was living in that house with someone, a husband, though he was only supposed to follow her during the day.

Taras wiped the sweat off his forehead and breathed out, slowly. He shifted, readjusting, so he could like back on the bench as well.

A pause, while he settled again.

"How'd that work?"

Date: 2008-02-24 09:47 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] ilarion-isaev.livejournal.com
Ilarion's jaw tightened and he coughed softly.

"It was...a marriage of convenience."

No.

Atonement.

"I wasn't aware of the circumstance, at first."

Though Liadov had edified him well, in the aftermath. Edified with a vengeance, but not forgiven. And the knowledge had come much, much too late.

Isaev felt displaced anger rise and emanate through his chest, rivaling the steam, but despite the heat in and around his body, his tongue stayed cold as the blade of a razor.

He paused, eyes narrowing, moving absent and slowly over Taras' ink-stained body.

"I suspect...her husband...was a man of a mind for his fellow man."

But a body for neither her nor I, he thought, viciously. We might have been united in that, had I but known.

Date: 2008-02-24 10:28 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] taras-oleksei.livejournal.com
"Oh," Taras said.

He knew that that meant. A degenerate.

"I see."

His brows drew together, heavily, and he stared up at the steam-cloaked ceiling.

"Well...you probably did her a favor, then."

Taras scratched idly at his stomach.

"So that's the end of it? You just left it at that?"

Date: 2008-02-24 09:13 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] ilarion-isaev.livejournal.com
"Yes," Lasha said, slowly, his gaze loitering negligently along the hard-muscled curves of Oleksei's stomach, then proceeding lower. "That's where I left it. But I couldn't have her chattering out of turn, could I."

Taras had steel-jacketed hips, flanks of brute, sculpted muscle. Pugilist and Grecian, like Andrei's, though more Herculean than Apollonian. More base and vulgar. More earth-hewn man and less polished-marble god.

"So I had you ensure that she was behaving like a normal citizen. Ne sprashavik, and all that bazar."

Still, there was a visceral aesthetic that Ilarion admitted and recognized. The brawn, the stained and tattoed skin, glistening with humidity and moisture.

There was a certain cachet in seeing the plumage of his familiar quarry so close, so personal.

Like a tame tiger. The criminal element inverted into a fierce and loyal guardian for the Ministry.

"I enjoyed watching you," Ilarion said, sotto voce.

It was apropos of nothing, seemingly, but the words were concrete and unhesitating.

Lightly sounded, in the heavy air.

"It pleased me, and I'd do it again."



Date: 2008-02-25 12:49 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] taras-oleksei.livejournal.com
After a moment, Taras raised his head.

Isaev's words were soft, spoken at the volume that men used to whisper rough and careless oaths into each other's ears, words that lived and died in the small spaces between the press of muscle and darkness.

Taras' eyes went to Ilarion's, warily.

There were times when Isaev said things that were outrageous and provocative simply because he could, Taras knew, because it pleased him to have the power to decide what was actually true. But as Taras held Isaev's gaze, there was no mocking slant to his regard, no faint derisive curve to Ilarion's expressive upper lip.

Instead it was something else, steady, but sanguinary.

Taras remembered the brace of leather fingertips on either side of his head and the relentless grasp of Ilarion's hands around his hips, the forceful steel grip that had shaded from pressure to pain, just right.

He recalled how Isaev had looked pinned underneath him, ivory brow furrowed, cruel mouth parted by strain.

The goad of Isaev's voice in his ear returned to him.

Show me the Zone.

Taras' gaze flickered, and he lay back once more.

"I might let you, again," he rumbled, low and rough. "I told you -"

The heat from the banya stirred his blood and made his skin tingle.

"I don't have a problem with it."

Date: 2008-02-25 06:41 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] ilarion-isaev.livejournal.com
Lasha smirked, raising his chin and letting his throat arch, as if he were basking in the sun.

"I didn't think you would," he said, reiterating his original sentiment.

He paused.

"Tell me, Taraschik..."

Ilarion dipped his hand in the bucket of cool water on the riser below him, and trailed his hand through the air above Oleksei, letting it drip from his fingers.

"What would you have a problem with, comrade?"

Date: 2008-02-25 07:34 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] taras-oleksei.livejournal.com
Cool water splattered across Taras' stomach, and he let out a soft grunt, muscles tightening reflexively.

His eyes narrowed, and his jaw tightened as he shifted on the bench, glaring up at Ilarion.

He was silent for a few moments, breathing slowly.

Sweat trickled down the back of his neck.

Finally, he shook his head.

"Depends," he muttered, voice low and non-committal.

Date: 2008-02-25 08:11 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] ilarion-isaev.livejournal.com
Lasha slicked his wet hand back over his brow, feeling the soothing cold respite of the water.

"I'm hard," he remarked, equally noncommittally.

The banya purged steam, reliably as the furnaces in Hell.

"Perhaps I should have fucked that whore after all."

His hand moved down his stomach, rubbing absently across his length with an open palm, carelessly caressing.

"I didn't expect to be inspired."

Lasha laughed softly.

"You can turn a blind eye, if you like. I'm sure you learned how to do that quick enough...in Magadan."

Date: 2008-02-25 08:43 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] taras-oleksei.livejournal.com
Taras drew in a breath.

"It's fine," he said, after a moment. "I don't care."

Taras brought up his hands and ran them through his short hair, pressing it wet and sleek against his scalp.

He let his hands rest at the back of his head, half-closing his eyes, directing his gaze upward.

In his peripheral vision, Ilarion was a shape on the bench above, sprawling and unmistakably masculine, long-limbed, lightly muscled. Taras registered the motion of Ilarion's hand moving leisurely, back and forth.

Taras breathed out, slowly.

"Doesn't bother me."

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