taras_oleksei: (Default)
Taras Oleksei was a long way from home.

He knew it with a certainty that lived quietly under his tattooed chest, as if he could feel how far he was from Leningrad.

It was nights like this - lying in bed, alone, bare skin freshly showered, warm under clean sheets - that he felt it more keenly than he did during the day.

Where you are isn't as important as who you're with, Lasha had said, and he was right, but when Taras was alone, the where grew longer, like a shadow under a low, harsh sun that never set, and just as hard to escape.

He held the phone against his ear, waiting, eyes closed to the darkness.

There was a pause, then a click.

"Connecting you now, sir," the operator told him.

The phone began to ring, and it sounded close.

Memento

Aug. 25th, 2008 08:32 pm
taras_oleksei: (Default)
Taras stepped out of Ilarion's room.

The hallway was quiet. Empty of naked cheloviks and anything else he didn't want to see.

Anya's room was right next door, but he paused to lean his broad back against the wall, closing his eyes.

It had been a long night, or maybe not long enough. Maybe he just hadn't had enough to drink. Maybe he had heard too many things he didn't want to hear.

He let out breath, a long sigh.

After a few moments, he pushed away from the wall, and knocked on Anya's door.

"Who is it?"

Taras smiled, gratified she was taking precautions like a sensible girl.

"It's me."

There was a pause, then the door opened. Anya stood there, wearing a pale pink muslin nightdress under her robe, her hair in big pink curlers. No strangely colored paste on her face, he noted with vague relief.

"Captain."

"Anya."

He hesitated. He usually told her she looked nice, but he didn't think you were supposed to do that when women weren't actually dressed up for company.

"Hope it's not too late," he said, instead.

Anya smiled, as warmly as always.

"No, not at all, Captain."

"I just came over to check on you, make sure everything's all right."

"Oh, that's very nice of you. I'm fine, thank you."

"It was Isaev's idea."

Anya smiled again, glancing down the hall. She reached up to touch her curlers.

"Oh, really? Well, that was very thoughtful. I was just getting ready for bed, but..."

She looked back at Taras, almost expectantly.

"Well...don't let me keep you," he said.

Anya gave a little sigh, then she smiled.

"Don't worry about it, Captain. How is everything?"

"All right. We're just having some drinks and Isaev's brother and his...comrade."

"That sounds nice, like a good way to relax. It seemed like things were a little stressful, earlier."

Taras frowned, then remembered the argument he and Isaev had back in their office, when Anya had left to get tea.

"Oh, right. Yeah, we worked that out."

She nodded.

"That's good. Is everything else all right?"

"Yeah."

"Are you sure?"

Taras sighed.

"Yeah...it's just..."

He hesitated.

"This place is a little...different."

Anya nodded, encouragingly.

"It is. You know, I was feeling a little homesick earlier, but I used the phone in my room to call my mother back in Leningrad to tell her I arrived here safely. Maybe you should call your sisters. I'm sure they'd want to know that you're all right."

Taras blinked.

"I don't think they really worry about me like that."

"Of course they do, you're their brother."

Taras didn't have the heart to tell her that one of his sisters hadn't even noticed when he'd been sent up north.

"Yeah, maybe."

"Leningrad is two hours behind. It's not too late to call."

"All right," he said. He paused. "Thanks."

"Thank you for checking on me, Captain. Good night."

"Night."

Anya closed her door again. Taras heard the soft click of the lock.

He paused in the hallway, looking between his room and Isaev's. He almost felt like he needed some air before heading back in to be social, but it was probably still raining outside.

Taras felt for the key in his pocket, hesitating, then finally turned toward his door.

His room was the same size as Isaev's but felt smaller for some reason, probably because no one was in it. More comfortable, like a sanctuary.

Taras stepped over his suitcase. It lay on the floor in disarray. He'd tossed it there the night before, and had rooted through it this morning to look for a clean shirt and underwear. One edge of a magazine poked out from beneath his workout clothes. The cover model was blond, at least from what he could tell. He fished it out.

She had a big rack and small waist and curvy hips, more buxom than he usually liked them. Taras preferred girls who were tall and more slender, though not too skinny. They had to be sturdy.

He sat down on the bed, flipping through the magazine. There were all kinds of girls in there, dark, light, curvy, skinny, everything in between. Some with platinum blond hair.

It reminded him of the Evropeiskaya, and all the girls that had been idling in the the lobby, waiting. He had never seen so many in one place at one time. It had been a little overwhelming.

Taras frowned. That seemed like a long time ago, now. He'd hadn't known Isaev as well then.

He fell back on the bed, tossing the magazine aside. He didn't think he even felt like jerking off.

Taras pressed his hand on his forehead. Maybe he was getting sick, or was still weak from the night before. Also, it had been a pretty rough day. First he'd found out that Liadov was here, which Isaev hadn't seen fit to tell him beforehand, and then there had been the bizarre interlude with Andrusha and his dangerously volatile Ukranian comrade. Of all the things to hear out of a khokol's mouth, but love.

He scowled.

Love. It made him think of what Merkurii Barshai had said about Ilarion.

He was in love with that cat-faced detective.

Liadov.

Taras rubbed his hip. The tattoo was no longer new but it still itched vaguely at times, though he thought it must all be in his head.

He groaned, sitting up.

A telephone sat on the bedside table. He looked at it for a few moments, then hesitated, picking it up. There was a clicking sound and then he heard a male voice.

"Comm officer."

Taras hesitated.

"This is...Captain Oleksei of the Interior Ministry."

"Yes, Captain, how can I help you?"

"If I give you a phone number, you can connect me to civilization, right?"

There was a pause.

"Yes, Captain, that's right."

"Khorosho."

Another pause.

"What's that number, Captain Oleksei?"

Taras hesitated, then carefully recited the number he'd memorized a while back but had never called.

"Patching you through now, sir."

There was another click, then he heard the phone ringing.
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?"

August 2010

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