Separation

Jan. 6th, 2009 09:15 pm
taras_oleksei: (Default)
(Continued from: http://taras-oleksei.livejournal.com/5299.html)

There was a silence after Liadov left.

It was as if no one wanted to move or speak or even breathe too loudly, for fear of drawing attention to themselves. Taras leveled his mismatched gaze at the soldiers around them and they avoided his eyes, for the most part, turning suddenly to their comrades, and abandoned meals. Lasha had not returned to his seat, but instead lingered where Liadov had left him, straightening his tie with such care, it appeared as if he was considering strangling someone with it.

Taras walked over to him. Surreptitious glances followed.

"Lasha..."

He paused.

Taras could see the stiffness in Ilarion's taut shoulders, and the slow-burn of fury smolder in his gaze. It was not directed at him, but he could still feel it, nonetheless, radiating like heat.

He did not touch Ilarion, though he stepped close.

"Come on, comrade. Let's go somewhere, and have a drink."
taras_oleksei: (Default)
Taras Oleksei wondered when life had gotten so confusing.

He walked down the dimmed hall, his steps slowing, every one he took shorter than the last, as if he were slowly losing the will to move forward.

It was a good thing it was the middle of the night. No one was around to see his state of disarray. Taras' coat was unbuttoned and his shirt gaped open, and his tie hung loosely around his neck.

He supposed he looked like a guy who had just kissed another guy, and then gotten sucked off while lying back on a desk.

Taras' loins were still gratifyingly warm, the tension eased from his broad and tattooed shoulders. His lips felt funny, sort of swollen, but not entirely unpleasant.

Taras remembered a time in his life when things were simpler, when he didn't spend so much time thinking. Every decision was made in the moment, and there was no such thing as consequence.

He wondered if he had been happier.

Was he unhappy now? He tried not to think about Liadov, and what they had just done. Red Square had been easier to excuse. He'd been drunk and distracted. But this time, Taras knew that he'd wanted Liadov. It hadn't been an accident that Taras had kissed him.

Taras stopped in the hall, frowning, momentarily disoriented.

He hadn't been paying attention to where he was going. Now all doors looked the same. He took a few moments to orient himself. His room was not far away. He'd chosen the one at the end of the hall, but from this direction, it was the beginning. His, Anya's, and Lasha's rooms where here, as far from the naked chelovik's as possible.

Taras took his keys out of his pocket, hesitating, glancing to the side. His gaze skipped past Anya's room and lingered on Lasha's.

It was late. Lasha would no doubt be sleeping.

His chest cramped as he thought about Lasha.

Ilarion Aleksandrovich Isaev, his comrade.

Taras found himself wandering away from his room, and stopping in front of Lasha's. He leaned close. Taras couldn't hear anything in particular, but he knew Lasha slept quietly.

After a moment, he let his forehead rest against the door.

Taras felt like his mind was full of questions that he already knew the answers to, but didn't want to admit them.

The door felt cool against his forehead. He laid a gloved hand on the doorknob.

It was locked, not that he'd expected otherwise. Lasha kept everything that way.

Taras swallowed.

In the next moment, he eased back from the door, and took out his wallet. Inside were two small wood-handled paring knives he'd ground down to narrow picks in his father's workshop. The half-round tip pick had worked on the door to Liadov's office, and the locks on the guest quarters were exactly the same. Taras inserted the picks into the lock, working for only a few moments before he heard a soft click.

He put away his tools, and pushed open the door slowly. Obligingly, it did not creak. Taras opened it only wide enough for him to slip inside.

It was quiet and dark. Taras paused to let his eyes adjust.

Friction

Aug. 11th, 2008 01:46 pm
taras_oleksei: (Default)
They walked in icy silence back to the north wing.

Overhead, the clouds were dark.

A wind had picked up, cold and biting, tugging at their caps, ruffling the papers in Taras' arms. Isaev led the way with effortless long strides, cutting through the wind like a shark through water, gaze hard and grey, focused on what was ahead. He did not look in Taras' direction, not once.

After a few moments, Taras narrowed his eyes and looked away.

Emotions stirred deep in his gut, like wild things battering themselves uselessly against bars, hungry to be unleashed.

He replayed the encounter with Liadov in his mind as they walked.

Lasha had known that Liadov would be there, Taras was certain. There was no other explanation for Ilarion's cool demeanor and cooler words, not when the mere mention of Liadov's name usually sent Lasha into pained, frostbitten silence, like he was now.

Ilarion pushed open the door with a dismissive motion, like he was flinging away something distasteful.

They had been assigned a workspace earlier that morning. It was a far cry from the offices they enjoyed in Leningrad, the solid hardwood desks and leather chairs, tasteful paintings on the walls, long windows with the views out over the canals and historic cathedrals.

Here, the walls were plain white and brick, and the office space simply that - a open room with high windows that faced another concrete building opposite. There were two small desks that were more like tables, formica tops and steel legs, and one actual table with a few slender chairs on either side.

Anya looked up as they came in. She was sitting at the long table.

Taras saw that in their absence, she had done what she could to make the space more functional. Blotters and pen sets had been placed on the desks, along with a few other office supplies. Somehow, she must have found a small potted plant, and arranged it carefully, like a centerpiece.

She stood up, smiling. "Hello, Major, Captain. I..."

Anya hesitated, looking at their faces.

Taras dropped Rakitin's paperwork down on the table carelessly, with a loud thump.

"The office is ready for your use," she said, briskly professional now. "Shall I get some tea?"
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)
"I don't get it," Taras said.

He was frowning as they walked, using the time to think. He actually lagged behind Isaev a little.

Ilarion never hurried anywhere, though today he strode down the hall, bootheels ringing with a clarity of purpose. Only Taras wasn't clear.

They passed a window. Outside, it was still foggy, a thick white mist that enclosed the MVD building like mountains of snow, insulating and isolating, as if they were in some remote place up north, not in civilized Leningrad. Taras didn't like not being able to see across the street.

He looked away, turning back to Isaev.

"This guy is under suspicion of..."

A secretary approached, clutching a stack of files to her chest. She stepped aside to let them pass, squeezing so close to the wall it seemed like she was afraid they would knock her aside. She murmured something as they walked by.

Taras glanced behind them, to make sure she was out of earshot, though he wasn't sure why.

"...muzhelostvo. And some other political shit."

Their destination loomed. The doors to the interrogation rooms were simple, marked with numbers, but nothing else. Almost benign.

Taras stopped at the first door, then imposed himself physically between it and Ilarion, putting his hand on the frame to block Isaev's entry. Ilarion looked at him as if he had finally noticed Taras was there. His eyes were narrow, slivers of ice. Taras stared back.

"This isn't a violent crime, Isaev. So what gives?"

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?"

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.
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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