The Visit

Feb. 18th, 2010 12:31 pm
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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 12:11 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] nikanor-liadov.livejournal.com
Nika glanced behind him reflexively, then turned his eyes back to the man at the door.

"Kanyeshna," he said, slowly. "Aleksandr is...here."

That much was true.

"...Mostly."

He shook his head briefly, letting a faint smile crease his lips as he gestured.

"Please."

He paused, moving away from the door, letting the man step inside the vaulted antechamber of the foyer, and out of the cold.

As he closed the heavy doors behind him, Nika studied the visitor circumspectly in the low, warm light from the dimmed chandelier overhead. He did not forget many things; not faces, not names, not moments or words or melodies

Nika had seen this man before, more than once, in more than one place, almost always peripheral to the circumstance at hand. He would appear somewhere, say a few low words to Aleksandr, perhaps share a few drags of a cigarette, then clap him on the shoulder and take off with forward-leaning stride, hands in his pockets.

Nika had marked this, absently, in the way he marked everything.

He had marked other things about the man, unthinkingly, such as his physical presence, which was considerable. He was possessed of a large frame and a burly stature, yet had an easy way of moving and existing within his space. Unforced. His features meant business, but the innate expression of them was pleasant enough.

"Come into the kitchen if you would."

Nika adjusted the lie of his cuff beneath his jacket, habitually, with a slight, precise motion.

"Aleksandr's son Ilarion is handling affairs while he's indisposed during this difficult time. Perhaps you know him."

His eyes fell on the man's strapping frame once more, shoulders and chest cutting a broad, punishing chevron in black wool.

"Can I take your coat?" he said, belatedly, reminded of his manners.

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February 2010

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