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7th Chamber

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Olga always remembers Shalashaska with a flutter in her stomach.

Her earliest memory of him is the cheerful chime of his spurs, her father making fun of them, don’t touch those, Olenka, they’re sharper than they look. She always ran for the door when she heard those as a child, squealing as she was picked up and spun above her father’s best friend’s head.

He always made her feel special. Never once discouraged her masculine interests, taught her to shoot with her eyes closed. He never once told her that she was pretty, only that she was strong, that she was a good shot. It meant so much.

Her dad had shown her old faded pictures from Afghanistan, the platinum blond man with the penetrating eyes barely recognizable as the distinguished man that sometimes appeared at the dinner table.

When she was twelve, Olga had stolen that picture and hidden it in her desk drawer. When she looked at it, she felt some sort of way, between nausea and the urge to do a hundred push-ups.

Olga is fifteen years older and just back from a training exercise, and she doesn’t have a crush on the old man anymore, but she still ran back out the door the second she’d dropped her pack in the entrance and her dad mentioned Shalashaska was in town. She hasn’t seen him in at least three years and her dad said he wanted to talk to her, personally. That she was going to be part of the next mission.

Olga is excited. She thought dad and Shalashaska would never let her in on their plots. But obviously Shalashaska trusts her.

That makes her happy.

The man that opens the door of the fancy suite doesn’t look like the man Olga used to have a crush on. It hasn’t been that long and he hasn’t, objectively, changed too much. But there’s something in his stance and in his grey eyes, in his open shirt with the sleeves rolled up, revealing a crumpled undershirt. Something vulnerable and fragile, like a lost child, or a man much older than he is.

It takes him a full second for his eyes to clear. “Oh. Olga, my dear. Come in, come in.”

Olga comes in. She doesn’t miss the open window even though the late June night is not that warm. She definitely does not miss the charred spoon on the desk, or the pinpoint scars disseminated all over his bare arms. She does not judge. She’s heard stories of the stuff Shalashaska has been through. She knows drugs help. Some of her boys dabble sometimes to ease the nightmares, and she makes sure they do it safely. It’s the least she can do.

A split second later, Olga notices the massive sniper rifle on the bed, mostly in pieces.

“Shalashaska, what is this? Are you doing a hit?”

Shalashaska sits on the bed, long gloved fingers tracing the glistening lines of the rifle’s barrel. “What if I were? Are you gonna tell your daddy?”

Olga’s back straightens. “Is this something he should know?”


“Then I won’t tell him.”

Shalashaska’s smile is so slow and cruel and Olga is ashamed of the fact it makes her stomach flutter. “I always liked you, Olenka. You’re a smart girl.”

She sits on the other side of the bed, her eyes glued to the rifle. “I have never seen this weapon before,” she muses.

Shalashaska chuckles. “Right. This baby is a only a couple years younger than you. Not many Doghouse Arms originals left around.”

She’s never heard that name. She thought she was knowledgeable.

“A balanced option between an M2000-NL and a Molotok-68. Quite a beautiful rifle if I say so myself.”

Olga snorts. “Molotok-68’s have never been produced, Shalashaska. They’re a pipe dream. A rifle that shoots diamonds? Sounds a bit too overpriced even for the GRU, doesn’t it?”

“Oh, it does. But it wasn’t with the GRU that I’ve shot one of those” Shalashaska draws his feet up on the bed, propping himself on his knees like a small kid. That’s when she realizes he’s not wearing his boots with the spurs. His feet are a mass of scars and knotted bones.

“You’ve shot a Molotok,” she says, incredulous. “How did you get somebody to make you something like that without getting court-martialed?”

He grins, as if to say that there’s so much about him she doesn’t know. “A friend of mine had it made.” His voice is rough, a hint of an accent she can’t place. “Terrible, rude girl. Magnificent shot. You remind me of her.”

“I’m not rude!”

Shalashaska’s eyes are incredibly piercing under his pale eyebrows. “Don’t you know only very bad girls hang out with old men in their hotel rooms?”

She feels heat crawl up her neck, so she lowers her eyes to the rifle. Her hands are already itching to shoot this.

“Think you could put it together for an old man?”

Oh yes, she very much could. She moves on autopilot, and even if the pieces are slightly different than any weapon she’s assembled in her life, they all slide together cleanly, with a smooth click. Hard to believe this rifle is almost thirty years old. It’s so light, so well balanced.

Olga lifts her eyes from the rifle to meet Shalashaska’s warm, intense ones. “So, who are we killing tonight?”

“Oh, it’s we now?”

“You think I can’t do it?”

Shalashaska rises to his feet, holding a gloved hand to her. “Of course I don’t. I know how deadly you are, Olenska.”

She crouches next to the open window that now makes a lot of sense. Shalashaska sits on the carpeted floor with his legs crossed, watching her set up, lying on her stomach, adjusting the mount so that the rifle sits snugly against her shoulder.

Then, he moves closer. His hand between her shoulder blades, the other cupping her hand as it hovers over the trigger guard. His breath is warm against her ear.

“Not the building in front of us. The one behind it.”


“You can see through the window, across the courtyard.”

“Shalashaska, that’s impossible. Nobody could take a shot like that.”

“Don’t worry. If you miss, I can take it.”

Pride flares into her belly. “I won’t miss.”

He directs her slowly and carefully, as if he’s looking through the scope with her. She almost can’t believe when the darkened room across the courtyard focuses in front of her.

“It’s dark, but it shouldn’t be a problem for you to make out your target.” Shalashaska is lying on his side next to her, pressed along her length, warm but not uncomfortably so. It takes her a while to adjust to the darkness in the scope, but Shalashaska is whispering slow and quiet in his ear and she feels her shoulders relax, her breathing slow down. The shape of her target detaches itself from the darkness, black on black. Torso - shoulders - neck - head - shoot.

She isn’t sure if it was just in her head or Shalashaska said it out loud, but it was his voice that made her pull the trigger. The recoil is strong but she absorbs it easily. The noise gets swallowed in the busy Moscow night. The dark shape crumples, and disappears from sight.

“There’s a good girl,” says Shalashaska, even if he can’t possibly have seen the shot land.

Adrenaline courses through her stronger than any drug. Her hands shake. That was the best shot she’s ever done. And he knows it. He’s beaming with pride, and he’s unequivocally hard against her hip. She’s throbbing too, wet and excited.

So she kisses him. Pushes him onto his back and straddles him and never stops kissing him. His lips are dry and cool, his moustache does not tickle nearly as much as she thought it would.

She keeps expecting him to push her away for any of the really good reasons they have not to fuck. He’s gay. He could be her father. Her actual father is his best friend.

He doesn’t push her away. Gloved hands grip her hips, hard, rough - just like she likes it. She hates when men treat her like she’s delicate just because she’s decided to fuck them. He grinds her down onto his crotch, his belt buckle pushing into her clit. She bites his bottom lip and he surges under her with a surprised gasp.

Guess they both have things in common aside from shooting.

When she shoves her hand into his open shirt she finds abs that would make the most gym-obsessed of her boys ashamed. When he shoves his hands under her t-shirt, he finds no bra and enthusiastically squeezes her breasts.

For a gay man, he sure knows where to touch a woman.

“Do you have…?”

He stares like he doesn’t understand.

“Nevermind, I got them.”

Training exercise ended last night. Of course they had booze and fucked. She should still have...not this pocket, not this one, not that one….right. Always in the last place you look.

He’s smirking when she pulls out the crumpled condom.


“You came prepared.”

“I wasn’t planning this,” she says, heat making her ears burn.

He rolls his hips under her, sending a hot shiver down her spine. “I don’t know if that makes it better or worse.”

“You were right,” she hisses on his lips, jiggling his belt buckle open. “I am a bad girl.”

His fingers are soft in her hair and his kiss is almost tender. She feels herself melt into him, breathless when he pushes her pants down and touches her like nobody has ever touched her. Guys in their twenties can’t hold a candle to these hands that seem to know exactly where to brush, rub, tease. She comes whimpering and he hasn’t even put a finger in her. When he does, she comes screaming. She’s still twitching when he slides into her and it makes her eyes roll back into her head.

It’s a blur after that. She loses count of the orgasms after the fifth. When her thighs are cramping too much he rolls them both around to pound into her. Picks her up and carries her to the bed. How is he this strong, her dad can’t lift her anymore and he’s younger than Shalashaska.

His stamina is incredible. She’s a drooling, whimpering mess when he finally buries his face in the curve of her neck and comes.

She’s throbbing all over, his shallow breath drowned by the roar of blood in her ears. She hears herself giggle of all things, just before she starts getting too drowsy to keep her eyes open. She dozes off with his fingers (he hasn’t taken off the gloves...that’s kind of weird…) soft in her hair.

When she wakes, he’s nowhere to be found, the rifle has disappeared with him, and only the charred spoon on the desk remains. Olga gets dressed, and makes herself scarce as well.

She doesn’t realize until two weeks later, when her period fails to arrive, that the condom tore and there’s a pretty damning evidence of their little mistake growing in her belly.


As the cold water closes above her and her consciousness wavers, Olga finds herself pressing a hand to her stomach.

She never told him. Hell, all she wanted was to sneak out and get an abortion here in America. Get it out, go back to her old life.

But if she makes it, she promises to a god she doesn’t believe in, if she makes it, she’s keeping it, she’s letting it live.

No matter what it takes.