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While Hidden, I See and Destroy

Now: 1964, Groznyj Grad - Confessions, Part II

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The Groznyj Grad Living Novel

Now: 1964, Groznyj Grad - Confessions, Part II

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They say confession is good for the soul.

Well, it's good for something.


leshovik: "All right," Viktor said, quietly.

He took another long drink.

"Yeah, I guess you should know. I don't know if I should be the one to tell you, but I can't imagine he would, so..."

Leshovik double-fisted it now, the bottle in one hand, the cigarette in the other, taking liberal pulls from both before handing the bottle back to Niotkuda.

He closed his eyes. That was easier than having to meet Kasya's lover's gaze.

"So you know we met in Hungary, right? Over the revolution? They paired us, wanted me to learn from him. Wanted me to be his spotter, only Kasya doesn't need a fucking spotter, not the way he shoots. Bastard."

In spite of the invective, his words were mild. He couldn't condemn Kasya for that. Other things, yes, but not for that.

"We worked at it a while, but...the partnership didn't agree with either of us. Not in the field, at least. Thank fucking Christ nothing ever happened. Neither of us had to fire a shot. We got off lucky in that way, because it would have been a disaster."

He shook his head.

"But out of the field...I was attracted to him. The silent, stoic war hero. He wouldn't talk much about the war, but when he did, I had a fucking hard-on for a week afterward. That was what I wanted, to be out there, haunting the front lines like a ghost, picking off the enemy, death out of nowhere."

Viktor smiled, the hard line of his mouth easing.

"But I was born too late, and the conflict in Hungary was bullshit. But there was Kasya. I had to work on him for a while, get him to loosen up, even just to be my comrade. But once he trusted me...it was intense. He didn't hold back, or take it like a casual thing, like I was used to. I was expecting a fling myself, but..."

He stopped then, frowning, and he looked at Niotkuda, contrite.

"Sorry, comrade. This isn't the part you want to hear. You want to hear how it went bad."

andrei_isaev: "I'll hear anything you want to say," Andrei said, moderately, rolling a cigarette between his fingers.

And he would.

It didn't matter, that Irinarhov had loved this man. Or that this man had idealized the older sniper, and idealized his way right into his bunk and into his ass...

Or viceversa, thought Isaev, vaguely. It was an assumption on his part, that the dynamics of his interplay with Irinarhov would conform to what he'd had with Viktor, but not necessarily true.

For that matter, if Viktor was so hung up on a black knight in tarnished armor, it was possible things were inverse, as a rule.

All speculation. It didn't matter.

But it was interesting.

"It's nice, actually. A little...voyeuristic. To hear what it was like."

Isaev shrugged.

"Kind of turns me on."

leshovik: Viktor stared at Niotkuda for a moment.

Then his mouth pulled wide.

He leaned over and tugged the bottle of out the younger man's hand and took a long drink, tilting his head back to swallow.

Viktor wiped his lips with the back of his hand.

"Damn," he said, slowly.

He shook his head.

"I see why he likes you," he said, grinning.

He pushed the bottle back in Niotkuda's hands and quietly finished his cigarette, contemplating.

"I can tell you more about that, if you want," he said, after a moment.

andrei_isaev: Isaev smirked.

"Tell me anything you want," he said. "I'm listening."

He tilted his head.

"Not like we haven't both been there, is it?"

He took a measured sip of liquor and licked his lips.

"In fact, I guess in a relative, universal way...we're lovers too."

Andrei laughed, shaking his head.

"But seriously, comrade...tell me."

leshovik: Leshovik laughed.

He was getting just drunk enough to find that funny. In fact, the whole thing was pretty funny, when he thought about it. Him and Niotkuda, having a drink together while Kasya was away. He wouldn't have called it.

"All right," he said.

He shifted on the bunk, leaning back to get more comfortable.


Viktor took in a deep breath, and settled into the telling of it.

"Like I said, it was...intense. He kissed like he'd never been kissed before. I guess he hadn't, not really. It was like he didn't know how to hold back. Didn't know how to give anything less than everything."

He shook his head.

"And fucking? God, I wanted him inside me so bad, but he didn't know what to do, exactly. I mean, he said he'd had women before, but a man...no. I talked him through it, and he learned quick, but god, the way he kissed me. The way he screwed me. Deep and slow and hot as fuck."

Viktor rubbed the back of his neck, then let out another laugh.

"Light me another cigarette, comrade. I'm going to need it after this."

andrei_isaev: "It's not so different, really, women and men..." mused Andrei, with a vague gesture, as he picked up another cigarette from the bedspread.

Well, it was. But not physiologically. Not in the ways you sought and taunted arousal.

You could share rougher, baser passions with a man, in Isaev's experience, which was why he'd come to prefer it.

He pulled out a match and struck it, lighting the cigarette. Sucking gently on the end to catch the flame.

"How did you convince him to try the Greek method?" Andrei asked, wryly. "Did he fight you? Fight the idea?"

He laughed, shaking out the match, cigarette dangling from his mouth.

"Or was he just too hard and too hard up to say no?"

Isaev raised his eyes, angling them down at the cigarette between his lips in an obvious gesture of offering.

"Take it," he murmured. "She's all yours."

leshovik: Viktor leaned over and carefully plucked the cigarette from Niotkuda's mouth, fingertips brushing across the other man's lips as he pulled his hand away.

He stuck the cigarette between his own lips and took a drag.

"Mmm," he said, softly. "Tastes good."

Leshovik breathed in again, and made the cherry flare.

"Smooth and spicy."

He chuckled, darkly.

Viktor's eyes closed as he remembered.

"I didn't need to convince him to do anything," he said, slowly. "From the first touch, it was like it was inevitable. I mean, we'd kissed before, and I'd left it at that. But that afternoon, we were alone in my barracks, and I'd been thinking about it...and then I touched him. On the hip."

Viktor opened his eyes and regarded Niotkuda for a moment, then reached out and grazed his knuckles across the sharp cut of Niotkuda's hipbone.

"Right here," he said, and withdrew his hand slowly.

"And then he looked at me with those dark eyes of his. Honed, and intense, like he was looking down his scope at another sniper."

A smile played around his lips.

"I guess he was. But that was the first time he kissed me. He pressed me back on the bunk."

andrei_isaev: "And that was all it took?" replied Isaev, in a mild voice, shifting slightly to accommodate his arousal. "So he wasn't that tough a nut to crack after all."

He laughed, putting his hands behind his head.

"Did he know what he was getting into?"

Glancing at Leshovik, Andrei rathered doubted it.

Viktor had ravenous eyes, an aura of perpetual hungering, sharp and deep and demanding to be fed. Kasya wouldn't have noticed it, not right off, but Andrei knew that look well enough.

"He found out soon enough, I guess."

leshovik: Leshovik made a disgruntled noise.

"No, no. You don't understand all the work it took to get up to that point."

He gestured in Niotkuda's direction with the cigarette, stabbing it in the air.

"I'm talking months. Just to get him not to stiffen up when I touched him, or put an arm around his shoulders. Just to get him not to look at me like he thought...I don't know. Like he thought I wanted to steal his rifle. Weeks, after the first time I kissed him, for him to get used to that and even respond to me."

Viktor leaned back against the wall, and stuck the cigarette back in his mouth.

"That was all the groundwork. But that afternoon..."

He trailed off again, remembering. The way the the low sun had slanted though the windows and fractured light across his bunk. The way Kasya had looked, the hard lines of natural wariness tempered and eased by desire.

"...that afternoon, he kissed me and didn't hold back. Though there was one moment..."

Leshovik's brow creased, lightly.

"I had my hands on his ass and I was pressing him down. And we were both hard, and we both knew it. We were rubbing our hips, grinding against each other. But when I reached to unbutton his pants, he stopped, and pulled back. I thought he was going to ask me what I thought I was doing, or tell me...I don't know, that he didn't want to do anything, but instead he just looked at me."

Viktor was quiet for a few moments. He took the bottle from Niotkuda's indolent hand and tipped it back for another swallow.

"It seemed...important, like he was going to say something. Or ask something. He had that really serious look, really intense. His eyes were so dark."

He shook his head.

"But he didn't. He never said anything. Finally I asked him what it was. And then he just kissed me, and let me take off his clothes. I never found out what he was going to say."

andrei_isaev: Isaev was silent for a moment.

"What do you think he was going to say?"

He was at loss, himself, to guess. Irinarhov had never managed to hold back anything from him- if he had tried, Andrei would have pried at his lips with a tongue and a crowbar until the words tumbled out from under lock; would have suckled the milk of his secrets with inexorable insistence.

And that was the difference, he supposed.

He would have asked, at once, demanding, unwilling to be deferred.

Leshovik had taken a kiss for answer enough.

Ilarion's voice resonated briefly in his mind, and he saw his brother, in his mind's eye, felt Lasha breathing against his lips, his hand wound firmly but tenderly into the hair at the nape of Andrei's neck, as they stood in the alcove of the villa on a silent night, after much alcohol and carousing.

Lasha's words, indelible as indian ink, and he'd never forgotten them.

Never let a fool kiss you, or a kiss fool you.

leshovik: "I don't know," Viktor said, slowly, thoughtfully. "I haven't thought about that in a long time. It almost seems like..."

He paused. He couldn't articulate it, like a word forgotten, lost at the tip of his tongue.

Leshovik fell silent, frowning.

"You know, I really don't know. It could have been a lot of things, I suppose. Maybe he wanted to know what would happen if we had sex, if things would be different afterward."

He shrugged.

"That doesn't seem quite right, but things were different afterward. It was good. For a while, at least. It was kind of fun, being with someone who knew so little. And who wanted to learn it all."

Viktor laughed.

"He wanted to fucking practice, like we were at the range or something. I swear, we devoted more time to learning how to fuck together than learning how to shoot together."

andrei_isaev: Isaev smiled obscurely.


The idea was amusing, that something so organic wouldn't just...fall into place.

"Well...I suppose I should thank you for putting in the hours," he said, tipping the bottle in Leshovik's direction with insolent good nature.

"He sucks cock like a champ," he remarked, deliberately crude in the face of Leshovik's misty nostalgia. Not to be contrary or unpleasant, but rather to keep the reality of who they both were unloaded and light.

"Rarely had better."

Andrei had never seen the appeal of inexperience, but he supposed, had it been Kassian, and himself in Viktor's place, he might have made an exception.

"So it was good," he prompted.

leshovik: "Oh Christ, yes."

Viktor laughed and reached out to give Niotkuda's shoulder a comradely shove.

"You fucking better thank me. For all the time and effort I put in helping with that."

He smirked.

"My hand at the back of his neck. My cock between his lips. Little did I know every time I came, I'd be doing you a favor, eight years later."

He regarded Niotkuda out of low-lidded eyes.

"So yeah, it was good. He would suck me off, and then fuck me. I fucked him a few times, but it seemed to work better the other way."

Leshovik considered.

"You're a big guy," he said, eyeing Niotkuda's strapping physicality, the strength in his broad shoulders and muscular chest. Not as big as Lynx, but then again, not many people were. But still, big.

"Do you..." he asked, but let it trail off, brows raised, regarding Niotkuda slowly, speculatively.

andrei_isaev: Isaev's lips curved and he lowered his chin, mirroring Leshovik's inquiring gaze.

"Do I..." he said, drawing the word out. "...what?"

He put another cigarette between his lips, idly, and rolled it around with his tongue.

"...do I let him fuck me?"

leshovik: Viktor watched the motion of the cigarette pressed between the full swell of Niotkuda's lips.

"...yeah," he said, slowly.

"You're, what, six-one, six-two? And he's my height. Five-nine. Somehow..."

He shifted, bringing one arm up to grab the bunk rail behind him for leverage so he could lean back and stretch out more on the bunk. He settled, getting comfortable, then he resumed smoking.

His other hand toyed with the zipper of his jumpsuit.

"...the height difference makes that more interesting."

andrei_isaev: Isaev laughed quietly.

"I'd let him...if that were what he wanted."

Irinarhov had him, now and then. Like that night in the tower. They'd traded abuse, that night. And the first night, that had been Kassian topping him, but that was more an outgrowth of straight seduction. An offering.

Andrei smiled and flopped closer to Leshovik, eyes heated with good nature, leaning in with a confratory smile.

"But what he wants is what you saw at the hot springs, comrade. He wants me to do unto him."

A soft laugh, as he relaxed into reclining.

"Don't ask me why. The first night, I graciously offered up my ass, and he seemed all right with it, and the next night, I fucked him, and after that, he was on his back for me at the rustle of a zipper."

His eyes closed briefly.

"Sometimes his hands and knees."

Andrei felt himself stirring slightly at the reminiscence.

"...Not that I mind, comrade. I love being inside him."

leshovik: Leshovik took another drink and then pushed the bottle back into Niotkuda's hands.

"Yeah," he said, his voice low and rumbling. "The hot springs. That was...interesting. You looked good together."

It had been erotic and disturbing at the same time, Leshovik recalled. A shock that had turned him instantly hard and wanting, as wrong as that was.

He opened his mouth to say something and realized, almost too late, that he wasn't supposed to talk about that, the fact he'd been on-base weeks beforehand, that he'd watched Kasya and Niotkuda together through the scope of his rifle.

Viktor finished up his cigarette and rubbed out the butt.

"He does have a nice ass," he said, consideringly. "You make me feel like I didn't appreciate it enough at the time."

He smirked, shrugging.

"Not that it matters now. I wouldn't mind seeing the two of you together again, though."

Leshovik turned his head to the side to regard Niotkuda with a low, slow-burning gaze.

"Does that make me a fucking pervert, comrade?"

andrei_isaev: Andrei considered that, frowning with slightly inebriate concentration.

"Yes," he pronounced, finally.

Then he took a drink, reflectively, patting Leshovik on the hand.

"A fucking sick fucker of mothers, who would fuck his own mouth if he could reach it."

He gave a lax and sprawling grin.

"Hey, Spetsnaz! Can you reach your own cock?"

They stretching exercises, after all, were stringent in their field. Maybe even more in Black Ops. Who could say?

Isaev rubbed his chest in idle satisfaction. It was nice, relaxing. Drinking.

"You know I don't mind if you do," he murmured. "I don't mind being watched at all. There's nothing to be ashamed of."

He snorted, smiling obscurely.

"Irinarhov, on the other hand. Well. He was mortified, comrade, over what happened at the spring. He never said it outright, but I could see it in his eyes. His cheeks were stained like a wineskin."

leshovik: Leshovik laughed, indulgently.

"He needs to fucking relax. He's got nothing to be ashamed of, either."

He shook his head.

"You know, I was too shocked and pissed off at the time to think straight, but now that I think back on it, that's why we were there, to go to the hot springs. Maybe that exact one, too."

Viktor's brow creased heavily.

"Christ, I was fucked up after that. Now I can barely remember why. We didn't even fuck. We just left. God. I was wound tight. You know, I wanted to kill him."

His gaze clouded, hazy and contrite. Viktor reached out and touched Niotkuda on the arm and left his hand there, holding him like a good comrade.

"But you know...I don't want that anymore. I let that go. I just want you to know that."

andrei_isaev: Andrei blinked, rolling over to face Viktor, bemused.

"Kill him?" he repeated, mellow and incredulous.

Viktor's hand on his arm was warm and lightly weighted, the form and figure of his hand actually much like Kasya's. Andrei could feel the fine, tapered fingers resting spiderlike, but Viktor's touch had a solidity, an easy gravitas that Kassian's did not.

The younger sniper was not afraid of touch, nor did he treat it as a sacrament. Irinarhov's grazes were feather-light, unless in the midst of passion where he forgot himself, and sometimes he touched Andrei as if they were both china.

Suddenly, he was surprised that he'd never thought to wonder why.

Brittle, his way of reaching out.

Isaev frowned.

"You mean Kasya or Lynx?"

Leshovik's pronouns had been amorphous and indistinct, and Andrei was hard pressed to discern whether he meant he'd wanted to kill Lynx and fuck Kassian, or vice versa, or maybe both applied to one or the other.

He allowed that he might be slightly pink around the gills.

leshovik: "What?"

Viktor tilted his head to focus on Niotkuda, frowning, confused, wondering what Lynx had to do with it.

This close, he could see more clearly the exact shade of the younger man's eyes. Pale grey. The color of water trapped under ice, the color of a distant storm. Not clear and bright like Lynx's, but more shaded and subtle. It was an interesting color.

He replayed the conversation in his head.

"Kasya, I mean Kasya," he said, finally. "I wanted to kill Kasya."

Viktor felt even worse about saying it this time, as if the idea was so incredible Niotkuda couldn't fathom how such a thing could be true, that men that had once loved each other could be moved to murder.

Well, a man. He didn't think Kasya wanted to kill him, particularly.

"Sorry, comrade. I wanted to kill Kasya - hell, I wanted to kill both of you, but Lynx talked me down. Made me see reason. And afterward, at some point, I realized I didn't want to kill him anymore, for what he did."

He tightened his grip on Niotkuda's shoulder.

andrei_isaev: It was an arresting thought, one that cut straight through intoxication like a samovar.

The knowledge that on that day, Viktor had Kassian halfway in his sights...and himself not far behind. Sobering, to think that the only thing between them and inexorable creeping, hidden death was Lynx's benevolent intervention.

Isaev shuddered, slightly, realizing he had something more to thank Lynx for than a few years of intensive mentoring.

He looked into Viktor's dark blue eyes. They were unvarnished, overly honest and raw with confession. The sniper's hand on his shoulder gripped with the passion of an anguished antihero.

Isaev was quiet for a moment, then slowly put his arm around the sniper.

"Sssszt," he said, in a low voice. "It's good, comrade. It's ok."

Words came to his lips and retreated. Then gradually returned.

"It would have been wise to kill us both, if you did that," Isaev said, slowly. "Because I would have come for you the only way I know how."

Lynx's way, the way he'd been taught. No other.

Sometimes suffering was the only thing that could recompense loss.

He frowned, displeased at his own instinct toward vengeance, even hypothetically.

Isaev drew Viktor a little closer, so they could rest companionably.

"Why did you want to kill him?" he asked, very softly. "What did he do to you?"

leshovik: Niotkuda's touch, his embrace, made the last lingering embers of anger snuff out as if stirred by a mild breeze, and Leshovik let out a long, shaky breath.

He closed his eyes and rested his head against Niotkuda's shoulder.

"You never know, though," he said, softly. "I could have missed."

Viktor laughed then, slightly, with the barest reverberation of his shoulders.

He hadn't expected something as simple as acceptance, not from Kasya's passionate young lover. It eased both body and mind.

"You would have been right to kill me, though, if I'd killed him and not you. I wouldn't have blamed you. I probably would have let you do it. It would have been...appropriate."

He opened his eyes and looked at Niotkuda, and almost had trouble meeting his gaze. He felt disarmed, exposed, though at the same time, it felt right to unshed his burdens to the man who was both Kasya's lover and Lynx's heir.

"He hurt me," he said, simply and quietly, with a pang that tightened in his chest.

A second later it struck him that he sounded like a kid when he said it. Like Aryol, at his most vulnerable, which was rare.

Viktor looked away and shook his head, cleared his throat.

"Fuck," he muttered. "Sorry. I'm not looking for - "

He didn't know what he wasn't looking for.

Viktor fell silent for a moment.

"I'll tell you, if you really want to hear it."

andrei_isaev: "Hurt you," said Andrei, frowning. "Hurt you...with his hand, or-"

There was something about Viktor again that stirred thoughts of his own. On rare occasions he'd seen a similar primal pain in his brother's fine, iced eyes, like a cracked pond too dangerous to skate across.

When he was a child, Lasha's hand had shot out, seized his scarf and held him back from many such ponds, but in those rare moments he seemed to be treading on one himself, trapped in his own visceral anguish, with only hard, brittle ice between him and ruin.

Still waters ran deep and cold, like the Neva.

The Neva.

And Lasha had looked like that, when he came to tell him that his mother was dead.

And Viktor looked not unlike that now.

Andrei felt a hot rush of liquid amber in his veins, and he crushed the sniper to his chest, his arms confining and forcing comfort.

"Tell me," he pleaded, quietly. "Tell me what he did, bratan."

leshovik: Viktor tensed at the same time he drew forward, fought Niotkuda's tight grasp for a spare second before he gave in.

It felt good, to be held by a large man. After Lynx, he couldn't feel that it was a weakness, to draw comfort from the unyielding cage of powerful, muscled arms.

His own grasp was fierce in turn, fingers digging into the iron of Niotkuda's shoulders.

Leshovik tucked his head quietly against Niotkuda's broad and muscular chest.

He was quiet for a while, merely breathing, existing, content to only feel strength and to be suffused with Niotkuda's scent, clean and masculine, spiced by alcohol.

"He didn't raise a hand to me. He would never do that," Viktor said, finally, with quiet certainty. Kasya's passions ran in an entirely different direction.

"No...you see..."

He trailed off, hesitating, deciding how he was going to tell it. Viktor shifted a little, settled to get comfortable, eased against Niotkuda's arms.

"The last thing I told you is that it was good. And there were parts of it that were always good, even during the times when I was angry and he was sullen, when we were mad at each other for stupid things and we'd argue until one of us pushed the other down and we would fuck instead."

Viktor's hand tightened slightly on Niotkuda's arm.

"He was right call it difficult. Competitive. I made it that way. As much as his skill thrilled me, I was hungry for it at the same time. Having him wasn't enough, I guess. I wanted his kill count too, but that, I couldn't have."

He wondered how that could be, that there could be things he saw now but couldn't see before. Was it only the passage or distance of years? Or had he gained a more fundamental understanding of everything.

"But we managed. Until I got a transfer notice. That's when we broke it off."

andrei_isaev: "Who broke it off?" Isaev said, after a moment, surprised at how the man coved into him like a child.

He frowned.

"But wait- you didn't tell me what he did."

Broke it off.

Like it was nothing. Or even if it was something, that it was...breakable. That metaphor of china returned to him, and Kasya's self-conscious, tentative brushing touch.

Would he and Irinarhov be able to break it off with equal ease?

Andrei shook his head, slowly.

"You got a transfer, and your shooting partner didn't? Why not? Did they split you deliberately? For fighting?"

He paused.


leshovik: "That's not the end of it," Lehsovik said, quietly, bitterly. "More like the beginning."

He drew his head back so he could meet Niotkuda's gaze. His eyes were pained and weary.

"They split us deliberately because having us together was a waste. At least I imagine that's why. Someone of his experience, they'd want to partner with as many junior snipers as possible, so they could learn from him. I'd moved beyond that point."

Viktor shrugged lightly, but his eyes dropped away.

"I wanted him to come with me. I offered to see if my stepfather could pull strings for us, keep us together. But Kasya said he didn't want to be my spotter. Looking back, it was unfair of me to expect that of him, but at the time I took it like a betrayal. We fought again. Eventually I told him to forget it, that I didn't want him anyway, and that he could go to hell. That was a week before I was to leave, and we spent that whole week ignoring each other."

He was freed from the immediacy of it, but it still rang in his chest like the tolling of a funeral bell. It was over, but it still made him ache in all the rawest places.

"What he did...came after. The night before I was to leave."

andrei_isaev: Andrei frowned.

"I would have done it," he said quietly. "If I him, and he was you. If they transferred him. I would be his spotter, rather then lose him."

It bothered him, somehow, to learn that Irinarhov's pride was so inextricably linked with his trade, to the point that he would make no sacrifices for a man he claimed to love.

But you don't know what their interaction was like, he reminded himself. You don't know that they hadn't killed all the goodwill.

Maybe it just wasn't worth it.

Isaev hesitated, then stroked Leshovik's back, slowly, firmly.

"If you don't want to tell me, comrade," he said, "that's all right. But the curiosity will destroy me."

leshovik: "I'll tell you," Leshovik said, quietly. "I want to tell you."

It hurt, the telling of this. It was raw and painful. It had cost him to tell Lynx, and would cost him again to tell Niotkuda, but at the same time, Viktor felt like he needed to rip it out of him and let Kasya's lover see it.

"So that night," he said.

And he closed his eyes, and thought back to that night, when he lay back in his bunk, quietly staring up at the ceiling. When the clock had ticked inexorably forward, but with agonizing slowness. He'd wanted it to stop, he'd wanted to it spin, he'd wanted to do anything but have to wait out the hours until he had to leave.

"I had an early flight the next morning. 0400. I couldn't sleep. I kept thinking about Kasya. About the fights we'd had, about all the things I regretting saying to him. If I had just done things differently, been less of an ass, then maybe he would have come with me. A thousand regrets, you know, comrade? I had it half in my mind to get up and go to his bunk and apologize, but I didn't. But as it turned out, I didn't have to."

He closed his eyes then.

"He came to me. And...there were no words. But Christ, the way he kissed me, the way he touched me. He was beautiful and ruthless. He didn't hold back at all, and it made me realize he had been holding back, up until that point. But not anymore. The way he tore off my clothes, and his...the way he swallowed my dick. And then he flipped me over and held me down, and then he took me hard, made me just about scream for it. God, it was..."

His shoulders shook, with the telling of it, but against Niotkuda, he was hard. It always happened, when he thought about that night. It never failed to arouse him.

"...it was good. Incredible. The best sex I'd ever had. And afterward, he held me like he'd never let me go. And then I fell asleep."

A shudder ran through Viktor, but the straightened his shoulders and drew in a purposeful breath.

"And when I woke up...he was gone. Slipped away in the night like a fucking sniper after taking his shot. And I was almost late to my flight. I had to get dressed, and grab my bag, and run to catch it...I even waited until the door closed, to see if he'd show up, but he never did. And so I sat down in my seat, and I was sitting there, feeling...I don't know. Numb. My collar was bothering me, and I rubbed the back of my neck, and then I realized there were bite marks on it."

He laughed once, a short convulsion of sound.

"And I'm not too much of a man to tell you that that's when I lost it, comrade. I fucking started crying."

There were no more words.

Viktor fell silent, chest tight and cramped, body taut under Niotkuda's arms.

andrei_isaev: Isaev didn't know how to feel, for a moment after Viktor quieted.

The man's breath heaved against him, and his own chest panged with resonant ache.

Empathy pains, Liadov would have said.

Bull Sheet, Lasha would have corrected him, with a fond smirk.

Andrei knew from experience that it wasn't bullshit.

"Comrade," he whispered, at a loss for a moment. "Comrade."

His fingers moved, stirring to life, palms cupping the back of the man's head fiercely, with a suddenly evoked tenderness.

"That is one of the cruelest things I've ever heard," he said, in a low, soft voice. "I ache for you, Viktor."

Not knowing what else to do, he tipped the sniper's chin up, and pressed a kiss to his brow, tightening his arms.

Then he kissed the side of the man's mouth, after a moment's hesitation.

"Thank you for telling me."

leshovik: Viktor nodded, slowly, once, not trusting his voice immediately, eyes still closed. Niotkuda's breath was warm against his face, and slowly thawed his ache, like a snake caught out in the cold and thawed by being pressed against skin.

The crease between his brows ran deep, but he finally opened his eyes and regarded Niotkuda with a hollow look.

"Six months after that, I went into Black Ops," he told the younger man quietly.

Viktor shook his head.

"I left behind everything I had left."

He looked down pensive, hurting, blue eyes dark like twilight. Slowly, he looked back up.

"And that's who I am, Niotkuda."

Viktor hesitated, then squeezed Niotkuda's arm fiercely, relishing the heat and strength in his unyielding muscle.

"I know you probably didn't want to hear that...but thank you, for listening."

andrei_isaev: Andrei sawed at his lip with his teeth, troubled.

"I asked him, once," he said, softly. "If he'd ever taken a prisoner in the war."

His hands kneaded roughly at Leshovik's back, as if he could leach the agony of out of him, rub away the memories like lactic acid in a post-training friction massage.

He narrowed his eyes, looking at a distant point.

"If he'd ever forced a man he had at his mercy, just because he could."

A tightness in his shoulders bespoke the tension of that night, and he remembered how white his nasty words had sent the sniper, his principled gallant of a lover-

"...He said no, never, no. Like it was the sickest thing I had ever said, like it made him ill to his core, to even contemplate."

Isaev shook his head.

"I said no one who went to war stayed a good man. That everyone had some damage...some darkness."

His mouth shuddered slightly.

"And now, to hear this. That he had no qualms, because you were willing- and he raped every part of you."

leshovik: Viktor shuddered, but it was slight, and died away with a gentle tremor.

To hear that word used so plainly made his chest cramp, though not quite with pain.

Rather, it was something more like relief, that Niotkuda not only accepted what he said, but that he understood as well.

Leshovik nodded quietly.

"It's...not an easy thing to talk about. You're the second person I've ever told. The first was your mentor."

But while Lynx had also understood, and condemned what Kasya had done, for Niotkuda, the pain seemed to resonate more personally.

Leshovik drew in a breath and let it out, and the hard set of his shoulders eased somewhat, loosened by catharsis, and the fierce and brotherly friction of Niotkuda's hands on his back.

After a while, he raised his head.

Niotkuda's eyes were dark like a gathering stormfront, his gaze unsettled and roiling.

Viktor reached up to press his hand against the side of Niotkuda's face.

"You understand," he whispered. "I couldn't ask for more."

andrei_isaev: Isaev hesitated, then leaned forward, resting his brow gently against Leshovik's, cupping his jaw as well.

"Da," he said, slowly, pained. "It was wrong. So wrong. You have every right to hate him."

His eyes lowered, and he exhaled.

"But I thank you for not killing him, bratan."

A stab of empathy struck through him again, and his eyes raised, as his fingers stroked Viktor's taut, drawn cheek clumsily.

"So wrong," he whispered. "What can I do for you, to make it better? To undo what my lover did to you, all those years ago?"

He asked, because he didn't know.

leshovik: Niotkuda's touch made Viktor close his eyes.

The hand that stroked his face was both tender and graceless, the lingering contact charged with emotion. Vital. It felt real to him, so fresh it rubbed raw.

Viktor felt himself shake, tremor in the face of Niotkuda's brutally open offering.

"I don't know," he whispered, and raised his head again.

His hand went to the back of Niotkuda's neck, and he pressed his face close.

Their breath mingled, they shared heat. And Leshovik was aware, more than ever, of the strength and taut hardness of Niotkuda's body against his own.

"I don't think I hate him any more, but I don't want anything from him, either. Not even his death."

He breathed out after he said it, and felt the words ring sharp and hollow in his chest.

"It wasn't you who hurt me."

He kissed the side of Niotkuda's face.

"You don't have to pay his debt, Niotkuda."

andrei_isaev: Isaev paused, for a long time, quiet and breathing against Viktor's body.

They were drunk, but not insensible.

The sniper's jumpsuit was unzipped, and Andrei could feel the heat of Leshovik's bare chest through the fabric of his tel'nik. Bared chest and beating, mangled heart.

"I know that, pedik," he muttered, finally. "It's not a matter of having to."

Entranced, Isaev pressed his thumb gently against Viktor's pulse, beneath the slightly stubbled skin of his neck.

"I thought you might want to take a pound of my flesh, for the one he took from you."

Isaev paused, tracing the tendon that stood out in Viktor's neck, wonderingly.

"I want to offer it. My flesh."

His eyes raised, luminous and centered.

"You don't have to take it, but at least let me offer."

leshovik: Viktor shivered.

"All right," he whispered, soft and breathless.

"You can offer."

Niotkuda's hands on his neck were broad and strong, hands that could crush Viktor's windpipe should they choose. Their gentleness instead made him tremble.

He drew closer to Niotkuda, and pressed their cheeks together so that his breath licked the other man's ear.

His need was becoming a sharp and focused thing, here pressed close to Niotkuda, suffused by his deep masculine scent and the near-palpable waves of compassion that radiated from the man like heat. He ached with restrained wanting.

"But I won't take. That's what he did to me. Do you see, comrade, why I can't do that?"

He whispered the words into Niotkuda's skin and shivered at their passage.

His lips grazed Niotkuda's jaw.

"How could I plunder your body and soul, knowing what it's like to live in the aftermath?"

andrei_isaev: Isaev felt the mellowing of the slivovic, and the stiffening of Viktor's body against his own.

"Poinyal," he whispered, thickly. "But remember that I offered."

He kept breathing musk and the faint tint of cigarettes.

"You remind me of someone I love," Andrei murmured, his voice dulcet and caressing.

Ilarion would always be his first love, as this man was Kasya's.

Yet love was no longer so primal and simple. Love had entered new territory, and hand-over-wrist, he was clasped to that of Irinarhov, his Orestes.

"And where are you tonight?" he intoned to no one, softly, at a loss.

leshovik: Viktor felt like some tension had been released, and he shifted, drawing back to look in Niotkuda's face. He raised a hand to stroke through the long, fine strands of hair. He liked the length of it, the impracticality. It was like no one else he knew.

"Who?" he asked, frowning faintly, not sure if he understood.

He paused then, moving, re-arranging himself on the bunk.

"Here," he said, "lie with me, like this."

Leshovik lay back and drew Niotkuda with him, encouraged the larger man to settle and get comfortable so that they lay close and touching, side-by-side, arms tucked around each other.

"Now," he said, "talk to me."

andrei_isaev: Andrei smiled lazily, eyes slatted at half-mast.

"Kasya," he said. "Where is he, I was asking eternity. It's not like him to stay away at night. Bastard's like a homing pigeon."

Probably snagged for another night guard shift, he thought, if Nika deemed he needed to be up all night in the lab.

"Wherever he is, at least he has his rife to curl up with."

His eyes retrained on Leshovik's, in close quarters, regarding him artlessly.

"But what I was saying about you...you remind me of someone called Ilarion Isaev."

He felt warm and drunk, and able to ignore the thrumming in his loins if he chose, like the steady pulse of subterranean wires.

"He was my lover."

leshovik: "Isaev?"

That was Niotkuda's surname, he remembered. Isaev. Andrei Isaev. Though Viktor had always thought of him as Niotkuda, because that was what Lynx called him.

He traced his fingertips against Niotkuda's forearm, and regarded him with idle curiosity, noting the shape of his brows and the curve of his lips, and a mark that looked like a small scar at the outside corner of his left eye.

Scar or birthmark, he thought, but couldn't decide which.

"Same last name?" he asked, mouth falling easily into a slight smirk. "What, were you married to him or something?"

andrei_isaev: Andrei made a noise, halfway between a moan and a snort, and pushed his face into his hand, shaking his head.

"I meant brother," he muttered. "He's my brother."

He flushed, uncharacteristically, laughing.

"Betrayed by my fucking vodka laced tongue," he sighed, and closed his eyes.

Still smiling, he gave Leshovik's shoulder a clumsy puppy-pawed shove.

"Married, khui. Fucking funny guy, you are, Viktor."

leshovik: Viktor laughed and shoved back, barely rocking Niotkuda's solid mass.

"You're not sure if you were fucking your brother or not?" he teased, still smirking.

There was a pause.

Slowly, Leshovik stopped smirking.

He blinked.

"You - "

Leshovik studied Niotkuda's face, his mouth rounding, quietly stunned.

"Seriously? You and your brother? Fuck, Niotkuda. And here I thought I was a fucking pervert for fucking a seventeen year old. But I got nothing on you."

He stared at Niotkuda, half shocked, half awed.

"So..." Viktor said, after a moment.

He drew closer.

"Is he older, or younger?"

andrei_isaev: Andrei frowned, mouth opening slightly, hesitant.

He hadn't told anyone but Kasya about this. It had never seemed relevant, and between Lasha and he, it was one of those self-evident truths.

"Older," he said. "Ten years."

He paused.

"You're still a pervert."

leshovik: Viktor's brows went up.

"Ten years," he repeated, shaking his head.

Slowly, his smirk returned.

"I am a pervert," he declared. "And so are you."

Viktor tilted his head and looked at Niotkuda for a few moments, then pushed himself up slightly and leaned toward him without really thinking about it. At the last moment he realized what he was about to do and pulled back so he kissed Niotkuda's cheek instead.

He reached up and ran a hand through Niotkuda's hair.

"Be a pervert," he whispered, still so close he could see the near-transparent stubble along Niotkuda's jaw.

"I don't care."

He curled a lock of hair around one finger.

"I have no room to talk about anyone."

andrei_isaev: "I was not quite eighteen, when I pinned him up against the wall."

His voice was steady and measured, quiet, as he breathed the words into the space between them.

"I had just killed a man. Still had his blood on the tape that bound my hands. Still covered in sweat and agony. My eye was blacked, my lip was bruised. I put my mouth against his in a way that brothers don't. And his eyes narrowed, like chips of ice."

Isaev's lips parted. His loins pulsed faintly below, embers reignited by memory.

"My brother seized my jaw. His whole being was tensed and alive. I thought he was going to strike me, shove me back. But he studied me intensely, as if drinking in my anguish. My heaving shoulders, my battered chest."

Isaev paused, exhaling.

" 'Da,' he said, in the lowest, softest voice, like ground glass. 'Da, Andrei. Everything I have is yours.' "

His eyes obscured, briefly.

"Then he welcomed me like a fucking war widow."

Andrei bit his lip, slowly and let it slide through his teeth, studying Viktor.

"You were going to kiss me," he said.

It wasn't an impugning, nor an accusation. Just an observation.


leshovik: Leshovik had been leaning on his arm, listening raptly to the story of forbidden passion, his eyes following every shift and slant of Niotkuda's expression.

He met Niotkuda's gaze and held it, but only for a moment before he smiled ruefully and carefully averted his eyes.

"I'm sorry, comrade. I forgot myself. It just...occurred to me to do so. Your mouth looks extremely kissable. I thought it might be nice."

Viktor shook his head and stroked Niotkuda's hair again, but then withdrew his hand.

Carefully, he eased himself down and lay back again so that their sides pressed warm and close together and he could stare up at the ceiling.

Idly, he scratched his stomach.

"Not quite eighteen, you say? And the first time you'd killed a man."

Viktor tilted his head to look at sidelong at Niotkuda.

"And...was it also the first time you'd fucked one?"

andrei_isaev: "Yes," said Andrei, reflectively. "Yes. But not the last."

He turned his head, regarding Leshovik for a long moment, steadily, intently.

The sniper gazed up at the ceiling of the barrack, seemingly at ease.

His profile was carved, artful. Those features, so sculpted, like an angry young roman.

No, not angry, now. More like a Caesar, at ease, as he'd noted before. Reclining, the young god in man form.

Isaev felt a sense of unspoken, elusive kinship with that.

"Kiss my mouth, Viktor," he said, slowly. "Do what you meant to do."

leshovik: Viktor smiled a little, and his hand sought Niotukda's arm again, and he stroked it idly with his thumb.

He didn't say or do anything immediately, quietly thoughtful, though he ran his tongue over his lips, moistening them.

Finally, without further hesitation, he rolled to his side.

Viktor raised a hand and stroked Niotkuda's long, impractical hair, then looked down at him, meeting his stormy gaze.

Viktor's eyes were steady and dark.

"Just a kiss," he whispered.

He leaned forward, and made it a good one.

His lips were careful and soft, and they pressed against Niotkuda's mouth in gentle caress, moving with slow affection. After a few moments, he let his tongue part Niotkuda's lips, deepening the kiss, though he was unhurried and tender, giving, without taking.

He did not let it last long, but broke it off slowly, and pulled back, pressing his lips together, smiling slightly.

"There," he said, softly. "That's what I meant to do."

andrei_isaev: Andrei exhaled as Viktor's lips left him, his mouth tingling, tainted with the soft flavor of his own cigarette, by way of the other man's tongue.

His eyes had closed at the brush of their faces, the graze of Viktor's sharp nose against his cheek, and now they opened very slowly.

But he shifted, drawing closer, eyes fixed on Viktor's. Warm mouth seeking, meeting, breaching the seal of Viktor's lips, and kissing him again.

His body moved slightly, unconsciously, caging over Leshovik barely.

leshovik: There was something strangely sweet about the way Niotkuda kissed him, unlike the hungry passion of a lover.

It was warmer, more amicable, almost fraternal. Intimate, but affectionate.

It still sent a thrill through him, and he brought his hands up to Niotkuda's hair. His fingers tangled through the long amber strands, which felt clean and silken in the wake of his recent shower.

Their bodies barely touched, just the faint brush of Niotkuda's broad chest across his own and the press of the other man's muscled thigh against his leg, but Niotkuda's mouth was balmy and vivid.

The younger man hadn't been kidding earlier when he'd said he was no ingenue. He might be young, but he kissed like a man who knew how to take his time at it, enjoy it for its own sake.

Viktor's grin widened against Niotkuda's mouth and he leaned up and deepened the kiss, letting one hand rest at the back of Niotkuda's broad neck, stroking his skin gently.
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