||[Sep. 20th, 2009|03:04 pm]
Kassian left Liadov's quarters with a sense of surreality, the feeling he had just been witness to something bizarre. He was still not sure exactly what had possessed Rakitin to act as he had, but Kassian supposed it was not for him to know. Everyone's demons were their own.|
The door swung in silently, and he slipped into the Captains' barracks without turning on the light.
It was late. Kassian suspected Andrei had gone to bed long before, and was undoubtedly sleeping. Though Kassian felt fully awake, mind humming with the events of the evening, he saw no reason to wake Andrei over it.
He could tell him in the morning, if they were still talking. He wondered if Andrei was still sleeping in the same bunk, and if he were, if Kassian should choose another.
He pushed the door shut behind him with a soft click.
It was cold in the room.
Kassian moved to the weapons locker to put away his rifle, pausing to glance toward their bunk.
There was no telltale shape outlined in the darkness; his gaze automatically went to the others.
Empty. Empty, and empty.
He stepped forward, then turned in place slowly, scanning the room, his rifle still looped around his shoulder, bumping carelessly against his back.
The stove had burned down to a cold husk, and Isaev's boots were no longer in their usual corner.
Kassian knew that sometimes Andrei left the barracks at night, when he felt restless. Off to the gym, or wherever else it was Andrei went. But something felt off, to his instinct. His eyes narrowed.
The blankets had been thrown over the bunk, instead of just pushed to the side. And Isaev's drawer next to the bed lay open, rifled and ransacked.
Kassian unslung his rifle and sat down abruptly.
He sat for a while, in the quiet, cold room, eventually sinking down to the coverlet. He drew his rifle to him, clutching it against his chest, the way he had during the war. Supplies had always been short and he had never let his rifle out of his grasp, lest he find it missing its custom scope in the morning.
The rifle felt cold and hard against his elbow.
Kassian closed his eyes and breathed in, flinching as he recognized Andrei's scent, heavy on the sheets, mingled with his own.
After a few seconds he rose and ripped off the bedsheets. He threw them in the laundry and replaced them with a fresh set, tucking the corners viciously under the thin mattress.
When he collapsed into the bedding again, it smelled of soap and cedar.
He lay for a time, wide awake, rifle pressed against his arm, equipment digging into his back. Eventually he shed his boots and took off his belt, but when he shifted again he felt a sharp point of pressure against his thigh.
Kassian dug into his pocket, fingers closing around around a bit of warm metal, drawing it out slowly.
It was a lighter. Isaev's.
It felt heavy in his palm, probably solid silver. Ornate, probably foreign, contraband. Kassian had borrowed it that night, and never returned it, he realized.
It had been sitting in his pocket for as long as he had been wearing this particular set of fatigues, which by his reckoning was two days now, going on three.
He flicked it, experimentally, and found that it responded immediately with a small bloom of flame that wavered in the darkness.
Kassian watched for a few seconds, long enough to spoil his night vision, then he flicked the lighter closed again.
He lay back in the bunk, stretching out experimentally.
He recalled what Andrei had told him, and realized it was true.
Alone in the bunk, Kassian had much more room.