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 01:17 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
"I didn't understand before now, not really," Nika said soberly. "Not the extent, or the depth. In a way, that was the real surprise. That he could...feel. Like that."

He wasn't sure why he was standing midway in the Isaev's corridor off the foyer, conversing in low and pleasant tones with an unknown associate of Aleksandr's without preamble and on such an intimate level.

Something about the surreality of the entire experience, the elastic nightmare of last few days, rendered nothing out of line.

Nika cast a furtive glance up, toward the grand staircase.

"It's been...unsettling. He's nearly catatonic. Won't eat, won't sleep, has barely stirred from his armchair in three days. He just holds onto her winter coat and buries his face in the collar. Sometimes he raves and weeps, and sometimes he curses and rants. That was the last three days. This carried on literally until he was hoarse."

Nika shook his head, eyes defocused somewhere to the left of the man's broad shoulder.

"Lasha tried to ply him with wine, then cognac...finally sedatives. Anything to calm him, ease him. Make him sleep."

He shook his head.

"Nothing. He wouldn't have any of it. He threw every glass against the wall, and knocked the barbituates out of Lasha's hand and onto the floor, until Ilarion got fed up and left him to it."

Fuck your pills. I won't be numb. I'll take what's mine. Get out. Leave me. Leave me alone. I only want what's coming to me: everything.

Nika could feel the quiet upstairs like a weight upon his chest and brow. Impending, unsure. A dangling sword of indeterminate shelf life.

"Last I checked on him, he was sitting in utter silence, like the chain around one of his gears had broken from pure abuse. Eyes on the wall, distant, and water glistening in tracks down his face."

He ran a hand slowly back through his hair.

"I was worried, since he'd gone quiet for the first time in three days. I'll admit, I was afraid he meant to follow her. Lasha told me to leave him be, but...I know how these things can play out in the blink of an eye."

Nika's lips formed a conflicted line.

"He isn't safe with himself. He hasn't done anything yet, but in my experience that precludes nothing."

His pale green eyes sought the dark eyes of the stranger, with quiet conviction.

"Decorum is one thing, necessity another. If he doesn't improve soon, I'll break out of line, apart from Ilarion, and have the whitecoats called in myself. No matter if it ricochets back at me in the end; the man is all the father I ever had, and I won't lose him."


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February 2010

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