leshovik: (face)
[personal profile] leshovik
Christ.

Okay, so, I wasn't expecting that.

It's one thing to know he's around, and out there. I didn't have that much of a problem, watching him from a distance.

But...coming face to face? When he was fucking his lover?

Or I guess, more accurately, when his lover was fucking him.

Not that that makes it any better.

Christ on a fucking bayonet.

...I'm really not okay with this.

I feel like if I get too close, part of me will crumble, crushed by the gravity of a heavy star.

Fuck. I'm not going to let him have that kind of power over me.

...no matter what I have to do to prove it.

[livejournal.com profile] snow_death: Lynx's response was a deliberate lift of his jaw, a mannerism he had no way of knowing that Isaev had unconsciously adapted and mirrored under his command. The bryunet's acknowledgment was slight, but present, guarded but tacit.

The glance Lynx gave him was the same. They would see what came of this meeting. They would know soon how to think of one another.

But in the meantime, what it had done to Leshovik was like a spear to his heart.

Alexei sighed, and rubbed his hand across his head, raising his eyes to Leshovik as the two camo-clad soldiers picked their way toward the path with unhurried steps, the soles of their boots crunching on the rock. That was intentional. A show either of trust or of defiance. Maybe both.

Once they rounded the bend, however, all sound faded, and their progress fell silent. Now the game was different, and Lynx knew they would not espy them again, whether they wanted to or not.

Leshovik's mouth had castled back into inexorable jade, and the hard line of his lips had lost the sensual, whimsical curve that had dawned on it this morning. Every part of him had regressed into that exoskeleton that Alexei had so carefully and tenderly deconstructed with his hands and mouth and words...

Such a promising morning.

Alexei frowned, and sat down on a rock, resting his forearms on his knees.

"He called him Kasya," he said, briefly, after a moment.

[livejournal.com profile] leshovik: Leshovik waited until he couldn't hear them anymore, then waited a little longer, every sense attuned, just in case they decided to double back suddenly.

Nothing.

He shook his head after a few moments, then turned back to Lynx, frowning as he realized that the larger man had taken a seat, and looked like he intended to stay a while.

Leshovik moved forward, and leaned close, dropping his voice to a low and urgent whisper.

"Can you track them? I'll go get Aryol, and my rifle."

[livejournal.com profile] snow_death: Alexei raised an eyebrow, blackly amused.

"And just who did you want to kill, Leshava?"

[livejournal.com profile] leshovik: Leshovik looked at Lynx, incredulity washing over his features.

"Them! Kasya and Niotkuda. I'm not sure they believed you."

Damn, if Lynx hadn't sounded convincing, though. Leshovik hadn't realized that Lynx had it in him to lie like that, but then again, anyone with that much self-control could probably say anything he wanted and not betray a single false tic.

He laid a hand on Lynx's arm.

"Come on, they'll disappear if we don't hurry, and even Aryol won't be able to find them."

[livejournal.com profile] snow_death: Alexei put a hand over the sniper's, and encompassed it gently, like a storm eye.

"Andrei believed me," he said, winnowing in on Leshovik's eyes of feverish blue. "And more to the point, I believe him. He's one of mine, Longshot...and not one of them has ever betrayed me."

He shook his head, ruefully.

"I might be able to track them. More likely, I might not. I did train Isaev myself. I make specialists, Viktor. Not targets."

Lynx considered biting his tongue, but decided to revisit his previous angle, clarifying his tactic to an obscenely blunt point.

"...Leshovik. Vitya. Aryol...this morning he told me that when you fought, you had called him Kasya."

[livejournal.com profile] leshovik: Leshovik had already started to speak before Lynx was done, but the words stilled on his lips, dying before they were fully formed.

He found himself flushing, and avoiding Lynx's gaze.

"That..." Leshovik pressed his lips together. "That was nothing. A slip of the tongue."

He fell silent, feeling guilty, like he owed Lynx something more.

Leshovik stared at the faint wet marks, nearly-faded footprints that tattooed the rock shelf around the thermal pool. In a few mintues, they would evaporate entirely and be gone, as if Kasya and his lover had never been here at all.

"I'd never fought with Aryol like that before," he said, slowly. "I guess it...just brought some things back. Old memories."

[livejournal.com profile] snow_death: Alexei paused.

"It's him, isn't it," he said, delicately. "Eight years ago. The one you talked about last night."

Leshovik's hand remained motionless on his arm like a dead leaf, and Lynx patiently released his covering grasp to give him the chance to retract it if he needed to.

"And while seeing him here was a coincidence, the fact that he was on your mind was not."

An eyebrow floated upward, stilling, questioning.

"Am I right? You knew he was stationed here, before last night. You saw him while you and Aryol staked out the base. Or did you know even before then?"

[livejournal.com profile] leshovik: Leshovik's shoulders slumped as a weariness took him, as if all the fight in him had decided to desert the line before the shooting even started.

"You're not wrong," he said quietly, and slowly released his grip, standing there a moment before he sat down on the rock next to Lynx.

The rock where Lynx sat was barely large enough to accomodate his broad frame, but Leshovik sat close, though slightly angled so that their sides pressed together warmly.

That felt good.

He sat like Lynx did, upper body pitched forward, elbow propped on his thighs.

"It's him," he said, and his voice sounded strange, like he was listening to a recording. "He's the one I told you about. Kasya. God, I - "

Hate him, his mind finished.

"But...yes. I saw him before. I knew he was here. I didn't say anything earlier, because I thought..."

Leshovik paused and turned his head slightly, to meet Lynx's gaze sidelong.

"...I thought you would want to take him out yourself, if you knew there was a sniper, and I wanted to be the one who did it."

Leshovik's lip curled.

"For old times' sake," he finished.

[livejournal.com profile] snow_death: Alexei nodded, slowly.

He turned toward Leshovik and gave him a loose smile, then reached up, and made an obvious gesture of snapping his fingers and pulled a cigarette from thin air, a graceful sleight of hand that he'd perfected while on assignment long ago. Illusion was not so different from stealth, and he had found he had a talent for it.

He held it out to Leshovik, silently.

Lynx's eyes searched him over, finding the sniper's vitriol oddly lanced and his fury abruptly absent.

Only bitterness remained, now, and Alexei could certainly empathize with that.

"I don't want to take out any more than I have to," he said quietly, sighing. "The kid, in the showers. That was already too many. Wears me out. I have to wear the weight of those souls like a necklace of teeth..." he said, voice fading as he gazed out over the snow-capped rocks.

He turned back to Leshovik.

"The kid really does favor him," he remarked, obscurely.

[livejournal.com profile] leshovik: Leshovik stared, blinking at the cigarette that had appeared in Lynx's hand out of thin air, like magic.

His mouth twitched a little, grudgingly.

"Nice trick," he said, voice mildly gruff, but took the cigarette and stuck it in his mouth.

Leshovik drew in a sharp breath, and even unlit, the cigarette's flavor eased some of the tension in his shoulders, his body's ingrained response to nicotine, regardless of the dosage.

"I don't know why we turn it into something else," he said, quietly. "No one else does that, except pilots, I suppose. But we make it into something to be proud of. They just become numbers, not people."

Leshovik shook his head. "I think your way is better, but don't ever say a sniper told you that."

He found himself wanting more than just the faint narcotic strain, and held out the cigarette in Lynx's direction.

"Could I have a light?"

He frowned after a moment. "Who are you talking about? Kasya?"

[livejournal.com profile] snow_death: "Yes, your...well, I can see why Aryol would make you think of him. He could be a brother."

Alexei pulled out his lighter and flicked it open, offering the flame behind a mindfully cupped hand.

It didn't seem overly windy, but they were exposed here and now, and a single gust could extinguish the tentative flame.

Exposed on the cliffs of the heart....

The poem began and ended there in a brief flash of prosodic empathy that fleetingly touched his mind.

"...more likely, a father, though," Lynx said, thinking about the man he had just seen. "He's in top condition, but he must be at least a few years older than I am..."

"...I'm 36," he added, as an afterthought.

[livejournal.com profile] leshovik: Leshovik frowned.

"Kasya didn't have any family," he said with a shrug. "They were all dead. The war or something, I never really found out. And he never married."

His lip twisted. "Not that it matters."

Leshovik drew in a deep, satisfying breath, holding it, feeling an entirely different type of magic working through his bloodstream.

"Christ, that's good. It's like I keep forgetting. I shouldn't let you keep giving me these. I quit a long time ago."

He offered the cigarette back to Lynx. "At least share it with me, comrade."

Leshovik studied Lynx's face. He seemed at once both older and younger than his age. Those bright blue eyes of his, older, and wiser, clear enough to see straight through less weighty gazes.

The classically handsome features seemed younger than thirty-six years, though in no way less mature.

"I'm 33," he offered.

[livejournal.com profile] snow_death: Alexei took the cigarette back and put it to his lips, smiling with irony.

"Someone has to give you what you need," he said, exhaling, eyes straight ahead.

He paused, orienting his head at a thoughtful angle, and watching a small hawk dip an soar above them.

"But I can stop," he said, carefully, "if it's a habit you aren't looking to re-acquire."

Thirty-three was slightly younger than he'd have pegged Leshovik, though not by much.

He'd have put him at 37, perhaps, if expression and calcification were his only compass points.

"How is it you never came to know anything about him?" he asked, casually.

Most men knew something of their comrades, especially if they fucked in their spare hours.

Pillow talk could be pretty awkward those first few times out, until you got used to the idea that you could actually be friends with a guy after you'd rammed his ass, or vice versa.

But Leshovik had claimed more than that. He'd claimed to love this man, this other sniper.

[livejournal.com profile] leshovik: Leshovik turned to watch Lynx smoke, eyeing the bowcurve of his lips around the cigarette, the way Lynx's cheeks hollowed slightly as he drew in a lungful of smoke.

Lynx took his time about smoking, lingering like foreplay, Leshovik thought, then looked away.

"You don't have to stop," he said, gruffly.

He pushed up from his slouched position and arched his back, reaching up to rub the back of his neck, which ached vaguely.

"He just...didn't like to talk about his family. Sore spot, I guess. I didn't push. He talked about other stuff. The war. Places he'd been, things he'd done. People he shot."

Leshovik's lip twisted, and he let out a short laugh. "You know. Things like that. And we weren't together all that long. Not even a year. Six months, give or take."

[livejournal.com profile] snow_death: "It's the quality of the time, not the quantity," remarked Alexei, without looking at him.

He reached over absently and massaged the sniper's neck, lost in thought, passing the cigarette back to Leshovik.

Then he realized why Leshovik was in pain.

"I'm sorry that I hurt you," he said, at once, contrite. "But your emotions were running away with you. I had to bring you back. Pain is grounding."

Alexei smiled faintly, wistful.

"It's a tactic I would often use with my men. It doesn't take much. A very, fleeting, localized nerve pressure. Isaev could tell you that. I'd been forced to curb his rash enthusiasm a few times, in the field. But he made a good specialist in the end."

He paused, shrugging.

"My best. My true stavlennik, actually."

His brow raised gently.

" My heir."

[livejournal.com profile] leshovik: "You don't have to apologize," Leshovik said briefly, smoking, closing his eyes and leaning into the caress of Lynx's broad hand.

Lynx rubbed his neck just a little harder than he liked, which he liked all on its own. He felt himself lulled by the rhythmic touch, and sighed slowly.

"I was going to ask you about him."

Niotkuda. Or Isaev. Whatever.

"So what kind of man is he? He looked young."

He wondered what the hell Kasya thought he was doing. Niotkuda had to be half his age. Leshovik didn't think Kasya was really the type, to get off on screwing a...

Leshovik scowled, abruptly.

"So is he an asshole or what?"

He'd seemed like it, but Christ, when they'd been fucking...

Leshovik drew in a deep lungful of smoke.

...Kasya had seemed pretty into it.

[livejournal.com profile] snow_death: Alexei shrugged, and gave Leshovik a wry glance.

"You've heard of diamonds in the rough?"

He shrugged.

"Well, Specialist Niotkuda is a diamond who returned to the rough," he said. "He's the son of a well-known government official, an MVD man."

He wasn't sure what else to say about Andrei in light of the fact that Leshovik's first impression of him had been so visceral and indelible- and that his well-loved pupil Niotkuda had in fact been rutting Leshovik's old lover at the time.

At the time Lynx had privately taken it in, with a mix of nebulous arousal and aesthetic appreciation.

Isaev had looked both divine and demonic, mounting the strong and hard-wrought body of the other man.

Had it been a painting, it would have been hard to tell if it was the Archangel Michael subduing a dark and muscular devil beneath his light, or if Leshovik's Kasya was a dark and suffering priest beleaguered and fucked by a deceptively charming incubus.

Either way, Alexei thought, it made for a pretty picture, and he didn't think even Leshovik was denying that.

"Young," he said, frowning. "Yeah, I suppose he is. He was in my squad at 20. But then, that's Aryol's age."

[livejournal.com profile] leshovik: "Yeah, okay," Leshovik said.

It was easy to forget sometimes, how young Aryol was. He seemed older. Especially last night. And he'd seemed far older than seventeen, when they'd first met.

Leshovik supposed it depended on experience.

Belatedly, he handed the cigarette back to Lynx, realizing he'd been hogging it for a while.

Leshovik looked back at the path, where Kasya and Niotkuda had gone.

"So that's it, then? We just let them go? And trust that they don't blow our cover, so we can go on, business as usual, until we get another chance?"

[livejournal.com profile] snow_death: Alexei's jaw set, and he snorted softly.

"They won't blow our cover. They believe we're here in a counter-tactical presence- which makes sense."

He paused, frowning.

"Unless you think your friend Kasya is going to step around Niotkuda and blow the whistle on your sniping exploits."

He shot Leshovik a stern but tolerant look.

"You weren't exactly being subtle, Viktor," he chided.

[livejournal.com profile] leshovik: Leshovik looked back at Lynx, his gaze too weary to be truly sullen.

"He knew. He already knew. I could tell."

He shrugged.

"Maybe he will. I don't know. It's been eight years. I don't know him anymore. I wonder if I ever did."

Slowly, he pushed away from the rock and stood up again, walking over to the pool. He eyed it for a few moments, then turned away, shaking his head.

Leshovik came to a stop in front of Lynx, looking down at him with quiet eyes.

Experimentally, he reached out, and ran his fingers deliberately through Lynx's short, fine hair, against the natural grain, just to feel the texture.

It reminded him of the softest brush in his rifle's cleaning kit.

"Alexei," he murmured.

He searched the other man's eyes, though wasn't sure why, wasn't sure quite what he was looking for. Maybe some sign of what had been there last night, and earlier, this morning.

[livejournal.com profile] snow_death: Lynx raised his face to the sniper's, regarding him with solemn compassion.

"Yes," he said. "I am that man, still. Despite what they say, and what I've given up."

He let his gaze drift over Leshovik, rolling and dulcet like wax.

"I like my name," he said. "I miss hearing it. It sounds even better than I remember it, when your lips form it and give it sound."

He lowered his eyes.

"Viktor," he said, quietly. "There's another option available to us. We don't have to rely on secrecy anymore, or trust your lover and my student to keep our confidence."

He paused, glancing up again, at a blond, sharp-featured man, framed against the sky. Alexei's eyes reflected the color he beheld.

"You think that even if he doesn't report us, your sniper friend will never let you kill Thunderbolt, don't you? You're convinced he'll come after you. You know him."

It was half a question, yet Lynx felt sure he could read Leshovik's conflict beyond mere jealousy.

[livejournal.com profile] leshovik: Leshovik frowned, slowly, and his fingertips stilled in Lynx's hair.

"If it's his duty to keep Thunderbolt alive, he'll do just that, or die trying. No matter what he might be like as a lover, he's a loyal soldier. And if it comes down to him against me...him against me and Aryol..."

He raised his gaze heavenward, briefly, then closed his eyes. It was so quiet here. So peaceful. That was what he would miss the most, when they went back to civilization.

Whenever that would be.

"I honestly don't know if we can take him. He's good. He's the best I've ever seen, though he always used to say that he'd known plenty of people who were better than him. I preferred to think he was just being humble."

He looked back at Lynx - back at Alexei - and searched his gaze again. There was something there, behind the lambent eyes that were such the opposite of Kasya's - clear and pure, bright as the sky overhead, unlike the pitch-dark pools of lightless shadow that were the windows to Kasya's soul.

Lynx knew something, some important, and his eyes almost glimmered, like a child that had been entrusted with a secret.

"I think I want to kill him because I want it to be over," he whispered, his confession traveling no further on the wind than the small plateau which had already borne witness to its share of intimacies.

"I don't want him to come back, like he did that last night, and carve out another piece of me to keep for himself, but leave the rest behind."

Leshovik looked away abrubtly, avoiding Lynx's gaze as he shook his head, jaw going tight.

"But never mind that. What's this other option of yours?"

[livejournal.com profile] snow_death: Alexei hurt for him, suddenly and intensely. Blue eyes, upward-gazing, ached openly, artlessly.

"He was wrong to do it, Viktor."

He reached out, taking hold of Leshovik, easing his hands gently over the sniper's hips.

"You were through, and he broke the bond. You were ready to spend your last night in Hungary alone. He should have stayed away. He shouldn't have reopened the wounds he gave you, just for his own gratification."

He pulled the sniper close, embracing his lower body, rubbing his lower back with strong, powerful strokes.

"He shouldn't have come to you, shouldn't have stolen a last memory for his own comfort, and left you to die of exposure. That was selfish entitlement."

[livejournal.com profile] leshovik: A tightness rose in Leshovik's throat, and he gave a single sharp nod, not trusting himself to try to speak right then, for fear something other than words would slip out.

Instead, he brought his arms around Lynx, and cradled the larger man's shoulders and head against him, hands gentle and tentative, almost as if Lynx were the one being comforted.

He drew in a deep breath, and let it go.

Carefully, Leshovik began to stroke Lynx's hair, running his hand over the soft bristles, again, and again. The repetitive motion was like cleaning a gun, soothing him with its simple familiarity.

The cramp in his chest eased, and after a while, he leaned down to nuzzle a kiss to the top of Lynx's head.

"You're a good man, Alexei," he whispered. "Don't ever let me tell you otherwise."

Leshovik laughed once, at his own joke, and it managed to not come out too bitter.

He glanced at the pool again.

"I'm sorry, comrade. Is there somewhere else we can go? Somehow..."

He broke off, shaking his head.

"Maybe we can walk a bit, and you can tell me what you're thinking."

[livejournal.com profile] snow_death: "Anything you want," said Alexei, rising slowly to his feet. "I'm not married to the place. Was looking forward to relaxing though."

He paused, sighing, releasing Leshovik and turning away.

"It's not something I should talk about, Viktor. It has to do with my past. But it may be the only sure recourse we have after today, to salvage the mission."

Lynx paused.

"We may have to go down to Groznyj Grad, without our status incognito, under the pretense of being the Black Ops Countersniper squad we claimed to be."

Before Leshovik could reply, he turned around, fixing him in a steady gaze.

"It would get us close, where you could keep a bead on the target, and I could keep an eye on him. But it would mean seeing him, Kasya, and probably his lover as well. You'd be in his company again."

[livejournal.com profile] leshovik: Leshovik's jaw tightened.

"I can handle Kasya," he said, almost recklessly.

In truth, he wanted to stay as far away as possible, but his personal concerns weren't part of the mission. He forced himself to think about Lynx's proposal, and weigh it objectively.

"That's...interesting," Leshovik said finally. "Hiding in plain sight."

He looked around, seeing the valley below for the first time not in terms of line of fire or distance, but just as craggy wilderness, as desolate as it was.

"I'll miss being out here. But I think it's a good idea. If you can spin it right, they'd welcome us with open arms."

Leshovik frowned slowly.

"You know...it's one thing to strike out of nowhere, like a bolt from the blue, but it's another to..."

He trailed off, and searched Lynx's gaze.

"Are you sure you're going to be all right with this?"

[livejournal.com profile] snow_death: Alexei laughed, slightly surprised.

"Are you worried about my conscience, Leshovik?"

His eyes searched the range.

"I've killed a lot of men."

[livejournal.com profile] leshovik: "...just asking," Leshovik said, after a moment.

His gaze slanted to the side, where it lingered for a few moments, before he finally shrugged.

"All right, let's say we do this. Who takes him out? How do we arrange it?"

[livejournal.com profile] snow_death: Lynx's jaw shook, out of Leshovik's line of sight, and his fist clenched slowly.

He forced his voice to remain calm, measured.

"...we'd have to let things die down, first. Let them think the snipers had left the area."

He crossed his arms, eyes narrowing at nothing, at thin air.

"Then...you and I will discuss it."

[livejournal.com profile] leshovik: Leshovik paused, watching Lynx for a few moments, but then he finally nodded.

"After...what happened...it sounds like the best plan. Otherwise, they might look into it harder and ask too many questions that we don't want getting back to the wrong ears."

Not to mention whatever Kasya might take it upon himself to do, that bastard.

"Okay, agreed. Let's do this."

[livejournal.com profile] snow_death: "I'm going down there. Tonight," said Alexei.

He turned around.

"I'll take care of it."

His mood had shifted, gone dark, at the thought of Yevgeny.

"If we get the benediction of the powers that be at Groznyj Grad, then our little chance encounter today will be no problem. Kasya and Isaev will have nothing else to believe but what we told them."

He paused.

"And even if Kasya suspects otherwise, he'll be going against the grain."

[livejournal.com profile] leshovik: "All right," Leshovik said, evenly.

He held Lynx's gaze. Leshovik felt a distance between them now but wasn't sure how it had happened. Something about having to work out these details, eschewing the promise of idle companionship, had focused something in Lynx, and returned his persona to that of a commander.

Or maybe it had happened earlier, with Kasya and Niotkuda.

Leshovik wasn't certain, but he felt his jaw harden.

"Sounds like you've thought it all out."

[livejournal.com profile] snow_death: "I can't afford not to," he said, softly. "I have too much to lose."

Alexei raised his eyes hesitantly.

"And it's growing every day."

[livejournal.com profile] leshovik: After a moment, Leshovik gave a small nod, mouth curving up briefly.

"I know what you mean, comrade," he said, quietly. "I know what you mean."

He let out a breath, a short sigh.

Too many things had happened, and all on the heels of each other, for Leshovik to be certain of anything, anymore, and it seemed like half the time that was a good thing, and half the time, it wasn't.

He looked up and met Lynx's gaze, studying the strong lines of his face.

"Just...tell me what you need."

Leshovik paused.

"It'll be yours," he finished.

[livejournal.com profile] snow_death: Alexei smiled, feeling himself relent to the sun and the odd sweetness of the words.

"So solemn," he said.

He stretched, sighing.

"Come on. All I need right now is a comrade. Perhaps Viktor would like to keep company with Alexei for a while. Have some...tea," he said, smiling, "not Turkish coffee."

He shrugged.

"Maybe you'll let me cook you some breakfast."

[livejournal.com profile] leshovik: A smile pulled at his lips again.

"All right. That'll be nice," Leshovik said, voice quiet, but open.

He reached out, and brushed the back of his hand along Lynx's arm.

Leshovik had realized earlier, and with a start, when he'd seen Kasya use the same gesture with his lover, that the identical expression was one that Leshovik and Aryol used.

It must have started those many years ago as a sign of affection between him and Kasya.

It was too deeply ingrained now to change it simply because of its origin, but it had been a bit odd to see, nonetheless.

"Come on," he said gently.

They all could use some idle comradeship, Leshovik thought.

"Let's go."
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