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: 2010-02-21 01:46 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Ilarion looked at him for a moment, then laughed bloodlessly.

"Going to take him to the slaughterhouse, is that it?"

He glanced away, biting his lip for a microsecond, leaning back against the counter.

"Stands to reason that the same goes for a steer with a broken leg, and a man with a broken mind."

He brought his features back into line, then turned to face his father's shadow man again.

"It's good of you to come, Uncle Slava, but I fear you're wasting your time."

Lasha's pale gaze roamed absently over the black-coated figure, a stark presence in the warm glow of the grand historic kitchen, with its arch-vaulted ceilings.

Cheslav Oleksei brought with him the faint scent of cigars and brimstone, and an undefined rough-dark-sweet quality that Ilarion could only identify as something that came from soot and asphalt, cinders and the streets.

Pleasant, but dangerous. Not unlike the essence his son Taras had begun to emanate, now in his teens, in some kind of genetic homage. Both were primal. Yet Taras' essence was raw, heavy and unrestrained. Cheslav's was strong, but understated. Mellowed but potent. Aged. Matured.

It was familiar to Lasha, and did not faze him. He had grown up among dangerous men of all kinds. Sharks and wolves and bears. He was a cub of such men, an innate heir to their mantles, and there was nothing to fear.

"Father is, to be blunt, a wreck. Insensate. Incoherent."

Ilarion's eyes slid toward Nika, who frowned in reluctant accord.

"If you came to offer condolence, it will be wasted. If you came to console him, he won't accept it. If you came to speak to him, he won't hear you."

Lasha shook his head slowly.

"I shouldn't let you see him in this state. He's wracked with grief and consumed by guilt."

His lip tightened and his eyes narrowed, leveling at the dark mahogany floor.

"As his son, I must insist he be left alone."


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February 2010

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