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cold is the night

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He was not much like his father in any way beyond his strikingly distinct physical features. Lev did not much appreciate poetry, his father’s chosen craft, nor did he enjoy a great deal of art in general. He did find some joy in the artistic type though, the musing and often embarrassing poets that lounged in his family’s flat late into the night, their strong scents of wine, cheap cologne, and cigarette smoke drifting into Lev’s bedroom. They were a strange crowd that he became all too accustomed to, but who had still failed to impart any love for the arts with him.

But on this particular late night, he couldn’t help but notice the similarities between the poets that, in artistic self-flagellation, stood and read aloud their god-awful poetry and the usually charming Nikolai Vlasov who rambled once more about some classic Russian novel lev had never heard of. Maybe his father’s literary circles weren’t as well versed as he had always assumed— that’s what Kolya constantly claimed, at least.
He looked as disheveled as the poets that stood in the center of the sitting room. As he went on and on, Lev noticed that he spoke with his hands... rather excessively. It used to get on his nerves, two days ago, but he had grown used to Kolya's impassioned movements. Days ago, Kolya also hadn’t looked nearly as dirty, with his hair now unfixed from its once slicked back style, and his face shiny from the sweat of a long day’s journey. But still, like the poets of lev’s childhood, he managed to entrance his audience.

Lev had been staring, he now realized, as Kolya had stopped talking (for once in his life) and now returned the gaze with an inquisitive furrow to his brow.

“Weren’t you ever taught that staring is impolite?” Kolya laughed at his comment.

“Sorry, I just dazed off,” Lev shook his head and looked back out in front of him, at the crowded floor of the abandoned barn in which they sat.

“It’s fine, but that tells me you weren’t listening,” he shrugged weakly.
Kolya adjusted himself in his seat, his large coat likely providing far more warmth than Lev was granted in the cold winter’s air.

As if he had read his mind, Kolya turned his body to face Lev’s.

“Are you cold?”

“Are you not?”

Kolya barked a laugh that earned him a few groans from the other once-sleeping people beside them.
“Perhaps you should snuggle up closer to Viktoriya then, hm?” he smirked.

“Oh shut up. Perhaps you should continue with whatever fucking story you were telling yourself,” Lev glared at him and scoffed.

“Woah, my friend, I meant no offense by that!” Kolya raised his hands in a defensive position and laughed weakly.
“Sorry if I struck a nerve.”

“Vika wouldn’t spare me even a moment of her time,” Lev said softly after some time of hesitation.

“I don’t see it like that,” he furrowed his brow and shrugged weakly as he leaned over to re-tie his boot that did not need untying.
“You’re cold?”

Lev gave Kolya an incredulous look, trying to figure out if he was not hearing him right or if Kolya was truly that stupid.

“Then here, take it,” Kolya carefully removed the jacket from his body and offered it to Lev.

“You’ll freeze to death without it. Put it back on,” Lev waved the coat away.

“But you’re already halfway there! Shaking like a leaf, I tell you.”

Defeated, Lev allowed Kolya to gently slip the coat over his shoulders, his warm and gloved hands guiding Lev’s nearly numb fingers through the wide sleeves of wool. When Kolya had finally sat back down after fitting the coat onto Lev, he wished he still felt that warmth on his fingertips.

“Anyways, as I was saying,” Kolya sighed quietly and leaned his head back against the rotting wood of the barn’s wall, “I don’t think you will be able to see what you want to when it comes to Vika. Not in reality.”

“What’s that supposed to mean?”

“Hush, I’m getting there!” Kolya laughed again, this time earning him a sharp nudge from the man to his right.
"A woman like Vika is not going to show her cards so easily; she isn’t going to let you know exactly what she wants in such a straightforward way. Maybe she has too much pride, or maybe she just does not want to appear as easy as you may want her to be. But I don’t think she has completely pushed you out of her sights.”

“You think so?” Lev looked over to him and saw his face soften slightly in the moonlight.

“Oh, I know so. I surely have far more experience in love than you do, my friend,” he smirked.

“So I‘ve heard,” Lev rolled his eyes and couldn’t help but smile weakly.
The warmth of the coat had distracted him, and now the slight warmth he had felt from Vika's body now seemed insignificant. Kolya was far more eager to offer him the much more satisfying warmth of his jacket, he realized.

“Do you think she likes me, then?”

“Are you still in primary school with this playground crush of yours, Lev?” Kolya turned his head slightly to meet Lev’s eyes with his tired gaze, “I do not know the girl well, but neither do you. I’m afraid I have just as little of an answer to that question as you do. But I do know that it would be a shame if she did not.”

Lev nodded once, glancing back down to where Vika lay fast asleep beside him.
“You’re a great help, Kolya. You have a way with words,” he sat closer to his friend.

“Still cold, hm?” Kolya cocked a brow as his lips twitched into a smirk for a moment as he wrapped a heavy arm around Lev’s shoulder gently.
“Well if I should freeze to death on account of my generosity and valor, let my way with words be my legacy then. Tell that to all of the many children you have with Viktoriya.”

“I do hope you wake up tomorrow morning then and save me from that sort of embarrassing moment.”