The Hunt

Oct. 9th, 2008 10:13 pm
taras_oleksei: (Default)
The handwriting was familiar.

That was the thing that seemed the strangest to him, the detail that felt out of place.

Taras knew it from numerous old case files he'd gone through back in Leningrad, neat, organized notes, all written in an elegant hand.

Liadov's writing was distinct, artfully slanted. Not quite regular, but easy enough to read.

It was out of context here, in the darkened office, as he looked through Liadov's notes by penlight. Papers with Liadov's writing belonged in the records room back in the MVD building in Leningrad, testaments to a bygone era.

Except they really did belong here, he supposed, in Liadov's makeshift field office, in the Soviet army base they all now called their temporary home.

The office had not been hard to find, nor to break into.

Taras left the desk and its contents untouched, preferring to study things like the arrangement of objects, how Liadov kept things organized. What the man had brought with him in terms of personal items. How he had decorated, if at all.

He didn't know what compelled him to find out more about Liadov. Maybe because he didn't understand the story Ilarion had told him. Maybe because he didn't understand Liadov at all.

Taras swept the penlight over the desk again, then caught a slight noise from the office door.

He froze.

The sound of a key in the lock.

Nightcap

Sep. 1st, 2008 01:38 am
taras_oleksei: (Default)
Taras stepped into the hall, closing his door behind him.

He had showered and changed, and now had on the casual clothes he wore to work out, complete with a light jacket over his tank, to cover his shoulders and arms. That was better. Easier than having his tattoos on display, even if it was only Isaev's brother and his comrade.

Taras carried the bottle of cognac that he'd brought with him from Leningrad, Isaev's brand.

He felt the strange need to see Ilarion.

Taras crossed to Isaev's door and knocked briskly, then opened it and stepped inside, pausing to assess the situation.

The room was mostly as he'd left it. The Ukrainian sat in the corner, still clutching Lasha's vodka bottle, though it looked considerably less full than before. Taras frowned at that.

Ilarion and Andrusha sat next to each other, leaning close with chairs pushed together, like they had been talking.

Taras wasn't certain how long he'd been gone. A while.

He held up the bottle, as if it had only been a few minutes.

"Brought more cognac," he said.
taras_oleksei: (Default)
The sunset had been particularly spectacular that evening when Taras got home from the office.

Taras had paused outside his flat to watch it for a few moments. The sky had turned purple and orange and red, all streaked and smeared artistically, like someone had taken a brush to the sky. It reminded Taras of those fancy paintings at the Hermitage, and it had put him in a really good mood.

The sun never set like that up north, never with any color other than a dull piss yellow that eventually faded to grey. Little reminders like that made him grateful to be back in a real place, back in civilization, back in Leningrad.

There were some things Taras never wanted to take for granted.

After weights and dinner, he'd showered, then gotten dressed again and gone out, grabbing his black leather case.

Ilarion's flat was a few blocks from Taras', far enough that Taras had to take a cab. The flat overlooked the Fontanka canal, in an older and more elegant government building than the one Taras lived in, but he figured that was the way it should be. Senior Ministry officials and their families had it pretty good.

Taras wore civilian clothes, but he actually looked like he belonged in the neighborhood. Anya had taken him shopping the other day. He'd let her do it, but only after she promised never to tell Ilarion.

She'd picked out a few pairs of slacks and some shirts, and a black cashmere turtleneck he'd really liked. He was wearing the turtleneck now, under a new long woolen coat.

He also wore his nice boots, the ones he'd gotten years ago with the winnings from Ilarion's bratanka Andrusha's boxing match. Andrei had killed the Frenchman, and Taras had made a killing on his bets. The winnings had been enough to get him python-skin boots on the black market, completely illegal, imported from France. He'd liked the irony of that one.

Taras had the driver drop him off on the other side of the canal and waited until it left, then took the bridge across.

The word facade meant what the front of a building looked like, and the facade of Ilarion's building was pretty typical, long and sprawling, with rows of evenly-spaced windows that had fancy embellishments at the top. He didn't know what those were called, but didn't let it bother him.

Apparently, Isaev lived on the top floor. The entire top floor.

Anya had gotten him the address. Taras had never actually been over to Ilarion's place before, only the Isaev residence. He entered streetside and rode the elevator up, then walked down the hall until he found Ilarion's door, which wasn't too hard.

Taras considered breaking in for a few moments, and almost did, but then finally decided against it.

Taras knocked instead. Politely, even.
taras_oleksei: (Default)
Taras dreamed about the Zone.

He did that sometimes, in spite of the fact that he was further from it now than he'd ever been. Dreams were one place where even the long arm of the Ministry didn't reach.

His dreams about the Zone were usually short and to the point, about either fucking or fighting, sometimes both, at the same time.

This one was different, more detailed, and yet wholly surreal.

In the dream, he'd been sent up north again for some reason, and not even his clean record and rank and all the power of the Isaevs had stopped it. But Magadan was somehow more like the MVD Winter Ball, and everyone there was dressed as either an inmate or a guard.

Taras was wearing an inmate costume, complete with a scowling mask and clothes dyed to appear grimy. He wandered the halls, which were decorated like bare concrete walls and barbed wire huddled below a stark and distant sun.

It seemed like everyone was having a good time with the whole thing, guards mixing with inmates, inmates talking and laughing and drinking. Instead of labor camp, the inmates had to cart in trays of hors d'oeuvres, though they ended up stealing more than they served.

Taras had managed to sneak away so he could look for Isaev, but he hadn't been able to find him. He kept looking, and after a while he came upon two guards arguing in a hallway, and realized they were Isaev and Liadov.

As he listened to them argue, Taras decided to do it right this time, to kill Liadov before the guy saw it coming. But before he could make his move, Liadov suddenly pushed Isaev back, and then they started fucking, Magadan-style, up against the wall, hot and hungry and violent.

Taras woke then, pulse racing, erection pressed against his thigh, feeling vaguely unsettled and disoriented.

It was dark, but the bed was soft, and after a few seconds, Taras heard breathing.

He relaxed automatically without knowing why, but then remembered that he was at Isaev's, in his giant bed, and they had celebrated Anya's birthday with a few fairly depraved acts.

Slowly, he became aware of something else, a solid weight under his arm, a warmth against his chest and leg.

Taras realized at some point during the night, he must have rolled on his side, closer to Isaev, and draped an arm possessively over his hip.

But Isaev must have moved closer as well, undoubtedly seeking heat, maybe thinking he was Anya. Ilarion's leg was thrown over his, and his arm was tucked against Taras' chest.

Their heads were close. Isaev's breathing was steady, near as Taras could tell, but it was Taras' lungs that rattled.

He went still, wondering if he should pull away before Isaev woke up, but then again, that would probably wake him immediately.

Ilarion's hip felt smooth and warm.

Taras frowned.

Round Two

May. 18th, 2008 01:37 am
taras_oleksei: (Default)
Being clean was one of those luxuries that Taras hadn't taken for granted ever since he'd gotten out of Magadan.

He felt better after a hot shower, more clear-headed and relaxed, though now he was hungry. Still vaguely aroused, but not enough to have to do something about it immediately.

Taras turned the bathroom over to Anya and put on his pants, but didn't bother with the shirt.

He left Ilarion's suite, figuring he had time to get a sandwich. Anya would be in there for a while. Taras knew how girls were about those kinds of things.

The Isaev townhouse was quiet, but not empty. Not cold. Taras liked the feeling that other people else were around, even if they weren't in the same room. He walked down the main staircase to the ground floor, then went down the main hall toward the kitchens.

There was a low, muted light coming in the kitchens, welcoming. He stopped by the door and leaned in just enough to get a glimpse, casing it first, just to make sure.

He spotted Isaev across the room, behind a counter. Looked like he'd had the same idea as Taras and had come downstairs for a snack.

Taras smirked as he stepped in, always quiet.

"Lasha."

His voice was pitched low, just enough to get Isaev's attention.

"You have something to eat in this place?"

Epilogue

Apr. 6th, 2008 10:44 pm
taras_oleksei: (Default)
Taras was hunched over the bar again, staring at the untouched glass of vodka in front of him.

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

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

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

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

Taras knew he was ready to go, and leave this place and what had happened here behind him.

Rituals

Feb. 26th, 2008 11:02 am
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Taras sat in the leather wing chair in Ilarion's office, paging through a file, waiting.

It was still dark outside, and the MVD building was quiet, save for the distant odd knocks of the radiators.

Taras had found he liked arriving early, unlocking the door, being in the office before anyone else got there. He stalked through building like a burglar, navigating dark halls lit only by the predawn glow that outlined each window he passed.

Isaev seemed to prefer coming into work early as well. The first time Isaev had arrived to find Taras already there he'd seemed almost startled, but had invited Taras into his office to review current files over hot tea.

Now, it had become Taras' habit to skip his office and go straight to Isaev's, leaving the overhead lights alone but turning on the desk lamp to illuminate the room in soft and subtle radiance.

It made the room a small inviting beacon in the dark building. Ilarion's office was always warmer than his, anyway, and had a better view.

He rubbed his jaw idly as he read. The livid black and purple bruises that had graced his jaw all week had finally faded to dull browns and yellows.

Their most current case was a homicide that had all the earmarks of a professional hit. Double tap to the back of the head, execution style. No witnesses, little evidence. The shooter had even picked up the spent bullet casings.

Taras nodded in to himself absently, in approval.

He tossed the file aside. The case wasn't worth their time, in his opinion. Isaev would probably concur.

There was a special section in the file room for cold cases. Taras had amused himself on a slow afternoon by looking up a few of his old hits, the ones he remembered well enough to pinpoint. All unsolved, all with brief, vague notes from the investigating officers, as if they hadn't been bothered to put much effort in, either.

Taras had stood there in front of the file cabinet, laughing quietly until Anya had come upon him and asked if everything was all right. He had told her that she smelled nice, and she had found something else to do.

He picked up the next file, pausing to glance out the window. It was still mostly dark, but Isaev would be arriving shortly, he knew.

Banya

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

August 2010

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