"Enjoy your stay, and thank you for flying MJN Air." Carolyn watched with some relief as the last passenger exited the plan. Her false smile was in danger of being frozen on. Particlarly in this weather.
Alyahkin watched the last of his clients leave from his position behind Carolyn's shoulder. "A satisfactory flight, babushka. Your safety video, it is very funny. I particularly enjoyed the whistle."
"Nothing is too good for our most preferred clients, Mr. Alyahkin." Carolyn was rather pleased to be able to get that out through her teeth.
"Certainly nothing you could come up with. So, we will be here five days, while I sell lavish yachts. Then we fly them back." Alyahkin considered. "Really, we could put plane in yacht to send them back. But while more comfortable, it would be a bit too slow."
"We will meet you here on Friday morning at eight sharp." Carolyn dismissed the insult to the plane. That, she was used to.
Alyahkin nodded as he re-activated his wireless network on his mobile and scrolled through his emails. His face darkened, and he said something that sounded like swear words in Russian.
"Oh, dear, has the price of teak jumped?" Carolyn sighed. She wanted nothing more than to get him off of the plane, so she could pull Arthur out of the locker and start him Hoovering.
"My boy was supposed to meet me here. He slept with one of Putin's old girlfriends and is now in gulag." Alyahkin gave an aggravated sigh.
"Oh, dear. Well, just take Martin, then." Two bonuses - getting Alyahkin off of the plane, and Martin as well, before he started doing his three-hour post-flight checks. All in all, it would greatly shorten the time before she could get off of the plane and to her hotel. "He's happy to help."
Alyahkin looked up. "Little man in the silly hat? He does not mind - how do you say it - lifting my luggage?"
"Oh, no, he's not as much of a wet blanket as he looks." Alyahkin had just a small overnight bag and an attache case, after all. "Just send him back to the crew's hotel when he's done. I can't pronounce the name - it's the cheap one next to the airport."
"I will," Alyahkin replied, grinning.
"Very accommodating," Alyahkin murmured to Martin. "I appreciate it."
"Oh, it's no problem at all!" Martin replied, as brightly as he could manage. Alyahkin was a rather... physical fellow, Martin noticed. He had placed his hand almost possessively on Martin's back when Martin had carried the man's moderate luggage to the sleek black BMW that was waiting on the tarmac ("Class VR7 ballistic protection," Alyahkin had boasted, and Martin had nodded as if he knew what that meant). In the luxurious, leather-coated back of the car, Alyahkin had sat close, putting his arm over Martin's shoulders. It must be a Russian thing, Martin decided, like Italian mobsters who hug and kiss their business partners. Taken in that light, it was rather flattering, and Martin found himself enjoying the contact as he relaxed a bit.
"Oh, it's perfectly all right. Happy to help," Martin responded.
"You do this often?" Alyahkin sat forward, opening an integrated drinks cabinet and pouring two glasses of crystal-clear liquid from a bottle with jagged Russian writing in red on it. He sat back, handing one glass to Martin and putting his arm back around Martin's shoulders.
"Not often, no." Martin had never carried a client's bloody luggage, really, but Carolyn had instilled in them the importance of Alyahkin as a regular customer. Many times. Loudly. With threats to their jobs. Bloody hell, Martin fumed, Douglas was probably short-cutting the post-flight checklist while Martin was off serving as a porter to their client. Martin took a swallow of the liquid, and tried not to choke.
"Not bad, no?" Alyahkin drained half his glass.
"Excellent..." Martin gasped. You could use it to clear drains, he was sure. If it didn't melt the drains. He didn't want to appear a lightweight, though, and so he swallowed more of it. It was better the second time; all his nerves must have been cauterized by the first swallow.
Alyahkin laughed, pulling Martin closer. "I think I like you, Misha. Call me Ivan."
The sound of the Hoover in the other room was a rather relaxing white noise. Martin would be pleased with the thoroughness of Douglas's post-flight check, really; Dogulas found himself rather motivated to be thorough, when the only thing to look forward to was walking out into weather that was, by Douglas's best guess, thirty-seven bloody degrees above absolute zero. Still, even as long as he had taken, the captain's seat next to him remained vacant.
"Where is Martin? Surely it doesn't take half an hour for even Mr. Thoroughness Himself to convey an overnight bag and an ostentatious attache case that at least twelve perfectly innocent snakes gave their lives for from an aeroplane to a car."
"Alyahkin took Martin with him to the hotel." Carolyn scribbled her signature to the landing invoice with a heavy sigh. "If he needs a assistant to load his bags into his massive car here, presumably he needs that assistant to unload them once he gets where he's going."
"Surely they have porters at the hotel?"
"I am not one to question the ways of Mr. Alyahkin. Certainly not when he's paying us as much as he is."
Douglas sat back, tapping his pen on his flight logbook. Something felt a little off about this whole situation. "He said it was his personal assistant who was arrested?"
"His 'boy,' he said." Carolyn turned her attention to the manifest.
"And he wanted Martin to be his porter in the absence of this 'boy.'"
"'Lift his luggage,' he said. And unless this has some kind of strange sexual meaning that I am unaware of, yes, he wanted Martin to be his porter." Carolyn frowned, then looked up at Douglas, seeing her realization reflected in his face.
"Oh, dear," she sighed.
"Up the stairs, my little Misha..."
Martin would definitely have objected to being called 'little' if he weren't so focused on successfully mounting the stairs with bags in his hands. A little of that vodka went a long way, and five glasses of it went a very long way indeed, when you were a... well, less than hefty man, and one who wasn't accustomed to drinking. The way Alyahkin was walking, pressed against Martin's back, wasn't helping. It was distracting, in an oddly pleasing way. "Which one?" Martin got past his overly-thick tongue.
"Fifth on the left." Martin made his way towards the indicated room, while the bellhop opened the door (wait, shouldn't the bellhop be carrying Alyahkin's luggage? The thought flitted through Martin's mind, but found nowhere to settle, and so flitted out again). Martin stepped into the room, and came to a stop. It took all of his soused self-control to not let his jaw fall open and just hang there.
The room was magnificent. Huge, with a dark, vaulted ceiling; a desk with the dark red sheen of mahogany stood in one corner, a massive flatscreen television facing a black leather couch studded in brass in the other. A lush Oriental rug that continued the theme of dark red and black covered the hardwood floor. Other rooms were barely visible behind heavy wooden doors.
"I know," Alyahkin sighed, slipping the bellhop a folded note and closing the room door behind him, "they were fully booked. I had to take what they had left."
"Yes... I see," Martin replied, still agog.
"Take off your shoes, come to the bedroom." Alyahkin slipped off his own leather loafers, leading the way. Martin hastily kicked off his own shoes, following.
The bedroom continued with the 'ridiculously lavish' theme. It filled the large room; a huge mahogany four-poster, piled high with plump pillows, a satin duvet thrown atop. Alyahkin shook his head. "Satin. They must think I am some cheap American playboy. I expect mirrors on the ceiling next, yes?" He laughed, and Martin laughed with him, because he felt rather good, all things considered. He was in a magnificent room, he was full of strong vodka, and was with a rich man who was treating him rather like a friend. Not frequent occurrences, all around.
"Put the bags in the corner," Alyahkin pointed. "Then come, sit with me. Have another drink."
Martin complied. It did seem a little odd to sit on the bed when a luxurious couch was in the other room, but who was he to second-guess Alyahkin? Especially when the man pulled out a bottle of champagne from an ice bucket in the corner, opening it expertly. Champagne was preferable to drain-cleaning-strength vodka, and sitting in a warm bed with a friendly man was preferable to sitting in Gertie's cold flight deck, being insulted by Douglas.
"At least they did not forget my champagne," Alyahkin said, pleased, pouring two flutes of it and walking over to sit next to Martin. "Drink up, my Misha," he purred, handing Martin one of the flutes.
Douglas stood at the top of the stairway, breathing heavily. It had been rather a busier afternoon than he had expected, and had involved much more running around in subfreezing temperatures than he typically liked, and he was not in running-around-Russia shape.
As quickly as Douglas had acted, however, there was only so quickly wheels could actually be put in motion. It had been almost two hours since Martin and Alyahkin had left Gertie, and even allowing for the sensibly circuitous path a successful Russian businessman could be assumed to take, there had been plenty of time for... well, any number of things to occur. Douglas's best hope was that Alyahkin was the kind of man who liked to savor each step of the process. Not a bad bet, really; he seemed the type. Oh, poor Martin, the man would be so out of his depth...
His breath mostly regained, Douglas walked over to Alyahkin's room (and it had taken quite a bit of finessing to find out which one that was - well, less finessing than it had taken to do the other part of things, but no matter) and knocked on the door.
"Come back later," Alyahkin's voice was muted, as if several rooms away.
"This is a matter of vital importance, surrounding Dimitry," Douglas hollered through the door.
After a pause, and some odd little thumping and jangling noises, Douglas heard footsteps. He stepped back, and the door flew open, revealing a somewhat irate Alyahkin. He was dressed only in a pair of dark silk boxers, and Douglas couldn't stop a vague feeling of annoyance at the way the man looked. He was obviously rich enough to eat well and visit the gym often, and had funded laser hair removal of some type along the line, as well. His body was the perfect amount of slender muscle to be aesthetically pleasing to just about any damn human being, with a touch of bulk to make him imposing. He also, Douglas could not avoid noting, had a tent in those silk boxers. And an irritated expression on his face. "What about Dimitry?"
"Well." Douglas cleared his throat. "I heard the fellow had a little... run-in. I decided that, as a valued customer of MJN Air, you were entitled to service above and beyond the typical."
"Yes, we were just working on that." Alyahkin jerked his thumb over his shoulder, towards one of the large wooden doors.
"Yes, I can see," Douglas murmured. He continued, more loudly, "Well, I arranged to have Dimitry freed. A rather lovely young lady will be bringing him by in an hour or so." An ex-KGB agent who could crack walnuts with her thighs, but she was, indeed, lovely. And more than a little lethal.
Alyahkin's eyebrows narrowed disbelievingly. He walked over to a chair that he had deposited his wool overcoat on, and fished out his phone. He scrolled through the emails, opening one; his eyes widened. "How did you do this?" he gasped.
"Well..." Douglas thought about the customs agent who owed him a favor, the government bureaucrat who owed him a favor, the lover of the government bureaucrat who would do just about anything for a laugh, and the ex-KGB agent, who owed him a rather massive favor indeed, considering that nobody else was in a position to get such lovely products from Amsterdam into St. Petersburg regularly. "I know people."
Alyahkin looked up at Douglas, and Douglas could see his thoughts whirling - reappraising Douglas and raising him up a few mental notches, most likely. A sensible enough thing to do. "Well. I am impressed."
"So, I thought I would come along and collect our pilot, seeing as how your regular fellow will be along shortly."
Alyahkin licked his lips. "Oh, don't worry - we're having good time. I'll send him back along when we're done."
"Oh, but I was wondering, as a favor to me..." Douglas stopped. Oh, bloody hell, there was one situation that would definitely ring true, and after the favor he just did, should definitely secure Martin's release, but god, god no... unfortunately, Douglas's stubborn brain would feed him nothing better. "You see, he's sort of.... my boy..."
"Ah." Alyahkin could, Douglas noted with irritation, look a bit more surprised. Or a bit surprised at all. "I had thought as much, but still, I rather like this boy..."
"As a favor to me."
Alyahkin looked at Douglas appraisingly. Douglas could tell what was going through the man's head. Enough KGB connections to release Dimitry. He nodded. "All right, come get your boy." He stepped backwards, letting Douglas in, then walked to the bedroom. "Misha - time to go."
"Oh, already?" Martin's voice was a little slurred, sounding drunkenly petulant. Douglas stepped into the bedroom, and had to stop in his tracks.
Martin was naked - well, Douglas should have been expecting that, shouldn't he? There was just no way he could have known that Martin would be on his back, hands over his head and attached, via a padded set of handcuffs, to the headboard of a ridiculously large bed. He was not fully erect, but not far from there, his cock full and resting on pubic hair that was a darker red than the curly ginger hair atop his head. A dusting of that lighter ginger spilled down a pale, thin chest, as if to give general directions to that cock.
Alyahkin took a key off of the dresser and unfastened the handcuffs. "Back you go, my lovely boy," Alyahkin sighed, regretfully, helping Martin upright.
Martin blinked at Douglas. "You're wearing my spare captain's hat," he said, with a petulant frown.
Martin looked quite small and miserable, wrapped in a blanket and staring at some inscrutable Russian game show on the little black-and-white TV in the room that Carolyn had booked for the two of them to share. All in all, he was showing remarkably little gratitude for what Douglas had done for him, and Douglas said so.
"Grateful?" Martin snorted. "Grateful to be pulled out of a lush room with champagne on a soft bed, just so I can get dragged into this ratty place and drink," he pulled the bag out of the mug with distaste, "Lipton tea?"
"You'd rather be sodomized by a Russian businessman?" Douglas asked, acidly, trying to stretch out on the small bed without knocking the mug out of Martin's hand.
Martin shrugged. "He was nice," he muttered at the tepid brown liquid in his mug.
"Nice?" Douglas asked, incredulously. "You'd sell out your sexuality for a nice bloke with a big bed and a lot of cash?" Douglas was not used to envy, and didn't like it one bit. He was definitely feeling it, though, towards Alyahkin. Wealthy, successful, attractive, jet-setting, and apparently, suave enough to literally charm the pants off of Douglas's co-pilot.
"Well, suppose it isn't selling out?" Martin barked back, huddling in his blanket.
"Oh." Douglas blinked, taken aback. He paused, feeling his world reshuffle slightly. "I just thought you were... I mean, I didn't think..."
"Well, how should I know?" Martin replied, more quietly. "Never really had time for people, with all of the studying and the exams. And nobody liked me in school, girls or boys. It's tough enough to try with girls..."
"It's just when you said that Arthur didn't float your boat..."
"Because he's Arthur!"
"Ah." Martin might...he thought he might... like men? Douglas found himself, for the first time in a very long time, craving a drink. "Sensible."
"Well, it doesn't matter. Alyahkin thinks I'm your boyfriend, now, and untouchable on pain of the KGB." He took a sip of his tepid tea, and Douglas was struck by how young he looked. Thirty-two, as per the pilot's license that Douglas had insisted on seeing when Carolyn first brought in 'our new captain,' but Douglas was damned if he didn't look barely twenty in this light. Perhaps that was why Douglas felt so protective of him. Well, that and the man's startling naivete.
"I will... not intrude on any future trysts," Douglas replied. He felt an odd tug in his chest on saying that.
"Unlikely to be any more," Martin muttered, putting his cup aside.
"You never know." Possibilities were now thrumming in Douglas's brain. Oddly enough, he felt calmer now, less nervous. The world had done its reshuffling, he had changed his paradigms. He knew the score, now; he knew the ground rules. And once he knew the rules to the game - well, there was no way he could not win. "After all, in the eyes of the KGB and the Russian business mafia, you're now mine."
"Stop teasing." Martin lay back on the bed, tight-lipped. "You're straight."
"Oh, Martin, don't tell me you're even more old-fashioned than I am." Douglas's voice, he knew, was more Stephen Fry than Barry White, but he had learned to make the most of it. "Think about it - we could have rather a lot of fun. I do like you..."
"Prove it," Martin replied, weakly. And so Douglas did.
"I do think this new engine is far better than the old one," Martin said to Douglas, pleased, as the latter completed the post-landing shutdown.
"A little too much; we now have rather a distinct pull to the right," Douglas muttered. Privately, he was very pleased. Gordon's engineers had done a fantastic job with the install. He wondered how he might trick the man into doing further maintenance on the plane. He knew some people...
"This is your captain speaking," Martin said brightly into the PA system, with that happy little lilt he got whenever he said 'Captain.' The one that made Douglas groan internally. "Welcome to Aeroporto Leonardo da Vinci di Fiumicino." Douglas rolled his eyes, having listened to Martin practice saying that for the past half hour. "I have turned off the Fasten Seatbelt light, so you are free to move about the cabin..."
"They got up twenty minutes ago," Carolyn said, breezing in. Martin hastily switched off the cabin address. "Thank goodness Douglas landed, we would have had disgustingly rich people smeared all over the cabin if you had. Here, Mr. Alyahkin asked me to give you this."
It was an envelope, plain white, with no markings on the outside. Martin tore it open, revealing a note hand-written in Cyrillic characters. "I don't speak Russian," he complained.
"Well, what on Earth makes you think I do?" Carolyn asked. "Give me two minutes to clear these parasites out, and then let Arthur out of the locker."
"Thanks, mum!" Arthur called, his voice muffled and echo-y.
"I speak Russian," Douglas replied, "Hand it over here."
"Of course you do," Martin replied, sullenly. He handed the note over. Douglas took the opportunity to stroke Martin's fingers as he took the note, and Martin shivered a little. Oh, Douglas thought, pleased, this was fun.
Я вас любил: любовь еще, быть может,
В душе моей угасла не совсем;
Но пусть она вас больше не тревожит;
Я не хочу печалить вас ничем.
Я вас любил безмолвно, безнадежно,
То робостью, то ревностью томим;
Я вас любил так искренно, так нежно,
Как дай вам бог любимой быть другим
Douglas read the love poem out loud, feeling little twinges as he did so. Oh, this complicated things, didn't it. Didn't it? Or was this just the passing fancy of a rich man who had a romantic streak? After all, Alyahkin had his Dimitry back. He would be fine. He didn't know Martin, not like Douglas did.
"Well? What does it mean?"
"Free admission and tour of the Winter Palace the next time you're there. Awfully nice of him." Douglas folded up the note and stashed it in his jacket. Perhaps he could use a few of those phrases in the future...