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Taras paused in front of Liadov's office.

He was on his way back from the gym, after a good, hard workout. He wore his black tank and a pair of loose pants, and had a towel draped around his neck.

He'd gotten some stares and sidelong glances in the gym, soldiers who eyed his tattoos. Taras supposed that the worst ones were covered, but even just his bare arms and shoulders were enough to hint at his criminal resume, especially the barbed wire around his biceps, and snake and dagger on his forearm. Those said enough.

Taras hadn't been intending show any overt sign that he'd been up north, not in front of civilized people, but after the scene between Lasha and Liadov in the mess hall that morning, he figured the soldiers needed to see that the Ministry employed more than fancy pricks whose idea of fighting was rubbing up against a wall and grabbing each other's arms. And besides, all that whispering had been a little queer.

He felt good. Energized, muscles thrumming with energy to spare. It had been a while since he'd had a proper workout. Not since before he'd arrived. He'd hit the weights and kettlebells, and done some calisthenics. Now he could have a shower and a snack, and call it a night.

Taras eyed Liadov's door.

The fucker was probably gone by now, off to mess, off to bed, whatever he did when he wasn't stalking through the halls and pounding on people's doors. Maybe at the pathologist's lab. But then again, Liadov worked some strange hours.

Taras couldn't hear anything in particular beyond the door. He stood there for a few more moments, wondering if he should just break in again, but there was no point if no one was inside. He was about to turn away when he heard a noise.

It was soft, but had the particular ring of struck glass. Taras frowned. He hesitated for another moment, then knocked on the door, not loud, but polite.
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Date: 2009-01-19 08:09 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] nikanor-liadov.livejournal.com
Nika paused, looking up.

The ice in his glass clinked softly as he raised it to his lips.

The visitor could be anyone; most likely Polya remembering some detail, or Aryol admonishing him for working late yet again, come to drag him home to his quarters.

Though it would have been a little early for them to cross paths; the Specialist was at the range tonight late himself, Liadov knew.

He was about to call out that it was open, when he realized he had locked the door.

Glass in hand, he crossed to the threshhold and turned the latch, pulling the door open.

He saw that it was Oleksei who stood there, boldly out of uniform, straight from the gym by all appearances. Nika's surprise did not register, except as a faint flicker behind his eyes.

"Evening," Nika said politely, taking a mild sip. "What can I do for you, Captain?"

Date: 2009-01-19 08:29 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] taras-oleksei.livejournal.com
Taras frowned suddenly, brow drawing low and hard.

"I don't...know," he said, slowly. "I just thought I'd..."

He trailed off.

Taras realized he didn't have a plan, exactly, or a real reason to talk to Liadov. I just thought I'd see how you were doing wasn't really something he wanted to say to the guy who tried to rough up his comrade.

He glanced down at the drink in Liadov's hand.

Taras folded his arms. His shoulders bulged with thick muscle.

"I just wanted to make sure there isn't going to be another problem," he said, finally, decisively. "Between you and Isaev at mess tomorrow."

Date: 2009-01-19 09:10 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] nikanor-liadov.livejournal.com
Nika made a faint noise through pressed lips, somewhere between a snort and a laugh.

"Is that all," he said, negligently, turning and walking back into the room, leaving the door open in unspoken, ambivalent invitation.

He took another drink, eyeing the window obliquely. It had rained a lot lately; tonight was apparently no different.

"No," he said. "That's done with."

Date: 2009-01-20 07:47 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] taras-oleksei.livejournal.com
Taras stood watching him for a moment.

"I don't think it is."

He followed Liadov into the office.

It was cool and dim inside. The lights were turned down, except for the lamp at the desk, where Liadov had apparently been working before Taras had knocked on his door. Taras hesitated, then turned back to the door, and reached out to flip the lock in place.

He folded his arms, looking to Liadov once more.

"...there's a kind of caring in hatred. He told me that, once."

Date: 2009-01-20 08:02 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] nikanor-liadov.livejournal.com
Nika's head checked slightly at the sound of the lock.

"I meant, Captain, that my days of staging mess hall Shakespeare are over."

He paused, flicking his wrist to vaguely indicate the bottle on the corner of the desk.

"Not that I'm done with Isaev."

Date: 2009-01-20 10:11 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] taras-oleksei.livejournal.com
"Khorosho," Taras muttered.

He picked up the bottle Liadov had indicated and took a sharp swig, grimacing as it went down.

"Da, all right. Because he's not done with you."

Taras paused, wiping his mouth with the back of his bare hand.

Liadov's body did not carry the brittle tension Taras expected. Instead, the set of his shoulders looked weary, held upright by pride alone.

"So you're not angry anymore."

Date: 2009-01-20 10:26 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] nikanor-liadov.livejournal.com
"It's under control," replied Nika, succinctly.

He turned, crossing his arms over his chest in a loose fashion, watching Oleksei hit from the bottle.

"I was out of line today," he said, with light, polished diction. "I accept responsibility for that. Mea culpa."

Liadov's brow shifted as he regarded Taras.

"Although you showed admirable restraint, Captain."

Date: 2009-01-20 10:45 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] taras-oleksei.livejournal.com
"I saw his face."

Taras shook his head. He felt his jaw tighten, slightly.

"He would have been more angry if I had pulled you off of him."

He took a step closer to Liadov. It felt colder in the office than it had out in the hall. His skin prickled.

Taras fell silent for a few moments.

"You believe him?"

Date: 2009-01-20 09:15 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] nikanor-liadov.livejournal.com
Liadov canted his head, bloodlessly, regarding Oleksei with sleepless eyes.

"Should I?"

The Captain might have been privy, either way.

"...do you?"

Date: 2009-01-20 10:31 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] taras-oleksei.livejournal.com
Taras held Liadov's gaze for a long moment, then finally, slowly, he nodded.

"Da," he said, quietly.

He turned away, restless. He stared at the things on Liadov's desk without seeing them.

"He's telling the truth. He could have done it, but he didn't. He didn't want to. And you know that."

Taras turned back to him.

"You should."

Date: 2009-01-21 05:15 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] nikanor-liadov.livejournal.com
"I don't know anything, Oleksei. Not outright. I can come to a conclusion, based on personal experience and empirical evidence."

He raised the glass to his lips, tasting the kiss of the liquor.

He was inebriated, it was true, but not falling down drunk. There was a looseness and languidity to his speech that was more pronounced than normal.

"But you're not actually asking me to believe he's incapable of something like that, are you?" Liadov lifted an eyebrow. "You should know him better than that."

Date: 2009-01-21 04:32 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] taras-oleksei.livejournal.com
Taras gritted his teeth, expelling his breath in a growl.

"That's not what I said. That's not what he said, either. Da, he's capable of that. I think he's capable of just about anything, when it comes to you. But that's not the same thing as doing it."

He took another drink straight from the bottle, and made it a long one.

"I know there's a lot of shit I'm capable of that I don't go around doing every day. You too."

Taras shook his head.

"He told me he didn't do it. If he was going to do something like that, he could have blocked your transfer earlier. But he said it wouldn't have helped anything."

He set the bottle down.

"...he wants you to come back to him on your own."

Date: 2009-01-21 08:30 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] nikanor-liadov.livejournal.com
Liadov paused, glancing at Oleksei with a small frown.

"He could have, surely. Yes. I always wondered why he didn't."

Of course, Nika could have thrown in with the Moscow director, and let them battle it out, but as it turned out, he didn't have to. His move to transfer had gone uncontested.

Aleksandr had been disappointed, reticent, but ultimately wished him well, under the assumption that it was a temporary move.

He glanced at Taras with a slow, somewhat unchaste expression. A vault of his brow, a twist of his lips.

"And oh, yes. You're capable of a good many things, Oleksei."

Date: 2009-01-21 10:57 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] taras-oleksei.livejournal.com
Taras exhaled.

His thick jaw tightened under the shadow of two-day stubble. Taras stepped forward, closing to the boundary of Liadov's personal space.

"You shouldn't look at me like that, Liadov."

Liadov's green eyes were long-lashed and low-lidded, but hinted at the thoughts behind them.

He took another step forward, so that they were chest to chest.

"I'm not sure what I'll do."

Date: 2009-01-22 06:09 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] nikanor-liadov.livejournal.com
Nika smiled loosely, indolent and intoxicated.

"That's exactly what I'm saying," he said, lightly poking the end of Taras' nose with his index finger.

He took another sip of liquor, eyeing Oleksei closely.

"Don't worry, Captain. I'm not trying to provoke you."

Date: 2009-01-22 07:24 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] taras-oleksei.livejournal.com
Taras reached up and closed his fingers around the wrist of Liadov's free hand.

Liadov made no move to either avoid his grip, or pull away.

"What are you trying to do?"

Liadov's hand felt solid and warm, strong without being bulky. Taras' fingers tingled. The contact with Liadov's bare skin was electric.

He could feel his pulse rouse, stirring in response.

"Never mind what's between you and Isaev," he muttered. "What is it between you and me?"

Date: 2009-01-22 08:39 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] nikanor-liadov.livejournal.com
Nika's eyes went slowly to his wrist, where Oleksei's broad fist encircled him. He wasn't clutching or seizing, just holding firm.

"I don't know," he said, slowly, feeling the warm flush in his lips as they parted to speak. "It's whatever we want it to be, isn't it."

After a moment he raised his free wrist with an indolent smile.

"...do you want the other one?"

Date: 2009-01-22 09:32 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] taras-oleksei.livejournal.com
Taras glanced between Liadov and his proffered wrist.

He exhaled, long and slow.

"Might as well do it right."

He caught Liadov's other wrist as he had the first, not too fast and not too hard. Taras held Liadov there for a moment, staring at him, then he pushed him back slowly against the rough brick wall.

Taras pinned Liadov's arms above his head.

"This is crazy," he whispered, then leaned in to kiss him.

It was also not hard and not fast, but firm and hungry. His mouth parted against Liadov's. Taras could taste the cognac on his lips, and the salt on his tongue.

Date: 2009-01-22 07:31 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] nikanor-liadov.livejournal.com
It was, Nika allowed, a little crazy.

But that didn't dissuade him from responding, arching his back against the wall and the stricture of Oleksei's large hands.

Didn't dissuade him from slipping his knee between Oleksei's powerful thighs- rudely, but with polish- and meeting his kiss with langorous vigor.

His breath was elevated, now, along with his rising blood.

Date: 2009-01-22 09:05 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] taras-oleksei.livejournal.com
Taras growled against Liadov's lips, low and appreciative.

Already he could feel his blood shooting hotly down his body and into his cock, leaving him light-headed and dizzy. Kissing had that effect on him, moreso than anything else. Taras had to pause to breathe.

He rubbed his crotch into Liadov's thigh, roughly. Liadov felt hard between his legs, the solid muscle of a man. Like the way it was in the Zone.

But Liadov was not like the men in the Zone. He smelled clean, skin spiced with cognac and musk, and he was hungry, but not desperate. There was something warm and vital about the way his body thrummed against Taras', as if beneath that mild and mannered exterior beat the heart of a fellow predator.

Taras was beginning to understand what it was about Liadov that seemed to draw Isaev.

Taras adjusted his grip, trapping both of Liadov's wrists with one hand now, pinning them to the wall above his head. Taras reached down with his free hand between them, and began to unfasten the lowermost buttons on Liadov's coat.

"Just relax," he whispered, against Liadov's lips.

Date: 2009-01-23 04:36 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] nikanor-liadov.livejournal.com
Nika's breath was shallow and light, tripping quickly from parted lips.

"Anything you say, Captain," he drawled, looking down.

Vodka had filed his edges smooth, and he was amused. He found himself studying Oleksei's systematic ruination of his uniform line with a careless, almost innocent curiosity of a boy.

"You've done this before," he told Oleksei, with a faintly tipsy smile. His cap had fallen over one eye, but he didn't bother righting it.

He was vaguely impressed that Oleksei's hand could span both of his wrists and remarked upon it.

"Your hand can hold both of my wrists. That's impressive."

Date: 2009-01-23 06:02 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] taras-oleksei.livejournal.com
Taras snorted.

"You could break free if you wanted, Liadov."

He held Liadov's crossed wrists pinned by pressure above his head, trapped by the cage of his spread hand.

"I don't think you do."

He pushed apart the familiar grey lapels of Liadov's MVD coat, and began to unbuckle his belt.

Taras' heavy brow creased suddenly, and he paused to look up at Liadov's face.

Liadov's expression was relaxed and drowsy, half-hidden by his cap. Trusting.

"But let me know if I'm hurting you," he added, more quietly.

Date: 2009-01-23 07:34 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] nikanor-liadov.livejournal.com
Nika gave a close-lipped laugh, low and throaty.

"Don't worry about that."

His legs were struck, staggered outward, boots planted firmly, stance wide.

Hips thrust forward, the display of sexuality bold and unmistakable.

Oleksei's hand at his belt was unhesitating, competent, directed.

Liadov lowered his head slightly, intimately, angling his eyes up and under the heavy line of Oleksei's focused brow.

"I hope Isaev hasn't had time to bug my office yet," he purred, "...And that you'd tell me if he had."

Date: 2009-01-23 09:19 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] taras-oleksei.livejournal.com
Taras frowned suddenly, and his fingers paused at Liadov's crotch.

"I don't...think he has," he said, slowly.

He found the thought disconcerting. Taras glanced around them, though he knew if bugs were present, they would be small and carefully hidden.

He shook his head.

"I guess we'll find out tomorrow."

If Isaev had bugged the Liadov's office, and learned what they were doing, there was no way he could have such knowledge and act as if he did not.

He glanced up. Liadov's face was close to his, gaze goading, eyes vivid, living green. Taras felt his loins pulse with unexpected heat, his response hard and visceral.

Taras swallowed, glancing down again.

"You're drunk, aren't you?"

Date: 2009-01-23 09:55 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] nikanor-liadov.livejournal.com
Nika nodded solemnly, freeing one of his hands and putting his finger to his lips.

He paused for a long moment.

"Yes," he said.

Then he mindfully removed his finger and slipped his hand upward, back under Oleksei's grasp.

Liadov vaguely doubted Ilarion had bugged the office, purely because he would never have done such a thing with his own hands. Logic would suggest he'd have sent Taras to do it, and what better time than when he'd broken in? Or now, for that matter, if that were the aim?

But Oleksei hadn't bugged the office on Lasha's behalf; his own actions proved it.

Nika rolled his hips briefly to dissipate the anticipatory tension that had begun to cling to his loins.

"Don't worry," he murmured, confidentially, leaning forward so that his mouth just grazed Oleksei's rough, sledge-like jaw. "The only bugs in this office are mine."
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