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amateurs, amateurs

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It was hard to fall asleep. I clasped my hands tightly together, hoping the pressure would stop my fingers from growing numb. We haven't eaten since that delicious rooster-soup from Sonya's place, and all I wanted to do was rest my weary eyes. I wasn't able to, for the life of me. I didn't know which natural urge was stopping me from doing so; the hunger, the constant fear of being killed in my sleep... the cold. Not even the thick wood of the house we had taken shelter in did any good for warming my icy fingertips.

Kolya looked at me, smiling, his head leaning against a driftwood cabinet. I knew he was freezing, too, but even then he was able to keep up such an optimistic gaze. I resorted to a stark glare in his direction. 

"What's so funny?" I drew my knees upright against my chest. In this damning cold, Kolya was effortlessly handsome. I wonder if he knew it too. 

"You've kissed a girl before... haven't you?" 

I huffed in response, settling my knees close to my body. It's not as if he was obligated to know. 

"Why is it we're always talking about girls?" It was evident that I was irritated. Kolya's grin only grew wider. 

"Do you have something else to talk about? I could talk about Ushakovo, or your fath-" 

"Nevermind. What did you say before?" Kolya scooted his body closer to mine, until he was less than a foot across from me. I crossed my legs to match his, our knees touching. 

"I was thinking. You're a virgin. You've never had the pleasure in the arms of a beautiful woman." My dignity was diminishing, but I didn't try to interrupt. "But you've kissed one before, right?" 

I began to think of Vera at this moment. I've never kissed her, but I remember the plenty of times that I had imagined it; how soft her lips would be pressed against mine. The sweetness of her mouth. I wanted her to need me so badly that it was pathetic. Alas, I always found her running into the arms of Grisha more than anyone else. I was quite selfish to think that she had seen me as anything more.  

"Not really." Was the answer I decided to go with. I hoped that this would keep Kolya from prying further. Of course, the thought didn't seem to faze him. He laughed. 

"What a misfortune!" Kolya leaned in closer. "You've really not kissed a girl before?" His voice lowered, as if there was someone else in the room who could possibly overhear our conversation. He was so frustrating to me that I couldn't even think about how cold it was anymore. I crossed my arms hastily, turning my head so he could only see the side of my face. 

"You... do know how, don't you?" I can't believe he was saying this to me. I squeezed my eyes shut, willing my body to fall asleep. The warm air coming from Kolya's mouth was brushing past my cheeks. He was so close, and I felt myself begin to feel suffocated. I said nothing. There was really no point in wasting away what little dignity I had left. 

"Lev." 

"..."

"Tell me."

I opened my eyes, finally. Kolya was sitting back, leaving ample space between us, and I felt like I could breathe normally again. He was looking my way, with a undecipherable expression across his face. I heaved my chest up in a large inhale, before breathing out with a rough sigh. "I don't." 

"Don't?..."

"Know how to kiss."

"Huh." 

I was too hungry to feel embarrassed. But I couldn't figure out the strange expression he seemed to harbor, like he was trying to say something but he didn't know how to. This weird tension seemed to hang in the air, I noticed. I noticed this even more when Kolya scooted his body towards mine, our knees touching once again. I was beginning to feel nervous knots in my stomach, twisting and straining the whole of my chest. 

"I'll show you how to." 

I laughed, ready to respond with a, "You'd like that wouldn't you?". But as my mouth opened, my eyes traveling to meet at the base of his. They were awfully serious. I tried to tear my gaze away. 

"...You're not a girl." I said. What a pathetic excuse. Kolya must have known that too, for the intense look in his eye just faded away, left with a slight twinkle of amusement. 

It's not that I never thought about kissing a boy. Every man has to have had thought about it, for a second. For just a wonder. For just maybe... and then it's over. Then you begin to dream of a girl's soft thighs, how they must feel underneath your palms. The natural scent of a girl's hair. To marry a woman. To love a woman. To love the life that she brings as your own. That is all there is to being a man, I suppose. 

"There is nothing different about kissing a man than kissing a gorgeous woman, don't you know." Kolya's mouth outstretched in a grin full of mischief. 

"... You've kissed a boy before." I posed my response in more of a statement rather than a question, almost in disbelief. All Kolya ever seemed to go on about was women, and fucking women, and the beauty of their breasts and other obscenities. I suppose when you look the way Kolya does, with his high Cossack cheekbones, pearly white teeth, eyes vibrant cobalt, you can attract anybody. 

"Yes, and it was just the same as kissing a woman." Kolya brought himself closer. "So?"

I didn't know what to say at that moment. What do you usually say?

"Okay." Kolya brightened up at my response. He shuffled up to his feet, glove outstretched towards my curled-up body. "Stand up." 

I looked at him blankly. "It's cold." 

"You want me to teach you, yes?" Kolya motioned his hand towards me again, and this time I grabbed ahold of it. I pulled my body upwards, feeling it ache from being in the same position for so long. My knees cracked, and in an instant the air cooled around me harshly. 

I gripped his hand tighter, shivering. "Alright. Teach me."

Kolya let go of my hand. "Okay, I'm going to pretend that you are a girl." I shook my head, my eyebrows drawn together, puzzled. 

"What? Why am I the girl? Aren't you the one teaching m-"

"Fine. I am the girl." Kolya removed his gloves. "Pretend that I am a very tall girl. And the first thing you do with a girl is to attract with an air of mystery. Be flirtatious, but you should be confident." Kolya stuffed his gloves into the pocket of his thick coat. "Take off your gloves." 

I did as I was told, but warily. My fingers were much too icy to start complaining at my own expense. He took my hand swiftly, bringing it to rest upon his cheek. Even as the air licked icicles at my skin, Kolya's face was surprisingly very warm underneath my palm. A wave of mystery, huh... 

"How do I do that?"

"What?"

"Attract a girl."

"It depends. Just be yourself." 

Kolya bent his knees down a bit. The other hand that wasn't holding his face sat awkwardly by my side, until he took it and placed it around his waist, leaving my hand to rest on the small of his back. I instantly felt like an idiot. 

"When you kiss a girl, you are soft. Do not force yourself upon her." He drew our bodies closer together, creating a wave of warmth between us. My knees stopped its trembling. Is this the same feeling you get, holding a girl in your arms for the very first time? Where you feel as though you are the only two people in the entire world?

I was driven away from the thought when Kolya leaned in, so much that I could recognize the crystal flecks of his irises. His voice was lowering and I could feel the hum of it in his chest, against my body. "When she leans in so close, that you can almost count every eyelash, you kiss her." 

The hand that was cupping Kolya's cheek made it's way downwards, resting on the space between the shoulder and the nape of his neck. My fingers were shaking, but I wasn't cold. 

You kiss her. You kiss her...

I closed my eyes tightly and pressed a gentle kiss on Kolya's mouth, like a feather. Before I pulled away I was able to notice how tough his lips were, and I wondered if my lips felt that way too. 

"...How was that?"

Kolya clicked his tongue at me. "Too much haste!" Kolya took both my hands and gathered them around the back of his neck. "This is no school dance. You kiss a girl... like she's the last woman on earth." He pulled me flush against him, and I suddenly felt small. 

"Let me show you, then." Kolya paused, looking at me expectantly. I only nodded, for I was at a lost for words. How did we end up at this moment, my person being held tightly against some handsome Russian deserter. Never would I have thought. I swept my tongue along my lips, for they felt dry.

He started to lean in.

The manner in which Kolya kissed me. I started to understand what every woman probably felt at this moment. Absolutely safe. A distance away from harm when you have the strong arms of a soldier-- albeit a mischievous ruffian-- hold you close. I began to lose all sense of masculinity and fragility and all those meaningless concepts; when you are kissed by someone, really kissed by someone, your head grows cloudy and you forget the poetry and words to describe the experience. 

I almost forgot where we were-- shackled up in a tiny house in an abandoned town, covered in snow and ice. I almost forgot why we were here. To think the taste of another's lips could make you quiver more than the cold. To make you forget yourself for the time being. 

As Kolya drew in deeper, his hands made way about my waist. I unhooked my mouth from his; partly because I had started to get overwhelmed, and partly because I had began to feel a pain in my lungs from the lack of air. It was almost funny the way he looked at me. Kolya appeared to be a calm, collected, egotistical hooligan firsthand, and a kiss seemed to remove that front so quickly. 

"That's how you... ah. Kiss a woman." Kolya dropped his arms from my waist. 

"...Is that how you kiss Sonya?" 

"What?"

"Sonya. How do you kiss Sonya?" I pressed on. I didn't know if I really cared to know how he kissed Sonya. I separated my hands that were wound together behind the back of Kolya's neck, moving to grip onto his coat collar. 

"You use your tongue." He said. "Lev, I don't know if that's-"

"Show me." I had this wave of assertiveness all of a sudden. The way Kolya looked, unsure for the first time, at least that I have ever seen, caused me to feel... confident. Alive. Even despite not possessing any knowledge of anything. I grabbed ahold of his collar tighter between my fingertips, letting my mouth hang slightly agape. 

Kolya kissed me again this time, but his mouth was open.

I felt the wet, textured flesh of his tongue push through my open lips, gentle at first. Then it moved about towards my own tongue, and my confidence dwindled. I really didn't know what to do. His tongue was touching mine, and twisting and turning. I did my best to imitate the gesture. 

I must have been doing a good job, for he groaned, the sound vibrating through my lips. I pulled back again for air, looking at him straight in the eyes. They appeared so glazed and intense.

A beat passed, except for the heavy breathing that we shared poring into the atmosphere. He didn't speak, hands leading to rest at my neck, drawing me back in again. The look on his face when he pulled me in... his face flushed and his lips left damp from our collective saliva. I had done that to him. I kissed him harder and the thought had fled. 

It was hard to keep track of where my hands were. One minute they had gripped the edge of Kolya's collar, the next they had burrowed themselves through, underneath his coat, palms resting flat against his chest. The surface was tough underneath my hands. Kolya left one last kiss, gentle on the edge of my mouth, and then he looked at me. I noticed that strange expression on his face; brief, but I knew it was there, before harbouring that cocky side-smile that I hated.

"See. Wasn't so hard." He said absolutely, although the flicker in his eye seemed to signal the opposite. Even the cockiness in his smile seemed insincere. "Kissing a woman is no different than this." Kolya pulled his gloves back on, proceeding to scratch the back of his head, his statement sounding unsure. 

I decided not to pry, even though I really, truly, wanted to kiss him again. The cold air wasn't bothering me in the slightest anymore; I couldn't stop thinking about his mouth. I leaned against the wall of the tiny house, my eyes glazed over. I felt my body begin to slide downwards against it until I was back into a sitting position. 

"What if I become nervous?" I said. Kolya looked over at me. 

A beat passed. For a while he didn't say anything, when he strolled over to my side, settling down until he was sitting next to me. He moved in closer, until we were shoulder to shoulder. 

"You won't." He spoke, finally. I heard the soft thud of his journal as he placed it on the ground beside him. He looked serious for a moment, before a large grin stretched across his perfect teeth. His chest began to shiver in laughter. "You were quite masterful for your first time!" Kolya threw an arm around me, and I peered at him dubiously. "You are a natural, my friend. The girls will surely line up for you." 

"Yeah." I acknowledged, though truthfully, his words didn't leave an effect on me. For girls were the last thing I was thinking about, if I was even thinking about them at all. 

I began to yawn, feeling the sudden heaviness of my eyelids take over. I let them close completely, my head leaning against Kolya's shoulder. He wouldn't mind, anyhow. His arm lay scooped around me, and it was comforting, but I'd never tell him that. 

I felt Kolya's lips press softly along the top of my head, but my body grew too tired to admit a response. 

That kiss, undoubtably, was the last one he ever gave to me.