The Visit

Feb. 18th, 2010 12:31 pm
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[personal profile] cheslav_oleksei
Later, Cheslav would always remember it was winter when Avdotia Isaeva died.

Cheslav Oleksei remembered the Siege as an eternal winter, even though he knew intellectually that the seasons must have changed during those two and a half years. Yet when he caressed the place in his memories that knew starvation and fear and aching desperation, squatting in bombed-out buildings and eating stringy meat nearly raw, taking his knife to the veins of a man for the first time and finding fleeting solace in the slow grind of hard flesh, that place, those memories, were grey and tinged with frost.

Now, there was real snow on the ground in front of the Isaev estate.

The estate stood as always, imposing and elegant, a tall historic townhouse facing the wide road. The snow around the curb been recently plowed but was blackened with mud from the tires of many recent visitors, like the first shadow of tarnish on silver.

Cheslav drove himself, and parked his white Moskvitch in front, instead of going around to the back like usual.

The night air felt crisp, and very heavy.

His breath streamed between his lips like smoke. Seeing it made him want for a cigarette.

There were few things Cheslav Oleksei denied himself, but he denied himself a cigarette now. Instead, his hand went absently to his pocket, and felt the weight of the bottle within.

Cheslav wore a black wool coat that spanned his broad shoulders and swirled around his boots as he walked up to the townhouse's front door. Above him, most windows were darkened save for a couple that were faintly backlit with the softest of warm glows.

No other signs of life.

He allowed it was possible that no one was home.

His heavy brow knit low over his dark eyes.

Cheslav had even features, for the most part, a straight Greek nose and squared-off chin, and a long, angular jaw. It was the thick brow that glided his face with a touch of menace, and betrayed his coarse birth.

Rather, both his jaw and his massive form, tall and thick with muscle like the butcher he'd once been, and Cheslav knew it mattered as much where you'd been as where you were.

He reached for the wrought iron knocker, but then changed his mind and rang the bell, instead.

Date: 2010-02-19 12:42 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
They had remained like that, in silence, for some minutes more, and then Nika had suggested they have something to eat.

When Lasha had gone to the kitchens he had excused himself and slipped away up the grand staircase just long enough to check on Aleksandr.

He did not intrude, nor make his presence known--just opened the door to Aleksandr's rooms enough to peer inside. From the hall, he could see that Aleksandr breathed and lived, even if the act of it was agony. His eyes were listless but feverish, his arms wrapped tightly around his wife's coat. Even in his madness, his posture in the wingback chair was unthinking and impeccable, but something in his being was unnaturally hectic, and it sent a silent shudder through Nika.

The resemblance between father and son was strong. For a moment it was like looking at Ilarion in some nightmare future. Bad enough that it was Aleksandr, the only father he'd known.

Momentary fears assauged, Nika hadn't lingered.

Downstairs there had been Lasha, and the novelty of a uniformed Isaev prince carefully making his own tea meal, frowning down at his work in absence and glancing up as Nika entered the room.

Lasha's eyes said that he knew where Nika had been. If he begrudged it there was no sign, but neither did he ask after his father's well-being.

Cold enough on the surface, though It was reasonable to assume that Ilarion knew Nika would tell him if anything were wrong.

Gratified at the sight of him, Nika had reflexively embraced him from behind, one-armed, hiding his face briefly against the grey wool of Lasha's uniform, and the soft bristles of flaxen hair at the nape of his neck.

"If anything like this should ever happen to you..." he intoned, in a low, hesitant voice.

"Never," returned Ilarion, in a manner that suggested utter incredulity. "Do I look like my father, Nikash?"

"Yes," Nika had said, with a slight, shaky laugh.

He pressed a wordless kiss to his Lasha's temple and set about helping him get dinner.

Now they drank tea in the kitchen, without speaking overmuch, presumably grateful for the silence that had finally come over the house.

They sat in quiet, with Lasha's cool grey eyes resting against his own, like a weary child against its mother.

Nika laid his hand over Ilarion's, reinforcing his presence with a gentle press.

"Are you expecting anyone, Lasha?" he asked, assiduously, with a faint vault of his brows.

Ilarion shook his head in a perfunctory way.

"Njiet," he said, shortly, and put his tea to his lips. "Not until tomorrow. And not here."

His hand turned upward, slowly, beneath Nika's, and it found them palm against palm. Lasha's eyes settled into his and lived there, briefly, and Nika felt a spreading warmth suffuse him before he glanced away.

"It's probably someone from the Ministry, just checking in."

The Ministry did a lot of dire things, but it took care of its own.

"...I'll get it," he added, rising from the table before Lasha could respond.

Ilarion looked up at him.

"Whoever it is, let them in. I'll deal with it."


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February 2010

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