leshovik: (face)
[personal profile] leshovik
Christ on a flagpole.

People say that sometimes it takes almost losing everything to give you some perspective.

I didn't lose everything, but there were times it sure as hell felt like it.

Perspective?

Yeah. Now I have that in spades.

[livejournal.com profile] leshovik: Leshovik eased himself onto the rooftop and found a place to sit tucked in a quiet corner against the entrance to the stairwell. His shoulders quivered, but he braced them against the wall, and managed to reach into his pocket to pull out one of Lynx's cigarettes, sticking it between his lips.

The matches were harder. He dropped the first, let it fall from numb, trembling fingers, the flame flickering, then choking out as it hit the concrete rooftop.

The second, he couldn't light at all, struck it again and again until he snapped it in two.

Leshovik's breath hitched, and he pressed shaking hands against his face.

He was all right, he told himself. Nothing was wrong. He just needed to smoke a cigarette, and he would be better.

The third attempt was the charm, like they said - the match flared to life, fierce and red-orange, and he light his cigarette and dragged in the sick, bitter comfort of nicotine.

His hands were still shaking.

Leshovik thought about Aryol, Aryol who had laughed when he fucked him, Aryol who had plowed him well and ruthlessly, just as Leshovik had done to him first, countless times. It was a payback of a sort, payback he deserved, but even so, the incursion of Aryol's high, hard prick inside him echoed, the remorseless thrusts vivid even now, and every time he shifted, he felt it.

But it was no more and no less than what he deserved. He knew that, intellectually, and knew it should have been a price he was willing to pay after what he'd done to Aryol.

You beat his spirit down, Lynx had told him.

You're damaged, Vikha. And you're going to pass on that inheritance by cock and word and fist.

He wondered if he already had.

Leshovik took in another drag from his cigarette, and held the smoke in his lungs until it burned.

Codec hissed in his ear.

He drew in a sharp breath, and the cigarette fell from his lips.

Leshovik knew, without having to check, that there was only one person who would be calling him. Lemsky woudn't, and Aryol had no reason to right now, but he checked the frequency anyway, just in case.

Lynx.

He hesitated before answering, fumbling for his cigarette, sticking it back in his mouth before he spoke.

"Longshot here," he said, as casually as possible, but even he could hear the edge of strain.

[livejournal.com profile] snow_death: Alexei paused.

Viktor's voice was brittle and overly smooth, bespeaking a lie. Lynx knew that kind of shiny, flat smoothness- the absence of defect, steel-willed into sound. It was different than genuine nonchalance.

Forced insouciance.

After a moment of weighted silence, Lynx parted his lips, spinning out his words with gradual care.

"You know something? You can run your finger along the side of a straight razor, Leshovik, and it feels sleek and mild enough. But let your finger delve over the edge, and you'll find the cut of the blade. You sound a little too sleek and mild."

He exhaled, slowly, sighing. Blowing smoke out the open window of his quarters.

"...if I run my hand up the underside of you, am I going to slice my palm?"

[livejournal.com profile] leshovik: Leshovik closed his eyes.

The inquiry felt so careful, so guarded, couched in metaphor and non-confrontational, and the simplicity of it made him ache.

He shivered, taking a drag from his cigarette, wrapping his other arm around his stomach.

"No," he said quietly, tonelessly.

The things about Lynx that had made his chest cramp came back to him, but they felt muted and dulled somehow, as if faded by the sun.

He let out a long, pale stream of smoke out of his mouth, and watched it rise in the air.

"I don't think I have an edge left, Alexei."

He paused.

"What about you?"

[livejournal.com profile] snow_death: "Things are stable," Lynx said. "Very stable."

He didn't ask what was wrong, or what Viktor meant by his cryptic comment.

Alexei frowned, pushing the window farther open, perching himself on the wide, broad sill, one boot up.

Peering out across the yard, idly, as if he could pinpoint Leshovik's whereabouts by the glint of his rifle, the way he had before.

Drawing in, holding. Expressing smoke into the atmosphere like a whisper.

"Where are you?"

[livejournal.com profile] leshovik: Leshovik blinked, looking around, having to think about where he was for a moment. He'd come up here with only the driving need to get away, to tuck himself somewhere high, a safe sniper-spot, and hadn't thought about where he was going.

"I'm on the roof," he said, finally. "The roof of the main wing."

He paused, drawing in another deep breath, letting the smoke sear his lungs.

"Having a smoke," he added as he exhaled, and considered Lynx's voice, which sounded so close the man could have been speaking into his ear.

He closed his eyes again.

"Where are you? Niotkuda didn't know where your quarters were."

[livejournal.com profile] snow_death: Alexei angled his gaze toward the main wing, after gaining his directional bearings for a moment.

"I don't think anyone knows, Longshot."

He paused.

"It was an executive assignment from...the Colonel. I'm in the Northwest corner of the West Wing."

Lynx took a drag, raising his arm in a vague salute.

"You might be able to see me through your scope."

He couldn't pick out anything of Leshovik from his vantage point, but the Main Building was higher.

A good nest. Made sense, now he thought about it.

"So I know where you are now," Alexei said, quietly. "The question is, where do you want to be?"

[livejournal.com profile] leshovik: Viktor's breath caught sharply, and his lungs burned raw.

"I don't know," he whispered.

That admission cracked wide something inside him, and he felt his heart flood with sudden emotion.

"God, Alexei, I just want - "

You.

He paused, fighting it, biting it back.

Feeling himself losing that battle.

Leshovik gritted his teeth. "Can you come here?"

He closed his eyes.

"I just - "

Viktor broke off, before he said more. Before he said too much.

[livejournal.com profile] snow_death: Lynx threw down his cigarette, unhesitating.

"Davai," he said. "I can come to you."

He glanced around his overly well-appointed quarters. More than mere officers' luxury, this set of rooms.

The industrial strength electrical insulation was not overt, but not subtle, either.

Lynx was already on his way, closing the door behind him and walking down the hall toward the staircase.

"They bunk you with Eyes Adrift?" he asked, absently. "If not, I can talk to someone, get that arranged."

Leshovik had said Aryol didn't like to sleep alone. Or that he wasn't used to it.

That was the turn of phrase he'd used.

Maybe the strain in Viktor's tone was because the Grad seemed to be inhospitable to their close companionship.

[livejournal.com profile] leshovik: Leshovik frowned, brows drawing sharply together.

His shoulders twitched.

"We have rooms next to each other in this building. It's fine."

He was glad, then, that they'd been given two rooms, though he didn't know what that meant. He couldn't imagine sleeping without Aryol, but on the other hand...

It was like there were two Aryols in his mind, his sunny little spotter, the kid who looked at him with soft dark eyes and flashed shy, tentative smiles, and the other one, the man who pushed Leshovik up against the wall and laughed while he fucked him.

And then there was Lynx himself, who'd proven to be more dangerously unpredictable than Leshovik had thought, like the soft-spoken comrade who had given him cigarettes and made love to him was different than the one who had tortured Lemsky before he'd even asked a single question.

Yet he wanted to see Lynx anyway, and not just because he was preferable to Aryol at the moment.

"Hurry. I'll keep your cigarette warm," he muttered.

[livejournal.com profile] snow_death: "See you in a trice," murmured Lynx, clicking off.

When he got to the main building it took him a moment to figure out where the ladder was concealed, around the side of the west wall, behind a transformer.

Lynx had a clearance badge one his belt, although no one had questioned his presence since Ocelot had briefed the troops on the black ops occupation.

A pair of regular GRU soldiers saluted him earlier as he passed them. No one questioned him walking around the building, looking up, studying the architecture.

Glancing up and shielding his eyes, he clasped the metal rungs and climbed up the long, straight ladder that led to the first level of the roof.

His boots made a dull, even clanking sound as he runged upward.

When he reached the top he pulled himself up, and stepped onto the flat expanse of tar.

[livejournal.com profile] leshovik: Leshovik had smoked the cigarette down to a stub when he heard the footsteps on the ladder. Something about their character - deliberate, balanced - told him it was Lynx, even though he knew the man could have been silent if he had wanted.

Lynx was like that, though, considerate in ways that would never occur to Viktor to be.

He took in one last drag and pressed the cigarette to the ground, snuffing it out, then he ran his hands over his face and through his hair, which felt clean and still slightly damp and reminded him of the shower.

Leshovik scowled, standing up, wincing at the pull of strained muscle and the deep, lingering ache in his ass, and that reminded him, too.

He looked down at his hands, but they weren't shaking anymore.

That was good. The cigarette had done its work.

He stepped out from behind the concealment of the stairwell exit and into plain sight, figuring he could be considerate too.

Lynx stood near the ladder, bright, clear eyes immediately fixing upon him.

"Hi," he said, glancing in Lynx's direction, his regard brief, and fleeting.

Leshovik licked his lips.

"Thanks for coming," he said, quietly, hesitating, the weight of what he wanted to say somehow making it hard to speak.

He knew the strain of it must have shown on his face, tightening his jaw and sharpening his features, setting his shoulders tight.

"Alexei," he added, even more quietly, his gaze dropping.

[livejournal.com profile] snow_death: "It's nothing," said Lynx, at once, taking him in at a glance. "If Muhammed won't come to the mountain..."

He shrugged, and his eyes smiled, though his lips remained soulfully neutral.

Leshovik looked wrung out, and all too aware of it. He moved with a slight stiffness that was contrary to his usual nonchalant saunter.

He wondered if Leshovik was feeling all right.

Suddenly a terrible thought occurred to him.

Lemsky.

But he would have no reason to...

"What's wrong?" Alexei asked, brow furrowing, guarding his thoughts. "Are you getting sick?"

[livejournal.com profile] leshovik: Leshovik frowned, and laid his palm against his forehead reflexively, but it felt normal.

"No, I'm..."

He hesitated.

"Not sick," he finished.

Leshovik looked down then, jaw tightening. He'd had so much he wanted to say to Lynx, but now that the man stood in front of him, he didn't know if he could.

Things like that never happened to him. Leshovik said anything and everything he pleased, regardless of who it hurt, but now, he found himself holding back, and sparing Lynx his barbed tongue.

He brushed a slow hand over his hair.

"Do you want to sit down?" he asked, gesturing back the way he'd come.

"There's a place back there, around the corner. Hidden and quiet. Nothing to look at but walls."

[livejournal.com profile] snow_death: "All right," replied Alexei. "Anywhere is a good place."

He gestured for the sniper to lead, with faint, everyday gallantry.

He kept a reasonable distance from Leshovik, allowing him space. Lynx was well aware of how Viktor had looked that morning, when he showed up and braced Lemsky.

It had been the best way to get what he wanted, at the moment, and to keep what he'd regained- but in retrospect, it may not have been the best way to get what he wanted for the long haul.

They reached their secluded destination in less than a second, rounding the stairwell shed, and behin it was a little cove between the shed and the edge, flanked by large elevated vents.

Lynx glanced around.

"Almost an aerie," he remarked. "Probably not visible from many places, either."

Taking off his gloves, he reached into his breast pocket for a cigarette, and slipped it between his lips.

"I've got a feeling," he said, slightly wry, as he lit it, "that you've got some things on your mind."

He turned toward Leshovik once more, settling his back against the wall and letting himself slide down until he was sitting, knees up and wrists resting on them.

"Shoot," he said, mildly, taking a drag. "You've got my time, Viktor, and my attention. I can give you all night."

[livejournal.com profile] leshovik: Leshovik eased himself down and sat with his back against the wall, closer than he'd intended, though it had somehow ended up that way.

If he wanted, he could reach out and lay a hand on Lynx's knee or shoulder with a fully-extended arm, but he kept his hands to himself, arms folded over his chest, leaning forward slightly.

He glanced to the side and caught Lynx's calm, steady gaze, seeing once more the man who knew everything, a half-smiling buddha, albeit one in really good shape.

Leshovik looked away and closed his eyes, because it was easier.

"I guess I do," he said, and his voice had already roughened. "Have things on my mind. Some of them - "

He paused, frowning, but then finally shook his head.

"Look. I had some things I wanted to say, but..."

Leshovik's gaze was as quick and darting as a small bird, alighting on Lynx, then flicking away.

"I'll make this easy on you. I just need to know one thing."

He paused, his eyes fixing straight ahead.

"I just need to hear one thing from you."

[livejournal.com profile] snow_death: Alexei's brow furrowed, and he pinched the cigarette from his lips, holding it out.

"All right."

He urged Leshovik to take a drag with a slight lift of his chin.

The way the sniper phrased it was interesting. Almost like, whatever the question was, he wasn't asking for the truth. Just what he needed to hear.

That made Lynx feel slightly saddened somehow, for both of them.

"I can give you what you need."

He looked up.

"Ask me."

[livejournal.com profile] leshovik: After a moment, Leshovik reached out, and took the cigarette from Lynx's hand, careful not to brush fingertips.

He brought the cigarette to his lips and took in a long drag, closing his eyes, savoring it.

It seemed sweeter, because it was Lynx's, because it had come from Lynx's lips. He savored that too, the hint of the man's flavor, remembering his taste and texture.

"That's good," he breathed, and it was, somehow far more relaxing than the one he'd just smoked.

He was silent for a while, smoking and savoring, leaning back against the wall, letting the sun warm his face.

"I just need to know," he said, finally, the timbre of his voice mellowed now, gentler and softer, "that...what I saw back there, what happened in the cave, with Lemsky, that there was a reason for that. That it was personal to you, or that the situation is more complex than just a simple assassination."

He paused, considering.

"Otherwise, it doesn't make sense."

It did make sense, actually, but only if Alexei were prone to bouts of irrational anger. Only if he could lose control.

The thought of a man like Lynx losing control was horrific to Leshovik, like stories of fierce guard dogs going mad and turning on their owners, tearing them apart, all that poise and power and majesty reduced to spitting and snarling.

Leshovik took in another drag, but let it go before enjoying its full measure.

"Tell me there are things you can't tell me. Tell me there are things that are need to know, and I don't need to know. Tell me there's a reason, but that you can't explain it."

His lips curved slightly, bittersweet, and finally he cracked an eye open, to look at Lynx sidelong.

"Tell me that you've been lying to me, comrade. Just don't do it any more."

[livejournal.com profile] snow_death: Alexei laughed softly, to diffuse the low ache the words evoked. Laughed softly and shook his head.

Sighing.

"I could tell you any of those things, and make you believe it, Viktor. And we'd be happy enough, wouldn't we? You and I could make do."

He paused.

"What if I were to tell you that Lemsky disobeyed a direct order, and that I took the opportunity to make an example. That I came down like the hounds of hell to teach him a hard lesson, in front of you and Aryol- namely, that there are no entrepaneurs in this outfit."

It wasn't what he meant to say in the final analysis, but he was still reticent to say the things his gut was telling him to say.

He looked away for a moment.

[livejournal.com profile] leshovik: Leshovik felt something twist in his gut, though he didn't know why.

Not that he gave a damn about Lemsky. He'd make an example of that creepy little prick himself, if it came down to it.

He took a final, deep drag of the cigarette and offered it back to Lynx, aware that he'd been monopolizing it for a while.

"Then I guess it would be up to me to decide what I was going to do with that information. If I was going to trust you that it was warranted, and if the day ever came that you took the opportunity to teach Aryol or me a hard lesson, that it would be warranted, too."

Leshovik raised a hand and rubbed his hand across the back of his scalp slowly.

He looked back at Lynx, gaze hooded and low.

"Life's full of hard lessons," Leshovik said, quietly.
[livejournal.com profile] snow_death: Lynx met his gaze nakedly, nodding, slow.

Taking back the truncated cigarette and letting it smolder in his hand, as he let words gather at the threshold of his lips, and preparing to push them beyond it.

"But that's not what happened, Viktor."

He offered the cigarette back without partaking in it, aware that it was just wasting away in his hand.

"And...I would never touch you in anger."

Alexei lowered his eyes, following a crack in the tar.

"No matter what," he added, with soft vehemence.

He didn't raise his gaze right away.

"The truth is that Yevgeny Volgin was my commander, once, and I still honor that. I was his man, and I didn't want that death for him."

Lynx looked up, before Leshovik could speak, holding his hand up slightly.

"Vitya," he said, leaning forward abruptly, "you remember how you wanted to kill Kasya that day. You wanted me to help you. Your former lover. The man you once loved as a soulmate. You wanted me to help you, so that you could shoot him."

He shook his head, capturing the sniper's wary, cautiously hopeful gaze with his own.

"...you would have seen him dead, but Viktor- would you have wanted to see him die at the hands of someone like Lemsky? Would you have wanted to see him stricken and in anguish, wracked with pain and dying a slow, agonizing death by a systemic neurotoxin?"

Alexei's lip set, like stone.

"I have honor for the past, Leshovik. There's a reason you were tapped for the job. He has to die, according to our orders....but you were the trigger-man, not that little prick."

His torment was in his eyes, and he knew it, but he let it be shown. Better that than lose the trust of his comrade. If it was the price, that was an easy sacrifice.

"...it needs to be a clean kill, Viktor. He needs to die well, for me to ever sleep at night."

[livejournal.com profile] leshovik: Leshovik held Lynx's gaze, seeing the sincerity there. The honest, quiet suffering that Lynx kept to himself, and never let anyone see.

Though Leshovik saw it. The flood of emotion held back in those clear blue eyes was remarkable and startling.

Alexei's sea ran deep.

"They shouldn't have asked you to do this," he said, quietly.

Never mind fairness or what was right - the people they worked for surely didn't - but he would think that anyone could see that sending a man to kill his former commander could lead to a conflict of interest. Particularly if that man was as loyal as Lynx.

He wondered how far that loyalty went, but perhaps that was something that had yet to be tested.

Carefully, Leshovik moved, shifting to the side, settling closer once, then closer again, easing to rest with his shoulder just brushing against Lynx's arm, his leg resting lightly against Lynx's knee.

He sat back against the wall.

It felt briefly and quietly companionable, the way it had been before. The way he wanted it to be again.

Just the two of them, like their journey out to the spring.

"Is there ever a good death?" he asked, quietly, thinking about the idea of Kasya being dead, by his own hand.

"I'm starting to wonder."

[livejournal.com profile] snow_death: A wry smile touched Alexei's mouth, and he turned, admiration gentling his gaze.

"No," he said, "there's no good death, comrade...but there are better and worse ways to die, aren't there. How would you want your lover to die, if you had to choose?"

Lynx cast his gaze over the sniper.

"As for sending me...to take a squad here, and kill Colonel Volgin...it makes perfect sense, actually," he said, quietly. "Who better to send to kill a man, than the man was almost killed by that man."

[livejournal.com profile] leshovik: "What?"

Leshovik frowned, instantly and intensely, and searched Lynx's gaze.

"Fucking Christ, you're not kidding, are you? No, of course you're not. What the fuck happened, Alexei?"

There was a reputation, he remembered. The target was reportedly a ruthless son of a bitch, but then again, a lot of people were. But the idea of Lynx not only knowing the target, but almost being killed by him too, fired Leshovik's blood.

His face tightened, jaw hard, eyes narrowed fiercely.

"He tried to kill you?"

[livejournal.com profile] snow_death: Lynx shook his head slightly, speaking firmly, though his lips barely stirred.

"He didn't mean to," he averred. "It was...an accident. He has unusual proclivities, abilities."

He pulled another cigarette out of his breast pocket, and fingered it for a moment without lighting it, like a majorette.

"Things they don't mention in the dossier. But you've probably heard what they call him in the West?"

[livejournal.com profile] leshovik: Leshovik nodded, still frowning.

"'Thunderbolt,'" he said.

He recalled that tidbit easily, because it was so distinctive.

His eyes followed the dance of the cigarette in Lynx's hands, and he suddenly recalled that Lynx could do magic tricks, sleight of hand, though Leshovik had only seen him pull it off once.

"So...what happened?" he asked, more uncertain now.

To Viktor, it almost sounded like Lynx was defending the man who had nearly killed him.

[livejournal.com profile] snow_death: "His body carries a charge of ten million volts, as a result of Sakharov's experimentation, which his influential father signed him up for as a young man. It's an immense voltage. Deadly as a tesla coil. He can channel it, use it as a weapon. I've seen him...fire bullets, comrade, held between his fingers- inciting the powder in the caps through the conduits."

Alexei snapped his fingers and made the cigarette vanish, smiling faintly, eyes averted.

"Some parlor trick."

He cleared his throat and rubbed his head, gently.

"But he was able to control it, for the most part, with the help of conditioning. Still, it wasn't infallible. There were no real safeguards."

Lynx looked down.

"That's changed now. There's a modular suit, insulated, something like a lightning rod. Keeps him from hurting himself when he hurts others...or, I suppose, from hurting those he doesn't intend harm to."

He paused.

"But three years ago, when I served under his command...no. There was nothing between him and the world but his own iron will."

Alexei leaned forward flicked his lighter, as the cigarette reappeared in his other hand, in a small, swift arc of white.

He lit it, and took a long drag, lapsing long enough to exhale.

"For the most part, it was enough. But one night he lost control of the current under unusual circumstances. I happened to be in the right place at the wrong time...to be grounded."

Lynx inhaled again, shifting, slatting his eyes at Leshovik plainly, without artifice.

"He thought I was dead. Couldn't revive me. Never thought to give me another jolt. He panicked. Had someone take care of it, so that he wouldn't be court martialed for the wrongful death of an inferior. He was young, scared. Thing is, I was alive. Unresponsive, but not dead."

He shrugged.

"They realized it in pretty short order, and I was sent to a hospital. I recovered my faculties somewhat quickly. My memory took a longer time. And that's really all there is to that."

[livejournal.com profile] leshovik: Leshovik nodded and sat back, the tension in his body uncoiling.

"All right," he said, shaking his head. Better to shoot the bastard at distance, then, than to try to get him up close. Nice of their superiors to omit that little detail too, he thought. Ten million fucking volts.

It sounded wholly fantastic, but the way Lynx told it, so matter-of-fact, was enough for Leshovik to believe it.

"Glad you made it, in spite of that," he muttered.

Leshovik didn't like hearing about his targets, didn't like learning more about them than the bare basics he needed to do his job.

Because then they started becoming people, and he didn't need to be thinking about that.

He looked over at Lynx again.

"You don't seem pissed off about about what happened. In spite of the fact he almost killed you."

Leshovik would be, he knew. He was good at grudges.


[livejournal.com profile] snow_death: Alexei's brows softened, incredulous.

"It was a mistake, comrade. He never meant to hurt me. How can I be angry?"

He paused.

"Would you be angry at me, as a commander- as a friend- if I had hurt you, been too rough when we-"

He broke off, laughing bloodlessly.

"No," he said, "that would never have happened. But you have to take every man at his merits and his character. And the burden he's forced to bear."

Lynx was quiet for a moment.

"Yevgen's was heavy. Ponderous. Especially when he was young. He didn't ask for these things; he had them thrust upon him, and he learned to balance them through trial and error. It's written on his face, in scars. His own veins have channeled that current, and seared their mark into his flesh."

He continued smoking, slowly, thoughtfully.

"Would you have a man like that die by Lemsky's untried, pallid hand?"

[livejournal.com profile] leshovik: Leshovik shifted, frowning, uncomfortable.

Uncomfortable with the idea that Lynx could hurt him during sex, uncomfortable with the portrait that Lynx painted of the target, whom he spoke of which such familiarity, Alexei even used his first name.

That broke the rules, in Viktor's book, the ones you put in place for your own mental well-being. Targets were not people with lives and emotions and burdens; they simply couldn't be, not to him, at least. They were just bodies that hadn't died yet, future marks for the stock of his rifle.

He studied the play of emotions over Lynx's face.

"You don't hate him," he said, quietly. "It sounds like you almost admire him. Sympathize. Understand. Let me ask you this, then. How would you have a man like that die at all?"

Leshovik's lips pressed thin and pale, but he continued on, with difficultly.

"How can you see them as people and then kill them? How does that not get to you? You can't be doing that with all of them. Every single one?"

Still pressed lightly against Lynx's side, he drew in a sharp breath, but let it out quickly, like the air itself burned.

[livejournal.com profile] snow_death: "They are people, Viktor. So you give them as good of a death as you can. Respect them, give them no pain and leave a pretty corpse. And never treat them as numbers or bragging rights."

He sucked on his cigarette pensively, constricting his brow.

"Always be reverent of what they gave up; unwittingly or not, they sacrificed. They paid the ultimate price for what you took in the pursuit of a mission."

Lynx looked away.

"As for Volgin...no, I don't hate him. And I don't want to see him dead. That's just it, isn't it. I'm counting on you to kill him. I couldn't do it, Leshovik, if it were left to me."
[livejournal.com profile] leshovik: "Fucking Christ."

Leshovik turned his head, slanting his gaze, his shoulders tightening, curling inward.

He was silent for a while, because he had to be, merely breathing, each breath drawn with difficulty, a not-quite hitch.

"I've been thinking about my father lately," he said, finally, his voice roughened, edged with emotion but tempered with quiet, careful intent.

"I know we're not supposed to talk about it, but...what the hell. He was a fighter pilot in the war. Early on, when the Germans first attacked, they wiped out most of the Russian air force when it was still sitting on tarmacs and in hangars. He didn't have a plane to fly until our allies sent us some. Older models, you know. Discontinued, or deemed unfit for the war, but good enough for lend-lease to Russia."

As he spoke, his voice steadied and eased, and the curl in his shoulders relaxed.

"He got an American plane, actually, a Kobra. And as it turned out, he loved it more than the Mosca he'd lost. He became an ace, several times over."

Leshovik's lips pulled back into a small and distant smile.

"In his letters, he would send me pictures of himself, his plane. He painted his kills on the nose. He had rows and rows of them, like the marks on my rifle. And he would write to me about how many new ones he'd gotten, how many he'd shot down. They were numbers to him, just planes, not people. I thought it was the greatest thing in the world."

He laughed quietly, near-silently, shoulders shaking.

"You know, this has never happened to me before," he said, his voice tipped with the faintest strain of incredulity. "It's like wanting to fuck but not being able to get it up."

Leshovik rubbed his face, and when he turned to Lynx again his eyes were as dark as a gathering stormfront, shadowed and clouded.

"I can't see it the way you see it. You're a better man than I am, Alexei, and I admir - "

He broke off, and had to look down, jaw tightening, swallowing.

"Fuck," he bit out. "Okay, fuck the pretty speeches, comrade. I'm just going to say it. You're going to have to ask Aryol to do this for you. I can't."

[livejournal.com profile] snow_death: Alexei paused, the hand that held the cigarette suspended in stasis like a frozen hummingbird.

"What are you saying, comrade?"

His eyes flickered.

"That you won't take the shot?"

He amended.

"That you can't?"

Tacit relief began to tingle in Alexei's chest, but he suppressed the trembling newborn legs of hope.

[livejournal.com profile] leshovik: Leshovik closed his eyes.

"I can't. I'm done. I'm out. I can't be a decent human being and do this anymore. I don't think I ever was."

His shoulders quivered.

"God. Alexei..."

He shook his head, almost violently, and lurched up, struggling to stand, though he'd stiffened in the time when they were sitting, and aching muscles pulled raw.

Leshovik gritted his teeth.

He turned away, wiping at his face furiously, but he couldn't walk away, pausing instead, hesitating on unsteady legs.

[livejournal.com profile] snow_death: Casting aside his cigarette, Lynx rose too, swiftly and reflexively, bracing Leshovik's arms with large, steady hands.

"Viktor," he murmured, with a pointed note of concern. "What's wrong with you? What happened between then and now to make your perspective change so much?"

He should have been relieved, overjoyed, that Viktor was unable to fulfill his duty and kill Volgin- and though the tacit gratitude was there in his mind, overarching was the worry that somehow, he had broken Viktor in the process.

"My god, it wasn't me, was it? Lemsky- did I..."

Lynx's look turned pained, and his eyes dropped. His hands tightened gently, easing over the sniper's taut, knotted shoulders.

"Viktor," he said softly. "Was it this Kasya? Did you see him? I'll hurt him, Viktor, if he did anything-"

[livejournal.com profile] leshovik: Leshovik shuddered, but said nothing, instead leaning against Lynx, pressing himself mutely against his broad chest.

Lynx was an immovable object, not even buffeted by the impact, though his grip tightened.

Viktor kept his arms at his sides, hands clenched into light fists, but he leaned his head against Alexei's shoulder.

"It's not you," he said, and his voice was muffled against Lynx's jacket.

Leshovik turned his face slightly, and let out a ragged breath.

"And it's not Kasya. He didn't do anything," he said, voice soft, a raw whisper. "I realized I can't kill him. Not anymore. I just have to let it go."

Even now, he could feel something inside him start to crumble, like a vintage weapon eroded by the passage of time. He wanted to cling to those things, the relics of the past, even at the same time he eschewed them for sleeker, sharper models.

"It's just...I feel like I don't know who I am anymore. What I'm doing. Christ. I've never been so lost. What the fuck happened to me, Alexei?"

He found himself getting angry then, and the sharpness of it felt good. Cleansing somehow, purer and more comforting than despair.

Leshovik laughed, suddenly and sharply.

"Oh fucking Christ. I've lost it."

His shoulders shook, and he didn't know what he was laughing at. Probably himself.

[livejournal.com profile] snow_death: "You haven't lost anything," admonished Lynx, tolerantly. "You've gained something, Longshot."

He sighed, stroking Viktor's back with hard, cathartic strokes.

"You know who you are. You forgot, just like I did, and it's all coming back to you."

He paused, turning his mouth into the sniper's hair, speaking close to his ear.

"You cared once, didn't you."

His hand continued its vigorous caress, as if extruding the truth with merciless massage.

"Who was Viktor?" Alexei said lightly. "Tell me about Vitya. Viktor before the Black Ops came."

[livejournal.com profile] leshovik: The way Lynx rubbed his back was making him hard, and he had to shift slightly so as not to blatantly dig his erection into Lynx's thigh, like the way Aryol did to him. That was as fucking unsubtle as a whore strolling through the mess hall, something you just couldn't ignore, no matter who you were.

He laughed again.

"Vitya? Well, he was a fucking asshole too, I know that."

Leshovik shook his head.

"I guess he was funnier than I am. But still an arrogant prick. Though I suppose he had his charms."

Kasya had thought so, at least for a while, but Leshovik knew how that had turned out. Though it wasn't like Kasya had just been the innocent victim, either. He'd paid Leshovik back for anything he'd done, tenfold.

"Vitya liked politics. Liked to read all those incendiary anti-Communist books, the ones that you got in trouble for just knowing what they were, back when it seemed like all of them were like that."

He paused then, looking down, jaw tightening.

"He had a family," he said, more quietly. "A mother and a sister and a stepfather, and a father who died a hero in the war. But he ended up giving them up, because he thought they really didn't need him, and he didn't need them."

Leshovik's mouth quirked.

"But like I said, he was an asshole that way. He'd washed out of flight school but he had good eyes and steady hands, so they made him a sniper, and he was good at that. He wanted to be the best."

He sighed, and his shoulders shook slightly.

"He wanted to be a hero."

[livejournal.com profile] snow_death: "But there was no hot conflict, was there," Lynx said, compassionately. "Only this 'cold war' they talk about. So you couldn't be your father. Does it matter?"

Alexei smiled, slowly, tipping the man's face up to look at him.

"I could cut my fingers on this jaw," he said, absently, amused. "Chiseled doesn't begin to describe it."

His other hand slowed, rubbing more slowly, and harder, working into the erector spinae as if he wanted to break Leshovik's lean back by inches, crush it into dust and collapse him like a fan.

"Viktor sounds like a damn good kid. The kind I'd have wanted in my squad. I know he's the kind I want in my squad now. The kind I want at my back."

Lynx frowned, letting his gaze go liquid, permeating Leshovik with all he had to offer, drawing in everything that the sniper revealed in his raw emotional state, before the jade keratinized once again, and left him hopelessly alienated, like an insect in amber.

Until the next time he broke.

He let his eyes drop to Leshovik's collar for a moment, with a hesitant breath.

"...you're Aryol's hero, you know."

And knowing he shouldn't, he still said it, because it was the truth, and he'd told the truth until now, Leshovik had asked for the truth-

"And you're his father, Viktor. The only father figure he's ever known."

[livejournal.com profile] leshovik: Viktor's eyes flooded but he held Alexei's gaze, searching.

All he saw there was conviction, and compassion, and that made him believe it.

Leshovik nodded, once, silently, and finally had to look down, quietly overcome.

He felt like an engine that lost a few parts, causing some essential ligature to snap, which in turn made everything else rub and grind together, churning, causing more damage as he ran. But the thing about engines was that they could be fixed. Parts could be replaced with new ones.

Leshovik thought about being a father, the chance he'd never gotten, yet another thing he'd had to give up.

Reaching out, he angled up a hand to reach Lynx's massive shoulder and squeezed it, his fingers barely curling around the smoothly rounded muscle.

"Thanks," he said, quietly, "I - "

Leshovik paused, suddenly frowning.

He blinked.

"You realize...that you just told me that I'm essentially fucking my own son," he said, dubiously, looking at Lynx with shaded, incredulous eyes.

His brows drew together, and he scowled fiercely, though he could only manage it a moment before he laughed.

"God," he said, "That's fucked up. But it almost seems normal, which is even more fucked up than that."

[livejournal.com profile] snow_death: "Yeah," said Lynx, rubbing his own neck, wryly. "I did kind of say that. But hell, Viktor, you're the one that made it sexual, back when you first chose him for your protege."

Leshovik could have mentored him. Guided him. Without fucking him.

"Too late now," he said, shrugging.

[livejournal.com profile] leshovik: Leshovik scowled. "He was all over me. Insinuating. And those eyes... God. I would have had to be made from stone."

He let out a breath, and the hard, painful knot that had formed between his shoulders tugged a little, like a stitch in the side that needed easing.

Leshovik leaned forward, stretching.

"But...you're right. I was the adult, and it is what it is now."

He paused, and met Lynx's eyes, which seemed particularly clear, reflective of the the palest, highest sky.

"You're right about other things, too."

He held Lynx's gaze carefully.

"Look...I know I'm not easy to deal with. But you've had my back every time I needed you, and I appreciate that."

Leshovik paused, and had to consider the weight of what he wanted to say.

"I'll have your back too. When you need me," he finished. "A good comrade is worth more than any assignment. So just tell me what you want me to do."

[livejournal.com profile] snow_death: "You could break it off."

Alexei paused.

"At least, until he gets some perspective. Try just...working with him."

He shook his head.

"I know what I said, Vitya. About...equalizing things...as far as who tops who. But that was before I knew the whole story. Before it unfolded like this."

It was a stretch, to think that Viktor could go without fucking the kid, now that he was inured to the convenience.

But Alexei felt inclined to try.

"I'm beginning to think the...dynamic is as damaging to you as it is to him."

[livejournal.com profile] leshovik: Leshovik's face flushed, and his gaze shifted away.

He was immediately reminded of the shower, and the way Aryol had pressed him back, the way he'd laughed against his ear when he was pumping him into the tile.

"Damn," he whispered. "How do you fucking know shit like that, Alexei?"

Viktor couldn't quite look up again, to meet Lynx's gaze.

"I let him fuck me in the shower, and..."

His jaw worked for a moment, before he gave up, and just shook his head.

"Well, it was fucking brutal."

At the same time, he couldn't imagine breaking it off. Not after three years.

Leshovik's jaw tightened, but his chin went up, and his gaze held Lynx's, quiet and steady.

[livejournal.com profile] snow_death: "Brutal...?"

Alexei frowned.

"That doesn't sound like..."

[livejournal.com profile] leshovik: Viktor shook his head, and in spite of everything, he had to look away.

"I don't know. Maybe it's just me," he said, quietly.

He wondered at it now, second-guessing. Maybe it had just been his mood, or maybe he just wasn't used to taking it. At least, not from Aryol.

After a few moments, he let out his breath in a long, slow hiss, and he shook his head.

"Yeah. Maybe it was just me."

[livejournal.com profile] snow_death: Lynx frowned deeply.

"No," he said. "No, I don't believe that. You took it from me and him, and never complained. Not once."

His brow knitted and his eyes narrowed.

"He hurt you, didn't he."

Leshovik looked as if he would demur, down-play.

Alexei's hand moved downward, swiftly, fingers pressing perfunctorily into the clothed cleft of Leshovik's ass.

"Why?" Lynx demanded, softly. "Why the hell would he do that? Why would you let him?"

[livejournal.com profile] leshovik: Leshovik's spine stiffened slightly as Lynx touched him, but then he held still, and yielded.

He still couldn't look at the man, couldn't meet that piercing gaze that sliced like a razor when held just so, not when Alexei knew how to wield it with expert skill.

"It wasn't like that. I didn't...he wasn't trying to...."

Leshovik trailed off, unsure of what he was even trying to say.

"Look, he didn't mean to hurt me. It was just...the mood. And I thought..."

His frown deepened, jaw going taut.

"I thought it was the right thing to do."

[livejournal.com profile] snow_death: The flinch, slight and stoic as it was, told him all he needed to know.

"You're saying he didn't know? He couldn't tell?"

Alexei's eyes were hard and bright.

"He knows what it's like to be fucked, used rough, I'm guessing."

His hand eased away from the tender place, and gripped Leshovik's wrist tightly.

"Don't you ever let anyone hurt you unless you want it," he whispered.

Volgin came to his mind, with a flash of love and devotion, but he was surprised to realize that not all of those feelings were contained to him.

Viktor was making his chest resonate. It hadn't been a lark, or a fluke. He marveled.

"You hear me, Longshot? Unless you want it. And not just because you want to suffer."

[livejournal.com profile] leshovik: "All right. Look, I know. I just...."

Leshovik ground off, face dark, restless, flush with shame.

"Come on, Lynx, I know that. After everything I did to him - "

He fell silent again, unable to explain it, not to someone who hadn't been there at the time. Not to someone who hadn't been there every time Leshovik had been in a bad mood and needed to fuck, and fuck hard.

Aryol had never complained.

Viktor drew in a breath, slow and steadying, and carefully lifted his gaze.

He caught and held Alexei's eyes, and he spoke quietly, but with even purpose.

"But...okay. I agree with you. For the future. Trust me. I don't want to do that again."

[livejournal.com profile] snow_death: Alexei shrugged, mildly.

"It's your decision," he said, releasing the sniper's wrist, and giving him space. "I've said enough."

He turned away.

"Are you done up here?" he said. "Seems like you're feeling more like yourself."

He gazed over the falling twilight, and the tiny stars of snow that had begun to fall.

[livejournal.com profile] leshovik: "Yeah," Leshovik said, quietly. "I am."

Probably ready to shoot people in the head again, but he didn't say that. It might not go over the way he meant it, given their earlier conversation.

He stared for a few moments at Lynx's broad back, and admired the strength and power that he carried so naturally. It was like authority, Viktor thought. Some people were just born it, the ability to be utterly comfortable in their own skin, confident in any situation.

He took at step closer, and reached out.

His fingers brushed down Lynx's spine, then lingered at the small of his back.

"Thank you," he whispered. "For everything."

[livejournal.com profile] snow_death: Alexei reached behind him, and caught Leshovik's hand swiftly, silently.

"It's nothing," he said, quietly. "It's like you and I."

He could break the bones, just like that. Crush the phalanges and the carpals and the metacarpals, ruin his shooting career for life. (But then, Viktor could shoot him in the head, couldn't he?)

Instead, he eased his thumb along the underside of Leshovik's palm, finding nothing to cut him.

"...It just is."

[livejournal.com profile] leshovik: Viktor smiled, slowly, his lips curving up, gazing at Lynx, eyes shading to warm and balmy blue.

"Yeah. It just is," he repeated, then stepped closer, fitting against Alexei's side, the way that felt comfortable.

He met Alexei's gaze and held it, quietly.

Every motion deliberate, with slow purpose, Leshovik leaned up and forward to bring his lips to Alexei's, and kissed him.

He made it not overlong, but deep enough to linger, before he carefully pulled back.

"Like that," he said.

[livejournal.com profile] snow_death: Alexei searched his gaze, slowly.

"Am I forgiven?" he asked, in a subtone. "For being merciless?"

[livejournal.com profile] leshovik: "You did what you had to do. I don't have a problem with that. Never did."

Leshovik laid his hand on Alexei's arm, and kept it there, his touch gentle, but firm.

"You're forgiven for not telling me what was going on, what you wanted in the first place. What you needed. For not letting me in."

He glanced down, thinking, considering, but turned his gaze back up to Lynx's just as easily.

"You have to trust me, Alexei. I just might surprise you."

[livejournal.com profile] snow_death: "I didn't know you, Viktor," Lynx said, softly. "You were just some prick I had to corral and whose ego needed a trim. A handsome complication."

He paused.

"But I trust you now. And I've told you almost everything, Viktor." His voice softened. "Almost everything. And perhaps, someday soon, I'll tell you everything."

He paused.

"Is Aryol expecting you?"

His eyes lowered, slightly.

"For the night?"

[livejournal.com profile] leshovik: "I don't know what he expects of me anymore," Leshovik muttered, frowning.

In some ways, he couldn't believe it - Aryol, his Aryol, the sunniest kid he'd ever met, had turned mean, developed a cruel streak, learned to be vindictive.

Leshovik supposed he could understand why, what with who the kid's role model was, after all.

He didn't know what he was going to do about it, though, break it off like Lynx said, or try to fix it. Leshovik knew his own bad habit was walking away from things. Maybe if he'd stuck with flight school, or with Kasya, or hadn't turned his back on his family and gone into black ops, everything would be different now. He almost felt like if he walked away from Aryol, he'd be doing the same damn thing.

But maybe it wouldn't have to be forever, not like the way he'd sundered things with Kasya. Maybe just for a while, until he cleared his head and figured out how things were going to work.

Leshovik shook his head, and looked up at Lynx.

Alexei radiated a sense of cool, calm waters, like a still and reflective pool. Leshovik recalled resenting Lynx's innate poise a while ago, but now he found that the way Lynx was centered helped ease him, too.

Even now, he felt tired, wrung out and used up, but lighter, too, like he'd shed ballast.

Viktor had the strange feeling that things might turn out all right, but he didn't know what to do about it.

His lips curved upward, unbidden.

"But I'm not going to worry about it tonight," he told Lynx, with a flash of a wry, easy smile.

"Come on. Let's go to bed."

Date: 2007-09-13 08:04 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] snow-death.livejournal.com
Feel better, Longshot? Not bad quarters, are they?

Warmer here than the roof anyway.

...I prefer the view, as well.

Date: 2007-09-13 03:16 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] leshovik.livejournal.com
Yeah, it's good to be inside.

These quarters are nice.

...

...and that's a really big bed, comrade.

Date: 2007-09-17 04:12 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] snow-death.livejournal.com
Uh, yeah. Yeah, it is.

Funny....

Guess they saw I was a mamontov.

...or something.

Date: 2007-09-17 06:47 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] leshovik.livejournal.com
Well...

I guess that's a good thing, then.

Thoughtful of them.

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