Title: Pigeon's Blood
Author: J. C. Sun

Category: VRA
Rating: R for violence and language
Summary: A flat in Paris on a winter afternoon.

Implied slash.

Te's FormerRentboy!Alex is so. damn. hot.

.

A flat in Paris on a winter afternoon:

Cold, dismal, all one billion and two shades of gray lingering over expensive Regency furniture, fitted into the pattern of mother-and-pearl on the writing desk, palling the tapestry of a dying unicorn. Canopy bed, too, the hangings coming down low over the rumpled blankets--pearl pink and stuffed with silk in the Chinese fashion, embroidered with raging phoenixes and rearing dragons that has golden thread around the eyes.

Alex decides it's nice in a very overdone, very ostentatious, very Illya sort of way. Turkish carpets, a silk-and-rosewood screen, Hermes underneath Delacroix, marble-and-gilt boudoir table littered with a set of silver-backed hairbrushes.

Utterly spurious for a man with close-cropped blonde hair.

Alex knocks a slim cigarette out of the silver casing.

"I thought you quit." Yawn, click of neat teeth, then a smooth flow of arm and muscle to proffer an ivory-and-abalone lighter, flick of thumb and spontaneous rise of dark yellow flame. "Nasty habit, that."

"You never minded before." Alex lights his cigarette. His mouth purses around the smooth, gold-banded paper, and then he shrugs as he resettles against the stacked pillows. "Besides. I've had other things on my mind."

Illya tilts his head and says nothing, just fingers a silk tassel between indolent fingers.

Alex refuses to look at him.

In the fireplace, a log rolls over, delivering a shower of sparks into the chimney and illuminating a pear, an apple, a smoothly elliptical mango, each with a single bite taken out of it, along with most of a roast pheasant. Two mostly empty bottles of fine wine, two thirds of a baguette, untouched plate of expensive petit fours. Alex distinctly remembers one time--one of the early times, one of their first jobs, when they were still perpetually hungry--he and Illya went to a French restaurant, and Illya ate so much he ended up puking in the taxi on the way back home.

Suddenly, breaking into the smooth calm: "It's a dangerous crowd you run with these days."

"And the ones we used to run with weren't?" Alex finds himself amused, ready to reminisce. "Murder a contrary businessmen, beat his wife into unconsciousness, smash his computer, make off with the hard-drive and burn the whole building down--all before lunch."

"Like your current friends are nice either." Illya touches the new wound at the top of the shoulder, then moves down to the stub of a left arm. Biting down on his lip, Alex stops himself from jerking the arm away while Illya inspects the puckered rim with the edge of a nail.

Illya, rather mournfully. "I guess the tattoo is gone."

"Well, they did sort of chop the whole fucking arm off." The bitterness makes Illya raise pale, pale eyes, makes those dainty lips shudder in empathy and touch the perfect shoulder above, run mouth gently across bone.

Then, "Remember when you got it?" A snigger, curl of thin lip and gleam of dishwater-pale eyes. I had to hold your hand, and you were squirming around so much they had to strap you down, you were nearly crying when they were done. Nearly pissed your pants too, you were so scared."

"I was all of nineteen. And I was drunk."

"You'd slit a man's throat with a pen knife three hours before."

"That was how we had enough money to get that tattoo, to get drunk remember?" Laughter. "Rotgut potato vodka."

"We would have had enough to get decent stuff if you hadn't tossed most of it at some rentboy we didn't even fuck." Pout.

"He was hungry, and he wasn't going to get a hire with those marks on his face. I remembered what it was like to be young and hungry--hell, when things get bad, I *still* remember what it was like."

"I try to forget." Illya's voice is so flippant, so flagrantly careless that Alex risks a small touch to Illya's smooth hand, all laden with opals and white gold and the slow glitter of a pigeon's blood in diamonds and platinum.

Alex smiles, gestures towards the tapestries, the fine moldings, the heavy velvet upholstery with his free hand. "I can tell."

A smile, forced smile across Illya's face. He leans into Alex's good shoulder. "Money was made to be spent."

"I can tell that too." Alex shifts, enjoying the warmth of Illya draped all over his torso, the lazy finger stroking his ribs. "How much did *this* all cost?"

"More than you'll ever be willing to spend." A snort as Illya rolls off, then flops back onto the pillows. "The only money you ever spent was on guns. We'd be living in Five Star Lucky Motel and eating once a day, and you'd be going to the gun motels buying every piece of crap in sight. We had more guns than food."

"I wasn't *that* bad." Careful, comedic, self-mocking pause. "Was I?" Illya laughs and runs an affectionate caress down the side of Alex's face, and Alex turns his head and kisses the fingers, the soft tips, the slashed joints, and the cold hard bands at the base.

A slight chuckle when Illya catches him looking at the pigeons blood, and Illya strokes Alex's mouth once, moving across the upper, lingering along the bottom. "It rather reminded me of you." Illya's voice is dreamy as he lays a small, discreet kiss at the corner of Alex's mouth. "Year, year and a half ago, I was at this dinner party, and some rich pretty boy's mistress was wearing it. He'd bought it at Sotheby's estate sale--his wife got a Sheffield tea set, and his Mistress got several million dollars of irreplaceable family heirlooms. Later, we played baccarat for it. I lost, but I fucked both of them to get it."

Alex's eyebrow hitches. "Really?"

"No." Illya grins, all mischief, dancing grey eyes and puckish smile. "I saw it in Cartier's, and the opal I wanted was taken."

"Lying little son of a bitch."

"Said the kettle to the stovepot." After he says it, though, Illya tenses, rather aware that once again, he's said the wrong thing at the wrong time. However, Alex's only verbal response was a little reflective noise coupled by a tight smile and he slides an arm around Illya's smooth shoulders.

But the mood has been broken by the second reminder of the present, and so, soon after, Alex slides out of Illya's loose arms and starts gathering his clothes off the floor. Illya hands him his shirt, his underwear, his pants, which Alex struggles into with as much grace as a one-armed, aging assassin can manage.

Illya yawns once in the grey half-light. He says nothing, offers no help when Alex has trouble buttoning his jeans.

"You won't think of staying a-while?" Illya's not petulant, just a little wistful. Draw of those soft, fine fingers across his bare back. The old calluses are a bit faded, but Alex can feel them on the edge of the index finger, a little roughness of the palm. "Not even a little while longer?"

Alex stands up, shakes his head, and pulls his gun in one long, tired sigh. The old maneuvers are a little strange now without the balance of another hand, but they are good enough, proven enough, that they could be adapted for the crippled. So the flow is off, but Alex manages to get the gun into his hand and planted against Illya's forehead allright.

"Alex?" Illya's voice trails off into wondering. It's not fear, just a general sort of half-quivering wondering.

"Hey, old boy." Alex grins, just a little edgy. He reshifts the gun, allows it to resettle in a more natural postion. "You let me in here. You knew I was going to kill you, you knew I had a gun on me."

Illya says nothing, just keeps that limpid smile on his face and looks at Alex with blandly friendly eyes.

"Why'd you take me in? You just saw me on the street and picked me up--you knew what I was here for."

Moonstone paradigm shift. Illya turns his head from Alex's face so that his eyes run perpendicular to the barrel of the gun. "I still remember what it was like to be hungry." Illya makes a small, derisive snort of laughter and a lazy flick of the hand towards the scars on his back.

Alex's breath catches for a moment, and then he's over the memory.

Then, from Illya, a plea, but with a little more steel in the voice than usual. "Let me do it myself."

"I'm supposed to make it look like murder."

"Alex, darling." Illya is pleading, yes, but with his eyes half-lidded, those fine pale lashes and just the edge of a smile on his mouth. It reminds him of the way he used to get before a really good job, all dreamy and smiling, long, languid gestures. "Alyosha? Darling?"

Krycek closes his eyes against the invocation of their old pet name.

Illya shifts in the bed sheets, arranges himself fetchingly. "There's no serial number on that gun, you bought it locally from some punk dealer. My servants know I brought someone home--the police will think it was some cheap rentboy. Rifle through the chests, my jewelry box is in the dresser --if it's scandal that your friends are after, that'll be even better."

Alex shakes his head but said nothing.

"Here. Take these." Illya yanks the rings off his fingers and proffers them in a cupped hand. "You can sell them, get properly fucked." There's even a little wink in Illya's eye.

The humor seals it. Alex hands Illya the gun, pockets the gems, then lets Illya calmly shoot himself. Illya spasms once in the sheets, heels drumming hard against the springs and hand dropping the gun with a clatter, but then all's still in the grey light and Alex regains his composure, shakes it back into place, then slides the pigeon's blood onto his finger and marvels at the slow, warm glitter, dilute in the washed Paris light, but still--very nice.

.end

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