|Feburary 19, 1964: Tselinoyarsk, Russia - The hunt for a sniper [Part II]
||[Aug. 6th, 2007|09:11 am]
And distractions aside, we ended up finding a hell of a lot more than we bargained for.|
snow_death: They wended their leisurely way around the bluff, and Alexei hesitated several times with the thought of stopping Leshovik, and maybe kissing him, the way it had been hard somehow to do in front of Aryol.
But he didn't. He was patient, even when he wanted, could taste....
Lynx knew they would be at the spring in seconds, and then, things could unwind to whatever state they were inclined to. Everything would be clear, once they got down to the essentials of flesh and water.
Alexei averted his eyes without studying too hard on avoidance. Cresting the ridge was a brief endeavor, and as they rounded the bend, he was about to say something to Leshovik, something banal like "here we are", when his eyes fell on the spring, and he was struck from speaking.
It took a split-second for his mind to register what his eyes had transmitted, what he was actually witnessing, here, on a chill winter day in the sun, in the remotest part of the Urals.
He looked to Leshovik, almost instinctively, and the sniper's head was down, for a moment, until he looked up, unassuming-
-and his jaw unhinged.
Lynx's hand closed on his arm in swift, unthinking reaction, stilling them both.
leshovik: The shock of it hit Leshovik like a blow to the solar plexus and he jerked to a stop, even as Lynx's grip on him tightened.
There was something instinctively arousing about witnessing the sex act voyeuristically that shot straight to his groin and hit him with an instant burst of adrenaline.
Leshovik gaped, for a moment, at the straining male bodies, which were fully engaged with each other and locked in a carnal embrace, one bent at the waist over the lip of the thermal pool, and the other one topping him.
He felt a deep, erotic charge that heightened his senses, just like it did when he was sniping. There was something about danger that always aroused him, and even though this wasn't -
His breath hitched, then, and he realized it would only be a second before the pair noticed them, regardless of how deeply engaged they were. The lovers would know that Leshovik and Lynx weren't supposed to be here, and then that would shoot everything else to hell.
He tore his gaze away from the entwined pair to seek Lynx's eyes, his own dark rimmed, over pupils blown wide.
Lynx met his gaze, and he could see his own thoughts reflected in those sky-bright eyes, no answers, but only the wordless dread of urgency with no immediate solution.
He should have averted his gaze, but Leshovik found it drawn back to the lovers, like a fly to honey.
The men were both fit, probably soldiers, upper bodies muscular and toned, with high definition in their chests and backs, particularly the one on top, who was larger, with pale cream skin, and blond hair the color of ash that hung long in his face, obscuring his features. The other was slighter and darker, olive-complected, and had black hair that grew in unruly burls that fell over his forehead.
Leshovik frowned suddenly, and found himself staring harder as recognition prickled through him, though his mind balked at it.
Both men looked up then, and saw them.
The blond was young, a handsome white Russian, but it was the other who caught and held Leshovik's attention.
It was a face he knew well, with hard-cut features, low brows, and piercing dark eyes, usually possessed of a stern, set mien but now had an expression that shifted from open-mouthed, low-lidded ecstasy to wide-eyed shock as he stared up at them.
The name fluttered and died on Leshovik's lips, unvoiced.
In the next instant, the larger man shuddered, orgasm clearly taking him in spite of the interruption, and he thrust hard into his partner, who met Leshovik's gaze with an instant of dawning recognition before his head tilted back and he bucked in the throes of his own climax.
Leshovik's cock throbbed sharply in response, and he heard himself gasp.
andrei_isaev: Realization did not come quick enough to divert orgasm, and recognition did not dissuade sensation from overcoming his body, pitching him into rhythmic contractions, despite the sudden visual bombshell that struck him right between the eyes.
Andrei felt the dark, heavy thunder of climax keenly, but the afterglow scattered like a flock of startled crows, leaving him with a pulsing and tenuous thrum in his loins.
That he and Kassian had company at their little roman bath was the immediate thought in his mind. Two unintentional observers of their isolated tryst.
Mindful of Irinarhov in the seconds after the sniper followed him into climax, Andrei's hand found his hip and cupped it reassuringly.
But several seconds later, mindfulness fully fled him, at the sight of a pair of piercing eyes, bluer than blue.
His eyes startled into focus and made sense of an oversized contour that formed a man too big to be anyone but-
"Sir," exclaimed Andrei, devastated, pale eyes wide and hedonic, lips breathless.
capt_kasya: Kassian felt like he'd been caught in an erotic dream turned into something far more bizarre, old lovers and new pulled from memory and thought and flung together carelessly, into an improbable scenario.
Isaev was real, though, hard and close around him, one hand at his hip, gripping him solidly. It felt like an anchor, that hand, though under it, Kassian's body trembled.
He forced himself to look again at what couldn't be, at the intruder, the man he'd locked eyes with as he'd climaxed.
Kassian would have known his face anywhere, but yet his mind balked at what he knew was impossible: Vitya was dead, killed in action in 1957.
Yet the man before him had Vitya's hard features, sharp, prominent cheekbones and a jaw formed from marble, all angles that stood in high relief, like a statue. Blond hair shorn close, the way he'd always worn it.
But the thing that slowly burned away at his doubt like cold acid was the age he saw in written in the man's face, as if the intervening years had worn away the last of the softness and left nothing but muscle and bone. Kassian could see faint, bitter lines etched in the skin near the man's eyes and mouth.
It was impossible, but maybe it wasn't.
The man looked at him with eyes that saw nothing else, wholly consuming, exactly like he'd just stepped from the past, and brushed aside eight years like they were nothing.
It had to be Vitya. It could be no other.
But if Vitya wasn't dead, and the report had been wrong, then what was his former sniper comrade doing out here, in such a remote –
Kassian's eyes went even wider, and he tore his gaze away from Vitya to look at his rifle, which stood out of reach and at least a meter distant, leaning against the rock wall.
He felt like he'd skipped to a book's very last chapter, missing the connections and the links between events, moving right to the denouement.
Vitya was the sniper he'd been charged to eliminate.
Kassian pulled his eyes back to his old comrade, fighting to control the tremors that rippled through him, forcing his breath to steady and fall even.
He was still pinned under Isaev's heaving chest, but slowly he drew one hand back and let it fall to his hip, closing his fingers over Isaev's, and gripping them hard.
snow_death: Lynx felt a shot of deja vu at the title, and the voice, a nostalgia that had no place in his current life, but for the moment felt so wholly natural and familiar that he forgot everything that had transpired from then until now.
His commander's nature was still ingrained, had never truly left him.
He was looking at his favorite protege, and responding to him as he would have three years ago, given a similar situation.
The absurd collided with the abstract.
Without thinking, Lynx laughed out loud.
"Nyotkuda?" he murmured, before he could seal his lips.
leshovik: Leshovik tore his gaze away from Kasya to look at Lynx, who had said something in a familiar tone that sounded like a nickname. But he didn't know how Lynx could possibly know Kasya –
No, he realized, as he followed the line of Lynx's regard. It wasn't Kasya he had addressed, it was the other. Kasya's strapping blond lover.
This...Nyotkuda...was young, though looked older than Aryol, perhaps his mid twenties. Handsome, as Leshovik had noted before, though he looked more carefully now, noting the smoky gaze and curved, sensuous lips, the angled line of his jaw and the wet, tousled hair that framed a fine bone structure.
Kasya had done well for himself, Leshovik thought, feeling the strangest mixture of pride and...
He couldn't articulate what he was feeling, exactly. Leshovik hadn't even known what he'd wanted, originally. When he'd realized it was Kasya stationed here on this base, he'd felt an anger and longing that he could reconcile with nothing.
He'd wanted to kill Kasya, he'd wanted to love him. He'd wanted to best him in a contest of snipers. Maybe, if he just shot him in the arm or something, Kasya would recover and -
Leshovik felt his chest cramp.
He knew it was folly. It had tormented him then, and he felt that tumult now, as if he wanted to go back to Aryol and bury his frustrations in the cleft of his ass, but that wasn't the right thing to do to his spotter, and now there was Lynx.
Leshovik let out a shaky breath, wondering what the hell they were possibly supposed to do about this. Maybe if Lynx knew Kasya's lover, they could swear the pair to secrecy and continue their business.
He felt at a loss as to how to proceed, and looked everywhere but in Kasya's direction.
His eyes fell upon the rifle propped up against the rock face, and he recognized that too. Still the same old and battered Mosin-Nagant. Eight years ago, Leshovik had fired it, and the fucking gun hadn't shot straight. The stock had been warped with time and use, and damn stubborn Kasya had refused to change it.
Leshovik's eyes went to Nyotkuda again.
He guessed that when it came to some things, Kasya knew how to move on.
As the seconds ticked on, Leshovik felt like he should say something, but the pressure of Kasya's incredulous gaze weighed heavy, compressing his lungs and making it impossible to address him.
He turned his head, and looked back at Lynx. "What are we going to do?" he whispered, raggedly.
andrei_isaev: Everything hit at once.
The fact that he still called Major Rys' sir. The fact that Rys' was here. What that meant.
Sergei? The others...
The fact that he was tempted to lie for him, regardless.
He laughed, and forced the sound to be insouciant and rueful.
"Khui, comrade, this is...embarrassing."
Beneath him, he felt Irinarhov's shuddering, and his concern for the sniper overrode everything else. His rifle, thought Isaev, suddenly, his eye falling on the Mosin-Nagant. Kassian relied on the gun, the way Andrei relied on his fists. It was like a part of him. His security was out of reach.
It was a snap decision.
Andrei pushed up from his stricken lover, and easing out of his body, dismounting him swiftly and vaulting his body up and over the edge of the rock, before anything else could happen.
No time to think, first things first. Even the ground. The element of surprise was theirs, but only for a moment.
His hand closed over the stock of the rifle and he lofted it low, set it within Kassian's reach, wordlessly.
He raised his eyes to Lynx again, and it was at that moment, he realized that no matter what the situation, he was obligated to lie. For the man who had been his guide and guardian.
Isaev smiled and scratched his head.
"Came for a bath, did you?"
snow_death: Lynx met the eyes of his former pupil, and locked.
Isaev, he thought. Thank god it was Isaev.
"Yes," he said, setting his jaw, and lifting his eyebrows meaningfully. "But we didn't know...it was so popular."
Isaev nodded, grey eyes unmoving. Intense. Confratory.
"...and you're here on assignment, yes?"
"We're in this area under top clearance...as a...counterstrike against would-be assassins."
The lie was glib, and Isaev led him flawlessly.
Andrei nodded, as if he expected that.
"I thought so," he said, steadily, holding his gaze. "And of course, you can rest assured, we never saw you."
He glanced at Irinarhov, and followed his gaze, frowning.
"What is it, Kassian Dmitrivich?"
capt_kasya: Kassian's brow was furrowed deeply, though he took in the conversation between Isaev and the other man with Vitya.
He spared the man a second glance, but didn't recognize him. A big man, though, larger than Isaev, perhaps rivaling Colonel Volgin in size.
Isaev had called him sir, he remembered, vaguely.
Kassian had understood Isaev's intent the moment he rose from the pool and moved toward his rifle. It made him feel infinitely better, to have the Mosin-Nagant nearby, even though it was impractical for short-range combat.
Not that they would be engaging in it.
He looked back at Vitya, who seemed to be unarmed, at least not carrying a rifle. Kassian wondered if what the other man had said could possibly be true, if Vitya and his partner were a counterstrike unit here to combat the sniper after Volgin, or if Kassian's first thought had been the right one, and the shooter was Vitya.
Kassian glanced at Isaev and gave him a quick nod.
The proximity of his rifle, waiting patiently by his hand, galvanized something in him, and awakened a hunter's instinct.
"Any sign of snipers?" he asked, and directed it at Vitya.
leshovik: Of all the ways Leshovik had imagined their reunion, this hadn't been among them.
His mouth felt dry, at a loss for words, and he realized he was still ridiculously hard. Kasya looked at him with a piercing gaze, and Leshovik felt more exposed than if he'd also been naked.
It felt like all anyone would need to do was look at his face and they could see everything written upon it, though in a language Leshovik had never learned.
"Yes," he heard himself saying, "there's evidence of snipers in the area."
He kept it short, lest the lie grow absurd, and fell silent, holding his tongue.
andrei_isaev: Andrei turned to Kassian, softly incredulous. Irinarhov was looking at Lynx's companion, with a gaze like molten steel, and it did not deviate.
For the first time, Isaev let his eyes leave either Lynx or Kassian, and focus hard on the other man.
"And you are?" he asked, lightly, crossing his arms. Turning toward him, unconcerned by his nudity, and unconsciously drawing to his full height
The lean and vulpine soldier stirred something in his mind's eye, but he couldn't reconcile it right away. What was clear was that Irinarhov knew him. And that he was talking sniper.
leshovik: Leshovik's eyes narrowed, and he ripped his gaze from Kasya, swinging it around to focus on this Nyotkuda.
There was something cool and sharp about Kasya's lover's gaze, as if he'd given Lynx a free pass because of their apparent acquaintance, but Leshovik himself was fair game.
"With him," Leshovik said coolly, and tilted his head toward Lynx.
His gaze flicked to Kasya as he said it, mouth tightening briefly, wondering if Kasya would be able to see it, and know that he'd moved on too, and had a new lover of his own now.
In fact, two.
andrei_isaev: Isaev's eyes narrowed slightly as his gaze hovered, penetrating, dueling slowly with the other man's.
"Good enough for me, blondin."
His voice was quiet and overly temperate.
"Any man of Rys' is a man after my own heart."
snow_death: Lynx's hand came down, automatically, curving slowly over Leshovik's shoulder.
"My comrade in arms is a specialist," he said. "He's one of my men, but...not a subordinate."
He watched Isaev as his grey eyes strip-searched Leshovik like acid rain.
Alexei laughed gently.
"You won't find anything, Niotkuda," he said, softly. "We're ghosts."
capt_kasya: Kassian's gaze flicked between Vitya and this Rys', understanding immediately the veiled code for what anyone would interpret to mean a black ops unit.
Equally likely they could be assassins or assassin-killers, then.
He recalled that Vitya had even mentioned such an assignment once or twice, though always couched in the scenario that Kassian would go with him, and be his spotter.
It was being a spotter Kassian had objected to, not the black ops.
Kassian realized then that he'd heard the name Rys' before. Isaev's instructor, the one that had become before Ocelot. The man who had taught Isaev the ways of stealth and bare-handed killing.
It occurred to him that this situation was actually more dangerous than he'd first thought, and that there might be a real chance this could end in bloodshed.
"Is your assignment going well?" he asked, easily, and lifted himself from the pool, regaining his feet, retrieving his rifle. "Snipers aren't usually the easiest quarry."
leshovik: "Easier than you might think," Leshovik drawled, stealing a quick glance at Kasya's nude body, though he knew better than to let his eyes linger.
Kasya had aged well, body still hard and tight, not that Leshovik would have guessed otherwise. The man was simply too stubborn to let himself go, though he wasn't all that old now, was he? Forty-four? Forty-three? Leshovik couldn't quite remember.
He found that Lynx's hand on his shoulder was welcome, a small source of strength that he could draw from.
"Though you should still be careful. You never know when one might be around, watching."
Leshovik didn't quite know what compelled him. A desire to hurt the man who'd hurt him, to pay him back in kind for the damages.
snow_death: Lynx's hand tightened warningly on Leshovik's shoulder, enough to cause pain.
He saw the infared flare in the dark eyes of the other man, like a struck match, and the new wariness.
Leshovik was escalating the situation, and needlessly.
Something was very wrong, and looking at the other man, Lynx thought he knew why.
He was no stranger to Leshovik's eyes. In fact, he wasn't even wholly a stranger to Alexei's eyes.
His empathy lay with Leshovik, keenly, and it smarted, but he needed to pull him back into reality with a pointed reminder.
"Say, comrade. This guy looks a little like Aryol, don't you think?"
leshovik: Leshovik's jaw tightened, and his immediate impulse was to pull away from Lynx with a snarl, but he realized after a moment he didn't want to do that, in spite of the stinging pain that Lynx inflicted with barely an effort.
A grip like that could snap bone, if applied in the right place, and Leshovik had no doubt that Lynx knew all the right places.
He felt a brief sense of wonder that he was still intact after spending last night in Lynx's arms, but a man like Lynx had to know how not to kill as well.
Leshovik exhaled, long and slow.
"Yeah, he does a little, doesn't he? Except older."
His voice sounded casual enough to his ears, and he took a small measure of satisfaction in the fact that the other two wouldn't know what the hell they were talking about.
snow_death: Alexei released the vice-grip of his fingers at once, with a gentle rub of apology.
He would make it up to Leshovik later, he promised himself.
"Niotkuda," Alexei said, stepping forward and anchoring his gaze to his former man's. "I need your word that you-"
"No report. No disclosure," said Isaev, at once. "You're ghosts," he added, archly. "You'll stay that way." His eyes narrowed, and Alexei was unsurprised by how much more of a man he'd become in three years, because that was what men did. They hardened, and matured. They went from clay sculptures to stone statues. Isaev, though still quick to smile, was no exception.
"No matter what your mission is," Isaev added pointedly.
Alexei felt his brow furrow.
"Isaev," he said quietly. "I'm here to protect Thunderbolt. Believe me."
capt_kasya: Kassian looked at Isaev, momentarily conflicted.
Vitya had rubbed his face in the fact that he was the sniper, leaving Kassian with little doubt he'd been lurking on the rooftops of Groznyj Grad, like a stray cat that thought it could piss all over Kassian's territory.
But at the same time, Kassian understood loyalty, and the fact that Isaev's devotion to his former commander outweighed his loyalty to their current assignment.
It surprised him a little, but he swallowed that back, and took a step closer to Isaev, to show his solidarity.
He looked at Rys', who he read as sincere, though Kassian didn't know the man well enough to be able to tell how good of a liar he was. Something didn't make sense.
"Who wants him dead?" Kassian asked, directing his gaze at Rys'.
snow_death: Alexei met his gaze squarely.
"I don't," he said, tone focused and intent.
"The rest, I'm afraid, is classified." He raised his light eyes to the sun, squinting. "But there are no shortage of people who would like to see Volgin removed and that can't be underestimated."
capt_kasya: Kassian nodded, evenly.
It was much as Ocelot had said, and in truth, knowing a name wouldn't really matter.
Again, he read Rys' sincerity in his level and steady look that was enhanced by the clarity of his cloudless blue eyes. His gut told him the man could be trusted, much of the same way he'd seen Liadov's character written in his gaze and felt like he could speak more openly.
That trust had proven accurate, though he still wasn't sure about Rys'.
Kassian shifted his gaze to Vitya, who stared back at him, narrow-eyed and defiant.
"Good luck," Kassian said, quietly, searching his gaze.
Vitya looked uncertain for a moment, then flashed a smile that was short and sharp.
"I prefer to rely on - "
"Skill," Kassian finished.
Kassian offered a small shrug. "A little luck never hurt anyone."
Vitya's scowl deepened then, and his lip curled, but Kassian turned away and looked back at Isaev in silent question.
andrei_isaev: "Luck is for hacks," said Andrei, quietly, and cracked the knuckles in one hand.
He didn't intend it as demonstrative. It was a gesture he fell into the disperse tension, though he'd been told it was unsettling.
"As always, may the best man win."
leshovik: Leshovik's jaw tightened.
He breathed out, and eyed Kasya's lover, silently grinding his jaw for a few moments.
"Perhaps we should be going, and leave you two to it," he said, gaze flicking between them.
"It's still a nice day, and you might as well...enjoy it."
He could have said more, at the end there, but he deliberately left that part off.
snow_death: "Not at all," intoned Isaev, vaulting a single brow, as the darker part of his irrepressible breeding surfaced like an unsinkable U-boat, the Kremlin-kissed son, sanctimonious and beauteous. "We've finished our business here. As I'm sure you witnessed."
His smile was brilliant, but smooth and hard as ice, and Lynx shook his head, wryly amused.
"Andrei Isaev. You can take the born out of the manor, but you can't take the manner out of the manor-born."
He smiled, indulgently. A part of him wanted to reach out and tousle Isaev's hair, throw an arm around him and punch his arm with the impunity he'd once enjoyed, as the man's commanding officer and role model.
But the rest of him was wiser than to do it without a clear notion of where things stood. He'd nursed many an asp at his breast, and knew better than anyone how well and truly he'd honed their kinetic venom.
"Do you remember your first squad name, Isaev? As a Lynx?"
andrei_isaev: Isaev shot his gaze back to his mentor, torn by affection and alliance to his hero, and his present uncertainty about matters as presented.
Rys' was always right. Always good. Always just, even when he killed.
Yet something about the blond man with the cruel and chiseled features who eye-hatefucked Irinarhov so openly betrayed either perfidy or passion.
"Da," said Andrei, finally. A wry smile broke through the glass of the first, indolent. "You bastards called me the Earl."
That was before his rebirth as a phoenix of stealth and murder, when Lynx had christened him Niotkuda, and baptised him with a bottle of vodka and a kiss on the brow.
"But that was a long time ago," Andrei said, softly, averting his eyes. "And I'm Ocelot's man now."
He glanced at Kassian, staving off the tumult in his breast, so that it didn't reach his eyes.
"Have you had enough relaxation for one day, Postal'gha?"
capt_kasya: "I'm fine," Kassian said quietly, breathing out, but turning his gaze to Isaev to show him that he meant it.
Fine enough, after weathering shock and conflict. But he thought it best they be on their way, before things between him and Vitya turned into another near-conflagration.
He stepped back to where he'd left his clothes in a neat pile, once more leaning the Mosin-Nagant against the wall.
Kassian dressed with unhurried efficiency, though he kept track of the interlopers in his peripheral vision.
andrei_isaev: After a moment, Andrei pulled on his clothes as well, recreating the soldier from the savage.
Irinarhov's clarity seemed detached and yet he was clearly, unmistakably ready to depart the vicinity of the two specialists, and Andrei found himself wondering what, if anything, Kasya planned to reveal to him when they were safely out of their sights.
He couldn't shake the feeling that he should have known the other man, the one who warned them against snipers...
His subconscious corrected him primly, while drinking tea and idly observing, as he picked through the rubble in his mind.
He raised his eyes to study the blond bastard again, fleetingly, as he tied off his spetsnaz standard field boots, the ones he rarely wore.
The man was not Irinarhov's peer, exactly, nor was he Andrei's. Isaev guessed he neatly spanned the difference between them.
He looked to be only in his mid 30s, but there was a bitter-edged hardness to him, like all the young sap in his body had turned to hard and gleaming amber, petrifying him into a vicious killer with a face so sharp and angled it cut the eyes.
"Enjoy your bathing," Andrei said, as he rose to his feet and shouldered his AK.
"...Kasya was just saying that it was the perfect roost for a sniper."
leshovik: Leshovik eyed Kasya's lover, this Niotkuda.
Arrogant bastard, he thought. Kasya sure knew how to pick them.
He made a show looking around the plateau, eyeing the vista below.
"Seems like it, doesn't it?" he said, sounding thoughtful. "I imagine you could get a nice bead on anyone walking around these parts, coming, or going."
Leshovik shrugged then, and turned back to Niotkuda, giving him a thin, crisp smile.
"Well. Enjoy the hike back."
andrei_isaev: "Guess you missed your chance, Kasya," Andrei said, deliberately, never moving his eyes from the other man. "Maybe it takes a luckier man. One who doesn't have your curse of distractions."
He tossed his hair out of his eyes.
"I hear being in Black Ops is like being a monk."
capt_kasya: Kassian picked up his rifle again, and shouldered it with a deliberate motion.
He looked at Vitya briefly but then moved to Isaev's side and ran the back of his hand down Isaev's arm in the wordless gesture of affection that he used to convey a lot of things, things that took time to say.
"Let's go," he said, softly.
Once more, he glanced at Vitya, whose gaze had twisted into an all-too familiar sneer. It had been eight years, but Kassian could see that not a lot had changed.
Kassian looked to Rys', and he studied Isaev's former commander again, catching something sage and and tolerant in his clear eyes.
He gave the man a slight nod, hoping that his gut instinct would prove to be right.