Apr. 6th, 2008 10:44 pm
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[personal profile] taras_oleksei
Taras was hunched over the bar again, staring at the untouched glass of vodka in front of him.

Somehow he wasn't quite in the mood to get completely smashed, at least, not alone.

He glanced over his shoulder, looking around the room. Several guests were nearly staggering, leaning on each other and laughing, while others had broken up to smaller groups for quiet conversation.

Taras caught sight of the woman in black from earlier, though only briefly before she disappeared into the thinning crowd.

The party had definitely died off for the night. Even if Isaev hadn't had the confrontation with Liadov, Taras was sure he'd want to leave anyway.

Taras knew he was ready to go, and leave this place and what had happened here behind him.
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Date: 2008-04-07 07:29 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] ilarion-isaev.livejournal.com
He spotted the broad chevron of Oleksei's bolero-jacketed back at the centre of the mahogany bar, sitting idly as the party faded around him.

It made a starkly artistic minimalist tableau, almost deco.

Lasha walked up behind him and opened his wallet, tossing a few crisp bills onto the smooth surface of the bar to cover Oleksei's tab for the evening.

"Well, I suppose I should have looked here first."

He sighed, leaning his back against the bar and glancing sidewise at Taras with a faux doe-eyed expression.

"Ready to call it a night, comrade?"

He looked at his watch, briefly.

"I sure as hell am," he muttered, almost to himself.

Date: 2008-04-07 04:45 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] taras-oleksei.livejournal.com
"No kidding," Taras said, vehemently.

He pushed away from the bar at once, standing and straightening with effort. He wasn't drunk, but he'd had more than usual to drink, enough to feel it.

Reflexively, he tugged on his jacket to straighten it, and his hand brushed the hard outline of the arrow end in his pocket.

Taras grimaced, not really needing to be reminded.

He turned to look at Ilarion, whose eyes were even and cool. Maybe it was the mask, but if Taras didn't already know something was wrong, he wouldn't have been able to tell. Tired maybe, from his voice, but that was all.

Taras guessed it shouldn't surprise him, given the other things he hadn't known about Isaev.

He glanced back at the bar, an afterthought.


Taras reached out to nudge his glass in Ilarion's direction.

"Since you paid for it, might as well not let it go to waste."

He paused, and met Ilarion's gaze.

"Looks like you could use it."

Date: 2008-04-07 05:43 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] ilarion-isaev.livejournal.com
Lasha smiled slightly, and took the shot in his fingertips, pausing for a moment before tipping it back against his lips.

The liquor shot straight and hard over his tongue, white and burning as frostbite, leaving little trace but a faint aftertaste.

"Thanks," he said, smoothly.

That will cauterize what ails you, comrade.

He clapped a lingering hand on Oleksei's upper arm.

"So," he said, "we have a suite at the Hotel Berlin, if we want to have it. Or we could take the train back to Leningrad tonight."

Lasha shrugged.

"It all depends on your tolerance for Moscva."

He withdrew his hand and flicked open a cigarette case, putting one to his lips and searching his pockets for a lighter.

After a moment he found one and lit up, inhaling shallowly. He had no love for the habit, which he did not have. Being a slave to any habit, be it cigarettes or drinking or sexual encounters, did not sit well with Ilarion.

However, the ritual pleased him. The holding, the finessing, the stylized caressing of the object between lips and fingertips. He scarcely inhaled, but he smoked with great attention to the task.

Lasha exhaled through the corners of his mouth, letting the smoke trickle out in curls on either side like dragon whiskers.

"Did you enjoy yourself at all?" he asked, raising his eyebrows. "Get lucky?"

Date: 2008-04-07 06:55 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] taras-oleksei.livejournal.com
Taras stared at him, mouth going slack.

"No," he said, quickly, only a moment later. "No. Khui. Why would you say something like that?"

If he knew, Taras thought. If he'd seen something damning, and wanted to bait him.

His brow bristled into a frown.

No. That was just Isaev's way, always provoking.

He scowled, more at himself.

"The drinks were all right. The food was better. The people were mostly assholes."

His gaze shifted, sweeping the room briefly, seeing no one familiar.

"I wouldn't mind leaving tonight," he muttered.

Taras turned back, resting a hand against the bar, and watched Isaev toy with the cigarette between gloved but agile fingers.

He frowned. Taras couldn't remember the last time he'd seen Isaev smoke, if ever.

"What's with the cigarette?"

His gaze followed the streams of smoke that streamed upward aggressively.

"Maybe it was you who got lucky."

Date: 2008-04-07 08:38 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] ilarion-isaev.livejournal.com
Ilarion laughed at Oleksei's unexpected vehemence.

"Calm down, bratan. I was only shooting the breeze. No one is expecting you to fuck blads every night."

Lasha pinched the cigarette and put it to his lips, pulling off his other glove.

"Least of all me," he added, vaguely.

But Oleksei's other remark called a smirk onto his mouth.

"Lucky. No, comrade. Not I. This is a cigarette of contemplation. Not satiation."

He ground it out abruptly in his palm and let the mangled remains of ash and tobacco flutter to the opulent carpet.

"If you want to take the train, there's a midnight milk run. Or we can take the car."

Date: 2008-04-07 10:08 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] taras-oleksei.livejournal.com
Taras paused, frowning, considering, but not long.

He shrugged.

"Train's fine. We'll be home faster, that way."

Probably a couple of hours. He'd taken the train from Leningrad to Moscva once, though that had been a one-way trip. His next stop had been the north.

"I don't have a lot of tolerance of Moscva right now, actually. I don't have real good luck here."

He eyed Isaev. There were telltale signs of strain in Isaev's veneer, he thought, anomalous as cracks in the Kremlin wall, virtually unnoticable unless you were close.

"How about you?" he asked. "Doesn't sound like you want to stick around, either."

Taras glanced down to where Ilarion had abandoned the crushed cigarette.

"And a train ride would give you more time to contemplate."

Date: 2008-04-08 03:09 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] ilarion-isaev.livejournal.com
Ilarion snorted, gathering his whip and his lighter.

"I don't need to think any more tonight, Oleksei."

He shoved forward from the bar with his shoulders.

"Come on. Let's go. I want a First Class car."

Date: 2008-04-08 04:04 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] taras-oleksei.livejournal.com
"Works for me," Taras said.

He couldn't imagine Isaev sharing a train car, or having anything but the very best. They would have more privacy if they simply had the driver take them home in an MVD sedan, but Taras hated sitting all cramped up for hours on end.

He followed Isaev, at first misstepping, then catching his balance a moment later. Taras frowned, annoyed with himself, looking quickly to see if Isaev noticed. He couldn't tell.

"Do they serve drinks in First Class?"

Taras caught up to Isaev as they walked down the hall, where a couple of Kremlin staffers tried to discreetly pick up an armored knight who had passed out in a corner.

"I was thinking about getting drunk, but it's better with a comrade," he said, more idly than anything.

They exited the double doors at the end of the hall to the cold Moscow night, even crisper than it had been earlier. As fancy as the Kremlin was, with all its multicolored lights and elaborately trimmed buildings, Taras preferred old-world, battlescarred Leningrad.

It was a short walk to the drive where the cars waited. Their driver could take them to Leningradskaya Voksal from there.

"What do you think?"

Date: 2008-04-08 06:44 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] ilarion-isaev.livejournal.com
"I'm already drunk," said Isaev, glancing up the street.

The black sedan had been waiting, and was already wheeling around in the turnaround.

The driver was a rough man like Oleksei, employed both to chauffeur and to lend muscle if it was needed. His cap hung at a menacing slant over his hard brow, and no amount of pressing to his MVD uniform could remove the creases of character from his persona; black leather gloves with red stitching made his hands look murderous instead of elegant.

"Privet," he said, rolling down the window. "Major, I take you back to Leningrad now?"

His voice was low, his Russian slightly accented.

A Ukrainian, thought Isaev. Or an Armenian? Latvian?

He didn't actually know. Although Danil was his usual driver, he had never asked, and the driver had never volunteered.

"No," said Lasha, opening the rear door as Oleksei went around to the other side. "To the train station."

"No company for the trip home, huh," remarked the driver, with dry rhetoric. His voice was low and mellifluous. Penetrating but unobtrusive. Present but not prominent.

Lasha gave a coarse and absent smile.

"My head is in no shape for long drives."


Date: 2008-04-08 07:31 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] taras-oleksei.livejournal.com
"That's all right," the driver said. "I sleep first, then."

Taras fell back heavily against the cushioned seat, next to Isaev.

He was already a little drunk too, but not drunk enough. The train that he had been on that ran from Leningrad to Moscow hadn't had a bar, he recalled.

Maybe it would be different for the Moscow-Leningrad line, but he didn't know. Taras wondered what he was going to do about that.

Their car pulled away from the curb, rolling slowly toward a line of black sedans that waited to exit the Kremlin gate. A gap between cars suddenly lengthened, and the driver gunned it, skillfully merging into the slot. Taras saw the driver smirk to himself.

"Hey," Taras said.

He leaned forward.

"You have anything to drink in here, comrade?"

The driver glanced back at him and made a noise that was both non-committal and inquiring, as if he hadn't quite understood what Taras had said.

Taras frowned.

He knew men like Isaev's driver tended to have something stashed. When Taras' father had become important enough to have a man drive him, there was always a bottle of something, usually slivovic, sometimes vodka, stowed in the boot or under the front seat for cold nights and long waits.

This driver was cut from the same cloth, a heavy who could just as easily be driving for a crimelord as an MVD major.

But instead of some sort of kinship from the man, Taras had always gotten the cold shoulder. He knew if Isaev had asked for something to drink, he would have gotten it more or less immediately.

That was the thing about rising above your station in life. You got flak from both sides. The upper class types looked down on people who pretended to be better than they were, and the working class thought the exact same thing.

Only Taras wasn't pretending.

He glanced at Isaev, who still seemed preoccupied.

Taras turned back to the driver.

"There's a suite booked at the Hotel Berlin that we're not going to be using tonight, comrade. Maybe you'd like the key."

There was a pause, then the driver adjusted his mirror to meet Taras' gaze.

"I have bottle of slivo," he said. "Brand new."

"That'll do," Taras said.

The driver grunted again. Ahead, a guard at the gate waved them forward, and they drove through, and onto the street.

Date: 2008-04-08 08:08 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] ilarion-isaev.livejournal.com
Ilarion was gazing out the window.

"Doesn't that shit make you go blind?" he asked, mildly.

He'd heard of a few cases.

Danil grinned in the rearview mirror.

"I didn't make it myself," he said. "You can trust this one. He's from the store."

Lasha smirked faintly.

"I'm sure Captain Oleksei's had worse. He's got the constitution of an ox."

"Da, I can see that," replied Danil obliquely. "A real workhorse."

The streetlights flashed shaft and shadow over the driver's visor like the bars of a cell.

He signaled belatedly after cutting across two lanes.

Isaev raised his eyebrows, slightly, intrigued by the vague tone he'd caught, coloring Danil's voice a shade he didn't quite recognize.

After a moment Ilarion's gaze shifted to Taras, whose face was intense, but unreadable.

"You're not expecting me to drink with you?" he said lazily, leaning back against the plush seat.

It was an obvious question, with an obvious answer. No one drank alone in Russia. It was considered odd to sit alone and nurse a bottle. Likewise, it was considered odd to sit by and watch a friend consume one without doing one's part.

"The closest I've come to drinking slivovic is tasting it on the lips of whores who kiss their steel worker husbands goodbye before coming to me."

Date: 2008-04-08 09:25 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] taras-oleksei.livejournal.com
Taras snorted.

"You don't kiss whores, Isaev."

He glanced at Ilarion sidelong.

"You'd drink slivo first."

The driver chuckled at that, but Taras ignored it. For his part, Isaev seemed to be more relaxed now, half-lidded and almost-drowsy, like he could fall asleep.

Taras dug an elbow into Isaev's ribs.

"You have to try some, at least. That's all I ask. You're man enough for that."

He looked out the window. They were speeding along handily now, with fairly light traffic. They would be there in no time.

"Who knows," Taras said, shaking his head.

"You might like something a little coarser than what you're used to."

Date: 2008-04-08 09:59 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] ilarion-isaev.livejournal.com
"Man enough," snorted Ilarion, tipping his cap over his eyes as he reclined.

He was mellow, though not incapacitated.

In an uncharacteristic moment of whimsy, he imitated Oleksei's voice.

"Tattoos, are you man enough? This moose piss I like to drink- are you man enough?"

It was a careless rendition, but it amused him. He chuckled languidly.

It felt good to while away the few miles against the plush seats, enveloped by the prowling black sedan, lulled by the steady drone of the engine and the rhythm of the road.

"You always put so much emphasis behind those words, comrade, I should wonder if you're compensating for something."

Lasha's lips twisted beneath the brim of his cap.

"You want to know how different we are, Chesich? I'm man enough to suck you off for sport and snap out your marching orders in the next breath."

Isaev frowned, pausing.

He was annoyed at being unable to extend his long legs, the way he could on the train.

It was something to look forward to.

"I'll drink your poison with an open mind. I'm sure coarseness has its rustic appeal. Most things do have an appeal, if you take them as they are, unvarnished."

Date: 2008-04-08 11:36 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] taras-oleksei.livejournal.com
Taras' eyes were wide.

He stared straight ahead, but the road pulled past them as smears of dark and light, near unseen.

His pulse had kicked up on its own accord, thrumming and unruly. He felt blood rush to his face, and then away from it, and he had to blink rapidly, and give himself a hard shake.

The driver's head tilted upward, as if to look at him through the mirror.

Taras scowled urgently.

"Fuck you, Isaev. I've - "

He stopped suddenly.

Taras had been about to say something about the Zone, how he'd had tougher men than Isaev get on their knees for him and suck him off, but at the last moment, the words crumbled into dust, leaving his mouth dry.

Taras glanced up to see the driver watching him, eyes dark and condemning, as if that low-brow gaze knew one of its own and could see through him unerringly.

Only there was nothing to see, he told himself.

Isaev could afford to say things like that, things that working-class men could never pass off as the idle frippery that came out of the mouths of effete snobs who had no idea what they were talking about.

Isaev's words rang in his head, echoing like whispers.

But then again, maybe it was more manly to say something like that, because it meant you didn't care. Isaev obviously didn't have a problem with it, so neither should Taras.

His brow furrowed.

Fuck Isaev anyway.

He scoffed then, deliberately, a derisive exhalation.

"Yeah, you talk big now."

Taras looked at Isaev, eyes narrowed and dangerous. His head dipped slightly, like the challenge of one roe stag to another.

"Maybe we'll just have to see if you're man enough to back up words with actions once we get on the train."

Date: 2008-04-09 06:27 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] ilarion-isaev.livejournal.com
Ilarion didn't move, but reached up to idly scratch his nose beneath the lowered visor cap.

"Don't be ridiculous, Oleksei."

Somnolent night echoed outside the speeding car.

He yawned, shifting to cross his legs at the ankle.

"I'm not going to blow you in first class."

Lasha felt rather inebriated, but not overly concerned by that fact.

"Nor will I blow you in some command performance to prove my..." he waved his hand blindly in a vague circle "...masculinity."

Ilarion Isaev didn't do command performances, after all. Oleksei should know that much.

He snorted contemptuously.

"I'll blow you at my leisure."

Date: 2008-04-09 08:12 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] taras-oleksei.livejournal.com
"Yeah, I figured you'd say something like that," Taras sneered, vaguely.

His hand clenched so hard on the seat, he was certain the driver could hear the creak of leather.

Khui, he needed a drink.

In fact, Taras couldn't remember ever needing one so badly. He decided that when they got on the train, he would do his best to drink himself blind.

Taras looked ahead, trying judge how close they were, or spot the lights of the station, but Moscow had always been confusing to him, with the streets all laid out the same, like wheel spokes radiating from the central hub of the Kremlin.

He was about to ask how long it would be when the driver turned off the road they'd been on and headed down one of the smaller radial offshoots.

"Good," Taras said as the car started to slow.

He glanced sidelong at Isaev.

"You are drunk," he muttered.

Date: 2008-04-09 08:36 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] ilarion-isaev.livejournal.com
"I am drunk," agreed Isaev, readily.

He was an interesting drunk, Andrei had always said so. He never betrayed intoxication in slurred speech or motor impairment. For some reason, those modes of control were locked into submission. He might become languorous, true, but never uncoordinated.

"You thaw. Your tongue warms up, and so does your chest. Liquor lights a fire in the hearth of your ribcage."

Ilarion recounted the vague press of his brother's words against his ear, the offhand flippance of the observation. One late night that they lay entwined, and Andrei always spoke poignant revelations like they were snowflakes, forgetting them almost at once until they melted from sight.

"Almost your stop," drawled Danil from the front seat, with casual irony. "You are want I should carry you?"

Ilarion pushed his cap back and smirked.

"Eat a dick," he replied, with mild menace, surging forward to sit upright once more.

"Spasiba, but I'll wait until you're finished, Major."

Lasha's smirk cracked, threatening to widen into a smile.

"Nice mouth on you, Danya. If you weren't such a skilled motorist, I'd have you shot in the spine."

He turned to Oleksei.

"You ready to leave this prick alone with his black beauty?"

Date: 2008-04-09 06:24 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] taras-oleksei.livejournal.com
"I need my slivo first."

Taras looked toward the driver, who glanced back at him, face impassive.


"When we get there."

"Khorosho," the driver said, mildly.

Something had changed, Taras thought, and he didn't like it.

It used to be that he joked like that, like it was meaningless, the sorts of insults everyone laughed at, because they knew it was all so outrageous it couldn't be true.

No one cared if you said it among comrades. It was expected, even.

But somewhere along the way he had started second-guessing himself. Like he was worried if he said something about sucking cocks, that someone would think that he actually meant it.

It was ridiculous. They had no reason to think that.

He didn't want Isaev to suck him off.

Taras closed his eyes. Maybe he really didn't need to drink any more.

The car slowed, and stopped at the curb.

He threw his door open, and escaped the sedan's cramped back seat into the Moscow night. The air felt colder than it had been at the Kremlin, more biting, but he welcomed it. Taras fished the hotel key from his pocket while the driver got out of the car, leaning down to pull a bottle from under his seat.

Taras held out the key, and the driver reached for it, but Taras pulled it back and gestured at the bottle.

The driver smirked.

"Don't trust me?" he asked.

"Just give me the bottle."

The driver laughed, and they exchanged prizes. Taras thought the driver was getting the better end of the deal, but then again, Taras wasn't giving up anything he was actually going to use.

Taras tucked the bottle under his arm, and turned to Isaev.

"Now I'm ready. Let's get the hell out of Moscow."

Date: 2008-04-09 07:34 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] ilarion-isaev.livejournal.com
Isaev had been leaning in the open door, with his arms folded on the roof of the car.

"Davai," he said, liquidly, drawing up to his full height and crossing to the back of the trunk, which Danil stalked around and unlocked with a perfunctory flourish, ready on the spot, though not exactly in the manner of a five star butler.

Lasha lifted his briefcase out, then grabbed Oleksei's by the handle and held it up, making eye contact and then thrusting it at him.

"Catch," he said.

Danil finessed the key in his hand, eyeing Ilarion at an upward angle.

"Any restrictions?" he asked, obliquely.

Lasha paused, regarding him.

"Discretion," he said.

"Not a problem."

"...and don't leave any marks on the whores. Or any friends you might invite up."

Ilarion spoke succinctly, but with absolutist clarity. Even a little soused, he sobered quickly when matters of acumen arose.

Danil scowled slightly.

"I'm not a degenerate, Major."

Isaev rolled his eyes.

"Good. You know how the Ministry abhors a degenerate."

Date: 2008-04-09 08:34 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] taras-oleksei.livejournal.com
"Everyone knows that," Taras muttered.

He turned away, jaw working.

Taras looked up to the railway station, which was old, like they all were, two story and ornate, with double rows of large, multi-paned windows, lit by sconces affixed to the walls on either side.

A clock tower rose from the center of the building. Reflexively, Taras checked his watch against the tower, and found it was two minutes slow.

He sighed.

Taras busied himself by shifting his grip on the bottle and his briefcase, making sure he wouldn't drop either with an inattentive motion.

After a few moments, he turned back. The driver was walking back around to his side of the sedan. He turned his head to catch Taras' gaze, and they eyed each other, briefly.

"Enjoy the slivo, comrade," the driver said, smirking.

He could hear the slight emphasis on the last word.

Taras grunted, non-committal.

As the driver got in the car, Taras shook his head, and glanced at Ilarion.

"I'm glad we decided to take the train."

Date: 2008-04-09 09:32 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] ilarion-isaev.livejournal.com
"You don't like Danya."

It wasn't a question, nor an accusation.

Just a mild observation.

Lasha began to walk casually toward the ticket window, Taras reflexively falling into step beside him with brooding automation.

There would be no difficulty in getting what they wanted.

It required only a flash of the right ID to reserve a compartment, and if there wasn't one available, some citizen would get bumped to accommodate them.

Date: 2008-04-09 11:06 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] taras-oleksei.livejournal.com
"Eh," Taras said.

Isaev wouldn't understand if he tried to explain it, he thought, intending to leave it at that.

Something made him pause, reconsider. He glanced at Ilarion.

Isaev's expression was unusually amiable, his eyes low-lidded and mild.

"He thinks I should be driving cars too," Taras said, after a moment.

He shrugged broad shoulders as if to emphasize his physique.

"Or something similar. Not working as an operativnik in the Ministry."

Taras paused as they reached the ticket window, and Isaev made the arrangements, pulling out his ID and a slight frosted smile. The attendant averted his eyes hastily, then bent his head and began working on Isaev's request.

As they waited, Taras leaned against the wall, dropping his voice to a murmur.

"The son of a slaughterhouse butcher should go to work in a slaughterhouse, too. Not..."

He gestured, at Ilarion, and at himself.

"Be more than he should."

Taras paused again, as the attendant gave them their tickets. First class.

"I don't know if you know what I mean, comrade."

Date: 2008-04-10 01:50 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] ilarion-isaev.livejournal.com
Lasha tilted his head as he tucked their tickets inside his breast pocket, glancing up at Taras noncommittally.

"Why should you be a driver? Maybe he should be an operativnik," he said, coolly.

He gestured vaguely toward the track yard, and spurred the burly captain on with a nudge of his shoulder.

As they walked, Ilarion turned to him, suddenly.

"My friend asked me once, if I thought he had risen too rapidly above his station."

Lasha hesitated.

"He made Major at a rather young age, and there was considerable enmity about that from the old guard, the chekists."

Ilarion remembered the veiled glances, the muttering that always quelled the moment his eye lingered on the transgressors, and how much ill will Liadov's golden graces and Midas touch had engendered among the Ministry apathetics, who had never seen passion, much less felt it for themselves.

No, they would never have dared to challenge him- not with the backing of Ilarion and Aleksandr, and Evstrat, who was retired but no less invested- but the tension was palpable for many months.

Isaev glanced up, noting the track number.

"Not this one, but the next."

They crossed around end of the boarding lane, their boots sounding bluntly on the rough concrete.

"But as to what I was saying- this troubled him, as he had done better work than his colleagues, and greased far less palms, and deserved what he'd received as a result."

They were at the first class sleeper car now, and Lasha paused as they climbed the metal stairs and boarded through the open door. They found their cabin not far from the entrance.

The cabin was suited to MVD travelers- with a fairly good sized window gazing upon the night outside and two long, overstuffed red velvet traveling benches that became two fold-out sleeping berths. Enough room for two men to be comfortable for a night.

The door was curtained, and the window could be curtained as well.

Taras was looking at him, vaguely expectant, though not overt.

Ilarion set down his briefcase and took a seat by the window, stretching his legs along the length of the bench, reclining once more.

"He was troubled," he repeated, "and I hated nothing more than to see him troubled. So I told him what I'm about to tell you."

The conductor was loading in baggage below, shutting the metal bays and latching them.

"You can mark it, or you can disregard it. He marked it. He knew that I was right."

Lasha turned his head and looked at Oleksei with eyes that bored deep in.

"No bird soars too high, if he soar with his own wings."

He nodded, leaning back once more, sighing as relaxation and seclusion began to work their magic.

"That's Milton," he remarked. "One of the Commandments of Hell from Paradise Lost."

A pause, as his fingers laced and lay across his chest.

"He was fond of invoking quotes, this friend," he added, softly.

Date: 2008-04-10 06:22 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] taras-oleksei.livejournal.com
"Hell, huh," said Taras, voice low.

He looked at Ilarion, holding his gaze for a moment.

Taras thought he knew which friend Ilarion was talking about.

He eased into the red plush bench across from Isaev. It was soft, but firm enough to cushion his mass as stretched his legs in front of him and leaned back. Taras felt doubly glad they'd decided not to take the car. His legs would have cramped up after an hour or two.

Taras sat the briefcase down on the bench next to him, but sat the bottle in his lap, and rested his head against the high seat back.

He was silent for a while, regarding Isaev, thinking, idly soaking in the assorted train noises around them. It lulled his body and eased his taut muscles. Taras thought he could almost fall asleep, save for his restless mind.

"You are right," he told Ilarion, quietly. "Your friend was right. There's no reason...to accept less than what you want."

Taras frowned, considering.

"Or deserve."

He glanced down at the bottle in his lap, and worked at unscrewing the cap. It gave way with a minimum of effort.

Taras raised the bottle in Ilarion's direction.

"Here's to Hell, then."

He paused.

"And to your friend."

Taras brought the slivo to his lips and took a sip. It hit immediately, acrid and harsh, and he let out a cough, eyes watering.

He grimaced.

"Khui. I've gotten used to drinking good vodka, not this..."

Taras trailed off, searching for an appropriate word for a few moments, then giving up. Taras leaned across and offered the bottle to Isaev instead.

"Here. You tell me, comrade."

Date: 2008-04-10 06:50 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] ilarion-isaev.livejournal.com
Ilarion's lips tipped into a smile, and he reached for the bottle.

"Give me that," he said, in dry amusement. "You've gotten fine, Oleksei, haven't you."

He put it to his lips, then paused, shaking his head.

"...It's a good thing Khartov isn't here to see this," he snorted, faintly.

Lasha didn't bother with a conscientious sip. Things like this were best taken all in one hit.

He raised the bottle and took a healthy swig.

It tasted like a punch in the face.

The liquor- if you could even call it that; Ilarion was thinking anything you called it would be a plum-flavored euphemism for strychnine- was harsh and ripping, so raw it felt almost viscous, like kerosine.

Saltwater ran tracks down his cheeks in the aftermath.

He laughed, roughly.

"Smooth," he pronounced.
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