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: 2010-02-20 12:19 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Cheslav's lips parted.

"No, I didn't know," he said, after a pause.

He felt something of what he'd felt when he had first heard the news. A bit of unguarded emotion that slipped through him, mostly surprise, and a tinge of something else that he did not acknowledge.

"I have to say, hearing that surprises me."

His gaze drifted, unseeing.

When Cheslav had heard the news, his first instinct had been to head over to the townhouse, but something, habit, had counseled him to wait until he was called. That was how Aleksandr always summoned him when something needed to be done.

However, three days had passed, and there had been no call.

Aleksandr had missed their weekly breakfast appointment. Not that Cheslav had necessarily expected him to show, but he'd expected...something.

This was Avdotia, after all.

Aleksandr's silence had told him two things.

First, Avdotia's death was not an unsanctioned murder, since Cheslav was not called to take action.

The second was that no unwarranted suspicion had blown in Cheslav's direction, since he was not dead.

Or more likely, he'd decided, he would have been arrested and sent north.

All Cheslav had known was that Aleksandr knew who, or what, to blame. And that Avadya was dead. Now he knew she had killed herself.

He focused on the candid young MENT again, seeing clarity in his glass-green gaze.

Cheslav remembered his initial impression of familiarity, and now could recall seeing him now and then. Grey coat. Tousled blond hair. Always around Ilarion.

"I've seen you around, too. It's good Ilarion has a friend who understands."

He paused, for only the briefest of seconds.

" these these things work."


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February 2010

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