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: 2010-02-21 09:51 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] cheslav-oleksei.livejournal.com
Cheslav held his gaze steadily, then nodded, almost solemn.

"I know you won't," he said.

Like his father, Ilarion had unreadable eyes.

Cheslav leaned back against the counter, listening to the quiet tap of their bootsteps receding down the hall, the low murmur of their conversation. There was a click as the door shut behind them. A snap of the deadbolt hitting home.

He cracked a window open, and lit a cigarette.

Cheslav thought about Aleksandr as he smoked, and the boys' quiet discussion over Aleksandr's gun. There was part of Cheslav that wanted to swing by the credenza and check on it, but somehow he felt that Lieutenant Liadov was trustworthy.

He opened the icebox instead.

Carefully, he rifled through the various plates and dishes. There was actually quite a bit of food. He imagined that some were meals that the cook had prepared beforehand, and some were well-meaning gifts from relatives and friends. Either way, the food would probably go to waste, in this large house with so few in it.

Part of him recoiled at the thought, feeling a faint horror at the thought of so much waste, even though his days of starvation were long in the past.

He settled on a blini and a bit of fresh bread. Cheslav stubbed out his cigarette in the sink, and carefully closed the window.

He ate as he stepped down the hall and climbed the wide staircase, savoring the sweetness of the blini almost savagely.

Aleksandr's rooms were at the very end of the hall. Cheslav knew this, though in spite of the many occasions he'd come over and enjoyed all that Aleksandr had to offer him, he had not been invited to the bedroom.

Cheslav knocked on the door, then pushed it open gently.

He braced himself for what he would find beyond.

"Shurik?"

It was as Liadov had described it, Aleksandr in his wrinkled uniform, sitting slumped in his armchair, head pitched forward but clutching the fur-trimmed winter coat Cheslav recognized as Avdotia's.

For a moment, he could not tell if Aleksandr was awake or asleep, alive or dead. Then he saw Alesksandr's chest rise and fall.

Cheslav felt his heart thump, and he stepped carefully into the room.

"Shurik? You awake? It's Slava."

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February 2010

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