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Taras smiled to himself as he leaned against the long black car, watching uniformed MVD officers drag the moaning, bleeding killer away.

It was night outside, Leningrad winter, but he wasn't cold.

Maksim Koslov, 48, father of two, Red Army veteran, had beaten his girlfriend with the wooden leg of a chair in a domestic dispute and fled when neighbors called the police. The woman died in the hospital seven hours later, and the case had fallen to Taras and Ilarion.

Lasha had sighed, and called the case 'hopelessly prosaic', but they'd gone out anyway, following a lead.

They tracked Koslov to a part of Leningrad that time had forgotten.

The neighborhood was in one of the shunned and ruined parts of the city so far removed from the living heart of the Leningrad it should have been amputated like a gangrened limb long ago. Damaged by the Nazi invasion during the war, never restored, the neighborhood still had buildings with crumbling facades and empty lots, streets and sidewalks pitted by landmines left behind after the Siege.

People still lived here, though, went about their daily lives undaunted by the decades-old decay around them. That was the Russian spirit, steadfast and fierce past the point of bullheaded obstinance.

That was like Taras' father, who had refused to leave Leningrad during the Siege. Cheslav Oleksei let his wife and daughters be evacuated, but kept his then-only son with him.

Taras had been nine, old enough to remember it now.

Koslov was stamped from the same mold, stubborn and traditional, though to the point of foolishness. He'd thought he could evade the MVD by hiding in his old neighborhood.

He'd been wrong.

Koslov was a big man, half a head taller than Taras, thick around the middle. Still strong enough to resist arrest, and drunk and desperate enough to try, when Taras moved in to handcuff him.

Lasha had shot him in the kneecaps, but not before the man had lashed out and caught Taras in a glancing blow across the jaw.

The violence had been brief, but gratifying.

Adrenaline still invigorated Taras' senses, turning the scent of the rain-slicked streets into an acrid tang, sharpening the taste of blood in his mouth. His jaw throbbed, but only in a distant way.

Taras pushed experimentally at the side of his jaw with his tongue, finding a few loose teeth. Taras knew from experience that they would tighten up again, after a couple of days.

He turned to see Isaev approaching, walking briskly, brushing his gloves together as if getting rid of something distasteful.

"You were right," Taras said, smirking as Ilarion drew near. "The violent crimes division is...more interesting."

Date: 2008-02-14 12:03 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] ilarion-isaev.livejournal.com
Ilarion frowned.

"Fucking peasant," he issued the invective with cool absolutism.

He watched the car depart, and his eyes swept down from the retreating tail-lights, to the small, ruby pools of blood on the ruined concrete.

"He won't run again."

He didn't add from the MVD. That was self-evident. The true implication was far broader in stroke.

Lasha hated men who insisted on being irrational in the face of the uniform. Insanity had its place, and that place was the psychiatry prison.

He glanced down, grimacing.

He hadn't escaped unscathed, either. His tall, immaculate black boot was besmirched with fugitive blood from when he'd used his boot to shove the bastard over so that Taras could cuff him.

"So now there are two more orphans in the world," he remarked, pulling out a handkerchief and setting his boot on a stair, proceeding to lovingly polish the blood deep into leather and oblivion.

He glanced up, absently, straightening.

"So, what now? Want to put some ice on your litso?"

Lasha was folding the bloodied handkechief into quarters, pausing to inspect a renegade thread that threatened the symmetrical integrity of the ИИ monogram.

Date: 2008-02-14 04:33 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] taras-oleksei.livejournal.com
"Yeah, maybe," Taras muttered, feeling gingerly along his jawline with a gloved hand. He worked his jaw, opening and closing his mouth a few times.

Sore, but not broken. He'd probably have one hell of a bruise for the next few days, but he wouldn't lose any teeth.

Taras shook his head.

"I don't know. Maybe a drink. Maybe a banya."

He pressed his lips together.

Maybe a whorehouse, he thought, but didn't say.

Taras felt restless now, as if all the adrenaline hadn't bled off but collected somewhere inside of him, lingering unspent, coiling like a striking snake. The fight had been visceral, but all too short, and all it had really served to do was whet his hunger for more.

"Why don't we just get out of here?"

Taras pushed away from the hood of the car suddenly, straightening his uniform as an afterthought.

He threw open the car door.

"Let's just go, comrade, and we we can decide on the way."

Date: 2008-02-14 06:01 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] ilarion-isaev.livejournal.com
"Fair enough," Ilarion said, ducking inside after Oleksei and pulling the door closed.

Taras was sitting forward.

His whole mien seemed edged with alacrity, as if he balanced on thorns and briars, coiled in the metaphorical haunches and ready to spring. His dual-toned gaze shifted intently beneath a lowered brow, and he watched the lights pass as the car wheeled around, returning to the straightway.

His fingers rubbed together compulsively in a loose fist that rested on his thigh.

Ilarion raised an eyebrow, solicitiously.

"I think you need to dull that razor, Boris," he drawled, with dark and honied insinuation.

Without waiting for Oleksei's reply, Lasha leaned forward, tapped Khartov's shoulder and issued a brief directive in clipped tones.

"Take us to Nevsky Prospect, the Evropeiskaya."

Khartov's nod was leisurely and without question. It was a directive he'd heard many times before as an MVD driver.

"Davai," he said, with an understated lilt.

"Davai," replied Ilarion, with a smirk.

He settled back in the deep leather seat of the MVD car, pulling a pack of salmiaki from his pocket and putting a piece in his mouth.

"Bitter licorice," he said, softly. "A small addiction I picked up somewhere."

The oral fixation of a ravenous man required periodic soothing, and Lasha had cut off smoking cold one day when Nika remarked idly that he had never preferred the habit.

"Don't worry, comrade. I know a few nice forests where you can bury your axe."

He turned to Oleksei, and offered the unorthodox candy with a twist of his lips.

"Want to wrap your tongue around something in the meantime?"

Date: 2008-02-14 07:58 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] taras-oleksei.livejournal.com
Oleksei went still, looking at the packet first, and then Isaev.

There was a moment of pause as he regarded Isaev like a stray trying to decide if it should eat from a man's hand, but then in the next moment he moved, and reached out to take a piece of licorice.

"Thank you," he said, with a slight weight to the words, "comrade."

Taras sat back in his seat deliberately, drawing in a breath, smoothing down the lapels of his uniform. Tension bristled in his upright shoulders, but he made the effort to sit like he wasn't about to erupt.

He placed the candy in his mouth, though it was too hard to chew on with his tender jaw, so he sucked on it, and worried at it idly.

Taras glanced out the window, and watched the world streak by in a blur of smeared light.

"Sorry, comrade," he offered, wryly, after a few moments. The fight - "

It hadn't been much of one, really, but a mere taste had been enough. But Oleksei didn't know how to explain to someone like Ilarion what it had awoken in him, how it had tripped his ready switch that linked violence and lust.

Isaev had understood something immediately, though, given his words to the driver, and the insinuation in his tone.

Taras turned the licorice over in his mouth with his tongue.

"...was over to soon."

He looked back at Isaev then, and his mouth twisted with irony.

"Though I know we're not supposed to be brawling in the slums with suspects."

Oleksei regarded Ilarion, who sat in quietly composed repose, as polished as ever.

He had been quick to shoot, though, Taras remembered, no hesitation between the time Isaev had realized he needed to fire, and the second after that he'd done it.

Men like that were few, except when pressed to extreme circumstance, and then they were common.

Lasha was neither, but he seemed to live in both worlds, nonetheless.

Taras found that interesting.

"Sounds like you hunt in all the best forests," he remarked, almost idly.

Date: 2008-02-14 09:03 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] ilarion-isaev.livejournal.com
"On occasion," remarked Lasha cryptically, "Though I've been out of touch with nature for some time."

It wasn't entirely true, that he abstained from whores, but it reflected his sentiments on the matter. His body indulged, his mind went gracelessly into the Zone. Whores were the less alive, to him. Bodies already condemned to be cage liner for society's vicious vultural menagerie.

He smiled without humor.

"My father, as you may have heard, was quite the sportsman."

It was a mildly lapping statement that couldn't efface its own bitter undertow.

As the lights flashed by, his mind flashed too, like a kinescope, all along the pictures his mind held of that woman, Avadya.

And all the other women whose backcountry Aleksandr had blithely traversed, the wilderness forays that led her to seek her own solace in the Kirov's stable of finely apportioned and appointed male flesh.

A whorehouse in itself, the Kirov, thought Lasha, with the cynicism of experience.

As the car pulled up at the grand hotel, they climbed out onto the pavilion, wasting little time in the cold street. The doorman admitted them with a nod and averted eyes, touching the brim of his cap respectfully. Once inside, the softly lit warmth was immediate pleasure. Lasha scanned the ornate lobby briefly, the features of his impassive face only scantly burnished by the darkness of his internal monologue.

"Take a look around," he said softly. "And tell me if you see anything you like."

The sprawling foyer of the hotel was graciously furnished with chaises and chairs, fountains and ferns, and while not full, occupied by a few dozen warm bodies.

While it was not immediately significant, after a few moments, it would become clear to almost anyone that the majority of the denizens were women- and that they were on display.

Their clothes were stylish and their hair was immaculately coiffed, whether bouffants or pageboys, though the colors of dye and bleach they chose announced their surreality with a coy wink. Their black and white patent go-go boots and gold high-heeled mules told no lies.

They chatted idly among themselves, but every kohl-lined eye and pair of peppermint pink lips had opened wider at the sight of the MVD men, keeping them in range, tracking their movements.

A sea of sweeping false eyelashes buoyed Lasha's back as he left Taras to stare with hard and criminal eyes, strolling to the front desk, ignoring their sidewise smiles.

"Dobre venir," said the clerk, as he approached, readily sliding a key across the polished wood without expression.

Ilarion took it and walked back to Oleksei, jingling it lightly between his fingers. The room number, 300, was embossed on a small black tag in nondescript raised silver letters.

He leaned in, so as to whisper roughly near Oleksei's ear from behind.

"Finish the candy in your mouth before you loot the shop."

A dry smile followed.

"I do hope I haven't spoiled your...appetite."

Date: 2008-02-14 08:33 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] taras-oleksei.livejournal.com
Taras drew in a slight breath, the muscles in his neck tightening, his jaw clenching to the point of pain.

The licorice had been dissolving, forgotten, in his mouth, but now Taras deliberately swallowed it.

"My appetite's fine," he muttered, and he felt the heat of Lasha's laugh on his neck.

Taras' gaze swept the foyer again, ignoring him.

Some of the women met his eyes, then glanced away demurely, while others smiled at him with small, knowing looks, unfazed by his glower. Professional, the way whores usually were, though these were polished and perfect, not like the whores Taras was used to.

Belatedly, Oleksei remembered he was supposed to be choosing.

The girls all seemed the same to him in spite of their variations, unreal in their perfection like a line of dolls on a shelf, though Taras imagined they were very clean, and probably smelled like flowers.

Abruptly, he frowned.

He realized for the first time that the few men who idled in the foyer were not looking at the women.

Oleksei had noticed them before but initially dismissed them, thinking that they were customers too, but now he saw that there were two distinct types: young slender men who had pretty faces and wore nice suits, and other, burlier men who wore uniforms and smoked cigarettes, and looked exactly like soldiers.

His mind balked at what his eyes saw, and he looked at them more carefully, second-guessing.

One of the young men caught his gaze and glanced down as he smiled, his expression diffident and permissive.

Taras felt himself glare at the young man, instantly reminded of the Zone, and the type of men there who let themselves be used by the others.

The Zone was very far away from this place, which was normal and civilized, and Taras had assumed, upscale. It was not the sort of place where men should be selling themselves, he thought, vaguely and faintly.

He had to be mistaken.

The North had different rules entirely, ones Oleksei had followed while he was incarcerated, though now he'd been reclaimed by civilization.

Ilarion's presence behind him felt dark and goading now, and Taras wondered that if, like the tattoos that decorated his skin, some things from the Zone would stay with him permanently.

Taras shifted, aching suddenly.

He draw his gaze back to the women, and after long moments, still unable to decide, he shook his head dismissively.

"I don't care which ones," he told Ilarion, finally. "As long as they're...sturdy."

Date: 2008-02-14 09:29 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] ilarion-isaev.livejournal.com
"Sturdy," echoed Isaev, blackly amused. "Yes, I imagine you would."

Ilarion broke away silently, turning to lean against a neo-classical pillar with his arms crossed idly.

"Come on now," he intoned, reasonably. "Surely there's an aspect, a detail you appreciate. I don't care how utilitarian you find the act and its ultimate function. Everyone has a trigger."

He raised his gaze unobtrusively and kept it light, sweeping it carelessly over the dotted forest of rouge and nail lacquer.

"What will it be, Taras? The redhead with the false fall? The redhead with the updo? The brunette with the shiny, shiny hair, there, by the wall? Perhaps the deliberately unremarkable girl with the timid act- she's a specialist, I hear. Caters to a particular man. Tougher than she looks, and an expert at concealing marks."

Lasha paused, trying to interpret Oleksei's resulting grimace, which might have been either arousal or repulsion.

Or both.

"...or do you like blondes, as the Americans do? There, with the compact- she's a blonde like my sister. True blonde, they call that. Or is dark gold more to your taste? I see one with curls, Taras- just like an angel. Waiting for a self-made devil like you to rip her wings off and have her on the ground."

Ilarion yawned, gently.

The keys to the penthouse jingled lightly in his hand as he tilted his head.

"Or are more fond of extremes? The Persian girl there with the dusky skin, or perhaps the raven-haired Ukrainian, or maybe the platinum blonde?"

Oleksei's stance had not shifted, as if some whistling mechanic had come along and tightened all his bolts in place.

Ilarion smiled, slowly.

"Come now, comrade. Still tonight we have a banya to take, and vodka to drink. If you don't care, then picking them is of no consequence. I can see that you need a little obliging company."

Date: 2008-02-14 10:58 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] taras-oleksei.livejournal.com
"A trigger," Taras repeated.

He glanced half-sidelong behind him, eyeing Ilarion for a moment. Lasha looked relaxed, amused, indulgent, smirking faintly as if he'd sensed Taras' discomfort and found it to his liking.

Taras exhaled slowly, and turned back to the women.

His gaze was efficient now, judging each, swiftly eliminating the ones that were willowy or outrightly thin, the youngest, the most petite, and the one Ilarion had called timid. Then, out of those that remained, he sought the tallest among them, the most robust.

When he was done, he surveyed the ones that were left, then slowly started to smile.

After a few moments, he nodded.

"There," he said to Ilarion decisively, gesturing with a slight tilt of his chin. "The tall one, standing by the fountain with her friend."

He paused.

"And...that one as well. Over on the brown couch."

Both of the women he'd indicated were tall, the first moreso than the other, though Taras was willing to bet that both stood taller than he, given their long legs and stiletto heels. The first wore a short dress and shorter hair, her bob modern-looking and polished. It hung just below her ears, with severe bangs that crossed her brow.

The other had hair that was even shorter, boyish and choppy, cut close to her skull, though in contrast, her gown was elegant and long.

Both women looked robust enough to take him, but they had one other thing in common, as well.

Their hair was pale to the extreme, lightest and purest of platinum blond, not dissimilar to Lasha's own.

Taras turned back to Ilarion, his smile faint and flickering.

"What do you think, comrade? You approve, don't you?"

Date: 2008-02-14 11:52 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] ilarion-isaev.livejournal.com
Ilarion was incommunicative for a moment, regarding the women Taras had chosen.

"Yes," he said, vaguely. "Though it's entirely a matter of personal taste."

It gave him pause, and he allowed it, out of a sense of bemusement.

He couldn't ascertain why Oleksei's choice in whores resonated with him, as he certainly would never have selected them himself.

When pressed to indulge, his own taste ran more to earthy, broad-cheeked, wide-eyed madonnas who rivaled icon saints- women fertile of curve and firm of breast, strong of body and features.

Not ice queens like these, who offered no warmth or soft heat to bask into like a lizard.

And yet it seemed not only right, but appealing, for the brute Oleksei to screw such women, his callused hands and rough-hewn muscle thrust up against the impenetrable refinement of these thoroughbreds, these paperless purebreds, taking them like a minotaur, mindless of contrast, reveling in the contradiction of it all.

Ilarion realized he liked the idea.

"Well done," he remarked, casually, inclining his head. "Let's take an elevator ride, shall we. Our suite awaits, and so does the bottle."

Date: 2008-02-15 06:05 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] taras-oleksei.livejournal.com
"Good," said Taras, expression mildly smug. "Because I need a drink."

They made their way to the elevator bank and got in an one of the cars. As waited it whisked them upward, Isaev spoke in murmured tones with the elevator attendant.

There was a code to it, Taras realized as he listened, casually studying the designs on the elevator's plush carpet.

A person did not just order up two blonde whores like caviar and cognac, however politely phrased he might word it. No, this was much more like the language of murder, where men issued hits without ever having to say get rid or take care of anyone.

Lasha asked the attendant if he would be so kind as to send up his send up his 'nieces' to the suite, briefly describing the girls that Taras had chosen. "Of course, sir," was all the attendant said.

The elevator chimed, and the doors swept open. They got out.

Taras glanced at Ilarion as they walked down the gilded hall toward their suite.

"You didn't want one, comrade?"

He raised a brow.

"Shooting a man doesn't put you in the mood?"

Date: 2008-02-15 07:19 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] ilarion-isaev.livejournal.com
Ilarion smiled.

"I'm always in the mood," he said. "It just so happens that the mood varies."

He shrugged, enigmatic, then produced the key.

"Shooting is a cool response, and a cold commission. You can be aroused by the ruthlessness of the man who does it, but the act itself..." he shrugged, "it leaves me cold."

Ilarion unlocked the door to 300, and pushed it open. It swung beautifully on old, well-maintained hinges.

"But watching you, on the other hand-" Lasha laughed softly. "Well, it's been some time in my line of work since I saw a pounding like that."

He turned his gaze to the room.

It was one of two Executive Suites, but it may as well have been called the Ministry suite. Whenever a ranking man in grey came into the Grand Hotel Europe, they knew which key to give him. Ilarion knew it well.

He and Liadov had spent some time here, as well as in the other fine hotels in town, drinking and relaxing away from the snowy streets and the criminal element.

He loved the walls, a light peacock eggshell blue, and the tempered contrast of the subtle red Empire-era chairs.

Thick persian rugs and graceful floor-to-ceiling window drapes confronted them beyond the entry hall, through the glass of double French doors which opened onto the living room. The floor was dark, varnished parquet wood, a gleaming expanse of mahogany, with lamps on low tables shedding halos of soft light.

A black lacquer-finished grand piano bedecked the the area across from the seating lounge, and a massive mirror crowned the door to the master bedroom.

Ilarion walked into the suite with a leisurely clicking of boots.

"As I was saying..." he reiterated, "the mood is capricious. And tonight..."

He turned, his lip curving slyly.

"I think perhaps I'm in the mood to watch you deliver another good pounding."

Taras stood behind him in a slightly spread ready stance, silent, observing with noncommittal eyes.

Ilarion blinked innocently.

"Do you like the suite, comrade?"

Date: 2008-02-15 10:07 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] taras-oleksei.livejournal.com
Taras turned his gaze to the room.

The suite was not overdone or gaudy, which he appreciated, and instead seemed to have an understated elegance.

It was the details that made places like this nice, he was learning, things that were fancy without being obtrusive. There was a repeating angular pattern in the floorboards that he liked, and on the wall behind the couch hung a painting that depicted a younger and fresher Leningrad before the war, with horse-drawn carriages in the streets and much fewer buildings.

Taras caught a glimpse of himself in the a mirror into the opposite door, and he walked across the room the get a closer look at his jaw, which seemed swollen, and was just beginning to discolor. Taras' uniform and gloves actually went a long way to giving him an air of respectability, but he guessed that by tomorrow his face would be bruised enough to make him look like a brawler again, rough and rugged.

He snorted, turning away, shaking his head.

"It's a nice suite," he said, finally. "Not overdone. Comfortable."

Taras continued his circuit of the room, pausing at the piano, poking at random keys, still restless.

Odd notes filled the room for a few moments, then he looked up, and his gaze settled on Ilarion.

His expression was quiet again, non-committal.

"...I don't have a problem with you watching," he said.

Date: 2008-02-15 10:32 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] ilarion-isaev.livejournal.com
"I didn't think you would," replied Lasha, nonchalant, and his eyes held a flame without flickering.

He paused, taking off his visor cap and setting it on the mantel.

"The Ministry keeps its secrets between brothers."

He snorted lightly, elegantly.

"We're comrades, children of a common Mother. They're only whores, after all."

He took a seat in the facing chaise and pulled out the bloodied handkerchief, tossing it onto the coffee table where it lay innocuously like a crumpled red and white flower.

"I should have them launder that while I'm here," he murmured, absently, but made no move to act on his impetus.

After a moment he laughed lightly, glancing up.

"In any case, it isn't as if you had a private suite in Magadan. You should be used to performing for an audience. Like a Russian circus bear."

His tone was slyly jocular, but there was a dangerous edge to taunting a man that way. If Oleksei had taken a hit to his masculinity in the Zone, there was no telling what a jibe like that might unleash.

However, Ilarion had observed no indications that Taras was suffering any kind of deficiency.

"I'm being irreverent, Taraschik. Don't mind me."

The agitated notes died away as a knock sounded at the door of the suite.

Taras looked up abruptly, his muscles almost alive with restless tensile need.

"There is a master bedroom," Lasha said, calmly, raising an eyebrow. "You have every right to take your toys behind closed doors."

Date: 2008-02-15 07:53 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] taras-oleksei.livejournal.com
"Not necessary," Taras muttered, absently, his focus on the front hall.

The door opened, but instead of the two tall blondes, a waiter entered, pushing a small cart in front of him. He delivered a bottle of chilled vodka and a covered platter to the sideboard buffet, then pulled glasses out of the cabinet, setting up the service with brisk efficiency.

When he was done, the waiter turned to depart as smoothly as he'd entered, unobtrusively gathering Ilarion's soiled handkerchief as he left.

Taras walked over to the buffet and poured two glasses, though he threw back one immediately, grimacing as it went down.

"Sorry. I needed that," he told Ilarion.

He refilled his glass and brought both drinks back to the chaise where Ilarion sat, handing him one.

Taras sat down in one of the chairs on the other side of the coffee table. He leaned back, pressing the cool glass against his jaw.

"There's caviar," he said, indicating the buffet.

He felt vaguely hungry, though not in the mood to eat.

Taras loosened the collar of his uniform, regarding Ilarion.

"They know how to take care of the Ministry here," he observed.

As if on cue, there was another knock on the outer door, and after a moment, the two platinum blondes he'd chosen entered, walking like cats, slow and graceful even on their improbable heels. The women looked at them sidelong, small coy smiles, their manner catlike as well, cool and almost aloof, yet still interested.

"Good," Taras muttered, setting his glass down.

Date: 2008-02-15 08:51 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] ilarion-isaev.livejournal.com
Ilarion laughed.

"Don't mind my friend," he remarked, carelessly. "He's just happy to see you."

"Hello, Uncle," said one. "Do you have a kiss for me?"

Lasha took a sip of champagne.

"I have something better," he intoned, irreverently.

He regarded the pair of women with a lightly frosted smile, tilting his head to indicate Oleksei.

"My friend here was in the Zone for six months," he said, deliberately. "What do you think of that?"

One blonde's mouth opened in slight and unchecked surprise, and her eyes flicked to Taras and back reflexively, but the other reacted by not reacting visibly at all, except to move forward, heels tapping on the patterned parquet.

"I don't think about it," she said, without ceremony.

She set down her purse and took off her earrings, cupping them in one hand and setting them on the table.

"But I take these out, because you Ministry men like to pull hair, hold heads, don't you?"

Ilarion was coolly amused.

"You're good," was all he said.

He had never met this woman, but she had apparently met some of his kind, enough to assume a sexual commonality.

"My name is Oktyabrina," she said.

Ilarion raised a brow, nodding.

"And your esteemed colleague?"

Oktyabrina glanced at her.

"She is Albina."

Albina nodded, smiled once more, apparently mollified.

These women were no strangers to rough treatment, only rough clientele. But Oktyabrina was smart enough to know there was no difference.

Lasha found it all very instructive, Oktyabrina's professionalism, Albina's momentary reticence. Interesting, that they serviced corrupt, murderous men almost every day, and performed any number of unimaginable acts behind these lavish doors, and yet the mere mention of the Zone was enough to give them pause.

They were fully inside the room now, having slunk around in opposing halves of a figure eight like a pair of siamese.

"Now, what is your pleasure, Uncle?" Oktyabrina asked, with a sly smile, putting her hands flat on the coffee table and leaning forward, her rounded rump showcased to Taras' advantage.

Ilarion could see deep into the decollete of her dress, but he raised his eyes to her face.

"What would please uncle," he said, coolly, "is to watch you and your associate cater to my associate's needs."

"You are voyeur?"

"I am this evening."

Oktyabrina was unruffled.

"Da," she purred, "We can do that."

"He is big," crooned Albina. "I like big men."

Ilarion smiled, sipping his champagne.

"Good," he said, evenly. "Then I'm sure we'll all enjoy this."

Date: 2008-02-16 12:22 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] taras-oleksei.livejournal.com
The women turned to Taras, all wicked smiles and sultry looks.

Their mouths were parted, and their tongues lingered on their painted lips.

Taras supposed it was supposed to be seductive, they way they looked at him like that, smoky eyes under long and lowered lashes. Each breath they took was deep, and made their breasts rise and fall.

"What do you like?" the one that had been talking to Ilarion murmured as she slid into Taras' lap.

He said nothing, but she only purred, knowingly.

"We take care of you," she told him.

The other moved behind him, putting her hands on his shoulders, stroking them down his chest.

"You are very strong," she breathed against his ear, while her friend bent her head to kiss his neck.

He had been faintly surprised at how civil this all was, how Ilarion had bothered to talk to them beforehand. When Taras had whores, he never got their names, and said little that wasn't a command. He was hard as soon as he pushed them up against the wall, and they said little that wasn't yes and harder, only he doubted that they really wanted it harder. But that was their job, and it served to ease any remorse he might have felt when he obliged.

But in a place like this, it was different than the women you picked up on the street, he supposed.

They murmured to him, telling him how strong he was.

Taras let them touch him, let their hands stroke his chest and stomach and crotch. The one girl took his hands and put them on her breasts, closing her fingers around his, encouraging him to squeeze. He had been throbbing vaguely since the foyer, and was slowly getting harder, though at the same time he felt strangely disconnected from what was happening. It was not lust the way he remembered it from the Zone, the animal hunger. It was not even what he had with the low-class whores, rutting in alleys and dirty, run-down motel rooms. This was a far more distant passion.

Something in his chest ached, and wanted.

The one that had called herself Oktyabrina raised her lips to the side of Taras' jaw that was sore, and he hissed, pulling his head away.

She adjusted immediately like the professional she was, bending her head again, opening his loosened collar to lick at his collarbone, her hand rubbing his crotch more firmly.

To distract him, he thought. It was all very smooth, as she hadn't noticed a thing, but he brought his hand up and caught a fistful of her hair, pulling her head away, turning her head to make her meet his gaze.

The whore looked at him, and Oleksei saw no fear in her eyes, only a seductive look and slight flicker as her gaze shifted back and forth from one of his eyes to the other, the way people did when they got close enough to realize his irises were two different colors. Taras got the feeling that even if he had yanked her hair hard enough to hurt, she would have looked at him the same way.

Fearless, by the necessity of her job.

"Just suck it," he told her, roughly, and she responded with another smile. She slipped out of his lap to kneel in front of him and undid his pants immediately, reaching inside to take out his pick, closing her lips around him.

Taras drew in a deep breath and leaned back in his chair.

That was better, he thought. Down to business.

He lifted his eyes, and for the first time since the whores had turned their attentions to him, his gaze sought Ilarion's.

Date: 2008-02-16 07:20 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] ilarion-isaev.livejournal.com
It was a stimulating tableau, almost blackly artistic- the broad boned ruffian in his shark grey uniform, attended and adulated by these sleek, sexual caryatids, starkly receptive to their attentions but almost unresponsive to their affections.

Lasha was idly mouthing the edge of his champagne glass, not drinking, just watching.

He knew what Oleksei wanted to do. He could read it in his expression, his pugilist's unease, his taut jaw. He was humoring the caresses and murmurs for as long as he could, but thin decorum gave way rapidly and he demanded satisfaction without preamble.

And with a fist.

Yes, Lasha thought, eyes narrowing as the whore knelt between the thug's strong thighs, hands curling around his jackboots briefly before finding his zipper. Suck it.

The blad settled down to work him over, industrious, as Oleksei's body relaxed and he finally relented to the act, having subjugated her.

Ilarion felt a rough twist of a smile grace his lips, against the glass edge, and the beginnings of stirring below his navel.

Oleksei looked up, then, and Isaev's breath hitched slightly.

That was unexpected, that bold acknowledgment, so soon. Usually in these kinds of events, comrades tacitly avoided eye contact until lust put circumstances beyond their control.

Brown and blue engaged his own glacial gaze without flinching.

"That's it, Taras," Ilarion intoned, in a low voice like ground glass. "Drag her down to your level."

Date: 2008-02-16 08:25 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] taras-oleksei.livejournal.com
Taras nodded in acknowledgment of Isaev's words.

It relaxed him, to hear the approval in that low voice, to meet another man's eyes, to share in his experience. No longer did Taras feel outnumbered, and out of his element, overwhelmed by these vixens' enthusiasm and forced to perform like the trained circus bear Ilarion had accused him of being.

He brought his hand to clench in the whore's hair again, though he did not exert pressure. The simple weight of his hand seemed to signal her though, and she redoubled her efforts, sucking harder, taking him deeper.

The other one was still behind him, rubbing his chest and kissing his neck, but he ignored her.

Taras' eyes were low-lidded, and his brow creased with the building strain. His breathing came harder. Tension clenched his jaw in spite of the pain, and so he decided to welcome it.

Throughout it all, he continued to return his eyes to Ilarion's.

Most often, Lasha was merely sitting, holding his glass in cool observance.

Taras knew perhaps he shouldn't, that it was somehow wrong to do so, perverse, to include Ilarion in his arousal. But then again, Taras had done a lot of things that were wrong in the past, and this could just be another one of them.

Taras let out a low sound, a preamble to speech.

"I - "

He had to clear his throat before he could continue.

"I can drag her lower than that," he grated.

Taras let out a breath.

"Should I fuck her now, comrade?"

Date: 2008-02-16 09:08 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] ilarion-isaev.livejournal.com
Ilarion sat up, involuntarily, setting down his champagne flute.

"Yes," he murmured, his hand spreading open on the low coffee table as he leaned forward. "Fuck her."

His eyes swept up and over the line of her back as she knelt, to the arch of her neck from Taras' fist wrapped tightly in her hair, and along the sleek and shining boots that flanked her body.

Then, and only then, did his glance proceed to its ultimate destination- Oleksei himself, that bruised jaw and low, rough brow, the mismatched eyes that burned with unchained carnality.

Show me how you live, and I will tell you who you are.

Ilarion breathed out, feeling himself harden.

"Show me how you live."

Date: 2008-02-16 07:37 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] taras-oleksei.livejournal.com
In response, Taras' lip twisted ferally.

His expression was savage, neither smirk nor sneer.

Lasha would see how he lived, but Taras doubted he would understand it.

Men like that, however cruel and calculating they might be, could not understand savagery until they experienced it. As much as he might joke about the Zone, Ilarion would be repulsed if he knew the things that Taras thought about sometimes when he woke up in the middle of the night, hard and aching.

He looked down at the girl between his legs and tightened his hand, stopping her mid-stroke.

She released him, pulling back, panting slightly.

"Do you have a condom?" Taras asked her.

She smiled, reaching for her purse, but he stopped her again.

"And oil," he added.

The whore smiled again, exactly the same, with no hesitation.

That was one of the reasons he liked working with professionals. No matter how depraved the act, they did not protest. The whore dug in her purse for a moment, securing the items, then turned back to him, reaching for him.

He shook his head. "Stand up."

She did, and he pushed himself out of the chair and joined her. The other girl looked at him expectantly.

"You can wait here," he told her.

Taras swept the room with his gaze.

"There," he said, "against the mirror. No."

He gestured.

"The piano."

The whore nodded, and with a sweeping toss of her short hair, walked over to the piano, her steps still measured and graceful, then waited for him.

Taras paused. He could see Ilarion out of the corner of his eye, watching him, sitting forward in his seat, still, and silent. The eye of the civilized man, passing judgment on the savage.

He could not meet Lasha's gaze again. Not when he knew that Isaev would see, and understand what it was that Taras really wanted.

Oleksei stepped away and joined the whore, who moved to put the condom on him.

He shook his head again.

"I'll do it."

He prepared himself swiftly. He always wore one when he fucked a whore, preferring the snug and numbing restriction to the feel of utter abandon. It made the act less real, reminded him where he was, pulled him back from the brink.

When he was ready, he grabbed the girl by the hair again and pushed her forward, bending her over the keys, and the piano protested with a discordant jangle.

He raised her dress and took her then, roughly, and without apology.

Piano keys clashed with every thrust, cacophonous.

It was not quite like the way Taras would take a man, but he closed his eyes and let it be enough.

Date: 2008-02-16 11:26 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] ilarion-isaev.livejournal.com
Ilarion exhaled, rapt, his gaze fixed on the scene.

Oleksei was ruthless and kinetically charged, battering the one who had called herself Oktyabrina, his flanks flexing and contracting in a brutal rhythm. His hands gripped her shoulders, pushing them down and away from him, against the flattened music stand.

She moaned, raising one of her knees onto the keyboard, wordlessly inviting him deeper with a smashed chord.

Taras, being a gentleman, obliged at once and forcefully.

His MVD uniform was largely intact, and only a narrow band of skin was visible beneath his jacket, but the well-developed muscles in his hip jumped with life.

The two were limned in profile against the backdrop of the long and luxurious curtain, and there was no obscuring of the act from where Lasha sat, observing with a critical and appraising eye. He could see with perfect, obscene clarity the inexorable thrust of Oleksei's stout and rigid cock, plunging repeatedly into the narrow abyss and emerging victorious, time and time again.

Lasha smiled, slowly sitting back in the chair, gathering his drink once more.

"Da, comrade. That's good," he intoned, darkly, raising his glass in salute. "That's very, very good."

He took a sip, savoring the crisp, sweet bite of champagne in contrast to the heavy musk and harsh breathing of the act before him, watching with hunger intently restrained.

The whore was accommodating, pliant in will and acquiescing her body to his whims, offering only as much resistance as his body would desire for the pounding.

The piano protested for her in an atonal concerto, alternating between pedantic and arrhythmic as Taras followed the impulse of his pleasure, led by his cock, a slave to its demands.

Reminiscent of Berg, or Webern, thought Lasha, absently amused.

The other whore, this Albina- she was watching too, eyes appraising and apprehensive, half indifferent and half intrigued.

Lasha gestured to her, smiling darkly.

"Come here, milaya moyo."

She obliged at once, coming to him without hesitation, as he pulled her back onto his lap, bracing her beneath cool, dispassionate arms.

"Look at him, devushka. He's an animal from the streets, beneath that MVD drag. Nothing like that has ever been inside your goddess temple, has it? Nothing so earthbound and coarse. See how he defiles her. A brute, a criminal. Does that please you, a man without compassion and remorse, taking his pleasure from you with an iron fist?"

He shifted beneath her, so that she could feel his hardness pressing against her, hidden beneath the impassive grey of his MVD uniform, a gloved hand finding her brow and stroking her hair back firmly, so that her head tipped back with it, his other hand caressing her newly exposed throat.

Cool lips moved against her ear.

"Patience. Your time will come."

His chest rose and fell, struggling subtly against her own, until her breathing changed and they fell into line.

She relaxed back against him, letting her legs spread slowly, though he did not touch her there.

Offering her breasts up with an arched back, turning her head back, blindly seeking his kiss, but all of these he denied.

His laugh was soft, harsh as the rasp of velvet rubbed against the grain.

"Anticipation is as succulent as surrender, milaya. Embrace the waiting."

Date: 2008-02-17 12:46 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] taras-oleksei.livejournal.com
Taras fucked without mercy.

The whore under him made noises, but crashing notes of the piano and the harshness of his own breathing drowned them out. She was only heat and friction to his insulated cock, a live body, muscles that gave as he thrust.

He built rapidly, pounding her harder, the motion of his hips remorseless.

His hands tightened on her shoulders, bruising.

Taras felt the pitch of his driving pace start to crest, and he surged harder, like a runner catching his second wind.

He thrust into her like that until his rhythm broke, and heat blossomed through him.

The noise he made was inarticulate, halfway between a grunt and a cry, and he held that arched pose, shuddering, until the wave of heat receded and he was able to pull out.

Taras broke away from the whore, staggering back, shaking himself almost blindly. His breath came hard but he fought to master it.

He left the whore there, still splayed obscenely on the piano, and he walked unsteadily over to the buffet. He paused to pull off the condom, tossing it into a discreet bin by the wall.

His hands were still shaking, but he clenched them into fists, then secured his pants and poured himself another drink.

Taras tossed it back, letting it burn, wiping his mouth with the back of his hand. He planted his hands on the buffet and leaned forward to recover.

After a few moments, the alcohol did its trick, and his heartrate slowed.

It was quiet in the room now, save for a few piano notes as the whore he'd fucked started to stir.

Slowly, Taras turned, his gaze going to Ilarion.

Lasha held the other whore on his lap, facing toward Taras, as if he was presenting her.

Taras looked at that, and then again at Isaev, his gaze hooded and wary.

Ilarion's expression was intense, but impossible to read, and Taras could not stand the silence.

"Did you - " he started, and his voice was raw and rough.

Taras paused, to clear it.

"Did you change your mind? You can have that one."

Date: 2008-02-17 01:49 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] ilarion-isaev.livejournal.com
"Change my mind," laughed Lasha, dulcetly. "I think not, comrade. Things are just getting good."

His gloved hand abruptly slid from Albina's throat, down around the outside of her breast, over her stomach, easing firmly around her inner thigh, stroking it mindlessly from crotch to knee and back.

Her breath caught and she let out a slight, hitching moan.

"He needs to take a minute, milaya moyo, after your colleague," Lasha assured her, smiling against her cheek. "But I bet it won't be long before he's ramming you into a fine powder."

These last four words were a treacherous whisper.

Ilarion inclined his head, raising his eyes to Oleksei's as he kissed the woman's shoulder, grazing it lightly with his teeth.

Taras' expression was stark, eyes slightly flared, a shark's unreadable stare as he recovered his breath.

Lasha exhaled, a soft hiss of breath, eyes locked on Oleksei's face in mild, unspoken challenge.

He bit into her skin firmly, then, holding it between his teeth, worrying it slowly as she squirmed, gasping.

The objective was pressure and possession, not pain or penetration.

"Easy, milaya moya," he purred, in the same rough yet sueded tone.

He grasped her about the hips on either side, and slipped his gloved hands forward, cupping her inner thighs overhand, drawing them open and holding them in check as he widened the vee of his own knees to spread and expose her indecently.

"You want him to devour you whole, don't you. Consuming you on his knees. Like the ferocious animal he is."

The whore moaned again, inarticulate, and reached weakly behind her, grasping at the pale tousled burls of Ilarion's romanesque coif.

"How about it, comrade?" said Lasha, amused, but powerfully aroused by what he had seen. "You've tried paté and sorbet. Why not taste a fine Russian oyster."

The other whore was watching, genuinely intrigued and freshly fucked, lounging sprawled facedown on the other chaise like a teenaged girl, her high heels waving slowly in the air like a cat's tail. Her flushed cheeks told the story well enough- she had clearly enjoyed herself at the barbarian's hands.

Ilarion shrugged.

"Just to...pass the time."

Taras' brow furrowed slightly, and he glanced at Lasha, conflicted, uncertain.

Ilarion raised an eyebrow.

"What's the matter, Oleksei? Don't fancy women? Come now, comrade, she's merely a whore. There's nothing to it. I'll hold her down, and you give her head. I want to see you make her scream."

The other whore murmured an appreciative sound in the background.

Date: 2008-02-17 08:00 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] taras-oleksei.livejournal.com
Taras let out a breath.

He looked at the girl who writhed in Ilarion's lap, her legs spread wide in offering, pink folds of her sex fully opened like a vulgar flower. Ilarion's thighs rode hers and his hands trapped her knees, and his gaze held Taras', challenging.

In the Zone, Taras had never kneeled for a man, but he'd had men kneel for him. There, between inmates, sex was as much of a power play as it was an expression of lust and aggression.

He felt a wave of anger toward Ilarion for even suggesting such a thing, that he debase himself for a whore. But there was something other than the hunger to humiliate that flickered in Lasha's goading eyes, something darker and more compelling.

The whore shifted again against the cage of Isaev's body. She had a long and slender build with few womanly curves, almost mannish, and the shortness and paleness of her hair was remarkable. Even moreso when viewed so close to Ilarion's, which was so similar as to be eerie.

They looked almost like one creature, a mythical beast with one body, and two heads.

Taras stepped forward, drawn not by the whore's exposure, but the challenge in Isaev's gaze.

He walked around the coffee table, then stood in front of their chair, looking down at Ilarion, looming with eyes that were narrowed and hooded, foreboding. Flickering with the emotion that sped through his bloodstream like the burn of alcohol, his anger and revulsion warring with other impulses that were deeper, and more primal.

Taras' shoulders tightened, the impulse toward violence brimming inside him. To lash out and cause pain, to sate the heat that boiled his gut.

His jaw was clenched, and he could taste blood in his mouth.

Taras exhaled then, and slowly dropped to one knee, bending his head.

He had never touched a woman this way, but he had seen it done. Taras placed his hands on the whore's thighs to brace himself, then leaned forward and brought his mouth forcefully down.

The musk of her was thick, like an animal scent, and she was wet and sloppy inside.

At the first touch of his lips and tongue, she cried out, and bucked hard against both of them.

Date: 2008-02-17 09:34 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] ilarion-isaev.livejournal.com
Lasha hissed out a soft, blasphemous expletive, tightening his hold on the woman.

Oleksei's eyes had been murderous, in the lapse before he knelt, and Ilarion had felt the answering call of adrenaline begin to surge, prepared to draw his gun if it came to that-

But now his eyes hungrily sought Oleksei's dark head between the whore's thighs, where he attacked her with the same dogged gameness he had shown for MVD work, despite his obvious reticence at the outset.

The whore's thighs shook, and her hips began to grind in time. Ilarion inhaled sharply at the friction, and his loins began to course with blood in earnest, warming his perpetual winter.

"That's it," he murmured, low in his throat. "This way she'll be nice and warm for you. A regular little banya, won't you, suka."

He intoned the slur with a disarming honey-dark tone, like it was an endearment of passionate love.

Then he laughed, breathless.

"But keep struggling, devushka, because it feels so good when you do. And when all the fight is gone, my comrade will have you like you've never been had before."

Date: 2008-02-18 03:58 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] taras-oleksei.livejournal.com
The whore writhed against Taras' face, struggling in Ilarion's arms.

She was the rope in a game of tug-of-war in opposite, her reactions linking them.

This was a power too, Taras realized, another form of dominance. To drive another's reactions, to make a person surrender control.

Taras licked and sucked her, he pressed his tongue inside. She responded with gasps and cries, and rocked her hips against them.

His entire face felt wet and sticky, but he continued to be merciless. He found where she seemed most sensitive, the place that made her gasp. It was hot and swollen against his tongue, tiny and strangely erect. When he closed his mouth around it, her entire body shook, buffeting Ilarion's.

She bucked so violently against his face, the impact shot stars of pain through his jaw. He snarled, half-blind and inarticulate, surging his weight forward to pin her down, pushing his hands up her legs to control her.

Taras could feel the give of Lasha's body under the whore's, shifting to accommodate the change.

He tightened his grasp and felt his fingers press down on something harder than the whore's soft and shaking thighs, and he realized that he had trapped Ilarion's hands under his own.

It felt like touching a live wire, galvanic and painful, and his fingers convulsed, involuntarily tightening.

The contact lasted a second, the space between heartbeats.

In the next moment, Taras hissed, and jerked his hands away.

Date: 2008-02-18 04:45 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] ilarion-isaev.livejournal.com
Ilarion had become inflexibly hard, and he gritted his teeth as the woman convulsed and tremors chased through her thighs, her ass rubbing unsympathetically against the front of his uniform.

Oleksei was actually snarling, as he lurched forward and pinned her in place, reminding Lasha of a lion protecting carrion, though it occurred to him that she might not find the analogy flattering.

As he was thinking of her, she spoke at last, or rather, she moaned.

"Please-"

This Albina looked down at Taras, hesitating, gasping, and then seemed to think better of addressing him. Her head fell back against Ilarion's chest, and she turned her face up to his, wild-eyed and pleading.

"He will fuck me now, yes? Please...?"

"Yes, Uncle," chimed in the other whore, in a mischievous drawl, "can he fuck her?"

Lasha breathed in deeply, feeling the surge in his loins as Taras drove his face between the woman's legs and she rocked violently back against his confined prick.

"I don't know," he muttered, snatching his breath all at once. "Depends on whether you get him hard."

Pleasure crested alarmingly, and then he felt a new pressure, warm and hard, of hands over his hands- and the visceral reaction of realizing to whom they belonged.

Before he could react, they tightened painfully and then he heard Oleksei spit out an unformed curse, ripping them away.

Albina twisted and writhed, laying back in his lap, bathing him in pressure.

"God, yes, Taras-"

Ilarion moaned, roughly, gutturally, reaching out with thinking, the pulse and throb in his loins beginning to feel like something real, something more than idle play.

Instinctively, he sought the cause of the sensation, his gloved hands coming to rest firmly on either side of Oleksei's dark, cropped head, riding its motion as he surged and lunged.

"Suck it," he whispered.

Date: 2008-02-18 07:14 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] taras-oleksei.livejournal.com
Taras' breath caught in his chest, then expelled in a gasp.

He could not comprehend the sensation at first, just knew shock and sharpness, a sudden contact that shot through him, straight down to his groin.

The sensation was stark, real to him in the way most things weren't, and his body pulsed hard and violently, as if it had just been brought back to life.

Gloved hands caged his head, holding him forcefully.

A dark whisper, goading him to -

His eyes widened, and then narrowed.

His hands went still on the whore's thighs, but she still moaned and shifted under him, oblivious.

Reason returned to Taras, and he felt a brimming heat lance through him, though something stopped him short of wrestling his head out of Ilarion's grasp.

"What?" he bit out, his voice rasping and breathless.

Date: 2008-02-18 08:58 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] ilarion-isaev.livejournal.com
Ilarion's head drew up at once, coolly, and his hands slipped down the sides of Taras' neck to grasp the structured shoulders of his uniform.

"I said fuck it, Oleksei," he said, swiftly, with conviction.

He raised an eyebrow, his breath softly ragged.

"Weren't you listening to the whore? She wants you to fuck her."

Lasha felt the pummeling of his pulse throughout his body, at diametric odds with the arctic chill that descended over his mind at the sound of Oleksei's hoarse, dazed demand.

"I told her not everyone can get it up twice a night," he intoned, smiling, "but that you're not everyone."

Date: 2008-02-18 09:51 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] taras-oleksei.livejournal.com
For a moment, Oleksei's mismatched eyes flicked back and forth, searching Ilarion's face.

His awareness of everything seemed intensified, the whore's musk, her still-shuddering hips, the weight of Lasha's hands on his shoulders. Ilarion's gaze, cool and measured, the roughness of his breathing.

Taras drew in a breath, as if gathering himself.

"Damn straight," he muttered.

His gaze went to the whore, unseeing.

He hadn't been listening to her at all, but Lasha's voice, he'd heard. He hadn't been fully hard until Ilarion's touch shot through him.

Now his cock pulsed with burgeoning heat, and he realized his knees were aching.

His jaw clenched, but then he gave a swift nod.

"Turn her," he said, and raised his gaze to Lasha's again, his eyes flickering and dangerous. "Then I'll fuck her all you want."

Date: 2008-02-18 10:32 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] ilarion-isaev.livejournal.com
Ilarion smiled beatifically, and grabbed hold of Albina's upper arms.

"Flip over, slut," he purred low, in a velvet hush. "So this barbarian can rut you like he wants to."

She was in no small haste to comply, shifting and straddling his lap so that she lay forward against the chest of his uniform, breathing heavily through parted lips.

"Perfect," he murmured. "That's my girl."

Reaching down, Ilarion's fingers grazed between her labia, curiously, stroking her upward, lightly, like a harp. Viscous slickness met his touch, and she shuddered, cheek against his chest, clasping his lapel in one hand.

He laughed, softly, meeting her eyes with a frosty smile.

"Aren't you an utter mess in the fertile delta. He won't even have to grease you up, will he?"

Her hips responded to his touch by raising, angling, allowing him access which he did not take.

Lasha removed his hand brusquely and wiped it on his hip before unfastening his pants, freeing his cock from confinement. He rubbed it briefly for a moment before letting it lie, pressed between her stomach and his own, warm and throbbing with unrealized sensation.

No, Taras wouldn't need any vehicle at all, with this one, not after that performance- and yet, Ilarion realized, he had gone and returned, and had the lubricant in his hand.

Lasha wrapped his arms insolently around the whore's back, pulling her tight against him, and raising an eyebrow.

"Look down, comrade...are you sure you need that?"

Date: 2008-02-18 12:02 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] taras-oleksei.livejournal.com
Taras shot Ilarion a pointed look.

He said nothing, wiping reflexively at his mouth with the back of his hand.

Taras glanced down at the whore's exposed ass for a moment, then dropped his gaze away, returning it to what he was doing.

He rolled on the condom and applied the lubricant judiciously, tossing the tube behind him when he was done.

Taras paused, considering the whore's position, pulled tight and held fast, pressed against Isaev.

He braced one hand on the chaise back, then lowered himself, spreading the girl's legs further, and she shuddered at his touch, wiggling her hips. Taras held his cock, getting the angle, and it pushed against her backside as she shifted.

She drew in a breath and gasped, realizing where he wanted to go.

Taras adjusted his balance and pressed against her, and she moaned.

Somewhere behind him, the other whore laughed.

"Oh yeah, fuck her there," she called, sing-song. "Fuck her in the asshole. She likes that."

His breath caught, but then he pushed in, not as hard or brutally like he could have, because she was a woman, and he gave her a moment to adjust, then he began to move.

As he fucked her, he felt her body give under his, pressing into Ilarion's.

Date: 2008-02-18 05:30 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] ilarion-isaev.livejournal.com
Ilarion let his head fall back, laughing softly.

"You can take a man out of the Zone," he breathed, flinching and baring his teeth briefly as a wave of obscene pleasure assaulted him, and then another, and then another.

Oleksei's body weighted the whore's, and every bracing shove drove her body against Isaev's with interest. Between their adjacent bodies, his cock was snugly upthrust, stroked mercilessly and inescapably.

This woman was clearly no stranger to sodomy, because she cooed and crooned her approval against his neck and collar, grinding her groin onto his, riding his loins and moaning wantonly.

And Oleksei was not gentle about it, either, Lasha noted, absently, between ascending firings of his sensual neurons, but battering her like a standard blad' in the standard manner- perhaps even more ruthless.

Vaguely he hoped she wasn't drooling on his collar. He'd pretty much written off his crotch as a loss.

Ilarion hissed softly, and his eyes closed before sweeping open and beholding Oleksei, his old friend Taras, mounted like a prized bull and fucking like a whiplash above him, and finding himself unable to look away.

Their eyes met, and Lasha smiled, darkly.

"Harder," he whispered, on the sharp edge of his breath.

Date: 2008-02-18 07:57 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] taras-oleksei.livejournal.com
Taras bared his teeth.

He tensed his muscles he complied, thrusting down, and harder, driving into the whore, then grinding her between them. Where Taras had held back before, he now brought full weight and muscle to bear, loading every thrust, holding it at its nadir, making Ilarion feel it.

Between them, the whore cried out, moaning like a bitch in the gulag.

Taras supposed the other one had been right.

She clutched at Ilarion, grasping his shoulders and biting down on his lapels, but Ilarion held his head above that, watching Taras.

Every arc of their motion showed building strain across Ilarion's perfect brow, Taras noticed, and his exhalations of breath were audible, almost groans.

Taras could feel the heat rising inside him, and he shuddered, holding Lasha's electric eyes.

"If we were in the Zone -" Taras bit out, low and guttural.

Taras thrust down then with particular force, rocking the chaise they lay on.

Date: 2008-02-18 09:01 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] ilarion-isaev.livejournal.com
"-I'd be your jailer," finished Ilarion, in a sibilant snarl, absorbing the sharp and punishing pleasure like defusing a punch to the solar plexus.

Stars imploded from mind to man at the implication of Oleksei's statement, however. The audacity appealed to his twisted aesthetic.

Warm was spreading through his body, radiating and weightless, even crushed beneath the woman and her hammering burden.

He watched Taras, always, never moving his gaze.

Sweat was beginning to bead on Oleksei's heavy brow, as he rode hard above, and when a single drop flung onto Lasha's lip, he let it slip between his lips, savoring the salt of his comrade's labor.

"Show me the Zone," he breathed, roughly.

He reached around and past the whore's body, grasping Oleksei's taut and tattooed hips hard in gloved hands.

"Fuck her like a bitch."

Date: 2008-02-19 12:08 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] taras-oleksei.livejournal.com
Taras drew in a breath so sharp it hurt.

The grasp of Isaev's hands felt solid and anchoring, unmistakably masculine. A man had a power in his hold a woman never did, more than just upper body strength or muscle mass.

The potential for violence weighted every bruising touch, made the risk and reward that much greater.

It was a drug that held sway over him still, and it sharpened every instinct and every sensation.

Taras let the moment take him, disdaining consequence.

He shifted, adjusting his stance, planting his hands on the chaise back, bracing them on either side of Ilarion. The tread of Taras' jackboots on the wooden floor held all the traction he needed to unleash the brutality that brimmed under his tattooed skin like blood.

Taras leaned forward, his head held low over the whore's back, his eyes fixed on Ilarion's. He thrust with renewed effort, his strength enough to move all three of them as one, and the chaise rocked on its legs, the whore's moans pitching louder.

This wasn't the Zone, but right now, he remembered it more vividly than ever.

The harsh bite of winter and the burn of bare flesh, and the smell of sweat, and the resistance of hard muscle.

The grip of rough hands.

Everything had been more vital there, and now it lived again through his senses.

And through it all, Ilarion's gaze smoldered unrelenting, like a cold and distant sun breaking over barbed wire.

Taras came hard, with the force of a punch, and the cry that tore from his throat was savage.

Date: 2008-02-19 08:08 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] ilarion-isaev.livejournal.com
Breathless, Ilarion watched through narrowed eyes as Oleksei let out a ripping growl that made his own loins prickle with electricity- slammed in and shot off, his eyes still locked to Lasha's.

And it was very good, from the sound of it.

Not bad to observe either.

All momentum died then, as if Taras had turned to stone, and the whore whimpered in disappointment, her fingers clutching into Ilarion's coat.

In the wake of his thunderous orgasm Oleksei looked almost blunt-stunned, alarmed somehow. Uncertain.

Ilarion's eyes narrowed briefly.

Ambiguity could be dangerous and volatile, and Isaev had love for roulette, Russian or otherwise.

He unhanded Taras roughly, so as to cleave the stigma from the action, smiling crisply.

"Nicely acquitted, Oleksei," pronounced Ilarion, unable to keep a certain roughness from his tone.

Coolly, Lasha reached between the whore and himself, shoving his hard and unyielding cock back into his uniform, zipping up once more.

"Fuck me, uncle," the indecently sprawled whore whispered, hoarsely. "Please. Finish."

"Get off me," said Ilarion absently, dusting off his lapels and straightening his coat. "You'll be compensated well, but not at my expense."

Date: 2008-02-19 09:36 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] taras-oleksei.livejournal.com
It felt like a chill had descended on the room, as if someone had suddenly opened a window and let a draft in.

Taras hesitated, then pulled away.

The whore whimpered as he left her, still writhing, but Ilarion was already looking bored.

Taras' heart pounded in the wake of orgasm, but he was struck by a strange weightless feeling, like he'd just realized that he had put far too much down on a wager.

He eased himself up and back on his feet, turning away, then went over to the buffet to take care of the condom and pour another drink.

He tossed it back, then poured another.

Peripherally he was aware of the whores getting up and adjusting their clothing, but he remained hunched over the table, nursing his drink.

The one he'd just fucked was limping a little as she walked out.

As the door closed, he waited a few moments, then lifted his head and glanced over at Ilarion.

"They weren't bad," he said, casually.

He wiped at his mouth.

"I've had worse," he added.

Date: 2008-02-19 10:01 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] ilarion-isaev.livejournal.com
"No," Lasha replied, as the sound of their heels receded from echo and memory. "They're not bad. They're as good as they can get."

The conflicted, jacklighted expression he'd seen in Oleksei's eyes at the culmination of the act was gone now, perhaps a figment of his imagination.

Nika had always said he was paranoid- often citing the time he had his first diabetic attack in Isaev's presence. When Liadov was feeling himself again, he was extremely amused that Ilarion's first thought was to assume he'd been poisoned.

Ilarion grimaced fleetingly. His cock was still hard as iron, and painfully sensitive.

"Well, if that didn't sand the edge, down, comrade, I'm not sure what more would."

After a moment Ilarion joined Taras at the table, pulling out a chair and straddling it, arms rested on the back.

"Did you get what you needed?" he asked, quietly, reaching for the bottle and a glass.

Date: 2008-02-19 06:37 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] taras-oleksei.livejournal.com
"Yeah," Oleksei said, swirling his drink.

He saw Ilarion reach for a glass and he nudged the bottle in his direction, not quite looking at him.

"Like you said, took the edge off."

He felt spent, yet for some reason, not sated.

Taras had burned off the restless adrenaline well enough with the whores, but now he felt like it had been replaced with something else, something that lurked deeper.

Taras was aware of Isaev's proximity, and found it bothered him. He couldn't tell if Ilarion was sitting closer to him than usual, or if he just noticed it more.

He took a drink, and put it out of his mind.

"So what's with this place?" he asked, after a while.

Taras rubbed his still-aching jaw absently, glancing at Lasha sidelong.

The topic seemed neutral enough.

"They seem pretty familiar with the Ministry here."

Date: 2008-02-20 11:44 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] ilarion-isaev.livejournal.com
Ilarion glanced up.

"They are. Very."

Sympathy pains, looking at Taras' blueing cheek.

"Like everyone, they don't want any trouble."

He tasted the liquor in his glass.

The vodka was crisp and a little too uncivilized for his mood.

He shrugged imperceptibly and drank the rest.

"They keep this suite in reserve for us, and cater to us well. In return, we overlook small...iniquities, such as the practice of having prostitutes- which don't exist in Russia, by the way- draped all over their lobby furniture like Persian cats. And when there's trouble here, we make it priority to deal with."

He smirked.

"By us, of course...I don't mean the operativnik class...but the regular militsiya. Except for those unfortunate occasions when a murder occurs here."

He and Nika had handled a number of homicides quietly, across Leningrad, in various nice locales.

He leaned back, regarding the socialized brute with veiled eyes and a faint smile.

"The madam who runs these girls works out of this hotel. I believe they call her part of concierge."

Date: 2008-02-21 04:28 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] taras-oleksei.livejournal.com
Taras smirked, and took another sip of his drink.

"Not much different than the way it worked in my old neighborhood, comrade."

Taras had worked the protection for pay racket for a while, when he'd been younger. Before he'd gone to the Zone. It had been all right, but he'd ultimately gotten frustrated with it. A lot of talk, not enough action, and muscling old people had gotten boring.

He shrugged.

"Favors for favors. You take care of people, and they take care of you. Only difference is the Evropeiskaya is a whole lot cleaner than the places I used to hang out."

Taras felt a loosening of the tension that had knotted his shoulders earlier.

It had been a good choice of topics. Normal. Useful, even, to know that the code he'd learned on the streets applied just as easily to the Ministry.

Back to normal, he decided. Business as usual.

He rubbed the back of his neck, finding it gritty with sweat. He grimaced.

Taras looked up from his drink then, and looked around the suite. His eye fell on the mirrored door, the one they hadn't bothered to open earlier.

"Speaking of cleaner...I wonder if they have a banya."

Date: 2008-02-21 05:28 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] ilarion-isaev.livejournal.com
Lasha laughed.

"You wonder?"

He raised an eyebrow.

"What kind of establishment do you think I'd take you to?"

He stood up, pushing back from the chair.

"That door beyond the piano leads to the main ensuite bathroom- there's a full parilka, and it's ready as we speak."

Ilarion glanced at Oleksei, a minor smirk edging the contours of his lips.

"It's all part of the MVD special service. Company, caviar, champagne and celsius. They set it to heat when we picked up the key."

He straightened his cuff minimally.

"These things tend to follow a logical trajectory. Delicacies and liquor prime the tongue, luxury stokes the lust, and once a man has fucked to his heart's content, it is natural to assume he'll want to go to banya next."

Date: 2008-02-21 06:45 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] taras-oleksei.livejournal.com
"Works for me," Taras said, with a shrug.

Their particular trajectory had a few detours in it, he thought, but he tossed down the rest of his drink, and got up from the table.

He stretched with an audible sound of popping vertebrae.

"I'm not complaining, comrade."

Taras started pulling off his gloves as he headed toward the door.

"Not the kind of place I usually find myself."

At least, not before he'd joined the Ministry.

He shook his head, glancing at Ilarion, who was smirking and looked faintly amused, like everything was normal.

That worked for him.

As they came to the door he opened it and looked inside.

"Nice. You must come here often."

Date: 2008-02-21 07:39 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] ilarion-isaev.livejournal.com
"When the need strikes."

Nika and he had frequented a lot of hotels, actually. Next to the MVD office, hotels rooms were a kind of second home. It still felt familiar here, but it didn't feel like a sanctuary, the way it had. Perhaps it was Liadov who had given all those anonymous rooms the patina of home.

It would pass. Just as rarified air became easier to breathe with time.

Lasha followed Oleksei into the large powder room, which boasted a slipper-style clawfoot tub and a marble standing shower as well as a console with a sink and a gilded mirror.

The floor was large cool flagstones of slate.

Lasha didn't hesitate, but began unbuttoning his jacket in the usual manner, hanging it on a porcelain hook beside the door.

"The banya is in there," he remarked, aware the directive was rather extraneous. There was only one other door in the room, a heavy wooden one, rather telltale.

Deft fingers slipped the buttons of his crisp white shirt swiftly, and he divested himself of it, hanging it on another hook.

Then he leaned back against the wall, easily, grasping the heel of his boot.

"I'm sending my uniform to the laundry when we're done, comrade. Did you want them to clean yours as well?"

Ilarion twisted and gave a pull, sliding the jackboot free with an easy, practiced gesture, then shifting to grasp the other.

"Surely it's somewhat worse for wear, with all the variegated tussling you've indulged in tonight."

He raised a wry eyebrow and rose up to his full height once more, now bare of chest and foot like a cossack at camp, hands working leisurely on the fastening of his pants.

Date: 2008-02-21 09:15 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] taras-oleksei.livejournal.com
Taras paused to look down at his uniform, then shook his head.

"You're right about that," he muttered. "It needs it."

He had gotten used to wearing the uniform quickly enough, and now he found that he was careful about the way it looked, making sure it was always clean, and neatly pressed. When you had nice things, it was easy to take care of them, he supposed.

Taras slipped off his watch and set it down on the console, followed by belt, gun, and wallet. He emptied his pockets of all the extraneous things he carried - keys to his flat, a set of brass knuckles, his old pocket knife. Cigarettes, though he never smoked.

Asking for a light was a good way to get close to someone without raising suspicion. Otherwise, his tall stature and broad frame tended to put people on guard if he approached them barehanded.

He only needed a few seconds to get close enough to do what he needed to do.

Taras removed his jacket and hung it up on the other side of the door. Like Ilarion, he paused to pull off his jackboots before unbuttoning his shirt and pulling off his undershirt.

Out of the corner of his eye, he saw Ilarion look at in his direction.

Isaev had never seen him shirtless before. He recalled Ilarion's curiosity upon spotting the very edge of his snake-and-dagger tattoo under his sleeve when they'd dined together at the Noble Nest.

Once when he'd been sitting in the plush leather chair in Lasha's office, he'd even pushed his sleeve back unthinkingly to scratch idly at his arm, and Ilarion had actually paused in what he was saying to look at the tattoo. Taras had smirked and deliberately pushed the sleeve down again, but it Ilarion's interest hadn't been lost on him.

It made sense. The tattoos told the story of his criminal life with far more intimate detail than had been contained in his now-purged records, and he was certain that Ilarion could read them as easily as if they'd been written in Cyrillic. Some of them even were.

They decorated his skin in blue ink, flowed around the hard muscle of his chest and back, and across the ridges of his stomach.

The snake-and-dagger on his forearm that meant he lived by fighting. A church with a single cupola at the small of his back, to ward off evil. Barbed wire around his bicep, five points for the five years of his sentence. Cевер, North, which meant he'd been in the Zone. Birds flying over a rising sun at his hip to remind himself that he would one day be free. Век живи - век учись - Live and Learn - written on his other forearm, a reminder of a different sort.

A death's head with a scythe on his abdomen, that meant he was a killer.

A candelabra on his right shoulderblade, a warning that he could extinguish a life easily as blowing out a candle.

But by far the most prominent tattoo that graced his upper body spread from the left side of his chest and over his arm and shoulder to continue on his back. It was a snarling tiger, open-mouthed and fierce, with a clawed foot raised as if to strike. It was done in a different style than the others, intricately detailed, each contour and stripe drawn by the hand of a true artist.

The tiger tattoo commonly meant that a man was an enforcer, the kind of thug who carried out murders, or anything else required by his employer. There was a more subtle meaning to it, one that he didn't know if Lasha would know enough to understand.

It meant that the wearer had avenged some wrongdoing, usually by an authority figure.

Oleksei paused to turn to look at Ilarion, letting his gaze run down Lasha's chest, the leanly muscled ivory-toned skin, perfect and flawless.

He looked back up, and met Ilarion's gaze, steadily.

"What do you think, comrade?" he asked, quietly. "Nothing you haven't seen before, I'm sure."

Date: 2008-02-21 10:46 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] ilarion-isaev.livejournal.com
"Festive," said Ilarion, pithily, pausing with an open belt.

Taras' chest and back were a roadmap of misdeeds and dubious honors.

He tilted his head, making a gradual assessment.

"Mind if I peruse your gallery?" he asked, which Taras acknowledged with an indifferent, imperceptible twitch of his shoulders and brow.

No, Oleksei didn't care what brands marked him, or who knew. Or at least, he didn't mind if Ilarion viewed his private exhibition. He was beginning to get the sense the Taras was experience the first kickings of embryonic chagrin over what his past had tattooed on him, and not just in a literal sense. Although sometimes Oleksei would adjust his sleeves and collar self-consciously, making sure they were safely concealed.

Ilarion took his time, regarding this criminal picture book, reading between the lines- whether blurred, faded or fresh- walking slowly around Oleksei, arms crossed lightly over his chest.

The slate felt cool on the soles of his feet, and it put him in mind of an interrogation room.

Or a prison cell.

"I admire the tiger," he said at length, after he had taken a slow victory lap around the ex-convict. "That's no Magadan scribble."

It was actually exceedingly beautifully rendered, and the artist had clearly given some thought to its installation- not only the art itself, but how it related to Taras' particular body- the way the animal's front half crawled over his shoulder and down his pronounced, jutting pectoral, ferocious and frozen in his skin like a sabre-toothed beast from a frozen, forlorn place.

Lasha smiled moderately.

"The rest...well...you seem to have the pieces I might expect in your collection...and a few surprises, as well."

He wondered if Oleksei's ink lines raised on cold days. Lasha remembered an associate of his father's who had been a Russian wartime guest of German hospitality, at one of their many fine outlying establishments. That little vacation had left him with an unasked-for souvenir; a series of numbers inked across the underside of his forearm. A tattoo, by any other name. Most days it was flat as a postcard, a page, a flower pressed under glass. But on bitter cold days, something caused it to resurrect itself into relief, and a finger brushed across it could feel each line. If you were industrious and concentrated enough, you could spell out the numbers with your eyes closed.

"You won't find much to look at here," Ilarion said, blithely. "Not so much as a mole, comrade. Much less any historical disclaimers."

Truth in advertising was not a concept he favored, though if it were required, carving the simple credo "caveat emptor" into his back would pretty well suffice.

He cocked an insolent brow and grazed his eyes over the rougher designs, marking them each, committing them to memory.

"Not entirely unappealing, are they," he observed, after a moment. "Like cathedral embellishment."

Ilarion nodded, with a slight smile of ironic whimsy.

"You're almost like a tsarist egg, aren't you. How the State does love to create art."

He turned back to the wall with the bath hooks and took off the rest of his uniform, folding it carelessly and setting it on a bench.

Ilarion knew his thwarted prick was still restless, and partially rigid, but only enough to curve out gently from his body, where it hung flush and firm, but in careful check.

Date: 2008-02-21 08:11 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] taras-oleksei.livejournal.com
Taras flexed his left arm, making the tiger ripple fancifully, as if it had been scribed in living ink and could move on its own accord.

He smirked.

"It helped pass the time."

It was far more than that, of course. It was vital, to note each marker of a man's past and present, who he was and what he had done. It was the only thing in those cold harsh camps that could not be taken from him.

Still, the intricate work had taken hours, and the pain had focused the mind on something other than misery, channeled raw aggression and bled it into a different sort of hunger.

"The tiger took about six weeks, on and off," he volunteered, though he wasn't quite sure why he felt compelled explain something about it.

Taras stripped off his pants.

He had other tattoos, on his legs and feet, crosses on his thighs and stars on his knees. He seen men in the north whose entire bodies were canvases marked with designs that flowed into each other, eyes next to ravens and Madonnas that became roses and skulls. Compared to those men, Taras' were not excessive, but his had been enough to accord him a decent amount of respect.

Oleksei wondered, idly, which ones had surprised Ilarion.

He hung up his pants and walked over to the banya entrance. He could feel the warmth radiating from the wooden door and he drew in a deep breath, anticipating the humidity within.

"You're better off without, comrade," Taras said. "You always have to live up to them. And - "

He glanced at Isaev, eyeing his unblemished skin, but after a second he noticed that Isaev was still erect.

It hit Taras viscerally, like a sucker punch out of nowhere, and he averted his eyes quickly, like he hadn't noticed.

Taras had to pause to remember what he had been about to say.

"...you don't need to be reminded," he muttered.

Date: 2008-02-21 09:01 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] ilarion-isaev.livejournal.com
"No one is really unmarked," said Lasha, after a moment. "Even so."

He opened the door for Taras, and a wave of steam rolled out below their knees.

Like the brimstone and sulfur of hell, thought Ilarion, amused.

"After you, Captain Oleksei."

Taras glanced at him, pausing, giving a brief nonverbal nod, and stepped inside the banya.

Isaev followed, idly tracing the path of the tattooed tiger's prehensile tail from middle of Oleksei's back down around the curve of his buttock.

Taras had exactly the body the fit of his clothing and his previous lifestyle would suggest. Rough hewn, functional muscle, lean in density, yet somewhat bulky. His back was very broad, and his waists and hips were comparably narrow. Upper body strength had clearly been his calling card.

In another life, Ilarion thought carelessly, a man with that physique might have been a gymnast or a giryevik, celebrated and feted.

Instead, here was a strong-armed man, painted like a monastery wall, blatnoy born and bred.

There was an honesty to that, however, that Ilarion found agreed with his own- condemnation to your station.

Those who were born princes, no matter the kind, shared a common and inevitable destiny.

August 2010

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