Date: 2010-02-21 09:51 pm (UTC)
Cheslav held his gaze steadily, then nodded, almost solemn.

"I know you won't," he said.

Like his father, Ilarion had unreadable eyes.

Cheslav leaned back against the counter, listening to the quiet tap of their bootsteps receding down the hall, the low murmur of their conversation. There was a click as the door shut behind them. A snap of the deadbolt hitting home.

He cracked a window open, and lit a cigarette.

Cheslav thought about Aleksandr as he smoked, and the boys' quiet discussion over Aleksandr's gun. There was part of Cheslav that wanted to swing by the credenza and check on it, but somehow he felt that Lieutenant Liadov was trustworthy.

He opened the icebox instead.

Carefully, he rifled through the various plates and dishes. There was actually quite a bit of food. He imagined that some were meals that the cook had prepared beforehand, and some were well-meaning gifts from relatives and friends. Either way, the food would probably go to waste, in this large house with so few in it.

Part of him recoiled at the thought, feeling a faint horror at the thought of so much waste, even though his days of starvation were long in the past.

He settled on a blini and a bit of fresh bread. Cheslav stubbed out his cigarette in the sink, and carefully closed the window.

He ate as he stepped down the hall and climbed the wide staircase, savoring the sweetness of the blini almost savagely.

Aleksandr's rooms were at the very end of the hall. Cheslav knew this, though in spite of the many occasions he'd come over and enjoyed all that Aleksandr had to offer him, he had not been invited to the bedroom.

Cheslav knocked on the door, then pushed it open gently.

He braced himself for what he would find beyond.

"Shurik?"

It was as Liadov had described it, Aleksandr in his wrinkled uniform, sitting slumped in his armchair, head pitched forward but clutching the fur-trimmed winter coat Cheslav recognized as Avdotia's.

For a moment, he could not tell if Aleksandr was awake or asleep, alive or dead. Then he saw Alesksandr's chest rise and fall.

Cheslav felt his heart thump, and he stepped carefully into the room.

"Shurik? You awake? It's Slava."
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February 2010

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