Hindsight

Jan. 4th, 2009 12:09 pm
taras_oleksei: (Default)
[personal profile] taras_oleksei
Taras woke with a start.

He sat up, unaware of where he was. His pulse was thrumming, hard, in his throat. Disorientation always made him assume the Zone, as if his release by the Isaevs and all the subsequent years of freedom were only the fever dreams of a man who no longer had waking thoughts of hope.

But no, he realized, after a moment. No. He was not in his flat in Leningrad, which was part of the problem. Instead of his brass bed with its plush mattress and soft sheets, and the warm, familiar smells of home, he was in a smaller, firmer bed with sheets not quite as fine, in a room that was darker, and not as warm.

He fell back, closing his eyes.

Taras knew it now, remembered the assignment that had taken them away from Leningrad and brought them to the stark concrete military base, bare and bleak as bones, in the remote Urals, halfway to Magadan.

The rapid pace of his heart began to slow as he lay there, breathing deliberately.

No. He was far from the Zone.

A memory came back to him then, one he didn't recall often. Lasha. Lasha had been waiting for him in Leningrad after the long, long journey home. Ilarion had been standing on the train platform, hands tucked into the pockets of his grey MVD uniform, visor cap slanted down low over his brow, shading his eyes. The fog had been thick and low-lying, a backdrop of dusk and smoke.

To anyone else, Lasha's visage must have looked sinister, a spectre of death, surely there to arrest someone the moment they stepped off the train. The crowd had parted around Ilarion like a school of fish around a shark.

But there had been something about the icy, amused glint of cold eyes under the brim of the cap and the hint of a dry smile at the corner of Lasha's mouth that Taras had recognized immediately. His friend. His comrade. Isaev. Part of him had wanted to embrace Ilarion there and then, in spite of the fact that he had never done so, but he had only approached Lasha wordlessly, and it had been Lasha who had grabbed his arm first, clasping it in both hands.

"Welcome home, Taras," Lasha had murmured in his ear, and Taras, overcome, had only been able to nod.

That had been a long time ago. Six years, now.

Taras pushed himself up, and swung his legs out from under the covers, sitting on the edge of the bed. He thought he should get up, shower and dress and head to the mess hall. Taras had the feeling he was getting a late start, but as he glanced at the nightstand, he didn't see his watch.

He frowned.

His suitcase was not where he'd left it, either, on the floor next the bed. He tried to remember if he'd put it away at some point, perhaps shoved it under the bedframe or into a closet, but he could not recall any such thing. As he glanced around the room, he caught sight of his uniform, draped neatly over a chair. That was strange.

There were other, little things - the door to the bathroom was open, whereas he always kept doors closed, and a small collection of bottles sat on the bar, next to a black valise that looked like Lasha's.

The sense of disorientation hit him again, but only for a moment, and then Taras realized that no, this was not his room at all, but rather, Lasha's.

Lasha's room.

Lasha.

His eyes widened, brown, and blue, and huge.

He began to recall it all, but completely out of order, memories hitting like low blows, gut-punches. Kissing Ilarion. Fucking him. Talking, after sex, affirming his loyalty with the sort of words that should never cross a man's tongue. And then, letting something far worse cross his tongue, performing an act unspeakable and unthinkable, vulgar and....

Taras licked his lips and swallowed, uncertainly. There was a funny taste in his mouth.

"Lasha?" he breathed, hoarsely, his voice barely a whisper.

No sign. He listened above the pounding of his heart, but heard nothing. The bathroom was dark.

Ilarion must have woken, and left, then, and Taras had slept through the whole thing, apparently so secure in Lasha's company that survival instinct did not kick in. But Lasha had not seen fit to wake him, either, and had just left him to sleep.

Was that how it worked? It would be easier to act like nothing had happened, if so. Taras wondered if that was what Isaev expected. He had left, then Taras was supposed to, and it would be like it never was.

But it had seemed almost normal, then. Maybe even enjoyable. Maybe. He recalled feeling warm, and close to Lasha, but now he could barely reconcile that with this, waking up in Isaev's room, naked and alone. Taras had done that thing again, like in Red Square, where something that seemed all right in his head at the time became a profoundly bad idea later.

Taras pushed out of bed with a sudden, violent motion.

His watch was sitting on the bathroom counter, where he'd left it the night before. He had taken a shower after they'd argued, before they'd had sex. Taras felt like he needed another shower, right now, but he didn't know what would happen if Ilarion came back while he was showering.

A toothbrush sat in a cup on the counter. He felt the bristles. Wet. Lasha had obviously used it earlier that morning. Taras stared at it for a few moments, then grabbed the toothpaste.

It was not the worst thing of Lasha's that that been in Taras' mouth.

As he brushed his teeth, he went to the towel rack. One damp towel, and one wet washcloth. He grabbed a dry washcloth.

Taras scrubbed his tongue, avoiding his own gaze in the mirror.

He walked over to the bar to find some vodka so he could purge any lingering odd tastes in his mouth. After a few seconds, he remembered that the fucking Ukrainian had drank all of Ilarion's vodka. He scowled. Cognac would have to do, he supposed.

He washed his dick and between his legs, and under his arms and his face. Then he got dressed, swiftly. Taras put everything back the way he had found it, more or less, and slipped his watch over his wrist. It was time to go. Taras moved to the door, and paused to listen.

The door shuddered suddenly, with loud bang, an impact of fist or foot.

Taras jumped, recoiling.

"What did you do, you prick?" a male voice demanded from outside, loud, and angry.

I don't know, Taras thought, panicked, staring at the door in horror, wondering who it was and how they could know and why the person sounded strangely familiar.

"Isaev! Are you in there?" the voice said, and after another moment, Taras placed it.

Liadov.

Liadov, angry about something, expecting to find Lasha. Taras wondered if he would break down the door or pick the lock. From the sound of it, he was capable of either.

He would know, he would know everything, the moment he saw Taras standing there, in Isaev's room, the second he laid eyes on Taras' face.

Taras stood still, though his impulse was to scramble away, find a place to hide, under the bed or in the shower. The still-functioning rational part of his brain kept him frozen in place. No sound, no motion. No one inside. Taras glanced down. The door sat flush with the doorjam. There would be no telltale shadow.

There was silence, then after a few seconds, shifting. Muttering. Footsteps retreating.

Taras let out a breath.

He wanted to sink against the door with shaky relief, but Taras found himself wondering.

From what he knew of the man, what he had observed, Liadov had nearly the self-control of an Isaev, one of those elitist pricks who were too good for an emotion as coarse as the raw anger he heard in Liadov's voice. To have been pushed to the point of pounding on Isaev's door had to be the result of some extraordinary trespass on Isaev's part, as if everything he had already done wasn't enough.

Taras grimaced.

"What did you do, you prick," Taras muttered. He listened at the door for another second, then opened it and slipped out. There was no one in the hall, but he could hear Liadov's retreating steps.

Taras closed the door behind him with a quiet click.

Date: 2009-01-05 10:32 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] nikanor-liadov.livejournal.com
Nika had rarely felt this kind of anger; all consuming and vengeful.

He stormed down the narrow corridors, intent on his destination, which was no longer Ilarion's room, but the Dining Hall that lay just beyond this wing.

If he thought about it, it stood to reason that Isaev would have left his quarters for the morning, so not finding him there was hardly surprising.

Even so, Nika could not have imagined finding him here, among the other denizens of GRU, sitting at a common mess table like a beautiful nightmare on a rarified island.

Seeing him alone was enough to rachet Nika's wrath up several notches. His fingers closed, making an unconscious fist at his side.

The fuse was further lit when he saw Isaev look up, catch sight of him and begin to smile, slowly leaning back in his chair.

You fucking bastard.

Liadov scarcely registered the woman who sat at the table with him; she would hold little interest for him in the best of times. Hopefully she knew how to keep out of the way, for her own sake.

He surged forward, closing the distance in a matter of seconds. Both hands shot out and seized Isaev by the lapels, dragging him upward. Which was unexpectedly easy, because Lasha was not resisting.

On the contrary, he half-rose to meet Liadov's assault. In that moment the only thing to flash across his face was moderate bemusement, as if he were quite unaware of what was transpiring.

Liadov was beyond such pretty lies of countenance; knew them for exactly what they were.

"Smile, will you," hissed Nikanor, drawing him in close.

Ilarion cocked his head slowly, regarding him with insolent curiosity and more than a little ardence.

Contempt and disgust lanced through him at his own reflexive response. Innate, after so long, the answering trill of the telephone inside his ribcage.

His fingers twitched, clenching as he shoved Isaev back against the wall with studied violence.

"Nikash," exclaimed Ilarion, almost innocently, eyes wide in a rare moment of abject surprise, responding belatedly to the abrupt impact of the painted cinderblock.

"No," Nika bit out, tersely.

Liadov's chest heaved, as his eyes ground into Ilarion's, turning them to powder.

"...No more of that." His voice shook. "This time you've gone too fucking far, Ilarion."

His voice felt thick enough to choke on.

He was rarely moved to physical anger. Nika knew it himself, and he knew that Lasha knew it too. It was reflected deep in the grey glass of Isaev's gaze, a faintly stunned disbelief.

"You did it," spat Liadov, twisting his clutch hard under Isaev's lapel until the wending of the fine wool hurt his own hand. "It was you."

"What is that you think I did?" Lasha asked sharply, eyes narrowing in sudden suspicion, his words tinted with quiet alarm. "If I may ask."

"You don't need to ask," snapped Nika, coldly. "You already know."

"I really don't think that I do," countered Lasha, gaze fixed on his.

Nika smiled, but there was no humor in it. It was bloodless, loveless.

"Burn in hell, Ilarion Aleksandrovich."

"Nikasha-" began Ilarion, with an acute note of pain in his tone.

"Save your words. I know you told Aleksandr to bring me to heel. You asked him to pull me back. All I want to know is why you think that will serve you in any way."

There was a beat of perfect silence. Nika's knuckles tightened.

"Pull you back?" repeated Lasha, mystified, gauging his expression for clues but apparently finding nothing useful there. A note of cautious wonder invaded his voice. "Back...to Leningrad?"

"Of course," Liadov uttered, dangerously low and throaty. "Where else, Lasha. The only place you'll allow me to be."

"What..."

Lasha's lips parted, slowly, and his eyes shifted, as if watchworks were clicking into place.

Behind him, Nika heard a woman's soft cry of dismay, and then a small commotion of chairs scraping back, but bootsteps that paused halfway and fell quiet.

They had an audience, he knew. Any minute might bring intervention.

Or it might bring nothing at all.

In the moment, Liadov couldn't bring himself to care.

Date: 2009-01-05 11:57 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] andrei-isaev.livejournal.com
The sounds of a scuffling commotion made Andrei looked up, mid-bite.

"Oh shit," he uttered, tonelessly.

Date: 2009-01-05 12:15 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] capt-kasya.livejournal.com
"What?"

Kassian paused. Altercations in the mess hall were not wholly unusual, given the...unstable elements on base. But as he looked, this seemed to be an altercation between two figures in dove grey. He stared for a few moments, then grasped Andrei's arm.

"Let them work it out."

Date: 2009-01-05 12:26 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] hajimenoippolit.livejournal.com
Ippolit opened the door to the mess hall more from habit than appetite.

An abnormality in the pattern caught his eye and drew it toward the center of a cone of silence.

Liadov, dangling his MVD tormentor by the well-pressed coat.

Even angry, Liadov was tightly controlled. Not so now. Seeing him without his panache, rage contorting his face, was wrong, like the first time seeing a man without his skin.

"What now...?" slipped past Rakitin's lips, to no one.

Date: 2009-01-05 10:42 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] taras-oleksei.livejournal.com
"You can move," Taras muttered, shouldering into the guy who was blocking his way. Tall, but gangly, and easily pushed aside.

Taras paused to look around but where Liadov had gone was immediately apparent - straight to Lasha. Liadov held Ilarion up against the wall in a way that made something twinge low in Taras' stomach.

Still, it wasn't like the could just stand around and watch Liadov manhandle Isaev, no matter how much Isaev might...

He grimaced, feeling a strange pang as he watched them.

In the next moment, he shrugged it off, and strode forward, intent, but he saw that someone else had the same idea, and was already approaching them.

Anya, he realized.

Date: 2009-01-05 10:48 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] anya-korogova.livejournal.com
"Major Liadov."

Anya spoke with a clear tone, firm, in spite of her racing pulse.

She stepped forward to lay her hand on the Major's arm. There was a taut strength to the muscle under her fingertips, and a tension that vibrated like a power line, feeling almost dangerous to the touch. She closed her fingers as tightly as she dared.

"Please, Major. It's Anya."

She paused, biting her lip. Major Liadov's face was contorted into a grimace, one of both sharp rage and dull pain. In contrast, Major Isaev looked both stricken and compelled.

Anya leaned toward Major Liadov, trying to get him to meet her eyes, pale and tender green with compassion.

"Please let him go. Please, don't do this."

Date: 2009-01-05 11:02 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] nikanor-liadov.livejournal.com
"Anya," Nika said, with quiet incredulity. He was startled out of his trance and turned his head, slowly.

It was Anya, eyes pleading, hand on his forearm, very pretty in the swing coat...

Seeing her made his heart warm unexpectedly, and he could feel himself wanting to relent.

But something else made him harden inside, the realization that Lasha and his criminal sidekick had brought her with them, to this terrible outpost, like a valise of cognac or a musical instrument.

An accessory, not necessary, but arbitrary.

Liadov turned back to Ilarion, regripping his coat.

"What is she doing here?" he demanded in a low voice. "Is this how you treat the things I left you?"

Date: 2009-01-05 11:26 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] ilarion-isaev.livejournal.com
Ilarion's eyes slatted, reptilian, as he basked in the heat of Liadov's furious sun, shining on him alone.

"Oh, Nika, if you could see what I see," he murmured, his voice veiled with an indecent cast he made no effort to strip away.

Liadov's lips parted, disbelieving and his eyes averted, swiftly.

Ilarion was in his element once more. Liadov's initial accusation had baffled him, put him off balance, wounded him in an unprecedented fashion, but this, Anya- this was something he could work with.

Lasha tipped his jaw, casting his eyes in Anya's direction lazily.

"Oh, come now. You don't mind, do you Anya?" he drawled. "You like it rough."

He turned back to Nika, leaning in as far as his restraining fists would allow, dropping his voice.

"She's a very...adventurous girl, Nikanor. You have no idea."

He smiled.

"Ask Captain Oleksei."

Date: 2009-01-06 12:04 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] anya-korogova.livejournal.com
Anya gaped, stricken, her cheeks flushing pink.

She had never been able to control that reaction, blushing in front of men. An old boyfriend had told her it was charming, once. It closer to inconvenient. An immediate sign of embarrassment, or in this case...

Anya could not look at Major Liadov. It was surreal to see him, like this, face to face. Telephone calls and correspondence were not quite the same.

It occurred to her that he looked thinner than she'd seen him last, his face sallow, almost haggard. Still, his gaze was as keen as ever, and she could feel him staring at her now.

Anya turned to Major Isaev, and slapped him.

"How dare you," she whispered, stung.

She glanced at Major Liadov, not quite meeting his eyes.

"Look at you. Look at both of you. Fighting like boys, in front of all these people. You should be ashamed of yourselves. You're bringing shame to the Ministry."

Date: 2009-01-06 12:33 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] hajimenoippolit.livejournal.com
The shock of sudden contact carried down Rakitin's spine and sent him stumbling forward more than the shove itself. He twisted toward the source.

"You," he said quietly.

Isaev's large protector bearing down to come to his aid.

The prospect of Nika smeared across the floor flashed through his mind.

Without making any conscious decision to, Polya moved toward them.

Date: 2009-01-06 06:34 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] nikanor-liadov.livejournal.com
The slap rang out crisply, and Lasha's eyes narrowed dangerously in the wake of the strike.

Anya's action shocked Nika, rendering him paralyzed for a beat, but he recovered quickly and in the next second he snapped his attention back to Isaev.

He knew that look.

Sure enough, Lasha's hand had curled into a fist and was beginning to cock at his side, his shoulder and arm tightening with kinetic intention.

Nika's motion was obscure and swiftly acquitted in the lapse, quitely stilling Isaev's hand with his own, arresting it at his side.

It was a subtle check of Ilarion's unkind impulse. He hoped Anya didn't catch it.

Lasha was breathing deeply, soundless, leveling his gaze at Nika.

"Anya dorogusha," Nika said quietly, "will you please get me a cup of tea?"

Ilarion smirked faintly.

"...you know how I take it."

Date: 2009-01-06 06:53 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] andrei-isaev.livejournal.com
"He was going to hit that girl," remarked Andrei, almost to himself.

Nika had nipped it in the bud, with a smooth and knowing response, but it had not eluded Andrei's eyes what Lasha intended.

He knew the Isaev way.

Retribution was swift and hard, when it came to an affront. No matter how slight the offense, the response was to utterly destroy the offender.

Kasya's hand still rested on his arm, as if he might rise at any minute, unable to deny his Isaevean instincts.

Date: 2009-01-06 07:54 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] capt-kasya.livejournal.com
"Liadov stopped him," Kassian murmured.

He had just caught Ilarion's slight forward motion, matched by an equal and opposite reaction from Liadov. Kassian remembered the story that Liadov had told him, about the ironworker's lover, the one who had set out to assassinate Liadov, and had wound up shot by Ilarion Isaev instead. They defended each other, those two, even from themselves. Even now.

Kassian stroked Andrei's arm, lightly.

Date: 2009-01-06 08:28 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] anya-korogova.livejournal.com
Anya looked between them, lips pressed together, chin held high.

It seemed that, for now, the majors had decided to stop fighting, though Anya felt certain that their argument was far from over. She stepped back. The hand she had slapped Major Isaev with still stung from the impact.

"I'm sorry, Major Liadov, I can't do that right now," she whispered.

In spite of everything, and there was a lot, Anya did not think it was proper to run off to get Major Liadov's tea while Major Isaev was standing right there.

Her eyes fell on Major Isaev, who was looking pleased with himself.

"I'm going to excuse myself now. If you need me, Major Isaev, I'll be in the office."

Date: 2009-01-06 09:45 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] ilarion-isaev.livejournal.com
"I won't be needing anything more from you, Ms. Korogova."

Ilarion's voice was soft and wintry.

Liadov's fingers still rested lightly on his hand, checking his motion with nothing more than a touch.

But that touch carried the weight of a common history, and years. It was heavier than heaven.

Lasha met Nika's sleepless gaze, pointedly, and flicked his chin in Anya's direction.

"You see, Nikasha? That's the transient nature of what people call loyalty."

His eyes narrowed.

"But not what I call loyalty."

Date: 2009-01-06 10:50 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] taras-oleksei.livejournal.com
Anya's sigh was soft, and pained. Taras arrived just in time to hear it.

She turned away from Lasha and Liadov. Taras thought she looked angry, or like she was going to cry, or both. Women were like that. He did not try to stop her.

Taras watched Anya walk away for a moment, but then realized that someone else was nearby. After a moment, he placed him.

"You," he said, looking at Lieutenant Rakitin.

Rakitin looked at him. There was an odd clarity in the pathologist's eyes, a focus that had not been there before. Rakitin did not so much shrink, as bend, in his presence.

Taras leaned forward.

"I think your comrade has his hands on my comrade. You need to do something about that."

He fixed Rakitin with another hard look, then he turned back.

Lasha and Liadov stood close to each other. Even in conflict, even now, there was a familiarity between them that seemed unthinking and easy, the way they touched, like comrades.

Taras' hard brow furrowed.

"Lasha," he murmured, half a question.

Date: 2009-01-06 11:07 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] nikanor-liadov.livejournal.com
"Speaking of loyalty," declared Liadov, coolly, unhanding Lasha with a spare flourish. "I think I hear the dulcet voice of an angel."

Ilarion smoothed his lapels unthinkingly with a black-gloved hand.

"Don't worry, Taras. Major Liadov was merely discussing a grievance with me."



Date: 2009-01-06 12:28 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] hajimenoippolit.livejournal.com
Oleksei put it proprietorially, as if they were a cohesive unit.

Rakitin gave a weighing look to him. There was something very physical about him, a large man who knew how to occupy his own space, a potential energy of violence incongruous with the beauty of his unusual eyes. The undercurrent of threat in voice and stance didn't seem especial. Rakitin wondered if it was something he carried with him, like a bear with its claws, intrinsic and from time to time made useful.

Isaev spoke of loyalty, as if he hadn't done something to his old friend that brought out a fury Polya hadn't known he contained.

And as if he hadn't been slapped by a woman a moment before. Polya couldn't make heads or tails of that, except for the smugness that lingered ineradicable in Isaev's face, and a small certainty that the woman had been well justified.

Oleksei was correct. Liadov had been touching Isaev, so naturally that it seemed impossible.

"He has that right," Rakitin said quietly to Isaev's comrade.

Date: 2009-01-06 07:48 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] taras-oleksei.livejournal.com
Taras glanced over his shoulder.

"In the mess hall?" he muttered, to the pathologist.

The scene had become something of a spectacle. Soldiers had stopped eating to watch the two majors in MVD grey. Conversations around the tables hummed low and furtive. Taras stood straighter, instinctively, broad shoulders pulling taut under his uniform. His gloved hands curled loosely at his sides.

They were not touching now, Liadov and Isaev, but stood at odds, like lean wolves establishing dominance. It was unclear who had won.

Taras looked between them, briefly.

"Are you done, Liadov?"

Date: 2009-01-06 11:29 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] nikanor-liadov.livejournal.com
Nika turned slightly and met Oleksei's eyes, his expression acute but unloaded.

"No," he said, unceremoniously, eyes hard.

A pause, as he exhaled slowly, gathering his poise and flexing his black-gloved hands.

"But it will keep."

He turned to Lasha, lowering his voice.

"I want answers," he said. "I'm not absolving you of this."

Then he turned to go.

Date: 2009-01-06 11:40 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] ilarion-isaev.livejournal.com
"Nikanor," said Ilarion, sharply. "I didn't beg the order."

He crossed his arms tautly over his uniformed chest, feeling the unfamiliar anger of being wrongfully accused.

Silence.

"I'm stating it, here, for the record."

Date: 2009-01-07 12:06 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] hajimenoippolit.livejournal.com
"You have a point," Rakitin muttered toward Oleksei.

Whatever Isaev had done, he'd taken this beyond a private matter.

Date: 2009-01-07 12:52 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] taras-oleksei.livejournal.com
Taras stepped away, to give Liadov room to pass.

More to demonstrate to Lasha that he didn't intend to threaten Liadov physically.

He moved closer to Isaev, watching Liadov go, eyes narrowing on the spot just between Liadov's shoulder blades.

"I don't know what this is about, but that should be enough for you."

Date: 2009-01-07 01:14 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] hajimenoippolit.livejournal.com
Rakitin turned to follow Liadov. There was no pretending anymore that this had nothing to do with him. For either of them.

Date: 2009-01-07 03:21 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] ilarion-isaev.livejournal.com
"Did you hear me, Nikanor Grigoriivich?" demanded Ilarion, loudly, brows raising in ire, stepping forward.

Liadov shook his head faintly, but he paused, without turning.

"I did not do this thing." Lasha's words were deliberate and punctuated by stabbing stresses.

Nika remained still for a moment, as if weighing his tone and timbre against all that he knew of Lasha.

Ilarion knew that was exactly what he was doing.

And yet the seconds dragged on apace and he made no move to turn around.

Then, Nika's voice, measured and modulated, pragmatic and refashioned into its familiar MVD tone.

"We'll speak of this issue later, Major Isaev. Expect me."

Lasha's eyes narrowed.

"Fine," he bit out, abruptly. "Go. But ask yourself, Nika, if I have ever lied about anything I've done."



Date: 2009-01-07 03:43 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] nikanor-liadov.livejournal.com
Liadov was struck by those last words, even as he resumed his departure with a sharp stride, pushing through the swinging doors and leaving them all to their furtive speculation, and Isaev to his fuming outrage.

Lasha actually had a point, if a rather ironic one- not that he was prepared to examine it under the previous circumstance.

As a credo, never apologize, never explain encompassed more than the surface would suggest. It also tacitly implied "never deny".

And in his memory, it held true: as far as he remembered, Isaev never had denied responsibility for anything committed or done.

More often, when confronted with an accusation, he would say "Absolutely, I did," which a kind of unblinking negligence that aptly demonstrated the extent of his disregard for the querant.

Ilarion was not ashamed of what he was.

His boot heels snapped a retreating cadence on the linotile of the hall that returned to the North Wing. Beyond the side North Wing exit was a straight shot to their free-standing outbuilding, his secondary office and Rakitin's laboratory.

He heard faster bootclicks behind him in pursuit, as if someone were hastening slightly to catch up with him, but didn't turn around or slow his pace until he was forced to.

Liadov tightened his scarf with a jerk, in anticipation of the cold mountain air, pausing as the automatic doors sluggishly retracted .

Date: 2009-01-07 07:33 am (UTC)

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